Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #40


1982 was a transitional year. It was the year I graduated from college and the year I really started to get into hardcore punk as a live experience. Later this year it’ll be the 25th anniversary of Suburban Voice, originally called Suburban Punk. Two events happened in June of that year and both provided inspiration for starting my zine.

On June 7, I began my post-collegiate “career” as a retail management trainee for the Zayre department store chain. Zayre no longer exists. It eventually merged with Ames and then that company went out of business in 2002. I trained in the Woburn, MA store until the end of August and then was transferred to Saugus to begin the next stage in my training. That went so well that I quit two months later. Not coincidentally, my continuing immersion in hardcore and its philosophy probably gave me a nudge towards getting out while my sanity was still intact. I mean, listening to MDC’s “I Hate Work” while driving to a job I despised may eventually spur me into some action.

But let’s get back to June. At the end of my first week at Zayre, on Saturday the 12th, there was a hardcore show at the Gallery East, near South Station in Boston. The featured band was from DC and they were called Minor Threat. OK, I’ll stop being coy. Minor FUCKING Threat. It was a four band show and my first time seeing three of them. Minor Threat went on second, since the organizers wanted to make sure that they’d get to play in case it got shut down. No such worries. The show started with the Proletariat who, despite stylistic differences from the other bands, went over very well.

Minor Threat were next and, if anything sealed the deal on hardcore punk for me, it was seeing this band. I had just purchased their first 7” when I was in the DC area for a job interview and had time to spend at the record stores in Georgetown. It was my second Dischord purchase, after getting the SOA EP the previous winter. I also got the Youth Brigade “Possible” EP, as well, on that Georgetown excursion. What a fucking set. Ian darting around the stage and I kept my eyes on drummer Jeff Nelson and marveled at how lightning-fast he played.

After them, it was my first time seeing SS Decontrol and they were followed by the FUs. I don’t even remember all that many specifics except John Sox was congratulated on graduating from Boston College. Also, they had improved markedly since I’d seen them as a trio the previous fall.

I kept my distance from the craziness in the pit but it was pretty spectacular to watch. This was the first time I’d seen this type of show in a DIY venue. I mean, think about it—these four bands in an art gallery and there were probably less than 200 people there.

I tell this story not to rub it in. Honest—and, along with those memories, it boggles my mind that it’s been 25 years! I’m not going to have grandchildren so I guess it’s you folks who get to read these anecdotes...



ACID REFLUX-s/t (No Way, 7” EP)
Well, I’d probably give the penmanship on the lyric sheet, cover and label around a B+ since there are corrections. The music on this 8 song EP (taken from their demo) gets a higher grade. Early 80s style hardcore punk somewhere between the Circle Jerks and some of the “Boston Not LA” bands—done with plenty of post-adolescent rage. Hating school, hating the military, hating work, hating chain restaurants (“Oh Good, There’s An Applebees”)—I agree about the latter in particular. With a song like “Customers Fuck Off,” you get the idea pretty quickly. In case you don’t, the first line is “Customers are douche bags/they treat you like your (sic) shit.” This reaches my inner 23-year-old and that’s never completely gone away—proudly, I might add. (3211 Idlewood Ave., Richmond, VA 23221,

BESTHOVEN/VIOLATION-Split (Final Attempt, 7” EP)
On Besthoven’s side of the sleeve, it says “A D-Beat Holocaust!!!” and that’s accurate. Actually, there’s a stripped down, slightly distorted guitar sound and that makes it sound different from acts operating in this vein. Violation are from Philly and include folks from Another Oppressive System. They have the heavier, thicker approach and the songs are packed with power and volume. (PO Box 972, Bellmawr, NJ 08099,


CONDENADA-s/t (Lengua Armada, 7” EP)
This Chicago band have really progressed over the past few years, especially when I compare the songs on this EP to the older demo versions. Mariam has an overpowering voice and such songs as “Not Yr Victim” and “This Fight Is Ours” convey true anger. Mainly mid-tempo punk and the guitar riffs are reinforced with some powerful drumming. (Condenada: PO Box 5027, Chicago, IL 60680,

DIE YOUNG-Graven Images (Teenage Disco Bloodbath, LP)
As usual with the TDB releases, kudos must be given to the packaging—blue/white splattered vinyl and a glossy insert. This Texas band have a heavy, metal-meets-hardcore sound with lower-tuned guitars but it has a hard, driving edge that doesn’t get bogged down in chugalama too much. There’s an intellectual presentation in the lyrics and ideas, using quotations as diverse as Freud, Shakespeare, Kerouac and Greg Graffin (Bad Religion guy, in case you don’t know). Perhaps a tad pretentious but they’re also quite direct at times, such as “Fuck The Imperialists.” Ultimately, this isn’t my favorite style of hardcore but Die Young have some hard-hitting moments here. (

