Sunday, November 26, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #28

A long time ago, my next-door neighbor in my junior year dorm at Boston University said that every band had one good song, no matter how crappy they might be otherwise. I don’t know if that’s completely true—I mean, if Panic! At The Disco or Taking Back Sunday or Fall Out Boy have one worthwhile song, I haven’t heard it yet and I seriously doubt it exists. But the bands I’m going to list here have one essential, knockout song that I keep going back to and there ain’t much more, if anything, I desire to hear by them. Oh, there may be some other listenable music from the artist in question, but this is the ONE song that stands head and shoulders above anything else they do/did.

I got the idea to write about this when listening to “King Of Cha-Cha” by the Slammin’ Watusis on my MP3 player today. Who, you ask? They were a Chicago punk/blues/jazz skronk band from the late 80s and they somehow ended up on Epic Records and released not one, but two albums. This song comes from their 1988 debut. A bit of google-ing reveals they actually recorded demos for a third album with Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick producing but it wasn’t released. I was curious about how they got signed, since I’d never heard of them before, and a friend of mine at the time said something to the effect of they knew the right people or got a break. I forget exactly what it was. I first heard of them by seeing a video for that song on MTV’s “120 Minutes.” Vocalist Frank Raven doubled on sax but he switched to harmonica for that particular song and it has a hard-edged raunchier sound. It checks in at under two minutes and it’s the only song you probably ever need to hear from that band. I have it on BOTH CD and LP, motherfucker! There’s the classic band that has one great song. Here are a few others I thought up off the top of my head.

SECRET AFFAIR, “Let Your Heart Dance.” This song appeared on Secret Affair’s debut album “Glory Boys.” Ian Page (aka Paine) and David Cairns were previously in the punk band New Hearts, whose single “Just Another Teenage Anthem” is a lost gem. Then they caught the mod revival bug, put on suits and scowls and dismissed their punk rock past. Page was only 19 or so when cutting this song. It’s introduced with a booming drumbeat and then the horns kick in for this soulful R&B stomp. I didn’t even really like this song when I first heard it in 1980 but it grew on me over the years and the whole song is so goddamned catchy, it gets into your head without fail. Nothing else came close to measuring up to this song.

DEXY’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS, “Dance Stance.” The single version of this song was called “Burn It Down” but I like the album version a lot better. It’s on Dexy’s debut album, “Searching For The Young Soul Rebels” and it was a different sound before vocalist Kevin Rowland got rid of his bandmates, put together another lineup and turned to Celtic music for “Come On Eileen,” et al a few years later. Rowland was another guy with a punk background (Killjoys) who turned his back on that and also cultivated a chip-on-shoulder attitude. There’s something ingratiating about how he sneers “shut your fuckin’ mouth” during the middle of the song. Punchy horns and Rowland’s voice really carries the chorus hook.

SLAPSTICK, “Not Tonight.” Goddamn did third wave ska suck. It was just awful. Slapstick were part of that whole thing but, right in the middle of the album of theirs that I have is this tuneful punk scorcher. No horns, no skank beat, just one minute and six seconds of joyous energy. People were surprised when I played this on my radio show recently—“you played Slapstick??!!” but I explained the reason—this band’s one good song.

THE BUOYS, “Timothy.” This may also be one of the greatest “one hit wonder” records, as well. From 1971 and a song about cannibalism. That’s right. I’ve discussed this song before but it’s about an accident with three guys “caught in a mine that had caved in” and when they’re rescued, only two of them are left. Sweeping horns and strings melded to a killer pop hook. I have the LP. Trust me—just the single will suffice, even with the album’s cool gatefold sleeve and the picture on the back cover of the band dining with “Dinner Music” emblazoned in the lower left corner.

THAT PETROL EMOTION, “Can’t Stop.” The O’Neill brothers from the Undertones were in this band and TPE were around for quite awhile. David Hannigan, my former co-worker at Rockit Records, tipped me off to this band. While there are a few other OK songs on their debut album “Manic Pop Thrill,” “Can’t Stop” completely and unequivocally blows anything else they ever did out of the water. A nervy 2:50 of manic pop (sorry) grandness, punctuated by Buzzcocksian guitar lines. These guys had a mainly post-punk meets dance pop sound and, as I said, it wasn’t all shit, not as dramatic a case of black and white as the other bands here but “Can’t Stop” is unbelievable.

SLAMBOOK, “Hollywood Ten.” From 1995, indy/math rock following the soft/loud dynamic. Not all of it that bad, either, but this slice of tense Wire-inspired rock really hits home. A throbbing bass and fuzzed out guitar line, a sturdy beat underneath, and the chorus envelops the ears with warmth—but there’s also an assaultive mid-section to shake things up, before fading off into a gentle conclusion. A great late-night song.

