Friday, August 25, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #19

I haven’t been to any live shows in the past week, so here’s a good place to post some recent live photos, along with the record reviews. Clockwise from top left, it's Todd from Severed Head Of State, Gary from the Dicks, Kasper from No Hope For The Kids and Kenny from Government Warning...

CARDIAC ARREST-Life’s A Dead End (Grave Mistake/No Way, 7” EP)
Another rip-roarin’ dose of hardcore from St. Louis band Cardiac Mistake. Rob’s Choke-inspired rant is at the fore and, as always, the band’s basic, fast hardcore connects dead-on. “End Of The Line” starts with the line “Everyday I fight the urge to put a knife in your face/gonna snap, I’m gonna snap.” That’s why hardcore is such good therapy for all of us—what better way to get that shit out of your system. Cardiac Arrest haven’t disappointed yet. ( or

CIRIL-Pink Cave/Metal Postcard (Vinyl Dog, 7”)
One song on each side. Dark-hued punk not showing as much of the obvious Peni inspiration, either vocally or musically, as in the past. Also easing up on the speed. “Pink Cave” is carried along by prominent bass/drums and snaky guitar. The flip is a Siouxsie cover—not the song I would have selected and it’s not particularly well done. Middling. (8941 Atlanta Ave., #505, Huntington Beach, CA 92646,

THE DRAWBACK-The Brain Of The Operation (self-released, 7” EP)
Kind of a disgusting drawing on the cover, playing on the surgical theme of the title track. The main riff from that song is very similar to Discharge’s “Protest and Survive.” A street-punk/UK inspired sound, with “Dead Streets” taking a faster turn. The vocals are kind of weak and the sound clunky, at times. Let’s just say it needs work. (

GUNNAR HANSEN-Village Idiot (Audiofellatio, 7” EP)
Does the teenybopper duo Hansen even exist anymore? The thought of what’s left of their fanbase thinking this is a solo effort, buying it, putting on the turntable and having their precious heads explode is an appealing image. This record is an ass-kicker. From Hamilton, ON and a ruckus of rock ‘n roll inspired hardcore punk. Two fast ones, two at a more medium speed. The opening bass-line for “You’re Alone” casts a 4-Skins “I Don’t Wanna Die” influence. Whatever the vocalist’s name is, he has a bite-off-‘yer head cadence somewhere between Eric Ozenne from the Nerve Agents and John Joseph. They sound mean. They rock hard. That’s all you need to know. (251 West Ave N., Hamilton, ON L8L 5C8, CANADA,

THE JOHNS-In Tune (Anko, 7” EP)
The cover lists all the bands these guys have played in—Die Hunns, Grabbers (including their vocalist Tommy), Crowd, ADZ and more—so it’s safe to say the guys in The Johns (a different Johns from the Maryland post-punk band) have been around a bit. Struttin’ punky rock ‘n roll played with bravado and confidence. The a-side is the best of the three and I wouldn’t mind checking out more from this band at some point. (PO Box 1799, Costa Mesa, CA 92628,

MARKED MEN-Fix My Brain (Swami, CD)
Another enjoyable power pop hookfest from the Marked Men, on their third album, starting with the opening chords of “A Little Time.” My first impression was it wasn’t as punchy as the other two records but I was completely off-base. Sharp, jolting and tuneful. A winning brashness. I keep going back to the aching “Sully My Name,” with the “whoos” sealing the deal. The Marked Men also released a two song 7” on their own Shit Sandwich label and it has a little more edge but these songs, even with the sweetness, still cut to the quick. (PO Box 620428, San Diego, CA 92162,

NIPPLES-Weekend Toys (Basement, CD)
Melodic hardcore and punk with a snot-noise/high register vocalist and it gets grating after awhile. They stick to a largely thrashy formula, along with the occasional punkier song such as “All That Pink,” which is the most-memorable. The thing about the thrash is it’s happy-sounding and I prefer more burn and anger in fast hardcore. I have to admit the “thanks” to “Tom from MySpace for a generation down the drain” but the songs here mainly go by without leaving much in the way of impact. Not to be confused with the early UK punk band that included Shane MacGowan. (PO Box 511, La Habre, CA 90633-0511,

PERE UBU-Why I Hate Women (Smog Veil, CD)
Pere Ubu’s recordings have always been on the spotty side for such a legendary band. At their best, which was in the 70s, though, there were some incredible moments that sound as good some 30 or so years later—“Non-Alignment Pact,” “The Modern Dance,” “Heart of Darkness,” “Streetwaves” and, notably, “Final Solution.” My Pere Ubu listening is mainly restricted to the first album and the “Terminal Tower” anthology. I try to keep an open mind when hearing new recordings by older artists. Some bands—Motörhead, for instance—are able to make exciting music. Others—the New York Dolls—shouldn’t have bothered trying (a friend of mine would disagree with me, although he liked Buster Poindexter, so that disqualifies his opinion). So let’s get to the album. Quirky, artsy rock with similar synth “washes” as in their embryonic days and David Thomas’ oddball vocals continue to cut against the grain. In fact, the synth is fairly dominant, although the guitars cut through on occasion, particularly “Caroleen,” by far the most straight-forward rocker here. Sporadically interesting, sometimes involving elements of the “vintage” era but still highly uneven. (1658 N. Milwaukee Ave., #284, Chicago, IL 60647,

