Year Double Zero

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Simon Morgan's Secret War

There’s been some debate in cyberspace recently on the differences between a music critic and a fanzine writer. I’d argue that a music critic sits at home waiting for the comfort packages to turn up in the post, reading a thesaurus, devising ever-more pretentious metaphors and irrelevant comparisons with groups that no one ever cared about, whilst a fanzine writer spends the much of their free time searching out interesting and challenging new sounds, and the rest of it traveling back and forth between the nation’s few remaining record shops tracking this music down on vinyl, and paying for it out of their own pockets!

Criticism is easy, anyone can do it. It’s basically an extension of taking the piss out of something you are never going to understand, and are secretly scared of. Prejudice, insecurity and paranoia are often in the mix, too. Then there’s the spectre of payola to consider, in all its varying formats. Are you saying nice things about this record because you owe the people who sent it to you a favour? Or because being sent free stuff somehow maintains your own fragile identity? Playing your part of the bargain? When you factor in the reality that proportionately fewer people make a sustainable living writing about music than they do recording and performing it, what exactly is the role of the so-called music critic in 2011? I’ll leave that ostensibly rhetorical questions hanging in the air, and press on regardless.

I’ve said this twice before, but it bears repeating, it feels like 1977 all over again right now. It takes a considerable amount of effort keeping your ear to the ground currently. There’s no one-stop central interface providing guidance or connection to this art. There’s no obsession with getting paid, either – moany young groups are happy to give their demos away online, and some even seem to view actually making a record as a sell out, per se. In terms of vinyl culture, the artwork and graphics on the records I’ll be introducing you to shortly, the inserts, the posters, the fold-out sleeves, the attention to detail are remarkable. Buy vinyl, celebrate the artifact, download and burn CDRs with the drop card.

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The new groups’ desire to be plastered all over the covers of style magazines or hipster periodicals is negligible. It would appear they are concerned, after all! Gigs can spontaneously combust in your front room, your garden, your mate’s flat, or in a local disused industrial facility or recently vacated abattoir. Music appears to have finally freed itself from the constraints of the capitalist system and trickled down to the people.

Even at the ripe old age of 48, I’m not immune to change. The spirit of John Peel smolders within my soul. My thirst for new music that hasn’t been designed by committee has swept through the shelving of my mind like a new broom. This year I have given up buying music magazines, CDs, and spending any of my hard-earned cash at establishmentarian institutions such as HMV, Amazon or Play. I’ve also weaned myself off buying back my distant past on eBay. Fuck the distant past, it’s dead, time we buried it. The future is unwritten; this is Joe Artist speaking (Gluck, 2011).

Only the future can deliver what happens next. Don’t bore us with the inherent contradictions, the small print, and the so-called rules. The internet has finally come of age, it’s a game-changer, and the world has shrunk. Genres are irrelevant, there’s good music, and there’s bad music. Only you can decide which applies to you. It could be argued that everything is intrinsically derivative: original sin is over-rated; transcendence is key; influences are the raw materials subsequent generations forge into radical new interpretations. There may well be nothing new under the sun, but it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!

The following sides have been captured from various sources: one love and maximum respect to Rich Perri at Ignite Records in Birmingham, All Ages Records in Camden, Rough Trade West in Portobello, Grave Mistake Records mail order, and Blitz Hardcore mail order. Some are new releases; some have taken a while to track down. All are wonderful in their own right, and all are described below. That’s right, described! I’m going for a descriptive approach from here on in. Thing is, I like them all, I wouldn’t have bought them otherwise, and I certainly wouldn’t be wasting my precious time sitting here telling you lot about them if I didn’t, would I?


Crazy Spirit – ‘S/T’ (Quality Control HQ)


New York’s Crazy Spirit don’t fit neatly into any preconceived coffin. Their splenetic bursts of blackened punk are interspersed with insane field recordings and sampled conversation. This bunch of demos were allegedly remastered at Abbey Road studios, if you want to buy into the myth – It doesn’t really matter. Crazy Spirit’s unique concoction of metallic KO punk and Bathory-esque vocal enunciation comes on like The Revolutionary Dalek Faction trying their hand at existentialist Stoogism. Incredible packaging from UK-based Quality Control HQ, screen-printed mailer cover, fold-out poster, hand drawn graphics.

Quality Control

Raw/Nerve – ‘S/T’ (Youth Attack Records)


There are some who will tell you Youth Attack is a hipster concern. You could even be accused of buying into the label for its collectable reputation, but Raw/Nerve rise above such brickbats with their atmospheric and threatening post-post-hardcore attack. Vocals buried deep within the mix, underground punk and outsider metal collide in a septic wound of static. As the record progresses, Raw/Nerve drop their guard, and slouch into edgy jams that defy categorization. Released in ridiculously limited numbers in varying coloured wax. Includes large format homoerotic poster. 

