Saturday, July 26, 2008

Suburban Voice blog #63


It’s a rainy day, there’s no baseball game so I decided to have a bit of a marathon and watch some of the DVDs I’ve been neglecting. I still have some others to check out but it’s a start, at least. First on the list is TSOL’s “The Early Years Live” (MVD Visual, PO Box 280, Oaks, PA, 19456, It’s a little bit of a misnomer in that it’s not the band’s earliest days. It’s also a rather glaring misnomer to print, on the back of the box, that “this footage clearly defines TSOL as the founding fathers of vicious grindcore.” HUH? Attention Marketing Dept: these guys had about as much to do with grindcore as the Bay City Rollers.

The performances are from around ’82-83. The bulk comes from a college performance with the “Beneath The Shadows” lineup and the set-list leans heavily towards that album although some of the band’s earlier classics, like “Code Blue” and “Superficial Love” are included. It’s kind of humorous to see a mix of punks and more normal-looking college kids looking on. It’s a single-camera shot and, as the crowd activity picks up towards the end, the view gets blocked quite a bit. “Beneath The Shadows” was a marked change for the band, moving into poppier territory (it’s been called their take on the Damned’s “Black Album” and that’s not completely inaccurate) but the songs have more punch in this setting. That set came from a Flipside video release. There are also a pair of songs from a Target Video, probably shot in ’82 and taken from the “Weathered Statues” EP. I’d really like to see stuff from the time of the first EP or “Dance With Me,” if it exists. One thing that’s never changed throughout the band’s history is Jack Grisham’s imposing presence. He almost seems playful at times but someone who could do serious damage if fucked with. The “extra stuff” includes a lengthy interview with Jack, guitarist Ron Emory and keyboard man Greg Kuehn, done at the same time as the college gig and it’s disjointed but occasionally humorous, with some of the tales of debauchery. There’s also a live song from ’07 where they look as imposing as ever—and a funny moment where Jack stops the song to offer a critique on a kid’s stage diving technique and give him another try at it. Finally, there a brief reading from Jack’s upcoming autobiography that promises to be quite vivid in its imagery. It’s not any sort of comprehensive TSOL document, just capturing a certain moment in the band’s transitional history.

Also on MVD Visual, The Dead Boys’ “Return Of The Living Dead Boys” is taken from a 1986 NYC reunion show on Halloween night. No bells and whistles—as with most of the TSOL DVD, it’s a one camera shot that keeps focusing in and out but you get the idea. If Stiv Bators isn’t quite as crazed as in the 70s and there really isn’t any sort of dangerous, chaotic vibe, they don’t look like they’re phoning it in, either. Far from it. Stiv, by himself, has learned his lessons from the School of Punk Rock Frontmen, black hair flying everywhere, throwing himself, skinny/muscular frame and all, into the crowd and, for the final encore of “Sonic Reducer,” revealing quite a bit more, if you catch my drift. Incidentally, you KNOW it's the 80s from the parade of idiotic stage divers. I cheered when a mulleted bouncer gave one of ‘em a pretty good heave-ho.

This is over an hour of mayhem, covering just about everything you’d want to hear, including the disarmingly sentimental/melodic “Won’t Look Back” and “Calling On You,” along with thorny favorites like “Sonic Reducer” (duh), “Ain’t Nothing To Do,” “What Love Is” and “Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth.” Even with the scuzz punk rep, the Dead Boys’ weren’t afraid to exploit their poppier instincts and Stiv acknowledged that before their cover of the Stones’ “Tell Me.” He also acknowledges the band’s obvious debt to the Stooges before doing “Search and Destroy” and it’s never been any secret how much these guys drew from “Raw Power.” In a more whimsical (?) vein, Stiv mentions how if Mama Cass hadn’t had that meat in her mouth and if Karen Carpenter had had the meat in hers, they may both still be alive. He also comments on how much the bald-pated Cheetah Chrome bears a resemblance to Uncle Fester. But it’s unlikely that Uncle Fester could dish out the spark ‘n burn emitting from Cheetah’s guitar.