REZUREX-Beyond The Grave (Fiendforce, CD)
As I look at the CD cover and contemplate the musical contents, there is one unrelated question to ask—how the hell do two of those guys manage to get those mohawks to stand up? Pomade? I’d say that would be it. Anyway, the term for this music is psychobilly and they have horror-oriented themes. It’s not all that psychotic but, rather, sounding fairly controlled. Pleasant vocals, solid playing with twangy guitar, drums and standup bass as Rezurex touch on 50s-era sounds with a semi-punky twist. I’m not into this genre and, even if I was, I wish it had a nastier edge to it. (

STABBED IN BACK-s/t (Basement, CD-EP)
When hearing the ranty vocals and peppy, tuneful hardcore on here, I wondered if it was the vocalist for Swindle because Kendal, this band’s voice, sounds quite a bit like him and the band also have some similarities. Fast paced and punctuated by vocal whooahs to sweeten it a bit. Standard west coast punk, none-too-memorable. The violin at the conclusion of “When Laughter Turns To Screams” doesn’t help, either. (PO Box 511, La Habre, CA 90633-0511,

TODAY’S OVERDOSE-s/t (Profane Existence/Wasted Sounds, 7” EP)
This band includes all the members of Wolfbrigade except the bass-player. When Dan from Profane handed me a copy of this EP, he mentioned they had a Poison Idea influence and that’s accurate, merged with a crusty edge. “Insomnia” deviates a bit with a rock ‘n roll feel, with some speedy segments for good measure. The best song on here and they’re off to a hell of a start. (PO Box 8722, Minneapolis, MN,

TOXIC HOLOCAUST-Reaper’s Grave (Gloom, 5”)
Amazingly, I was able to get this to play on my regular turntable because, sometimes, the tonearm will return before playing a note. Anyway, this two song disc on blood-red vinyl features the typically raw death/speed metal sounds and cheery subject matter that come from Joel’s mind. Only 500 of these fuckers and mine is number 4. Must be some kind of karma because, when I played sports, I wore #4 in honor of the Bruins’ Bobby Orr. It says on the Gloom webpage that the vocals were recorded in his car in an Applebees parking lot. If that’s true, it must have been after dinner and Joel was probably attempting to purge some of those godawful riblets. (PO Box 14253, Albany, NY 12212,

VÖETSEK-A Match Made In Hell (Six Weeks, CD)
Collections of singles, splits etcetera etcetera. Thrash, thrash and more thrash, along with some metal/crossover influences, such as Napalm Death. Eruptive yet I sometimes think this band would benefit from having their songs be a little more structured and a bit longer. That does happen on occasion—“White Ain’t Right” is a perfect example. It seems like speed for speed’s sake and Ami sounds as though she’s having difficulty getting all the words in. Tight as hell, though. How do they remember all those songs?! (225 Lincoln Ave, Cotati, CA 94931,

WITCH HUNT-Blood-Red States (Profane Existence, LP)
A lineup shift as Witch Hunt beef up their sound with Rob moving from drums to guitar and the addition of a new drummer. Rob also has an increased amount of vocal duties. A peace punk band and I’m not just saying that because of the peace symbols on the fold-out sleeve and record label. It’s a stylistic influence, both in terms of the lyrical matter and sound. Raging, impassioned music with a combination of speed and melody. “War Coma” brings Crucifix to mind. The title track draws together the war in Iraq and the indifference towards the victims of Hurricane Katrina as part of the current administration’s pure evilness. Witch Hunt really come into their own here. By the way, that aforementioned sleeve, a drawing by Rob that pictures a dead man sprawled across the blood red states, is an appropriate visual accompaniment. (PO Box 8722, Minneapolis, MN 55408,

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #18


A temporary return. The Turks have played sporadically since their split in 2002 and, as of now, only have two scheduled shows—one is in Cleveland, opening for Radio Birdman, on Sept. 5 and the other was at the tiny Abby Lounge in Somerville. The occasion was the record release party for their pals, the Spitzz (who played a solid set of their own—they’ve definitely grown as a live band). The show was sold out before it began and I’m very grateful that Ellen and I were able to score a pair of tickets at the last minute.

If you’ve never heard of the Turks, where have you been? OK, crash course. One of the bright spots of the 90s, both on record and, especially, live. A careening combination of punk, garage and rock ‘n roll. That may be commonplace but these guys took it to the next level. I’m using clichés there but it’s the motherfucking truth. Wild, unhinged, loud and a whole lotta fun. Four years since I last saw them and it’s as though no time has passed. Eric Davidson remains an obnoxious frontman and that’s meant as a compliment. Let’s put it this way—if you’re in the front row, expect to be fucked with. He’ll put on your glasses, muss your hair, sing right into your face, put his hand in front of your camera (I still managed to get some good photos, including the one above, so there) and the band lay out a loud, buzzing attack. The bass was a little higher in the mix than I would have liked since Jim Weber’s snarling guitar is a featured attraction but only the tight-assed and humorless wouldn’t enjoy this. A sweaty throng jumping around and singing along and I have to give kudos to the guy who got through the entire set wearing a leather jacket and didn’t keel over. I have to say I find the garage punk audience a little annoying—kind of a snot factor and miserable taste in beer. I mean, people still drink Schlitz, for fuck’s sake? Spend an extra buck or two and get some REAL beer.

