***Friendly reminder: Yellow Green Red is also available on Substack over at yellowgreenred.substack.com! Same content, slightly more modern delivery system!***

Body/Head Come On EP 2×7″ (Three Lobed / Open Mouth)
You should know by now that I love the double seven-inch format: so rich with possibility while constrained by time, it’s perhaps the perfect format for concise experimentation that also demands concentrated listener attention. Body/Head are a versatile noise-guitar duo, as capable of putting together a coherent and diversified album as they are writing a “single”, and this new four-track EP is an excellent addition to their portfolio. If you’re new to the group, they’re Kim Gordon on guitar and vocals and Bill Nace on mostly guitar, though the b-side “Get Lost” integrates a throbbing pulse. It’s an unusual ingredient in the typical Body/Head framework but an appealing new complement to Nace’s warbling lines and Gordon’s intermittent vocals. No sign of that pulse to be found on the c-side’s “Tripping”, which cracks open more space for Gordon’s train-of-thought vocalizing and the rumbly tickle of their guitars, eventually purring like hungry kittens. All four tracks offer faith without tidy resolution care of the fractured melodies that swing in and out of focus, culminating in the Roy Montgomery-esque strum of “Bites Her Tender Mind”. Warms my heart to see that they actually pressed 550 copies of this (all numbered on the back), to think that our underground vinyl community might support the ability to shift half a thousand pieces to open-minded consumers who appreciate the strange and patient sounds of Body/Head. Come On, people!

K. Campbell Smoke 7″ (Poison Moon)
It’d be nice if more unsigned bands followed K. Campbell’s lathe-release model. I’m sure it’s significantly more work than just uploading WAV files to Bandcamp, but if you saw how attractive Campbell’s seven-inch singles presented (and how surprisingly good they sound), you’d want to make one too! I’m a little surprised this Houston singer/songwriter hasn’t joined forces with a label – maybe it’s by choice – because his music is perfectly pleasant emo-leaning indie-pop, guitars strumming to the sounds of flowers blooming and romance sparking. “Smoke” cuts the difference between The Promise Ring and Teenage Fanclub, kinda subdued and smooth with some twinkly Jimmy Eat World-ish keys and none other than a tasteful saxophone lead. Who doesn’t want to hear a song like this? “Somebody Else” has more of a swing to it, calling to mind later Weston with hushed vocals and lyrics describing a tender defeat of the heart. The plastic slab upon which the songs were cut is appropriately firm and real-feeling, although there’s a weird little bass-y wooshing noise on the b-side (which, as far as I’m concerned, enhances the listening experience). There are still ways to circumvent the miserable music industry’s machinations if you try hard enough, as these Poison Moon lathes (and well-designed hand-glued sleeves) display.

Da Slyme If There’s No Rubble, You Haven’t Played: Collected Recordings 1977-89 LP (Celluloid Lunch)
Wild reissue here from the proudly Canadian Celluloid Lunch label, collecting recordings of the hyper-obscure (and hyper-Canadian) proto-punk squad Da Slyme. I love this early form of punk, the one where it’s played by guys who look like Captain Beefheart and Dr. John because it wasn’t yet clarified that they were supposed to look like Billy Idol, who push the amateurish idiocy angle to its furthest lengths. (Did Da Slyme bring their own toilet on stage with them, for example? You betcha!) It’s PG-rated cute in this day and age, but I’m sure songs like “I Wanna Pick My Nose” and “Lick Linoleum” had some uptight audience members bolting for the door back in ’78. Many of these tunes (of which there are no less than twenty-six!) have me imagining a teenage “Weird” Al as a member of Puke, Spit & Guts, the very earliest Electric Eels rehearsals and certain Killed By Death hallmarks (Child Molesters for sure) without the shock-value Nazi regalia. There are also lots of fake(?) radio-ad spots made by the band that aren’t a far leap from what Howard Stern was getting into at the time; I’m sure Dr. Demento inspired everyone I’ve mentioned thus far. I have zero interest in listening to any broadcast tapes of Dr. Demento at this stage in my life (or any stage, for that matter), but would I want to blast Da Slyme’s electronic-interferenced mongo stomp “Radio Junkie” over and over at full volume? Without a doubt!

