Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #34

Not too long ago, I was walking around the track at the YMCA and had Agnostic Front’s “Victim In Pain” playing on my iRiver (NOT iPod because their self-contained software can suck it). First off, after some 23 years, it holds up pretty damn well. I’d deign to call it a classic, in fact. I mean, when that breakdown for “No Justice” comes on, I almost break into circle pit mode on the track.

But there seems a bit of a contradiction in the lyrics, on back to back songs. Nothing major, just one of those things that crossed my mind, around lap 21 of the 25 I was walking. Something I’ve actually thought about for quite awhile when listening to this album. On “Hiding Inside,” Roger sings about keeping feelings bottled up inside, keeping the real person hidden behind a façade. A “character in a hardcore handbook,” as he calls it. And the last line states “we don’t need anymore great American heroes but real people being themselves and not weirdos.” Now, isn’t hardcore and punk meant to be a place for the misfits, the freaks, the “weirdos”? That’s what Dave from MDC said in the “American Hardcore” movie. Of course, I seem to recall a flyer of a NY skinhead grabbing a punk kid wearing an MDC shirt by the nose. By the way, discussing the song itself for a moment, that is one great “Yeeeeeowwww” to kickstart the song. It almost sounds like a tribute to one of those older Warner Bros cartoons.

In any case, after “Hiding Inside,” the next song is “Fascist Attitudes,” which gives a wag of the finger (thanks, Stephen Colbert) for people who are intolerant of others’ style choices. The lyrics go “why should you go around bashing one another? If they look or think different, why let it bother. Everyone’s got their own style, their own thoughts. Don’t let it bother you, don’t let it caught” and also mentions how “we’re all minority and everyone of us counts.” Another plea for unity but if someone wants to be a “weirdo,” shouldn’t that be respected?

Ah yes… a classic case of nitpicking. One of those little things I think about more than I probably should. Idle thoughts to keep my mind off of my thighs getting stiff after all those laps. So if any of those NYHC folks (especially the ones with big muscles) take this the wrong way, please don’t beat me up. In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter. Well, maybe it does—cliques, divisions, etc remain a fact of life. Scene unity is always a nice ideal, as expressed on “United and Strong,” another track on “Victim In Pain.” Unfortunately, idealism and reality often isn’t the same thing. And what’s a “scene” anyway? Truth be told, I get tired of labels. I have a friend who talks about someone being a crusty or a hardcore person or a peace punk. I can’t keep up with all the sub-groups anymore. Nor do I really want to. I’m getting too old to worry about this stuff. I do love being a weirdo, though.

What a great album, though! No other subsequent AF release has come close to it….


APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT-Armageddon Won’t Be Brought By The Gods (Profane Existence, 7” EP)
Straight outta West Virginia—crusty hardcore punk. A spoken intro with somber accompaniment and then the pillage begins. Harsh female/male dual vocals and heavy, piledriving riffage and metallic squalls. The subject matter isn’t exactly cheery, as you’d expect, summed up on the title track with the line “humanity has been lost.” Following a standard musical/lyrical path but it’s convincing. (PO Box 8722, Minneapolis, MN 55408,

BAYONETTES-We’re Doomed (Deranged, 7” EP)
Brash, tuneful punk without being sappy-sounding. Vocals that go from sweet to piercing and back again. Despite the upbeat-sounding music, there’s some darkness in the title track and “Take This Pill,” while the other two songs deal with affairs of the heart, also from a less-than-cheery outlook. There’s a tough ’77 era spirit, something that’s quite in vogue of late, but bands such as the Bayonettes make it sound fresh all over again. (1166 Chaster Rd., Gibsons, BC, VON 1V4, CANADA,

BELCHING PENGUIN-Demos 1985/1988 (Burrito, 7” EP)
First off, one complaint. This record has way too much surface noise. Perhaps it’s from the colored vinyl but, in any case, it detracts a bit. Belching Penguin were a Florida hardcore punk band—they released one album in 1986, “Draft Beer… Not Me.” Side one features songs from their ’85 demo, done as a three-piece and the flip consists of uncirculated demo songs from ’88. Raw, energetic hardcore punk inspired by DRI and a tiny whiff of crossover. They also had a sense of humor and I imagine that the name of the band probably tips their hand. I imagine that’s also made obvious by “Dead People Can’t Drive” and “Senators’ Wives.” There’s even a childhood trauma revisited on “Box Lunch.” What was interesting is the fact that the guys stuck to the thrashin’ approach in ’88, after it had fallen out of favor. Comes with a xeroxed photo/flyer booklet and fold out poster—and that has a recent interview with their bass-player Jeff Jewhurst. A nice bit of archaeological musical digging here. (PO Box 3204, Brandon, FL 33509-3204,


BREATHING FIRE (Painkiller, 7” EP)
This southeastern Mass. band just reconvened after a few years off and this is a pressing of their 2004 demo. Spasmatic thrash and heavier, oozing breakdowns that create a menacing ambiance. “Exile,” for instance, slows to a snail’s pace and just hangs there in the air. There’s definitely a doomy metal influence in there (particularly for “Gates Of Ivory’) to go along with the piledriving hardcore. You gotta be in the mood for this type of bludgeon effect. Like a killing spree mood. (8 Burney St., #1, Boston, MA 02120,