Youth Attack Records

B-Lines – ‘Burnt CDs EP’ (Nominal Records)


Vancouver’s B-Lines have dropped one on my LPs of the year thus far with their s/t 12” on Deranged. This is their debut EP from 2009, and I’m stoked to oblivion to have picked a copy up on white vinyl. Including the group’s indispensably moronic generational signifier, ‘Social Retard’ and other quality tunes such as ‘Dryer Fire’ and ‘Busy Man’. This EP is a mandatory purchase for those who like a bit of pop with their punk but draw the line at melody. Breakneck, barefaced and as stubborn and infectious as herpes, B-Lines make music to fall down stairs to. Don’t bother calling the cops; you’ll need an ambulance after throwing yourself around the living room to this.

Nominal Records

Hoax – ‘S/T EP’ (Katorga Works/Deranged Records)


Ferocious, furious, d-beat mayhem veering back and forth, side to side, like a bumper car sandwich of hardcore and metal. Jensen Button’s McLaren on an ice rink. My old pal Garry Maloney would be stoked to know that his rhythmic influence continues unabated across the length of this muscular four-tracker 30-years post Hear Nothing/See Nothing/Say Nothing. Indecipherable vocals are crushed under the black metallic weight of the onslaught, and the Scandinavian vibe is complimented by bleak black and white UK anarcho-syndicalist art.

Deranged Records

Glam – ‘S/T EP’ (La Vida Es Un Mus)


Debut Glam EP, out of Barcelona, Espania. Frighteningly intense, claustrophobic, virtual tunnel music. The voice at the end of that tunnel is manic in the way street preachers only dream of. Immediately admirable in every aspect of it’s aggressive hardcore stance. Superb, total-quality-card stock, impeccable packaging. Iconic logo, insert, and graphics. Jacob Adult Crash, Andreas Trashbastard and Uri Sos are name-checked on the insert, and that’s a good enough reason alone to own this record. Five-minutes-and-one-second – six songs.

La Vida Es Un Mus Disocs

Culo – ‘Military Trend’ – ‘Toxic Vision EP’ (Deranged)


A brace of fairly extreme hardcore punk EPs from suburban wastelands: nah pop, nah style, mi strictly roots. This rips into your space with is misanthropic menace. Social commentary and mutant ideology fight bare-knuckle, rattling between the strings. Pissed up on life, and pissed off with all of us, Culo have hoisted the black flag, and would make one fuck of a mess if you ever inadvertently offered to put them up after a gig. Redecoration is an inevitability. Extensive emergency building-work and reconstructive facial surgery is a distinct possibly. Bad ass, glue-sniffing montherfuckers, if you ask me.

Brain Killer – ‘Demos’ – ‘Endless’ (Deranged)


Both Brain Killer’s 7”ers to date. Both harsh as fuck. A duel cacophony of competing elements at incredible speed. Technically astounding, ultra-intense. Gripping atmospheric hardcore melting influences from punk planet into one bubbling cauldron of hate. UK Anarcho-centric, far-eastern crust punk obsessed, d-beat propelled cultured aggression.   

Coke Bust – ‘Degradation EP’ (Grave Mistake)


Washington DC’s Coke Bust are a take-no-prisoners, ask-no-questions hardcore outfit of punks who go for your ears like you’re Chopper Reid. Heavy, chugging in all the right places, a forearm in the face of sensitivity. The artwork alone is worth the admission.

Grave Mistake Records

Diet Pills – ‘S/T’ (Force Fed Records)


Hailing from Leicester, Diet Pills spew forth  toxic bile of partially digested Jesus Lizard marinated in 15-years of outsider metal. Utterly deranged and strangely dependency forming, a strict diet of Diet Pills would probably lead to migraines eventually, but once a day’s not going to harm you unduly.

Force Fed Records

Unlearn – ‘S/T EP’ (Deranged)


Raw, disgusting, sick, venal punk rock that shoots first and shrugs nonchalantly later. Distortion on all channels, Unlearn have learned the lesson of d-beat intensity and driven it off a cliff. Their previous demos (available from Terminal Escape, see below) have been consistent too, making anticipation of their forthcoming split 7” with Kruel in June, and an S/T LP due in September. A 5-week U.S tour is planned for September/October.

