The Shortlist: Demos, EPs, Splits and Reissues (Issue 28)

The Shortlist: Demos, EPs, Splits and Reissues (Issue 28)

EPs:

Noi!se: Dull the Pain
Pirates Press / Randale Records / Longshot Music

Oi’s current favorite sons have released a reminder they are not gone yet. Two songs rip on the Dull the Pain 7”. This Seattle quartet has impressed fans with their fast, tight, gritty punk for years. Never afraid to throw in catchy and emotional lines, they hit the gut and heart. Out on black, gold, white, or olive green vinyl.

Stadium Way: Stadium Way
Pirates Press / Randale Records

Matt Henson—bassist and covocalist of Noi!se—also recorded an acoustic side project with Noi!se guitarist Kenny Birkes. On this self-titled Stadium Way 7”, we get four tracks of moving music, with Interrupters’ Kevin Bivona helping out on organ. Available on black, white, or silver vinyl.

Bishops Green: Back to Our Roots, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
Randale Records / Longshot Music / Rebellion Records

Another band sweeping the worldwide punk scene are Bishops Green. They have been touring relentlessly and expanding their geographic imprint all over Europe this summer. Established as part of Vancouver’s rich history in bands like Subway Thugs and Lancasters, the members deliver two EPs. Each contain a new song from an upcoming album and a cover. Volume 1 comes in black, green, and blue; Volume 2 in orange, black, and red.

Vimur: Exegesis
Boris Records

Boris Records gives us their Atlanta brothers, Vimur. This new one-sided 12” EP, Exegesis, represents the band’s first recording with their full live line-up. And it makes a difference. The bands slay as it rips through three songs over 20 minutes. Vimur revel in exemplary songwriting. The sections of the eight-minute opener traverse punishing, fast black metal, with opportunities to explore NWOBHM, thrash, and even a little groove. The one-sided 12” format gives the audience prime audio to drown in this aural savagery.

Hellgoat: Eden in Flames
Boris Records / Pale Horse Records

Boris and Pale Horse Records join to offer the menacing Hellgoat’s new two-sided vinyl 7”. Here we have one of the most unique bands in the black metal scene. Hellgoat’s fierce delivery of sludgy, ugly misanthropy is as intimidating as their live reputation. For over a decade, this Satanic trio have pummeled through blistering black metal. A stark logo and black vinyl make this a must.

Mouth Of Madness: Mouth of Madness
Iron Bonehead

Summoning the spirit of early ‘90s death metal, Mouth Of Madness release a five-track cassette-only EP. The German band recorded the songs in December 2015, and they have now been committed to tape for the world. This is a duo that sounds like a five piece. The production is clean, crisp, and damn heavy. Shattering, echoing vocals over thick, sinister riffs give this a big sound. This easily could have been from Morris Sound. The tracks are well thought-out and executed with sharp time changes and layered production. Bringing in blackened thrash riffs and drums, this fast and feral sound is easily a top contender if people get the chance to cop it.

Sick Of It All: When the Smoke Clears
Century Media

I missed many great punk bands as a teen, thinking they were too light or catchy, because I wanted every band to sound like Sick Of It All. I found them at 14 years old, in 1991. They were 5-years-old then. They were the first live hardcore show I saw, with Slapshot. Three decades into their existence, and I still see them each time they come through. Sick Of It All balanced personal rage with the injustices and frustrations of our society and its politics. Representing Queens, N.Y., with their metallic meets Oi! brand of NYHC, the band breathe authenticity. These four dudes are the same members since 1994 and their third LP. Over 10 studio LPs and many other live discs and EPs, they have toured the world and fueled multiple generations of hardcore kids and fans. They train and limit vices so they can continue.

