Demon City Wreckers, the Koffin Katz, the Rocketz, various artists, and various artists

Inner Demons, Inhumane, Rise of the Undead, Kicked Out of Purgatory, and Dear Johnny, A Tribute to Cash (Hairball8)

Phases and Stages

HairBall 8

Punk is a registered trademark nowadays, but for HairBall8 Records, it's still anarchy at the office. San Diego native Ryan Davis founded the label when he was an exchange student in England and helped a friend release an album. Davis eventually moved to San Antonio with his wife and started calling the Alamo home after uncovering the city's punk scene. A decade later, Davis still represents the grassroots idealism that makes his indie label one of the strongest in our neck of the woods. Chugging through some weighty pyschobilly is Arizona's Demon City Wreckers, whose latest, Inner Demons, peels out with a speedy Minor Threat aesthetic, making for a standout release by HairBall8. Another label trophy are the Koffin Kats, a meaty trio that sound like the Damned on Diet Coke. Their latest, Inhumane, is all sideburns and Misfits, ripping holes in your jeans for no reason. L.A.'s the Rocketz splice riffs and twangy melodies that sit beneath Tony Slash's ghostly harmonies. Rise of the Undead, their newest, finds the trio getting macabre and frightening indie kids like bad haircuts. Kicked Outta Purgatory, a compilation, finds pyschobilly going transnational, as England's Demented Are Go! and Switzerland's the Peacocks sit next to Texans the Coffin Creeps. Another comp, Dear Johnny, a Tribute to Cash, is the HairBall stuck in your craw. This brilliant collection of wide-eyed groups paying homage to the Man in Black is both heavy and nostalgic, and ultimately, that's the real rock & roll swindle: forgetting that punk is an idea.

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