Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Suburban Voice blog #110


NEGATIVE FX (1983)

TAANG! RECORDS--The First 10 Singles
I can't believe it's been 30 years since Curtis Casella handed me a test pressing of the first release on his new label, which he had named Taang! Records. That would be Gang Green's Sold Out 7', with the title track b/w (anyone use that term anymore? Backed with?) "Terrorize." He hadn't even printed up the sleeves yet. Not too shabby a debut and "Sold Out" is a hardcore anthem for all time. I remember visiting Curtis at a farmhouse in Auburndale, MA that served as the label's headquarters for a time. He was always a loyal supporter and advertiser for Suburban Voice although he could sometimes be a bit tardy in getting the ad copy to me. I remember having to stop by the farmhouse once or twice to pick up the ad while on my way to the printers--getting out the bottle of rubber cement and pasting the ad into the layout on the hood of my car!

The Gang Green 7" is part of a box set, The First Ten Singles, released for Record Store Day (which has become something of a contrived thing but that's another story for another time) that houses ten 7"s (natch), a CD with all of the songs and a glossy booklet giving Curtis's ruminations and reminiscences for each release. There's a bit of cheating, since Negative FX's recordings originally came out on a 12" (the first one for Taang!, in fact) but Curtis claims it was supposed to be a five song 7". And the Lemonheads Laughing All The Way To The Cleaners came out on a different label and Moving Targets Less Than Gravity EP was released on an Aussie label. Also, the claim that Taang! stands for "Teen Agers Are No Good"? I seem to recall there was a different genesis of the label's name, something a bit ruder, but Curtis says that's not the case so we'll just leave it at that.

Anyway, there's some classic stuff here--Gang Green's second Taang! 7", Skate To Hell, shows the band's punk-meets-rock 'n roll direction. Negative FX had all the hallmarks of the best of Boston hardcore--bellicose vocals from Jack "Choke" Kelly and a wailing, cyclone-like musical attack, although they could slow it down for the oi-tinged "Feel Like A Man." Choke's next band Last Rights, who played a grand total of one show, contribute "Chunks," one of the best hardcore songs to ever come out of Boston. And in case you ever wondered where they got that title from, the sister of guitarist Tony Perez once told me that he showed up at practice with a riff he described as "chunky" and it stuck. The Lemonheads already had the melodic element but it was rougher and scrappier in their early days. Bands like Last Stand (and their predecessors Noonday Underground), Stranglehold and the Oysters had a sound rooted in classic punk crossed with a rock 'n roll sensibility. An old friend of mine used to call those bands "Fenway Rock," since they'd play at such clubs as the Rat and Jumpin' Jack Flash, both within the vicinity of Fenway Park. Last Stand's "Scumguns" is particularly catchy, with a strong political message that was something of an anomaly in that era of Boston punk (save the Proletariat). I always thought Moving Targets were better live than on record but the three song Less Than Gravity EP catches their hard-driving melodic punk sound. Finally, Slapshot are represented with "Same Mistake" and the crowd-pleasing "Might Makes Right," originally a Negative FX song.

To use a cliche, this box set is a Boston hardcore and punk time capsule. Musically-diverse but all of these bands complemented each other well, with a kinship that transcended any sort of category. (www.taang.com)

Since some labels are sending me multiple releases, I decided to spotlight some of them instead of doing individual reviews. Lazy? Me? Maybe... 


SUBURBAN MUTILATION

WELCOME TO BEER CITY
Four new reissues (although one features new material) from this label--a double CD anthology from German band Inferno, a reissue of Rev. Nørb Rozek's early band Suburban Mutilation's album The Opera Ain't Over Till The Fat Lady Sings, a CD/DVD set, Cancer Causing Agents by Massachusetts band Cancerous Growth, and a CD from MassHoles The Loud Ones, Time To Skate, that pairs new recordings with some older demos and live tracks.

