Friday, January 26, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #31

So how y’all doing? Three weeks, this time. Well, it’s better than a month between installments, which occurred last time. And it’s MUCH quicker than how quickly I get the print version out. The last one of those was—oh, never mind. Also, to once again assuage everyone’s concerns, YES, I’m still planning on publishing in the print form. It’s a new year, a fresh start and, besides, it’s too fucking cold outside to want to go out and play, baseball doesn’t start for over a month and there’s only one football game left.

As 2006 turned into 2007, it made me realize a couple of things. I first got into punk rock in 1977 and, in 1982, hardcore also became an integral part of my life. It hasn’t loosened its grip on me, ever since. So it’ll be the 30th anniversary of the first time I heard the Sex Pistols, Clash, Damned, Ramones, DMZ, Dead Boys, Real Kids, etc… There will be 25th anniversaries of shows that completely changed my life. Even though I often felt like an outsider in the local hardcore punk scene (at first, anyway), it was where I belonged. It was the perfect place for someone who didn’t connect with the so-called normal world, who felt different, out of step. I felt even less of an affinity with the people involved in the early Boston punk scene, since I started going to shows awhile after it was well-established. Most of the people involved in the late 70s were a few years older than me, anyway, and it was a tad intimidating. Especially because the few friends I had weren’t into punk rock at all and I was too shy to get to know those who were already involved. But it felt like the right thing, musically. It was exciting and pushed the aggression and energy I liked in my rock ‘n roll to what felt like an extreme, at the time. The fact that it annoyed most people I knew was a big plus.

Fortunately, my girlfriend (now wife) Ellen, who had no familiarity with punk before she started dating me in 1979, was willing to accompany me when I ventured into the clubs. I remember that on my 20th birthday in 1980, she took me to see the Neighborhoods at a club called Jonathan Swift’s in Harvard Square. That may have been one of the first shows we saw together—it was the first I’d gone to in quite awhile because, in April of ‘79, they raised the drinking age from 18 to 20 and didn’t grandfather in those who had already been “legal” after turning 18. So that show was a celebration at my regained entry into the local punk rock demimonde—by the way, there was a show on the MIT station WTBS (now WMBR) called the Demimonde that nurtured my punk obsession, starting around March of 1978 and the mix tapes I made from that show still provide the basis for some of my sets on the radio show.

When I think of that Neighborhoods show, I can still see David Minehan jumping around, with a sinister grin, making scissor kicks with his legs, the guitar angled like a weapon—it was overpowering and their single that came out around then, “Prettiest Girl” b/w (backed with, for those who don’t know) “No Place Like Home,” was damned good but didn’t capture their live sound at all. Still, Ellen loves hearing that single and other records from that time because she says it reminds her of when we were first dating. Certain records from that time period have the same effect on me. I just found a video on YouTube of those two songs, performed live for a Boston TV show and that'll give you an idea of what they were like at the time:

That’s what makes this punk rock thing special to me. Even if that wide-eyed feeling of newness is never going to be completely recaptured, there’s still enough that’s going on now to inspire me and fend off that aging process. Well, somewhat!

And now, some of those newer sounds…

CREATURES OF THE GOLDEN DAWN-An Incident At Owl Creek Bridge (Get Hip, CD)
The band’s first album in over a decade and offering up light garage/psych//beat pop—more melodic than raunchy and that neutralizes the desired buzz. The final track, a cover of the Red Crayola’s “Hurricane Fighter Plane” does have a higher energy level and I wish the rest had that much “oomph” to it. Listenable, but with more sting, I have a feeling it could have been killer (PO Box 666, Canonsburg, PA 15317,

DEADFALL-Mass Destruction (Six Weeks, CD)
Collecting all the 7”s, comp tracks and a rough-sounding demo track. Bay Area thrash—raw and unadorned, angry, etc. Early DRI is a clear influence —short, fast songs and it might be a tad more effective if they eased up on the ultra-fast speed from time to time. The occasional curve-ball, such as the surf-flavored “What A Bogus.” You get your bile’s worth, here and don’t expect a lot of melody, just fury. (225 Lincoln Ave., Cotati, CA 94931,