SHIRTS, “Poe.” Somehow, this mainly crappy NYC band got lumped in with the punk/new wave thing even though most of The Shirts’ first album was wimpy swill. “Poe,” the album’s closer is the exception. This is the most punk-sounding song they ever did, even throwing in some hearty “hey hey heys.” The vocals hardly have any sneer in them but the mesh of guitar and keyboards work great. In this band’s case, it’s definitely the only song I’d want to hear.

That’ll do for now. I’d like to know if you folks have any songs that fit that description for you. I may revisit this topic at a future date but let’s move on to the reviews...


A GLOBAL THREAT-Where The Sun Never Sets (BYO, CD)
I sat on this one awhile—almost broke it too. Shut up. The coffee hasn’t had its desired effect yet. Getting to the album, it’s a good effort. Not life-changing but decent overall. That may not seem like a strong recommendation—the album doesn’t elicit a strong response but some of these songs catch the ear. AGT have moved away from the shadow of the Unseen (in spite of that band’s vocalist Mark’s appearance here) and found a sound that incorporates fired-up, sometimes melodic punk and also has a hardcore edge at times. That may be due to the fact that Bryan’s voice makes me think of a less-rabid version of Mark from Out Cold and the stripped-down energy of “Scalped By Pop” and “Making Energy” fit that description. That’s where AGT are at their best, here. (PO Box 67609, LA, CA 90067,

ANOTHER BREATH-Mill City (Rivalry, CD)
Recorded about 10 minutes from my house, in Salem, in Kurt Ballou’s studio, so it’s a good-sounding album. Maybe too good sounding. As I’ve said in the past, overproduction may increase the dramatic effect, but the rawness is lost in the translation. Another Breath don’t have much to do with the older hardcore sound, anyway. It’s a more modern approach—fast, heavy, melodic at times and with a howling emotionalism in the vocals. Stone-faced. Overly serious. In other words, a little of their angst goes a long way. (

A WARM GUN-Panic In The Face Of Time (Yellow Dog, CD)
Hammering hardcore/metal/grind, suffering from mono-rhythm syndrome on the faster parts. The type of band people will go “BRUTAL!” There are some hot riffs—the Slayer-ish “Running Into Walls,” for instance. It’s the standard lament—less grind and it’d work better, at least for me. (PO Box 55028, 10372 Berlin, GERMANY,

One of my favorite stories to tell the young’uns is about how I saw the Bad Brains in the spring of ’82 at a tiny club called Maverick’s. Don’t go looking for it, it’s not there (thank you Marty DiBergi—look it up, if you don’t know what I’m talking about). They show up close to last call, set up, plug in and play one of the greatest sets I’ve ever seen in my life. 15-20 minutes of all hardcore. No rose-colored glasses. Seeing the performances on the DVD, recorded at three shows around Christmas of ’82, proves my point. Even with the occasional bad camera angles, lights going out, sound issues, the chaos is captured. In fact, it’s apropos for that to happen because that’s an accurate reflection of a Bad Brains show, at that point, anyway. I’m still not a fan of their reggae songs but that’s what the skip button on the remote is for—OK, I DID watch a bit of the reggae but, sorry, it remains boring. The Brains were in peak form. Incredible musicianship—Earl flailing away with precision even at the high velocity, thundering bass-lines from the invisible Darryl Jennifer (I don’t think he’s in the shot at anytime) and Dr. Know knocking out sick power-chords and lead runs, looking as if he’s having the time of his life playing those riffs. HR, of course, moves around like a maniac, sings out the words at a rapid-fire clip and works himself into a frenzy. I’m using hyperbole here—maybe overdoing it but, damn, it’s killer and one of the coolest things is to see the faces of the people in the audience, dancing, diving, singing along—then there’s one kid playing air drums on the side of the stage. Not too many extras—just a brief interview segment with a few fans. In any case, this is an essential release. A document, not a documentary and just seeing the source material, without commentary, is a better experience. (PO Box 280, Oaks, PA 19456,

BURIAL-Hungry Wolves (HeartFirst, 7” EP)
The latest from the powerhouse known as Burial. Bruising songs with angrily spat out vocals and a tandem of hardcore, crust and some metal—kind of a modern-day Japanese hardcore sound, if I had to pinpoint it. In any case, the rampaging qualities are in full effect and the cowbell for “Insanity” is a cool touch. (Landsberger Str. 146, 80339, München GERMANY,

DT’S-Nice ‘N’ Ruff—Hard Soul Hits Vol. 1 (Get Hip, CD)
Rocked-up cover versions of not just soul songs but CCR, AC/DC and Roky Erickson. Diana Young-Blanchard is an over-the-top, gritty shouter and the band competently play through the songs with strong musicianship. One of the people in this band is Dave Crider, late of the Mono Men. Those are the facts—the reality is I’d rather hear the originals although the opposite gender take on AC/DC’s “What’s Next To The Moon” is momentarily interesting. It gives me the same feeling as the Bell-Rays, another hard rock/soulful outfit with a dominant female vocalist—well played but a dirtier, nastier sound with more musical and vocal snarl would be much better. (PO Box 666, Canonsburg, PA 15317,

