Saturday, September 23, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #22


I don’t want to say things are back to normal, DIY venue-wise, in Boston, but the situation appears to be improving a bit. There have been a pair of shows at MassArt in the past few weeks—Chronic Seizure, along with Positive Reinforcement, Blank Stare and the Conversions on the 11th and, on the 22nd, two shows got combined—Sunday Morning Einsteins, Straightjacket Mind, The Jury, Nuclear Winter, Friday Knight and Unholy Trinity. The sets were brief, anyway. They’ve done shows in this room in the past—it’s a classroom, basically—and the most memorable was Limp Wrist around 2001. It’s funny because Paul from Nuclear Winter also plays drums in Limp Wrist and I asked if he remembered playing here and he said when they got to the building, he thought it looked familiar. The sound isn’t the best but it’s a space and, now that school’s in session, I hope it’ll be the first of many. There’s another basement space in Allston and there will be a Kohu-63 (Finland) show there on October 7. E-mail me if you need the address.

As for the two shows, I’ve seen PosiForce, Blank Stare and the Conversions play better shows. PosiForce sounded out of tune most of their set, in fact. Chronic Seizure, on the other hand, were dead-on. Pat, the bass-player, is a complete maniac when he plays. Boisterous, no-bullshit thrash. At the other show, Sunday Morning Einsteins brought the blitzkrieg. Their drummer Anton is a fucking MACHINE—just watching him play was a lot of fun, one part of this band’s howling fury. I’ve seen better Swedish hardcore bands but there’s something about that sound that blasts away the blues. Straightjacket Mind, from New Jersey and with ex-Tear It Up/Rites guy Matt Wechter on bass, were a surprise. Dark, TSOL-inspired punk—they covered “80 Times” from “Dance With Me” and that’s when the connection dawned on me (hey, you’ve got to cheat sometimes). Presence and good songs. The Jury, from Albany, finally made a Boston appearance. Kind of lost in the din. Razorwire hardcore with a pronounced 9 Shocks influence. Good, but better when they played with 9 Shocks in Albany a few months ago. Nuclear Family, also from Albany, have a moodier melodic sound—they opened with the best song off their demo, “Hear This.” You could hardly hear the vocals, unfortunately. Neither melodic punk band Friday Knight, from Tennessee nor Unholy Trinity, local metal-mongers, made too strong an impression although the latter’s vocalist Mike had some pretty cool explanations about the songs—knowledge is power, such as how the smoking of angel dust isn’t good for you. I’ll remember that.

You know, it’s kind of funny when I read music reviews in the Boston Globe and other mainstream media outlets They’re always listed as “CD reviews.” I wonder if any vinyl ever crosses these writers’ desks or if they deal with it. How many of them have turntables? There’s this one guy I know who only wants CDs. He said, some years back, “I’m through with vinyl.” So he gave me most of his vinyl collection—nothing amazing, since his tastes are quite mainstream, but there were a worthwhile ones in there. Back to reviewing--my only rule (well, besides music that falls outside of the musical styles of what I cover) is I don’t want those shitty advance packages. I want the album or 7” or CD just as it’s going to be sold to the consumer. I suppose one useful thing about advance CDs is I can file-share them with friends—oops, did I just say that? Never mind—I’M KIDDING, I’M KIDDING!

Without further ado, are the MUSIC reviews! One thing, though. I’ve been having bouts of writer’s block at times so I hope the reviews are too lame.

BLANK STARE-s/t (Third Party, 7” EP)/s/t (Refuse, 7” EP)
Two new 7” EPs, each with three songs and smashing shit up furiously. A musical leap from their first EP, as Blank Stare have become one of the hottest hardcore bands in Boston over the past year or so. Trying some different things, such as the guitar dissonance that leads out of “Coward” on the Refuse EP. Atypical lyrical fodder for a self-identified straight edge band (those topics were covered quite vehemently on their first EP). On the Refuse EP, two of the songs are about sex and gender issues. On the Third Party EP, all the songs have “white” in the title and the lyrics are about how “the whole white race is a fucking disgrace.” I don’t identify myself as a “guilty white male” but it’s true that the mainly white males who control the government and industry in this country bear a lot of the guilt for the havoc they wreak. In other words, I understand where Benjamin’s coming from. No subtlety here in any form and these EPs make a walloping statement. (Third Party: 21 Nancy Lane, Amherst, NY 14228,; Refuse: PO Box 7, 02-792 Warszawa 78, POLAND,; Band:

