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,

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