The kind of show you leave drained and drenched with sweat. We had to get outside and missed the second encore—I had no idea they did one until the following morning—damn! Still, the likes of the hopped-up “Born Toulouse-Lautrec,” “Professional Againster” and “Tattooed Apathetic Boys,” the latter of which has a breakdown that rivals any hardcore band, still do the trick. It’s a pity that many people were turned away—the Abbey is definitely the right venue for this show but it still sucks for those shut out.

PS—there were some references to the Red Sox’ ineptitude and the guy next to me says, in a smarmy voice, “yeah, let’s get into punk so we can talk about sports.” Go fuck yourself—I can picture you at home, jacking off with one hand while holding an old, obscure punk record in the other. Actually, that’s an image I’d rather not contemplate. And to the person who yelled “fuck Boston!”: don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out, as you head down to your new hipster home in Williamsburg...

MUSIC REVIEWS (both recent arrivals and from the review pile):

ATTENTAT SONORE-Barricades (Guerilla Vinyl, 7” EP)
Pretty straight-forward up-the-punks style music with male/female vocals. Energetic, mainly speedy delivery and done with enthusiasm but fairly typical-sounding, to be honest. It has heart (or, as we say in Mass., HAAAHT) at least. (B.P. 135, 87004 Limoges Cedex 1, FRANCE,

CALIFORNIA LOVE-Can’t Waste Death (self-released)
Ain’t no love here, just a blur. Double-speed thrash/grind/hardcore with gutteral throat-kill vocals and jackhammer riffing. For all the explosive properties here, they forgot the songs and it blows by in tuneless fashion. A side project with a few people from Look Back and Laugh and I’ll stick with the latter. (PO Box 3103, San Francisco, CA 94703,

EVIL ARMY-s/t (Get Revenge, CD)
Rob Evil sounds similar to Colin from GBH and this band are on a thrash/speed metal bender. The approach is crank ‘er up and let it rip, while the lyrical themes trade in death and destruction, as you would probably figure. Roughness in the production, some roughness in the playing but there’s something appealing about their full-on sound. Pure hell-raising, in more ways than one. (PO Box 27071, Knoxville, TN 37927,

MEASURE [SA]-Historical Fiction (Salinas/Don Giovanni, LP)
Lightweight, folksy indy pop, even with the electric instrumentation. I wouldn’t even add punk to the equation here, although some may beg to differ. It’s more country-inflected, in terms of song structure. Heartfelt, competently played and all that but these types of bands make me want to put on a punk or hardcore record and blast this sweetness away. (PO Box 166, Somerville, NJ 08879,

MODERN LIFE IS WAR-Witness (Lifeline, LP/Deathwish, CD)
MLIW sound as though they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. You can feel it in Jeff’s angst-filled howlings and the heavy, sometimes swirling, screamo-inclined songs. I don’t know—at one point, I found this kind of pour-it-out core appealing and they weren’t a bad live band when I saw them around ’03 but, these days, this sound is tiresome. That may seem odd, given the band’s volume and heaviness but I prefer my catharsis with something a bit more upbeat or with more velocity. The personalized lyrics from “John and Jimmy,” about a neighbor returning from war, do touch the heart, though. ( or

PANIC-Strength In Solitude (Bridge Nine, LP/CD)
Anthology of this band’s ‘01/02 output—two EP’s and, on the CD, their demo. A few years after the Trouble (and the short-lived Harmony Set), Gibby Miller ended up fronting this band. Blazing hardcore with the speed/breakdown balance, though mainly opting for the former. Gibby’s vocals have murderousness in the cadence. The cover of Unbroken’s “Fall On Proverb,” while adding some chug, has the same dark-hued fray as the rest of the material. Hard to believe that, in the middle of this soul-rending, “Our Choice Is Made” takes a posi turn, lyrically. Even with the modern hardcore trappings, there was a little more danger in their approach. (PO Box 990029, Boston, MA 02199,

SPITZZ-Touché Pussycats (Tario, CD)
For all the heavy rep Boston has as a garage rock-friendly town, there have only been a few bands that really live up to it and the Spitzz have emerged as one of those bands. They follow the simple is better method, drawing on various punk, rock and garage influences, unafraid to borrow on occasion—such as the “Nervous Breakdown” cop for “Channel One.” “Touché Pussycat” is the band’s second album and continues the level of quality from their debut, “Sick Savage and Sensual.” Confident and fired-up. (53 Beacon St., #3, Somerville, MA 02143,

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #17

A new blog in about a week. How about that! Hopefully, I can keep up the pace a bit. I’m making an honest attempt to dig out from under the deluge of CD’s, LPs and 7”s. Some of the time, it’s a fruitless task because, let’s face it, much of what comes through my PO box is mediocre at best. Still, there are always gems in the pile and I’m not above actually buying some of the records you see reviewed here. One thing that sucks is I haven’t been able to upload pictures to this blog. But I figured I’d better get this published...

