Reissue of the Week on MRR: Blitzkrieg

1-blitzkrieg-naslov-1BLITZKRIEG – “Apel” EP
Croatia, our distant love affair continues! Underrated, shambolic protest punk from Zagreb. BLITZKRIEG formed in 1984, then a year later recorded their four-track demo in two days. All four are on this nice slab of wax, and fuck if they aren’t all really good. The recital intro to “Apel” (“Appeal”) from the bleach-blonde, leather-clad singer is giving me chills—it’s annoyed and determined and snarky and passionate. “This is an appeal to reality.” A rockin’ riff rolls in and the gritty mid-tempo has me sucked in. The singer is kind of dragging his voice, sniggering between lyrics, while the guitars are kind falling apart in a warm wave of basement fuzz. “Tko je kriv?” (“Who is to blame?”) is a certified jammer, with its chopped up guitars and impatient vocals: “Who is to blame for the quiet agony of society?” All tracks have been remastered but I enjoy the graininess to this recording; it’s so analog and intimate, it adds character and depth, of which they already have ample. Comes with translated lyrics and cool pictures—some seminal Yugo punk! (Lydiya)
(NE!)

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Record of the Week on MRR: COPYCATS – An Idea Died LP

copycats_lp-300x303Listen up, because this one’s great, straight outta Granada in the autonomous region of Andalusia! Super catchy, poppy, guitar-driven garage rock, with unabashed punk ’77 flares and lots of very memorable, well orchestrated hooks and choruses. Their name and the post-modern subtitle concept of “an idea dies…another is born” matches the smart and excited execution of the COPYCATS‘ material, and each song makes me stir in my seat as I think of what might have inspired them: the GUN CLUB, WIRE, the FLESH EATERS, the VIBRATORS, the JAM. There are even moments when the singer sounds like an agitated Mick Jagger (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, an homage perhaps to the ’60s influence they undeniably have but do not flaunt) though most of the time he carries off a blaze, cheeky attitude akin to Darby Crash, Jay Reatard, or Trent Ruane of the MUMMIES. Don’t let all these poached sonic trinkets mislead you. The songwriting is catchy and not overly complicated (yes, there’s an opening riff that sounds like “London Calling”) but they do a terrific and creative job of mixing their influences into something genuine, grander, and ultimately their own. Some bands end up being bad imitators of their heroes, and then some bands just do actually sound like they fell through a time portal. Socially conscious lyrics in English, great cover artwork and, all in all, a really nice surprise. After about 50 listens it still has me hooked!
(CCATS)

Record of the Week on MRR: P.I.G.Z. Bloody Belgium EP

pigz_ep“Belgium is a mess. And that’s not half bad!” spits Yves Lafere before an anthemic guitar creeps in, finally breaking out into what can and should only be considered a Punk with a capital “P” classic! From the catchy riffing to the biting, emphasized vocals and jittery drums that seem to want to race ahead, “Bloody Belgium” is to P.I.G.Z. what “Blitzkrieg Bop” was to the RAMONES: an emblematic magnum opus epitomizing their sound and aesthetic. “Is this Democracy, or is this blindness?” he chastises and squeals, everything sounding charismatically shambolic but utterly electrified. On the flip, “Stooges” slams in with an attitude-filled riff, not unlike the way “God Save the Queen” does, and has a distinctly heavy tone akin to that of the STOOGES or MC5, with steel-hard chords and Lafere snarling, “Too many problems in my life, too many problems ’cause I wanna be me!” Closer “Shall I” is the snottiest of the lot, a short, severe, hand-clapping reaction to societal expectations and identity frustration—timeless teenage rampage! JW’s Records originally pressed these three crown jewels of Belgian punk to a 12″ after the band won first place in 1978’s First Belgian Punk Contest, and they were rereleased once again by German Payola Records that same year. Both are apparently rare as fuck, so Ugly Pop has done us all a massive favor and made these three perfectly p-u-n-k masterpieces available yet again; remastered and packaged beautifully, with pictures, reprints of newspaper clippings and an intro text framing this seminal, absolutely essential record.
(Ugly Pop)