FPO-Giving Birth In Order To Kill (Third Party, 7” EP)
The problem with FPO, who hail from Macedonia, is they have some great slower riffs that are wasted when the blast comes in. A common malady for this kind of hardcore. “You Call It Life,” for instance, flows from moody quietude into double-speed mayhem. Once and for all, CONTROL THE SPEED... slow down a bit. It works a lot better. (21 Nancy Lane, Amherst, NY 14228,

PERMANENT TRIP-s/t (Shock To The System, 7” EP)
The vinyl debut for Albany’s Permanent Trip and the last recording with guitarist Nate Wilson. Jason Krak voices the words (warning—alliteration alert) like a bear with his paw caught in a trap. Twists and turns—“Divider” starts as a dirge and ends with some double-speed thrash. “Losing Ground” begins with hammering stop/start riffing and then settles in a mid-tempo jam with wah-wah (is it?) on the guitar—maybe it’s weed-induced because the only thank yous on the list are the guy who put out the record and marijuana. “Stasi” takes on more of a mid-to-fast attack. Not the catchiest songs but they have presence. (PO Box 300991, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130,

RABIES-Disease Core (Sorry State, 7” EP)
Skate-thrash-punk and repeat. Actually, these guys have a “Jealous Again” period Black Flag feel, as well and let’s not forget the bass calisthenics for “The Man With The Flute (Is Drilling My Head)”—huh? That’s about as poetic as they get—otherwise, you have sentiments such as “I have RABIES and I fucked you mom.” I remember how snotty some of those skate punk kids could be and carry it over into whatever band they chose to start. Rabies fit that bill and fit it well. (1102 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro, NC 27510,

RATOS DE PORAO-Homem Inimigo Do Homem (Alternative, Tentacles, CD)
Well, I tried to find the English lyrics on-line, but no luck. It doesn’t really matter. You see words like pedofilia, involuntario, apocalipse and forca in the titles, the subject matter isn’t hard to figure out. Neither is the music. RDP went back to the hardcore roots, in recent years, while hanging onto the metal/crossover thing as well. Some of the guitar riffs here conjure up Die Kreuzen and Voivod (and Away from Voivod once told me they got their guitar sound from Die Kreuzen). Gordo still growls as if he’s permanently consptipated, accompanied by the band’s murderous assault. And they look so content in a field of flowers on the back cover. I imagine the machetes are hidden away for later use. Maybe on the audience. (PO Box 419092, SF, CA 94141,

RIBZY-’81-’85 Recordings (Vinehell, CD)
This San Jose band didn’t release much during its tenure but here’s a collection of 30 songs, including one recorded in 2004 and it doesn’t sound dissimilar to the 80s era material. The band were originally called Ribsy. They made an appearance on the “Not So Quiet On The Western Front,” but there’s a different version of that song, “Collapse,” featured here. Snarly skate punk that was certainly influenced by Black Flag to an extent. Interestingly, the band changed vocalists around ’82 and the two voices (Derek Csimma, followed by Dion Trottier) don’t sound radically different from each other—adolescent snot ‘n rant.. Standard west coast punk although they could branch out on occasion—“Sugar Sugar” (not the Archies song) was gloomier sounding, for instance. A punk rock footnote and that’s meant in a positive sense. (PO Box 36131, San Jose, CA 95158,

RIVER CITY TANLINES-I’m Your Negative (Dirtnap, CD)
Another band including Alicja Trout (Lost Sounds, etc) and a wide-ranging array of material—foot stomping boogie/bluesy rock on the first two tracks, taking a poppier direction for “Shoot The Eye Out” and “No Gonna Think About It Anymore,” dabbling in hardcore (not very well) for “Whenever I Rot” and adding a nervier edge for “My Reflection” and “Drowning Dreams.” A lack of predictability and, while not every song is a success—the Richard Hell-ish strut of “Cryin’ Bleedin’ Dyin’” drags a bit—there’s some solid fired-up rock here. (2615 SE Clinton St., Portland, OR 97202,

RUIDOSA INMUNDICIA-De Ana Vez (Thought Crime, 7” EP)
Heart-racing hardcore. Fast all the way through, with the occasional slowdown. The rabid vocals are along the same lines as Saira from Detestation, except angrier sounding and trading off with a male counterpart. The band is from Austria but the lyrics in Spanish and two of the members are from Chile, originally. Literally no space between songs, one rager after another, applied lethally. (Thomas Franke, Muskauer Strasse 19, 10997 Berlin GERMANY, distributed by HeartFirst,

SGT. SLAUGHTER-s/t (demo)
There are some good bands hiding in the outlying burbs of Boston and Sgt. Slaughter is one of them. Four songs of raw hardcore influenced by early Boston stuff and Poison Idea, though that’s not the entire story. “Home On The Strange,” the song that leads off this tape, has an ominous intro to get the blood flowing and then it kicks into high gear, where it stays. Good thrashin’ hardcore with hot riffing and string-scraping leads. (PO Box 696, Carlisle, MA 01741,

