Constant Mongrel – Living In Excellence (La Vida Es Un Mus/ Anti-Fade)
Another Australian band playing post-punk to perfection. Melbourne’s CONSTANT MONGREL have released my favorite album of 2018, on LVEUM and Anti-Fade Records. This right up there with TOTAL CONTROL’S Henge Beat, and DIAT’S Positive energy. These kind of albums don’t happen that often for me, but the lyrics and songwriting put them ahead of most bands. Living In Excellence is a perfect title for an album that is the exact opposite of that. As with TOTAL CONTROL and DIAT, the lyrics incite no hope for the future, but the music brings you back to having some hope because it’s that goddamn good. I love that contradiction, and that’s probably what makes me so obsessed with post-punk in general. Just put on the track “Lifeless Crisis”, you’ll see what I mean. The synth line that comes in near the end of the song is perfect.
Liquids – Hot Liqs Revenge (Neck Chop)
Liquids are a north-west Indiana punk band, which includes a member who played in bands such as CONEHEADS and CCTV. They have released an insane amount of music since forming, somewhere near one hundred songs in three years. Keep in mind these aren’t seven minute psych songs (thank god), or four and a half minute indie rock songs (maybe worse), but two minute maximum snot nosed punk songs. My favorite part of this record is that they leave a few seconds in between songs for you to catch your breath. Liquids have more of a garage punk sound going on than the new wave influenced CONEHEADS and CCTV, at times reminding me of THE REATARDS or early REPLACEMENTS. If you’re going to do the garage punk thing well, you have to stick to REATARDS/OBLIVION’S influences, otherwise you will stray away to THEE OH SEES/TY SEGALL territory and sound like a million other bands. LIQUIDS are about as original as you can get, in a genre that severely lacks that. The first pressing of this LP already sold out, but the 2nd pressing will be available soon, both from NECK CHOP RECORDS.
Table Sugar – Collected Acknowledgements (Stucco)
TABLE SUGAR is another excellent post-punk band from Olympia, that shares members with GEN POP. They have released a lot of material on cassette, but this is their vinyl debut thanks to STUCCO RECORDS. Seven songs that are minimalistic, agitated yet pretty, and create a nervous energy reminding me of bands like DELTA 5 and THE RAINCOATS. Self described by a quote from THE ARCHIES: “Music is hot, and when sugar is hot it turns to syrup, and we’ll stick to you.” These songs are so catchy they will stick to you. One of the best releases so far this year.
Negative Space – Gestalt LP (Drunken Sailor)
The Debut LP from London’s NEGATIVE SPACE is the most overlooked album of 2017. NEGATIVE SPACE is a post-punk band that may be rooted in hardcore, and they remind me of DIAT and early TOTAL CONTROL. They also take cues from classic post-punk bands such as GANG OF FOUR and WIRE. What I like is that the vocalist goes from spoken monotone to angry, almost hardcore vocals with the flip of switch. Not many bands can pull this off. Released at the tail end of 2017 by DRUNKEN SAILOR but not on enough of the US underground punk radars. Another band who is not afraid to address social and political issues. Don’t sleep on this one.
Sarcasm – Malarial Bog EP 7” (Static Shock)
Debut EP from London’s Sarcasm is a bleak look at a future we are not too far off from. Angular guitars and a tight rhythm section, with an agitated vocal delivery make this record one you will keep coming back to. For fans of CRISIS, CRASS, and THE FALL. “The nightmare vision of an endless week, strapped and slapped, it’s life without” is repeated in the opening song “Instant Automation.” It’s like stepping into Orwell-esque future and describing the awful working conditions and pollution that has taken over your daily life. “Breath it in, deep and slow.” Released by Static Shock Records out of London who put on one of the best punk festivals each year.
S.H.I.T. – What Do You Stand For? (Iron Lung)
S.H.I.T. has released a new LP on IRON LUNG records, hot on the heels of a vinyl collection of all of their precious material on ERSTE THEKE TONTRAGER(humorously titled Complete SHIT). “What do you stand?” for is an all out assault of hardcore perfection. A step in a different direction compared to their earlier material, but to this listener I prefer the new album. Don’t get me wrong, I love when hardcore bands mix it up with a lot of changes, but sometimes I just want the meat and potatoes, bare boned aggressive shit. This provides exactly that.
Stiff Love – For The Whole Family (cassette)
Olympia’s STIFF LOVE is made up of members of THE BETA BOYS, LYSOL, THE VITAMENS, and LOWEST PRIORITY. I’m late to the game on this band, and this was their first release that came out in 2017. Since then, they have released two 7”s on NECK CHOP RECORDS and FEEL IT RECORDS. The all female 4 piece is the best garage punk band I’ve heard in a long time. The entire tape is full of songs that you should be drinking whiskey to with your friends late at night. It’s really fun music, mixing elements of proto-punk, garage, and even glam. I picked this tape up before I had a working cassette deck, and it’s found its way into my weekly rotation for quite some time. The seven inches are great too, but I’d recommend starting here with their debut, if you haven’t heard them already. They are on tour with BETA BOYS currently, don’t miss that show if they come through your town.
Maraudeur – s/t LP (Bruit Direct Disques)
This is a another highly underrated release from 2017, and one showed to me by my friend Joe (who plays in Erik Nervous). I remember seeing this on Layla Gibbon’s year end list of best LP’s and she explained it best: “Someone I know was complaining about all the bands that are current but simulating sounds of cool female directed art punk bands circa 1981, and as my eyes rolled to the back of my head I thought of the past 17 years watching historically accurate reenactment all dude HC bands play the same idea night after night in show spaces across America.” Personally, I am thrilled to hear female directed art punk bands, and MARAUDEUR is one of the best, calling to mind bands like MALARIA!, ESG, and NEW ORDER. MARAUDEUR is the side project of Lise Sutter from Switzerland.
RANK / XEROX – Mass Transit (cassette) Adagio830
I bought this tape a long time ago but I was unaware how fucking brilliant it is. I’ve had the MYTH EP on vinyl for a while now and that’s very good as well, but this tape is more driving and better in my opinion. RANK / XEROX formed in San Francisco in 2009, and have a limited amount of releases but if you can track them down, they are all well worth checking out. For Fans of TOTAL CONTROL, BEHAVIOR, and MARBLED EYE.
Plague Boys – EP 1 (cassette)
PLAGUE BOYS are a two piece synth-punk band who reside in Austin,Texas. Ex-Midwesterners, and members of many different projects including LEGENDARY WINGS, NAMELESS FRAMES, BLACK MONUMENTS, and LOST SYSTEM. I was lucky enough to play in bands with Matt Maier, while he lived in Grand Rapids. He has had a huge impact on my music taste since we became friends. I’ll never forgot when I was pretty down and out, and he showed me SECTION 25 “Girls don’t count.” I’m still obsessed with that band, an often overlooked FACTORY RECORDS gem. Back to PLAGUE BOYS, Matt’s latest project is driven by synth and drum machine, with Justin playing guitar, and both sharing vocal duties. This is excellent, and I’m surprised it hasn’t been featured on the ANTI youtube page (formerly known as JIMMY). Synth-punk that is fun, arrogant, and even danceable at times. Favorite track: Eno Sucks. Artwork by ERIK NERVOUS. Go buy the tape!
Reissue of the month:
Wire – 154 (Pinkflag records)
I’ve never came across a used copy of 154 in over a decade of sifting through record bins wherever I can find them. This is the first time 154 has been reissued and it’s about damn time. One of the most influential bands of all time.
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) :
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Labels/ Distros I recommend:
Reissue labels I recommend: