Rolex is an LA hardcore band whose self-titled record is out now on 11 PM Records. You can stream the record and read what we have to say about it below:
Rolex are a band with a very well-defined sound and aesthetic, with clear reference points, none of which appear with any frequency within the current canon of contemporary punk. However, if you believe, as many did in the ’80s, that punk died sometime in the twilight of the Carter Administration, and that hardcore, faults and all, was punk’s one-and -only heir, which again, a lot of folks did at the time, then Rolex will seem less like an anomaly and more like an inevitability.
In the punk (by which I mean hardcore) scene of the early ’80s in California, just about every weirdo and disaffected drop-out of the era ended up rubbing shoulders, regardless of class, race, or creed. And in the widely flat social space, the rock club stage became a playground for every manner of loosely cogent solicitor. It’s this era of exploration that gave us one of the many under-appreciated institutions that helped to subtlety define DIY punk’s aesthetic, Mystic Records.
The progenitor of the seven-inch as punk and hardcore’s secret to economical distribution (not to mention their work in popularizing multi-artist comps and color-variant vinyl), Mystic Records was the first to sign and distribute records by many acts who would go on to become household names amongst squat dwellers and the chronically unemployable across the U.S. and the world. Rolex, without hesitation, have dove headfirst into the legacy of this label in both the quality of their sound, and the trajectory of their recorded output.
Begining in 2017, Rolex began producing lo-fi demo tapes in the style of Mystic’s bite-sized seven-inches, each named after a letter of their own name, eventually culminating in a self-titled album in 2020 (also a seven-inch). These early records have that spastic, thrashy, RKL energy that bleeds into the brash, nerds-with-beach-bodies style of surf punk pioneered by … well, Surf Punks!
Throughout the album, you can hear the high-tuned guitars clashing against the lo-driving rhythm section like a guy’s feet smear into the rolling road beneath him as he screams for his life, hanging off the bumper of a restored Edsell as it rips down an L.A. freeway at some god-less hour of the morning. Beckoning you to take a look out your balcony window to see what all the hollering is about, but repelling you just enough to prompt an epiphany that if you investigate too closely, you’ll likely befall the same fate.
There is no mistaking the influence of a band like the Minutemen on the frenzied, ego-popping, jump of “Hip Intellect,” no matter how unorthodox or homely the clattering intro rhythm is. However, Rolex is doing more than simply lampooning the masters on tracks like “Brazen Deceit” and “Turn Your Money Green,” as this is a band that is very adept at building momentum with economy, making a minute and change song feel both more melodic and dynamic than any number of bands who have embraced the label melodic punk over the years (Descendents, NOFX, etc. …).
You name them, and Rolex will pop a dirt-bike wheely and spin a circle around them so fast it will make give you motion-sickness. Rather than clean the sick off your shirt, though, why not lean into the depravity of it all, with the Ill Repute stricken “Wild Illusions” or the surf rock-showdown and full sense surrender of “I Hate the Beach.”
Depraved, concise, and chaotic, with a strong sense of its own sonic linage, it will be hard to find a more thoughtfully constructed record that will knock you senseless faster than Rolex’s self-titled seven-inch.