SOLID DECLINE-Adorning The Void (HeartFirst, dbl. 7” EP)
10 songs spread over two 7”s and packaged in a triple panel foldout for this German band’s latest release. Three of the guys from Solid Decline used to be in Y and I like this band a lot more. The band’s speed is better controlled and there are some killer melodic guitar lines to go along with the burn. The 80s-era German band Inferno used to do something similar—aggression but also managing to add, for want of a better term, a tuneful sting. In any case, it’s impressive. (Landsberger Str. 146, 80339, München GERMANY,

VERSE-From Anger and Rage (Rivalry, CD)
There’s an “epic” element to Verse’s music. It got me thinking that the term “epi-crust” has come into usage in the past few years, usually referring to bands that stretch out their songs through melodic passages, along with the heaviness and faster elements. There are differences, though. Bands like Verse come from more of a newer-style hardcore realm (i.e. devoid of a punk influence, at least musically) while the crustier bands take their cue from the Scandinavian hardcore punk bands. I tend to gravitate towards the latter because the punk element fuels the whole package. In any case, Verse express strong sentiments about a crumbling world from a personalized perspective, along with a recommended reading/web/viewing list that covers the standard works of Chomsky, Zinn, Leonard Peletier et al. It’s kind of unusual for bands from this side of the hardcore aisle to offer much political analysis, so that’s commendable. But this musical approach leaves me cold. (

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #27

We begin this blog with a quote lauding my reviewing prowess:

“Al, you write the fucking most boring, irrelevant, two-line "this rocks” reviews in MRR every fucking month. give me a break. you are barely an improvement on Slug and Lettuce.”

Hey, what can I say? My reviews do emphasize brevity. I sometimes run out of things to say about multiple records that have a similar musical style. Sometimes, in-depth analysis isn’t necessary. In any case, the person (who I’m not naming here) is entitled to his opinion. I do have one beef about Slug and Lettuce (Christine Boarts’ long term ‘zine out of Richmond, VA)—the print is so fucking small and hard on my aging eyes. I realize it’s done for the sake of economy—including as much information as possible in a small space. Same for CD lyric booklets. I suppose I should invest in a magnifying glass at some point.

It’s a musical dead-zone in terms of shows—well, shows I’m interested in, at least. I have missed a few here and there due to inertia—i.e. I can’t get off the recliner or there’s a good football game on. Sorry—I’m just being honest. It’d have to be show-of-the-year or once-in-a-lifetime fodder for me to miss a Pats’ game. Those of you from the 7 Seconds “I Hate Sports” school may not understand that. And, incidentally, Kevin Seconds had a change of heart, since he did thank the Sacramento Kings on one of their albums and has a basketball tattooed on his leg. I hope he’s changed his mind about Howard Cosell, too—“Humble” Howard may have had one of the biggest egos in sports and journalistic history, but he was far from a wimp.

Ah, but this is mainly a music blog. And, if you’re curious, 7 Seconds’ best song is the “We Got Party” version of “Wasted Life Ain’t No Crime.” Every time I hear that song, I go damn near into giddy convulsions. It’s the perfect adrenalin song for those daily walks. Hell, I even play air bass when they get to Steve’s mini-solo towards the end.

There was one killer show I attended a few weeks ago, at an Allston basement space. The Finnish band Hero Dishonest returned for the first time in a few years and played an explosive set. Their vocalist Vellu loves to get up in people’s faces and it became a big scrum, with bodies flying, but without any sort of macho vibe. Straight-on thrash with an American bent and their Deep Wound cover, “I Saw It,” paid tribute to local hardcore history (Okay, Western Mass—close enough)... I’m just embarrassed that when Vellu shoved the mike in my face to sing along, I drew a blank. Oh well... Acts of Sedition played some hot hardcore/crossover while Positive Reinforcement played a much better set than their return-home show at MassArt in September, emphasizing the more punk-oriented material. The revamped Sgt. Slaughter laid down some vicious thrash. Thankfully, there wasn’t the cloud of smoke this time, although some asbestos fell out of a pipe during Sgt. Slaughter’s set. See you in the cancer ward.


COLDBRINGER-Lust and Ambition (DeadIdeas, LP)
I’ve been getting a fair number of records these days with hand-screened covers and the Coldbringer LP has some striking artwork. A stingingly melodic punk sound that sounds like a cross between Born Dead Icons’ doomy sound with Leatherface’s tuneful properties. Vocalist John Wilkerson (formerly with From Ashes Rise) has Frankie Stubbs’ timbre, albeit in a lower register. I know comparisons suck but that’s the best way I can describe it. The people in this band have played in more “crusty” or thrashy bands and this marks a departure away from D-beat and epic qualities. A warmth along with the power and vigor. (PO Box 851, Austin, TX 78767,