Debt Rag Lost To The Fantasy LP (Post Present Medium)
I recently learned that the SST group Trotsky Icepick initially intended to change their band name for each album release while using the same album title over and over again, a hilariously self-sabotaging move that feels in the same spirit as Debt Rag. The trio of Lillian Maring, Marissa Magic and Max Nordile previously released records under the name Wet Drag, and it’s a funny little switch that reminds me of MDC changing their acronym or Die Monitor Bats insisting on a different spelling with each new release. Debt Rag’s aspirations seem to exist far from any form of conventional “success”, happy to shoot themselves in the foot for a good joke rather than pander for likes and digital playlist inclusions, and I’m a big supporter of that kind of attitude! Their music follows suit as well, a defiantly guitar-less trio of drums, bass, keys and hollering, certainly in line with Nordile’s work in Preening and Magic’s in girlSperm, if slightly more abstract. Lost To The Fantasy shares the spirit of other Bay Area post-no-wave freaks like Numbers and Inflatable Boy Clams, somewhere in that unique sweet-spot where the contrasting aesthetics of the avant-garde, Riot Grrrrl and Subterranean Records intersect. Much like the cover art, they don’t rip it up in order to start again, they simply leave the lumps and slather it in another thick coat of Pepto-Bismol-colored paint.

Delco MF’s The March Of The MF’s 7″ (MF)
The March Of The MF’s? Don’t tell me this Philly hardcore unit has gone crossover! Thankfully that’s not the case, and if anything, Delco MF’s have turned up the intensity following their excellent debut, popping whatever blood vessels remained intact after the first go around. It’s only a few seconds into the fifth track, when vocalist Jim Shomo shouts “go fuck yourself”, that it feels like anyone in the group finally took a breath, such is their unrelenting hardcore-punk speed and intensity. Their songs carry the frantic haste of DRI and Deep Wound with a Midwestern backbone and a caustic vocal approach, as sandpapery as Steve Peffer in his 9 Shocks Terror days. Even the title track refuses to move at a pace remotely resembling a march, a violent pogo sure to rip some tiles off the ceiling. They could’ve easily fit another six songs on this seven-inch, so briskly does it rip, but the point isn’t to write a lengthy saga, it’s to burn off our eyebrows and speed away in the MF-mobile before we realize what’s happened.

Dream_Mega Last Glacial Maximum LP (Post Present Medium)
The promotional material for Dream_Mega’s debut full-length likens it to “Terry Riley doing Cro-Mags covers”, and while I don’t hear that in the slightest, I applaud the Post Present Medium promotional squad for going big! Dream_Mega is the solo project of Joel Kyack, whose groups Landed and Six Finger Satellite never went any less than big, and while I don’t hear even the faintest of transmogrified NYHC riffs here, it’s a compellingly weird listen all its own. If anything, I’m reminded of Excepter in the way that Dream_Mega disassembles slow-motion electronic grooves and pushes the pieces around, dipping in between quantized and unquantized realms, sober one moment and blackout-drunk the next while always gazing towards the skies (or electrical wiring). Dream_Mega’s beats are slow, towering and weird, as if Thrones entered the Swishahouse and was never seen again, and they take their sweet time to roll through, giving the proceedings a vaguely mystic feel, like staring at Scientology’s Flag Land Base and finding secret patterns in its geometry. Vocals (when applicable) are used more for oddball purposes than anything that could be connected to pop music, certainly in the prankish realm of Six Finger Satellite though not a “joke” per se, which has me wondering what it’d be like if Black Moth Super Rainbow ever made a record for Southern Lord. (I just checked and they haven’t… yet.)

Avalon Emerson & The Charm LP (Another Dove)
Very cool pivot here for meticulous techno producer Avalon Emerson, seemingly a natural shift while also impeccably on-trend. The story is that she got sick of endless travel / late nights DJing and retreated to a London studio with a friend or two, trying her hand at vocal pop. Much like her success with trance-infected house and techno, this indie-Balearic pop sound is a perfect fit. Opener “Sandrail Silhouette” is an excellent place to start, shimmering and easy-going pop that swings like Madchester in the chill-out room, complete with an earworm violin hook that would make Richard Ashcroft drop his martini. The rest of the album tries out various related outfits, all suited to Emerson’s lightweight vocals and exquisite programming, culling from contemporary R&B-infused pop, Kate Bush, Jessy Lanza, Phoenix; there’s even an extremely John Mayer-esque soft-rock guitar solo on “Entombed In Ice”. I almost expect him to start crooning some backing vocals as the track fades, but maybe Emerson’s saving him for the sophomore effort. The pieces are all firmly in place, but Emerson succeeds by allowing her own personality to shine through, singing songs that matter at least a little bit more than the inoffensive playlist-fodder of certain contemporaries. The funky, retro soft-pop of “Astrology Poisoning” sounds like Grimes if she married Vampire Weekend instead of Elon Musk, complete with what seems to be a funny swipe at the Goop lifestyle and more of that sweet, sweet Mayer-styled guitar. Complete with a fantastic cover design, & The Charm is gonna live near my stereo for a while.