FINAL CONFLICT-No Peace On Earth, No Rest In Hell (SOS, CD)
What to expect from a new Final Conflict album in 2006, especially with only one original member, guitarist Jeff Harp? In this case, the band’s first full-length in almost 10 years, it’s a loud, throttling effort. Thrashy punk with some metal thrown in and, while not “Ashes To Ashes,” holding its own. Tim Sawyer has a strong set of lungs and, in addition to the power riffing, Phobia vocalist Shane McLachan proves to be more than adept on bass. The lyrical matter hasn’t changed much since the 80s—suppose that’s sad in a way. Pleasant surprise. (PO Box 3017, Corona, CA 92878,

GIANT HAYSTACKS-A Rebirth Of Our City (Pizza Pizza, 7” EP)
One good release after another for Giant Haystacks. The latest is a three song EP featuring their sharp sound. Strong musicianship without any sense of pretentiousness and good melodies and two of the three songs makes observations about their city—the clash of cultures between the gentrifiers and those still struggling. I’ve namechecked the influences before (M**men, G**g Of F**). Yes, it’s POST PUNK, there’s familiarity, but when it’s this well played, this fresh-sounding, after a pile of soundalike records, it’s welcome. (c/o John Patrick Quinn, 805 Courtland, Ypsilanti, MI 48197,

IMPERIAL LEATHER-Antibodies EP (Profane Existence, 7” EP)
Colorful sleeve, lovely green/black splatter vinyl and some rockin’ punk in the grooves. A satisfying followup to Imperial Leather’s album, it’s four tuneful songs with male/female vocal tradeoffs and a loud, full sound. Not much more to add except I can’t imagine dealing with “only twelve hours of sunlight in a month” on their song “Seasonal Affect Disorder.” Shit—I’m dreading 9 hours of daylight a day. Something to relate to! (PO Box 8722, Minneapolis, MN 55408,

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST-s/t (Puke/Inimical, CD)
First off, how can you not love a band with this name. It’s one of the more common expressions that passes from my lips when confronted with irksome, irritating situations or blatant stupidity. Plus, I know some people who would take GREAT offense at the band’s name and that’s just fine with me. A Final Conflict influence here, in terms of the semi-metallic hardcore sound and basslines darting in and out of the hot guitar riffs, plus Larry’s vocals sound a bit like Ron Martinez (we’re talking older Final Conflict). JFC don’t rely on pure speed all the time, as many songs have a medium pace.” Plenty of burn here. (PO Box 99456, Emeryville, CA 94663,

KIELTOLAKI-s/t (Moo Cow, 7” EP)
I had this Finnish band’s demo on MP3 (ah, the digital age) and liked it a lot. Here are three songs on wax, er, vinyl and it’s a sick blast. Kieltolaki have the classic Finnish sound with modern production and gruffer vocals. Can’t understand a word of it but, man, it sounds convincing. Two fast ones and a mid-tempo one on the flip. The descending bass-line and squealing guitar feedback for “Vitun Lampaat” are a deadly tandem. (38 Larch Circle, Belmont, MA 02478,

KS are Finnish, DT are Danish and this record is loud. Two thrashin’ bands. I’ve heard better material from Kyklooppien in the past but it’s still bashing and powerful, if not always as tight as it should be. Death Token thrash straight ahead with a Scandinavian-inspired sound, feedback on the guitars, a little bit of metal and their side is somewhat better. (

LOWER CLASS BRATS-New Seditionaries (TKO, CD)
The Lower Class Droogies, uh, Brats are back yet again, and it’s been awhile. An enjoyable street punk romp with catchy songs, hearty singalongs, et al. Basic UK influences—Red Alert, Blitz, Defects and the like, and it has a rock ‘n roll heart as well. The last song, “Walking Into The Fire,” has a hook-laden guitar break in the middle that stood out. Is it life-changing or overwhelmingly great? Nah, but I had my toe tapping a bit while it was playing. I suppose that’s an endorsement of sorts. (8941 Atlanta Ave., #505, Huntington Beach, CA 92646,

MONDO TOPLESS-Take It Slow (Get Hip, CD)
Passable garage rock, production that’s neither too primitive or polished. Farfisa is the up-front instrument and there’s some nasty attitude in the vocals but it doesn’t really let loose as much as I’d like. There are exceptions—the closing grind of “Crawl.” If there was a little more rawness, it’d be better. (PO Box 666, Canonsburg, PA 15317,

RIGHT ON-Reality Vacation (Malfunction, CD)
Ah, Right On. Power to the People. Wait a minute—there ain’t no peace signs, no hippies and it’s not the least bit mellow, to paraphrase Ted Nugent (who was the anti-hippie, despite early psychedelic trappings). Nope, this is hardcore, direct and to the point, both musically and lyrically. Posi and youthful but without the tough breakdowns. In fact, the break for “Smoke and Mirrors” is metal in the trad way. Conflicted feelings about scene loyalty, people changing, insincerity etc. Always questioning things and perhaps wondering if they’re being naïve about things. Shit—sounds like me when I was 23—the naïve part, I mean. In any case, another case of a band not being terribly original but still getting the job done in an assaultive manner. This CD includes demo tracks. (