It was time for my fourth annual mid-August visit to Philly for the Pointless Fest, that’s been happening the last several years at the Unitarian Church. This year’s lineup didn’t seem to be quite as strong, at first glance, yet having a chance to see No Hope For The Kids, from Denmark, plus a rare east coast appearance from Severed Head Of State and World Burns to Death was too good to pass up. I decided to depart on Friday, missing the Thursday show with Hellshock, NHFTK, Witch Hunt and others but, in all honesty, four days would have been too much. Besides, my cousin Andrew, who I usually stay with, was going to be out of town and I had to get a hotel room about half an hour west of Philly. That’s because it’s less expensive and I refuse to stay at one of those shit-ass motels in New Jersey.

The drive down wasn’t too bad, as I only hit a few traffic snarls. The hotel, in Wayne, PA, was easy to find and nice. Internet access, a pool and whirlpool across the hall—what more could I want? Not to sound like a snob but, at this point in my life, I really can’t sleep on floors. My arm goes numb, for one thing. Yeah, getting older. What can I say?

The drive into Philly for the first show kind of sucked ass but I did find a parking space close by, around the corner, without even having to circle the area one time. The “parking gods” were with me the entire weekend, in fact.

I managed to get to the church in time to see the Pissed Jeans—basically, the members of hardcore band Gate Crashers doing noisier, crazed-out rock. The vocalist had a total David Yow vibe and they had a thudding sound along the lines of those I used to listen too quite a bit in the early 90s. I hadn’t been blown away by their recordings before but seeing them live made me “get it.” They were followed by Government Warning, from Richmond and a last-minute replacement for Direct Control, with whom they share two members. Completely ripping hardcore punk. I got tired just watching Kenny charge back and forth across the stage, jamming the mike into the faces gathered along the front. They ended with a Vile (!) and Adolescents’ cover.

So after that back-to-back pillage, I went upstairs to record shop since World/Inferno Friendship Society were coming on and I wasn’t interested in their klezmer/ska/R&B/whatthefuck revue. It was a perfect time to hit the distros.

Let’s backtrack a bit. Before leaving for the fest, I’d heard about problems the night before with so-called “traveler punks” hanging round outside and causing problems. So much, in fact, that the fest almost got shut down. I wondered if I should even make the trip. For the Friday night show, the promoters hired FSU to do security—basically policing the area outside the venue to make sure people weren’t drinking. Things went fine for awhile until shit went down around the time W/IFS were playing. I didn’t even know about it until a fellow Bostonian told me about all the cop cars and helicopter that had shown up due to a melee in the alley near the venue involving punks, FSU and the cops. I didn’t see what happened and there have been several accounts. I’m going to provide a few and you can reach your own conclusions. Here’s the “official” statement from the promoter, Sean of R5 Productions, along with comments: and that includes links to reports on Philly Indymedia, including a closeup of a young woman attacked by the cops. There’s also a news report from the Philly Metro:

Whatever happened, the end result was the fest was canceled for Saturday and Sunday. Bands who had traveled from overseas and around the country were screwed. So were people who had traveled to the show TO ATTEND, not hang outside and act like fucking morons. Fortunately, a semi-compromise was found by having a 21+ bar show at the Millcreek Tavern in West Philly. Not an ideal solution for the under 21 crowd and I’m not used to going to clubs/bars that allow smoking anymore but it was a pretty laid-back place and the show itself was pretty fucking great. Kylesa opened and while their set went on a bit long, “A 100° Heat Index” was a powerful conclusion. Thought Crime and Dismal ripped out some solid crusty punk. No Hope For The Kids were next and completely stole the show. I didn’t even realize they were coming on until I was walking in and heard “we’re No Hope For The Kids from Denmark.” Loud, melodic, memorable songs—that’s the key to their success. “Eyes Of War,” “Centuries Of War,” et al, stick in the head. The only things that sucked were the brevity of their set and some idiot in a red NHFTK shirt who stood on the stage in front of Kasper, the guitar player, for almost the whole set. At least I was on the side so I could see!

Severed Head of State were next. Pillaging, booming ugly-sounding hardcore, with Jack Control and Todd Burdette barking out the words. It’s good to see Jack back in action, after his stabbing earlier this year. He was back at the end of the show for a brief World Burns To Death set. Only new songs and only about half a dozen of them. On first listen, it seems as though the songs have more of a Japanese hardcore edge, as opposed to Scandinavian. In any case, the songs were fast and aggressive. In between the Jack sets, there was an oi covers band fronted by Mike McKee from Kill The Man Who Questions and Armalite. He affected a British accent and they treated the crowd to an assortment of Cock Sparrer (most of the songs), Blitz and Sham 69 material. Delirious sing-a-longs throughout. Mike was found outside after the set, slumped against a wall, saying he didn’t realize how hot it was going to be wearing a sweater vest.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of spending the day with a bunch of cool people and we went to a fair/flea market at a park in West Philly and then I went record shopping with my friends Jason and Lila. On the way, we drove past an incredible art installation called the Magic Gardens. It’s hard to describe. A landscape of concrete, glass, metal and found objects. The best way to check it out is at their site.