Eyes Of The Amaryllis Lunchtime On Earth 7″ (I Dischi Del Barone)
Been a minute since I’d been properly Barone-d, but this one comes from just over the bridge, care of southern New Jersey (we call it “South Jersey”) quartet Eyes Of The Amaryllis. It’s a pretty communal affair, rough around the edges in a friendly way, and includes Jesse Dewlow aka People Skills. Much like Eyes Of The Amaryllis’s vinyl full-length debut, Lunchtime On Earth features four fractured folk ditties, recorded and mixed in an appealingly disorienting way: one guitar sounds like it’s in your ear and the other down the hall, and why is some of the percussion so far away while certain hits jump out of the speaker? Imagine Garbage & The Flowers given the Graham Lambkin treatment and you’re in the ballpark of these sounds, although this sounds like a real-time, temporal affair, not the work of handy editing so much as an unorthodox mix. “The Straw In Your Head” is a fine example, with guitars scraped, plucked and popped more than strummed and an unintelligible vocal warbling through some sort of effect. Makes me think of Mad Nanna too, this quiet and unarmed DIY folk that borrows from the free-form approach of noise without any of the harsh electronics or atonal feedback, though Mad Nanna’s recordings sound like Quincy Jones productions compared to this. Which, of course, is half the fun.

Hands Up Who Wants To Die Nil All LP (Fonoradar / Human Worth / Sleeping Giant Glossolalia)
Lots to live up to if you’re going to be a noise-rock band named after one of the coolest things Nick Cave ever yelled, but Ireland’s Hands Up Who Wants To Die give the old crooner something to respect. Nil All is their newest, and while many of these sour, knotty songs sound like the territory of anguished men in sweaty three-piece suits, pictures of the band show them in white undershirts with their heads in their hands; the music sounds like a terrible celebration while their delivery is very much based in the morning-after. I’m sure they get compared to the other notably seething Irish noise-rock group, Gilla Band – I’m doing it now, in fact – but Hands Up are more traditionally masculine-disgruntled, mostly sticking with traditional rock instrumentation. Of course, the bass-guitar sounds as if it’s only got one string (with only a few available notes on that string), the guitars are richly affected and a piano adds some lounge-y flavor to Rory O’Brien’s vocals, so they’ve got their own bag of tricks. O’Brien falls somewhere in the lineage of Tom Waits, Eugene Robinson and of course Mr. Cave as he fully commits to every line, be they a whisper or a scream. Might also be his dry (and wet?) heaving that introduces “Nausea”, but one of the benefits of listening to records is that you’re protected against any unexpected fluid exchange, at least until Third Man invents the necessary technology.

Homozeen The Void LP (SuperFi)
RIP Frank Kozik, not just for his art but because without his underground contributions the sound of a band like Hozomeen might’ve never gotten its due. I guess I shouldn’t say “band”, as Hozomeen is the solo project of one Graham Thompson, whose resumé boasts a long list of groups, the only one of which I’m personally familiar being Ultra Shit Inferno (thanks to a split single with the ever-outrageous Sloth). Hozomeen sure sounds like a band though, as these songs take stoner riffs and drag ’em through the noise-rock mud, like Tar or Cows covering Orange Goblin and Queens Of The Stone Age. Like I said, tried and true Kozik rock, the sort of thing that should have an eye-popping Satan daddy rolling flaming dice on the cover, but somehow in a way that actually seems cool. Thompson makes the right choice and lets his tunes breathe (along with a toned-down design aesthetic), often loitering on a repetitive instrumental groove, his distorted shouts taking a back seat to the power of the down-tuned Sabbathian riff. “Lack”, for example, seems to have all of one note, and is all the better for its patient rhythmic deployment of such. No wheels reinvented here, only polished on one of those ’70s custom vans that you park at the beach and hotbox until it’s time to get, I dunno, some really good tacos or something.

Idle Ray Corridors Of Summer 7″ (Tall Texan)
Never hurts to have a fresh indie-pop song about the summer that also arrives just in time for the summer! In the hands of perpetual indie song-machine Fred Thomas and his Idle Ray group, you can rest assured “Corridors Of Summer” is worth your time. Don’t expect an upbeat and beachy jingle, though – “Corridors Of Summer” is sleepy and resigned, with bandmate Frances on vocal duties, intoning as though she’s in wistful remembrance of summers past. Makes you want to grab an acoustic and strum along from the comfort of your couch, the song all too welcoming the listener to sing along to its private little melody. “Unremarkable Things” is the flip, with Thomas on plaintive lead vocals, and it feels like it’s gonna be an even more somber affair than the a-side until the instrumental crescendo kicks in with electrified guitar soloing and unchained drums, reminiscent of how Tony Molina ends basically 90% of his songs (a path more bands should consider following). Only a dash of light cutting through Idle Ray’s clouds, but just enough to make you look up. I know Thomas has a million projects, many of which I’ve followed off and on for years, but this is my first encounter with Idle Ray and I’m thinking I need to go back and see what 2021’s self-titled full-length is all about.