GENERATIONS-Our Times (Mankind, CD-EP)
I hate to say it but this is pretty laughable. That’s what pops into my head while playing 5 song plus an intro CD. An earnest, emotional vocal delivery, gang backups, sweeping riffs, floorpunchin’ breakdowns and this Connecticut band also add a melodic quotient. OK, as simple as the lyrics are, I’ll give ‘em credit for the critique of government policy on “Perdition” but the rest is edge boilerplate. (PO Box 265, Bellflower, CA 90707,

GOLDBLADE-Punk Rockers In The Dance Hall (SOS, CD)
Jack of all trades, master of… well, you probably know the rest. If not, this is a wide-ranging collection (a compilation of their previous four albums) incorporating everything from Clash-ized punk to Hellacopters-inspired rawk to soul to reggae to pop. Goldblade play with enthusiasm—punchy production, a certain tunefulness but it doesn’t do a thing for me. It’s more like a revue than punk rock—there’s something cheesy about it and not in a particularly good way. (

MIDNIGHT RESURRECTOR-Life and Definition (HG Fact, CD)
M-E-T-A-L! The real stuff, man. Well, thrash/power metal and Midnight Resurrector haven’t completely left hardcore behind. “Revert To The Brains” is a sub-minute blast. Kid brays out the vocals in a hoarse cadence—some of the enunciation reminds me of Tom G. Warrior. The axeman, Daisuke Yamaguchi wields an impressive Flying-V. There’s even an acoustic interlude that avoids pretentiousness (not an easy feat). The English lyrics do seem clumsy and it may have made more sense to sing in their native language but, in all honesty, it’s more a way they read than sound. At least he encourages knowledge, chiding people with “Intellect-Phobia.” Maybe they’re inventing their own language. Midnight Resurrector aren’t writing a new musical language but it’s a scorching one, nonetheless. (

PULLING TEETH-Vicious Skin (A389, 10”/Chainsaw Safety, CD)
Vocalist Mike Riley logged time as the vocalist of the Spark and this band is decidedly more metal sounding, while hanging on to some of the hardcore influence. But there’s a Slayer-like charge to “Prepare For The Worst,” especially the opening segment which takes a few notes from “Piece By Piece.” That’s not the only Slayer-esque moment, either. Plenty of adrenlain and the metal is convincing, instead of some lunkheaded chug chug approximation. The 10” comes with a huge fold-out poster that replicates the cover art. (A389: PO Box 12058, Baltimore, MD 21281, Safety: PO Box 260318, Bellerose, NY 11426,


SHORT FUSE-s/t (Assault/Underestimated, LP)
This album’s been out for awhile but I just got a copy and it’s been on the ‘ol turntable quite a bit since then. Short Fuse are from Germany but have a decidedly US hardcore approach. The sharp, back-to-basics sound with a clean, slashing guitar tone and agitated vocals. And while the sound is familiar, sometimes a chaotic element is added to a guitar or bass riff. “Confused,” for instance, has a bumblebee bass line that instantly brings Void’s “Explode” to mind. I’m going to stop overanalyzing now. Confrontational music, confrontational lyrics—for one thing, they’re not fans of Turbojugend (Turbonegro)…and they don’t hold back. (1349 N. Bell, Chicago, IL 60622,

You know, Sick On The Bus need a little less subtlety in their lyrics. I mean, there’s a poetic quality to the opening line “So Jesus is coming to save me, well he can suck my cock.” Abstract words from a sensitive muse. You can stop laughing now. Punk/thrash/metal crossin’ over and back from this grizzled unit. The album was originally released in 2002 and catches SOTB in high energy mode. A whole lotta GBH and Broken Bones in the sound—especially the warped wit of the former. It won’t make you forget either band, though. (