SLIMY CUNT AND THE FISTFUCKS-Nothing But Enemies (Welfare, 7” EP)
Kind of an unforgettable moniker here, although SCFF are alternately known as Nothing But Enemies, with longtime Boston fixture Opie on vocals and Mike McCarthy (aka Sgt. Major Asshole, here) from For The Worse on guitar. Shock value aside, this is some braying shit. Opie begins the EP with a howling “1-2-FUCK YOU!!,” leading into the title track. Not thrash but in a medium speed, heavy vein without being metal or metal-core. “CRS” is damn near melodic. It’s an unleashing of pure hatred and malevolence directed at its various targets. “Rich Kids,” for instance, takes on various groups of people—college students, yuppies, etc who invade/infest the Allston neighborhood of Boston. There's definitely something I like about these guys. If they do a full-length, though, a little variation would be cool. (58 River St, Haverhill, MA 01832,

JEFF WALKER UND DIE FLÜFFERS-Welcome To Carcass Cuntry (Fractured Transmitter, CD)
God, this is terrible. Hell, no matter the deity (or lack of one), it’s still terrible. Sometimes, novelty records work, sometimes they don’t. Former Carcass bass player/vocalist Walker may be sincere in his tribute to country and folk music, done semi-rock style but it falls flat on its face. The only halfway-tolerable song is “Mississippi,” done with a Pistols touch. The nadir is John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” quite possibly one of the lamest songs in musical history and should never be played by ANYONE ever again. And the concluding cover of Neil Young’s “Keep On Rocking In The Free World” is pointless. Killdozer could pull off humorous covers (their “I’m Not Lisa” leaves anything on this album in the dust), Blowfly’s recent punk tribute is a credible novelty album. This just flat-out sucks. (PO Box 33518, Cleveland, OH 44133,

WE THE PEOPLE-s/t (Stop Whining, Start Winning, CD)
Chuck from Black SS is the vocalist in this band and it’s different from the straightforward hardcore punk of that band. Well, his bellowing vocals are the same but the music is more of a melodic punk approach but still forceful. In other words, it’s not pop swill. “Outside of Society,” one of the demo tracks on the CD (the CD has both new songs and the songs from the demo) expresses the outsider mentality: “I’m a traitor to my country, I’m a traitor to the state, I’m a traitor to the police, I’m a traitor to this life I hate” while “I Don’t Bleed Red White and Blue” is pretty self-explanatory. (58 Belaire Dr., Horseheads, NY 14845,

YOU ME AND THE ATOM BOMB-Shake Up (Household Name, CD)
West coast-influenced melodic hardcore at the nexus of Lifetime and the Descendents. The grit-in-throat vocals aren’t bad yet neutralized to an extent with the harmonies and the whole thing gets too close to emo for my liking. Too damn sweet-sounding. (PO Box 12286, London SW9 6FE, ENGLAND,

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #21


Lost, as in I covered some music that I liked at the time and, when I read my reviews now, I cringe. What the fuck was I thinking? I suppose part of it was I was under the influence of managing an independent record store (Rockit Records in Saugus, MA) where I couldn’t play much abrasive punk and hardcore, at least when the owner was around.. Hell, playing Helmet led to derision from that guy, who played all this wretched folk, blues (not the classic stuff but that overproduced Alligator Records swill) and “world beat” music. He would refer to gruff vocalists as having a “Bluto voice (Popeye’s rival, not the Belushi character),” meant in a derisive fashion. I have to admit that I found one comment about a vocalist humorous. I used to buy promo CDs for the store at a warehouse in Somerville. One day, I was getting some copies of Dinosaur, Jr’s first major label album and one of the co-owners, said that J. Mascis’ vocals sounded like Alfalfa from the Little Rascals and started doing the “ohhhhh...” He had a point. As a completely unrelated side note, I seem to recall hearing that he once flipped out on a plane trip and had to be checked into the McLean mental hospital. This was in the early 90s. Sheesh—these days, they would have shot him or he would have been charged with interfering with a flight or something like that. Like the woman who recently had a panic attack on a flight.

Alt-rock got a lot of play in the store and mainstream “hits” such as U2. I distinctly remember hearing that godawful song “One” and my co-worker going “you don’t think this is a beautiful song?” I politely said to her that I didn’t. These days, I probably would have been a tad more vitriolic—“NO! That song sucks, ass.” Incidentally, this woman was one of two co-workers who ratted me out to the owner, saying how I was unfair, controlling of the stereo, etc. It was partially true but you think they’d talk to me instead of going behind my back and subjecting me to a demeaning meeting with the three of them. Backstabbers and I never trusted any co-worker in any situation after that. The other co-worker bought the store with a partner and unceremoniously laid me off after 8 years there. I did manage to get a bit of revenge but that’s all I’ll say, even if the statute of limitations has run out. Has it? I’m not sure.