Inferno were one of the finest German hardcore of the 80s, at least on their first two albums, Tod Und Wahnsinn and Hibakusha, along with their tracks on their split with The Execute. I had a penpal in Germany who sent me some of their records and they still get play after all these years. Frenetic, boiling-over hardcore coupled with melodic elements and, later on, less-successfully adding metallic flourishes. Hibakusha is their peak, especially the 1-2 punch of "7 Jahre" and "Ein Tag Im Schatten." I would like to register a complaint, though--they changed the running order for the albums and split and left off the acoustic intro for "Ein Alptraum" (that provided a foreboding sense of drama). Otherwise, it's a worthwhile package, with extensive liner notes. Inferno were good at pulling memorable hooks out of the chaos, like the singalong chorus for "Wodka" (which should have remained the opener for Tod Und...).

Suburban Mutilation were wild 'n woolly hardcore punks from Green Bay, WI featuring the aforementioned Rev. Nørb (legendary columnist, zinester and vocalist in Boris The Sprinkler) on bass and vocals and they put out a number of demos before unleashing their one 'n only vinyl waxing in 1984. I remember seeing a review in MRR that said they peel away all the noise on the demos and reveal even more noise. Well, it's not that noisy but it has an appealing rawness. While there was the 1-2-1-2 thrash, they added sputtering, noisy guitar and  a few different twists and turns--the damaged-sounding "Apathy" or singalong punk of "No Explanations," for instance. The demos are, indeed, on the rough side, showing how much they'd pulled things together by the time this album came out. My favorite release in this batch.

Cancerous Growth were from the outlying Boston suburbs of Woburn and Burlington and had shifting lineups over the years, with drummer Charlie Infection and Marc Tobio anchoring the lineups (Marc originally came in as their bass player but eventually became guitarist and lead vocalist). Their sound evolved from  raw, scrappy hardcore to a hybrid (more-or-less) of melodic hardcore and hard rocking impulses. They were at their best when dishing out the loud and fast stuff in the early days, on their demo and Late For The Grave album, which featured Mike Soares on vocals. Truth be told, their last album Hmmlmmlum... is pretty bad, both in terms of production and performances. They seemed rather directionless, at that point. The CD is paired with a DVD of four different live performances circa '85-86 and they do come across as fairly energetic at times. Overall, though, the Growth were never one of the area's top-tier bands.

The Loud Ones were also MassHoles, hailing from the Southeast part of the state and they've reconvened to record 15 songs (including a cover of Rhode Island band Vicious Circle's "Skate Death"), adding on demos from '83 and '85, plus three live tracks. These days, the Loud Ones play what you could call "middle aged punk"--cock-rock riffing and lyrics that show a case of arrested development (probably because they were written when they were kids). The demo songs have their moments--rough 'n tumble punk filled with a good amount of youthful snottiness. Once again, though, nothing all that essential.
(Beer City, PO Box 1759, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1759, www.beercity.com)


OBVLIVIONATION

MAN IN DECLINE... 
Man In Decline records, the label responsible for last year’s fine Concrete Cross album, have put out a passel of strong releases in recent months. The first pair come from the Swedish bands Dissekerad (a self-titled album) and Damaged Head (a one-sided, self-titled 12” EP). Both bands have veteran membership. Dissekerad have Totalitar vocalist Poffen and Pyri from Avskum on drums so you figure these guys know exactly what they’re doing and you’d be correct about that. Blistering, classic Swedish hardcore with repetitive riffing, sputtering leads and howling vocals. The playing is tight throughout, the production is sharp and, in short, they nail it. Damaged Head sound  more old school US hardcore-inspired, as interpreted by such Swedish bands as DS-13 or ETA. I also thought they sound a little like Nitad and, lo and behold, their vocalist Modde held the same job in that band. Others have played in Institution and Heratys, both of whom put out some raging discs in recent years. The sound is really basic and more-than-effectively executed.