CONQUEST FOR DEATH-s/t (Wajlemac, 7” EP)
Three of these dudes—Devon, Craigums and Robert—used to be in the What Happens Next and the drummer, Kiku, was in Assfort and now plays in Charm. His playing really shines here and tightens up the thrash attack quite a bit. It’s still speedy and there are some hot guitar licks, as well (it’s a two-guitar lineup). Lyrical cynicism—“I love life, but hate society” is a motto of sorts and one I also subscribe to. That’s from the song “The Unbridled Disgust Of Being Human, The Pure Joy Of Being Alive” and it’s the best-formed song here. Good tempo shifts and starting with a shimmering intro. They’re also unafraid to tweak self-righteous DIY trumpeters for being hypocritical for shopping at chain stores (“Double Standard Bearer”). A good debut. (PO Box 8039, Emeryville, CA 94662,

DARVOCETS-Have Landed (Gloom, CD)
This CD combines the recent “Authentic Music From Another Planet” 12” EP on Painkiller Records along with their 1996 “Do The Crop Circle 7” EP and two live songs—one from ’94 with horrible sound quality and a marginally better one from ‘04. Cleveland miscreants doing a punk rock take on tinfoil hat/black helicopter/conspiracy theory fodder. Oh, and alien abductions. Larry’s vocals are high pitched and against-the-grain, fused to nervy three chord punk and that carries over from old to new, although the ’04 recording has cleaner production. All this may be something of an acquired taste but it’s an enjoyable schtick—if it is a schtick. You never know with these Clevelanders! Having a sound sample from “The Beverly Hillbillies” doesn’t hurt, either. (PO Box 14253, Albany, NY 12212, /Painkiller:

FOR THE WORSE-Blood, Guts, Going Nuts (Bridge Nine, CD)
Mike McCarthy and his merry band of chaos-makers return and the title is a good description of their live show. It also goes for the attitude—confrontational, blunt but also with a sense of humor. For The Worse could stand for Fuck The World—or is it the world is fucked? Either way, the sentiment is there and it’s summed up by “We’re All Going To Die.” There’s also something of a poop fixation—their “Couldn’t Give Two Shits About The Kids” album visualized it on the front cover and “#2” and “When The Shit Hits The Fans” cover that topic. Slapshot is a strong musical influence on this band, except that McCarthy’s vocals sound like a yippy dog with a case of distemper, instead of Choke’s bellicose growl. Thrash and more anthemic punk share space here and it’s a careening ride. (35 Congress st. #336 Salem, MA 01970,

FREEZE-Guilty Face (Schizophrenic, 7” EP)
The Freeze’s 1983 EP, reissued again with two bonus tracks, outtakes from “This Is Boston, Not LA.” There was a 10” re-pressing in the late 80s on Ax/ction Records with different bonus tracks. “Gulty Face” followed their appearances on “BNL” and “Unsafe At Any Speed,” moving the band in a hardcore punk direction, especially on “Voices From My Window.” I get the impression that vocalist Clif Hanger wasn’t too into the loud/fast style—that point is made on the liner notes--but I think the EP holds up well and the songs are memorable. The breakdown in the middle of “Voices” has a similar feel to the same part in the FU’s’ “What You Pay For.” The two earlier songs have a snottier punk style. All of these songs appeared on the “Token Bones” CD anthology but, come on, you want the vinyl. (17 W. 4th Street, Hamilton, ON CANADA, L9C 3M2,

GO!-Reactive (self-released, CD/7” EP)
Mike BS is back for the first time in over a decade with a revamped Go! and I imagine that’s the reason for the title—yep, I’m a perceptive genius, aren’t I? Or maybe not--I imagine I'm thinking of the term reactivate and Mike informed me that it's a reaction, in his words, "to the political landscape in this country." Moving along, the music is solid melodic hardcore and I’m recommending it because of that, but Mike’s tepid vocals kind of lack presence. The subject matter would be better with an angrier approach. “With This Ring,” about gay marriage (Mike is openly gay) has the line “We are a political football/Our lives up for a vote.” This sentiment needs to be put across as vehemently as possible, given the fact that 7 out of 8 states recently passed referendum questions outlawing gay marriage. It’s not all weighty lyrical matter, though—“That Rare 7” EP” pokes fun at record collector hoarding/nerdiness. Available as two different 7” EPs (the other is titled “With This Ring”) and the CD adds live material from 1990. (540 Leland Ave., San Jose, CA 95128,

GUILT LUST-s/t (Fun With Smack, LP)
Imagine a combination of Fucked Up’s muscular punk with driving 80s-era DC emo-core as the main melodic element. That’s what you have from this Western Mass. band. The vocalist DJ Podolski was with the raging hardcore band Last In Line (he’s also with the Irritators now) and this is something slightly different. The vocals still sound angry, although DJ actually sings on occasion and, at its heart, Guilt Lust are a hardcore band. And already a pretty damned good one, at that. (29 Westgate Rd., Apt. 2, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467,

IN DEFENCE-Twin Cities Crew (Give Praise, 7” EP)