TERMINAL YOUTH-s/t (To Live A Lie/DeRok/Give Praise, LP)
With their first album, Terminal Youth have taken it up a notch. Hammering thrash and grind/powerviolence moves that don’t overwhelm things. Tight playing, easily able to navigate the tempo transitions and the addition of a second guitarist adds to the band’s overpowering qualities, as well. Elements of early Dropdead, Crossed Out, while the songs that close each side of the LP have more of an anthemic, mid-paced style that bring 9 Shocks Terror to mind. Will Killingsworth’s recording is full-sounding without being too slick. Terminal Youth have evolved into a raging band. (


VIOLENT ARREST-s/t (Deranged, LP)
When I first played this record on my radio show, I said the members of Violent Arrest were grizzled UK veterans and that’s an apt description. I could list some of the pedigrees here—Excrement Of War, Heresy, Ripcord—three quarters of the band, here—and a couple of ‘em were in Dumbstruck a few years back. As you’d guess, these guys play it loud and fast but there’s an inherent tunefulness—well, in a hardcore punk framework. Work with me here. They’re not completely reliant on speed, either—“Cannon Fodder” pounds away at a more measured pace. “Leavin’ With Fuck All,” meantime, has more of a DisScandiThrash (© Quint, 2007) feel. I’m around the same age as these guys (maybe a little older) and it’s always good to see that, for some, the urge to rage, the need to have an outlet to exorcise life’s frustrations, irritations and disappointments doesn’t end when you hit 25 or 30. People who scoff at those sentiments are invited to go fuck themselves. Good job by these chaps. (

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #30

Happy New Year! Sorry for taking so fucking long this time. I won’t let this blog turn into the print version of SV, where it disappears for long stretches of time. And, yes, I’m still doing a print version. Eventually. Don’t know when. I’ll let you know.

In any case, here’s my wrap-up of 2006. Well, a musical roundup. For a personal roundup, please refer to my MySpace blog ( Let’s just say, in addition to the support of my wife and friends, music once again helped me through it, although there have been stronger years for releases. I probably played the Black SS album more than any other this past year. Blowfly’s cover of a certain Ramones song, re-titled “I Wanna Be Fellated” deserves song of the year honors. Maybe not but, the first time I heard it, I literally couldn’t stop laughing for ten minutes. When I played it on the radio show for the first time, I had to take a break until I stopped laughing. There are only a few other truly memorable songs on the album but it earns its way on the list, anyway.

It seems as though I’m always writing about how alternative spaces for shows come and go around here, although seems to be a slight improvement lately. On the other hand, the bad news is that Regeneration Records has shut its doors. It was a record store/tattoo parlor/show space. They had to stop doing shows in late June after receiving a noise complaint. Sue, one of the store’s co-owners, posted this on a local message board: “After the shows ended in June, the record store suffered, as well as the finances. The tattoo shop carried the store and it was in bad shape; falling apart, needing new paint, fixtures, etc. We decided to remove the records and put money into adding more tattoo booths and fixing up the place, which would cost an insane amount of money, which we don’t have. Ross and I are just burned out, broke and ready to end this before it destroys us.
Thank you, everyone for you support and kindness.”
Regen was only one part of Boston’s DIY punk scene but it’s still a loss. Sue and Ross deserve a lot of credit for what they did.


I still haven’t been making out to that many shows of late but there were a couple in mid to late December worth mentioning. First, at the Cambridge Elks, Italian band La Pivora were mesmerizing. I still need to scribble a review of their 12” but that record and their new 7” on Punks Before Profits both kick ass. They have the presentation of fellow Italians Raw Power, with “the moves,” so to speak, but the sound merges thrash, garage and rock ‘n roll. A lot of bands do that, I know, but La Piovra totally brought it. As for the other bands, hit and miss. Crusty Craig Lewis’ new band Weapons Grade don’t really grab me, at this point, like his last couple of bands (Keep Laughing and Melee) but it’s a different type of sound, varying from fast punk to slightly more brooding material. I’ll give ‘em time. Fruit Salad, as always, dished out a cacophonous assault. Raw Radar War, with former Only Living Witness vocalist Jonah Jenkins, have a loud, heavy sound that fuses crushing, distorted heaviness with hardcore aggression. Showing some crusty roots with a Doom cover and Boston hardcore tribute with a Jerry’s Kids cover. Glad I had my earplugs ‘cause they were LOUD.