The one bonus feature is a segment taken from a Yougstown, OH morning TV show featuring a smarmy host named Gary Cubberly. Cubberly interviews Stiv and Frank Sechich, who joined the Dead Boys after Jeff Magnum left and then worked with Stiv on his solo album “Disconnected.” After a few minutes, you get the urge to smack this guy silly for his inane questions and I’m sure the thought crossed Stiv and Frank’s minds a few times. Interestingly (or maybe not), Cubberly moved on to have a TV news career in Detroit that ended abruptly after he was killed in ’92 when he suffered a heart attack and crashed his car. Moving on from that irrelevant tidbit (thank you Google), that clip also includes a cool music video of “Sonic Reducer” that I’d never seen before.

As long as I’m writing about the “old timers,” there’s another Clash DVD, “Live: Revolution Rock” (Epic/Legacy). 22 live songs from ’77 to ’83, up through the last show with the Strummer/Jones lineup at the US Festival in ’83 (no “Clash Lite,” in other words). The songs are presented mainly in their entirety—some have appeared on other Clash DVDs and video releases but it’s a good career spanning retrospective. And I’m eternally grateful for the option to watch the songs without the cheesy documentary-style voiceovers in the regular format. That boils down to every dodgy rock-doc cliché imaginable. There’s still the occasional voiceover from Joe Strummer on the audio-only setting but that’s not any sort of annoyance. I know there are plenty of people who think the Clash were overrated, sold out their principles, etc etc and it’s definitely kind of odd seeing them play at Shea Stadium, opening for the Who. But I’m biased—they’re still one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen and these videos reinforce that opinion. In the earlier days, in particular, the performances are impassioned, every drop of sweat genuine. Appended with two interview segments, one from a NYC news/talk show and another from Tom Snyder (there are also two songs from that show). In those settings, the Clash didn’t interview well—it almost seems as though they were reserved in the more “mainstream” arena, much like Stiv’s interview on the Dead Boys DVD.

Finally,“La Escena” (“The Scene”) is a documentary about punk in Puerto Rico, created by Guillermo Gómez Álvarez. The dialogue is in Spanish, with English subtitles and the film centers around interviews with a handful of people who have been and/or are still involved and are also at different points in their lives. One person is homeless and addicted to heroin. Another is working on a PhD but is still connected to the skinhead movement. The person who runs the Discos de Hoy label (a co-distributor of this DVD) exudes enthusiasm about the DIY aesthetic. At the outset, there’s an introductory manifesto, so to speak that says, in part (translated), “Aren’t we looking for authenticity or being heard? Or is it a relief from our frustrations? Or is it simply pure fucking rage?” The film tries to create a sense of punk history in Puerto Rico and what’s interesting is how the motivation for involvement doesn’t differ that much from the US or anywhere else. Chafing against a conservative society, what’s expected from an individual. For many, the attraction is the loud/fast/energetic music. People come and go, different influences come and that could apply to punk rock anywhere. There is mention about how things evolved from talking about just records and turned more towards protest

The film traces Puerto Rico’s punk scene’s ups and downs, including an upsurge in activity in recent years, after things were nearly destroyed with violence and drug abuse. There’s a segment about “Rock en Espanol,” where there was an attempt at mainstream cooptation of the scene (sound familiar? Lollapalooza? Warped?) and some bands took the bait and tried to cash in. This set up a dividing line and, like in the US and elsewhere, the DIY community became more defiant about creating an alternative to the commercialization of their music.

There is a passing explanation of what makes punk in Puerto Rico unique compared with the rest of the world but maybe it could have gone a little more in-depth there. There are certainly universal motivations, influences, etc. but when I’ve seen bands from Puerto Rico (like Tropiezo, Juventud Crasa and Cojoba), those bands undoubtedly offer their own musical twist and a perspective that comes from their surroundings. I also wouldn’t have minded seeing a bit more of a sociopolitical context. Finding out more about Puerto Rico itself although the film’s scope is likely aimed at educating people in the country of the existence of this scene. There’s plenty of musical footage covering the past decade and a half or so, of varying quality and covering a variety of punk and hardcore genres. One commonality is there seems to be a joyousness at many of these shows, people bouncing around and singing along, creating their own refuge from the “real world.” Where it can encompass all of the elements mentioned above—being heard, relieving frustrations and expressing “pure fucking rage.” An interesting glimpse into the Puerto Rican scene. (SouthKore Records, 2814 S. Spaulding, Chicago, IL 60623,


... and they all sound better. Many of you are reading this and saying, “of COURSE they sound better, idiot” but I needed to be reminded of that on occasion. Anyway, I’ve acquired three records of releases already reviewed in these pages and that will be the format pulled out of the stacks when I need a fix.

