Some great new punk singles.While I've long been a champion of 7" vinyl as the ideal format for certain of my favourite styles (ie classic soul or punk 45s with a killer A side and a cool flip, or hardcore EPs packed with five or ten quick and economical blasts of shortfastloud), it's been awhile since they've occupied any real time on my turntable-- the obvious aesthetic value too often trumped by the simple desire to put on a solid jazz LP and not have to get up for another eighteen minutes whilst otherwise engaged. All the more reason to celebrate a pack of recent punk singles that have really impressed with power and memorability that more than compensates for their brevity, then....
FUCK ME DEAD "Mechanize me" EP
Vancouver's a beautiful and entirely liveable city with a truly great punk history (DOA, Subhumans, Pointed Sticks, Modernettes...need I continue?), but it's also been pretty damn barren for a long time now, a fact that's especially obvious when compared to other Canadian cities currently pumping out great band after great band. In a scene awash with dreadful straight edge pablum and underwhelming crust, newcomers FMD represent a very welcome return to pure hardcore punk in the vein of pre-Henry Black Flag, Angry Samoans and early Queers, and this debut slab conveys those influences nicely. Only 3:20 worth of music here, distributed among three songs, but no complaints when the snot, speed and energy are as delivered quite so tastily as this. It's not remotely original or stylistically adventurous, of course, but it's not supposed to be, and this easily sails by on the simple strength of raw, catchy songs played with enthusiasm and bile. Only 500 pressed, nice colour sleeve, and a no-brainer for fans of quality punk rock. (Clarence Thomas Records, email@example.com)
TRANSMITORS "Bigger houses, broken homes" b/w "Dancing in the front row" 45 (Deranged)/"What you're doing" b/w "Teenage filmstar" 45 (Ugly Pop/CatCall) Also hailing from Vancouver and mining retro punk rock territory that is chronologically akin to FMD's inspirations but sonically nowhere near so raucous, the Transmitors debut with two 45s released nearly simultaneously this week. I'm loathe to call their exceedingly melodic but propulsive and appropriately unpolished punk rock songs "power pop", because in 2006 the term inevitably evokes visions of talentless hacks in white belts and Rod Stewart haircuts, killing time before the next hair metal revival comes around. This band is different; they're one of the few genuinely good, authentic power pop punk bands in recent memory-- probably because these veterans (all of them at least well into their 30s and playing in bands since the '80's) would be doing this stuff regardless of its relative hipness....no Plastic Letters dogshit here. Anyways, both records are undeniable hits, and while all the names being dropped in reference to the band (Undertones, Pointed Sticks, Buzzcocks, Jam and Boys, for example) are welcome if they aid in steering sympathetic ears toward a new favourite, I think it's crucial to note that this is not just another competent tribute to days gone by. There's some real hefty talent at work here, these songs being the product of people who know very well how to craft a song with lethal hooks and play it with economy and skill. I strongly suggest that any reader with even a passing interest in the style track these down and soon. (Deranged, firstname.lastname@example.org/CatCall...uhhhh, that's me, so just send an email to email@example.com if you're curious. I'll have copies of both)
THE AVERSIONS "Black alibi" EP Yep, another killer new Canadian punk record-- it was a very pleasant surprise at work recently when the postman arrived with a copy of the Aversions EP. This band is from Quebec City and are fucking great live, but they've received next to no attention outside their area and it's not exactly rock'n'roll central to begin with. They self-released a decent LP a couple years back, again to nearly no notice, but this new 7" is a whole few notches above-- really powerful, distinct and catchy pure punk rock with big riffs, quick, rough delivery and awesome Quebecois vocals-- kind of reminds me of late '70's California proto-hardcore a la Chiefs or Controllers meets your favourite Euro KBD hits. This is doomed to once again go unnoticed, I'm afraid, but it's better, more enduring and memorable, than 99% of the bandwagon-jumping, hyped-up crap coming out lately. They only did 300 numbered copies; I don't know the Paypal details or whatever but give 'em a shout and procure yourself one, you shan't regret it. (Die In Style, firstname.lastname@example.org)
NIX s/t EP Yeah, Americans make punk rock records too, and while this one is a little older, I can't go without mentioning it-- probably the best hardcore record of 2005 (although those under 35 will probably call it "garage punk" or something, since 'hardcore' now means vegetarian heavy metal or lawnmower tribute acts). This Portland foursome came out of nowhere with a killer slab of raw, pissed and primitive punk reminiscent of really early Black Flag, Circle Jerks and, above all, those legendary early Queers singles, but what really sets this apart, like all great records, isn't simply deploying the correct influences but rather managing to transmit the same spirit and drive that made those pioneers as important as they remain. One-sided, four songs in as many minutes, yet I could happily tape this repeatedly until it filled both sides of a 90 minute cassette and leave it on endlessly like a beautiful, endless loop of perfect punk rock. Probably long sold out, and I don't have an address or label name...sorry.
THE SUSPICIONS "We're all wrong" b/w "Memories" 45 Maybe I need to pick out a couple of bad/mediocre singles to write about here; all this enthusiasm is bound to come off as keener hyperbole, but the aim was to write about great recent punk singles and this one is the top of the heap. It really is fantastic, pretty much exactly what I want out of a punk rock 45 in 2006. Timeless, pure punk rock without an ounce of pretence, just a driving beat, rough melodies, perfect female vocals and songs that get instantly under the skin and stay there. I have no doubt at all that I'll be putting "Memories" on mixed tapes a decade from now. Their first LP is due on Rip Off next week and I can't remember the last time I was this excited about a new full-length.
Up next, a change of pace: newer metal and reissues from Mastodon, Abigail, Witch's Hammer, Craft, Sunn 0))) and Orcustus.