The final show I saw in 2006 was at Castle Greyskull, the current basement space in Allston that’s been hosting a fair number of shows lately. This one, with Terminal Youth, Aerosols and Civil Crisis, was off the hook. Maybe a little too off the hook, since the thrashing throngs nearly pulled down the overhead pipe and some asbestos dust did sprinkle over our heads. Yep, we’re doomed. In any case, Civil Crisis, from the ‘boibs (Chelmsford, to be exact) rip out fast hardcore with youthful energy. The Aerosols, from Amherst, play whirlwind hardcore ala Das Oath and that’s where the audience mayhem began. The same sort of mayhem for Terminal Youth, who were celebrating the release of their album and the start of a tour. The double-speed attack remains but other songs are at a more reasonable pace and the band sound more focused. Craziest response I’ve ever seen them get and it could have been partially due to the close quarters. In any case, after they played, the show had to be stopped because a cop car was slowly cruising up the street. That meant that Social Circkle didn’t get to play—and that sucks—but it was still a raging way to end the year.

Without further ado, I present the best of 2006, all sections in alphabetical order:


Brutal Knights (practice space show in Boston)
Fucked Up (Regeneration Records, Boston)
Government Warning/Pissed Jeans (Pointless Fest, Philly)
Hero Dishonest (basement show in Boston)
Kohu-63 (basement show in Boston)
Limp Wrist (Redrum loft space, Providence)
Look Back and Laugh and Army of Jesus (last show at Regeneration Records)
New Bomb Turks (Abbey Lounge, Somerville, MA)
Nine Shocks Terror, Black SS, The Jury (Valentine’s, Albany)
No Hope for The Kids (Millcreek Tavern, Philly)
Out Cold (Regeneration Records, Boston)
La Piovra (Elks Lodge, Cambridge, MA)
Victims (Democracy Center, Cambridge, MA)


BLACK SS-Foreign Object
BLANK ITS-Happy Accidents
BLOWFLY-Blowfly’s Punk Rock Party
HERO DISHONEST-When The Shit Hits The Man
LA PIOVRA-one sided 12”
POISON IDEA-Latest Will And Testament
REPOS-Hearts and Heads Explode
SLAYER-Christ Illusion
SMARTUT KAHOL LAVAN-Spontaneous Violence
THE SPARK-Nobody’s Laughing
STATE-All Wrong
STRAIGHT TO HELL-Commence The Apocalypse
WITCH HUNT-Blood-Red States
WORLD BURNS TO DEATH-Totalitarian Sodomy


BLANK STARE-both s/t EPs
CHRONIC SEIZURE-Brainsick and s/t EPs
DEEP SLEEP-You’re Screwed
THE JURY-I Hate The Future
LIMP WRIST-Just Like You
LOOK BACK AND LAUGH-Street Terrorism




AMERICA’S DIRTY THIRTYS-Movement For Tomorrow (Yellow Dog, CD)
OK—there aren’t any surprises here. Hailing from the Bay Area, cut from the mold of Discharge or Varukers or Final Conflict, with a vocalist who affects a British accent (if he is British, my apologies). In other words, this is utterly generic, cookie-cutter, etc. That said, I kind of like it—I’ll always be a sucker for this style of punk. So, um, up da punx and turn it up. They’ve recently changed their name to ADT (Attack Disarm Takeover). (PO Box 550208, 10372 Berlin, GERMANY,

