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: http://blog.myspace.com/suburbanvoice.

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, http://www.criminaliq.com/)

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, http://www.jadetree.com/)

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, http://www.badreaction.com/)

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, http://www.prankrecords.com/)

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, http://www.gravemistakerecords.com/)

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. (www.ratbyte.net)

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, http://www.sixweeksrecords.com/)

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: christopherstrunk@yahoo.com)

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, http://www.tankcrimes.com/)

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, http://www.gravemistakerecords.com/)

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, http://www.blackboxrecordings.net/)

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, http://www.thunkrecords.com/)

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, http://www.upthefuckingpigs.com/)

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. (homostupids@yahoo.com)

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. (http://www.painkillerrecords.com/)

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, http://ratbone.free.fr/)

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! (http://www.getrevengerecords.com/)

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, brokelegdog@hotmail.com)

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. (http://www.nooptionsrecords.com/ or http://www.tankcrimes.com/)

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, www.prankrecords.com/PO Box 13, 81806 SOPOT 6, POLAND, http://www.trujacafala.com/)

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, http://www.slasherrecords.com/)

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, vinyladdictrecords@hotmail.com)

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, http://www.bridge9.com/)

THROBBING URGES (Dead Beat, CD)
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, http://www.dead-beat-records.com/)

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. (http://www.625thrash.com/)

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. (www.geocities.com/tysonkangaroo or www.geocities.com/evenworserecords)

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, http://www.indecisionrecords.com/)

1 comment:

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