So, yeah, that stuff probably had an influence on my writing and show-going. So did going to the shitty New Music Seminar and CMJ. So did getting bored with the slowed-down, heavy nature of the hardcore bands I was seeing at the time. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the underground DIY scene. I’d get to those types of shows once in awhile—I remember seeing Econochrist, Rorschach and Face Value and 1.6 Band during a few shows at the basement of a church near Harvard Square. I managed to see Born Against and I’m really grateful for that now. Still, there was a LOT of bad hardcore being created at that time and, if there were bands doing the old-school style, I didn’t really know about it. Well, except for Fit For Abuse, whose 7” I appreciate even more these days.

What was I going to see and listening to? Bigger shows and fests because I had access to free tickets, both through the store and my writing. Lollapalooza, for instance—Jane’s Addiction, Hole (ugh), Bad Religion, Green Day and bands of that ilk. Not awful but certainly bands I don’t listen to that much anymore—I won’t listen to much beyond BR’s first album, for instance. Helmet, who have NOT aged well for me, save a few songs here and there, especially “Bad Moon” and “Just Another Victim,” their collaboration with House Of Pain on the Judgment Night” soundtrack. Pearl Jam. Good grief... I did see them before they got signed and liked them. Maybe it was free booze I had just consumed.

Smashing Pumpkins. White Zombie. Quicksand, another band who haven’t aged well at all. Red Hot Chili Peppers. Primus. Alice In Chains. Poster Children. Tad, whose vocalist was one of the biggest jerks I ever interviewed. Pantera, who had a few good songs but you can have the rest now. Therapy. Thee Hypnotics. Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom (even though it included most of the Dictators, their album sucks). Swervedriver. Alcohol Funnycar. Afghan Whigs. Quite a few of the bands on SubPop at the time. Skin Yard. Soundgarden, who I was really into for awhile and can’t listen to at all now. I obsessively collected their records and still have them and they haven’t been pulled off the shelves in years, now. None of these bands have much to offer me anymore. Some are obviously familiar but if there are any on that list you haven’t heard of, you’re not missing a thing. The nadir was Living Colour. I even interviewed them for Suburban Voice. Speaking of condescending assholes—well, I heard Vernon Reid was a nice guy but the two members I talked to were fucking dicks.

As for the huge breakout band, Nirvana, I’m even sick of them. Sacrilege? Maybe it was a case of it being overplayed and I don’t have a desire to listen to them all that much anymore. They did deliver the goods live, though. At least it’s not as lame a reason as a friend clearing out his Nirvana collection after Kurt killed himself. He said he was through with them because “(Kurt) said he didn’t have a gun.” Um... maybe this guy should take things a little less LITERALLY? Sheesh...

I’m not completely ashamed of everything I saw or listened to back then—there are still bands from that time-frame I’ll defend. The much-underrated Didjits, for instance. Those guys were one hell of a garage/punk/rock ‘n roll type band and Rick Sims was a total showman. Way better than Urge Overkill, who PLAYED BEFORE the Didjits, although I was convinced at that time that Urge Overkill were a good band. See what I mean?

Slayer were good through 1991’s “Seasons In The Abyss.” Jesus Lizard, Rocket From the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Failure (well, their song “Screen Man,” a lumbering drone rocker that really sucks you in) and Pegboy, to name a few off the top of my head. The Cynics were a fun garage band. I got into New Bomb Turks around 1993, based on that famous Tim Yo MRR review, calling it one of the best records of the last five years and I checked it out on that recommendation. Fugazi were a great band, at that point, before descending into weirdness and unevenness. Gaunt made some killer melodic punk. Guzzard and Hammerhead laid out aggressive indy rock that still nails it on occasion. The Cosmic Psychos were inconsistent but some of the buzzy punk is still enjoyable.

On the other hand, I only saw crust ragers Disrupt one time. I didn’t see Dropdead until 2000, although I like their later recordings better. I didn’t see the Pist until 1995, just before they broke up. I didn’t see Los Crudos until ’97, just before they called it a day. There were a few creative, aggressive local hardcore bands such as Hatchetface who I didn’t pay enough attention to. I got to see Poison Idea and Sheer Terror in the early 90s, at least.