Jeromes Dream The Gray In Between LP (Iodine)
Skipping out on nearly all of the ’00s and ’10s, Jeromes Dream are seemingly back in full swing. The first time around, I appreciated their commitment to over-the-top characteristics (beehive Spock hair, screaming sans microphone, drummer on verge of crying at all times) as well as their messy, tantrum-laden songwriting approach to emotional hardcore. Their songs sounded like Orchid run through a briar patch, covered in little welts and scratches, far superior to Midwest no-fi cousins Usurp Synapse and less jocularly bro-ish than Neil Perry. Of course back then, all these bands existed on cheap webpages and in photocopied zines, and now the ones who still play screamo with any level of success seem more like hip brand marketers, closer in DNA to Liquid Death than the crusty punks loitering in front of a DIY house venue. Rest assured there are multiple limited vinyl “colorways” for The Gray In Between, and while I get that it’s a game that has to be played as a matter of survival in 2023, I still pine for the time when the priorities of being a screamo band felt different, more punk. Musically, the necessary parts are firmly in place here, filled with sharply breaking rhythms, chirping feedback between hits and ominous acoustic strumming (compare “Often Oceans” here to the tail-end of one of my favorite Jeromes Dream tracks, “Its More Like A Message To You”), though not as much rabid blasting as before, and a subtle lean towards Explosions In The Sky-oriented grandeur in the riffs. The fragile magic, fleeting as it may be, is still there too, if somewhat dulled by time and the state of new vinyl in 2023.

Jesus Piece …So Unknown LP (Century Media)
It’s cool when a metal record opens with a big long ominous intro, but you know what’s even cooler? When it directly kicks in with a full-scale bludgeoning, the whole band attacking in unison from the very first millisecond onward. That’s pretty much how …So Unknown rolls for its duration, the Philly group’s sophomore effort and first for big-time metal label Century Media. They’ve had a cool thing going from the start, an over-the-top beatdown aesthetic delivered with death-metal vocals, violent metal-core riffs, crowd-killing mosh parts and a muscular technicality… probably the meanest modern band that will find its way into the YouTube algorithms of teenage Turnstile fans. Like previous releases, Jesus Piece continue to wield downtuned riffs redolent of Crowbar and his majesty Dimebag Darrell, though it’s all tuned to a hardcore pitch, or at least close enough. Long hair or short hair, either way you’re catching an accidental sneaker to the back of the skull when Jesus Piece are on stage! Rather than try to make any big stylistic shifts (rest assured, no one even attempts to melodically sing here), Jesus Piece offer a beefier version of their sound, with subtle and tasteful moments of the eerie anguished calm one might associate with Korn and plenty of painful breakdowns sure to help you max your reps at the gym. Wrapped up with cover art befitting a late ’90s Euro-import Morbid Angel bootleg, I don’t see how …So Unknown could’ve worked out any better for Jesus Piece.

The Lavender Flu Assorted Promenades 12″ (Mind Meld)
Been digging the output of Total Punk sub-label Mind Meld Records lately, not only because Total Punk respects their name enough to not release semi-punk records under their banner but also because their taste in Not Quite Total Punk has been stellar thus far! That Glittering Insects album rules, and this new one from Oregon’s Lavender Flu is a gloriously ramshackle guitar-pop spectacle. I’ve enjoyed this band ever since they kind of morphed out of The Hospitals and their brain-numbing Hairdryer Peace album, and while Assorted Promenades is still full of haywired electronic bursts and slippery tape distortion, it’s also a meticulous outsider pop record. Reminds me of that last and criminally-overlooked Psychedelic Horseshit album, the way in which head ‘Flu-man Chris Gunn grabs at all sorts of wonky bargain-bin sounds and effects to create his own hand-glued Pet Sounds, and how surprisingly listenable it ends up being. It’s like if Ariel Pink got into Flying Nun instead of MAGA, or if Beachwood Sparks signed to Siltbreeze instead of Sub Pop, though of course The Lavender Flu has been fine tuning their sound over multiple albums and years. Somewhere in here, there’s a Moby Grape cover, but I’ve always fared poorly at Moby Grape trivia, and all of these tunes sound right on par with each other, swirled like one of those comically over-sized lollipops you see spoiled kids with pigtails and bowties licking in cartoons.

