“Tales From the Pit, Vol. 3” Compilation (2013)

My buddy Travis liberated this record while vinyl digging at an antique mall.  It’s been a while since I’ve done that, but my recollections are groups of crappy records with asking prices about 5-10 times their actual value, with most of the records being very common or very obscure.  Travis has better luck in those places than I do, and when he came across this copy of Tales From the Pit, Vol. 3 he recognized immediately that, well, it didn’t belong there.  This is simply not the kind of record that does or should end up in an antique mall.  Plus there’s a local connection because the record was compiled by Whidbey Island Pyrate Punx and Whidbey Island is just a 20 or so minute ferry ride from Seattle.  And he knew just who would want such a record…  Thanks Travis!

I actually hung around on Whidbey Island a bit back in high school.  My friend’s grandfather had a small, rustic cabin on the water and sometimes we’d all pile into my Mustang and head out there on the ferry for an overnight.  When the tide was out a long sand spit would become exposed that was a very short rowboat ride from the beach.  Needless to say, there were some bonfires had on that spit.  And some beers may have been drunk as well.  I can neither confirm nor deny that last part (confirmed).  So I’ve always had fond memories of Whidbey.

As for Tales From the Pit, it’s crammed with 21 different bands.  Most of ’em are from the greater Seattle area, including four from Whidbey itself.  There are also a handful from Boise and one each from Portland, New Hampshire (?), and Bejing (???!!!).  Stylistically it’s a lot of punk, but there’s some thrash here (Coven’s “Mow ‘Em Down” is pretty rad) and even some high-octane rockabilly.  The recording quality varies a bit, but overall it sounds decent.  High points include the previously mentioned Coven as well as The Jerkwadz’s “Already Owned”, which is catchy as hell.

I don’t know much about the record itself, other than that my copy is on marbled orange vinyl, as is the one shown on Discogs.  No clue about the print run size or any of that.  So if you find it, and the price is right, grab it.  It’s worth the listen.

Tuð - “Þegiðu!” (2015)

This is the last of the records we brought back from Iceland Airwaves this year.  It kind of got buried behind some other stuff in the “To Listen To” pile and I lost track of it until now.

I don’t know much (let’s be honest, anything) about Tuð.  They were doing a crowdfunding campaign for Þegiðu!, and it looks like they succeed.  My buddy Gestur over at Lucky Records put this aside for me as something that I might like, and as is true with about 95% of his recommendations, he was on point.  Þegiðu! is some in-your-face punk rock.

The lyrics are in Icelandic, but I know from a Reddit post that at least one of the tracks is a protest song about government taxation.  Musically there’s an old-school vibe, overlaid with vocals that are bit more aggro - not quite hardcore, but more growled than spat.  I’m particularly fond of the A side closer “Atvinnufrjáls”.  Tuð translates to “nagging” or “rambling”, while the album’s title means, quite simply, “shut up”.  So it definitely has that punk attitude.

You can listen to the album on Bandcamp HERE, as well as buy a digital copy.  Unfortunately there’s no info there about the vinyl, so I can’t give you any tips as to how to get a copy.  Maybe email the band directly.  My guess is the pressing was very, very small, so I wish you luck!

Pink Street Boys - “Heiglar” (2019)

The self-proclaimed “LOUDEST BAND IN THE WORLD” (IN ALL CAPS!) is back, and they’re as sweaty and grungy and lo-fi as ever.  I speak, of course, of Pink Street Boys, who are here to smoke all your cigs, drink all your beer, and probably leave behind a few new and unidentifiable stains on the furniture.

Heiglar is the Boys’ four full-length and their first on the Reykjavik Record Shop label.  And it’s clear that their mission hasn’t changed - they play straight-forward garage rock.  Nothing fancier than maybe an effects pedal.  Elements of garage, surf, and psych meld together into a sticky stew with a slight aftertaste of last night’s bad decisions.  From the surf punk of “Hvunndagshetjur” to the full-throated aggro of “Róni” to the raspy rockabilly of “Á Rúntinum” the Boys from the mean streets of Kópavogur offer no respite, no opportunity to catch your breath outside of the few seconds of silence between each of Heiglar‘s 10 songs.

The official release of this bad boy was just a few days ago, so I don’t see it up anywhere on the interwebs at the moment.  That being said, I know Reynir over at Reykjavik Record Shop, that killer combo of label and record store, will be happy to sell you one, so hit him up online and get a copy of this grimy wax for yourself.