The Injections – ‘Prison Walls’/’Lies’ (Last Laugh)


The Injections were one of San Diego’s earliest punk bands: Lou Skum – vocals, Bruce Perreault – guitar, Lisa ‘Acid’ Astin – bass, Joanne ‘Piggy Gargoyle’ Norris – drums. They formed around 1979 and released one single, ‘Prison Walls’/’Lies’, on Radio Active Records in 1980. This re-mastered and totally essential repress is slavishly attentive to detail, and sonically engrossing. Long cherished by collector scum the globe over, now everyone can enjoy a piece of these heroically naïve sides of pissed-off punk rock action.

Blitzhardcore Records

Something Fierce – ‘Don’t Be So Cruel’ (Dirtnap)


Something Fierce are a couple or three LPs and a bunch of 45s into their stride now, and this is a rewardingly assured piece of work, to be sure. Ingenious in its subversion of elements of mid-era Clash, ‘Don’t Be So Cruel’ ignites this trio’s claim to significant recognition. Already their finest hour, this is intelligent punk pop, too clever by half to get stuck in any dumb genre malaise. Copper-bottomed tunes ring out, sound as a pound, matching Something Fierce’s many distinctly English influences.

Something Fierce come correct on many levels, lyrically engaging, witty, these are intelligently written jams, operating across a wide spectrum. The soon-to-be stone classic ‘Future Punks’ invokes memories of Talking Heads, if they’d been a tad punkier. The outstanding song in their cannon, however, is closer, ‘Empty Screens’, a sunshine-pop-punker with a wry smile and a cheeky, knowing grin. The first time I heard this song I was immediately hit by one of the moments you think you’ve found the elusive, definitive perfect pop song, and you want the world to sing along. That very moment. You can’t, obviously, so you just phone a friend and leave a rambling monologue on why ‘Empty Screens’ is tune of some significant stature.

Meanwhile, back at the plot, it’s not all filth, fury, hardcore and gore here at Eyeplug Towers, Something Fierce let some light in on the darkness and despair, and the world doesn’t seem such a bad idea after all.

Dirtnap Records


elektroduendes – ‘It will be hard to accurately explain exactly why (or how much) I love this band – it’s just totally simple female fronted Spanish punk executed to complete perfection. Super melodic jams that positively command excessive pogo dancing around your room (or car, or the sidewalk, wherever you happen to be listening). This tape from 1998 was their first release, and preceded a fantastic EP and a 12″ that still gets regular rotations at Casa de Escape. When music can make you feel like a carefree teenager, but still make you feel like you are in a world where things matter, even when you can barely understand the language…that’s just good fukkn music.’ (Terminal Escape)

Womb Raider – ‘Smart and pissed feminist hardcore from Montreal – every bit as on point lyrically as they are crushing musically. Think burly ’80s Boston…raw and fukkn venomous. Awesome.’ (Terminal Escape)

Drapetomania – ‘The guitars, man…it’s all about the fukkn guitars. A sharp and clean staccato attack, like ’80s Italian hardcore playing Oi, but they are singing in Spanish and this shit is from Los Angeles. DRAPETOMANIA is the latest installment from the Silenzio Statico label, and if there was any doubt left as to the impact these kids are making on punks around the world (and I cannot imagine that there is a shred of doubt remaining), then one listen to “Cicatris” should erase it completely. A killer South American twist on UK82 punk rock – fukkn great of course, enjoy.’ (Terminal Escape)

Dawn Of Humans – ‘From the same scene that brought CRAZY SPIRIT into our lives comes DAWN OF HUMANS. This transcends good punk and blurs subgenre classifications until you don’t care what it’s supposed to be called – you just want to know how to cram more of it in your earholes. The new(ish) EP is brilliant, use the email on the tape to try to get yourself one.’ (Terminal Escape)

Unlearn – ‘Just like you like it: raw and brutal Dbeat attack from Vancouver. VACCUUM played with UNLEARN and  last year and they just leveled the place – it was 20 minutes of pure distortion and maximum volume with guitar torture worthy of comparisons to the greats. This one is over in a flash, so prepare for the most pummeling 8 minutes of your day…’ (Terminal Escape)

The above demos are all available to download free from the most excellent one-stop, demo-centric concern that is Terminal Escape

Simon Morgan

Punk rocker, folk strummer, baby social worker, and parent, Simon Morgan is a polymath. He has brought you many things in his time – as Jean Encoule he created the legendary trakMARX website, but has now stepped from behind his alter ego to reveal his true, vibrant colours. Despite having gone prematurely orange, he maintains a youthful open-mindedness, which he combines with his vast experience and ready wit. His debut solo album, Domestic Abuse is now available. “Spirit/Is Life/It flows through/The death of me/ Endlessly/Like a River/ Unafraid/Of Becoming/The sea.” (Gregory Corso)

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Originally posted 2011-06-24 14:22:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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