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Posted by -Kamikaze Dan on 2/10/2024
Bit late to say "happy new years!" I guess, but it's the first big update of the year, so, yay, happy new years, hope everyone's 2024 is off to a good start!
First, I want to pause and say thanks for everybody's patience and understanding as I took my annual month-long winter trip home and left a lot a lot of orders hanging in purgatory for weeks at a time lol. I've been back in Minneapolis for like 2 weeks and I've caught up on all mailorder (excluding yesterday and today orders) and almost all trades/wholesales, that's at the top of the list for next week.
2023 was a big big year for me, for SPHC, for Believe in Punk. The most ambitious year I've had in a long time. I'm really thankful for all the support and I hope we'll all continue to make punk happen and live our coolest lives together.
But actually, what I've been waiting to write about on here is a little tidbit of information I learned while I was in Costa Rica earlier this winter. This little nugget of information shocked me to my core and challenged my worldview at a fundamental level! Am I wrong in how I understand punk and culture and human life???? I'm still wondering!
I learned that Costa Rica had pressing plants in the 80s that, in addition to pumping out tons of calypso and chi-chi records, also made Latin American pressings of punk and metal records! There are Latin American pressings of The Ramones, The Clash, Slayer, Metallica. I was even gifted a Costa Rican pressing of an Alice Cooper 7" single, so fucking cool! I had no idea that Costa Rican pressing plants and Latin American pressings of popular American and European rock records were a thing.
So why does this blow a hole in my worldview? Why did this information really throw me on my ass?
I spend a lot of time, both in conversations about punk and on our podcast talking about anime, espousing that cultural spread and influence hinges on accessibility. Why does Japanese hardcore sound the way it does? Because Rough Trade had a storefront in Tokyo. Access. Why is FLCL so popular in USA and a complete obscurity in Japan? Because it was aired on tv here, as opposed to expensive OVA collectors release there. Access. Everything is about access.
Costa Rica had access to domestically pressed punk records in the 70s/80s....but didn't develop a punk scene until the 90s, and their bands weren't drawing from classic 70s/80s styles, they were playing more contemporary 90s styles. Their access didn't do anything for them!
Compare and contrast to southeast Asia. Philippines had domestic pressing plants making Filipino pressings of Clash and Ramones records, and their traditional punk style is super informed by this sort of punk and they developed a punk scene 10 years earlier than the rest of southeast Asia. Malaysia and Indonesia, by contrast, no easy access to punk and their local scenes formed and coagulated in the 90s playing largely 90s punk styles.
Compare and contrast to the rest of Latin America. In 1989, Caras de Hambre dropped their classic demo tape in Panama. This was a few years ahead of Costa Rica taking shape, if I understand all this right. In a global sense, it's pretty late to the game, but in a regional sense, it was early on. I always assumed it was (for better or for worse) long-standing American cultural influence that put Panama a few years ahead of its peers, same as Philippines. But, now I'm not so sure, cause Costa Rica has a lot more American influence than I originally understood....at least, in these modern times.
And Nicaragua, Gian told me he had a cool 90s demo tape from there buuuut we didn't get a chance to listen to it, too busy watching sloths drool on themselves lol. Guatemala, not that they have a big scene as I understand it, but again I don't think anything was going on until more like the 00s?
So if Costa Rica had access to punk and metal records.....why didn't anybody want to start a punk band??
I asked one of the diplomats of Latin American punk, Esteban of Beneficio Interno zine/radio show, and....he didn't have an answer LOL. "We all listened to chi-chi" LOLLLL. I mean it's a complex question so I get it. But I would have just assumed, if there's Ramones records sitting in record stores, eventually someone is going to buy one and think "wow this is great I totally want to do THIS with my time" and start a punk band. But I guess that's not the case???
So am I wrong? Is accessibility not the entirety of cultural spread, only a prerequisite? What's that magic moment that compels someone to start doing something without any prior precedent? How does a punk scene come into existence? Is it really just by chance, by the power of the individual? (which is also something I believe in more and more as I grow older.)
Anyway. Despite this blow to my worldview.....I still don't think I'm wrong LOLLLLLL. I'm just not as right, or as wise, as I thought I was.
FEBRUARY NEW ARRIVALS
First up, the third release on Believe in Punk, wow! It took a little longer than expected but Military Shadow/Kuebiko split 7" is now finished and shipping! I've been so crazy crazy busy that I haven't had time to write the label copy and upload to Bandcamp LOL, but I will this weekend I swear! In the meantime, off the top of my head:
Military Shadow is one of my favorite bands in the game right now, and I know I'm not alone in this feeling. It's easy to say "they play metalpunk", and this is true, it's got all the best elements of metal (eeeVVIiLLLL, edgyyyy, that riffing! those solos!) and many of the best elements of punk (fast, streamlined, exciting songwriting, conviction and attitude). But what sets this band apart from their peers is simply that they are better songwriters and riff-crafters than damn near anybody else. The basics will carry you a long way, a great song is a great song, and Military Shadow got tons of them.