The Nukes make a snotty, ranty punk racket on their six song Fascist Perverts EP. A rough, stripped-down sound played at a mainly fast clip, although they go for more of a damaged effect on “Stuck.” From Chicago and with the same sort of scuzzy appeal as their fellow Chicagoans Culo. 

Closer to (my) home comes the debut vinyl from Oblivionation, the four song Cult of Culture 7”. Trigger-finger rage with a good amount of agitation coming from the vocal chords of Mark Fields (ex-Proclamation), joined by drummer John Evicci (ex-Out Cold), Con (Male Nurses, Bloodkrow Butcher) on bass and Quinn on guitar. The songs are delivered with a bare-knuckled fusion of power and speed, except when they slow it down for the pounding “18 to 1,” dealing with the prison-industrial complex. The sentiments expressed on the other songs are no-less pointed, even offering a history lesson on “Poston,” about the internment camp where Japanese people were relocated during WWII. Incidentally, their first 12" has just been released and it's a scorcher. Review at some point. 
(Man In Decline, manindeclinerecords.com)


HEARTFIRST...
Flo from HeartFirst Records in Berlin was kind enough to send his four latest releases--EPs from Nuclear Cult, Mulltute and Pig//Control plus a seven band 7" compilation, Berlin Tristesse. Nuclear Cult includes a few guys from Solid Decline. Their second EP Cruel Routine throttles and thrashes away in a more intense vein than Solid Decline (and that wasn't exactly a soft-rock band). Howling vocal emanations to go along with the fast and furious sounds--sometimes veering into blast territory, which is less appealing. The set-up for Pig//Control's second EP Trauma is the same as their first from last year--three quick blasts on side one and a lengthier single track on the flip. A go-for-the-throat approach although they throw in some dexterous tempo shits and it's driven by a shit-hot guitar tone. "Kein Frieden" stretches out to around four minutes, going through various tempos and moods, until the haunting fade-out. Mulltute's third self-titled EP maintains the band's high quality level. A two piece (guitar and drums) and their sound follows a stripped-down, old school hardcore blueprint. It's along the same lines as Amdi Petersens Arme, mainly due to the band's guitar sound. My favorite record in the batch.

All three of the previous bands appear on the compilation Berlin Tristesse, along with four other bands. Things get started with the full-on roar of Peacebastard and they sound tighter than on their 12" split with Dishonorable Discharge. Less-successful are the grind of Crack Under Pressure and the more melodic-sounding Bitter Crop. Earth Crust Displacement favor a raw crusty (surprise!) attack with reverb on the vocals. Five out of seven decent songs it comes in a great package, including postcards, a lyric booklet and a poster, to go along with the record. In fact, all of the records are packaged well and this label continues to crank out good releases. (Landsbergr Str. 146a, 80339 Müchen, GERMANY, heartfirst.net

AND EVEN MORE...


CRIMINAL CODE

BRAIN F≠-Empty Set (Sorry State/Grave Mistake, LP)
Brain F≠'s first release since 2011’s Sleep Rough. In the interim, guitarist/vocalist Nick Goode’s other band Joint D≠ have released a pair of albums, so this is long overdue. In fact, it was recorded in 2012. Another fine effort by these guys/gal from North Carolina. As I’ve said before, the interaction between Nick and Elise Anderson’s vocals does make one think of X a bit and there’s always been an early LA punk influence but it’s hardly derivative. Jarring, energetic punk that’s flat-out rocking but also catchy and the hooks come from the vocals as well as music. There are some sonic similarities with Joint D≠ but Brain F≠ has always been a little more melodic, although “Headaches + Vomit” goes for a blistering hardcore attack. Definitely one of my favorite bands in recent years. There’s a headiness, a depth and density that makes them stand apart. (Sorry State, www.sorrystaterecords.com; Grave Mistake, PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 232431, www.gravemistakerecords.com)

