Straw Man Army - SOS

The sec­ond long­play­er (ig­nor­ing last year's Her Majesty's Ship OST) by this Kalei­do­scope-ad­ja­cent New York duo sees their son­ics shift­ing in­to a com­par­a­tive­ly down­beat, dark­er and more cum­ber­some, yet equal­ly re­ward­ing di­rec­tion. There's sim­ply no oth­er group quite like them in the cur­rent post punk/-core land­scape and these chaps clear­ly main­tain their po­si­tion on the cut­ting edge of con­tem­po­rary (art-/post-)punk while si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly be­ing per­fect­ly aware of its rich his­to­ry, cul­mi­nat­ing in what to me is the crown­ing achieve­ment of this al­bum - the slow-burn­ing, sprawl­ing Be­ware, which kin­da sounds like clas­sic land­mark records of the Chairs Miss­ing and The Ar­gu­ment cal­iber boiled down to their very essence.

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Red Gaze - Healing Games

An­oth­er ex­cel­lent EP by that band from Graz, Aus­tria with a sound more akin to some ran­dom Berlin group, mem­bers of whom are al­so play­ing in what­ev­er oth­er group you might al­so have heard of… i don't re­mem­ber ex­act­ly and can't be both­ered to look that shit up right now, okay? Post punk with an ever-so-slight death rock un­der­cur­rent. Yeah, Berlin-es­que as i al­ready men­tioned, think like… Diät, Pi­geon, Clock Of Time but al­so with some sim­i­lar­i­ty to pow­er­house US acts á la Rank Xe­rox or In­sti­tute.

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Priors - NEWNEWNEW

A yum­my new EP by Mon­tre­al punks Pri­ors de­liv­er­ing three new in­fec­tious smash­ers start­ing off with some garage-meets-hard­core en­er­gy akin to sped-up Use­less Eaters or Mononeg­a­tives, fol­lowed by a su­per ef­fec­tive midtem­po post punk stom­per with a hint of Wire. The clos­ing track, then, has a bit of a Scream­ers and De­vo vibe to it and al­so bears some sim­i­lar­i­ty to more re­cent stuff by Iso­tope Soap.

Fuera De Sektor - El Mundo Sigue

Not sure where these folks are based - La Vi­da Es Un Mus Dis­cos' band­camp page men­tions uruguayan bands as an in­spi­ra­tion so maybe that's where the good shit is hap­pen­ing? Their face­book pro­file might clar­i­fy things but these days, i'd rather stay in the dark for­ev­er than log­ging on­to that stink­ing heap of crap one more time (speak­ing of which… C'mon fuck­ers, what are all of you still do­ing over there? Move your punk ass­es over to the open, in­de­pen­dent, non-cor­po­rate fe­di­verse! Bring your friends over too!). Well, whether that's the case or not, their style of post punk re­minds me quite a bit of Barcelona punks Al­gara for more than just their span­ish vo­cals, al­beit with a nice melod­ic street punk vibe and a slight touch of The Es­tranged on top.

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Vision 3D - Hypnose

Pret­ty fuck­ing amaz­ing shit, the sec­ond long play­er of this group from Tour­nai, Bel­gium. Right out of the gate i'm re­mind­ed of so much good stuff both an­cient and con­tem­po­rary on the in­ter­sec­tion of art-, post- and garage punk, round­ed out by a dis­tinct­ly dis­so­nant no wave-ish, noise rock-y edge. Some­times they sound a bit like as if the amer­i­cana-in­fused post punk of Angst were to col­lide with the sim­plis­tic beat of Man Sized Ac­tion and a good mea­sure of ear­ly The Fall strum­mi­ness. Oth­er mo­ments, i imag­ine to hear echos of Mem­branes, Gor­dons or Swell Maps, while you might just as well draw com­par­isons to more re­cent acts such as Hon­ey Radar, Toe Ring, Lithics, Germ House, Shark Toys and Sub­tle Turn­hips.

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Rogue - Rogue

Qual­i­ty shit from Phan­tom Records once again. The cul­prits, this time, are yet an­oth­er Berlin group play­ing a breed of post punk (re­al­ly, who'd have guessed.…) which proud­ly wears its ori­gins on its sleeves yet man­ages to put an in­ven­tive and play­ful spin on every sin­gle track. Funky but thank­ful­ly not too pol­ished, there's al­so a promi­nent surf rock vibe at play here ric­o­chet­ing through their arrange­ments like a steel rod will­ful­ly thrown in­to the spokes, al­ways mak­ing for some de­light­ful stunts and ma­neu­vers. Some­times we al­so get a touch of rock­a­bil­ly as put through a Gun Club-meet-The Fall meat­grinder. My per­son­al fave here is a lit­tle banger called Anger­man which per­fect­ly ap­plies the car­rot-and-stick ap­proach in its jux­ta­po­si­tion of dis­so­nant noise and melod­i­cism.

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Neutrals - Bus Stop Nights 7"

Noth­ing short of pure bril­liance is what we get once again from that weird­ly british sound­ing Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia group. Their newest EP might be their least post punk, most pow­er pop sound­ing record so far, bristling with tons of mas­ter­ful­ly craft­ed, end­less­ly charm­ing Tele­vi­sion Per­son­al­i­ties wor­ship plus a touch of Mekons or Des­per­ate Bi­cy­cles.

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Viceprez - Juger

Wow, this group from Borée, France is jug­gling a shit­load of dif­fer­ent styles with strik­ing con­fi­dence on their de­but al­bum. The thing starts out with a short, straight­for­ward, sim­ple blast of hard­core punk, then has them cy­cling through a wide ar­ray of styles in­clud­ing force­ful post­core, hard rockin' up­per-mid-tem­po garage rock/-punk, groovy an­gu­lar post punk and even some vague­ly Pix­ies-es­que, surf-in­fused old­school 80s in­die-/al­ter­na­tive rock. All of this they pull off with ease - there's not a sin­gle weak link on this record. Im­pres­sive shit all the way through!

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Unknown Liberty - Chain Of Madness

Cu­ri­ous mix­ture of hard­core-, an­ar­cho- and post punk on this Kingston, NY group’s de­but tape, as­sem­bling a dis­tinct style out of grit­ty KBD-drenched vibes à la Launch­er, a hint of UK82 en­er­gy, plen­ty of Rudi­men­ta­ry Peni and the oc­ca­sion­al bit of Crass.

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Die Verlierer - Die Verlierer

Heav­i­ly retro-lean­ing post punk, made in Berlin and sound­ing ex­act­ly like you'd come to ex­pect by that fact. You might rec­og­nize a fa­mil­iar voice grum­bling about here, the dude hav­ing done a sim­i­lar thing with his oth­er band Maske, al­though the over­all vibe here is even a notch more grit­ty, some­times hav­ing a slight­ly Wipers-es­que qual­i­ty and, at oth­er points, a touch of S.Y.P.H. as well as more re­cent phe­nom­e­na like Aus, Hyäne, Die Wärme or Pe­ter Muf­fin und die Heil­sarmee. In oth­er words: This might have come out some­time around '81 just as well. There's a cou­ple of un­der­whelm­ing filler tracks on here - for­giv­able and to­tal­ly made up for by the un­de­ni­able high­lights of this al­bum. Just don’t try an­oth­er at­tempt at funk next time, okay?

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