Among the many things I have missed during the pandemic — shows, hugs, friends, family, browsing nerdy beers at a liquor store — is the time spent flipping through vinyl at a local haunt. So after more than a year (and a second dose of Moderna), I hit up Red Onion Records in Hyattsville, Md., to meet up with Tracy and Kenny visiting from Richmond.
I don’t know that the experience was emotional but rather a sudden rush of muscle memory and hesitation: Where do I even start? Are the new-used arrivals still in the same spot? How about the not-so-secret marked-down records that always have at least a few forgotten gems? How are there so many Blank Dogs records and why are they all here? It’s not a big store, just well curated, which is typically my speed — more room for chance finds and chance meetings with friends.
Here’s what I picked up… from a record store!
* Shit and Shine, Cherry (Riot Season, 2008): Deranged, distorted, loud. My family’s gonna hate it.
* Miracles, Ovum (Creative Capitalism, 2010): Blind $5 buy, but I know at least ⅔ of the members and their past/current post-punk and noise-rock projects; turns out to be proggy, keyboard-driven math rock!
* [[[[VVRSSNN]]]], Future Fusion Wave (K, 2003): Hand-painted cover by Adam Forkner + early 2000s K Records is my favorite era of the Olympia label. No brainer for me.
* Bad Moves, Untenable (Don Giovanni, 2020): I made myself a promise at the beginning of the pandemic: The first time I go back into a record store, I’m gonna buy Untenable by my friends and cover bandmates in Bad Moves. Felt good to check that off the list.
Now I just gotta get to an outdoor gig.
A new sixer (almost) every week. Follow my collection on Bandcamp.
Morbo, ¿A Quién Le Echamos La Culpa? (Cintas Pepe): Many years ago, a friend declared Punk Rock Summer, which basically meant mohawks and drunken debauchery; timid since birth, I did neither, but spent several nights sweating at DIY shows with half-naked Athens punks everywhere. This record from Peru’s Morbo is Punk Rock Summer incarnate: garage-punk power-pop chords banged and guitar solos slanged with blitz-blissed proficiency, plus a little hardcore ‘tude for extra oomph. I’m pretty sure the songs are about getting drunk and having fun, too, though my Spanish is no bueno.
Tyrann, Djävulens Musik (Electric Assault / Inti / Knight of Diamond): If Morbo has the Punk Rock Summer record of 2021, I’m pretty close to calling Tyrann’s debut the season’s metal comrade. This is a continuation of Tobias Lindqvist’s Terminal under a new name: capital-H Heavy Metal from members of Tribulation and Enforcer, Swedish bands that know how to bring the past screaming into the present. I don’t know much about ’80s Eastern bloc metal, but that’s supposed to be the idea. What I hear? Glammy, but rough-hewn hard-rock leaning hooks built for leather and biker gangs.
Usurabi, 灯の名残り Remains of the Light (An’archives): A new Japanese psych trio featuring ’90s vets (New Rock Syndicate, Broom Dusters) led by the (relatively) new Toshimitsu Akiko. The music moves with a stumbling grace, as if unfolding a folktale through flower pedals and knives. Toshimitsu sings softly with an unkempt twee-pop wonder in songs that undulate from regal singer-songwriter fare to little explosions of fuzz guitar, crashing cymbals and droning accordion.
Traumatomy, Extirpation Paradigms (Gore House Productions): The best slam metal makes me laugh; it’s a constant contest to find the grossest, lowest, nastiest sounds and riffs. My backward snapback hats off to Russia’s Traumatomy because approximately 1:53 into “Feeding Organism,” I LOL’d like an idiot. Here we are in 2021, long after “the drop” was the only trick up EDM’s sleeve, and now the subterranean note finds itself amidst burping gutturals and slamming riffs. It’s so stupid, yet so obvious that I’m sure the drop slam exists already, but Traumatomy’s frequent deployment truly next-levels an already impressive display of riff wreckage.
Alambrada, Muerte Preventia (Educacion Cínica): Recently sprung for a big package of tapes from this excellent punk label based in Buenos Aires — the gnarly drawings and Xerox’d artwork are a perfect match for the grotesque music contained within. It’s hard to pick a favorite — Futura! Algara! Lumpen! — but this noisy hardcore band from Bogotá split my brain in half. Alambrada blasts beyond in-the-red into a blinding swarm of hideously screeched speed-devil venom.
Sharkula x Mukqs, Take Caution on the Beach (Hausu Mountain): To twist a beloved Sonny Sharrock quote: Sharkula raps like a jazz saxophonist with a very fucked-up horn. Dude’s been on the Chicago scene more than a couple decades now, but first came my way via Mukqs (aka Max Allison, Hausu Mountain’s co-founder). This second collab deepens an already warped wavelength as Sharkula spits non-sequiturs (“If you wanna clean your butt, you better rinse thorough / Zig zag / Tag your butt like Zorro”) over, under and through a noisy barrage of psychedelic glossolalia.
30 tracks. Opens with Tyrann shouting, “HEAVY! METAL!” Back-to-back avant bangers from Uganda label Hukana Kulala: Rey Sapienz and Scotch Rolex. Bruisers by The HIRS Collective, Traumtomy, Hooded Menace and previously unreleased Engine Kid. Starlit shred from Six Organs of Admittance. I made this joke about Parting already, but repeating here: Is an “emo revivalist” supergroup technically 6th wave emo? Park Hye Jin on a trap beat must be Clams Casino’s doing. We Hate You Please Die is a great name for a snotty garage-punk band. Mannequin Pussy ensnared me with loud punk, kept me around with swoon-y indie-rock on a knife’s edge. Yes, I also love the sludgy teen-punk fury of “Racist, Sexist Boy” by The Linda Lindas. As a white, “geriatric millennial” male, I have nothing worthwhile to add to the Olivia Rodrigo Discourse, just that “good 4 u” is a nice update on “Misery Business.” Throwbacks to Britney Spears, Fugazi, The Congos, Masahiko Sato, Au Pairs, Miracles. RIP Yoshi Wada.