CRIMINAL CODE-No Device (Deranged, LP)
Criminal Code certainly have a doomy 'n gloomy ambiance but their songs are fiery and never plodding. A lot of shimmer and slash in the haunted guitar textures that do, of course, conjure up Visions of Sage (Greg Sage, that is) crossed with early 80s UK post-punk. I wouldn't call any of this overtly poppy but "Mocking Shadows" has a tuneful hook. Plenty of aggressiveness in the playing but the songs pretty much all have a melodic core. (www.derangedrecords.com)




DAVIDIANS-s/t (Deranged, 7" EP)
Davidians include three former members of Double Negative--Cameron Craig, Brian Walsby and Justin Gray--but it's not really a stylistic continuation. Guitarist Colin Swanson-White does bring some Ginn-ish fray into the mix but the songs here are looser and have some swing in the rhythm, if that's the right term. That's especially true for "Leather (K)nights." "Bummer Tent" has a hard-driving directness, in comparison to the other tracks. Good start. (www.derangedrecords.com)

DEAD ENDING-III (Bridge Nine, 12" EP)
Dead Ending switch over to Bridge Nine after two 12" EPs on Alternative Tentacles. For the uninitiated, this is Vic Bondi from Articles of Faith's latest band and the agitation remains in his voice and lyrics over 30 years later. Hardcore infused with melodic touches, not that far-removed than what he was doing in AOF. Of course, it's no where near as great as "Give Thanks" or "What We Want Is Free," but hardly an embarrassment, either. "All The Villains You Call Boss" have the same anti-greed slant that has informed songs going back to "I Got Mine" and "In Your Suit." Jeff Pezzati from Naked Raygun and Jake Burns from SLF are enlisted to do backing vocals on one song apiece. (www.bridge9.com)

FORCED FEM-The Safe Word (Agro-Wax, 7" EP)
Despite the S&M overtones of the band's name and record title, those aren't the lyrical themes explored here, although there's a dark and troubled nature. Goth-inspired punk that possess a hard-edged pulse. Unfortunately, the low-timbred vocals sound affected and are a significantly detracting factor. Too bad, because it's musically solid. (agrowax.blogspot.com)

4 SIDS-s/t (Unicorn, 7" EP)
It takes balls the size of I-don’t-know-what to start an EP with a cover version but the 4 SIDS do just fine with their cover of ALBERTO Y LOST TRIOS PARANOIAS’ “Kill.” It also takes similar gumption to steal the logo of a certain well-known UK Oi band (if you wonder who, you’re not paying attention). Anyway, this is fun, rambunctious and noxious punk fucking rock, mixing up the ’77 inspiration with some garagey impulses. Scurrilous songs like “Gypsy Scum” and “Dog Shit” will warm your punk rock hearts and have you cracking a big smile. (4R Cooper St., Boston MA 02134)

FUCK YOU PAY ME

FUCK YOU PAY ME-s/t (Schizophrenic, LP)
Debut album for the latest band featuring Tony Erba (9 Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers, Face Value, etc) and it finds a middle ground between hardcore punk and rock 'n roll or, perhaps more accurately, mixes them together. There's a certain Gordon Solie-ish flair to the band's theme song, which comes storming out of the gate at a full-bore pace. "Driving Me To Drink" borrows from Black Flag's "Thirsty & Miserable." Tony's no kid anymore but he still sounds as pissed as ever and, on some of the songs here, turns his attention to the declining plight of the worker ("Scab City," "Factory of Sadness," "Smear Campaign". It's not a dissertation but a birds-eye view borne from personal experiences. Of course, he also laments the declining quality of pro wrestling on "Black Saturday." Power-packed and ass-kicking throughout. (17 W. 4th St., Hamilton, ON L9C 3M2, CANADA, schizophrenicrex.com)