BLACK BEAUTIES-Catch A Beat (Full Breach Kicks, CD)
The power pop revival continues. Well, power pop with a punk snottiness and also including glam-rock touches, without it being a completely dominant factor. Candy Canderson aims to exude bravado and cool, even though he does that with a higher, yelping voice. Sure, the guitar sound has the standard 70s influence (rock ‘n roll, not histrionics) but it gets the job more than done and the bass-lines are the underrated element here—supporting the songs and adding its own melodic dynamic. In other words, it makes the songs move—gets ‘ya bouncing around. I’m still bouncing here. Enjoyable cheez-whiz without getting overly sugary—most of the time. (2060 N. Carolina Ave., Chicago, IL 60647,

GEE STRINGS-A Bunch Of Bugs (Dead Beat, CD)
Completely enjoyable garage/punk/rock ‘n roll. The German-accented vocals from Ingi are endearing, as are the snappy tunes. While every record in this style seems to have at least one cover version, the Gee Strings’ choice of the Nervous Eaters’ “Just Head” is inspired. And when I hear the opening guitar chords to “Go Skid Rock,” it makes me want to shake it for all it’s worth, even though it probably shouldn’t be shaken at this point. “Let’s Make Up & Screw” is a title you’re likely to remember and I won’t snitch and say the first guitar lick sounds quite a bit like New Bomb Turks’ “Professional Againster.” The album ends with two more melodic songs—“Love Shock” still packs a punch but “So Messed Up,” while tough, isn’t that mesmerizing a conclusion, even with its Dead Boys inspiration. In any case, this is still plenty satisfying. (PO Box 361392, Cleveland, OH 44136,

HERO DISHONEST-When The Shit Hits The Man (ACME, CD)
When Hero Dishonest played a basement show in Boston in late ’06, it wasn’t necessary shit flying but there was plenty of dust ‘n dirt. Flailing hardcore punk from the veteran Finnish crew, but with nuance. Not just thrash-a-mania. Since the last album, “Let Your Poison Scream,” Hero Dishonest have shed a vocalist (it used to be a dual screamer set-up) but the sound remains as boisterous as ever. Fast, tight and navigating some wild twists and turns—for instance, there’s a rhythmic tribal flavor to “Road To The Arctic Ocean.” One also hears a hint of Black Flag guitar strafe—in fact, these guys have a substantial US hardcore influence. There’s the obligatory cover version and it’s Deep Wound’s “I Saw It”—not a band everyone covers, though. The lyrics, mainly in English, have a sarcastic bent, especially when discussing certain elements of punk rock. I get the feeling they don’t have a lot of patience for some folks’ stridency of belief or humorlessness—kind of summed up on “Bring Your Own Toilet Paper: with “no no no, don’t believe the crust/life ain’t that bad, the sky won’t fall/it’s just too much d-beat, broken toilets, bad attitude and a wrong diet.” Hero Dishonest don’t merely try to fit a certain mold, opting instead to create an atmosphere of pure burn. (PO Box 441, Dracut, MA 01826,

PEDESTRIANS-Ideal Divide (A Wrench In The Gears, 12” EP)
Someone recently joked that Pedestrians only know one tempo but play it very well. That’s true. This band stick to a medium speed but imbue it with plenty of punch and catchiness. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, their songs have that tuneful yet brawny punk sound that’s been a Chicago tradition for the past two decades. While there’s a political angle in the lyrics, they don’t hit you over the head with it although Jordan’s vocals are far from passive-sounding. Bright, bristling guitars and a floor-stomping bass-drums tandem that really propel things. (PO Box 476903, Chicago, IL 60647)

SOCIAL CIRCKLE-Static Eyes (No Way, 7” EP)
Debut vinyl for Boston’s Social Circkle and it’s sharp, catchy punk rock. I imagine that’s a catch-all, vague description. Influenced by an older west coast punk sound—think of what the Regulations or No Hope For The Kids are doing, although with a little more snottiness and not as poppy. “USSA” and “Cut Loose” have more of a UK style to them. Some hot bands have emerged around here over the past year or so and Social Circkle are definitely one of those. (