BRUTAL KNIGHTS-Feast Of Shame (Deranged, CD)
The Toronto garage/punk miscreants are back for another go-round. The hand-written lyric sheet is tough to read (I REALLY need to invest in a magnifying glass) but the sarcasm-with-a-message-sorta comes through for “Government Asshole,” “The Perfect Buffet” and “We Have A Website.” Jay Reatard did the mixing and the result is a rougher and trebly sound this time around but the Knights haven’t altered the formula that much. It remains loud, rambunctious and a lot of fun if not quite as good as the first album. (1166 Chaster Rd., Gibsons, BC, VON 1V4, CANADA,

CAREER SUCIDE-Attempted Suicide (Deranged, CD)
Career Suicide seldom disappoint and this album is no exception. What do you need to know? Snotty, ranting vocals and a high-powered hardcore punk sound that also rocks. Not in that contrived gas station jacket wearing, clichéd devil horn way. Not RAWK, in other words. It’s mixed into the flail and the songs hang onto their catchiness, as well. Having drummer Brandon Ferrell (Direct Control, Government Warning, Municipal Waste) behind the kit makes a big difference, as well—dude can flat out PLAY and he keeps the songs moving like a motherfucker, even when they slow it down a tad for the title track. Bottom line—this is one of the best bands going today. After so many releases, one would think they’d be getting stale but Career Suicide sound positively inspired and inspiring here. (1166 Chaster Rd., Gibsons, BC, VON 1V4, CANADA,

DOA-Bloodied But Unbowed (Sudden Death, CD)
This compilation originally came out in 1983, when DOA’s “Something Better Change” and “Hardcore 81” albums were out of print. (it also came out in the early 90s on Restless Records, with their “War on 45” EP tacked on). So the songs presented here were gleaned from both albums, plus there was a new version of the Subhumans’ “Fuck You.” Unfortunately, the songs were remixed and had way too much echo. A few of them were edited, as well. Another case of remixing detracting from the material. Too bad because these songs completely stand the test of time—rousing gems such as “The Enemy,” “New Agee” and “Smash The State,” the scurrilous “13” and “001 Loser’s Club,” or the tuneful “2 + 2” and “Whatcha Gonna Do.” Yep, I’m kind of a purist when it comes to retaining the integrity of the original recordings. Fortunately, the two aforementioned albums (“SBC” and “HC81”) are once again available with their original mixes and running order intact. That’s the place to discover the greatness of DOA. (Cascades PO, Box 43001, Burnaby, BC, CANADA V5G 3H0,

GOONS/LEGBONE-Split (Rat Town, 7” EP)
I neglected this split for awhile (seems to happen a lot lately). The Goons, from DC, have been around a long time and hammer out two sprightly hardcore punk songs. Serge’s dramatic, over-the-top vocals remain an acquired taste but the songs hit hard. Ohioans Legbone also have a speedy hardcore punk style and are pretty successful at it. In that middle area, where I don’t want to say it’s either great or garbage. That’s the truth about this split. (PO Box 50803, Jacksonville, FL 32240,

RETAINERS-Teenage Regrets (Fashionable Idiots, 7” EP)
Love the packaging here—a cut manila folder with a hand screened cover. As for the EP, it’s OK. Raw, distorted garage and surfy elements and nearly-inaudible vocals under the din. Side one, with “Teenage Regrets” and “Zombie Caliente,” are the best tracks. PO Box 580131, Minneapolis, MN 55458,

SCAPEGOAT (Painkiller, 7” EP)
Lumbering heaviness alternating with blast-thrash mania. A few Boston area bands are following this Crossed Out/Infest-inspired template and Scapegoat are one of them. Lyrical fragments screamed from the gut and a thick, cacophonous sound delivered intensely. This isn’t catchy stuff—it’s intense and the recording is full-sounding. Provocative fold-out poster sleeve, as well. (8 Burney St., #1, Boston, MA 02135,

WOUND UP-s/t (Painkiller, 7”)
Three songs of angry punk rock bile, done at a medium pace and quite rockin’. The first song is “How To Make Friends and Influence People” and, if anything, Wound Up don’t sound as though they want to be anyone’s friend, in light of the two other songs, “Fuck Fashion” and “You’re All Wrong.” It’s a lame description, but Donald Jeffers’ vocals are murderous sounding and, yes, they do sound wound up. Incidentally, one of the guitar players used to play with late 80s youth crew stalwarts Unit Pride but this is something a lot different. And better. (8 Burney St., #1, Boston, MA 02120,

1 comment:

Simon said...

Al, you just took the time to write critically about the quarter-century-old lyrics of a man with an IQ of 12! C'mon, that record even produces one of my all-time favourite punker neologisms in "nazi hypocrism", what more did you need to know?