GAS RAG-Beats Off (Beach Impediment, 12")
 I’ve been craving more music by these guys since hearing both of their 7”s (one of which was a vinyl pressing of their demo) and seeing them completely destroy when they came through here last year. Well, the wait is over and Beach Impediment have unleashed their debut 12”. Full-tilt hardcore punk that will have you in fits of thrash-induced joy in no time flat. Drawing from the well of early US hardcore—Poison Idea come to mind and Zach’s vocals sound a little like Jerry’s, plus some older Swedish inspiration, as well. Absolutely scorching and over way-too-quickly, but leave ‘em begging for more, right? Production is a bit fuller but still has the requisite raw edge. It’s relatively early in the year but I think this will find its way into my best of 2014 list. And yes the title track really is about... well, you know. (PO Box 8335, Virginia Beach, VA 23450, beachimpedimentrecords.blogspot.com)

HARABALL-Half Tux (Fysisk Format, LP)
Another power-packed album (their second) for this Norwegian band. Their songs tend to follow a speedy, frenzied route but Haraball are a multifaceted band and there are darker tones in their approach, as well--"Spite" is an intense fireball fusing hammering drums with a searing guitar line. Same for the bash of the title track and "Mall Cop Dungeon." Lyrics are sarcastic and sardonic, getting out their frustrations without coming across as bombastic and, as in the past, there's a wittiness at work in places--"What A Way To Go" is about being bored to death (in the figurative sense, I'd hope) by seeing an allegedly "must-see" band. Hard-edged songs with depth and presence. (PB 8828 St. Olavs Plass, N-0130 Oslo, NORWAY, www.fysiskformat.no)

LEXICON DEVILS-Vegetative State (Agro-Wax, 7" EP)
Agro-Wax generally just release Houston bands but label honcho Mike decided to put out this Italian band's five song expression of rage. Despite the name, they don't sound like the Germs. This is blitzkrieg hardcore punk driven by rumbling bass, sturdy drumming and more-than-adequate guitar blaze. Closer to Raw Power's muse than the other old-school Italian bands. A stellar debut. (agrowax.blogspot.com)

MURDER-SUICIDE PACT-Die Screaming (Give Praise, LP)
FAILURE FACE-Discography 1993-1996 (Give Praise, LP)
These discs have been out for quite awhile and both of these bands featured the bellicose vocals of Bob Suren. The band's hallmarks are still there but honed to a blunt object (stealing from a song title) to the bring out their strengths--mainly executed at a moderate pace, although "So Wrong" has a Voivod-meets-hardcore sound. Of course, there's no denying that the specter of Black Flag hovered over this band with a darkness in musical tone as well as lyrical. The latter provide intense sentiments that are born of personal experience in recent years, starting with "Invested." "Thick Skull/Blunt Object" notes that "subtlety is not my method" and warns about brains all over the floor. Laying it out there raw and unfiltered and accompanied by a forceful sonic thrust. "Die Screaming" is a fitting epitaph for this band.

As for Failure Face, they had a raw sound that had a combination of influences—Black Flag (again), Poison Idea, along with both heavier and double-speed thrash elements and things can be hit and miss, but, overall, there's an adequate amount of rage. The songs provide a release for plenty of pent up anger and aggression, punctuated by Bob’s angry and desperate vocals. The blistering and hammering "Human Cancer" is a standout, here. A collection of all of their studio recordings and accompanied with a booklet including a band history, lyrics, photos, etc. (PO Box 494, Barnstable, MA 02630-0494, www.givepraiserecords.com)

NARCOMAN-s/t (Sorry State, demo)
A new project for Dennis Duffy from Cross Laws, who is joined in this band by his old bandmate Daniel Lupton (who also runs Sorry State). An urgent and impassioned sound, fusing speed and burn with melodic guitar textures. “Bag Man” has an interesting theme, a first-person narrative about “holding a bag in a public place” and how it immediately raises suspicion. This has certainly happened in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, where large bags and backpacks are viewed warily and seem to have been outlawed in many public places. Looking forward to hearing more. (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

