I had a genuinely serendipitous moment today. I dropped into Wellington, New Zealand’s goddamn best record store, Death Ray Records, to pick up the debut recordings from homegrown punks The Dobermen and Raw Panic. And then, waiting for me in the mailbox when I got home, was the high-octane comic book The Humans.
If you’ve not read The Humans before, it tells the tale of the low-down and dirty exploits of a chopper-riding ape-biker-gang. (Yep, you read that right: apes!) What links the arrival of The Humans and a couple of new cassette releases from half a world away is that the comic oozes beer, switchblades, leather, denim, sex and blood––i.e., it’s pretty fuckin’ rock ’n’ roll. And The Dobermen and Raw Panic are both pretty fuckin’ rock ’n’ roll too.
In fact, both The Dobermen and Raw Panic make amp-melting, outlaw and middle-finger-raised-sky-high punk rock. And both of their new releases essentially make the perfect soundtrack to The Humans. Admittedly, I’m no comic book expert, and you’re probably not here for music + cartoon match-making recommendations anyway. But, just to say, The Dobermen and Raw Panic’s releases do have a lot of trashy and turbocharged crossover appeal.
The Dobermen originally formed in the town of Whanganui, and the quarrelsome, instrumental, surf-punk combo have one hell of a fearsome/confrontational live reputation. The Dobermen’s primal punk debut, Cemetery Circuit, is released on the always fascinating Stink Magnetic label––and is issued on a fittingly rock ‘n’ roll jet-black cassette too.Cemetery Circuit has the unenviable task of trying to capture, or at least corral, the band’s formidable sound and energy. And that’s obviously no easy task for a band that’s purposely provocative, operates in the heavyweight-sound-and-fury category, also features two berserker drummers, and always delivers a massive amount of fuck-you ‘tude.
Thankfully, The Dobermen forgo any nerves whatsoever, and just go hell for leather on *Cemetery Circuit. *The album features plenty of lo-fi pugnaciousness, and quick-fire, knockout riffs. Think something akin to Dick Dale mainlining Man or Astro-Man? and The Stooges, and that’s a crude summation of Cemetery Circuit’s punch.
The album starts off with a rumbling engine, and then the hot-blooded “Gold Plated Beretta” arrives to duly kick your teeth in. Elsewhere, “ZZ” deals in ten-tonne bleeding-raw garage-rock riffs, and sledgehammering percussion. “Balisong Boogie” and “Crude Dudes with Attitude” smash relentless rockabilly and razor-edge surf punk together. And the album closer, “Burn Out”, deals out the coup de grâce with uproarious guitars, bass, and hurricane-speed drums.
Locked in, and cutting a deep and dirty furrow, there’s certainly something transcendent about Cemetery Circuit. I mean, don’t get me wrong, The Dobermen deal in filthy rock that tears the roof off. But, that said, as a whole––and with the volume cranked––Cemetery Circuit locks into a hypnotic, motorik groove that’d do Neu! on a three-week bender goddamn proud.
Cemetery Circuit is exactly the kind of album that you can sink your teeth into, as it sinks its fangs into you. Highly recommended.
Similarly punchy and grimy is the self-titled debut from Wellington punk trio Raw Panic. Raw Panic is being released by fantastic local tape label Zero Style––home to plenty of other ear-splitting releases from the likes of Open Tomb, Johnny and the Felchers, Numbskull, Ratt Face, and many more.
Raw Panic features drummer and vocalist J. Dimery (head honcho at Zero Style, and member of a long list of great punk bands), guitarist and vocalist V. Vitali (recording overlord at the rungas Scumbag College studio), and D. Strofer (bassist, vocalist and primary lyricist). The band’s first recording offers up garage, surf and old school graveyard punk. There are howlin’ lycanthropic thrills on tracks like “Wolfman”, stonkin’ sci-fi spills on tracks like “Wookie Stomp”, and bass-heavy stompin’ rockers, like album opener “Raw Panic”, and sawtoothed follow-up “Down the Line”.
Raw Panic sounds great––as does seemingly every album to feature on Scumbag College’s roll call. Stop by Zero Style’s Facebook page for updates on where to grab yourself a rollicking copy of Raw Panic. And check out Raw Panic’s killer stop-motion video for “Wolfman” below.