On reflection, few things in life are better than discovering a stash of startlingly fine punk rock. Like a naturalist moving a rock and seeing rare beetles scuttling for cover, the feeling of excitement when uncovering new bands is a great one. It competes with moments like sitting in a pub garden on a hot summer’s day with your buddies, the sun burning the top of your head, a dumb punk band t-shirt on your back, as froth runs down the side of a cold pint of German pilsner in front of you. Which is why I feel a similar excitement now. Tinged with a sense of schadenfreude, I have to admit, because while the rest of the UK suffers floods and Biblical downpours, the area I live in basks in glorious, warm sunshine.
Y’see, I’ve been rootin’ through the Bandcamp dispensary of Grave Mistake Records from Richmond, Virginia, US of A. I first picked up on them when I bought a couple of Night Birds releases a week or two ago. I decided to have another, more leisurely dig around the label’s website to find out more, and I have to say, a rich seam of punk was exposed to me, perhaps as a reward for my curiosity.
I thought that it would be in your interest, therefore, if I ran a little showcase of some of the artists I liked on first listen. You can normally tell if a label or a band is going to be a thumbs up or not on the initial listen – the immediacy is one of the traits of great punk. You just don’t need long, dramatic and frankly pretentious introductions to a song in this genre. So let’s pop a beer and have a wander around the roster you can expect from Grave Mistake.
First up is DC’s The Shirks. a truly righteous mixture of The Saints and back-in-the-day Iggy, this band has all the ingredients you need to create a raw, full-on garage punk sound. A three track 7″ release, ‘Cry Cry Cry‘ really delivers in spades and the vocalist even sounds like mid-period Iggy fergodssake. They don’t let up, not even for a minute to let you recover your composure, and they make it plain that the way to listen to this ep is at 4am, after a foolish amount of alcohol, speed and dope, lying on a seedy carpet in somebody’s front room with a half empty bottle of cheap red wine in front of you. This is pure rock n roll and even the late, great Lester Bangs would have approved, and then spent the next five hours telling you why before passing out in a dope induced state.
Right, grab that battered, red satin lined leather jacket and get your ass over here. I want to tell you about Government Warning – here’s their 2006 debut album, ‘No Moderation‘. This four piece, formed in 2005, seem only to be interested in one thing – straight-down-the-line hardcore punk. No frills are included here, all you get is basic punk rock. What more do you want when it’s this good? It is said that the label’s owner, Alex, plays bass in this outfit, and if so then I can understand the direction of his label. This is the kind of US hardcore that I was excited about in 1985. Think early Descendents, Channel 3, Circle Jerks, Adolescents and such like. Fast, furious, and with great sing along choruses. Stand out track for me is ‘Trend City’.
Next, I want to give you some good advice – get Bad Advice. Featuring two members from Government Warning, this is another brutal, basic and catchy as all get out hardcore band. Originally formed in 2007, recorded in 2008, finished in 2010, and released in 2012 this EP still sounds as vital and refreshing as the day these songs were written. This is the sound of guys who are pissed off as hell, and want to let the world know that fact. In addition, they also say ‘Fuck You!’. Imagine early Screeching Weasel crossed with The Germs – the anger is palpable and the energy is irresistible.
Finally, you get The Ergs with their irresistible 5 track ep, ‘Trash Compactor‘. This is just bloody marvellous – four-four basic punk rock yet again with that great drums-slightly-behind-vocals kind of sound. As the label says – recorded seven years ago and never released:
“With lyrics about douchebag frontmen of former punk bands, high school killing sprees, suburban banality, and killing presidents … you know you can’t go wrong.”
Oh yeah, it really is so refreshing. The entire 5 track ep runs to just about three minutes! Another buy tip!
This, folks, is only the tip of the iceberg. Remember, there’s also the Night Birds and much more -I’m still working my way through the back catalogue. I suggest you do the same!