Sick Of It All’s last three albums have continued to be dark and visceral. The harsher sound has driven a resurgence in their shows and albums. Century Media, who have released the last few, give us a new five-track EP, When the Smoke Clears. Sick Of It All are forged by 30 years of strict integrity, incendiary passion, and a sincere attitude for the music, scene, and fans. When the Smoke Clears sees the Alleyway vets compiling “rare and iconic shots from their photo archives that will comprise a new, limited-edition, 60-page coffee table book. Wrapped in fake leather, the book will include personal liner notes from such people as Davey Havok (AFI), Dennis Lyxzén (Refused), Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Arthur Smilios (Gorilla Biscuits), and Matt Kelly (Dropkick Murphys).”

SPLITS:

Spectral Voice / Phrenelith: Split 7” EP
Iron Bonehead / Dark Descent

Spectral Voice from Denver and Phrenelith of Denmark fuse an evil bond, conspiring with Iron Bonehead and Dark Descent Records to unleash this malicious split 7”. Each side is cursed with an exclusive track from these bands currently disturbing the underground death metal scene. Neither band have released a full-length, but here, we learn why both bands are being honored. Includes gothic etching by artist Emil Tibell.

REISSUES:

Warzone: Don’t Forget the Struggle, Don’t Forget the Streets
Revelation Records

How do you write about one of your favorite albums ever? It’s easily lauded as one of the top five NYHC—if not all hardcore—albums. While angry and immediately demanding, even confrontational, DFTS, DFTS is truly positive and motivating. The album is boiling with energy in its lyrics and its boisterous guitars and rampant drums. DFTS, DFTS embraces unity and rising from the wreckage of misguided youth, rife with the reality of the streets from which vocalist Raybeez and Lower East Side Crew cultivated their stories. A definitive document of the NYC scene of the ‘80s, this is a must own.

This has been out of print for decades in CD and vinyl format. I still recall the heartbreak in the early 2000s, walking into a favorite record store in The Cape as I watched some trendy girl walking out with an original of this record in her hand. The one time I saw it in public. Reminds me of the times I saw Revelation Records #1, Warzone’s LES EP, in Trash CT or Generation NYC for 60 dollars before Raybeez passed in 2007. And I thought 60 dollars was steep! Well, now, everyone gets one of the greatest NYHC manifestos ever. From the iconic introduction skit to the rally cry for scene unity among outcasts engrained in each song, every second of this album is one of emotion and perseverance. Ray championed an eclectic scene where metalheads and youth crew and punks and skins all danced hard to Warzone’s metallic crunch. “Skinhead Youth,” “We’re the Crew,” the title track, “Fuck Your Attitude,” “Crazy, but Not Insane,” It’s Your Choice,” and more will have you moshing “In the Mirror.” Always Keep the Faith. RIP Raybeez.

Available in multiple colors on 12” vinyl: 1086 on blue, 2108 on red. The packaging is revamped by artist, John Omen. Now including unseen photos and liner notes by drummer, Luke Abbey, who continued on with Gorilla Biscuits.

Blonde Redhead: Masculin Féminin Box Set
Numero Group

Numero Group continue their adoration for early indie NYC music with their 200 series. This box set celebrates the enigmatic Blonde Redhead’s out-of-print early recordings with a four-LP or two-CD set featuring 37 tracks. Masculin Féminin joins their first two albums—1995’s self-titled and La Mia Via Violenta—for Steve Shelley’s Smells Like Records, and includes early singles, demos, and radio performances. Accompanying the four orange and yellow 12”s—limited to 1000—are previously unpublished photographs and two lengthy essays on the band.

Blonde Redhead were known for combing ‘60s Italian pop, avant-garde art vibes, Godard and Warhol. They certainly could push speed and anger with their instruments, but often, the dissonant echo of guitars and off-beat drums complimented the scratchy, pining voice of Kazu Makino. Her tales of loss evoked piercing pain and frustration, achieving a sound that was raw and cinematic. Noisy and beautiful, these records remind us of the first steps that shaped this iconic band.