Minneapolis band In Defence features the vocal talents of one Ben Crew, former guitar player for Damage Deposit. Enthusiastic youth-crew (of course) hardcore and there’s clear improvement between their EP and the split with Guns N’ Rosa Parks. The former had the tinny-snare-up-front problem but, on the split, the mix is better and the songs have more punch. Both are worth your time, if you like the upbeat, positive sound, yet without a hint of self-righteousness. Guns N’ Rosa Parks, in addition to having one cool-as-fuck name, bring on the aggro themselves. Thrashy hardcore punk from these Coloradoans (?), working best on the last two songs, “Frontier Mentality” and “Can’t Relate,” where the songs are a little slower and have more impact. (PO Box 494, Barnstable, MA 02630-0494,

KIDS OF CARNAGE-s/t (Give Praise, 7” EP)
Plenty of cah-nage. Hey, since these young men are from Cape Cod, it calls for the appropriate MassHole pronunciation. Hardcore with both a punk attitude and heavier floorpunch elements. Brian spits and snarls along with the band’s rough attack. When the speed is emphasized, the songs fare better. Their theme-song “Kids Of Carnage” is the best one here. (PO Box 494, Barnstable, MA 02630,

KORO-Speed Kills (Sorry State, 12”)/700 Club (Sorry State, 7” EP)
Koro were an early 80s hardcore band from Knoxville, TN and what we have here is a long-overdue reissue of their 7” EP and the first release of their unissued 12”. The latter is a true hardcore archaeological find. Speedy yet incredibly tight--great playing all around. Occasional metal guitar licks pop through and this was ahead of the “crossover” thing.. None of the songs on “700 Club” exceed a minute and the impact is pure hit and run. The 12” has primitive sound quality in comparison but the rawness works to Koro’s advantage. Some of the songs are repeated from the 7” and there’s also a bit more diversity in the arrangements. “Hello, Mom and Dad!” has a slight Big Boys and Minutemen flavor with the funkier rhythm on the verses. And a few of the songs exceed the one minute mark. A few of the songs cover the anti-Reagan/anti-evangelist topics of the day but there are also lyrics about odd and obnoxious people they encounter the their theme song “Koro” is about a penis disease, which is where the band took their name. The 12” is accompanied by an insert that has an extensive interview with their guitarist Carl Snow. Classic, essential hardcore. (1102 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro, NC 27510,

NO SLOGAN-Obredos Al Poder (A Wrench In The Gears, 7” EP)
The second EP from this Chicago band. It finally dawned on me that their fast-paced, tuneful sound reminds me a bit of Articles Of Faith around the time of “What We Want Is Free,” particularly for “No Pasaran.” “Smash The Scene” states “when are you going to realize that it’s all been said. It’s all been done.” They have a good point, there. I mean, No Slogan echo what’s come before yet the lack of pretense and the band’s heartfelt aggression still feels genuine. still energizes. (

THIRD DEATH-s/t (Culturevoid, 7” EP)
When I put on this 7”, I thought 45 was the wrong speed because of the high vocals but then I remembered that their vocalist Buddy rants in that style. Debut vinyl for this Providence band and it’s hyper-paced thrashy hardcore with slower parts. Sometimes, the speed gets the best of them but it’s an enjoyable, youthful blast, one song after another in quick succession. By the way, there are hand-screened covers, 100 each done by three different individuals—mine was done by Scoots Langlais and the skate monster drawing is pretty cool. (

VARIOUS-Finding A Voice Volume Two (Repetitively Futile, LP)
Crust/grind benefit album for No Compromise and the Earth Liberation Prisoner Support Network and it comes with a booklet explaining their agenda and what the organizations are all about, along with pages for each band. In all honesty, my environmental/animal rights views are probably a lot more moderate than these folks (shhh... don’t tell them about my diet!). Yeah, I’m a wimpy, non-violent liberal person not given to direct action or sabotage although I’ll concur that the sentences for people involved in property destruction are often excessive. Getting to the musical portion, the grinding sounds of FUBAR, Hewhocorrupts, Black Market Fetus and Catheter are largely unlistenable dreck. The best band here are I Object, with their more straightforward hardcore punk sound—the songs here were also on a European 7”. The Dis-crust bands such as Security Threat, Wartorn, Thin The Herd, Words That Burn and Tower Of Rome, follow the hammering, low-tuned, usually dual vocal style—and those are better musical contributions than the other band. So, yeah, it’s the standard comp crap-shoot—some good material but not always that consistent. (PO Box 1311, Missoula, MT 59806,

VERBAL ABUSE-Rocks Your Liver (Malt Soda, CD)
The band’s second album where the lineup was reshuffled, bringing in vocalist Scott Wilkins and some extra guitar players to complement Joie Mastrokalos. Recorded in ’86, at the time where the crossin’ over between metal and hardcore had begun. Verbal Abuse embraced that sound, holding onto the scrappy punk roots a bit. The title track is a faster rewrite of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” followed by “Metal Melissa The Pissa,” with a thrash sound sharing commonality with their first album. The flash-riffing emerges with more prominence for “Set Me Free,” “Worth A Try” and “The Chase.” The album is appended with bonus studio tracks and not-bad-sounding live material. It definitely comes across as a hardcore band trying to be more “metal” and, while a bit thin-sounding, production-wise, it’s a fun album. I’m still more likely to listen to the full-on hardcore of “Just An American Band,” though. (PO Box 617127, Orlando, FL 32861,

