Can’t Stand the MIDWEST #2

Physique – Punk Life Is Shit 12” EP (Iron Lung)
Are you still completely obsessed with DISCHARGE and D-beat punk? Never got over the first time you heard the album “WHY?” There is nothing wrong with that, and IRON LUNG RECORDS just put out the perfect record for you. PHYSIQUE’s  12” EP Punk Life Is Shit packs a lot into substance into a very short time span. The Olympia based band includes members of G.L.O.S.S. and topics of their debut include inept politicians, land stolen from indigenous people, gender struggles, and genetic manipulations. Yeah, that’s all on one side of a 12” at 45RPM, so maybe your band isn’t saying enough. I’m tired of hearing people say that they don’t like new punk bands, so maybe this record will change your narrow minded view. They aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here, but they have set out to destroy all oppressive systems, and that is more relevant than ever in 2018. “Constant Violence, total silence, life is no fairytale.”

Runt – Positions of Power LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
RUNT is an anarcho punk band from London reminiscent of CRASS, especially their album “Penis Envy” which consisted of Eve Libertine’s vocals on almost every track. Featuring members of GOOD THROB and FRAU, RUNT creates a chaotic, aggressive style of punk, with intellectual lyrics that take aim at those who control our world. Summed up best by the song DWP, “When good men do nothing, then who’s accountable? Who creates conditions? Who becomes a burden? Who would call it a business, and who would call it murder?” This is their first LP, released on LA VIDA ES UN MUS, an essential label for punk/hardcore fans. It comes in the perfect format, 12” at 45 RPM, the songs are quick, feel loose, and have so much anger that you think the band will fall apart before each track ends. Maybe you can start taking punk seriously again, who knows?

Exek – Ahead of Two Thoughts LP (Superior Viaduct)
Exek is from Melbourne, and a post-punk band in the truest sense. One of the most underrated albums of 2017, it caught my attention because SUPERIOR VIADUCT put this album out, and to my knowledge they had only done excellent post-punk reissues prior(This includes but not limited to: The best albums by THE FALL and SUICIDE). Exek exudes the confidence of bands from that era. The songs have a lot of room to breath, layers and layers of instrumentation, and sneering, yet anxious vocals. “I’m sick / of every bit / of your shit / you mop / cause you suck / you little fuck haha,” opens up the album on “U MOP.”  EXEK began as a solo project of Albert Wolski, and then eventually evolved into a full band, including synth, bass, drums, and saxophone. For fans of PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, SWELL MAPS, and THIS HEAT, if you didn’t know this album was current, you may easily mistake it for something out of the late 70’s or early 80’s on FACTORY RECORDS or 4AD. EXEK will be doing a North American tour this year, which includes a show at OUTER LIMITS in Hamtramck, MI along with WEREWOLF JONES and LOST SYSTEM Sunday October 7th.

Marbled Eye – II 7” (Digital Regress/Erste Theke Tonträger)
Marbled Eye are from Oakland, CA and this is their debut on vinyl put out by Digital Regress (US) and Erste Theke Tonträger (Germany). Two of my personal favorite labels. I spent a lot of time with Marbled Eye’s debut EP on cassette and this 7” just shows the band maturing and finding their sound. They remind me of early TOTAL CONTROL (guitar driven material without synth), and that’s not a compliment I would often use for any band. I’ve also seen comparisons to PARQUET COURTS, but honestly that band didn’t do anything for me after Light Up Gold. The four songs are tight, driving post-punk with exceptional hooks, disaffected vocals, with surreal lyrics that can be hard to decipher(which makes me think of WIRE). Their debut LP is due out soon on DIGITAL REGRESS.. They will be playing in Grand Rapids in October along with LOST SYSTEM and HELL HOTLINE. More Details to come on that show.

The Shifters – S/T LP (Future Folklore)
Hailing from Melbourne, The Shifters original demo tape finally gets the vinyl treatment. If you’re like me and obsessed with bands like THE FALL, THE CLEAN, and THE RAINCOATS, then this will be your new favorite band. Luckily my buddy Erik turned me on to this band and I’ve had their cassette debut on repeat pretty much since then. The songwriting feels effortless, and their cocky art-punk attitude is unmatched. The songs are catchy, and poppy, but also have a hint of paranoia to them reminiscent of some of my favorite songs that MARK E.SMITH wrote. They have a new LP coming out this year, and have put out 7”s on a couple of different labels in between, but if you haven’t heard them, I suggest you start here. Favorite track : “Algeria.”