There really is a sonic difference with the Red Dons’ “Death To Idealism” LP. Their vocalist Doug Burns told me that this was a different mix than on the CD and it has much more punchiness. As mentioned previously, this is pretty much a continuation of the Observers, with Doug’s mannered vocals paired with a melodic, driving ’77 impetus and, in case you didn’t figure it out from the title, a rather disillusioned lyrical approach. “No Pain,” the song that directly mentions this idealistic demise, brings the album to a slashing conclusion. Definitely a case where some tweaking makes things better. (Deranged, 2700 Lower Road, Roberts Creek, BC V0N 2W4, CANADA,

Unseen Force’s “In Search Of The Truth” is given a long-overdue vinyl repress on No Way Records (3211 Idlewild Ave., Richmond, VA 23221, In this case, owning the CD isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it also included a live set and demos from 2000 Maniacs, a predecessor to Unseen Force. This remains an underappreciated album from that time. Originally released in 1986 and this Richmond band created a stinging, scrappy hardcore sound with a whiff of metal guitar. In retrospect, they could be seen as east coast brethren (and sister, since they had a female bass-player) to Christ On Parade. If hardcore was dead or dying by ’86, as reported by certain clueless authors, no one told Unseen Force. The opening line on the album declares “Some people in this world make me sick....” and ain’t that still the truth in way too many of life’s situations.

Meanwhile, Black Water Records (PO Box 5223, Portland, OR 97208-5223, have unleashed the LP version of Blowback’s “Living Vibration,” originally released on CD on HG Fact in their native Japan. Completely obliterative, overdriven hardcore-meets-steamhammer rock ‘n roll. That covers it—over the top in every way, from the unhinged, hoarse vocals to the band’s blazing approach. Blowback are definitely in the upper echelon of Japanese bands and it’s a shame their recent tour didn’t hit the east coast. I suppose the west coast deserves to get good international touring bands on occasion. As mentioned in the previous review, this album features new material and re-recordings of a few older songs.



ANTI YOU-Making Your Life Miserable (No Way, 7” EP)
“Guess what? You suck!” Yeah, I’d say that’s a good way to get your attention. Nothing like coming out and saying exactly what you think. Thrash thrash thrash from Italy’s Anti You plying the early 80s-inspired sound with bright guitar, spot-on drumming and those anti-social (natch) lyrics. Andrea has the vocal attitude to pull it off and this is a brash statement. They’ve got a newer 7” on Puke ‘n Vomit that I still need to get. This will do for the time being. (3211 Idlewild Ave., Richmond, VA 23221,

BAD REACTION-Had It Coming (Reflections, CD)
This CD includes Bad Reaction’s two recent EPs (on Flat Black and Blind Spot) plus a cover of the Bad Brains’ “Pay To Cum” as a bonus. Catchy, energetic hardcore punk with punchy (but not overdone) production that brings out the band’s surge and the occasional lead guitar lines are done tastefully—there’s definitely a love for the rock in the background here. The lyrics touch on standard topics of employment, religion, people who act pretentiously and I’ll give ‘em bonus points for the title “Keep Your God Out Of My Peanut Butter.” A handy format but track down the vinyl if you can. (

With Besthoven, you pretty much know what to expect at this point and that’s dead-on D-crush and they don’t disappoint. Production is actually fairly clean for these songs but the rawness remains. Suburban Showdown, from New Hampshire, offer a Dis-inspired feel for “Victims Of Conformity” but stretch out on “Time Runs Out,” a different hardcore punk tack going through tempo shift, complete with a heavier breakdown to wrap things up. First release for this label and it’s a good one. (106 Fourth St., Dover, NH 03820,

