Saturday, February 24, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #33

You know what’s irritating? When records are pressed in super-limited quantities and, unless you know the secret handshake (to quote the always quotable Aaron Ulcer, late of Straight To Hell, Paindriver and Ulcer) or find out about it the day it’s relased, it’s likely you’ll miss out. A perfect example is the Sex Vid 7” that came out a few months ago. Came and went before I even knew about it and now all I have are MP3s to listen to. Better than nothing, I suppose. If it’s going to be re-pressed, I apologize. At least I have the second 7” on the way. Hopefully…

Seriously, though, if there’s demand for a record, why let it go out of print and end up on eBay a few weeks after it’s been released? I know some people defend this by saying it forces people to search things out, not have it come to them in a passive manner. I call bullshit—it just creates collector elitism. I don’t really care if it’s a first or second pressing—just try to make the damn thing available. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Enough said about that. I’m not going to any shows this weekend but last Saturday, there was a pretty kickass show at the Cambridge Elks with I Object, The Tangled Lines, Out Cold, Minefield, Helping Hand and Sick and Tired. By the end of the night, my head was pounding due to the volume of the bands and the loud DJ’ed music between sets. I was responsible for some of the platter-spinning but, in all seriousness, it doesn’t have to be at an ear-piercing volume. A constant aural bombardment wears thin after 3-4 hours and it’s impossible to carry on a conversation. That’s something I loathe about rock clubs because they think every moment has to be filled with volume. If these shows are meant to be a social gathering as well as a musical one, there should be a lull in the noise for a bit.

I OBJECT

This was a fun time, though. The sets were kept short—in fact, things were ahead of schedule so there was an “intermission” between Minefield and Out Cold. Speaking of the latter, this was one of the best sets I’ve seen from them in awhile. Nary a break between songs—one right into another, a ravaging hardcore punk assault done with clockwork precision. It was one of those sets where they NAILED it. The Tangled Lines played high-energy hardcore, as well, and brought out a spirited response. Luise, their vocalist, put on a Red Sox hat during the set--a sure way to win over the always-parochial Boston audience. OK, maybe not but at least it wasn't a Yankees hat. I've said it before but I Object have really turned into a powerhouse live band in the past few years and Barb loves to get up in people’s faces. There’s a sincerity, here—nothing seems contrived either with the message or presentation. As for the other three bands, I wasn’t too blown away by Helping Hand’s more melodic hardcore but it was serviceable. Sick and Tired ripped out the aggro in much the same way as at the Greyskull basement space not long ago and Minefield’s crusty hardcore is rough around the edges but on the right track.

THE TANGLED LINES

MUSIC REVIEWS

CIDER-They Are The Enemy (Painkiller, LP)
Most of these songs originally came out on a 7” on Painkiller but the band weren’t happy with the sound quality so here it is again on a 12”, along with three decent demo recordings from ’96 and a live song recorded in 2004. A much hotter mix this time. The Clevo nastiness—as mentioned in the review of “Battle of The Worst Bands” compilation, Cider and their compatriots had a chip on their shoulder, to use a cliché. A wanton, fuzzed-out sound with guitar and bass merged into a molten sheet of sound. A combination of breakneck hardcore and taking an oi-ish turn for the live “Thanks For Nothing.”. A phony British accent (“we’re British from Cleveland”) that turn redneck (?!) by the end of the 7” tracks. Quality antisocial punk rock. (8 Burney St., #11, Boston, MA 02120, www.painkillerrecords.com)

COKE BUST-Demo 7” (Headcount, 7” EP)
From DC, with a couple of guys who used to be in Bail Out. Flying the edge flag, going so far to claim that “when I die, there will be an X on my casket.” Giving new meaning to “true ‘til death,” I imagine. Aggressive, fast, in-your-face hardcore punk with the occasional burst of double speed (there’s the usual reservations about that) and some tough breakdowns. Even a metal lead for “No Middle Ground.” There’s definitely an early Revelation Records vibe here and the anger comes through. (www.headcountrecords.com)

GET RAD-Say Fuck No To Rules, Man (Hyperrealist, LP)
This one came out awhile ago but it just got sent to me. The brightly colored cover immediately catches your eye—Get Rad in large letters and a big multi-colored rainbow—which is coming from a broken skull and a bicycle cuts through a road made out of brains. Get Rad offer a similar juxtaposition—in a way, I guess. There’s a positive attitude in many of the songs, along with gang style vocals but also a good amount of anger, both vocally and with some of the sentiments, here. There’s the youthful (aka youth crew) element but without conjuring up the late 80s finger-pointin’ ambiance. It’s hardcore PUNK and they’ve got a sense of humor. In fact, the more I think about it, the tongue seems to be planted firmly into the cheek. In any case, it’s an infectiously upbeat sound and the blink-n-you-miss “Peein’ Red” (to the tune of a certain Minor Threat song you should have no trouble figuring out) is a clever touch. (PO Box 9313, Savannah, GA 31412, www.hyperrealist.com)

MONSTERS-The Worst Of Garage Punk. Vol. 1 (Voodoo Rhythm, dbl. CD)
I didn’t realize this Swiss band had been around since ’86 but that’s the case and here’s a double disc of loose ends—a lot of it live, along with radio performances, demos, out of print vinyl. These guys have always been about keeping it rough—from Beat-Man’s raspy yowl to the garbage-can aural aesthetics on a lot of these songs. In case you weren’t paying attention, the main focus is garage, along with some bluesier and surfier touches. They get crazed and unhinged on some of these songs—a fucked-up sounding “Voodoo Love,” with vocals that sound as though they’re coming through a transistor radio and some backward loop effects for the guitar. In the beginning, there was more of a Childish air at times, such as “Baby I Love You.” A mixed bag, to be sure, and that’s usually been the case with most of the releases I’ve heard from this band. In other words, it’s probably not the best starting point for newcomers to the band, yet there are nuggets scattered over the two discs. (Jurastrasso 15, 3013 Bern, SWITZERLAND, www.voodoorhythm.com)

