Sunday, April 03, 2022

Suburban Voice blog #149



After an abysmal 2021, 2022 isn't off to that great a start either. Things have opened up a bit again and I'm looking forward to seeing more shows in the coming months. It's been a little slow for new music coming my way but there have been a handful of releases that have been worth more than one play. 

Still, it's been several months of personal loss. In my Best of 2021 post, I mentioned my friend Pat Lynch's passing. Two other friends (well, one was more of an acquaintance) passed away in January. I met the latter, Jim Coffman, when I was a freshman at Boston University and we lived on the same floor in the Warren Towers dorm. This was the fall of 1978 and there weren't a lot of people into punk in my dorm, although Devo's first album was a big hit with a fair number of people. Not so much with a jockish, disco-loving guy who moved in during the second semester and threatened to "smash those faggot punk records" over my head. Nice. He never did follow through on the threat, though. Also, given the slur he used, it's ironic that his beloved disco had gay origins. 

I remember Jim had a really cool Ultravox shirt and a link chain he'd sometimes wear around his neck (no padlock like Sid, though). When I went to a Halloween party with my girlfriend at the time, Becky, I decided to dress punk. I loved the music but hadn't embraced the fashion. So I took Jim's chain and drew Sex Pistols on a white t-shirt. I went to pick up Becky and, when we walked into her next-door neighbor's room, the girl started screaming at me. Becky got me out of there pretty quickly and told me that either the girl's best friend was Nancy Spungen's sister or her sister was Nancy's best friend. I forget which. Becky said it wasn't my fault, that I didn't know. Anyway, we broke up soon after that. I don't think that was the cause, though. 


Jim moved out after the first semester but we stayed in touch over the years. He soon opened The Underground club at the intersection of Commonwealth and Brighton Avenues. I never got there and really wish I had because the first local shows by The Cure, New Order (as a trio) and OMD were there. Mission of Burma were sort of a house band and Jim became their manager, along with the Neats. The Underground didn't last too long, as they got forced out by BU. Here's a video of the Cure, shot by Jan Crocker, playing there in April of 1980, right before "Seventeen Seconds" came out.
Jim eventually moved on to work for such record companies as Profile and Atco/East West. The last time I messaged with him was about a year ago. He said he was living on a boat and selling off his record collection. I'm not sure what was going on in his life since then but I hope, whatever the case, he found peace. 


I first met Chris Corkum--or "Corky," as a lot of people called him (he'd always add a "y" onto the end of names, like calling Bones from Dischage "Bonesy")--standing in line at a Psychedelic Furs show in 1981. We talked about different bands and he mentioned a band called SOA... "DOA?" "No SOA." I saw the record in a store some months after that and picked it up, after remembering his recommendation. 

Anyway, a little while after the show, my mom had me pick up a book at a small store in Marblehead called "Neath The Elms." I go in and guess who was there? So I met Corky again and we became fast friends. He and his mom Lorraine (who passed away in 2020) lived above the store and I'd go up to the apartment and listen to records with him. He was a huge Discharge fan and so was I very soon after, when he let me borrow his copy of "Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing." I taped that and the "Why" 12" and it didn't leave my car deck for the entire summer of 1982. I also got the Subhumans' "Incorrect Thoughts" album from him. Corky was part of the old Marblehead hardcore crew which included future members of DYS, Last Rights and Jake Phelps, the future editor of Thrasher. He was also a DJ on the Salem State Radio station, WMWM, and I stopped in there a few times when he was doing his show. 

He was also somewhat responsible for the start of my career in punk "journalism." He and his fellow WMWM DJ Carl D'Agostino started a zine called Concentration X. I did some record reviews for their first issue (I'm not sure if there was a second) and, soon after, I decided to start doing my own zine.