DANGERLOVES-Easy (DeadIdeas, 7” EP)
Heart-on-sleeve pop/punk tuneage and I was about to say they share the same approach as the Bayonettes (both bands are from Toronto)—and, it turns out, two people from that band are in this one. “Home” has what sounds like a toy xylophone to add some cutesy content and I need to check my sugar content after that one. And while the upper register vocals are also rather precious, the other pair of songs have more than enough drive to avoid the dreaded twee region. (PO Box 851, Austin, TX 78767,

DEFIANCE-The Very Best Of Defiance (HG Fact, CD)
You’d usually associate a collection with this title with more mainstream bands—a greatest hits package for the holiday season or the casual fan. That’s not meant to denigrate this 15 song disc, released to coincide with Defiance’s Japanese tour. Besides, the ‘subtitle’ of the album is “And We Don’t Care.” Over the years, the personnel might have changed (the most significant being the departure of vocalist Gibby, with guitarist Mike Arrogant taking over that job) but Defiance always stuck with the pure punk attitude. An undeniable affection for the rousing, catchy sound of the No Future bands and the Cockney Rejects, plus adding a faster attack on some songs. That was more evident with these guys than other bands on the Punk Core label, who have maintained the band’s catalog. Defiance’s lyrical mentality is laid out right at the start, with “No Future No Hope,” but the tuneful, singalong nature of the song almost sounds contradictory to what they’re singing. The first five tracks here come from that album and it remains Defiance’s defining (couldn’t resist) album. The later songs aren’t always as inspiring but don’t represent any sort of drastic departure, either. It’s wrapped up with a cool bonus cover of the Partisans’ “Time Was Right.” (

FORBIDDEN TIGERS-Magenetic Problems (Dead Beat, CD)
Shake ‘em up rock ‘n garage trash but not really on the lo-fi tip. There are a few songs that sound like my right speaker has been blown out, though, and I had to take a look to make sure that wasn’t the case. These guys do like to fuck with sonic effect and not maintain a similarity in tone for every song. The overall ambiance is bluesy with an echo in the lower-timbred vocal—coolness without crossing over into caricature. Showing an affection for the source material. T’ain’t bad at all and gettin’ real gone for “Neanderthal.” (PO Box 361392, Cleveland, OH 44136,

LAUDANUM-s/t (Pyrate Punx, 7” EP)
Somewhere between epic crust and thrash (just a minor part of the equation) along with some metal for good measure. The lead vocals are occasionally countered with subhuman grunts that sound like a frog expelling its lunch. The playing exhibits a high degree of technical skill and packed with aggression but the songs aren’t particularly memorable. (3704 West St. #A, Oakland, CA 94608,

VIOLENT SOCIETY-The Complete Punk Collection (Puke N Vomit, CD)
Well, almost complete—they left off the debut “You’re Gonna Fall” 7” from ’94 but, far as I can tell, all other 7”, comp and split appearances are here, plus a few unreleased goodies. Violent Society were a 90s bright spot, one of those bands who helped revitalize the no-bullshit punk sound. An assimilation of spiky, UK-inspired punk and US hardcore—there’s no way they could deny the “quotation” from Minor Threat’s “Seein’ Red” for “Indivisible,” for instance--and with an inherent catchiness. The sound of frustration but also played in upbeat fashion. A lot of slash ‘n agitation, especially in the way Pat Society spits out the words. Unlike Pat’s recent band Cranked Up, which directly tackled certain political issues, the words here are of a more bellicose, personal nature—the diissafection of the outsiders and the pissed-on and an unwillingness to deal with life’s bullshit. And these guys got increasingly aggressive as time passed, as well. This disc provides a crash course of Violent Society’s sonic blitz. (PO Box 3435, Fullerton, CA 92834,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Suburban Voice blog #62



