Hello and welcome to this week’s Foundation Vinyl newsletter! Plenty to get stuck into this week:
- Featured New Arrivals from Mutant Strain, Golpe, and Woodstock 99 plus a Savageheads restock
- Fictitious Afterlives, featuring By The Grace Of God, Die Young, and Franz Nicolay
- Shows and Tours, including new dates from Stiff Meds and Venomous Concept
- Coming Soon, with some cracking co-releases between Sabotage and Black Water Records
And also just a quick thank you to everyone who was able to snap up a record or two over the past two weeks to support the Fisher FC fundraiser on behalf of Time & Talents. We were able to donate £100 and the appeal overall raised £834.
Featured New Arrivals
‘Why do we lend so much of ourselves to a broken plan? Why do we live ever bending, ever breaking?’ (Tethered)
North Carolina’s Mutant Strain return with their second full-length release and things have gotten, if that were possible, even more intense. A well-drilled rhythm section locks into a strident groove, while the guitars unfurl dense, relentless waves of riffage, and manically rasped, but not unnuanced, vocals impart a sense of breathlessly unhinged chaos. The emphasis here is on compressed, explosive speed, but not at the expense of properly crafted songwriting. Songs seep into each other whilst each retaining their own distinctive shape, from the visceral gut-punch of Carolinian Jawbreaker to the more expansive, infectious eruption of Words Fall.
‘La morte é sempre piú vicina, e se è giunta l’ora chiediti il perché, solo ora ti chiedi perché?’ (Il Tuo Futuro) ‘Death is closer and closer, if the time has come, ask yourself why, only now you are wondering why?’ (Your Future)
This is the third pressing of Golpe’s 2021 debut LP. Hailing from Milan, Golpe is for recording purposes the solo project of Tadzio Pederzolli (formerly Holy and Komplott), with an expanded band for touring. Musically, Golpe favour mid-paced d-beat infused hardcore that bristles with fierce intent, displaying an impressive synchronicity between the Italian vocals and instrumentation. Lyrically, the album is a call for people to engage critically with the world around us – to understand that all of our actions have consequences, and that there is cumulative power in the impact of our individual decisions.
A welcome reissue of Woodstock 99’s self-titled, four-track EP following the success of their 2022 debut full-length, Super Gremlin.
Cleveland’s Woodstock 99 pulse with an atavistic heart that positively relishes the absurdities of the human condition. The more psychedelic flourishes of Super Gremlin are only flirted with here, but the base of surging, anarchic hardcore punk and blues-fuelled solos is already firmly in place. The lyrical preoccupation with the art of pickling and fermenting surprises less than it might with most bands.
‘The wolves no longer need to wear the sheep’s clothing anymore, the rich can serve the rich’ (Heads Of State)
Rasping vocals are spat out venomously as blisteringly infectious UK82 inspired riffage throws down the gauntlet and it is all held in lockstep by a rigorously disciplined yet inherently fluid rhythm section. An album that literally grabs you by the throat from the outset and never relents as it rabidly explores themes of media folk devils, political corruption, police violence, and military service. Imagine Suffer-era Bad Religion with the aggression dialled up and the melody stripped back, and you have as good a yardstick as any.
As I was writing last week’s Dark Myths, Venomous Realities, which explored Alex CF’s (Fall of Efrafa, Carnist, Morrow, and Wreathe) The Book of Venym: An Egalitarian Demonology, on which Wreathe’s forthcoming debut LP is based, I got to thinking of other hardcore and punk band members who have gone on to publish fictional works.
There is always a flow of memoirs and biographies that are at least hardcore punk adjacent, but the majority that I have delved into have been somewhat sterile affairs. Tour diaries have proven rather more fertile. Broken Summers (2004) by Henry Rollins details both his campaigning on behalf of the Memphis Three and a Rollins Band world tour between 2001 and 2003. Despite having read it nearly twenty years ago, it remains a book still surprisingly firmly etched in my mind. Not so much the specific details, but rather the atmosphere it evoked – a sheer relentlessness that felt an authentic, unvarnished insight into Rollins’ persona.
Forays into fiction, however, are rather rarer. But three other examples did come to mind, each quite different to the other, and Alex CF’s work. The first is by Franz Nicolay. Nicolay played in the rather splendid World Inferno/Friendship Society, and then The Hold Steady, before heading out as a solo artist. He now has a fine series of exuberant, wryly observed folk-punk albums under his belt, most recently New River. As it happens, he also wrote perhaps my favourite tour diary, The Humourless Ladies of Border Control (2016), which I touched on in Trains, Ferries, and Water Fountains. It is a thoroughly engaging exploration of touring Central and Eastern Europe, and his insights from Ukraine are now even more affecting.
After this, he published his first novel, Someone Should Pay For Your Pain (2021), which explores the life of a touring musician, from the days of being in a local scene punk band to becoming a solo artist. A brief flirtation with breakthrough success evaporates before the protagonist locks into a relentless touring schedule of seemingly ever-diminishing returns. Of course, Nicolay knows aspects of this journey very well, but he also has the skill as a writer to bring it vigorously to life. The novel deftly renders the solitude of life on the road, poignantly insightful, but also laced with a delightfully dark humour.
