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. (

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