Although barely considered worth a footnote today (cross-reference under “singleminded” and “energy OD”), the Hypstrz were nevertheless radical in their own special time and place, blasting through ’60s garagemania in late-’70s Minneapolis, purposefully stamping their frantic rifferama into countless pubescent brains, personalizing punk in a subversively idiosyncratic (and decidedly song-oriented) manner, thereby paving the way for the Twin City sound of the early ’80s.
Voxx quickly followed up the manic four-song 7-inch debut on Bogus with a full album of live Hypstrz (fifteen stripped-down classics: “96 Tears,” “Slow Death,” “Midnight Hour,” “Riot on Sunset Strip,” etc.). That no-studios policy was wisely upheld on Midnight’s live EP six years later but sadly ignored by Treehouse, which plopped the retitled band of Batsons (Ernie and Billy; guitars and vocals respectively) plus new rhythm section in a salon de recording with brand-name indie producer Lou Giordano to “polish” their now (nominally) original songs. Onstage, the Mofos roared as unrestrainedly as their predecessors, but on Sho’ Hard!, the fury is reeled in to showcase mediocre songwriting and recycled formulaic garage pop. Tellingly, the standout track is an MC5 cover. (The cassette contains extra tracks.)