On the majesty of Fisticuffs Bluff and a ropey-ish Dischord comp – Reviews, assorted

London Zoo – Receiving End (Zoom)

A seven inch single I’ve wanted to get hold in-thee-flesh for a long time. Came out on Zoom in 1979, after the Blunt Instrument got a new guitarist, went new wave and changed their name. Perfectly affable power pop smeared with a hint of angst to keep things zingy. Veiled resentment obscured by melody. “I don’t like you very much but I’ve got problems spending my time.” Just a total jam, found for a few bucks, hidden behind the endless Blondie singles of The Lower East Side, at Academy Records.

Kurraka – Demo tape (self-released)

An awesome gift from a new friend, this is a four track hail of unhinged, reverberating rage from four women Criaturas alumnus. It’s described as raw punk a lot but has a kind of swing to it, particularly this song ‘Hermanas de las Oscuridad’, which may not even be on this tape but I can’t stop listening to the mp3 so either way, oh wow yessss. Grinding bass, pummelling drums, a guitar potentially strung with the dried out banjo strings of many dead dudes. I am gross, but this is sick. Viva el Ruido indeed.

Fisticuffs Bluff/Carbomb Split (Troubleman Unlimited)

Through our various record shop schleps, I developed a hypothesis in response to the sheer scale of emo cast-offs languishing in dollar bins, in even the most ‘curated’ of stores. Something about messageboards. I suppose much of it is strictly more screamo than emo for the most part, the lines were never that clear but you know what I mean, I was always too busy trying to trick myself into self-hating dudes skinny pants – both literally and metaphorically – than taking sides over whether Anomie or Ivich were better.  And I got out of that game before the internet got fast enough for people to download everything ever and refer to actual music as ‘skramz’ Jesus Christ. But yes, while this sort of thing has been out of style a few years, only now comes the tipping point where a pile of records once seen as covetable, then destined for discogs, are now resigned to the dusty corners of these shops. And so it is, the whole microeconomy revealing its sorry self as a sham is somehow comfortable or satisfying, even though it only exists because we agree on what things are ‘worth’ for a moment. The trouble is, beyond and mixed in with a lot of that hollow tenth rate squawking, as derivative as it was functionally sexist, there was also a lot of totally great music, which shouldn’t, by rights, be written off in the name of anti-nostalgia. Plus I’m sure the time I was talking about we were already on the fourth incarnation of emo/screamo anyway. It seems like the earlier the better in terms of  ‘still stands up as great today’ and bands like Fisticuffs Bluff are a case in point.  Totally unhinged and rabid frustrato sounds from singer Summer that maybe you wonder what she would do next (….answer: join the Aislers Set.) I got their records in Amoeba and Heaven Street for $2, although I never did find that Anegl Hair split! Finding what were once ‘big wants’ of folks five years ago (Anyone remember the ‘All the Presidents Men’ comp? Postmarked bloody stamps?! The former is sick, the latter were mostly shit) marked down to a few quid is funny, but a select few gems of the quality stuff that did get classified as emo then is on a contemporary listen just really good, inventive hardcore, and this is no exception. (That said, Just do yourself a favour and don’t try checking if Orchid still stand up, because oh my you’ll regret it.) Cross your heart and cash in.

State of the Union Compilation (Dischord)

A fair old chunk of pretty dire mid-period Dischord ‘progression’ on here, one strum too many in the ACOUSTIC department and a couple of terrible offences against punk, despite the best intentions, from Kingface and Thorns, but it is interesting to place some of Fugazi’s excesses in context. And I love this type of thing! I picked up at a shop close to Academy on the Lower East Side, along with that dayglo Josie Cotton ‘Johnny Are You Queer’ 12”, cuz I like to mix things up. If you can get through the ‘Ameri-dub’ from Scream then it’s worth it for the second best One Last Wish song, Burning in the Undertow, (the best is Loss like a Seed and I will fight you for a difference in opinion on that one.)

Honourable mentions: TNT Single! Swiss Punk Now! Dag with Shawn! Swiz Punk Now! (Sorry that was terrible) Neats single! Huggy Bear/Main squeeze!

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