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.
MORE BRIEF, UNINFORMATIVE MUSIC REVIEWS!
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, http://www.deadideas.com/)
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, http://www.wajlemac.com/)
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, http://www.gloomrecords.com/ /Painkiller: http://www.painkillerrecords.com/)
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, http://www.bridge9.com/)
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, http://www.schizophrenicrex.com/)
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, www.myspace.com/gonyhc)
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, www.myspace.com/funwithsmack)
IN DEFENCE-Twin Cities Crew (Give Praise, 7” EP)
IN DEFENCE/GUNS N’ ROSA PARKS (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, http://www.givepraiserecords.com/)
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, http://www.givepraiserecords.com/)
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, http://www.deepfrybonanza.com/sorrystate)
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. (http://www.wrenchrecords.com/)
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. (http://www.culturevoid.com/)
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, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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, http://www.maltsoda.com/)