So, all in all, it wasn’t a bad trip but it certainly ended up a nightmare for many of the people involved. Putting the terms aside—crusty, traveler, whatever—an asshole is an asshole and I don’t care WHAT they’re wearing. In all honesty, though, I was looking forward to at least some time away from the spiked/studded population...


DROGUES-No Facts That Don’t Fit (Waxbrain, CD)
Allan from Giant Haystacks mentioned that this Bay Area band were friends of theirs and the Drogues are cut from the same post-punk cloth. A heavy-duty Minutemen/Gang of Four influence. “Transport Devices,” in fact, channels D. Boon’s vocal delivery. As with those bands, there’s political content but not the type that hits you over the head. It’s subtler and often personalized. Sparse and minimal yet with busy instrumental interplay, as the sharp guitar duels with bass-lines darting in and out and shifting drum patterns. “Something’s Receding” takes a poppier turn. These guys really are a post punk band, in the traditional sense of the word, and that’s meant to be complimentary. (

GOVERNMENT WARNING-No Moderation (Feral Ward, LP)
Smokin’ hardcore from Richmond’s Government Warning, following an earlier 7”. Fast? Check. Memorable songs? Check. Some similarities to Direct Control, with whom they share a few members on different instruments (Brandon plays drums and Mike plays guitar here). One difference is Kenny’s snottier ranting vocals and perhaps more of a west-coast feel, especially for the mid-tempo “Fat Nation” and “Sick Of Home.” right down to Brandon’s drumming. Descriptions, descriptions. Just play it loud and it’ll hook ‘ya real quick. (

OUTBREAK-Failure (Bridge Nine, CD)
Wow, this is a rager. It’s an outbreak (arrgh!) of blazing fast hardcore punk with breakdowns that, thankfully, don’t break out the chug. That’s right, PUNK. The production is clean and gives it a modern ambiance, yet Outbreak do a good job of combining early 80s and late 80s hardcore influences. I’d still rather hear a rougher/raw production for hardcore, but the band’s power comes blasting through. The best band from Maine since, uh, the Pinkerton Thugs? (PO Box 99052, Boston, MA 02199,

REDUCERS SF-Raise Your Hackles (TKO, CD)
The latest collection of tuneful, pubby punk rock from the Reducers. Hearty, grizzled vocals, pealing and buzzing guitars with a punchy approach. Sounds good on paper, sounds good on the CD paper, although it’s a little slick-sounding. They get it right for “Hired Hand,” with a gigantic hook and not-too-cheesy whoooahs. Overall, hitting a middle ground. (8941 Atlanta Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92646,

RETCHING RED-Scarlet Whore Of War (Rodent Popsicle, CD)
The same amount of agitation as on Retching Red’s first album. In case you forgot, the band includes Cinder Block, formerly of Tilt and Cyco Loco (Mike to his friends) from Oppressed Logic. Cinder has malice in her voice, although a bit of the old croon occasionally pops through. Mainly a fast tempo, although “Blue Kid Trapped In A Red State” is somewhat slower and has the classic west coast punk sound. Ms. Block expresses quite a bit of what I feel lately. Speaking as someone who gets tired of whiny kids, “Stop Breeding” has me going “fuck yeah!” “Lying Sacks Of Shit” deals with such vile beings as Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, et al and it’s a favorite expression. Pulverizing. (PO Box 1143, Allston, MA 02134,

RUNNAMUCKS-Inferno (Six Weeks, CD)
The Runnamucks move away from their thrash sound to a mid-tempo harder-rocking sound meets punk, having added a new drummer and lead guitarist (the App brothers, Daniel and Bryan) along the way. There isn’t metallic bluster, even with the lead lines. The guitar tone remains pretty much the same. The standout track here is the fired-up boogie rocker “Untouchable.” If they come up with more songs like that next time around, I won’t have any reservations about the transition at all. It’s taken awhile for me to get into this album yet there’s definitely been an improvement in the playing—especially the drumming. Also, after having seen some of these songs live, “Inferno” has definitely grown on me. (225 Lincoln Ave., Cotati, CA 94931,

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #16

For my first blog here (which is the sixteenth I’ve done), I’m catching up on a shitload of record reviews. Perhaps not the most fascinating reading but maybe you’re curious as to what’s rocking my world lately.... The first 15 blogs were done on MySpace and can be seen here:

ARMY OF JESUS-Book Bomb (Criminal IQ, 7” EP)
This band is so fucking hot. Third 7” already and another strong effort. Nothing complicated, just solid hardcore punk with hoarse vocals and hard-hitting songs. It’s dawned on me that Doug’s voice is reminiscent of Clifford from Bl’ast and some of the riffs have similarity with that band, especially “Human Worth Index.” Burnin’. (3540 N. Southport, Chicago, IL 60657,