Tetsuya told me that for this release, they wanted to lean into a more "dark and evil hardcore" direction, a little more "raw and obscure", like Zouo or Ghoul. Yes, I can def hear that, this is their most raw and ephemeral work yet.
We also stocked up on the other available Military Shadow CDs. The Age of Cobalt CD is the other recent release, but Blood For Freedom CD is my personal favorite material of theirs, every song is a fuckin scorcher.
Kuebiko are a newer Boston band playing a very twisted and demented take on current hardcore ideas. This is their vinyl debut, a huge step forward from their 2021 demo tape. The songs have the relentless charge and busy, exciting riffs that I look for, complete with a hint of reverb on the guitar tone and somewhat tripped out overdubbed leads. But it's the effected vocals that really clinch this for me, for the many bands that try and fail to sound this way, Kuebiko actually sound outsider and insane to me. Love it.
We also got a new release on SPHC! Also took a wee bit longer than expected, but Sedem Minut Strachu/3 Onany Boys split 7" is finally done and shipping now! Well I've spent a lot of time with Sedem Minut Strachu over the years, absolutely one of the best noisecore bands ever at this point, and this split sees them at their best for being a collaboration effort with the enigmatic legend Spacegrinder! Kamei is ceaselessly entertaining and fascinating to me, fuckin terrific artist with such a cool vision, I'm a big fan and I spend way more time thinking about Spacegrinder than someone should....feels like a big honor to put his work onto vinyl, so, I am really happy with this one.
If you have an interest in central European noisecore (.....I mean why wouldn't you?), of course you gotta hear the return of 3 Onany Boys on the flip side, and also we got a stack of the new PTAO CD, another gift from noise heaven for us mortal losers. PTAO being back in the game makes noisecore worth paying attention to at this current moment.
Next I want to highlight these two records for this month. Two bands that floored me live and I'm so thrilled by their current records.
If you've watched Game of Thrones, maybe you remember this random but comedic scene of this character The Hound, a large, rude, foul-mouthed toughguy, wandering around and finally getting into a tavern and bluntly proclaiming "FINALLY SOME GOOD FUCKIN FOOD". I swear I'm not making this scene up LOL, even though I couldn't find it on the internet right now.
Anyway, when I saw Sacred Games, I also felt like, I am wandering through this American life surrounded by obvious and weak punk shit, then I see Sacred Games live show and I feel like "FINALLY A GOOD FUCKIN BAND".
I absolutely LOVE this Sacred Games LP and I cannot recommend it enough. For me, they harken back to a time when punk records would have my fist in the air, leaping off my feet, jumping off a stage. Fast and reckless execution of powerhouse riffs, memorable, brimming with tension and strength. The band namedrops Deathreat as an influence and that's very accurate, because the riffing could be considered classically Japanese hardcore but the drumming is all momentum and reckless speed, which gives the execution just the right amount of looseness to really make this feel like the energy is off the charts. Amazing. Now excuse me, I gotta go patch up where I just put my head through a wall.
Hez LP is perhaps a bit dated to be discussed now, this came out like several months ago, so I must admit that I was sleepin over here. But I have been awoken after seeing Hez at Violence Records gig in San Jose, Costa Rica. WOW. I could feel how their hard work has paid off, all the touring has made them TIGHT, POWERFUL, STRONG. They're playing a fairly standard sense of modern hardcore, a little more stomp and mosh with that modern bouncing beat, effected vocals, interesting noise pedal work coming from the guitar player that adds a cool dimension to the songs. But sometimes seeing a band live will change your whole perspective on them, now whenever I hear this record, these songs, I just remember how fast my heart was racing when I saw them, Rodolfo jumping around to this razor tight soundtrack. A world class band and, to me, the best band in the world right now for this niche of punk.
Speaking of Central America, we got such a huge spread of South American punk stuff on this update.
Chile: Emociones Clandestinas 1986 demo LP hits that sweet spot of raw and loose and catchy and fun.
Colombia: I am most excited about this lost Active Minds/Kontra Orden split 7" finally being brought to life! Active Minds side is new recordings, which is great of course because they can do no wrong duh, but Kontra Orden side is actually their lost 90s recordings LOL, straight from the glory years of Colombian hardcore so my interest is peaked. Also if you are a 90s Colombia maniac like me, the GP 1992 second demo tape has been reissued on vinyl, more punk than hardcore but you know you need it.