Une Misère - “Sermon” (2019)

We first encountered Une Misère at Iceland Airwaves 2017, and it was one of those magical examples of going to a venue to see one band (in this case Hatari) and being unexpectedly blown away by another.  Une Misère’s live performance hits you like a runaway semi truck, barreling along at breakneck speed with utter disregard for any obstacle in its path.  The sonic and psychic destruction is that complete, and we walked away that evening big fans.  We saw them again just a week ago (below), and trust me when I tell you they haven’t lost a step.  In fact they may even be picking up speed.

I kept tabs on them after that first exposure and was surprised to find their only output were some digital downloads on their Bandcamp page (and I strongly encourage you to check out 010717 HERE).  How did these guys not have a deal, even one with one of the smaller Icelandic labels, to put out a physical release?  Well, it took a while, but earlier this year it was announced that Une Misère were releasing their debut LP Sermon, and on Nuclear Blast nonetheless.  I was lucky enough to track down a copy of the gold splatter edition while in Reykjavik last week (edition of 500), and this will be the first of many posts on Icelandic releases over the next few months as I dig through the pile of stuff we brought home.

For background on the band I refer you to a feature from earlier this year in the English language Reykjavik Grapevine HERE.  The wide-ranging interview included all of the band members and provides a solid background into their history together and motivations.

Sermon captures Une Misère’s live intensity, a crossover of hardcore and thrash, aggro and insightful, the embracing of life’s pain that is necessary in order to overcome.

Struggle to fight the pain within,
I won’t give in,
I won’t give in.
Push on,
Push every word you say,
They won’t hear you,
Blame me,
Feel my vengeance. 
— “Voiceless”

The power of the music comes at you from every direction.  Pounding drums that sometimes transition suddenly to double bass and then back again, rage-fueled vocals, and not one, not two, but three shredding guitars fill the sonic space.  But Sermon is well mixed and there’s room here for everything.  “Failure” is the song that sticks out the most, a jam that maintains the core elements of Une Misère’s sound while being very intentionally structured.  Yes, it has speed and power, but it doesn’t rely on them so much as it does sculpt them in a way that creates a specific shape and form.  “Overlooked/Disregarded” is one of their earliest works, dating back to 2016, and it’s as powerful as ever on Sermon.

This is a killer record and a must-listen-to for those of you who like the hard stuff.  You can sample it online HERE.

Mudhoney - “Morning In America” (2019)

This one came as a surprise - announced out of the blue in early August and on my front porch by September 14, like some kind of musical ninja.  Pretty much all of the info I can find online about Morning In America is what Sub Pop communicated when announcing it.  The seven songs were recorded during the Digital Garbage sessions.  One is an alternate version, three are outtakes, and the other three are songs that have appeared on various singles and/or limited edition releases (one of these, “Ensam I Natt” is a Leather Nun cover).

America hates itself.
America hates itself.
America would rather be someplace else.

— “Morning In America”

Morning In America is definitely in the same vein as Digital Garbage, a disappointment-laden description of today’s America.  Now, certainly not everyone in America is disappointed by how things have gone over the last few years.  The racists seem to revel in being able to be out in the open with their views.  Personally I was surprised to see so many of them crawl out of the woodwork, and while it’s disappointing, at least now we know who they are since they don’t seem to feel the need to hide anymore.  Mark Arm casts his venomous net wide, covering the racists and ignorant, the liars and the corporate thieves, the zealots and the image-obsessed, while the sludgy and fuzz-drenched music carries the emotional content in viscous waves.

My heart is breaking,
My mind is racing,
And now I’m bracing
For the terrible things to come.
— “Vortex of Lies”

Sonically Morning In America is at times oppressive (“Morning In America”), but at others triumphant (“Let’s Kill Yourself Live Again”, a different version of “Kill Yourself Live”), though I suspect the latter is more ironic than literal.  After all, the song is about the perceived importance of portraying the perfect digital image, regardless of what your real life is like.  The only time the music doesn’t feel like an integral component of the overall message is on the cover, “Ensam I Natt” (“So Lonely Tonight”), a refreshingly straight-forward punk song reminiscent of Mudhoney’s early career (Mudhoney, like Green River before them, always pick great songs to cover and do them justice).

The Loser edition comes on white marbled vinyl and includes a download card.  If you want a sample, you can stream “One Bad Actor” for free over at the Sub Pop website.