NOTHINGTON-All In (BYO, CD)
Remember Tsunami Bomb? If not, you should be grateful—they were one of those terrible pop/punk bands that are staples of the Warped Tour. In any case, some of the guys in that band have formed Nothington and, instead of playing pop/punk, they’ve opted for the Social D/heartfelt/heartland kind of approach, with traces of emo/pop/punk still in there. The design matches that songwriterly approach—scribbled words on torn pieces of notebook paper, empty cans, a full ashtray, etc. In any case, I don’t like this band much more than Tsunami Bomb. The gruff, husky vocals aren’t bad at all, but that’s about the only positive I can come up with. (PO Box 67609, LA, CA 90067, www.byorecords.com)

RABIES-Test Your Might (Sorry State, LP)
Snotty west coast skate ‘n destroy punk and picking up where the 7” left off. The production is bright without getting too flashy—it enhances Rabies’ burning properties. Also, there’s no way I would have known that “Plateau” was a Meat Puppets cover if I hadn’t read the credits and Rabies’ version is a high speed dismembering of the Puppets’ laid back acoustic-flavored composition, at least until the end. The other cover is by Magnolia Thunderpussy, an 80s SST Records band and, while I remember the band’s name, I don’t remember the song. It’s another changeup, an oddball ending to this searing album. To steal from Agression (another skate punk band) a bit, these guys have found an effective way to release intense energy. (www.deadmetaphor.com/sorrystate)

TERMINALS-Forget About Never (Dead Beat, CD)
Lo-fi, blown out, organ drenched garage/psych(otic) primitivism. That’s a mouthful, I guess. It begins with a gospel church organ signature but the spirit is aimed at the other place, if you know what I mean. You’d think, with my appreciation for this sort of garage rock noise-mongering, it’d be right up my alley. Sad to say, but it’s just not happening for me. Their cover of the Castaways’ “Liar Liar” is more than just a carbon-copy rendition but, overall, it comes up short. Something is lost, not translating from the sonic whirlwind. The effect is akin to sticking your head into a metal garbage can and having someone smash the side with the cover. In this case, that’s not too pleasant. (PO Box 361392, Cleveland, OH 44136, www.dead-beat-records.com)

VARIOUS-Public Safety (Maximum Rock ‘n Roll, CD)
Not a lot of compilations seem to have much thought put into them these days—there’s the occasional exception. The “Mein Comp” 7” collection a few years ago was killer and the “No Bullshit” 7” comps are off to a fine start, as well. Still, it’s not the heyday when you’d have such classic collections as “This Is Boston Not LA,” “Flex Your Head,” “Someone Got Their Head Kicked In” and the first two MRR comps, “Not So Quiet On The Western Front” and, especially, “Welcome To 1984.” The latter is one of the greatest international anthologies of all time—Raw Power’s “Fuck Authority” completely blew my head off its shoulders. Those comps were an important entry to sample what was going on in the hardcore universe and I imagine that’s the intent here. This is MRR’s first comp since the not-so-great “They Don’t Get Paid” collection in the early 90s and the crew have done a good job here. A worldwide collection of bands that will be familiar to avid hardcore fans but some of the bands aren’t quite as well known. There’s a heavier emphasis on US bands, with half the bands coming from within this country’s borders so maybe it’s not quite as international as it could be. Also, a few of the songs do sound like leftovers. I’ve heard better Observers and Gorilla Angreb songs, for instance. Still, there’s diversity, from the straight-up hardcore of Look Back and Laugh, Direct Control, Limp Wrist, Career Suicide, Strung Up and Regress (an underrated Chicago band with 80s hardcore veterans). Israelis Smartut Kahol Lavan also deserve to be heard by a larger audience. The more tuneful, punkier side of the spectrum is visited by No Hope For The Kids, Smalltown, Pedestrians and Signal Lost (whose song is a little rougher sounding than in the past and that’s a plus). Regulations connect with their patented snotty punk. Youth crew stalwarts The First Step offer a short, energetic song. Aaritila and Sunday Morning Einsteins bring the Scandinavian aggro. Is it perfection? No, but there’s still plenty to recommend here. (PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146, www.maximumrocknroll.com)

1 comment:

Vae said...

I have a sort-of elated complaint to the "must be ell-connected to get our recrd" bit you mentioned at the beginning/ Well, for one, it does suck if you have to "know the right people" just to get a decent piece of music. Unless one's severely cash-constrained, it almost seems elitist.

But on the other hand, I know that in a lot of punk scenes everyone is a friend ... of a friend ... of a friend ... of a friend, etc. And so a lot of times the same group of extended, extended family of friends show up at the show. And people get feelings hurt when they're asked to pay to get in. But these are MY FRIENDS! Or when their friend insinuates that they must pay to buy their new album. I feel sorry for bands who, through probably being overly generous and nice and going on about how "it's not all about the money" are pushed back into a corner where they or venues lose movie 'cuz they don't wanna seem DIY or cool or "friends" if they have the audacity to charge to get in shows or to buy vinyl. I TRY to always offe to buy and only on rare occasions have I outright asked for something. Even then, I usually say, "All I have is [for example] $6 for that $8 shirt, is that okay?" And often that's enough.

But everyone being "frinds" can have its disadvatages. And it does suck that in order to hear music you have to be "friends" with someone, especially if that band is rabidly anti-Soulseek. What the heck else are us musical junkies supposed to do. Wait a fe years for a re-press -- if it ever happens? :/

-Oliver / Cult Punk