DOUBLE NEGATIVE-The Wonderful and Frightening World Of Double Negative (No Way, LP)
Let’s see—where have I heard that title before? They “borrowed” it from a Fall album of the same name. That’s where the similarities end. The members of Double Negative range in age from 35 to 42 and this ripper of a 12” will school the young’uns. An early COC influence here, only without the metal and the songs here are fast and aggressive, powered by Brian Walsby’s drumming and slashing, jagged, feedback-enhanced riffs. Kevin (aka KC) stretches his raspy vocals over the songs, chafing against the grain, and it all culminates in the charged fadeout for “Pond and Prairie,” a moment to catch ones breath after the full-tilt ride over the course of the two sides. To use a hackneyed phrase, this once again proves that age don’t mean shit and, even if one’s youth can’t be recaptured, that doesn’t mean you can’t still kick and scream in the process. (3211 Idlewood Ave., Richmond, VA 23221,

HAUNTED GEORGE-Bone Hauler (Dead Beat, CD)
This is very primitive. Haunted George, a one-man project masterminded by S. George Pallow, begins with an old soundclip warning about the forthcoming unpleasant noise. Then the ultra-minimalism kicks in. A dirty, primitive low-fidelity kinda bluesy/folky music that conjures visions of death and desolation. This sounds as though it was recorded in a shack, likely without running water or that’s at least the ambiance he’s trying to create. “Shotgun In My Mouth” stands out with its eruption into a fusillade of guitar craziness. Acquired-taste territory and I haven’t quite acquired it yet but this is a lot more fun than a lot of stuff trying to pass itself off as “roots” music or whatever the hell it’s called. PO Box 361392, Cleveland, OH 44136,

While watching this live DVD, shot in Boston in 1994 (I was there, by the way), it got me to thinking that there aren’t enough bands playing this sort of aggro-style indy rock anymore. Or maybe I’m missing it but I can’t imagine too many bands having the sort of explosiveness these guys had. A sound that stood apart from punk and hardcore but had the same level of energy. 1994 was when Green Day and the Offspring were becoming the “acceptable” face of punk and it’s about 180 degrees from the non-sanitized-for-public-consumption sound of this band. In fact, in the interview done with Shred from WBCN/WERS/etc, vocalist David Yow said Green Day were like the Knack, like the Dickies with English accents. The Jesus Lizard always knew how to put on one hell of a live show and Yow knew how to provoke, fuck with and bond with an audience. Half the time, he’s crawling over them and remains in full bray. You can’t understand what he’s ranting but it’s more the feel than the words. Yow is the focal point and but the three musicians who accompanied him shouldn’t be shortchanged and the multi-camera shots here capture their combination of finesse and pure wallop. Hypnotic, thumping bass-lines from David Wm. Sims, snaky and slashing guitar lines from Duane Dennison and incessantly crashing drumming from Mac McNeilly. A forceful tumult, a rollercoaster ride that culminates in their Chrome medley. The riffs that these songs are built on—the crunch of “Mouthbreather,” the sonic jolt of “Puss,” the nightmarish “Bloody Mary”—each have their own personality. There are also five songs recorded at CBGB in the summer of ’92 and the level of frenetic chaos is just as high. I’m often embarrassed about some of the music I dug on from the late-80s to mid-90s. Not these guys. They could probably still blow away most bands I’ve seen in the past few years. (PO Box 280, Oaks, PA 19456,

THE JURY-s/t (Electric Mayhem/Loud Blaring Punk Rock, 7”EP)
TOTAL FURY/THE JURY-Split (Gloom, 7” EP)

A new five song EP by Albany’s Jury, plus a split with Japanese band Total Fury, with whom they toured the east coast in the spring. Mike still sounds as though he’s having his tonsils tortured by Steve Peffer from 9 Shocks Terror and it’d be lying to say that they’re not influenced by that band. Whatever the case, The Jury’s raw thrash attack hits hard and fast and the lyrics are a bitter, pissed-off complement. The production for the split sounds a tad punchier and also includes a solid cover of Gauze’s “Crash The Pose.” As for Total Fury, the three songs here aren’t nearly as good as on their “13 Songs” album, even though “You’re Too Old” is re-done. The sole new song, “Little Story,” sounds like a lesser “Think Again” (Minor Threat), although the cover of Scream’s “New Song” is OK. Flat production and I’d have to say their side is a bit disappointing. (Jury: PO Box 3067, Albany, NY 12208,; Gloom:

KIELTOLAKI-Totaalisen Tuhon Huominen EP (Moo Cow, 7” EP)
The sleeve is a throwback—bright orange, cut ‘n paste layout and it’s obviously paying homage to the classic days of Finnish hardcore. Kieltolaki keep the burn going throughout their new EP. Six songs of piledriving hardcore with a familiar sound—razor-slash guitar that also lets off squeals of feedback, incessant bass/drums and harsh vocals. Full-tilt all the way, even when hitting middle gear for “Pedofiilielukka.” Kieltolaki are definitely one of the better Finnish bands these days. (38 Larch Circle, Belmont, MA 02478,

MAN THE CONVEYORS-Upheld By Fear (Final Attempt, LP)
Dual-vocal crust-core mayhem. In fact, the voices are so growly and nasty, it’s tough to tell the male and female vocalist apart—well, Christina’s is a little bit higher. In addition to the bleak picture of war, rampant capitalism and racism that they voice, there are few songs dealing with sexism and forced gender roles. They also exclaim that there can be a “radical future.” I’m pretty pessimistic about that, myself, sad to say. Pretty rudimentary instrumentation and drawing from the same well as Another Oppressive System, Disrupt and the like but it gets the job done. (PO Box 972, Bellmawr, NJ 08099,

OUT WITH A BANG-Few Beers Left But Out Of Drugs (Criminal IQ, 7” EP)
Not quite on the level of their previous EP but these scurrilous Italianos are still fucking nasty. Rough, twisted punk that has garage elements but not easily fitting that mold. For one thing, there’s some atonal guitar noodling throughout and that providing a nice (?) sonic muck-up. An ugly, dissonant clatter, hand off the chin in true vafancullo fashion—look it up, then hit ‘em over the head with the dictionary if they invade your town. (3501 N. Southport, Chicago, IL 60657,

PLEASE INFORM THE CAPTAIN THIS IS A HIJACK-Defeat Or Humiliate The United States Of America (Clean Plate, LP)
Recorded in ’03, mixed in ’05 and just now available for your consideration, listening, reading or some combination of the above. PICTIH take a stab at the grand statement—only they eschew slogans and opt for a highly intellectualized approach that requires one to work through the lyrics and accompanying mini-essays about each. Any explanation I attempt will be simplistic, in comparison, but there’s an anti-capitalist/consumerist bent. There’s also a booklet of sorts with a key on the lower right corner of the cover. Perhaps that’s meant to be the key to explaining everything but, instead, there’s unrelated, uncredited prose. On the vinyl, itself, there are sound collages of hip-hop and other musical fragments along with various soundbites—I even hear Maxwell Smart on one of them. The “regular” songs have a late 80s DC hardcore influence, which makes sense since vocalist Mike Kirsch’s older bands, Fuel and Bread and Circuits, certainly came from that muse, although there’s more complexity here. Nation of Ulysses had an album called “13-Point Program To Destroy America” released in 1991 and they also created an elaborate world to convey their message so such a comparison is inevitable. It’s a unique approach, perhaps too obtuse for some to absorb (like myself at times!) but it definitely breaks up the string of predictable releases. (PO Box 9461, N. Amherst, MA 01059,

TALK IS POISON-Condensed Humanity: The Prank EP’s (Prank, LP)
I never got a chance to see Talk Is Poison. I was in SF in 2000 but we left two days before they played a show at Mission Records and they broke up soon after that. This LP includes their split with Deathreat and their “Straight To Hell” and “Control” EPs. Talk Is Poison came and went like a lightning bolt in the late 90s/early 00s. Overpowering hardcore that occupies a similar territory as Deathreat and earlier From Ashes Rise. There’s a Scandinavian influence but there are also big build ups and tempo shifts. Bulldozing bass, a formidable guitar blast and vocals brayed over the intense clamor they create. I don’t even want to use the influence shorthand here. All that really needs to be stated is this was some of the most raging music of that time period and Talk Is Poison were a band that perhaps got overlooked a bit. Drawn from two 7”s of their own, plus their split with Deathreat, recorded in ’98 and ’99. Goddamn I wish I’d been able to stay there a few more days. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141-0892,

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