Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Suburban Voice blog #48

CIVIC PROGRESS at the Ratscellar

Last week, the Ratscellar began having shows. It’s actually a warehouse space somewhere in Boston (sorry—can’t dilvulge the address here but if you ever need to know where it is, drop me an email). I’m hoping it’ll last awhile because they set this place up right. The residents soundproofed the room, built a small stage, put in a PA and it’s a good sized space. My guess is it could hold 100 people—maybe more. The sound is loud, probably due to the concrete walls but that’s what earplugs were invented for. The décor is rather interesting—tie-dye walls. You read that right. It was apparently recommended by a guy who lives there, when he was in a drunken state. I won’t reveal his identity to protect the guilty. It’s a bit different from the graffiti décor at Baby Safe Haven. The picture above, of St. Louis band Civic Progress, gives you an idea of the interior decorating. Those guys played an absolutely raging set of pissed-off hardcore punk. They were joined on the show by thrash/grinders Mecchanibal, Positive Reinforcement and Sgt. Slaughter, who played one of the worst sets I’ve seen all year. They’re a good band but had equipment problems, were hopelessly out of tune and only played a few songs. One of the more entertaining moments came when their vocalist Aaron showed his displeasure with guitar player Nelson and you can see a very brief video clip here:

In all fairness, they were a lot better the following Saturday up at Welfare Records, when they played with Guilty Faces (see demo review below), Fruit Salad and a few other bands who I missed.

I’m still going to do a zine review section—hopefully in the next blog. I don’t want it to come out half-assed and also wanted to get this blog out in a timely fashion…


ANGLEWORM-Ruin Your Scene (Triumph of Life, CD)
It’s town vs. gown! These kids are from New Haven and not going to take any more shit from those Yale assholes. Punk, ska and reggae—or is it a punkish take on ska and reggae? Something like that. An anti-authoritarian streak in the lyrics and a desire to escape their surroundings. Who can blame ‘em? I’d go nuts if I lived in Connecticut, too. In any case, while the words express anger, the music comes up lacking in that department as they seem happier operating in a more laid back groove than go-for-the-throat punk burn. (30 Wildem Rd., Berlin, CT 06037,

ANTELOPE-Reflector (Dischord, CD)
Minimalist post-punk rock, for want of a better term. Intertwining guitar/bass/drums with a melodic pulse and high-timbred singing that softens the edges—maybe more than I’d like and that’s the weak link here. Some songs, in fact, eschew the guitar for just bass and drums. Even with that softening, there’s still tension in the sound. There’s definitely a nod to the Minutemen and Gang of Four and even early Cure in the rhythmic nature and sparseness of the compositions. Something as hypnotic and hook-laden as “The Demon” is hard to resist. (3819 Beecher St., NW, Washington, DC 20007,


Vinyl debut for two Boston-area bands. Apeshit, fronted by Boston’s most enthusiastic punk rock dancer Circle Pat, favor double-speed thrash ala Siege on some of these songs and it occasionally sputters. The recording sounds a bit muffled, too. Interesting lyrics for “Gender-Cide,” which takes issue with the negative viewpoint that some women have towards all men; that they’re “brutish pigs,” to paraphrase Pat’s words. A friend has told me that I need to understand why some women do have that attitude and (to simplify it more than I should) I see the point but that doesn’t mean it’s not bothersome to me and these words reflect that, as well. Has its moments but there’s room for improvement.Civil Crisis have a raw, ranty hardcore punk approach. The high-pitched vocals (from one of ‘em) and speedy thrash bring 9 Shocks to mind, albeit without the rock ‘n roll impulse. An effective pissed off sound from these young men. (58 River St., Haverhill, MA 01832,