AVAIL-Dixie/4AM Friday/Over The James (all Jade Tree, CD)
Three reissues of Avail’s albums on Lookout, each appended with other various releases/tracks—“Dixie” adds the “Attempt to Regress” 7” and the poor-sounding “Live At The Kings Head Inn.” “Live At The Bottom of The Hill,” added to “4AM Friday,” fares better and “Over the James” has the songs from their split with (Young) Pioneers and a few comp apperances. These guys were a pretty inspiring band back then, especially live. Looking back, the albums could be hit and miss at times and they don’t really stir the same ‘ol feelings. Hell, I missed their last local appearance and that would have been unthinkable 5-6 years ago. Still, they always had plenty of punk heart along with the more accessible elements. Surging hardcore with a melodic bent and there was always a rootsy, heartland quality to it. On these three releases, there are songs that remain absolutely blistering—“Scuffle Town,” from “Over The James” and “Virus,” “On The Nod” and “Southbound 95” from “Dixie.” “Dixie” remains their pinnacle, “4AM” was something of a letdown and “Over The James” was a return to form. Avail’s albums may not come off the shelf as much as they once did, but I’m still glad they remain there. (2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810,

BAD REACTION-Symptoms Of Youth (Destroy All Records, CD)
Melodic hardcore punk. Such a broad definition but it’s an upbeat merging of west coast and DC influences and a smidgen of 80s emo-core. “Caught In A Corner,” for instance, reminds me of “Subject To Change”-era Faith. No tough mosh beatdowns, no metal slog to go along with the substance-free sentiments. Plus a tribute (?) to Gatorade. They forgot to name-check my favorite, raspberry lemonade but I’ll raise a 32 oz. toast to ‘em right now. (PO Box 520, Van Nuys, CA 91408,

BORN/DEAD-Endless War... Repetition (Prank, CD)
Catching up with Born/Dead, merging the songs off their split with Consume and the five songs from a limited 12” EP they had for their tour. The merging of the titles come from the leadoff track of both the split and EP and it could apply to what’s been going on with this country’s military, to be endlessly repeated ad infinitum, I’m afraid. The songs off the Consume split are among my favorite from this band. Rampaging crust punk with urgency and power. The later songs have a little more somberness (especially the outro to “Comfort In Ignorance” along with something of an “epic” flavor. Sometimes lacking the directness but still well-worth hearing. A few live video tracks are also included. (PO Box 410092, SF, CA 94141,

CLOAK/DAGGER-Pinata(Grave Mistake, 7” EP)
Edgy, energetic punk. One can clearly hear the those influences, particularly for the thrashy “Paranoid,” but there’s a bit of nervy snakiness (?!) in the guitar and bass-lines. Makes me think of the bands from the 90s who would be considered “indy rock” but had punk aggression. In any case, it’s the remedy to chase away my increasing jadedness. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

CLUSTERFUCK/RAT BYTE-This Is For Ruining My Life (Party Time, 7” EP)
I reviewed this as a CD-R earlier this year and it’s finally out on vinyl. Hot hardcore punk. Clusterfuck put out a 13 song 7” some time back and the credo on that record was “humans disappoint me.” That hasn’t changed with such songs as “Flagfucker,” “Nato Needs Shock Treatment” and “God Told Me To Buy Stocks.” Shit Eating Grin” throws in a stolen Black Sabbath riff for a split second. A quavery, high-timbred singing style adds a distinct element to their driving sound. Skate-thrashers Rat Byte contribute four new songs, starting with a crossover-tinged intro before kicking it into gear. A flailing energy and their best-sounding songs to date. (

CONGA FURY-Dear Friends (Six Weeks, CD)
On the back of the booklet, it says “Love Noise” and “Chaotic Noise” is imprinted on the CD. Yeah, I’d say that’s about right. Everything pushed into the red zone on the recording console, no doubt. The final song, which happens to be the title track, is epic in comparison, a four minute plus dose of mid-tempo rock, albeit with the same type of buzz. A steady diet of this would make my head explode—raw, frenetic and distorted. It’s tough to get through 25 tracks, to be honest, although I’m still drawn in. (225 Lincoln Ave., Cotati, CA 94931,

CONVERSIONS-s/t (Namennayo, 7” EP)
This eponymous EP by Boston band the Conversions follows a split with Witches With Dicks and, as good as the split was, the six songs here are even better. Tight, dynamic hardcore punk maintaining the aggression along with on-a-dime stops and starts. “The Worms” has a slower-burning intensity. No matter the tempo, Terry’s primal scream vocals cut through with an uncontained ferocity. They’ve really gelled as a band in a fairly short period of time. (1121 Arlington Blvd., Apt. 741, Arlington, VA 22209; band contact:

DEADFALL-Keep Telling Yourself It’s OK (Tankcrimes, 7” EP)
The double-hammer thrash doesn’t always work but when it’s slowed down a bit, Deadfall are deadly, especially for “Seize The Day” and “It’s Okay,” the real killer on this EP. “What A Bogus” is a surfy instrumental for a slight change of pace. (PO Box 3495, Oakland, CA 94609,

DEEP SLEEP-You’re Screwed (Grave Mistake, 7” EP)
I like the feel of this one—a retro hardcore punk sound emphasizing the punk, if that makes sense. Catchy songs at mainly a medium-to-fast speed, although “Alone With You,” “Another Day” and “Sick Sick Boredom” pick up the pace. The mid-Atlantic region seems to have some cool bands in this vein—Direct Control, Government Warning and now these guys. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