Ecuador: Soluka Punk EP is a total "buy now or cry later" release, their 1995 demo tape on vinyl for the first time. Crude and rude, pissed and raw, punk as fuck. But I am just as thrilled by this Final Exit/Cacasonica split 7", essential for grind fanatics.
Peru: Okay, so I have been waiting for Autopsia demo LP for fucking ever LOL. In my mind, this thing has been SCREAMING for a proper vinyl reissue, probably the South American punk reissue that seems most obvious to me, and I am so happy some brilliant minds have made it a reality. Essential punk shit. But equally essential is this Maria T-Ta LP, a fantastic document of one of the most important women to South American punk.
Of course we got all the latest Japanese hardcore and grind shit you could want. Lots of hype around The Comes live LP, and because we dragged our feet a little I wonder if we are the last place still having copies for sale because this seemed to evaporate very quickly! We got more copies of Aburadako ADK Years LP too, for anybody that missed out on previous times.
But for me, I am most pleased that Befa put Disturd/AI split 12" onto vinyl. AI is really smoldering here, this is what hardcore means to me. And I'm so happy to have a couple copies of our crew Sow Threat new tape, the finest brutal crustcore band going right now.
If you got a need for speed, Ego Fix discography LP is the essential grindcore collection of recent memory.
We also got a massive nuclear stockpile of all the latest Alchemy Records reissues. We got nice fat stacks of The Stalin/Hijokaidan collaboration live LP, I've never heard this one but come now, that's a winning combo if there ever was one. And speaking of live records, we got a nice fat stack of SS Live LP too, the legendary 'fastest band in the world' in 1978/1979, an absolutely essential proto-hardcore listen.
But for the moment I am most interested in this Continental Kids LP. If you read the recent Kansai Hardcore book on FOAD, this is a name that comes up periodically. File them with Warpainted City Indian as bands that were just a weeeee bit more Motorhead rock than raging hardcore, and I think as a result simply didn't get much Western appreciation. But I think Continental Kids is pretty popular and influential in Japan, and fit alongside LipCream as bands that really laid the groundwork for what we commonly call "Burning Spirits hardcore" over here.
If you're a Paintbox megafan like me, this is also a band of note because Continental Kids singer Akira sang for Paintbox for a hot moment when Mune was unavailable, and then in more recent years Mune sang for Continental Kids for a little bit and even did a little project band with them, released on CD by MCR.
If you've got a wider taste than simply punk shit, maybe you'd fancy these two Angel'in Heavy Syrup LPs, lovely psych rock with a little prog lean.
On the European side, you already know that I cannot stop listening to the new Tiikeri split 7" (Vansuut side ain't no slouch either, mind you!) and the new Sekunderna 12", that first song really got me in my feelings!
On the other side of the spectrum, this Dome Runner LP from Finland caught my attention for being a very interesting Godflesh, Pitchshifter sense of dense, heavy industrial cruncher. I famously don't like industrial rock very much but I thought this was a solid listen.
Lots of acclaim for new Svaveldioxid LP, and I agree this is right proper great brutal Swedish kang from a good band I own most of the records by.....but I think as I grow older, when I want brutal punk shit, rather than Swedish kang I am more apt to reach for mainland Euro brutal crustcore like this Chronic Disease LP. Lately I cannot get enough of the Belgian linage of Chronic Disease -> Private Jesus Detector -> Suffer Damage. Real punk shit!
Last but not least, North America. Many people in my life are stanning hard for the new Futura EP, but I think it basically goes without saying that I am most excited about a new Chinese Telephones EP wtf. Am I crazy or is this their best work yet?
On the hardcore side of things, for me it's all about a new Mutated Void EP, I LOVE their style of piss raw, quick songs, unhinged delivery hardcore. I'm also so excited about Sexpill demos 2xflexi. I adored their first 7" and they knocked me out when I saw them in Houston, but these demos are brand new to me personally. GREAT shit. I've also become a believer on the recent Yellowcake EP, I think they are better than their peer bands playing this style because of those wicked tight and powerful drums.
Finally, for the grind freaks, I know both Sidetracked and Sissy Spacek got cult followings so of course we got their latest releases on FOAD and of course you def need that shit.
coming in early March:
1 new SPHC release
some monstrous nuclear stockpiles of FOAD stuff that're currently stuck in customs so please pray for meeeeee
more Eastern European reissues
the latest RSR stuff
more More MORE
Thanks and talk more later.