Welcome to Difficult Fun! Each month, SPIN will spotlight the best punk on the planet and discuss it here, with the ambition of challenging preconceived notions of what the four-letter word actually means and, ideally, entertaining readers in the process. Purists, piss off! Everyone else, enjoy.
Like a hardcore band growing too big for its britches, reaching the height of niche popularity and calling it quits before having to sacrifice themselves to callous national press, challenging interpersonal conflicts, and, like, the attention of Fred Durst…. This iteration of Difficult Fun must come to an end. It’s been a wild ride, full of punk but mostly full of stuff that can only be described as “punk” here. There’s beauty in chaos, and we can guarantee every single album shared here has probably annoyed someone’s parents.
That said! It would be a disservice to everyone not to go out with a bang, and we here at SPIN HQ happen to think June 2023’s musical offerings are some of the best to date. Do we say that every month? Duh. But it’s rough out here for a road dog, so take pleasures where they appear. So go out and buy a goddamn record.
feeble little horse, Girl With Fish
The best new band going—not punk, per se, but certainly embodying a DIY ethos—and noise-y, shoegaze guitar riffs and freaky-deaky lyricism. But, like, how can declaring “I’m the only one who sees me naked” in a chorus not be punk? You’ve probably already listened to this one. We’re simply suggesting you do it a second, third, and 14th time.
Snooper, Super Snõõper
Paper mache, puppet punk from Nashville—for those still mourning the Diarrhea Planet / Jeff the Brotherhood garage-y guitar days of the Southern capital need to give this one a spin. Chatty, angular, art-y frustrations.
nyxy nyx, anything
The shoegaze band Nothing are hometown heroes in Philadelphia, but seeing as they’ve only been a band since 2010, it feels crazy to say “we’re in a post-Nothing moment.” But friends, we are in a post-Nothing moment. Enter nyxy nyx and their distorted psych goth, informed by a beloved local band but made all their own. It Is ironic, maybe that this mind-melting record is titled anything.
A friend told me to listen to Fantasma because they “sound kind of like Camera Silens, but from Buenos Aires, Argentina.” If that doesn’t inspire you to immediately hit “play,” I worry for you, son. It’s raspy post-y punk, a far cry from the early Disclose-worship tapes I usually seek out on their label, Educación Cínica, but ferocious nonetheless.
Grrrl Gang, Spunky!
Two years ago, Indonesian band Grrrl Gang hit our radar for their glossy indie-pop single “Honey, Baby.” Now, they’ve changed their sound: dropping their penchant for imperfection-free dream-pop and diving straight into powerpop-punk. Shout along to the chorus: “I was born in the pit / I gave birth in the pit / I never shave my pits / Let me swallow your spit.”
GLAAS, Cruel Heart, Cold Summer
If you can only listen to one song on the latest from Berlin anarcho-post-punks GLAAS’s new one, Cruel Heart, Cold Summer, let it be the title track: that saxophone courtesy Ruby Mai sounds like it was excavated from the deepest depths of hell. In a good way.
Perhaps we’re stretching the definition of punk and its many subgenres a bit too far here, but producer Kinlaw describes this record as “global noise-rap punktronics from a global guest cast of MCs and vocalists from Bristol to Togo,” and that’s enough for me. It’s unlike anything you’ll hear all year: a truly universal release, where the great equalizer is frustration…which is different from straightforward aggression: closer “Siren Ludi” is borderline beautiful R&B, interrupted by gun-shot synths.
Miss España, Neibla Mental
A parent musn’t pick their favorite child—or, at the very least, communicate who their favorite is in a way where they might access or interact with that information—but fuck it. This new one from Miss Espana is the best synth-punk to cross the metaphorical Difficult Fun desk in a minute. Plus, there are real harmonies here. Haters exit stage left.
Spirito Di Lupo, Vedo La Tua Faccia Nei Giorni Di Pioggia
You will listen to Spirito Di Lupo and you will think “Oh, cool, they’re doing an ‘80s Italian punk thing through a UK punk thing filter” and you will be at least partially correct. But a marriage of worlds is better than one standing alone – it’s ferocious hardcore from Milan, an ugly city with beautiful things. The perfect setting for such a sound.
Society, Social Flies
Every month, we’ve tried to make room for the lo-fi primitive punk lovers out there. And this June, it’s Society’s Social Flies courtesy Spared Flesh Records, spunky songs for oddballs everywhere.