DEFCON 4-File Under Fuck (Black Box, CD)
OK, so the Dixie Chicks have a song called “Not Ready To Make Nice.” I doubt Defcon 4 will ever make nice, either. The band’s second album, only 15 tracks this time instead of 28 but remaining intense. I’m searching for the adjectives. This is uncomfortable, unsettling music with herky-jerky, non-catchy songs. Non-catchy in the traditional sense. Once in awhile, Defcon 4 will follow a basic riff structure such as the opening “Fast Car,” “Insomniac’s Daydream” or “Nice Neck.” but then allow it to decompose in one way or another. A Black Flag/Bl’ast jones runs through the compositions, though it’s not an exclusive influence. Snaky guitar lines and howled vocals from Dug that sound as though he’s trying to vomit up the bile that possesses him. Violent, jarring jolts. (PO Box 110-154, Williamsburg, NY 12111,

DISCHARGE-Beginning Of The End (Thunk, CD-EP)
I know—what to expect when an old band re-forms? Discharge’s “comeback” album with the Cal-Bones-Rainy-Tez lineup with surprisingly strong. This new EP isn’t too shabby, either. Cal is out and Rat from Varukers is in and he’s a good fit. Varukers and Discharge started around the same time. Two fast ones, one slower one and sounding somewhere between vintage Discharge and Broken Bones. “They Lie, You Die,” in particular, takes a speed metal route closer to the latter band. Better than anything the post-Bones Discharge lineup did. (Unit 1, Cumberland Dairies, Middlewitch Street, Crewe, CW1 4EA, ENGLAND,

GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT-Ronald McVomit’s 14 Song Happy Meal (Bacon Towne, 7” EP)
I was talking with a friend who lived in Florida for a short time and she was lamenting the fact there weren’t really any good hardcore bands down there. Well, that’s not true and GNP disprove her theory. This EP is much-improved over their first demo. Marley has a unique, expressive high-pitched voice with an unaffected quality. Straight-ahead speedy hardcore punk in short doses and lyrics that are sarcastic, ironic and pointed. (PO Box 1063, Tallevast, FL 34270,

HOMOSTUPIDS-“The Glow” EP (My Mind’s Eye, 7” EP)
Steve Peffer from 9 Shocks Terror is in this band and it’s a noisy dose of hardcore meets raw garage rock. Three rockin’ songs, with “Apeshit” fast and ripping and the other pair of songs in a mid-tempo. Gloriously blown-out sounding. One of the songs is “Flies Die” and they will if they buzz by the speakers while this is playing. (

INMATES-Assholes Unanimous (Painkiller, LP)
Clevo assholes, to be specific, and if you know anything about the coterie of inbred bands from there, you know what to expect. Burning, buzzing hardcore, with a looseness and unhinged quality and you can tell right away where these guys come from. This LP was recorded in ’99 and had a limited release. Masterminded by the Melnick brothers, who are also in Cider (they were also in Integrity), among other bands, and the vocals have sthe same faux-English accent. Cynical and angry and occasionally PC-tweaking. Side two opens and closes by showing another side of the band, the jazzy free-form noise of “B.Z. Blues” and the “lounge version” of “Cement Shoes.” Inspirational line: “I’m mopping the puke off my wall.” That speaks volumes right there. (

HEIMATLOS-La Seconde Nécessaire 1983-1988 (Ratbone, 2CD)
Everything but the kitchen sink, to use a hoary phrase, from this 80s era French punk band, aka Heimat-Los. The second disc is all live, plus some demo material, and not really as necessary, to be honest. The first disk collects all their studio tracks from vinyl releases, comps and demos. The songs are in reverse chronological order and you can hear the progression from rough, thrashy punk to something incorporating more melody. UK punk guitar lines merging with hardcore speed. Not a 100% success rate. I’m not sure I’d put these guys in the top tier of European punk from the time but they certainly had their share of hard-hitting songs, especially for the earlier recordings. (c/o Luc Ardilouze, BP 40011, 33023 Bordeaux cedex, FRANCE,

MORAL DECAY-I Quit (Get Revenge, CD)
Entertaining, occasionally tongue-in-cheek thrash/crossover. Some cheesy intro effects, an acoustic song to wrap things up and, in between, the riffs come hard and furiously. There’s even a fucking ska/metal song (“Funeral”)—not as lucidrous as it sounds. OK, maybe a bit ludicrous. In the main, though, it’s heaviness in a similar vein as Toxic Holocaust, et al. Viva la crossover! (

ORDER OF THE WHITE ROSE-War Machine (Unitree Recordings, CD)
A nice combination of styles—Order of the White Rose are from Hawaii but this ain’t no happy-sounding summer music. Politically charged songs, plain-spoken and direct. OOTWR draw from both straight-ahead punk and some of the UK anarcho bands. Burning riffs and haunting melodies, as well, along with the occasional reggae rhythm. No matter the feel of the song, it’s angry and impassioned. An impressive debut. (PO Box 880908, Pukalani, HI 96788,

