Kevin Warwick, Reader Assistant Music Editor
The Early Ones compilation from Rip Off Records: Few labels cranked out 90s garage-punk scuzz better than Greg Lowery's San Fran-based Rip Off Records. Old-school lo-fi in both sound and aesthetic—early releases were recognizable by their basic paper sleeve and crude black-and-white photo—the label was home to an impressive cast of sneering, playful punk bands. This 1999 comp features a host of killer out-of-print singles from the Statics, the Rip Offs, the Makers, Teengenerate, the Spoiled Brats, and the Cryin' Out Louds.
Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come: I've been feeling nostalgic lately and listening to a lot of Nation of Ulysses, which in turn led to me digging up this incomparable posthardcore masterpiece. Released in 1998, the album still rips with jams like "Liberation Frequency," "The Refused Party Program," and the signature "New Noise," complete with Dennis Lyxzen's always appropriate Ric Flair "Woooo!" These Swedes just need to make nice and reunite already. I'd most definitely pay up.
Opening theme to The Wire: I recently finished the entire HBO series for the first time, and Tom Waits's "Way Down in the Hole" has been tattooed on my brain ever since. Each of the five seasons features a different recording of the song, with Steve Earle, the Blind Boys of Alabama, members of the Baltimore Boys Choir, and Waits himself (off his 1987 album Franks Wild Years) each chiming in.Why is Permanent Records' Lance Barresi so excited about bands from south of the equator?