SUNNYDALES – The Puppet Show EP

For a band that essentially formed themselves around a novelty idea – to perform punk songs based on plot points from Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Sunnydales have a surprising amount of staying power. On this fourth EP, the Fresno punks sound better than ever. Granted, their lyrical schtick ploughs a similar furrow to before, and they display their love for Ramones’ past works so proudly, the influence isn’t ever subtle, but all of its predictability, ‘The Puppet Show’ EP shows them in a more confident way than ever before.

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OFF! – Free LSD

OFF!’s self titled debut album is a punk essential. On that record, the hardcore supergroup – then featuring ex-Black Flag/Circle Jerks vocalist Keith Morris, Redd Kross bassist Steven McDonald and Burning Brides guitarist Dimitri Coates – captured a pure sound that served up the energy of Circle Jerks’ ‘Group Sex’ LP mixed with a mounting anger, packing seventeen songs into as many minutes. Hardcore was alive and well in 2012, and Morris, especially, showed how he’d lost absolutely none of the fury that powered his formative years, despite later Circle Jerks albums suggesting otherwise. That album’s follow up, 2014’s ‘Wasted Years’ stretched the formula to allow for a few extended instrumental sections without sacrificing any of the band’s genuine fire, further proving that OFF! were one of the greatest hardcore bands of their era, before they seemed to disappear. It’s unsurprising, really; a band honestly can’t present themselves so intensely for long without reaching burnout.

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BLACK RUSSIANS – Communist Dudes

At the end of 2020, Black Russians issued a selection of new tracks as part of a split with US horror punks, The Jasons. The “Soviet Punk Rock” band might not have been the bigger name, but their material ran rings around the American act, showing a musical tightness and a humour that fit their chosen genre perfectly. A couple of years down the line, their full length ‘Communist Dudes’ makes good on the promise of those earlier tracks, delivering thirteen Ramones influenced bangers, dealing with topics such as satanism, communism, and an iron curtain winter. Armed with massive riffs and played with tongues firmly in cheek, aside from an obviously DIY production sound, it’s almost everything genre fans could hope for.

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IMPLODERS – Imploders EP

Formed during the first Coronavirus lockdown of 2020, Toronto’s Imploders crank out classic sounding hardcore in a very early 80s style. In just five songs, their debut release is hard, fast and brutal, and often far better than your average DIY thrash-punk. Despite an unfussy approach, there’s nothing about the material that seems cheap or wantonly trashy. Quite the opposite, in fact; it’s almost as if every note has been put together with the underlying thought of how Keith Morris, Ian MacKaye and John Doe might’ve approached things. In short, this debut delivers six minutes of the most perfect hardcore; a sharp set of sounds that are absolutely guaranteed to thrill lovers of the style.

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SCUM – For Health And Well-Being EP

It’s brave move to open a release with a spoken word passage, especially for a band who are barely out of the starting blocks in terms of their career, but Scum come in with such confidence on their second EP – and a semi-pretentiousness – that it makes the listener wonder what else they’ve got up their collective sleeve. “The primal scream of the modern team”, sneers a very natural sounding voice, before being particularly scathing of modern TV and its watchers who “do not see what they need”. It all sounds very jaded for a band whom, at the time of recording, appear to have a combined age that’s less than a third of Jello Biafra’s own.

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