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 June’s edition of the best punk releases on Bandcamp, Kerry Cardoza features the artsy post-punk of French Vanilla, the wild dissonance of Kansas City’s Warm Bodies, the brutal sounds of Monterrey’s Heterofobia, and much more.
How Am I Not Myself?
Cassette, Other, Vinyl LP
This sophomore album from Los Angeles post-punkers French Vanilla is full of dancey hooks, the kind of record one spins multiple times in a row. Vocalist Sally Spitz outdoes herself here, bringing loads of energy and attitude to every track, with a sound reminiscent of the Au Pairs’ Lesley Woods. The interplay between the rhythm section—sax and bass—is sexy and seamless, particularly on “Bromosapien,” a clever takedown of an oblivious man. It features lyrical gems such as, “It’s clear when you don’t pitch in / You think your time is worth more than mine” and “Will there be a day when guys like you don’t exist?” My favorite track is the impossibly catchy “All The Time,” a horn-heavy no wave love song about a supercrush that takes over your every thought. “You’re sitting next to me / I get a rush / It’s clear to all my friends / I have a crush,” Spitz sings, among other over-the-top lines that would fit right in on a hit by The Shangri-Las or The Rondelles.
The latest release from Kansas City, Missouri’s Warm Bodies is a wild ride from beginning to end. The EP starts with “Blister Resister,” which opens with seemingly random vocals, guitar, and buzzing sounds, before properly erupting with vocal shrieks, eerie atmospheric effects, and psychedelic guitar that sounds like the whammy bar is in constant use. On each song, it almost seems like each band member could be playing a different track, but they somehow make the all-over-the-place dissonance work. Singer Olivia Gibb delivers her vocals with as much intensity as ever, sometimes shouting, sometimes screaming, and sometimes chirping like a straight-up bird. “I Want My Alien,” full of rock ‘n’ roll-style guitar noodles, is perhaps the most fun; incidentally, it also has the clearest song structure.
Canal Irreal plays Spanish-language hardcore punk with a dark, bass-heavy edge. The first single from this Chicago quartet is a gloomy, fast-paced number about the dark and desperate corners of humanity. Its pained opening line sets the tone: “Preguntan quién soy / Soy la mierda que ustedes crearon.” Fronted by Martin Sorrondeguy, of Los Crudos and Limp Wrist, and featuring members of Sin Orden, this band includes some of the city’s biggest players; they are bound to create timeless hardcore bangers.
This Leeds-based four-piece play weird, jangly, atonal post-punk in the vein of The Fall or U.K. contemporaries The Cool Greenhouse. The vocal style of singer Dan Hyndman, who also plays guitar, vacillates wildly from high to low, mixing a half spoken word-style with more straightforward punk shouting. On this tight debut EP, out via Memphis Industries, the band deliver six tracks that manage to be both dissonant and instantly catchy, such as on the upbeat, guitar-driven “Dystopian Maps.” My favorite track is the fast-paced “Jackleg!,” which features moody guitar and basslines that sound a lot like early Sonic Youth.
Represión // Opresión
This EP from Reducidos, a new four-piece based in Lima, Peru, is an impressive and well-polished hardcore debut. There is a definite broody post-punk vibe here, with walls of guitar sound, minor chords, and reverberating vocals working together to give off a distinctly sober tone. The strongest track is “El Sistema,” which is a bit slower than the others, with a clear, simple guitar riff and a melodic, Jawbreaker-esque chorus. “Soy lo que te va a corroer / Siempre y cuando estes, pudriendote / Soy lo que te va a correr,” vocalist José Canseco sings, lamenting the soulless capitalist system that slowly destroys communities. Most songs have a subtle anti-system bent, with the exception of the closer, “Pinto De Negro,” an anguished track about the painful disintegration of a relationship.
Queremos Ver El Mundo Arder LP
Heterofobia, a new Monterrey band, play brutal ‘80s-style hardcore, with vocals so seething, straining, and gravelly, they almost hurt to listen to. The band consists of members of Cremalleras, which may help explain how they’re already incredibly tight on this debut LP. Heterofobia are unabashed about their politics, describing themselves as “queer, pink, and punk, and not going anywhere,” with an album title that translates to We Want to See the World Burn. Their sound has a distinct, cold punk vibe, though the guitar brings an almost surfy aspect sometimes, as heard on “Ricones Polvorientos.” I love “No Podemos Ser,” a slower, dark track which leads perfectly into “Silencio Absoluto,” a more melodic post-punk jam with a killer guitar riff. A deft cover of “Ya Esta Bien,” by La Uvi, only sweetens the deal.
A strong bass riff opens this superb debut 12” from this Sydney-based band, out via Static Shock. Negative Gears play expert post-punk, with layers of sounds and deep, urgent vocals, in the style of Oakland’s Marbled Eye or Chicago’s Product KF. The bass tone is excellent and powerful, particularly on the ominous “U.M.,” a grooving, almost garage rock track that opens with strange funhouse sounds. “AYOD,” a simple yet beautiful synth-lead instrumental, slows things down mid-record. The vocals on this album come across as disaffected rather than angry, and always pair perfectly with the instruments. “Identifier” is a great choice for a closing track—it’s fast-paced, with a prominent synth line. The guitar, drum, and bass that play off each other are distinct, while the vocalist passionately shout-speaks above the mix.