Mandy, Indiana I’ve Seen A Way LP (Fire Talk)
I’ve Seen A Way is the compelling full-length debut from Manchester’s Mandy, Indiana. Don’t let the screamo-y name fool you – while the music of this group is often jagged, turbulent and susceptible to uncontrolled spasms, their inspiration seems to come from the post-9/11 dance-punk and electroclash scenes, not Witching Hour or Hydra Head. There are occasionally guitars in there somewhere, strongly reminiscent of when Liars broke off the disco-punk rails and started integrating experimental electronics into their fold, but oddball sleazy electro-dance such as Mu’s incredible Afro Finger And Gel is even more aesthetically prominent. Living in Manchester you’re only a stone’s throw from a puke-bellied dance floor, and it’s clear that Mandy, Indiana have it in their blood – it comes as no surprise that Giant Swan’s Robin Stewart provided some help on the mixing board. Thus, they flip from a SURVIVE-styled arpeggio into waves of electronic distortion over a club-friendly 4/4 snap the way a hardcore band goes from a fast gallop to a split-second cut and mosh breakdown. The precise production is compelling enough on his own, but the manic and consistently French vocals of Valentine Caulfield push a track like “Pinking Shears” from notable to inspired.

Montel Palmer Südstadt 7″ (South Of North)
Confusing German electro unit Montel Palmer are at it again, this time in the form of a handsome seven-inch single. I fell in love with their five-track one-sided flexi-disc last year and backtracked to their most recent album, Catastropheland, which revealed an anomalous group with endless musical pathways. On this new single, things are relatively relatable and laid-back, calling to mind the solipsistic house of Rat Heart and the self-amusing studio hijinks of the Wah Wah Wino crew (the duo of Gombeen & Doygen in particular). “Südstadt” rides sullen chords over a persistent electro kit, with murmured vocals puttering in and out, as if the mic was left recording in the studio when the janitor came in to clean up Montel Palmer’s mess after they left. It’s not particularly dance music, and the b-side “Gammy Eyes” is even less so, slowing the pace and serving up some bilious guitar, like a private-press R&B instrumental that started to grow mold after days without refrigeration. That same vocalist appears again too, resulting in a track that feels like Mike Cooper melting Torn Hawk with a giant magnifying glass in the tropical sun. Freaky easy-listening, the sort of thing you’d want to pair with a cocktail that sounds absolutely disgusting but a friend insists is good. Wasabi carrot mimosas all around!

Nico Motte The Missing Person LP (Antinote)
Antinote remains my go-to for worldly chill-out dance vibes, as if the rest of the globe is a turbulent gray sea and Antinote is this tiny white-sand island with thriving palm trees and a baby-blue lagoon. If you’re not sure what I mean, you might as well throw on The Missing Person by Nico Motte and watch as your disgusting work coffee turns into a frozen piña colada before your very eyes. Motte’s tracks are languid and sensual, soft and sugary bouquets that call to mind Miami waterfront hotels and Mediterranean small-plates… easy-going house for bare-feet patrons. There’s an undeniable whiff of late ’80s soft-core cinema sleaze too, but Motte never lays it on too thick – nothing is over-the-top or ironically corny. A track like the appropriately-named “Slow Burner”, for instance, is serious fun, vintage synths shuffling over a digi-riddim layered with fresh melodic leads and the pleasant sense of stress leaving the body. Motte even makes the squeaks of a newborn baby sound reasonable in a nightclub context with “The Burning Sets”, perfectly comfortable alongside his synthesized pan-flutes and vibraphones. If some time spent with The Missing Person doesn’t improve your life, you’re already too well off.

Painted Faces Normal Street LP (ESP-Disk’)
I can’t pretend to understand the internal processes leading to contemporary noise-rock weirdoes landing on the same legendary label that brought us Albert Ayler and Patty Waters, but it’s cool that it ended up that way! Painted Faces is the work of one David Drucker, a Brooklyn-based home-recorder who has a prior ESP-Disk’ album to his name alongside a wobbly stack of DIY CD-rs and cassettes (as would any noise artist worth their salt). From the sound of things, Drucker has a whole host of oddball gear and fangled instruments and he takes them on a hairy ride of sonic exploration here. They don’t sound like collages – at least by my pedestrian ears, things seem to be happening in real-time – but I’m not sure I’d call some of these tracks “songs”, either. “Pieces” sounds too formal for what’s happening too, so I dunno, let’s just call it music! (But wait, is the atonal moaning/feedback duet of “Playing The Field: The Ambassador Prowls” music? Ahh…) Things definitely seem to come from a LAFMS or Crank Sturgeon mindset, these scattered and belligerent sonic sketches where a sense of outlandish comedy never seems too far away, teetering on the edge where one accidentally-unplugged pedal could cause the whole thing to come crashing down. I’m not sure what Henry Grimes or Paul Bley would make of it, but I bet they’d at least crack a smile.