NASA SPACE UNIVERSE

NASA SPACE UNIVERSE-The Stars of My Destination (self-released, 12" EP/The Two Stigmata of NSU (self-relased 12" EP)
What we have here is a good chunk of the NSU discography to date--the "Stars" 12" pairs the new EGM EP and the ICE EP from a few years ago and "Stigmata" pairs their first two 7"s on one 12". Got that? Four sides of quality, innovative hardcore. The groundwork was laid on those early EPs but the more recent material shows them working innovative twists and further pushing the boundaries of their thorny hardcore sound. "Peeping Toddler" (from ICE), after its noisy intro, appropriates a riff from Sugarloaf's "Green Eyed Lady "of all things (a 1970 top 40 hit, if you don't know) into the song's stomping milieu. "Soup or Salad," a brief track from their first 7", is a nervy, Devo-esque ditty and its followed by "Apache Blood Overdrive''spacey 'n kinetic jam. Tight, dynamic instrumentation abounds, throughout. Die Kruezen-ish guitar licks have always been a key element in this band's approach and the pumping bass-drums tandem bring NoMeansNo's faster-paced moments to mind, topped off with scathing vocals from Kevin Rhea. Both of these discs were sold on a recent tour and have plain white labels and the packaging is barebones but it's what in the grooves that count, right? And there's plenty there. (nasaspaceuniverse.bandcamp.com)

PISS PISS PISS-Never Heard Of Ambeix (Sacred Plague, demo) 
A Portland band who have a hard and heavy crust attack. “Never Heard of Ambeix” (they spell it that way) takes the piss (sorry) on “punk Gods” and “punk masters.” And if you’re assuming that “Pissless//No Piss” or “Hearts Full Of Piss” are meant to be expressions of punk-as-fuckness, the theme of the first track is about the demise of a clean water system and the latter is a metaphorical way (I guess) of describing living in a world of shit. I’m analyzing this way too much. A full-on musical blitz. (sacredplague.com)


REPLICA

REPLICA-Beast (Prank, 7" EP)
I just saw Replica play a ripping show in a Boston basement not too long ago—killer musicianship (their drummer B is incredible) and intense vocals from Dharma. Their new 7" continues in a similarly raging vein as their previous 7” and demo. A mix of tempos, mainly fast speed, with the occasional double-speed blast—until the lumbering wind-down of “Beast,” ending in a locked groove (god, I hate those!). Production is a tad muddier than their last EP but there’s still plenty of burn to be heard. Five new songs and a re-recording of “Becky’s Rite,” originally on their demo. (www.prankrecords.com)

SKEMATA-What Lies Ahead (Sorry State, demo)
A NC band with former members of Stripmines who operate in a raw ‘n angry Scandinavian vein, with formidable axe-mangling, a rampaging rhythm and helldriven howlings. Cameron Craig, the vocalist for late, great Double Negative, proves himself to be a pretty able sticksman behind the drum kit. Potent in the same way that Stripmines were, but taking a slightly different approach and it's just as intense. (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

SPIKE PENETRATOR-Yeah! Yeah!... Baby! (Feral Kid, LP)
Eliot Kagan, aka Spike Penetrator, was a member of early Syracuse punk band the Penetrators ("Teenage Lifestyle" is probably their best-known song) but, in his real teenage days in the early-mid 70s, he was making his own kind of noise and it's gathered on this album, originally released in Europe on Rave Up and given a 100 copy US pressing by Feral Kid. Outsider, oddball fodder--if I'm allowed to invent a genre, I'd call this Record Store Rock, and this is exactly the kind of weirdo record that my former record store compatriots would play, right after Jandek (and I like this a lot more than Jandek). The title track grabs your attention right out of the gate, with its opening line, "yeah! yeah! baby, take a razor to your throat." A twisted amalgam of influences, from Lou Reed to Bo Diddley to Zappa to the Fugs and presented in glorious low-fidelity. I'm still trying to decide whether the songs here are works of genius, total garbage or a combination of both. Whatever the case, this one's slowly grown on me. (www.feralkidrecords.com)