We started going to shows together... I think the first was the Process of Elimination show (Negative Approach, Necros, Meatmen). I remember he got elbowed in the mouth by a huge skinhead along for the tour and almost got his front teeth knocked out. Then there was the time that we went to an out-of-town show. I had a carload of people and Corky kept talking about how awesome his cock was. At one point, he said out of the blue... "it swallowed a goat once." I started laughing so hard, I almost drove off the road. I have no idea where that came from. Corky was a talented artist and did a pencil sketch of GBH for an issue of my zine, which I framed and have hanging on the wall in my "Rock 'n roll bathroom." He was also the vocalist for 138, who I never got to see.

I'd see Corky every so often--running into him in downtown Salem or at the Shaw's Supermarket but we hadn't really hung out in a few decades. He passed away from COVID on January 1 (same day as Jim). He apparently hadn't been vaccinated. 

I always meant to ask him about the goat thing. It sucks I won't have a chance to do that.



AXE RASH-Contemporary Ass (Not For The Weak, 7")
First US release for this Swedish wrecking unit, who I was lucky enough to see a few years ago. Thumping D-beat thrash, although "False Pictures" is a mid-tempo pounder and there's some sick lead action for "Wrath." Hilda spits out her vocals with malicious intent, accompanied by the loud attack. Hitting hard both musically and verbally. (

COAX-s/t (City to City, demo)
Nasty 'n raw hardcore punk from St. Petersburg, Russia. There's echo on Alena's rabid vocals and a fuzzed-out/buzzed-out wall of power. It's not wanton noise, although it's noisy. Twisted and angry-as-fuck, with a decided chip on the collective shoulder. The titles say it all--"I'm A Sick Bastard," "Fuck This Life" and one for the times, "Social Distancing." An unholy roar wrapping its way around your senses. (

CRUCIAL RESPONSE-Puppets (Not For The Weak, 7")
Bare-knuckled, pissed-off hardcore from the mean streets of... Indonesia? It's true--all the subtlety of a boot to the groin and roughly-delivered. Burning riffs and a stomping rhythm. They'd fit in very well with the more bellicose-sounding Boston bands. (

MAN-EATERS-Twelve More Observations On Healthy Living (Feel It, LP)
Another dozen tracks of rockin' rollin' tuneage from this band who formed from the ashes of Tarantulä. Beefy guitar riffs 'n licks finding a way to your skull (and other regions) and gruffly soulful (?) vocals and it kicks plenty of ass. I get the feeling there's a bit of irony in the title of this album, because if you flip through the lyric booklet/zine. which has some provocative illustrations to go with the words, the themes aren't exactly healthy. Lots of references to drugs and closing song, the psychedelically-tinged "Big Rye In The Sky," is about death. In fact, the album is dedicated to the late "Sick Nick" Lovro, who ran the Cowabunga label and also played in Birth Deformities with one of the Man-Eaters. Spirited sounds. (


MERCENARY-Demos Collection (Beach Impediment, LP)
Mercenary's vocalist Michael "Ruby" Rubinstein, passed away last year. I had the pleasure of meeting Ruby when I saw Mercenary in 2014 (I also saw his previous band Bukkake Boys) and he tipped me off about a few bands who became favorites--Nurse and Slugga. Mercenary were no slouches themselves. This is an anthology of--take a guess--demos recorded by this Atlanta band in 2013 and 2014, although the latter, "Atlanta's Burning" demo was taken from a scrapped album (five songs here did come out on a tape). Ruby's bellicose vocals are accompanied by a blazing assault of d-beat-infused mayhem and some twisted axe-mangling, wringing out feedback and mind-bending noisiness, particularly for the conclusion of "Escape Reality." The drumming is absolutely pulverizing, a roiling locomotive that really powers this band's relentless tumult. A crushing tribute. (

NIGHTFREAK-Speed Trials (Painters Tapes, demo)
Pretty basic punk/rock'n'roll from Chicago. Nothing fancy, just power chords, a sturdy backbeat and not lacking in energy. And attitude--don't forget the attitude, expressed succinctly on the chorus of  "Surprise!"--"hey... FUCK YOU!" (