DEATH SENTENCE-Until The End Of The Sentence (Burrito, CD)
This is the Aussie Death Sentence and the recordings date from the mid to late 80s. A complete anthology and including a number of unissued/rare recordings. This band traded in ultra-fast hardcore, sometimes coming across as disjointed but never flagging in energy. Death Sentence did show some evolution, even as the band had a number of personnel changes and endured the death of one of their drummers. Reading the liner notes, written by their manager Maureen, it’s obvious this was one bad-ass band, especially their vocalist Peter McGrath. He’s lived a self-abusive punk rock life and has apparently paid the price for it. There are some punkier sounding songs in later batches—“My Love” and “Bitchin’,” for instance. The sound quality is spotty at times, especially the unreleased ’85 recording and rehearsal tape from ‘86, both of which sound like a later generation tape copy. We’re talking about hardcore, though, and pristine sound quality isn’t mandatory and there aren’t problems elsewhere. This was one raw-sounding band. These guys were doing something similar to what Heresy were doing in the UK. Looking towards the States and adding a more extreme speed element. An intense whirlwind of cacophony. (PO Box 3204, Brandon, FL 33509-3204,

DEGENERICS-Generic Record Collection (Soulrebel, CD)
Just what it says, collecting this Jersey band’s vinyl releases, comp songs, a few unreleased songs, a demo track and live stuff. A strong, often dramatic sound that blended hardcore ferocity, including some Die Kreuzen-ish touches, metal (“Rising Sun Experience,” for instance), reggae and ska. The latter adds to a song such as “What’ll You Do.” The main emphasis, though, is burn and sting. Craig’s vocals were ranty but also exuding an impassioned purposefulness. There’s a clear evolution from their 7”s to the album although, even in their embryonic days, the full-tilt hardcore was already incorporating diverse influences. An occasional misfire, such as the straight reggae (only a few songs) but far overshadowed by the power of the vast majority of songs here. And some good news—they’ve started playing again. (

DOA-Smash The State: The Raw Original DOA 1978-81 (MVD, DVD)
Oh hell yeah—a collection of DOA performances during their early years, when they were at their best. I never got to see the lineup that included Randy Rampage and Chuck Biscuits and, along with Joey Shithead and Dave Gregg (for most of the songs), and they were absolutely smokin’. Their stage presence and slam-bang, catchy punk ranks among the best that time period offered and these clips perfectly bridge the original punk era and birth of hardcore. Biscuits, in particular, is incredible to watch. He was 15 when he joined the band in ’78, according to Joey’s book “I, Shithead” and is a powerhouse of brawn and finesse. Goddamn I wish I could have seen this lineup—even had a chance in ’81. I had just picked up their “Something Better Change” and “Hardcore ‘81” albums and was stoked to see they’d be playing at the Paradise. That show got canceled because of low ticket sales and, unknown to me, it got moved to a smaller club down the street. So Ellen and I went to see GG Allin and the Jabbers instead. Still an unforgettable experience, I suppose—this was GG in his snot-punk days before he’d shit on stage. I didn’t see them until ’82, when Brian Goble and Dimwit had replace Rampage and Biscuits.

Back to the review: the live stuff consists of single camera shots, varying in quality but watchable. The best performance, I think, is from the On Broadway in SF, where they were opening for another band (DK’s?). The opener “New Age” sounds a clarion call and there's no let-up. There’s also a TV studio performance of “The Enemy” that has Simon “Stubby Pecker” Wilde on bass, doing his best to mimic Rampage’s bounce around exploits though not quite nailing it. The earliest stuff is from a show they played at the Anarchist Anti-Canada Day in July of ’78. Joey is interviewed and doesn’t exactly articulate himself well, although he does act punk as fuck by shoving a butt up his nose. The audience looks silly and the “norms” and cops are amused. They almost didn’t get to play but the authorities relented. Even at that point, DOA were fairly solid although they’d improve dramatically in the next few years. Finally, there’s a conceptual video of “World War 3” with that lots-of-white background, live in the studio feel and a TV report about the punk scene in Vancouver. No extras and this isn’t a documentary, it’s just them playing live. Fine with me. Any video that gives you the “wish I was there” feeling doesn’t need anything else. If anything, it’d just detract. (PO Box 280, Oaks, PA 19456,