Actually, no doldrums in terms of quality music coming through SV world HQ, either from the generosity of bands, labels, etc or my own purchases. The doldrums come from a lack of shows I’ve felt like attending. I did skip this year’s No Way Fest. Definitely some regrets there. I should mention, though, that there are finally some good shows coming up so I can now stop whining! As of this writing, it’s been four weeks since I’ve been to a show—Total Abuse, at the Ratscellar. It ended up being a six band show on a Monday night, although late minute additions Tipper’s Gore and Bad Reaction basically split a set. And wouldn’t you know that the show started at the advertised time of 9 on the dot, I got there at 9:15 or so and managed to miss Tipper’s Gore. FUUUUUUUUCK!! Oh well. Total Abuse were an interesting band. Their earlier material was more or less straight hardcore. There was an indication something would be different when there were a bunch of effects set up on a table in front of the stage and their vocalist started banging around on them, including a wired-up tin can. Alternating between the expected thrash and heavier, more (for want of a better term) offbeat material. Something other than expected and that’s meant in a positive fashion.

Another apology for the delay and, yes, I know I’m behind on reviews. Believe me, I feel badly about it. No excuses but there has been some writer’s block of late and I don’t want to half-ass it... although some might feel this batch of reviews are half-assed. Well, let’s get to it...

AMEBIX-No Sanctuary—The Spiderleg Recordings (Alternative Tentacles, CD)
These early recordings, from ’82 to ’85, are exercises in often-potent, anarcho-primitivism. The liner notes by vocalist/bassist Rob “The Baron” Miller, seem almost dismissive of some of the earliest work but I think he sells it a bit short. You can hear that they’re in an embryonic phase but the Stooges “1970”-inspired “Curfew” is a liberating sonic blast. For much of the material, there’s a numbing repetitiveness but, for the most part, it’s entrancing. A doomy ambiance with sheets of guitar underpinned by tribal rhythms and pumping bass-lines, strained through Killing Joke ca. “What’s THIS For.” It sounds like a blueprint for what followed with “Arise.” It may be sacrilege to the Amebix diehards but I like some of the songs here better than on that album. (PO Box 419092, SF, CA 94141,

ANGRY 4 LIFE-Some Songs We Recorded 2004-2006 (Vinehell, CD)
As it says, an anthology from this band. A tough melodicism and encompassing a few different styles—rootsy and folky elements but played with loud electric instruments, except for the fiddle on “The Sky Is Falling.” I’d prefer to live without those influences on some of those songs but they do hit the mark every so often. There’s the sturdy/catchy “Smoke,” for instance. Covering Asta-Kask’s version of “Who Can Sail Without The Wind” (aka “Vem Kan Segla”) makes me think there’s some kinship with that classic Swedish band’s approach, as well. Hitting the middle ground with the occasionally inspired moment. (PO Box 36131, San Jose, CA 95158,

BILL BONDSMEN-Swallowed By The World (Dead Beat, LP)
Finally, the Bondsmen’s first album and it maintains the trigger-finger animosity of other compatriots from their native Midwest region—the guitar buzz certainly sounds like some of the wanton Cleveland acts like 9 Shocks Terror or the Inmates. Add to that the pure rage of MassHoles (that’s a term of endearment for people from Massachusetts) Out Cold, with whom they shared a split 7” last year. It’s not a musical carbon copy but it’s all in the attitude and feel and the Bondsmen still manage to add their own stamp onto it. Lyrically, it doesn’t present all that cheery a picture. These songs scream about lousy jobs, making mortgage payments, paying for prescriptions, having the electricity shut off when they can’t pay the bill. These guys KNOW the score. Instead of going for any sort of slick sound, things sound rougher, especially with the vocals. To my ears, the production on those sound cruder and that’s meant in a positive sense since it enhances Gabby’s larynx-rending utterings. There’s an abundance of go-for-the-throat thrash but other little elements. The circle-pit inducing breakdown for “Another Wave” is one such moment. So is the stop/start thrash of “It’s Always Darkest After Shutoff,” interspersing guitar and bass atonalities, if that’s the term. Everything comes to a screeching halt for the final cut, “A Bird In The Hand Means You’ve Been Dead For A Few Days” and it’s a slower, desperate-sounding song, the culmination of all that’s been touched on already, building up and then slowing down as the guitar mimics the sound of something/someone lingering and abruptly stopping. Think of it as a cautionary tale and, as Black Flag sang on “Depression” all those years, “they say things are gonna get better—all I know is THEY FUCKING BETTER.” “Swallowed By The World” may not make you feel better but it’s still some damned good scream therapy. (PO Box 361392, Cleveland, OH 44136,