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Suburban Voice blog #26

This week is the annual CMJ (College Media Journal) “Music Marathon.” in New York City. It’s basically a music biz schmoozathon. Sure, there are panels about various topics covering digital media, radio (college, internet, etc), music retail (I imagine “Taps” will be heard at those conferences), visual media, music management and more. Of course, little gets accomplished with those panels. I’ve been one time since ’93, when I sat on the independent press panel in 2003, since I was invited by Jim Testa of the esteemed Jersey Beat. I did appreciate the fact that he got me on that panel so I got free admission to the conference. And was able to get my buddy Joan press credentials for Suburban Voice as well and we stayed at her aunt’s for free. So it was a low-cost mini-vacation. I did my panel, fielded a few silly questions and that was the extent of my obligations. I did get to see some decent bands—ATV with Mark Perry, TV Smith doing Adverts songs, Paint It Black and, uh, uh... I don’t remember much else being that memorable.

At one point, I thought I wanted a career in the so-called ‘music biz.’ I had spent some time in music retail, working for an independent store. Around ’89 or so, I actually interviewed for a label that was going to be distributed by Relativity distribution, which later became RED and major-label distributed. The label was to be called Urgent, which immediately makes the mediocre Foreigner song pop into my head. I decided not to pursue it mainly because I couldn’t see myself babysitting bands and also didn’t want to move to New York. Urgent was soon re-named In-Effect, which some of you may remember releasing albums by Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All and funk-metallers 24-7 Spyz and Scatterbrain (post-Ludichrist)—jesus, remember that trend? If you’re too young to remember the latter two bands or ignored them, be VERY grateful.

A few years after that, I interviewed for a marketing job at Mechanic Records, which was a boutique label created by MCA and put out mainly metal bands, some of ‘em OK, such as Voivod. Once again, though, I decided I couldn’t move to NYC. I think I’d be a fish out of water moving away from the Boston area. Also, by working in retail, I learned about how the machinations of the music business operated, how it was commerce above all. I dealt with promotional people aiming to get me to inflate the sales figures of their records for our reports to various trade publications. While I wasn’t above taking their swag—going to open-bar parties, getting free records, etc—something did feel dirty about it. The last one of those parties I went to (the first in a long time) was the Fat Wreck Chords party at the swanky BB King’s club in NYC and it felt odd to me. That was during the aforementioned ’03 CMJ conference.

But, man, what a whorefest. I went to the old New Music Seminar and one CMJ from ’89 to ’93. There were moments that, in retrospect, were pretty humorous, such as the encounter with a publicist named Laura, who I’d talked to at my retail job. In the early 90s when there was the funk/metal fad for a bit, Arista signed a band called the Freaky Fuckin Weirdos. They were from Germany. Anyway, at New Music Seminar, she spots me, runs up to me with the band and starts handing me their CD and a cheesy white t-shirt with "Get Fucked" or "Get Funked" in huge letters... the two band guys I met looked as though they'd rather be anywhere else and I can't blame them... Their "plug" song was called "Bitch Made Sandwich." You can probably find their CD in the 3 for $1 bin somewhere.

I don’t think all the free beer in the world could get me down to one of those things again...


ACTS OF SEDITION-s/t (Spacement, 7” EP)
Driving hardcore from the Bay Area... as with many of the current bands from the region, there’s an unvarnished, raw and aggressive sound. A three piece with a howling bassist/vocalist and incorporating thrash and occasional heaviness, such as on the lengthier “Sun or Death.” Interesting assortment of quotes on the lyric sheet, including war thug Donald Rumsfeld and Ben Franklin, with the timeless caveat about how people giving up liberty for safety deserve neither and that’s relevant to this day. (269 Wonder St., Reno, NV 89502,

BAMBOO KIDS-Feel Like Hell (Empty, CD)
Power-pop straight from the 70s, both the revival in the late 70s and back to the glam-rock routes. If things get gooey on occasion, it’s counteracted by the pure joy of “Heartattack,” with the supple bassline and hand-clappin’ rhythm grabbing the ears. The older influences come in through the Dolls-ish (albeit with less endearing sloppiness) of “Low Life” and “Palpitations.” The volume gets turned up for “USA Out Of NYC” and things end nicely with the Bowie/T. Rex-ish stomp of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Soldier.” To borrow a line from the Blues Brothers, you’ve got both pop AND rock here. (PO Box 12301, Portland, OR 97212,