Planet On A Chain Boxed In LP (Revelation)
Man, you’re gonna go ahead and come up with a dope hardcore band-name like “Planet On A Chain” but have it say “POAC” on the cover instead? Imagine if labelmates Sick Of It All went with “SOIA” on the cover of Blood, Sweat And No Tears instead of their cool-ass name on full display? Just wouldn’t be the same. Anyway, let’s move on from that minescule gripe and get to Boxed In, the debut LP from this group of life-long hardcore punkers – they’re ex-members of Tear It Up, Dead And Gone and Look Back And Laugh to name but three prior projects. I’m pleased to confirm that the musical tastes and personal approach of these four folks has not evolved or “matured” in the past two decades, as they still play a rowdy and tight form of hardcore-punk that melds first-wave Southern Cali hardcore-punk and the Y2K “bandana thrash” revival with precision. Definitely sounds like a band that could’ve shared the stage with Gordon Solie Motherfuckers, Paint It Black, Deathreat and Life’s Halt, and I’m almost certain that its collective band members have already done so over the years. I also find it cool that Revelation decided to release it, as Planet On A Chain and their accompanying live photographs from Rob Coons (speaking of hardcore lifers) are a bit crustier/punker than the clean-cut Nike SB Dunk style I’d tend to associate with the label, but sonically as true to the ‘core as can be. Good work, everyone!

PRC Elastic Time LP (Blue Mind)
Intriguingly scant information is to be found on PRC’s Elastic Time on the world wide web. I understand they’re a Detroit trio and am semi-intelligently-guessing that this is their debut. As it’s recorded by Fred Thomas and engineered by XV’s Shelley Salant, they’re clearly clued into some cool likeminded folks, and who knows, they might even share personnel elsewhere! It’s not uncommon, you know. In listening to Elastic Time, such a connection makes sense, as their songs are rough and vaguely esoteric garage-inspired indie-rock. The bare-bones recording is traditional and appropriate, the sort of sound that if PRC was to record a music video, it’d be them playing in some plain room with a swirling eye hovering over them and modest analog effects. Reminds me of Great Plains, Cheater Slicks and V-3 at times, or at least if you take those groups as a sort of jumping-off point into the darker indie-rock of the ’90s like Un and Come; had PRC existed in 1995, they would’ve certainly found a favorable home with Siltbreeze, let’s say. They might even in 2023 if they keep at it! The way the vocals are delivered over impatient scraggly guitars makes it feel like each member is staring right at me without blinking, which I appreciate, and they mix it up enough to keep things interesting – check the hopeless slow-burner “Mellow” and savor the way that buzzing one-note synth keeps creeping up. Detroit bands have an uncanny knack for sounding like Detroit bands and PRC is no exception.

The Purge Of Tomorrow The Other Side Of Devastation 12″ (Modern Obscure Music)
Never a dull moment in Shackleton’s laboratory, and this new one under this also-new The Purge Of Tomorrow moniker is particularly exceptional. It’s Shackleton himself, and while I can see the appeal of picking new names for new projects, The Other Side Of Devastation sounds like Shackleton even if it doesn’t quite behave like a typical Shackleton production, should such a thing exist. These two side-long pieces are extravagant and hypnotic, calmly rhythmic and richly layered, with every little particle sounding perfectly polished and in place, like a gothic antique store filled to the brim with sparklingly creepy rings and jewels. I’m reminded a bit of Shackleton’s epic Music For The Quiet Hour release, as dance BPMs are entirely forgone in service to moods both trippy and occult, various voices passing through the glistening sound-field as if on their way to another world. Very much in the spirit of Coil, Nurse With Wound and even David Lynch, but so distinctly Shackleton. I see this release is tagged as “dark ambient” on Discogs, and while I can acknowledge that The Other Side Of Devastation would work well on the sound-system of a new-age body-piercing salon, there’s a blissful lightness to both of these tracks that feels apropos for a sensory-deprivation floatation tank. Either way, this is some sublime body music.