From a personal standpoint, what was I thinking having long, stringy hair from late ‘89 to early ’95? When I see pictures from then, it’s embarrassing. I imagine it was a delayed adolescent rebellion, since my parents would give me a hard time if my hair got too long. Maybe it was the grunge thing. In any case, I recently saw a couple of pictures from 1995, one at my 35th birthday party, wearing a hideous green Champion sweatshirt and one around summertime, after having gotten a haircut, holding my baby nephew Josh. I still had on a somewhat hideous green jersey but I looked a LOT better. The photos from my sister’s 1993 wedding where I was in a tux with that fucking hair should be burned.

A few things put me back on the “right track.” The first was my brief foray into record store ownership with the former drummer for Boston. I’m not rehashing the story here because it was a nightmare. One good thing, though, was getting to rediscover my record collection and starting to listen to a lot of punk and hardcore again, although I was still seeing a lot of mainstream swill. The second was seeing some hot punk bands, some of whom were old warhorses but some were newer—the Adicts, Varukers, Citizen Fish, Chaos UK and the Swingin’ Utters. The new crop of local punk bands—early Dropkicks, Unseen, The Trouble, Showcase Showdown and the scene around the Rat got me back into it, along with out-of-towners Anti-Flag and Violent Society. I’ve since moved on from those bands, although Showcase still provide a treat, as do the Trouble and VS are good in small doses. The Pist still rule.

I also embraced some of the youth crew hardcore bands ca. ’97 but I’m not into those bands anymore, either, since it seemed to be an extension of the late 80s sXe snottiness that left a bad taste. The real turning point in ’97 was seeing 9 Shocks Terror for the first time. I didn’t even know who they were but thought the bass-player looked familiar. It was Mr. Tony Erba, of course, and they blew my fucking head off by the time they were one song into their set. In recent years, my passion has been back-to-basics DIY hardcore punk and, after weeding out the crap for the jewels, this decade has been pretty damned good for that kind of music. I should also say that I think the bands I like now completely blow away much of what I even liked back then. There are exceptions, of course.

It’s funny—I look back on all of my time involved in the various “scenes” (none of which I’ve ever completely aligned myself with) with a combination of pleasant nostalgia, mainly in the early 80s, and also thinking about how naïve, foolish, contradictory, etc. that I’ve been. Shit, I even think I sounded foolish in an interview I did in ’01 for Left Of The Dial zine. I’m not even sure I want to be interviewed anymore but that doesn’t mean I won’t (in case anyone is interested). I think I may finally be getting a perspective on things although who’s to say that when I look back on this column in 3 or 4 years, I won’t feel like an idiot again.

We shall see... life is an ongoing process, of course.


A perfect match, I suppose, and a little better than expected. I haven’t listened to the original release in years. I haven’t listened to GG much in years, either. I got tired of his cult and his calculated outrageousness. Still, Antiseen’s buzzburn and GG’s anti-socialness (?) work fairly well together, particularly for the aggro of “99 Stab Wounds” and “Sister Sodomy.” The stretched-out pain of “I Hate People” and “My Prison Walls” are less-enticing.. GG’s decomposition was well-underway and he was about two years away from his not-unexpected death. As I’ve said in the past, it was like watching a train wreck—some like it, some don’t. (8941 Atlanta Ave., Suite 505, Huntington Beach, CA 92646,

BLOWFLY-Blowfly’s Punk Rock Party (Alternative Tentacles, CD)
There’s this guy Chris that I know and, one time, we were watching a Halloween set by a local band, the A-Team, who became the AIDS-Team and members dressed like Freddie Mercury, Magic Johnson, etc. Tasteless and Chris said to me “this is so wrong but it’s so funny.” That’s my take on Blowfly’s new album. Definitely not PC and some people are going to take it the wrong way. Still, it has the Jello seal-of-approval. Tributes/parodies of not just punk songs, but other styles done with, uh, a sexual bent (sorry). So Iggy’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog” becomes “I Wanna Fuck Your Dog”; Devo’s “Whip It” is now “Suck It”; Black Flag’s “TV Party” is “VD Party.” The show-stopper is “I Wanna Be Fellated,” set to a certain Ramones song and, the first time I heard it, I had one of those moments where I couldn’t stop laughing to the point that I was doubled-over. He also takes a stab at (sorry again) at “Love Train” with “Suck and Fuck Train”). Jello himself appears on both versions of “R. Kelly In Cambodia,” one done funk style and the other punk and dealing with his alleged pedophilia. I think I’ll stop now before I really get into trouble. A novelty record that’s worthwhile, for once. What’s more amazing is the inclusion of “all-ages radio edits” that are only a bit cleaned up—I mean, “I Wanna Be Fellated” for an all-ages audience? Priceless... (PO Box 419092, SF, CA 94141,