BATTLESHIP-s/t (On/On Switch, CD)
A battle with the senses. Abrasive, provocative rock and it ain’t the iced caffeine I just orally injected into my system. This is a cyclone that has shards of Jesus Lizard, Sonic Youth and early 90s AmRep style in the mix. They get to serious hammering for “Buster Keaton” and “This Town Wants You Skinny, while “The Blind Eating The Blind” begins with some jabbing guitar. A lot of jab here, uncontrolled aggression and doing it in a way that makes it stand out from the usual. This album quickly follows the band’s mini-album and the songs are a bit better-formed. Both provide a good jolt. (PO Box 641122, SF, CA 94164,

CONTROL DE ESTADO-Acto Criminal (Burrito, 7” EP)
State control, state control, this really is state control, as the name translates from the Spanish. Raw bass-driven hardcore from Florida. That’s the fuel for this three piece although the guitar and drums share in the pillage. Not a lot of melody—just rage. While the drum mix emphasizes the snare more than I’d like and the tightness occasionally falters, the roughness of the sound works to their advantage. There’s room for improvement, though. (PO Box 3204, Brandon, FL 33509-3204,

DÖDSDOMD-Seven Deadly Sins (Havoc, 7” EP)
A concept 7”, as this Swedish bands do one song each about the seven deadly sins (in case you couldn’t tell). There’s a Swedish version and an English version and I got the latter. Howling multiple vocals and a rampaging sound, as usual. The music doesn’t require deep analysis and neither do the lyrics. In the seven songs, Dödsdomd manage to encapsulate a lot of what causes the ills in this world—I suppose it can be boiled down to those items, although one doesn’t need religious baggage to be aware of them. And it seems as though “Wrath” may be the answer to the other six. In any case, you don’t need to appreciate the concept to be bowled over by the music here. (PO Box 8585, Minneapolis, MN 55408,

FOURTH ROTOR-Plain (Southkore, LP/Underground Communique, CD)
Not what you’d expect from Southkore (they did the vinyl and the CD came out on Underground Communique) and that’s fine with me—change-ups are always welcome as long as the musical results grab ones attention. That’s certainly the case with this Chicago trio and they’ve been around the block awhile. Vocalist/guitarist Douglas Ward was in ID Under and 8Bark, both of whom I remember from the late 80s/early 90s and his bandmates, Jacob Levee and Kammy Lee were in Ambition Mission, among other bands. Here, the sound is jolting post-punkish rock, with prominent bass-lines, jabbing guitar and vocals that bring to mind a late, much-missed portly guitarist for a band called the Minutemen. It’s hard to deny that band’s influence and there’s also the gnarled aggro of the old Amphetamine Reptile bands. Fourth Rotor are forceful but doing it without sticking to a punk rock playbook. (2814 S. Spaulding, Chicago, IL 60623, W. Hood, Apt. 1, Chicago, IL 60660,

HOPE YOU CHOKE (One Percent, CD)
Another disc that got regrettably neglected for awhile. Hope You Choke’s guitarist Pete logged time in Minneapolis ragers Holding On, a band that flirted with heaviness. His bandmates come from Bodies Lay Broken and the Real Enemy. A metallic/crossover sound—keeping some of the speedier hardcore trappings while crossing over into pure metal. Hope You Choke pull this off very well. No dull chug. Hope You Choke have figured out the way to keep a metallic sound from being lumbering and boring. (PO Box 141048, Minneapolis, MN 55414-1048,

OVER THE EDGE-Tales From The Blacktop Burnout (Rotten Drunk, CD)
The history includes people from Out Cold and Blood For Blood, to name two bands, but this is in more of a street punk ‘n roll vein. A hearty dose of Rancid (without the ska), Tommy and Terrors and early Ducky Boys. Boisterous tuneful songs with a punchy guitar sound, sandpaper croonin’ lead vocals and boys-in-the-gang backups. Over The Edge aren’t reinventing the punk rock wheel but it’s an enjoyable half hour or so. (21 Wells Ave., Westwood, MA 02090,

TRAUMA (Eye Respect In The Dog End, CD)
Demo-quality double-speed thrash/semi crossover—that means it doesn’t sound all that great, sonically. Very tinny-sounding and monorhythmic. I’m not sure it’d improve with stronger production. These guys just aren’t that tight and flail away without leaving much of an impression, (

VARIOUS-Mal De Ojo (joint release, CD)
A compilation of four Latino bands—No Slogan and Intifada from Chicago and Tropiezo and Juventud Crasa from Puerto Rico. Mostly quality punk and hardcore here, although Intifada suffer a bit from tin-snare syndrome and their double-speed thrash doesn’t always hold up. All the other bands, though, mix the punk punch and add melody here and there. No Slogan fit this description, especially for their cover of Bhopal Stiffs’ “Too Many Things.” Juventud Crasa also have a somewhat more tuneful approach while Tropiezo, with whom they share members, have a thrashier take. Play it loud for your neighbors who always whine about all the people who dare to speak in Spanish. Hell, just play it loud for yourself and loved ones. (Benny Hernandez, 2814 Spaulding St., Chicago, IL 60623,