The Shortlist: Demos, EPs, Splits, and Reissues (Issue 59)

OFF! | Metallica Blacklist 
September 10

Bringing a raging energy to a tepid Metallica offering from the divisive Black Album, OFF! return with fury, and damn do they make this song their own. Frenetic and gloomy, OFF! use their track on the upcoming Metallica Blacklist (with 53 bands providing covers) as an incendiary flare to announce the new line up. Well, new rhythm section. Of course, Keith Morris’ snarl remains the signature over Dimitri Coates’ fuzzy riffs. Joining them now are Autry Fullbright II and Justin Brown. OFF! made a video for this which is really a short film with an amusing narrative fronted by David Yow (The Jesus Lizard) as a … let’s say, flawed, priest. The short kicks off in fun fashion with Angelo Moore as an impotent manager. 

This also stands as the announcement of OFF!’s signing to Fat Possum Records (which has an eclectic and legendary roster of artists and releases). Fat Possum will be reissuing OFF!’s catalog in upcoming months. All of these efforts will coincide with a new studio album from the reinvigorated band.  

Action Rock Jukebox 45 Series | Screaming Crow Records

Screaming Crow Records will end up releasing eight whole 45’s with current rock ’
n’ roll miscreants covering classic rock cuts. Pittsburgh’s The Cheats will handle “Rock ‘n’ Roll Love Letter” by Bay City Rollers and a new original, “Cussin, Crying n Carrying On,” on 100 Pink or black vinyl. Cologne, Germany’s Stacy Crowne, grapple with Golden Earring’s turbo-fueled classic “Radar Love” and their original, “Dead of Night,” on 100 mint-green or black vinyl. From The Netherlands, The Dirty Denims get the daunting task of KISS’ “Rock n Roll All Night” with a sultry presentation via vocalist Mirjam Sieben, mixing Ramones, Donnas, and AC/DC power chord attack. They back it with their track “Better Believe It” on 100 white or black vinyl. Germany’s Black Sheriff expertly handle J Geils’ “Centerfold” as well as their original, “Johnny’s Fight” on 100 red or black vinyl. 

Angel Olsen | Aisles EP | Somethingscosmic
August 20

Having released four EPs and five studio albums since 2010, 34-year-old Angel Olsen has proven her tenacity and originality. She has cultivated much praise and many accolades for her songwriting. She has also done myriad collaborations with noted musical giants and established her individual presence. Olsen infuses indie-pop with twangy guitars and hypnotic, fuzz-melding country, and darkwave, shoegaze, and retro-folk. Her voice can sway from Joan Baez to Roy Orbison. 

Now, Olsen has decided to celebrate ’80s pop adoration with her signature—twisting and basking in a synth-drenched atmosphere. “Gloria” (Laura Branigan) is the first single and a standout on Aisles, layered with violins and choral vocals. Next, an upbeat and delicate version of Billy Idol’“Eyes Without a Face.” It is straight out of a John Hughes’ script, when the climax presents the weird girl as beautiful. Amusing and touching is Olsen’s slow moody churning of Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance.” Seductive yet quirky, she rides a pulsating synth rhythm and elevates the frivolity of the original. “If You Leave” (OMD) and “Forever Young” (Alphaville) sound as if they usher the listener through Blade Runners neon isolation. Olsen’s stated goal was to reinterpret these poppier songs through the lens of 2020’s quarantine. Audiences are immersed in a trippy miasma, and Olsen says she tried to be “fun and a little more spontaneous.” All five tracks benefit from grandiose production, in true ’80s fashion. 


Personality Crisis | Creatures for Awhile | Porterhouse Records

With the age of vinyl represses on micro-labels exponentially growing and fans craving actual albums, not ‘best ofs, there are still opportunities for cranky old punks to find new bands, even if they do not want anything born after 1985. Delving into Canada’s lost treasures has yielded this gem from Winnipeg’s Personality Crisis. Their sole release, Creatures for Awhile, boasts crunching punk with taut musicianship. Fronted by Mitch Funk’s deep, spooky vocals, the music is tough and low-toned. Fast, tight guitars provided by the twin-Gibson attack of Richard Duguay and Jimmy Green, roar over pounding drums and pronounced bass lines of Duane Eddy and Jon Card (later of D.O.A., SNFU, Subhumans CA).  

Fans of required bands like D.O.A. (especially), Kraut, T.S.O.L., Effigies, Zero Boys, and Offenders will shoot this directly into their veins. Originally released on Risky Records (San Francisco) in 1983, it is now pressed on black vinyl for optimal sound. Initially a pressing of 250, Porterhouse will plan something special for the albums 40th anniversary in 2023. In a cool move, Creatures for Awhile will be kept in full-time print for fans to discover in the future. 

Superchunk | Here’s to Shutting Up | Merge

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Superchunk’s 2001 LP, Here’s to Shutting Up, this now out of print LP saw the band step into their twelfth year after capturing the world from their Chapel Hill home. They eschewed the tantalizing ,major label carrot, sticking with Matador and Merge. As their eighth studio release, on HTSU, “The once-tightly wound hyper heroes have foregone the distortion in lieu of smoothed-out balladry and reflective repose” (Ryan Scheiber, Pitchfork,), which included steel lap guitars and other country flair. Delicate harmonies soothed ears with softer flush harmonies and songwriting. The indie stalwarts influenced the sound of Rilo Kiley and Postal Service as they ushered in a new decade. After this record, the band continued with covers, singles, and a live series (The Clambake Series), but would not release a full-length until 2010’Majesty Shredding. 

Limited-edition orange-swirl vinyl will available; including a CD, Bestial Warning, which boasts 13 unreleased demos. Vocalist and guitarist Mac McCaughan will be on a solo tour September 23 to October 3, while the full band will do an August 28 show at General Mayhem in Ohio.   

Despise You | West Side Horizons | Tankcrimes

Spat out in 1999, West Side Horizons was a cataclysmic event in powerviolence triggered by L.A.’s notorious bastards Despise You. Dually fronted by Chris Elder and Lulu Hernandez (aka Leticia Perez) screaming misanthropic and cynical visions of our crumbling society, Despise You’s lyrics captured the anger and nihilism of a generation. Their tumultuous soundscape revolved around Phil Vera’s (now of Trappist) riffs and drummer Rob Alaniz’s spastic drums. Initially—as this slab of wax covers 62 tracks and seven releases (EPs and splits)—this was the band’s line-up. But it would be remiss to not mention that there were other rotating musicians contributing to the chaos and pseudonyms used. It’s tough to keep track. But considering the band never released a full length (save a split LP with Agoraphobic Nosebleed in 2011 on Relapse), their impact is impressive. Despise You’s brand of crusty grindcore/anarcho-punk was ugly and vicious. Originally on Esper’s Pessimer label, now Tankcrimes reunites this filth with fans on blue-purple smash with splatter and crystal-clear with splatter, in a gatefold jacket with download card. 

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