CYNESS-Our Funeral Oration For The Human Race (Sound Pollution, CD)
Thrash/metal/grind, played tightly and intensely, with an older Earache records influence. Lyrics are in their native German and take on the usual political and sociological targets but there are a few surprises. “Children Of No Revolution” states that punks shouldn’t have kids: “Whatever happened to NO FUTURE?” After having to deal with what my dear departed friend Jane would refer to as “demon spawn” at the local grocery store, I’m pumping my fist and going RIGHT ON! In any case, the grindier elements don’t do much for this element but there’s no denying the heaviness and power of some of these songs. So it’s a mixed verdict for me—I really wish there was less grind and more thrash. (PO Box 17742, Covington, KY 41017,

FORCED MARCH-Take Immediate Action (self-released, CD)
Crust ‘n thrash that probably would have been helped by better production and maybe some improvement in the drumming. I could see this band being good in the live setting and they’re on the right track. They do know how to turn a phrase, such as with “The Minutemen Write Protest Songs,” about the nazi thugs “protecting” the Mexican border. Time will tell if they evolve any more. (2619 NE 6th Pl., Portland, OR 97212,

MIND OF ASIAN-Chinmoku No Kiri No Naka (Sound Pollution, CD)
A quickie from the Japanese all-woman band Mind Of Asian, mainly fast blastcore but there are a few songs here that are played at a more reasonable pace and makes me think that if they pursued that route, it’d be pretty amazing. Yasu has a sick set of pipes, as well. Wish I liked this more because there are some killer elements. (PO Box 17742, Covington, KY 41017,

REPOS-Hearts and Heads Explode (Youth Attack, LP)
LP? More like a 12” EP. Only 11 minutes of scorch but who cares? This motherfucker shreds. Second 12” release, along with a split with Fourteen or Fight and this may be the last one. They were a live monster in Chicago when I saw them at the 2005 fest out there. Not even a ten minute set and they were done. Aaron’s voice is very similar to Bob to Infest—in other words, he has a head-bitin’ lower register growl, enunciating the end of the words and there is literally no space between songs. All hard and fast, except for the concluding slowed-down howl-session of “Totenstille.” Only 700 copies so good luck. (distr. by Ebullition,

RIFU-Bombs For Food, Mines For Freedom (Go-Kart, CD)
Part Tragedy-ish/Swedish hardcore crust, and screamier/melodic influences with some Refused thrown in. The first part of the equation is always preferable to this listener. They really lose me with the harmonizing for “Laugh Ourselves To Death.” In any case, these songs are boiling over with passion and agitation at the world today, in case you couldn’t figure that out from the album’s title. OK but not much more than that. (PO Box 20, Prince Street Station, NY, NY 10012,

SLAYER-Christ Illusion (American, CD)
The last Slayer album, “God Hates Us All,” was supposed to come out on 9/11/01, a cruel irony and the original bloody bible artwork was covered over, given the circumstances. Five years later, Slayer return, back to form. Well, almost—I mean, they will NEVER top “Reign In Blood” and that album had, dare I say it, catchy songs. Here, it’s the adrenalin and power one notices, as always, and it’ll probably take a little time for all the songs to sink in. Still, I’m really glad that Slayer still have the bile in ‘em. I’d argue this is the best Slayer album since “Seasons In The Abyss” and that’s due in no small amount to the return of Dave Lombardo, the best fuckin’ thrash metal drummer ever. Blazing out of the starting gate with the one-two blast of “Flesh Storm” and “Catalyst,” one of the strongest songs on the album. A few twists and turns—the ominous “Eyes Of The Insane,” which, with its tribal rhythm has a Killing Joke vibe during the verses and comments on how the military activities of recent years drive soldiers over the edge of sanity. That’s nothing new, unfortunately. As you’d probably imagine from the title, these guys aren’t exactly bible-toters and “Cult” states, loud and clear, “Religion is hate/religion is fear/religion is war/religion is rape/religion’s obscene/religion’s a whore.” Yeah, I’d say that sums it up. “Jihad” deals with the 9/11 tragedy but through the eyes of the attacker instead of the victim and, as with “Cult,” the protagonist exudes “This is god’s war... fucking holy war.” Indeed. And this is a metallic war that provides a cathartic release when it’s most needed.

STRUNG UP/DIRECT CONTROL-Split (Tankcrimes/No Way, LP)
A damn good pairing for touring partners. Strung Up, in particular, slam out some of their best songs to date. That angry Bay Area hardcore punk sound. “Legal Dope” is a musical nod to the classic SoCal style, re Adolescents. While the words touch on government and mind control, it’s given a personal twist and other songs deal with a lot of personal demons. Direct Control also give attention to both military aggression and more personal concerns (“ADD,” “Kill Me”). Meanwhile, the final song “Give It Back” is a pointed commentary on a certain “business” relationship gone sour and I think I’ll leave it at that. Revved-up, go-for-broke hardcore, as always. (PO Box 3495, Oakland, CA 94609, or