DESTROY EVERYTHING-Freedom Of Speech Means Talk Is Cheap (Tent City, CD)
Destroy Everything are a punk rock band, in case you couldn’t tell by the haircuts and silly names like Stiff Mittens, Señor Citizen and Cheddar Nines. If those are their given names, I apologize. But looks are deceptive. This isn’t simple-minded street punk. Instead, it’s a tuneful mix of influences—speedy west coast-inspired stylings, old-school hardcore and some ’77 era UK nods—the intro to “Alter Or Abolish” nicks from The Professionals’ “The Magnificent,” for instance. They sport two vocalists, one of ‘em handling backups. The lyrics are far from cliched—there’s not a lot of optimism, a strong disdain for everyday life and an outsider’s perspective. That perspective applies to the world in general but also to those who turn rebellion into money (my words and where have I heard that before?), rebellion co-opted, as stated on “The Kids Are All Liars”: “the road to pop-star opulence is paved with false belligerence/And every time the call goes to take it to the streets, the kids turn to the corporate mother and suckle at her teats.” The guys in this band aren’t kids and I imagine that cynicism is born from experience. Definitely a heartfelt quality, both lyrically and musically. (101 W. 23rd St., Box 2341, NY, NY 10011,


THE ESTRANGED-Static Thoughts (Dirtnap, CD)/Entranced (Dead Ideas, 7”)
I could mention the band members’ resumes but that’s kind of irrelevant—they’re from Portland, OR and have played in some other bands that are stylistically different. So I’ll just attempt to review the music from the Estranged on its own terms and this is one of the better albums I’ve heard, lately. Considering they’re from Portland and are a trio, Wipers comparisons have been inevitable but it’s not really accurate, although “The Message” veers into that territory. There’s definitely the emotionalism in the vocals and Mark Herman’s voice also has a similarity in timbre to Clint Conley from Mission of Burma. I could mention a plethora of bands that give the Estranged inspiration—early 80s US and UK post-punk, mainly, but there’s a harder-edged undercurrent. On this album, they assimilate it into something striking and contemporary-sounding. The playing is tight as fuck and the songs engaging, blending power with strong hooks. And, just before posting this installment, a new two song 7” showed up. These tracks were recorded before the album, at the same time as the band’s previous 7”. Slashing and energetic, possessing more raucousness than on the album—particularly for the title song. “Vilified” isn’t quite as manic but still packs a nervy hook. (Dirtnap: 8615 SE Clinton, Portland, OR 97202, PO Box 851, Austin, TX 78767,

IMPERIAL LEATHER-Do You Know Where Your Children Are? (Profane Existence, CD)
Since Imperial Leather’s last album, “Something Out Of Nothing,” they’ve shed the twin vocalist lineup and tweaked the sound a bit. Guitarist Kenko contributes secondary vocals but Amyl Nitrate becomes the focal point and there’s a raspy grittiness that wasn’t there before. And, for want of a better term, the musical approach sounds a tad more stripped down. Jarring punk with an older California vibe and garage/riot grrrrl tandem and Amyl’s commanding vocals. Lyrics expressing disillusionment, disappointment with the human condition—that’s a rather catch-all description but it fits for several songs here and the words seem to be directed at specific individuals without naming names. Wedded to a musical performance that’s taut, edgy and muscular-sounding. (PO Box 18051, Minneapolis, MN 55418,