Record of the Week on MRR: Taulard

taulard_lpAfter my recent fascination with ’80s French Oi! and coldwave, here comes something equally interesting, one to add to my list of grande musique de France: keyboard-, drum- and bass-driven synthpunk right out of current day Grenoble! I love everything about this release: the mixed bag of influences (punk, post-punk, electro, hip hop, Renaissance music!) the subtle cinematic orchestration, the layout of the inner sleeve and silk screened Miró-esque cover. The almost church organ-like keyboard tunes steal the show, sounding like they’re coming from some busted up old ’60s synth, wafting and weaving through the tight, minimal yet animated drumming (kick, floor tom, snare and hi-hat), the soulful rhythms of the bass (that fullness of jazz, that spike of punk, that slight funk edge) and the attitude-filled vocals (with that poeticism that the French language inherently possesses). The backing vocal harmonies leave a ’60s psych garage aftertaste, but the keyboard and vocals really manage to set a multitude of tones and moods to real-life settings (suffocation, depression, drunken mirth, traveling, crushes, loss, sexual mistakes). There is a sense of humour (even mockery) to the performance, and the A-side almost sounds as if a bunch of punks got together in a brick basement (upon Roman ruins for all I know) to write a soundtrack to the urban comedy/drama they call life. Don’t let that playful attitude fool you though; the darker B-side ends the show on a morose tone, where disappointment and disillusion abound; a bad trip confession set to music. Bitter yet sweet, magical yet haunted, vintage yet moderne. Fucking brilliant! Get it!
(self-released)

Listen/download here

Record of the Week on MRR: D.H.K. – Extinciön EP

dhk_extincionAh yes! One of the best bands to come out of Peru right now! After Odio los Discos and La Vida Es Un Mus, Hysteria Records carries the torch and releases yet another great slab of wax by these sonic-destructo punks! Raw, blown out, primal and heavy D-beat with Spanish stylings and lots of bellowing, distorted bass (I can almost hear the walls rumble!). Political lyrics and brash vocals command you to pay attention, with simple yet effective chunky riffs that fill out the racketing drums as they career and gallop around your head without cease. It’s funny how some bands try exceptionally hard to get this rough and gruff sound, and then others just ooze it naturally. I think it has more to do with the social and political circumstances that spawned DHK and their sound, and less to do with the actual style of music played, because there is something so genuine to be found here, it’s inspiring. “What future is we are waiting for?” There’s a level of meaning distilled, an ingrained authenticity and a connection to the grievances of life that other releases simply don’t have—or at least they’re not as legit as this. Stand out tracks are “Kasta Kuando” and “Por Ke Soy Punk” with a melancholic riff that makes my skin crawl. You could stick to your hyped, gimmick hardcore farce-bands, or you could listen to this and feel the force. Comes in an über-råpunk silk screened cover—highly recommended.
(Hysteria Records)

¡En español! Una entrevista a DHK en la Maximum Rocknroll #355

Read the Spanish version of our 2012 interview with DHK from Maximum Rocknroll #355

Record of the Week on MRR: Snob Value – “Whiteout” LP

snobvaluelp-300x300Let me start by saying that SNOB VALUE have been busy busy busy, with their kicking-and-punching first tape, aptly named Keep It Short and Simple – K.I.S.S., in 2009, then another killer tape in 2010, which I also friggin’ loved, so I have anticipated this for quite a while! I can tell that they’ve definitely worked on this LP, and these tracks are doused in indignation, antisocial aggression and contempt for humanity. I can relate: “I don’t give a shit about what you did, when you were my age in 1986 … Sometimes I wish I were deaf, I would have peace at last.” Yes, antisocial hardcore for angry people, reminiscent of USHC classics like the CIRCLE JERKS, DEAD KENNEDYS, MINOR THREAT and more contemporary outfits such as the REGULATIONS and BRUTAL KNIGHTS. The compositions are still tight and catchy but the band has developed them more, with slower, groovier hooks, slower intros, meaner guitar interludes and solos, layers, and the ever-present spiteful vocals; the kind of spite discovered in late adulthood, when you realize adulthood sucks and your peers are a joke!

While SNOB VALUE‘s work has never lacked lyrical aggression or sonic force, these tracks have a more polished production, which makes conventional sense for a debut LP I suppose, though they don’t entirely lack that seedy, subversive sound. Also, the artwork is quite minimal (“contrast reduction, disappeared horizon”) and while it’s handmade and still looks good, it doesn’t compare to their previous punk-ass designs. “1986,” “Hammer & Öl,” and “Whiteout” are the standout tracks. “1986” is dark, honest, ballsy and foaming at the mouth — their pièce de résistance for this album, if you ask me; “Hammer & Öl” is sung in the band’s native German and, of course, sounds all the more menacing for it; and the title track is a SNOB VALUE essential: short and simple, fast, effective, mind-pounding. I’m already flipping this faster than I can keep track of. While I do appreciate the more serious take they seem to have taken on this release, I honestly hope they keep some distortion and dirt intact. It’s that blunt frustration that makes ’em so great! Minor detail: I love it when bands have little messages scratched onto the wax; on ether side of this white 12″ was: “World peace can be fun—Anarchy’s a blast.” Fuck yes!

(Crapoulet Records / Prügelprinz / Spastic Fantastic)