Pyrex Pyrex LP (Total Punk)
Pyrex are a trio hailing from Atlanta and Australia who wound up together in Brooklyn, three locales rich with vaguely dirt-baggy dudes making aggressive noisy post-punk clatter. Though their quaint kitchen-accessory name has kind of an egg-punk feel, these guys are well-oiled and raring to go with nary a bloopy keyboard or kooky vocal in sight, stomping through tom-heavy beats, repetitive down-picked chords and hoarse vocals. Imagine if Metz had their sights set on signing to Goner, or if Spray Paint and Lamps got together to try and play the closest thing they could to hardcore-punk. It’s a pretty no-frills, music-first affair, from the almost non-existent artwork, one- or two-word song titles (sans lyric sheet) and only three black-and-white live pics of each member on the insert. I dunno, I tend to appreciate punk bands that opt out of artifice and pomp, who just lay the music out and let you decide, but the simplicity of the music, aesthetic and delivery here is all so streamlined and/or non-applicable that I find myself wishing Pyrex would let us know at least a little something about themselves. What makes Pyrex Pyrex instead of a hundred other similar bands, you know? Total Punk is a label stuffed with garish weirdos who want to leave a strong impression and Pyrex seem sweet and shy by comparison.

Science Man Mince’s Cane 12″ (Swimming Faith)
Much like science itself, there is simply no slowing the progress of Buffalo’s Science Man, an ostensible solo project from John Toohill of Alpha Hopper (among his numerous other projects). The endlessly-busy punker has a steady stream of releases on his Swimming Faith label, many of which have recently bared the Science Man name, like this new seven-song EP (the program repeating on both sides). Science Man seems to start from a point of garage-punk and pushes the intensity into a realm befitting grindy hardcore (if that isn’t necessarily the final outcome). The vocals are unintelligible screams, the guitars are bouncing into the red and the drums, which I believe used to be the work of a drum machine, sound like a real kit this time around (though it’s all so buried in the distortion that my investigation has stalled). Kinda sounds like something Toxic State would’ve released in 2014, and it’s just as covered in stamped ink and screened cardstock as Toxic State likes to do it. These are definitely songs, but they come at you so overblown and frantic that it kind of just blends into a sound, perhaps too frantic for its own good if you’re the type of person who wants to experience some sort of memorable rock moment. If you just want your paint-peeled a bit, however, Science Man has a firehose of this stuff, ready to aim directly at your face.

Spitting Image Full Sun LP (Slovenly)
When I think of Slovenly Records, I think of retro-inspired international garage-rock, and when I see an album titled Full Sun and described as “High Desert psychedelic punk” on the front sticker, I’m thinking of Meat Puppets and Destruction Unit. That’s a lot of thinking for one person, and I’m pleased to confirm that my expectations were fully upended by this sharp full-length debut. Reno’s Spitting Image have been at it for over ten years, yet Full Sun is their first vinyl album, and I have to say, I deeply appreciate bands that don’t rush things. In their case, they got to put together a dynamic and interesting collection of moody post-punk / hard-indie tunes, utilizing the tuneful shout-alongs of DC’s first wave of emo, melodic grunge riffing and American downer post-punk bootstrapping. I’m reminded quite a bit of Waste Man, another scrappy group who synthesize a variety of underground motifs and sensations into a potent and modern brew, as much of Full Sun also has me hallucinating Guy Picciotto playing in a Wipers cover band with the guy who does Smirk, or Deaf Wish loosely re-interpreting the Gun Club catalog. Years ago, Full Sun would’ve been one of those hidden gems with a Dutch East India logo on the back, stuffed in a dollar bin and scoffing at all the uninformed browsers who passed it by. As for now, it’s immediately listenable on Bandcamp, at least until the company that owns the company that owns Bandcamp decides to downsize and scrapes it from the internet. At that point, back to the dollar bins we go!

Timmy’s Organism Lone Lizard LP (Sweet Time)
It’s way too easy to take tripped-out punk lifer Timmy Vulgar for granted. Much like the Doordash delivery guy, he’s out there sweating through the grunt-work to make life better for the rest of us (or at least less monotonous), in his case by hitting the road with various freak-rock outfits and producing a constant stream of stellar recordings. Timmy’s Organism has been his main pursuit for a good number of years now (though some of his records with Human Eye remain personal favorites), and seeing as he never quit making music, it can be easy to pass one or two albums over, thinking you’ll just catch the next one. I know I have! But I’ve got Lone Lizard here with me now, and it’s a pleasant reminder of what this man can do. It’s a hard-rock record through and through, though the punkness lies in the approach: hammered-out riffs, noisy psychedelia, a sloppy thrill that meets the people on their own terms. These songs are more crafted than some of the appealingly-warped acid sploodge he’s provided in the past, landing somewhere between Hawkwind, Dust and Buffalo, hairy-chest rock n’ roll that’ll knock Jack White’s top hat sideways. If anyone can combine the seemingly incongruent states of spiked leather and psychedelic-print polyester scarfs, or bald and long hair, it’s Mr. Vulgar, truly a lone lizard for our times.