The second novel is Cane Field (2019) by Daniel Austin. Musically, Austin (then Daniel Albaugh) is best known as the front person for the politically charged metallic hardcore band, Die Young, who to me have always represented the sonic embodiment of the feral offspring of Catharsis and Trial. They were initially active from 2002 to 2009, including the release of the fiercely visceral 2007 full-length, Graven Images, before reforming in 2013, with the ensuing releases, such as Chosen Path and No Illusions, no less ferocious. Renowned for their utterly relentless touring schedule during their first phase, the band is still active, but understandably rather less intensively so.
Austin has also published three poetry anthologies, but Cane Field is his only novel to date, and it tells the story of young man from the suburbs of Houston trying to get to grips with the world and the disappointments of his youth. Not unusually for a debut novel, you again sense a strong autobiographical inspiration that also draws on Austin’s many years on the road with Die Young. While I must admit that it didn’t entirely capture me, it is clearly a thoroughly sincere and heartfelt work, and one that convincingly depicts the emotional upheaval and uncertainties of entering adulthood.
The final of our novels is The City, Awake (2016) by Duncan Barlow, the third of four he has published. Barlow is guitarist with By The Grace Of God (BTGOG), and prior to that Endpoint and Guilt, as well as a university lecturer in English. BTGOG, who coincidentally also popped up in Trains, Ferries and Water Fountains, are a politically strident band hailing from Louisville, who have honed a blistering blend of surging melodic hardcore and socially thought-provoking lyrical concerns. They released two searing LPs – Perspective and Three Steps To A Better Democracy – and the For The Love of Indie Rock EP between 1996 and 1999, before returning with 2018’s bristling Above Fear 12-inch.
The City, Awake is essentially a noir thriller reimagined through the prism of five lookalikes, who each wake up in their respective hotel rooms with no memory, and a cryptic note in their pocket. We follow their responses to their predicament, which both mirror and interlink with each other. In the wrong hands, there is much that could go wrong with an experimental structure of this type. Barlow, however, manages it so adroitly that those pitfalls become its strength, and a thoroughly satisfying rhythm emerges as the layers of plot are revealed. His pared, punchy yet lyrical prose also works effectively to conjure a darkly dystopian setting.
By definition, hardcore and punk music demands lyrically that often quite complex themes be distilled to their very essence, capable of being clearly expressed in two-to-three-minute blasts of intensity. Not simplified, but certainly honed to their leanest form, yet in a way that effectively primes engagement with the ideas being explored. Writing no doubt allows such ideas and themes to be examined in a more expansive and incremental form, which poses its own distinctive opportunities and challenges. And, in each case, it is intriguing to see musicians who have brought significant pleasure begin to deploy their creative energies through an alternative medium.
Shows And Tours
This section lays no claims to being a definitive listing! It is simply gigs coming up in London that catch my eye and that I think people who read this newsletter might be interested in. I will always try and highlight where a show forms part of a wider UK tour.
24th November Bob Mould plus support (The Garage / UK Tour)
24th November Another Subculture Weekender (Spanners / Hellish Torment, Moist Crevice, PC World, Rubber, Skitter)
25th November Another Subculture Weekender (Ivy House / including Gimic, Hygeine, Morreadoras, Plastics, Sniffany & The Nits)
5th December Militarie Gun, Spiritual Cramp plus more (The Dome)
8th December Portrayal of Guilt, Street Grease, Death Goals (Moth Club)
9th December The Grey, Aeir, Under The Ashes (The Bird’s Nest)
10th December Short Fuse, Caged, Depravity plus more (New Cross Inn / UK Tour)
13th December Helmet plus support (The Dome)
14th December Jesus Piece, Stiff Meds plus more (Oslo / UK Tour)
16th December Knuckledust, Last Orders, Living Martyr plus more (Black Heart)
12th-14th January Reality Unfolds Fest (New Cross Inn / including Fuming Mouth, Genocide Pact, Iron Deficiency plus many more)
13th January Venomous Concept plus support (Downstairs at The Dome)
18th January Samiam, Sam Russo, Uzumaki (New Cross Inn)
27th January Pizzatramp, Rash Decision, Rank plus more (New Cross Inn)
5th February Mutually Assured Destruction plus support (New Cross Inn)
24th February Fiddlehead, MS Paint, Wrong Man (The Garage / UK Tour)
29th February – 3rd March Damage Is Done 4 (Various Venues / including Framtid, Fugitive, Quarantine, Illusions, The Annihilated, Fairytale, The Flex, Instructor, Pest Control, Rat Cage, Subdued plus many more to be announced with ticket details on 3rd December)
9th March Opium Lord, Torpor, Jotnarr, Harrowed (New Cross Inn)
Cut Piece ‘Self-Titled’ 7-inch (Sabotage/Black Water)
Daydream ‘Reaching For Eternity’ 12-inch (Sabotage/Black Water)
Long Knife ‘Curb Stomp Earth’ 12-inch (Sabotage/Black Water)
Syndrome 81 ‘Prisons Imaginaires’ 12-inch (Sabotage/Black Water)