Kaleidoscope – 2017 7” (D4MT LABS INC NEUROSONIC RESEARCH)
When i first read the tagline “psych-infused hardcore,” I was very skeptical. That does not does do this band justice, because being a forward thinking punk band catches more people’s attention than combining two genres that shouldn’t be put together. My first impression of KALEIDOSCOPE came from their neurosonic data collection cassette which is very experimental. Then came the Volume 3 12”, which was recorded in their basement studio in Brooklyn and released by Feel It Records. This 7” picks up right where that album left off. Futuristic Punk, heavily influenced by science fiction and dystopia. They are not afraid to experiment and there is nothing psych about it. Original samples, overdubs, and guest instrumentations make their music stand out. The back of the record simply states “You are not a person to them. You don’t exist to them.”

Rakta  – III LP (Iron Lung)
RAKTA is an all female band from Brazil, and they have released a couple of 7”s before joining the excellent roster of IRON LUNG RECORDS for their full length “III.” The originality of this band is so impressive, you could easily throw them in the post-punk genre but this album shows how many different influences they have. Driving bass lines, synths swirling, and chanted vocals unlike anything I have have heard in a while. They have some elements of krautrock, even psych, but ultimately they challenge the restrictions of genre. RAKTA creates a chamber of noise, sometimes desperate sounding, and other times ominous yet beautiful. Creating the feeling of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

Exploded View – Summer Came Early EP 12” (Sacred Bones)
The follow up to to Exploded View’s excellent debut album from 2017 on Sacred Bones. Anika’s voice is haunting and beautiful, like a modern day NICO. I became a fan of Anika from her solo material, and I’m not sure how this band formed but I’m glad they exist. Experimental, taking notes from the best Krautrock/ Post-punk bands, Exploded View truly have a unique sound. “You Got a Problem Son” is one of the best tracks of the year. Put that on all of your mixtapes. They will be releasing a new full length on Sacred Bones soon (you can already stream a new track called “Raven” on your precious spotify), and touring North America which includes a show in Detroit November 2nd at Deluxx Fluxx(tickets are dirt cheap).

Haldol -The Totalitarianism of Everyday Life LP (World Gone Mad)
I got the chance to play a show with Haldol a couple of years ago at a DIY space in Grand Rapids, MI called the firehouse. I heard their bandcamp a few times and was already a fan but seeing them live really made it for me. If you’re a fan of deathrock, bands like RUDIMENTARY PENI, PART 1, or maybe even CHRISTIAN DEATH than you will be happy to hear a modern band pay homage to those bands very well. They haven’t strayed away from their familiar sound of their previous releases but for me that’s quite alright. Haldol is from Philadelphia and this record was released by World Gone Mad Records. Highly recommended.

Silent Age – Demo 2016 Cassette (self released)
I was lucky enough to play a show in Grand Rapids with the excellent new post-punk band SILENT AGE from Chicago. We got asked to play the show but for some reason we ended up playing last, and i must admit, following a band like SILENT AGE is quite intimidating. Silent Age is made of members of POPULATION and GANSER, and have perfected the 80’s post-punk sound. For fans of THE SOUND and THE CURE, darkly emotive songs with exceptional pop hooks. They just finished recording a full length and I can’t wait to hear it.

Behavior – Shithead Apology Cassette (Dove Cove)
Behavior, from Los Angeles, have released two 12” records on IRON LUNG, and if you’ve made it this far in my column, you may think I’m highlighting this label. You are right, and it’s truly a top tier label. Their latest release is a cassette and I’m having a hard time finding a lot of information about it, which for me makes it even more intriguing. They have a unique take on punk, combining Post-punk, noise, and even hardcore at times. The first time I heard this band they reminded me of my favorite band from Grand Rapids, MI of all time: SAPPHIC. I truly miss seeing Sapphic at the bunker which existed underneath Cult Pizza and hosted some of the best underground shows I’ve seen. For fans of early ICEAGE, and INSTITUTE.

Reissue of the Month: Nocturnal Projections – Complete Studio Recordings (Dais)
Nocturnal projections were an Australian post-punk band that is finally seeing the light of day thanks to DAIS RECORDS, who release some of the current heavyweights in Dark Wave( including HIDE, DRAB MAJESTY, YOUTH CODE). They also have reissued bands like PSYCHIC TV, COIL, and ANNIE ANXIETY. NOCTURNAL PROJECTIONS  are another lost gem in the neverending landscape of doom and gloom post-punk bands. For fans of JOY DIVISION and THE SOUND. Don’t sleep on this one.

Here’s a playlist of some of the releases I have reviewed(not all of them are on spotify so I included some older releases as well) :

Open in Spotify

Spotify is convenient, but support the bands making music and GO BUY RECORDS.

If you would like to send me recommendations / your band’s demo tape, please email me mikemcfarlane10@gmail.com

 

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