Bandcamp has long been a home for DIY punk and hardcore from around the world, touching all of the myriad subgenre styles and helping to translate the simple effectiveness of cut-and-paste to the digital age. For February’s edition of the best punk releases on Bandcamp, Kerry Cardoza features the fresh fury of Colombia’s Muro, the focused anger of Seoul’s Slant, the anti-work anthems of Australia’s Vintage Crop, and much more.
This Seoul quartet follow up their fiery and excellent 2018 demo (the first two pressings of which sold out) with a killer 7-inch. Featuring members of Scumraid and Bloodkrow Butcher, Slant pair pissed-off vocals delivered at top volume with mosh-inducing breakdowns, as on the lean “Hunger.” Melodic, aggressive, with clean, spare production, Slant play no-frills hardcore punk, often about the devastation of interpersonal relationships, with an urgency that packs a punch.
The rawness of Muro’s debut LP only adds to its more-or-less immediate classification as a hardcore classic. Though this record was originally released in a small run in Norway in 2017, it has been almost impossible to cop until now. Richmond’s Beach Impediment Records have released 500 copies, in addition to giving immediate digital gratification to fans. On this release, the Bogotá punks offer ragged, desperate-sounding vocals, D-beat drumming, and catchy riffs that veer into experimental dissonance. Muro manage to bring in a range of influences, from the rage of Necros to the chaotic speed of Discharge, and still come out sounding fresh with fury. That’s best illustrated on tracks like “La Verdad,” where the music comes in pounding, with vocals delivered at full volume, after a brief instrumental intro.
NYC-based four-piece Subversive Rite play lightning-fast, tough-guy hardcore with a feminist twist. “Big Brother Big Brother, I’m not your sister,” vocalist Claire shouts as an intro to “Big Brother,” before the music slams in. The lyrics seem to weave together the creepiness of the government (and advertisers) always watching us through our ubiquitous devices with the unavoidable nature of the male gaze. Subversive Rite play hard. They don’t skimp on anger or aggression—from the loud forcefulness of the drumming to Claire’s clear societal disgust—and they don’t wait for that ferocity to sink in. (Most songs clock in around the two-minute mark.) When you know what you need to say, why wait to say it?
Andy Human & The Reptoids
Oakland seems to be lousy with post-punk bands these days, but Andy Human & The Reptoids bring a certain uniqueness to the field. Their influences are more in the range of weird, art-punk dancey bands like Red Krayola than the somberness of New Order. Electronic beeps and boops add to the sci-fi vibe the band is striving for (their genre of choice is “reptoid rock”). Vocalist Andy Human brings a brash, glam vibe, his vocal delivery similar to Marc Bolan’s. Between the psychedelic guitar and melodic choruses, this trio would not seem out of place in Australia’s robust, oddball DIY scene, where proto-punk and post-punk often rub elbows. My favorite track, “You Like Your Job,” is minimal and on the darker side, buzzing along to a turbulent, discomforting end. “Happiness is a good career,” Human sings, with mock matter-of-factness. For the chorus he repeats “You like your job” with differing affectations, in turn expressing jubilance and pure disbelief.
Obviously, anti-capitalistic sentiment has a long history in punk, dating back to the Dead Kennedys and Rudimentary Peni; this spirit lives on vibrantly in Vintage Crop, a four-piece hailing from Geelong, Australia. The group might not believe in the old nine-to-five, but they do believe in noise—and to that end, they’re undeniably good at what they do here. This EP contains four tight, deft songs, laced with catchy hooks and clever lyrics critiquing every aspect of the modern office job. Staccato, minimal riffs (a la Gang of Four) feature brilliantly on tracks like “Guarantees.” On it, vocalist Jack Cherry sings, “The company needed me just like it needed you / The company fired me just like it fired you,” before he builds into an angry warning: “The company used me and it’ll use you too.” The release ends with the breezy, sarcastic “Stock Options,” which sounds like a mid-fi punk version of The Kinks. It’s the kind of album that makes you want to call in sick and take a beach day.
The Cool Greenhouse
Cassette, Other Vinyl
The Cool Greenhouse is back with a new EP, filled with notably longer tracks. Frontperson Tom Greenhouse is great at spinning a yarn with his meandering lyrics, which are seemingly unconcerned with conventions like rhyming or verse-chorus-verse song structure. The U.K. band’s songs are political yet clever—the opening track mocks American politicians, without naming names, with lyrics like “I’m down with the kids / ‘Cause my facts are alternative.”
Similar to their last release, “London,” the three tracks here are lo-fi and keyboard-driven; they sound as if they were recorded in a bedroom. The EP ends on a high note with “Crap Art,” a nine-minute long track that loops a single guitar and keyboard riff for the duration. The song is an ode to less-than-great creative endeavors, and pokes fun at any art that takes itself too seriously. “Remember making art is really hard / Don’t do yourself down / It’s OK to make crap / In fact it’s refreshing,” Greenhouse sings, a sentiment that seems to sum up the band’s whole outlook.
This Barcelona duo play dancey, minimal coldwave. Their new full-length, Terra Alta, opens with the dreamy, spare “La Atlántida,” a track featuring the band’s signature two synths, which create an atmospheric wall of sound. The songs here trace a wide spectrum, ranging from the upbeat “Mirar,” which has a new wave feel, to the darker “Universo,” which utilizes vocal reverb to especially-haunting effect.
Patrycja Proniewska’s lovely voice expertly drives the beat forward on each track, with the synths lending each song a cinematic quality. “Until,” the only song in English, is perhaps the catchiest. It’s a love song in the purest sense, each line reiterating the protagonist’s undying devotion. “Until I fall asleep and I don’t awake / I’ll stick to you,” Proniewska sings in the chorus. Lovesickness has never sounded more appealing.