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 October’s edition of the best punk releases on Bandcamp, Kerry Cardoza features the shimmery post-punk of Siamese Twins, the enigmatic hardcore of Japan’s The Comes, and more.
Listless/Second Skin 2019 Single
As you would expect of a band working long-distance (originally Chicago-Boston, now Boston-Sweden), Siamese Twins make moves in fits and starts. Their 2011 demo was a beautifully-arranged, dark post-punk offering that understandably generated a lot of buzz, and 2014’s Still Corner built on that careful craft. (The band is composed of veterans from bands like Ampere, Libyans, and Earth Girls.) Originally a three-piece, Siamese Twins’ early songs were a bit more minimal than this single, their first new music in five years. Now a quintet, it makes sense that “Listless” has a fuller sound, with layered, reverb-laden vocals and a poppier, shimmery vibe. This moody track was well worth the wait, and is hopefully a harbinger of more new music on the horizon.
Compact Disc (CD)
Perra Vida have slowed things down a bit on this album, even inching towards pop-punk on the stellar opener, “La Razón.” Vocalist Diana Matos begins the track with soaring vocals over a simple guitar riff, looking back over an unhealthy relationship. Still, this debut full-length offers plenty of bite, as on the frenetic “Noticias Podridas,” which takes a blunt look at the toxicity and violence that surrounds us daily on social media and in the news. “Salte De Mi Mente” is even more intense, a 53-second burst of pure vitriol aimed at a two-faced antagonist. My favorite track is perhaps “Día Nuevo,” an unlikely love song set amidst these hopeless tracks. “Quiero caminar de la mano/ Y no dejar pasar a nadie,” Matos wails, sounding desperate to claim her happiness. In a world of ever-increasing darkness, it’s a feeling that’s easily relatable.
This reissue of The Comes’ 1983 debut is a crucial piece of Japanese hardcore history. One of the first bands in Tokyo’s early hardcore scene, the Comes don’t follow any rules—maybe because they weren’t many yet. They can shred extremely hard; singer Chitose often sings so fast, as on “Case,” that it sounds like someone accidentally hit fast-forward. Meanwhile, “Wa-Ka-Me” is a total outlier, starting slow and psychedelic, with a meandering guitar line and echoing vocals. Chitose’s vocals are mixed high, and sound exasperated with every line—like they’re exhausted at the prospect of trying to express themselves. “Panic” is perhaps the best track, a proto-punk classic, with a powerful chorus and wonderful guitar noodling. Hats off to La Vida Es Un Mus for putting this record back into the world.
Edge of the Planet
Bizarro post-punk beamed in from Cleveland, the Mind blends sci-fi beeps and boops, vocals full of longing, and ominous bass lines on this debut LP. Perhaps it’s what you’d expect of a band made up of members from Pleasure Leftists, Dry-Rot, and Cosmic Sand Dollars? The songs are melodic, but the sound effects (buzzing, phone numbers being dialed, etc) aren’t distracting or put in as mere sonic adornments. Each element feels calculated and very much in its right place, such as the blast sounds on “Space is Binary,” as if the band were dodging rayguns mid-song. Some tracks are a bit more “far-out,” such as the spoken word “Excelsior,” though “Running On My Head” must be my fave: a dark pop song, complete with a drum machine, discordant guitar, and sugary vocals.
A scrappy punk band hailing from Melbourne, UBIK have certainly tightened up on this release, with more complex arrangements and cleaner production (they’re still hanging on to their brat-punk credentials, though—listen for the kazoo on opener “John Wayne (Is A Cowboy (And Is On Twitter)).” The same goes for their anarchist roots; the new song “Peter Dutton Is A Terrorist” is a vicious indictment of the Australian parliamentary member, who’s been in the news of late calling for mandatory jail sentences and chastising climate change activists. Album closer “You Make Me Sick” is the standout of the bunch, a takedown executed at a blistering pace until the music fades out and a catchy, rock n’ roll beat plays out for the final 30 seconds.
It can be hard to remember the fire that Vivian Girls brought with them when they first released music in 2008: how their debut LP sold out in little over a week and how different DIY scenes were then, with even less space for women musicians. As much as the band was adored, so too were they loathed, for being too soft, too pop, without enough cred, or talent—or simply for being too female. It was no surprise that they soured on the experience, parting ways after their 2011 album Share the Joy. Now the trio is back, with new music they’ve been secretly working on since 2018. Returning are their heartfelt lyrics, delivered deadpan by Cassie Ramone, their sharp ear for musicality, and their lo-fi, garage-inspired instrumentation. On this album, the band (presently based in California) seems lighter, as if during the past eight years they’ve found room to breathe. The band soars on tracks like the lush “Lonely Girl,” as Ramone warns, “You can’t come here tonight, because I’m a lonely girl.” “Sludge” is another banger, dark and dirge-y with discordant piano notes and dirty guitar riffs, as is “All Your Promises,” which has a wonderfully loopy outro, full of swirling guitar. Vivian Girls still know how to jam.
Melbourne quartet Leather Lickers play tight, fast, straight-to-the-point hardcore. James McCullough’s thrash-style vocals sound so strained they must be perpetually clipping the volume levels. The double guitars provide a full sonic assault, with superb psychedelic flourishes on tracks like “Spit.” Leather Lickers clearly draw on the intensity of bands like 9 Shocks Terror, Los Crudos, or Think I Care. “Nowhere” is the biggest draw, one minute and 46 seconds of pure hellfire, topped off with a world-class breakdown. The first pressing of this debut 7” is already sold out, in case you need more convincing.