THE RETURN OF THE NEW BOMB TURKS
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, www.attentatsonore.com)
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, www.lookbackandlaugh.net)
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, www.getrevengerecords.com)
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, www.likeanomen.com/dg)
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. (www.lifelinerecords.com or www.deathwishinc.com)
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, www.bridge9.com)
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, www.spitzz.com)