STOIC VIOLENCE

STOIC VIOLENCE-Chained (Video Disease, 12")
Stoic Violence play hardcore the way it was always meant to be played--stomping, mean and nasty, an exultation of rage and anger. Not that there isn't room for uplift from time to time but sometimes you just want bile, you just want emotional release, you want to vent. And you want to do it without becoming bogged down in a tedious heaviness. When these guys slow it down for the concluding track "Empty Inside," you can hear vocalist Branden Hutchins howl his guts out, repeating the song's title until there's nothing left and it's been stripped down to his emanations being accompanied by an ominous bass-line. "Two Faced," "Choke" and "No Escape" are also bruising fist-pumpers. The whole thing's over in a bit over 10 minutes and, sure, it might have fit on a 7" but the full-blown sonics aren't compromised and the disc is packaged inside a gatefold sleeve and has a full-sized fold-out lyric insert. Everything they've released to date has been top-notch and they were a live monster. (videodiseaserecords.com)

TRENCHES-2013 Demo (demo)
OK, so it's now 2014 but that's when I got this demo. Trenches are an Oakland band with former Massachusetts resident Boo Boo on vocals (he's married to Ruby from No Statik) and one of the members is Juliana from Replica. There's even a tribute to Boo Boo's MassHole roots with the appropriation of the MBTA (local transit service) "T" logo on the tape. This isn't the d-beat material favored by Replica but, rather, a bruising, rough and nasty hardcore punk approach mainly delivered at a fast pace although there are pounding elements as well, especially on "Safe In Shadows." (trencheshxc.bandcamp.com)

VARIOUS-Bloodstains Across Buffalo (Extra-Evidence, LP)
This record mysteriously showed up at SV world headquarters one day. And although I have my suspicions about the source of this record, I'll keep it to myself because I don't want to mysteriously disappear for being a squealer. So here we have a comp of old 'n obscure punk and new wave from this Western New York city, home of four-time Super Bowl losers the Buffalo Bills and, among others, the home of the Goo Goo Dolls, who put out a few good punk albums in the early days. In fact, they covered one of the bands featured here, The Enemies, but it was a different song. The Enemies Heartbreakers-ish "Test Tube Baby" is far and away the best of the bunch. I was always partial to "X-Ray Spex" from their 12" EP but this one is a burner. I found my copy for 50 cents but you might pay a bit more these days. After listening to this comp (the first city-specific Bloodstains installment, by the way), it seems as though Buffalo wasn't as much of a hotbed of quality punk as other cities during that period but there are only a few semi-clunkers here, such as the tepid Mickey Mamp With Intro-Verse, The Stains (one of a million bands with that name) and Electro-Man. On the plus side, there's the proto-post-punk (that make sense?) of The Vores, doing a timely (at the time) song about the Love Canal disaster. The Jumpers get things started with a tough and rockin' track. Aunt Helen's song oozes sleazy, tawdry rock 'n roll attitude, The Fems have lots of attitude, as well, and their song is raw and primitive. Secret Savior's "First Love" is good bit of amped-up power-pop. Not a whole lot of mind-blowing fodder here but there are moments. I'd love to see a proper Enemies reissue at some point. (no address, but you can get copies at www.feralkidrecords.com)

VIOLENT OUTBURST-Survival Signs EP (Agitate/Tension Head, 7" EP)
This Virginia band have apparently already called it quits and some of them ended up playing with Mercy Killings (whose 7" is absolutely killer). Tough-as-nails hardcore with bellicose vocals and a muscular mid-to-fast paced attack, sometimes reminiscent of a band like 86 Mentality. Something to get the boots stomping hard, especially "Shoot 'Em Up." Just plain mean-sounding. (agitaterecords.bigcartel.com; tensionheadrecords.bigcartel.com)
 

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