THIN THE HERD-Mournful and Overcast (A Wrench In The Gears, LP)
Tune it low, bash it out, with crusty aplomb. A Swedish-influenced blast, accompanied by howling from a pair of vocalists (one of ‘em doubles on guitar) and it’s a pretty powerful assault. Only 7 songs here so it’s stretched out a bit but doesn’t become ponderous. Mournful and overcast fits the mood—the guitars kind of hang over everything like a thick dark cloud and the lyrics, railing against a decaying world (as you’d expect) complement the heaviness. Sometimes, such as on “Bitter Ashes,” there’s no buildup, just an immediate speed-driven pillage. Quite an impressive package, too, with a gatefold sleeve, haunting artwork and fold-out poster. You can’t get THAT from an MP3 download! (PO Box 476903, Chicago, IL 60647)

VALSE TRISTE-Madon Luku (If Society, CD)
Bass-driven as fuck—that’s the instrument that’s dominant here, although there’s also some six-string mangling, as it’s described on the case. Bottom-heavy aggro from this long-time Finnish band. Comparisons to NoMeansNo are kind of inevitable, given that bass-dominance, but Valse Triste favor a pure attack—not much ebb and flow or subtle shadings. These guys go from straight-ahead speed bombs to rhythmically complex arrangements. One constant is the ranting dual vocals that have the harsh inflection that’s been a mainstay of Finnish hardcore. Pumping up the thunder. (PO Box 6, 00511 Helsinki, FINLAND,

VARIOUS-Battle Of The Worst Bands (Noncommercial, LP)
It comes down to this—hardcore punk rock was meant to be angry, meant to be anti-social. Sure, there’s room for positivity, community, etc etc but there’s community in a bunch of misfits gathering together to blow off steam, to let out the rage. The Cleveland bands on this LP understood that and came around at a time in the 90s when this kind of fuzz-blare wasn’t in style. The H-100s and, later, 9 Shocks Terror also drew from that well. A 12” pressing of three 7” EPs from the Darvocets (their tracks also appear on their recent Gloom CD anthology), Cider and the Ruiners. Brainwashed Youth’s songs weren’t released on vinyl, previously. The commonality here is the raw, in your face sound and raspy vocals, affecting an English accent for the BY and Cider songs. The first BY song is called “I Don’t Really Like You” and that’s an understatement. Cider and BY both have an oi-inspired sound strained through mid-western hardcore nastiness. The Ruiners opt for more of a pure hardcore approach while the Darvocets are the semi-oddballs in the bunch, especially with Larry’s higher-pitched vocals. You won’t forget the “I’m a little teacup” exultation at the start of their cover of the Authorities’ “Radiationmasturbation” and KBD punk is part of the equation here. Damn—if I’d heard these bands earlier, there’s a good chance I would have been weaned off some regrettable ‘90s musical pursuits. This record will hopefully wean people off ‘00s lameness. Well, 300 of ‘em because that’s all there are. (1028 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113,

WORLD BURNS TO DEATH-Totalitarian Sodomy (Hardcore Holocaust, LP)
Intense in every facet—the music, the lyrics, the descriptions and, especially, the cover art, drawn by Sakevi from GISM. The latter element caused a delay for the album’s release, since one company refused to print the cover. A demonic Bush at the center, surrounded by all sorts of chaotic imagery of fire, dead bodies, nudity, photos of Cheney, Kissinger, Anne Frank, an Israeli flag, the twin towers. A lot to take in, as are the wrenching essays that accompany the songs’ lyrics in the booklet. Someone I used to work with would always mention “man’s inhumanity to man” and these songs are a historical document of it—Rwanda, Armenia, China, Bosnia—the list, sadly, continues to grow. Musically, WBTD keep some of the bruising Swedish-inspired elements but there’s more metal in the engine and “All The Young Turks” is a fuckin’ speed metal anthem , albeit with the band’s own twist on it. Hell, the concluding song “Pigs Get Fat While Hogs Get Slaughtered” is damn near catchy, riff wise—if a World Burns To Death song could ever be that way, although the hammer gets laid down as the song progresses. Jack Control’s vocals convey the venom in the hoarse, angry cadence you’d expect. Worth the wait. (