Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #32

I’m not an expert on record production or recording quality but I know what I like at this point. I especially think about these things when digging out records/CDs from the late 80s. Why was it necessary for those albums to feature such cavernous, echo-laden (for want of a better term) production, especially on the drums? It’s funny—there’s the infamous Judge “Chung King” sessions album that was released in an ultra-limited quantity of 100 copies as Chung King Can Suck It.” It later got issued as part of the Judge discography CD. It’s not that great a recording, in all honesty—the drums sound like shit--but there’s still something appealing to the roughness of the mix. Of course, the production for “Bringin’ It Down” was cavernous and bombastic. It does make “The Storm” sound pretty fuckin’ powerful, though.

For loud music—whether it was hardcore, metal or something in between, that type of mixing was favored during that time period. In the past few months, I noticed those sonic properties with albums by Wrecking Crew, Wargasm and Wrathchild America (and that’s just some W’s!). It also occurred when older material was remixed for reissue—in particular, I’m thinking about the pointless remixes of the first two Articles of Faith EPs for their “Core” reissue in the late 80s (the same mixes were later used for the Alternative Tentacles reissues, as well) and the absolutely horrendous remixes for Discharge’s “Never Again” anthology. There were remixes for the songs on “Hear Hothing See Nothing Say Nothing,” the “Never Again,” “Decontrol” and “State Violence State Control” 7”s. A disgrace. A disgusting defilation and ruination of classic records. Lest people think I’m being hyperbolic, it’s the goddamned truth. When I asked Discharge member Tezz about the remixes, he said, in a disgusted tone, that it was their (now former) vocalist Cal’s idea. Cal should have been brought up on charges of artistic butchery for what he did to those songs. Unfortunately, the remixes for the 7”s also showed up on the double CD anthology, “Decontrol.” However, I do believe that the original mix is available for “Hear Nothing” and it remains one of the best punk albums of all time. Crushing from start to finish and the “State Violence/Doomsday” 7” is also perfection. Hopefully the original mixes of those EPs will be restored because that’s the way they were MEANT to be heard.

These days, there’s also overproduction for hardcore records. It’s not a style of music that needs to be that slickly recorded. It doesn’t have to sound completely lo-fi either although that can also be highly effective. I love the production (or lack of it) on the EPs by Formaldehyde Junkies and Chronic Seizure, for instance. A lot of the records recorded at Will Killingsworth’s Dead Air studios in Western Mass. have a warm, gripping sound without being overproduced. At least there less of that goddamned echo, these days.


Five song cassette demo (also available on CD-R) from this Minneapolis hardcore band. Another band who fit the loud/fast thrash mode and screaming out the standard themes of alienation. They sometimes double up on the speed and it may not be a good idea for the guitarist to try a solo, as on “Why Do I Bother.” Not bad and it’s got good production, as well. (Cavan Reilly, 14 Oak Grove St., #306, Minneapolis, MN 55403, brian@tchardcorejournal.com)

FUK/CHAOS UK-split (HG Fact, split CD single)
Two songs apiece from UK band Fuk and expatriates Chaos UK and sharing ¾ of the lineups. An intertangled history, too confusing to detail but Mower and Gabba are both longtime Chaos UK people. Moving on to the music (that’s the point, right?) Fuk have a fast, ferocious sound—I know how to turn a phrase, eh? The Chaos UK’s songs are a medley, essentially, starting with a sample saying “you are free to do as we tell you,” a moment of Japanese music and then careeening into a sound closer to speed metal on “All or Nothing,” although “Hearts Of Noize” has some of the early 80s spirit. Blazing fodder from both bands. (http://www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact)

VARIOUS-The Path To True Independence (Forest, CD)

A two-way split and a four way split. First, Italian band Jilted tear through their three songs with flail and scream and adequate ferocity. Beyond Description hammer away with a veteran band’s skill—aggressive, rampaging hardcore. They show up again on the four way split, along with Asbestos, Totsugeki Sensya and Destruction. The best band here is Totsugeki Sensya—a raw distorted attack that eschews the metal. Beyond Description introduce more of a metallic side on these songs. They have better releases and there’s the bass-pedal distraction but the songs aren’t bad. The tracks on the split with Jilted are better, though. Asbestos follow with an excessive, overwrought song, both in length and vocally. Once again, they have better material elsewhere. Finally, Destruction’s fast ‘n heavy opus is pretty good and it’s a shame they’re limited to one song here. (c/o Hideyuki Okahara, Ceramica 2 #301, 2-1-37 Minami, Kokubunji, Tokyo, JAPAN, okahara@pop02.odn.ne.jp)

LES HATEPINKS-Tête Malade/Sick In The Head (TKO, CD-EP)
Tres malade, tres bon. Vous écouterez ceci ou vous êtes stupide. I think you can probably figure out what I just typed. If not, all you need to know is this is a fuckin’ cool EP. Les Hatepinks put ’77 punk snot and post-punk into a scintillating mélange, uh, mix. Jabbing songs with a hit ‘n run quality and an edgy quirkiness. “Sweep The Shit” adds a little roche de garage to wind things up. Les Hatepinks had two previous albums and 2005’s “Plastic Bag Ambitions” (also on TKO) is worthy of your time, as well. (8941 Atlanta Ave., #505, Huntington Beach, CA 92646, www.tkorecords.com)

