Posted by -Kamikaze Dan on 3/20/2022
Bleak times we're living in.
First, housekeeping stuff. I am working hard on moving the webstore from its current shopping cart system to a different, hopefully better one. Fingers crossed this will resolve everybody's problems with our kerjanky webstore. Apologies to everybody that has to jump through hoops to buy stuff. I appreciate your support and I heard your feedback.
Okay, what's really been on my mind, and probably everybody else's, is the war in Ukraine. I've kinda exhausted myself talking about the politics involved on the Discord, in the group chat, with my bandmates. I've got my own opinions that may or may not sync up with anybody else's. And I say that as if I'm at all knowledgeable about this topic, which I'm not.
What I'm actually more interested in is why the fuck I'm so fucking obsessed with this stuff all of the sudden! Why am I glued to the computer, watching the latest live updates and Twitters and YouTubes and news analyses and on and on? Why am I so invested in this in ways that I haven't been invested in any other armed conflicts in my lifetime? Well, I think there's a couple different factors at play here.
You can immerse yourself in the stream of real-time information and it never stops.
First, and I think the biggest factor, is the way the war is televised, if you know what I mean. Not that it's literally on TV, I wouldn't know, but the way that information is broadcasted on a variety of platforms in real time, straight from the ground. I mean you can track Russian troop movements on Google Maps and watch street cameras in Kiev showing bombs dropping, all in real time. I realize this is not the first war to have a larger flow of accessible information, Vietnam War was "the televised war" that made this a standard practice and our wars in the Middle East had some social media elements. But I think the war in Ukraine is the first of this scale.
The real-time information feels emotionally resonating, because it's often crafted to be that way.
With the scale of information comes the depth of propaganda. The amount of wartime propaganda, pumping up Ukraine and romanticizing various key figures and soldiers, meme-ing out incidents, viral videos, etc; the volume is insane and the tempo is nonstop. Ghost of Kyiv, Snake Island soldiers, grandma with the seeds, Klitschko and Zelensky, there's so much and it's EVERYWHERE on the internet. I understand how it all works, to create a sympathetic Ukraine abroad and to inspire locals at home, but also, it leads to people here consuming war like it's the new trendy HBO TV show, full of exciting characters and dramatic moments. In that way, it's kind of obscene, isn't it? I know every war has propaganda, but again, I don't remember ever being perpetually bombarded with it like this.
There's also the angle of Euro-centricity. That westerners see armed conflict in our lifetimes as something that happens to dark-skinned people of the global south, and this is the first time in 20+ years that we see a bunch of white people at war with each other. That it feels more resonating because white people like myself can better 'relate'. And we see this play out in some news broadcasts, like that guy on CBS that said the war was shocking for occurring in a "relatively civilized, relatively European" place like Ukraine. Wow. Pretty dehumanizing, especially considering many places in the world would be at relative peace if not for American imperialism and destabilization efforts.
And that's the last part of the puzzle for me, the relative lack of American imperialism here. When I think of why I'm so captured by war in Ukraine, pretty much all of the other state-on-state wars have been American imperialism (as opposed to civil conflicts, like in Sudan and Yemen and to a lesser degree in Colombia and Hong Kong). And that's a really complicated subject, as an American. Of course it's terrible and I wish these things didn't happen. Iraq War protest was the first protest I ever went to. It makes me feel horrible, feel guilty and ashamed, when I see footage of American soldiers brutalizing the Middle East. I don't want to see it. But then, I'm not exactly wishing for our guys to die over there either....I don't "support the troops" as they say but I recognize that a lot of people get sucked into the military sphere under false pretenses and lies, or unavoidable economic and class pressures, and I'm sensitive to that....
On the flip side, this war is more or less detached from America. It's just pure human tragedy on the other side of the world, with very little to do with me. So, like the trope of cars slowing down on the highway to get a good view of the accident, I can't take my eyes off the fuckin Reddit livefeed of information, can't resist watching the latest viral video of Ukrainians joyriding in an abandoned Russian tank, etc. Does this sort of voyeurism make me a fucking asshole? I don't know. I haven't decided yet. But I spend a lot of time thinking about the guys I know, do business with, in Ukraine and Russia and hoping everybody survives.
FEBRUARY NEW ARRIVALS
This month I want to highlight the Crisis Beat demo tape. This made a BIG impression on me. They namedropped Gism, Rosenfeld, Gastunk, War Painted City Indian when they wrote me, and that's right on the money. While most bands mixing punk and metal in this sort of way result in some rampaging Motorhead-y "metalpunk", Crisis Beat manage to capture the finer elements of a band like Gastunk, to write more dynamic and emotionally complex songs, not shirking from quiet parts or big anthemic moments or big epic songs or weird parts. And of course the guitars are flying, big solos and powerhouse riffs everywhere that get my blood boiling. I totally loved this one and highly recommend it.
Speaking of things I like, we got a couple new items that are particularly exciting for me. New Gauze LP, I already wrote extensively about this when we stocked the CD. Throw in with Terveet Kadet photobook, fuck, new material of two of the most significant, influential, important bands in my life. Little rays of joy in the darkness. I'm also pumped on The War Goes On EP, one of my top favorite current bands, and the long-awaited Genital Masticator/Jangle split 7" on Rage for All, the only label that matters anymore.
We got a big spread of hardcore from around the world. From America (Ztuped EP) and Canada (Faze EP) to Indonesia (Crucial Response EP) and Argentina (Todos Tus Muertos first LP reissue). Lots of people hyped on Axe Rash EP, and we got some copies of Euro pressing of hardcore darling's Muro second LP. But personally, I'm most pumped on Planet Y LP. More about that on our Instagram.
TAPES. We got a lot of tapes. If you dug the recent Asylum EP on Sealed Records, you definitely need this Asylum live tape, and I'd wager you need Final Fukker tape as well, with their noise punk style. Myself, I was most excited about Alienator demo tape, the latest and greatest from the same Portland crew that brought you Suck Lords and Reek Minds, this time with a more smoldering crossover thrash style. But what really captured me was the Make Love Not War comp tape reissue, a sampler of perfect hardcore from Yugoslavia 1987 that captures everything I love about punk from that part of the world: raw but tuneful, loose but catchy, ah just perfect.
For more commentary on this stuff and more, please scope our Instagram page, where we review choice new arrivals as they come. If it sounds cool when we talk about it, it'll sound even cooler when you hear it streaming on the online store, and even cooler still when you buy the record and slap it on your turntable.
later this month:
more of the latest Japanese shit!
big boxes from Poland and Russia, fingers crossed on these
Varaus EP reissue
more of the latest punk from around the world that I'm personally excited about
Thanks and talk more later.