DOWNHILL FAST-s/t (Rock Vegas/Eating Rats, CD)
Being a parochial Bostonian (who lives in the ‘burbs), it always does my heart good to see Boston references on a CD cover—in this case, a “T” train—public transit to you outsidahs. Vocalist Jimmy Flynn is an aficionado of the heavier/metallier Boston hardcore sound that took root in the city in the late 80s/early 90s. They even appropriate the “BHC” logo that was in use back then. Most of that music hasn’t held up too well but this isn’t bad. Not really the style of hardcore I’m into but well-played. “Trolley Dodger” conjures up Wrecking Crew and Leeway. And it avoids the mournful/more spiritual bent of some of the bands from that era. Some chugarama along the way and, when they stay away from that, the results are better. At least there’s not that echo-laden, bombastic production that hindered the recordings from that era. (


Two guys from Rat Byte are in this band and they’re off to a fine start with this demo. Rockin’ mid-tempo punk and a few hardcore songs. Tommy spits out the vocals with a snotty cadence and the songs are punchy and drip with a bad attitude. Hatin’ life, hatin’ the burbs, longing to get the fuck out, much like Angleworm, who were reviewed above. If I lived in Connecticut, I’d want to get out too! Sorry—I won’t disparage my wife’s home state anymore. Bands such as Guilty Faces justify its continued existence. (3 Clearview Ave., Bethel, CT 06801,

Two brutal-sounding bands—Sanctum, from Seattle and Bay Area-ites Stormcrow. Both bands trade in metallic crust and each vocalist exercises (exorcises?) their inner demon—gutteral and necessitating the lyric sheet, which ain’t that easy to read either. They’re printed on the inside of the colorful gatefold sleeve that pictures some kind of medieval battle and maybe that’s the concept here. It’s obviously not cheerful material—it’s doom and bombast to accompany the heavy sounds. Sanctum have a speedier, rampaging attack and make the stronger impression. Their songs have a more-than-effective ravenousness. Stormcrow largely stake out lumbering terrain, an aural decay that gets bogged down under the weight, especially after Sanctum’s obliterative apporoach. Out of their three songs on this split, “Beneath The Earth” is the one that shows the most signs of life, pummeling ahead in authoritative style, making me wish the other songs were in that vein. (PO Box 22285, Oakland, CA 94623,

STREET TRASH-Into The Wasteland (No Class, LP)
This was recorded awhile ago and was apparently supposed to come out on My War Records. It doesn’t matter, really. All that matters is this is one scorcher of an LP—well, if 15 or so minutes is considered an LP. The modus punkerandi (sorry) remains the same—phlegmy vocals and a no bullshit tandem of punk and hardcore. The bass-playing is particularly sick-sounding—towards the end of “Five Dirty Fingers,” there’s some dirty-ass Lemmy-isms. Hell, it’s all cool—a wreckless, relentless rush of power and adrenalin. And the yellow/red splattered vinyl makes a bold artistic statement as well. (PO Box 40158, Long Beach, CA 90804,

TARRAKIAN-The Swarm (No Options, 12” EP)
Three long, heavy songs—well, four if you consider “Surman Suukun 1 & 2” two separate songs, although one flows into the other. Part 1 is actually quite catchy, more of a traditional hard rock/metal tune with an early Sub Pop vibe and, although a lot of that stuff has aged badly, this is a solid song. Some of it is too sprightly to completely fall into a stoner metal category but that’s still the overall vibe, especially for “S.S. Part 2.” I’d like to hear more songs like “S.S. Part 1.” (PO Box 22285, Oakland, CA 94623,

TRANZMITORS-s/t (Deranged, CD)
A full-length album for the Tranzmitors and, with “Genocide,” introducing itself with a snappy burst straight out of a late 70s power-pop mold. A balance of force and fluff—you’ve got your noo-wave keyboards, jabbing guitar lines, Brit-affected vocals, angelic harmonizing, the works. They could be kin to old-school British Columbians the Pointed Sticks. Sometimes, I’ll find a little too cutesy but then a song like “Is Your Head Hollow” will come bursting through the speakers and shake things up. Shake it up nicely, in fact. (2700 Lower Road, Roberts Creek, BC V0N 2W4, CANADA,

1 comment:

Karl Bakla said...

The Street Trash record is one of the most anticipated records in punk rock history!!!!