Al Usher The Evenings / The Visitors 12″ (Misericord)
Hot damn, best funky Balaeric dance single of 2023 thus far! “The Evenings” is right up there with Pender Street Steppers, M83, Tensnake, Alek Lee, all my favorite smooth-as-silk downtempo electro-pop, perfectly teetering on the edge of silly/serious with some severely sumptuous leads and snappy Nile Rodgers-inspired bass licks. Al Usher’s partner in love, “Jeanette”, provides the vocals here, with a sophisticated and vaguely European enunciation ala Ann Steel that seems to be about parenthood, but in a completely non-cloying way? All the pieces are weird and yet they fit together perfectly. “The Visitors” steps up the energy ala Lindstrøm & Christabelle, like a DJ night on a yacht that projects Jane Fonda workout tapes on a white wall next to the complimentary chardonnay station. I could listen to tunes like this day and night. As the Misericord folks surely know what a winner they’ve got here, the flip contains a tasteful Ewan Pearson edit of “The Evenings”, leaving all the winning parts in place, as well as an instrumental if you want to try your hand at Jeanette karaoke. No one sings the phrase “functioning alcoholic” like she does, but it sure is fun to try!

Weak Signal War & War LP (12XU)
This is the first record I’ve seen that is “reissued” by a new label after being “released” “digitally” by a different label. You don’t have to call me old-fashioned – I know I am, to a fault perhaps – but the idea of digital-only labels stumps me a little; can’t you just do it yourself at that point? Bandcamp is where it’s gonna end up, and Bandcamp is free! Actually, I took a look and maybe the original label also released a highly-limited CD version with an accompanying book? Hmm… anyway, I’m glad that someone (namely 12XU) found War & War worthy of a big twelve-inch black vinyl slab, because that’s how it found its way to me and it’s a cool one indeed. The first thing I noticed is the overall sound they’ve got going on, as if the lows are maxed out on everything, from the guitars to the drums to the vocals, not so much a heavy record as a consistently booming one. It’s a cool feel, kinda lo-fi but mostly just deep sounding in a Mary Chain way, and it’s an interesting fit for their garage-y, downer-twee indie-pop. Sounds like Crystal Stilts if you were listening to them play with your head in the kick drum, but I was never big on Crystal Stilts and I really dig War & War, so go figure? Kinda has a soft, almost indifferent K Records vibe as well, and each song carries its own weight, from upbeat fuzzy jams to slower meandering grooves. Times New Viking on ketamine, maybe? All I know is that I haven’t gotten “Poor People” out of my head since I first heard it, which is a pleasantly troubling state of affairs.

Why Bother? A City Of Unsolved Miseries LP (Feel It)
Much like the novel coronavirus, Why Bother? have evolved quickly in their short existence, starting off as kind of a monster-movie punk outfit and becoming something more bleakly human and developed. A City Of Unsolved Miseries is their newest and most melodic, still calling to mind The Spits, but a Spits with black eyeliner smoking outside the party, not in the kitchen doing kegstands. Some songs are very much in that Midwestern Killed By Death spirit, but others (like “The Quiet One”) have a home-recorded 4AD style, recalling the very best that Blank Dogs had to offer. It might sound tricky to reconcile the contrasting punk approaches of silly and serious, jumpy and morose, but Why Bother? make it feel like a natural meshing, calling to mind the brief time when Buzzcocks and Joy Division shared club stages and social scenes, or out-of-place one-of-a-kinds like Debris and The Gizmos. It’s fun when punk bands side-step codification and just kinda exist on their own, not worried about making sense so much as honestly expressing their inner freak. You could follow the pre-established aesthetic guidelines that make listeners comfortable, but, uh, why bother?

Wirecutter Little Faith LP (Boomslang)
Gnarly debut effort here from Berlin improv duo Wirecutter. Micha Hoppe is on the drums and Sid Werner is on the diddley bow (plus both touch some synths) and the vibe is like 75 Dollar Bill reimagined as a black-metal group, or Will Guthrie collaborating with Tongue Depressor, or Aufgehoben tasked with scoring a new Mandalorian soundtrack. It’s gloriously wretched stuff, Hoppe’s drums sounding like they are being beaten out of shape and Werner’s endlessly deep squall evoking some form of primal flatulence, as if the Earth itself groaned from a case of irritable bowels. Certain moments of fury call to mind Lightning Bolt at their most feral, but Wirecutter quickly stray from full-scale assault to tonal exploration, the diddley bow consistently pushed to its heaviest pitches, teetering on the edge of what could be considered “tuned”. I love when free improv conjures sweltering swamp dungeons crusted in years of filth – Wolf Eyes ostensibly the masters of the technique – and Wirecutter are immediately up there with Little Faith, or should I say down below.