PELIGRO SOCIAL-No Religíon (No Options/Tankcrimes, CD)
Despite the band’s name and lyrics being in Spanish, they hail from the Bay Area. Much like such bands as No Hope For The Kids, Peligro Social have discovered the joys of older, catchy punk along with rock ‘n roll influences. Snotty vocals, tasty guitar licks and mainly at a fast pace, although they also opt for medium tempo, as well. “Todosa La Mieira” does a pretty good job taking a little of the Pistol’s “Sub-Mission” riff and turning it into their own engaging tune. Along with their split with Born/Dead, this is highly enjoyable. ( or

PESD-POLitiKäPOizONëKURVvae (Prank, LP/Trujaca Fala, CD)
Industrial hardcore influenced by Killing Joke’s doominess and Ministry’s electro-shock approach. That best describes PESD who are from Warsaw and includes Amoniak from Tragedia and Smoku from Post-Regiment. The two collaborators utilize drill-press guitars, mechanized rhythms and synthesized effects to channel the aggression. Not all flailing aggro—“What’s Up” (translating from the Polish) is more melodic. Amoniak’s vocals maintain the same harsh cadence. It’s hardcore with a different approach, a different angle, while remaining intense. (PO Box 410092, SF, CA 94141-0892, Box 13, 81806 SOPOT 6, POLAND,

PINKEYE-Worldwide Columbine (Slasher, 12” EP)
A side project for Damian and Jonah from Fucked Up (Jonah also plays in Career Suicide) and a slight change of pace. Exploring more of a pure hardcore punk/crossover sound and taking a provocative route for the metallic “In Praise Of School Shooters.” Some of the songs have a similarity to CS, especially “Thaco.” Considering the participants, one would expect a high-energy effort and that’s true with this 12”. (629 Ossington Ave., Toronto, ON M6G 3T6, CANADA,

RADICAL ATTACK-Priority (Vinyl Addict, LP)
Seriously, sometimes I get confused with all these bands that have radical, crucial, attack, unit, etc. in their names. So let’s see if I can get this one straight. I saw them play with Crucial Attack in the summer of ’05 and they had a split with that band, as well as Talk Hard. In any case, there’s a chip on their shoulder, to quote some old Boston hardcore band. Double-speed thrash and head-stomping breakdowns, really getting stompy for “Annhilator.” Semi-cheesy gang backup vocals aside, there’s something to this band’s unvarnished anger. (1835, De Bourgogne, Sherbrooke (Quebec) JIJ 1B1, CANADA,

THINK I CARE-World Asylum (Bridge 9, CD)
Think I Care have really gone for the heavier NYHC sound this time—Sean Taggart, known for his cover art for Agnostic Front, Crumbsuckers and others, was recurited to do the apocalyptic artwork and it’s less cartoon-like than his more familiar work. Lots of crunch and heavy riffs working in tandem with Jason’s bellicose vocals. It has the wide-scope production—lots of boom on the drums, for instance, and I’d rather hear a little more rawness. This transition actually began with their first, self-titled album, but there’s less thrash and, even though it was recorded at the same studio, the production was slightly more subdued. They’ve definitely moved towards the tougher end of the spectrum, which I find less appealing. (PO Box 990052, Boston, MA 02199,

Loud, blown-out garage punk mania. I love the rawness, I love the fact these songs rock like a motherfucker. The Pretty Things had a comp called “Feel The Buzz” and it can definitely be felt here. Whomp, whomp, whomp and then some. (PO Box 283, LA, CA 90078,

VARIOUS-Euro Thrash Retribution (625, CD)
You have to respect Max Ward’s dedication to loud/fast/blasting hardcore for so many years. His latest comp packs on 48 songs by 23 or so bands (if I counted wrong, sorry). There’s a lot of tuneless thrash, to be honest. A lot of times, it comes down to the band’s drummer. If they just flail without any rhythmic sense or the sound is tinny, it really distracts. One moment sticks out after three quarters of an hour—Disyouth Army, on “I’m True ‘til Death Cuz I Will Always Change,” the vocalist says “this is the part where I’m supposed to tell you punk rock saved my life but, come on, everybody knows it’s not true. I still spend all my money on (?) records” (I couldn’t make out one word). That made me chuckle because it’s obvious it had satiric intent. Anyway, thumbs up to Disyouth Army, as well as Knifed, Dissoap, hCinder and See You In Hell for their strong material and I’m sure I’m missing a few. Quite a bit is mediocre, unfortunately. (

VOLENDAM DISEASE (Kangaroo/Even Worse, 7” EP)
Volendam Disease are from Japan, although they’re named after a city in Holland (so says Kangaroo honcho Henk). I don’t give a fuck WHERE they’re from, to be honest. All that matters is they crank out some fast, ripping hardcore, infused with speed and attitude. I get the feeling these guys would be a blast to see live but these five songs will have to do for the time being. The thrashy Japanese sound with a slightly cleaner, modern approach. ( or

VOWS-s/t (Indecision, CD-EP)
People from various bands—Champion, Himsa, Some Girls, Ten Yard Fight etc etc, playing fast and heavy hardcore. There’s a ruthlessness, an anger in the playing that makes it more palatable than other bands working this region of the hardcore realm. Good start. (PO Box 6052, Garden Grove, CA 92846,