VARIOUS-The Funhouse Comp Thing (MyFatAss Productions, CD)
Well-above average comp of mainly garage-type bands, along with a few traditional punk stylists and centered around a Seattle club called the Funhouse. No wimpy shit. I’d heard of a handful of these bands before—the Pulses, Earaches, Gas Huffer (how long have they been around now?), Fall-Outs, The Sermon, Girl Trouble and I’ve heard the Blank-Its rockin’ album since getting this disc. If you like primal sounds, this is the ticket and there’s a variety here, from the rawness of the Primate 5, Ape City R&B to the(e) Headcoats-inspired Armitage Shanks to the nervier, almost new-wavish Cripples. I can’t possibly review all 32 songs but, listening through, there were only one or two songs I felt the urge to skip past. That’s the sign of a winner. Compiled from unreleased songs, alternate takes and vinyl-only releases. (206 5th Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109,

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #20

And another DIY space bites the dust, at least for now. Goddamn it’s been a shitty summer with all the spaces getting shut down completely or temporarily (in the case of Regeneration Records, it’s over two months since the last show there). I’m sick and fucking tired of this situation.

The Cuntree Club, a basement space in Brookline, got shut down during a show on August 27. We The People, a band with Chuck from Black SS, were playing when the cops showed up and they only got through about 4-5 songs. The women in the house faced the same problem with cops and other authorities a few months back. They spent a lot of time cleaning up the inside and outside, by order of the housing inspector and had recently started doing shows again. Brookline has a reputation for being a bastion of liberalism but it’s a lot like the so-called liberal oasis Cambridge, a city having a reputation for hostility towards all-ages spaces/shows. The Lily Pad, an arts space in Inman Square, had just started doing some rock/punk/hardcore shows and were quickly shut down due to one person’s noise complaints—well, the electric shows were. Interestingly, one of this guy’s complaints came on a night where there wasn’t a show going on. Hmmm... In any case, last I heard, the Lily Pad are trying to work something out with the city. I recently wrote about this situation in a Myspace blog and called it “limousine liberalism,” where people speak out against sexism at Harvard, world hunger, warfare, etc... but then take a completely negative attitude towards shows in alternative environments that—HORROR!—may attract younger folks. God forbid they stand outside in front of the venue.

In any case, once again, the scramble starts for new venues, spaces, etc... there’s always ebb and flow and I’m sure new spaces will become available, then they’ll get shut down and the process will start again. Same as it’s always been.

By the way, Fruit Salad got to play their whole set, prior to We The People’s, and have turned into a killer band—or maybe I never noticed it before. In any case, a mix of spastic thrash and slower, heavier sounds in the new material. Oh, by the way, at the show, I also dropped and broke my camera. Not a great night, except for having dinner at Grasshopper (a vegan Chinese restaurant) with We The People, their friends and one of my friends. I seem to have misfiled the photos I had of Fruit Salad, so I’ve included one from After The Bombs, who played a sick, wall-shaking set at the CC in late April:


ANGEL CITY OUTCASTS-Deadrose Junction (Sailor’s Grave, CD)
I’d much rather be listening to the Aussie band Angel City (well, their early records) than this overbaked RAWK. The Outcasts play hard G’N’R inspired stuff, along with a lot of rootsy and country elements melded into punk. It’s done with bravado, confidence, et al but the end result is overbearing, especially in the vocal department. I like high-voltage rock but never could stand the whole ‘heartland’ type of thing. (PO Box 6785, Toldeo, OH 43612,

THE DISGRACE-The Original Unreleased 1979 Album (Welfare, CD)
The Disgrace were a NYC city that included Steve Wishnia, later in False Prophets and vocalist Butch Lust, who was later in the Hypocrites. The story is they never had an “official” release back then, having broken up soon after recording these 8 songs. A little offkey vocally, a little out of tune at times but a Killed By Death score, nonetheless. The Disgrace get by on sheer attitude and snottiness, especially for the leadoff song “Not With You” and “Closet Punk.” I’d imagine that by ’79, things had turned increasingly artsy-fartsy or watered-down in NYC and these miscreants still forged ahead with their spirited noise. One minor quibble—I wish there had been some liner notes telling the story—I had to get the info from Mike from Welfare Records. (58 River St., Haverhill, MA 01832,

FIRST STEP-What We Know (Rivalry, CD)
The Go-Go’s had the beat. The First Step have the edge. Sweeping hardcore of the newer youth crew style, succinct and forthright in its opinion, positive in its approach. Stephen St. Germain barks out the vocals with the urgency of the true believer. Truth be told, the lyrics are almost a bit corny but I have little doubt they’re sincere. The title track gets away from the pure speed for a mid-tempo pound it’s the standout here. Waltah, uh Walter (sorry, I was reverting to my Mass. accent) from YOT, Gorilla Biscuits, et al produces, to give it that old school seal of approval. Have to admit these songs are catchy. (PO Box 5242, Concord, CA 94524,