Godflesh: Songs of Love and Hate
Earache

Godflesh was a first of their kind. Justin Broadrick left Napalm Death to begin his own journey. Now, whether you call them metal with a drum machine or industrial metal, you have to call them monumental and one of metal’s true landmarks. Songs of Love and Hate is a second monument, as it is the first time Broadrick brought a live drummer into the fold of Godflesh. Stark and mechanical, Songs of Love and Hate reflects the callous concrete of Birmingham, where industrial is a term to describe the landscape of occupations, not the music. Earache have been re-pressing other Godflesh records, Selfless and Streetcleaner. Here, we find Broadrick spewing his disgust and degradation at a brutal world shaped by a chilling environment. Songs of Love and Hate will be available on 12” vinyl in “Heavenly Gold,” “Love Red,” or black.

Big Star: Complete Third Three-CD Box Set
Omnivore Recordings

Many bands have documentaries made about them, but mostly, it’s because of their fame, influence, and notoriety. Fame and recognition taunted and evaded Big Star—let the irony sink in—but influence, that they did accomplish. In the vein of “Heart of Darkness,” “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” “Lost in La Mancha,” and “Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau,” “Nothing Can Hurt Me” is a frustrating film about a tumultuous and doomed project. Big Star’s Complete Third is a rare mix that encapsulates mod/British Invasion influence mixed with folk-rock and the artistic atmosphere of the Velvet Underground.

Fifteen years before “alternative” was even a term, Big Star weaved acoustic strums, atmospheric strings, and subversive lyrics into anti-pop magic. To collapse a large story arc into a sentence, the band recorded their third album in 1974, it was shelved, released four years later, repackaged, renamed, and bootlegged often. Omnivore finally releases the proper document of Complete Third, including “every demo, rough mix, alternate take, and final master known to exist, plus extensive liner notes from original participants and artists deeply influenced by Big Star, as well as many previously unseen photos. Sixty-nine total tracks, 29 of which are previously unheard session recordings, demos, and alternate mixes made by producer Jim Dickinson and engineer John Fry.” Included are comments and notes from Wilco, Rykodisc staff, R.E.M., The Jayhawks, The Bangles, and more. Fans of Belle And Sebastian, Elliot Smith, Radiohead, and many others should take note.

Cheap Girls: God’s Ex-Wife
Asian Man Records

Michigan’s Cheap Girls have been surprising audiences of Against Me!, Joyce Manor, and The Gaslight Anthem over the last few years. Culminating B sides and rare tracks from their 10 years and four full-lengths, the God’s Ex-Wife collection punches with a subtle tickle. Their idiosyncratic elements form catchy rhythms surrounded by distant atmospheres. The lush indulgence of instrumentation is ensnared in the inevitable pop hooks and drums. Easily enjoyable for its immediate snap, God’s Ex-Wife reinvests the listener later with cerebral massages.

Off With Their Heads: Won’t Be Missed
Anxious And Angry Records

Ryan Young and John Polydoros of Off With Their Heads have stepped outside their comfort zone and known sound to give fans 10 tracks of selected OWTH favorites recorded acoustically. Young admits, “For years, one of my friends told me that our songs would work well acoustic. I always wrote it off, because acoustic guitars make me uncomfortable.” Well, Young and Polydoros moved with discomfort in tow and solidified energetic, honest songs. “I wound up really liking how it turned out,” he adds.

The pair kept it simple when approaching Won’t Be Missed. Reportedly only needing 10 hours in a vocal booth, the songs transformed the musicians’ perception of their own music. Young continues, “We wanted to do something that maintained the feeling that it was real. I think a lot of music today is missing a rawness to it. Too much emphasis on being perfect and less on the vibe.”

Young heeds, “It’s not some kind of ‘new direction’ or anything. If people don’t like it, there is by no means any kind of gun to their head to change their mind.” The record will be released on Young’s label, which is far more than a release mechanism for music. “Anxious And Angry is its own beast that constantly evolves naturally,” he says. “It started as an online t-shirt shop. Then, it turned into that along with a podcast getting my friends to talk about mental health. Then, all of that, plus an online record store.” Anxious And Angry’s first step in this new acoustic direction is a must get for OWTH fans.

Read more of The Shortlist here.

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