KAIBOUSHITSU-Dokuro Dokuro Dokuro (HG Fact, CD)
An interesting amalgam of hard rockin,’ metal-tinged punk that would have fit in well with some of the Amphetamine Reptile bands of the early to mid-90s but also operating in a faster hardcore vein on some of the songs. An aggressive guitar fusillade equally capable of dishing out the powerchords and heady, falling-apart effects, especially on the last track. The semi-melodramatic vocals are something of an acquired taste but, ultimately, add uniqueness and the playing is solid throughout. Something a bit different. (

MOB 47-Dom Ljuger Igen (Communichaos, CD-EP)
There’s always skepticism/controversy/what have you when a band with “legendary” status gets back together. What are these guys thinking of? Shouldn’t they leave their legacy alone and not tarnish it? Out with old, in with the new. Well, if I didn’t know this 8 song EP was a new Mob 47 release, I’d still think it’s a ripper. Pillaging hardcore going over the rails, the drums scamper but things somehow stay together. “Brutal Nedladdning” works in more “Dis”-ability (sorry) than the other songs, a very slight change of pace. The production isn’t raw distort but not slick, either. Whatever the motives, these songs hold up on their own merits. ( in US by Profane Existence, PO Box 18051, Minneapolis, MN 55418,

NIGHTSTICK JUSTICE-s/t (Even Worse/Way Back When, 12”)
As mentioned last time, the first copy that showed up was warped and that’s now been rectified (thanks Noel!). For their first big-sized record, the mode remains the same—pulverizing hardcore punk done right. One change, though, is in the production. The thick bottom end on previous recordings is muted and the recording has a slightly cleaner sound. That doesn’t negate the band’s power—the hot guitar licks emerge from the speakers like poisoned tentacles and equally poisonous or venmous or what-have-you is Jeff Corso’s vocal agitation. “Calling you out, bringing you down/black and blue... callin’ you out/now it’s coming back to you.” Paraphrasing Slapshot, ain’t no friend of his! This record has become a friend of mine, though, having spent a fair amount of time on the turntable, already. ( or

Scrappy hardcore from this band, with former I Object bassist Ryan on guitar and, as with that band, there’s a female vocalist. Claire expresses the words in sort of a spoken/sung cadence and the songs favor a medium speed, for the most part, with occasional bursts of thrash. Despite the band’s moniker, the lyrics are more about personal issues, such as commenting on such things as sexism and overuse of prescription medications. Very basic but not a bad start. (PO Box 1148, Grand Rapids, MI 49501,

RESTARTS-Outsider (Rodent Popsicle, CD)
UK vets with a new full-length. Tough, catchy 82-era inspired punk punctuated by gruff vocals (low ‘n high), buzzsaw riffs and pealing melody lines. I can even live with the ska songs here, since they’ve got a punk pulse to ‘em. One ironic thing, though, and this isn’t blaming the band—they’ve got a song on here called “Bored,” which talks about how “as soon as we get a venue, the council shuts us down.” The Restarts recently played Welfare Records around here and, due to the stupidity of some of the show’s attendees (as mentioned in the last blog), it ended up being the last show there. So perhaps their audience should consider those words. Come to think about it, one of the Restarts was complaining a little about the prohibition against alcohol at the venue. Sigh... In any case, some good ‘ol headbangin’ punk rock here. (PO Box 1143, Allston, MA 02134,

SATANIC THREAT-In To Hell (Gloom, 7” EP)
Clevo crazies—members of Gordon Solie Mofos, Nunslaughter and Midnight--doing a darkside tribute to, well, you can probably guess the subject of the tribute but, if not, visualize DC and pay attention to titles like “Guilty of Hating Christ” or “Don’t Follow Him.” The over-the-top vocals, though, are from more of the Pat Dubar (Uniform Choice) school and best taken in short doses. They nail the old-school hardcore sound. Scorching songs and scorching sentiments taking a dim view of religious topics. Packaged inside a six panel sleeve with two overlaps. (1463 Ocean Ave Apt 2 B, Brooklyn, NY 11230,

SEE YOU IN HELL-2003-2007 (Not Very Nice, CD)
An anthology of this band from the Czech Republic, covering the years mentioned—I’m sure my astute readers were able to figure that out themselves. Solid hardcore punk with some 80s era European influences but still managing to not sound dated. Metal leads pop up from time to time and that adds some flair to the proceedings, but it’s not a constant element. Ripping, full-bore material. On the inside of the sleeve, it says to “play loud” and I recommend you obey that suggestion. (PO Box 2, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303-0002,