MEHKAGO N.T.-s/t (S.O.Y., CD)
Blazing lower-tuned Swedish-style hardcore-meets-metal (at least to my ears), recorded in a no doubt hot/humid summer environment in Florida. So it’s natural they’d sound mighty agitated. The growly/distorted vocals make me thing of Gordo from Ratos De Porao. Five fast-paced, punishing songs with brutalizing breakdowns. (www.mehkagont.com)

MISS 45-s/t (No Talent, CD)
OOO-WE-OOO-OOO… You hear that a lot on this five songer by Miss 45. Trash punk/rock ‘n roll outta Sweden. The guitar licks are occasionally Thundersy but they aren’t that campy looking. The drummer has a beard, for fuck’s sake. In any case, “High Heeled Bitches” may be a tad puerile in the lyric department but it’s catchy. So is the creatively-titled, rockin’ “(Everything’s More Fun) When You’re High.” “Don’t Wanna Be Like That” takes a quieter turn and, at nearly 5 minutes, isn’t nearly as scintillating. Good, if nothing to make you lose your marbles. (www.notalentrec.com)

Pure negativity, anger, outrage—and the music matches the attitude. Four songs of full-tilt thrash without a break. The guitar lines have plenty of sizzle-wizzle without being excessive. I mean, there are only so many ways to describe straight-ahead hardcore punk but I’ll say that this demo begs for a vinyl release. (www.myspace.com/nightstickjusticeba)

OUT WITH A BANG-I’m Against It EP (Fashionable Idiots, 7” EP)
Whoaah. I may tend to overuse the term scorching but it fits here. Out With A Bang, from Italy and featuring the snotty vocals of former Grabbies’ mouth Alessandro, play with a devil-may-care ferocity. A middle finger proudly raised as they bash through these short, adrenalin charged blasts, with no breaks between the songs, except when you pause to flip the record over. Garage, hardcore and punk on a collision course, even getting a tad weirder for “Hurt Yourself.” A little better produced than the Grabbies but still rough. A US pressing of their limited-run 12” and with one extra song. Punk fucking rock. (PO Box 580131, Minneapolis, MN 55458, www.fashionableidiots.com)


RAW RADAR WAR-s/t (self-released, CD)
If there’s an intersection of ultra-heavy, thick metallized riffage and hardcore thrash, Raw Radar War have found it. If anything, these guys make me think of the Melvins in terms of the crush factor. The vocalist is Jonah Jenkins, formerly of Only Living Witness, Miltown and Milligram and he unleashes the anger in a ripthroat style hadn’t used before. There’s a brevity to the compositions until the band get to punishing epic “Truckloads Of Ammunition.” A sound to open the terrain and swallow you whole. RRW are a loud, chaotic dynamo live and this disc gives you a pretty good indication of that. (http://rawradarwar.com)


SPLITTING HEADACHE-Night Terrors (Collapse, LP)
To recap, Splitting Headache include people from Tear It Up, Forward To Death, Dead Nation and Full Speed Ahead. I think that covers it. All that matters is what’s on the turntable anyway, right? And this album has been on there quite a bit since I acquired it. As you’d probably imagine, it’s a loud, aggressive hardcore punk sound. Not blindingly fast, either, although they do stick to a quick pace and there are some hot guitar licks. It’s a common, perhaps simplistic thing to point out but when there’s a punk and rock ‘n roll drive to this style, it works well. The lyrics convey alienation, uncertainty, fear and outrage, looking both inward and outward—for instance, the shattered lives of veterans that is the subject of “Another Headstone.” Lest it get completely heavy, their cover of the Big Boys’ “Narrow View” is an inspired choice and conclusion to this solid effort. (collapserecords@gmail.com)

TOTAL ABUSE-s/t (Drug Money, tape)
A 7” is due from this Texas band pretty soon but, in the meantime, here’s an 8 song cassette. The letter says it includes ex-members of the Snobs, who put out a couple of pretty cool 7”s in the early ‘00s (hard to believe I’m using that term now). Raw, basic hopped-up hardcore punk with aggro and adrenalin. Some early Boston HC, DRI and Poison Idea influences—nowhere near that level yet, of course, and, as usual, the double speed doesn’t always work to their advantage. But they definitely get it right on some songs here. (3703 Werner Ave., Austin, TX 78722, www.geocities.com/drugmoneyrecs)

TOTAL CHAOS-17 Years Of Chaos (SOS, CD)
This anthology disc actually covers 13 years of releases, going back to ‘94’s “Pledge Of Defiance” up until the recent “Freedom Kills” plus a few new and unreleased songs. 100% pure punk, in case you didn’t know—mainly in the UK82-inspired vein, although not strictly following that form. There’s the occasional ’77-styled song, as well, such as “Baby I Hate You.” In fact, most of the songs in that vein come from 1996’s “Anthems From The Alleyway,” where they come across with a Rancid vibe and represented a jump from the spottier “Pledge Of Defiance.” The lyrics get right to the point—painting the sentiments in broad strokes so you can’t possibly misunderstand them. The liner notes are way too tiny for me to read but, glancing at them, it tells the band’s story. The band’s spirited punk style is on the guilty pleasure side and 28 songs at once a bit much but a spiky dose from time to time isn’t such a bad thing. (PO Box 3017, Corona, CA 92878, www.sosrecords.us)

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