PEACE DECAY-Death Is Only... (Beach Impediment, 12")
Another Austin amalgamation with a veteran lineup--monster drummer Chris Pfeffer (Severed Head of State and many others) is one of them. Vocalist Enok Vazquez has logged time in Porkeria and, recently, Guerra Final (their 7" is a rager).  Metal-infused hardcore drawing a fair amount from the Japanese Burning Spirits bands (Death Side in particular), with some of the guitar trills and it's full-blitz, speed-driven attack throughout. (

RECKONING FORCE-Broken State (Not For The Weak, LP)
I remember being somewhat underwhelmed by this Virginia Beach band's 2019 EP but that's not the case here. A full-on rampage of d-beat, Ameri-thrash, crossover and even some Motorcharged mayhem for "Last Stand." There's a full-bodied ferocity that was slightly lacking on the debut and the trigger-finger rage comes leaping from the speakers. Just call them WRECKoning  Force. Yeah, that's cheesy but it gives you a pretty idea of the blistering nature of the songs here. (

SILICON HEARTBEAT-s/t (It's Trash!, 7")
New-wavish punk ala The Spits (and, like that band, they're from Kalamazoo, MI), albeit without the overt hooks and emitting a darker ambiance.  Sinister vocals lurk underneath the mesh of guitar buzz and synth lines. Six brief sonic emanations that create an enjoyably sense-enveloping fog. (

SOCIO LA DIFEKTA-Kreski (Beach Impediment, 7")
Raw, fast, ugly crust-mongerers from Tokyo. I don't mean the people in the band are ugly--hell, there aren't any photos of them and they could be lovely--but it's an ugly sound. A chaotic eruption of scampering drums, six and four string throttle and a male/female vocal tandem. Also, I believe this is the first band I've ever heard sing (or howl) in Esperanto but there are English and Japanese lyrics, just in case you haven't tackled that language yet. (

S.O.H.-Life On Edge (No Norms, demo)
S.O.H. stands for System of Hate and they play energetic punk done with rapid-fire aplomb. Mid-to-fast compositions and barked-out, impassioned vocals with a bit of echo. S.O.H. have some UK-82 buzz and the intros to some of the songs had me thinking of the Savageheads. (

STAR PARTY-Meadow Flower (Feel It, LP)
Two person project involving Ian Corrigan from Vexx and Gen Pop, joined by vocalist Carrie Brennan. A pretty, flowery gatefold cover holds this album. And the music is somewhat pretty, but wrapped in a barbed-wire cocoon. as one poppy gem flows into another. The early Jesus and Mary Chain inspiration isn't had to discern, although the songs are played a quicker tempo. Pop Will Eat Itself and the Fastbacks also come to mind. Carrie's vocals are sweet but the lyrics are often cutting, particularly for "Push You Aside" and "No Excuse." The title track (appending an "s" onto the end) is perhaps a bit too sweet musically, peeling away the noise. Overall, though, it's a tuneful excursion. (

SZLAUCH-Brudny Strumien (Syf, demo)
A video game or computer gone amok? New wave minimalist noise? Check. Szlauch are a  mysterious Polish duo making a heady, mechanized punk racket with synth, bass and a rhythm machine. Not sure how many of you fine folks remember NYC synth weirdos Crash Course In Science but the pinging sound that starts this demo reminded me of them. And this is really is a crash course--crash, bang, wallop.(

VARIOUS ARTISTS-Wspolna Sprawa (Syf)
A compilation with 18 bands from Poland. According to the Syf Bandcamp page, the proceeds will go to the Polish Centre For International Aid and assist the Ukranian people affected by the war. Anyway, the underground appears to be thriving there and a good percentage of these songs are worth hearing. There's the 2000s era Danish punk-inspired Gwono, thorny, driving post-punk of Future, goth-hued hardcore from Ohyda, gloomy emanations from Higiena and KSY and industrialized mayhem of Pustostany. Something for everyone, as they say. (