Various Artists, We Breed Ugly (Neutral Accents, 2015)

The idea of hardcore tape compilations manufactured on actual cassettes in 2015 can be seen as arcane, retro-minded, or downright redundant. I postulate another view: music has an intrinsic value far beyond just the sound coming out of your speakers. Tangible matters like design, production and presentation are just as worthy conduits that enhance the overall listening experience.

There are literally millions of mp3 songs you can download at the push of a button, but they will never equal the tactile feel of holding an actual, physical project and having an active, participatory role in playing the music. Which brings us to this outstanding new compilation put out by Neutral Accents fanzine. You can tell a lot of thought was put into this: from the killer cover art and glossy printed booklet to band selection.

The particular groups picked are the strongest indicator of this tape's, shall we say, manifesto. None of them display modern hardcore tendencies. You know what I mean: down-tuned metalcore with loud, strained vocals and maximum mosh potential.

There's also no evidence of whatever revival is currently in vogue—be it of the youth crew, beatdown, '90s hardcore, or D-beat variety. Instead, some of the featured bands on the comp go for a heavy mid-tempo vibe with Oi!/street punk references (Hammer and the Nails, Burden, Hired Goons, Revilers), others have a vicious Boston/NY 1982 hardcore sound (Poder Absoluto, Peacebreakers, The Repos), or burly USHC (MFP, Violent Few, Rampage), and off-kilter tunes (Fatal Shore, Frost Fangs). I also swear the tracks by Lovely Lads and Concrete Gods are like long lost tracks by UK82 bands that went the more melodic route by their second LP, British-inflected vocals and all. Yes, the Lovely Lads song is a cover of NSBM band Absurd, and I still dig it.

I wasn't familiar with about 2/3 of the featured bands, so getting this reminded of days past, sending away $4 - $5 for a comp tape advertised in a fanzine, not knowing what to expect and being pleasantly surprised by the quality content. If you must have a download, the comp's maker has provided a handy link. Otherwise, if you're able and willing, pick up the proper equipment and blast this tape the way it was meant to be: on a sweet double-tape player, or on (what else) a righteous boombox.

Download We Breed Ugly at the links below:

Side A
Side B

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