5 New Records to Smash the State to
Posted: by The Editor
If you’ve ever seen our Twitter, read our op-eds, or met any of our staffers, you have a pretty good idea of where The Alternative stands politically. We’re a loud bunch of leftists who demand justice for the marginalized (racial, social, economic, and otherwise) and a restructuring of the United States political system. We’d also like to see the GOP implode and rot eternally…but you already knew that.
Although we’re not a political publication in the traditional sense, we’re acutely conscious of the inherent politics in all forms of art. Especially in music, our obvious wheelhouse. As political and social tensions rise to the highest levels our generation has ever experienced, and disgusting shit like this keeps happening, it feels like every day brings us closer to the inevitable breaking point.
So whether you’re gearing up for a protest, preparing to pack a court, or are just feeling particularly enraged by the hellish news in your morning scroll, here are five new albums to aid, affirm, and/or encourage your desire to burn it all down. From bloodcurdling powerviolence, to grating hardcore, to anxious post-punk, there’s at least one project in this list that’ll serve your needs.
Candy are one of the latest standouts on famed Boston hardcore label Triple-B Records. The Richmond band features members of Backtrack and Malfunction (two bands that define the sound of early-mid 2010’s hardcore), but Good To Feel is heavier, angrier, and more overtly political than any of their member’s other projects. The group is currently finishing up a tour with Terror and Harms Way, and their blend of vicious beatdown and metallic two-step fodder fits right in on that lineup. Just take a look at that album artwork and you pretty much know what you’re in for. Save for the record’s Sonic Youth by Galaxy 500 outro, which crackles beautifully for a brief minute-and-a-half before going up in flames entirely.
In 2016, the Fort Lauderdale, FL quartet Gouge Away put out one the most compelling hardcore records in recent memory, , Dies. And now, two years later, they’ve released Burnt Sugar, its absolute stunner of a follow-up. Vocalist Christina Michelle is a fearsome presence on the mic, delivering vulnerable lyrics about depression, anxiety, and disenfranchisement with gripping fortitude. The record was mixed and mastered by Jack Shirley (the Deafheaven dude) and produced by one of this era’s most captivating hardcore vocalists, Jeremy Bolm of Touché Amoré. Those guys’ work can be heard on the record’s refined edges and dynamic flow, respectively. But Gouge Away come into a beast of their own on Burnt Sugar. “Ghost,” one of its singles, is a surprisingly melodic explosion of Pixies via Mannequin Pussy grunge-punk, and its closer “Raw Blood” wouldn’t sound out of place on last year’s Melkbelly album (a weirdo noise-rock song, that is). But the majority of the record is searing hardcore punk that leaps out of the speakers and delivers just when we need it most (now).
During “Pt II” of Feeding Frenzy‘s dual title tracks—which only account for a couple bites of this ravenous feast of a record—C.H.E.W. frontwoman Doris Carroll screams, “men always get away with it.” The album dropped in late September, so Caroll couldn’t have known just how relevant her rage would be during that particular week (the week Kavanaugh got away with it). But between that lyric (among dozens of other fireballs flung at institutional oppression), its cover art depicting the breed of lizard-headed creatures who voted to confirm the bastard, and its relentless discharge of hardcore mayhem, Feeding Frenzy is the most validating and gratifying punk project since G.L.O.S.S.‘s Trans Day of Revenge. This is a stunning 30 minutes of rabid hardcore punk that’s perfect for punching Proud Boys, or just circle pitting on the public bus.
Spiritual Cramp are the outliers of this bunch. The San Francisco six-piece play a funky, feisty, and wiry style of heavy post-punk that sounds as much like The Cramps and The Minutemen as it does Angel Du$t and Bad Brains. Their eponymous anthem, smack in the middle of their debut record Television, is a thunderous banger, but also a total earworm. And then the next track is this weirdass fusion of gothy post-punk and psychedelic reggae. The album’s all over the place, but the band is a sweaty riot live, and when one of their many songs about crippling anxiety settles into a groove, it’s intuitively propulsive. It’s an album that’s socially and politically aware, though not necessarily engaged. Just dance it out real quick and then get back to tackling Big Pharma.
Greenville, SC powerhouse WVRM have been hopping genres since they started in 2013. Their earlier releases are a mangle of barbed wire hardcore and blazing grindcore, but they’ve got increasingly more death metal since their 2016 full-length Heartache. Their latest is a split with their hometown friends in Waft, a really heavy doom band, called The Blood Of The Coven Is Thicker Than Water Of The Womb and both band’s sides are fucking crushing. Neither group is explicitly political on here, but WVRM wrote a song last year that began with the line “I dream of dead cops,” so that’s where a lot of the anger is coming from. Waft’s side is sludgier yet still full of blast beats, featuring vocals that scorch and slash through even their slowest parts. Fans of Full of Hell will find this split instantly rewarding, and for those who want to dabble beyond the Vein’s and Code Orange’s of beatdown hardcore, this is a great place to start.
Eli Enis | @eli_enis
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