FISH KARMA-The Theory Of Intelligent Design (Alternative Tentacles, CD)
A wide-ranging musical trip alternating mainly between hard, metallic rock and folky acoustic music. Fish Karma (aka Terry Owen) —it’s a guy, not a band—has been doing this type of thing for over two decades. He skewers religion, corporations, Ronnie James Dio, New Jersey and other targets, not necessarily in that order. Definitely for acquired tastes—not always for my taste, either--yet Mr. Karma’s brand of humor-meets-music has a certain warped charm. (PO Box 419092, SF, CA 94141-9092,

MORNING RIOT-s/t (self-released, CD)
These guys keep going back and forth between semi-rockin’ songs and sensitive ballads, with croon-style vocals, although Tony All does let out a bit of a yell here and there and “Numbers” fuzzes it up a tad. I say semi-rockin’ to be generous. This is tepid rather that something that comes out and attacks, that gets up in your face. Poppy bar rock, essentially. Where’s the riot? (

NAZI DOGS-Chase The Man (TKO, CD)
A band from Germany playing not-so-bad punk meets garage that’s hindered by one thing—weak vocals. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty important element, since it’s obviously the focal point. A shame because I like this band’s gritty Detroit-inspired approach. I also (kind of) got a kick out of the front cover manipulation with Bush and Hitler riding choppers although I’m sure some may take offense to it. Covers of the Pagans’ “What’s This Shit Called Love” and Devo’s “Mongoloid” are serviceable if not extraordinary. Wish this was a better complete package. (8941 Atlanta Ave., #505, Huntington Beach, CA 92646,

NARDWUAR THE HUMAN SERVIETTE VS. BEV DAVIES-A 2007 Punk Rock Calendar (Mint, calendar!)
Here’s a first—a calendar sent for review. Nardwuar, one of the more unique interviewers on the planet. His work appears in Razorcake ‘zine and on his own site Here he reminisces with photographer Bev Davies, who contributes striking vintage photos of such bands as Gang Of Four, Pointed Sticks, Clash, Ramones, DOA (a photo that appeared on the back of “Hardcore ‘81” and others Even a picture of G’N’R’s Duff McKagan in his punk days, playing with the Fastbacks. Half of them are live, half are “photo shoot” type pictures, although they have a candid quality, such as Gang Of Four clowning around, which belies their assumed seriousness. They talk about the artists and the stories behind them. There’s also an extensive interview with more photos. So it’s more than just a calendar but also a document. I usually hang wall calendars in my bedroom/record room and office and that means I only have to get one more for next year. Good job. (PO Box 3613, Vancouver BC, CANADA V6B 3Y6,

PISSCHRIST-Nothing Has Changed (Yellow Dog, CD)
Nope it hasn’t—not in the world today and not with modern-day Swedish-style hardcore, as played by this Australian band. I’m grateful for the latter, at least. Pisschrist feature the rampaging tempos, set-on-burn guitars and low-register howlings associated with the sound. And with such titles as “The River Runs Red,” “Mass Genocide Machine” and “Fuck The World,” there’s no chance of missing their point. They’ve got me hooked. (PO Box 550209, 10372 Berlin, GERMANY,

I always get this band’s name wrong—thought it was Red Threat and, actually, it works better since they’re certainly make a threatening sound. Three-quarters of the short-lived band 40 Watts (who put out a good demo and broke up almost immediately after), with a different guitar player. Garage/punk/riot grrrl—if that’s still an appropriate term. Forceful words, from the anti-tampon message of “Blood Song” to protecting oneself from unprotected sex to the topical “Bowery,” about the grad student from Massachusetts, Imette St. Guillen, who was raped and murdered in New York City, her body dumped away from the crime scene. That was a perfect example of some in the mainstream media “blaming the victim,” saying that she brought it on herself for being out alone at 4 AM. Red Thread’s answer is self-defense and not living in fear. Jen lets out some nasty screams along with her singing and the band plays with grittiness—and that’s meant in a positive way. (

TO HELL AND BACK (Black Matter, CD)
To Hell and Back’s first album shows off their hard-rock/boogie chops. Pretty straight-ahead, not having the obvious tongue-in-cheek ambiance of, say, Turbonegro but also standing up on its own merits. “Backline Fever” has an obvious nod to Motörhead, both in title and spirit. Some fired-up songs, especially “Dumbstruck,” while others tend to be on the plodding side. It’s about half and half. It all depends on how much “rawk” you want in (sorry for the upcoming phrase) your musical diet. (PO Box 666, Troy, NY 12181,