SQUALORA-s/t (Repetitively Futile/Wantage USA, CD)
Released in late ’07, Squalora consists of guys from Ass End Offend, now transplanted from Montana to Portland, OR. This is visceral hardcore with some crust elements, not dissimilar from what the boys were doing in Missoula. Thick slabs of riffage, dished out at both a raging pace along with the heavier crush. “Sugar Coated Submission” has a weighty, ominous tone yet doesn’t get bogged down in the mire. The same description could apply to the intro of “Identity Crisis,” before turning on the speed attack. A prevailing doominess, an appropriate sonic setting for the lyrical mood, yet avoiding an oppressive murkiness. That mood expresses disappointment with inertia, with allowing shit to happen unchallenged and, when brought up, being labeled as “pc nazis.” And the anger is produced with a powerful sound encompassing varying musical shadings. (Wantage USA: PO Box 8681, Missoula, MT 59807,

STATE OF THE UNION-To The Bitter End... A Discography (Profane Existence, CD)
A band originally from South Dakota who eventually relocated to Seattle and were around from ’92-’01. Lumbering, drawn-out compositions drawing from the well of Neurosis, especially with the gloomy, ominous intros. Heavy and plodding, with harsh, throat-rending vocals, metallic guitar riffs and a rhythmic undercurrent that does hit a solid groove. This 79 minute disc features an unreleased album recorded in 2000 plus an earlier LP and trio of EPs. In all honesty, none of the material here, earlier or later, is all that scintillating. The differences are in the recording quality, with the earliest songs sounding muddy and the performances less-refined--if refined is an appropriate term. Whatever the appropriate description, the results are tedious, in spite of the nimble musicianship. (PO Box 18051, Minneapolis, MN 55418,

STRAIGHTJACKET NATION-Cheap Kicks (Shortfuse, 12”)
Hard kicks from SJN... kicks, punches and other attacks of brutality. That’s in the figurative sense although seeing this band live brought out quite a physical reaction and some of that was provided by their vocalist Daniel. He howls his way through these rampaging compositions. One cool transition is the conclusion of “Winter,” with a nasty concluding exhortation, then it stops cold, there’s a break and it goes into the appropriately-titled, floor stomping “Get In The Boot.” I could just say “old school” influence at leave it at that but, to put a finer point on it, there’s a strong nod to early Boston hardcore on some of these songs. There’s no need to put a fine point on it. There’s nothing fine—it’s quite blunt in execution. If you have any interest in current hardcore punk, you need to hear this band. (PO Box 239, North Carlton, Vic. 3054, AUSTRALIA,

TEACHER’S PET-s/t (Smog Veil, CD)
Obscuro late 70s Ohio noo-wave/ garage punks who played catchy ditties laced with cheese-whiz vox organ and a whole lotta teen angst. A bouncy vibe with rapid-fire vocals and nervous-tic musical accompaniment. The lead guitar breaks give away a rock ‘n roll background (some of these people were in a covers band called Wizard) that indicates familiarity with the Dolls, for one, although it’s wrapped in an era-fashionable cocoon. The band only released one single so everything else here is previously unreleased and it also includes three live songs. The cover band origins surface for an eclectic selection including Herman’s Hermit’s “I’m Henry VIII (I Am),” given a lyrical tweaking, 999’s “Let’s Face It” and Status Quo’s “Big Fat Mama.” The disc also includes some very badly lip-synced video clips with hilarious posing and dubious fashion sense—just the sort of entertaining visual element one would expect. (

VARIOUS-Fuck Detroit, This Is Grand Rapids (Punks Before Profits, 7” EP)
Done in one day, with 8 different bands recording one song apiece at the same locale, namely Ryan from PBP’s livng room. The results are widely varied. The thud-core of Final Word is quite wretched, for instance. The best song (by far) comes from The Real Bitters, who dish out their straight-forward punk with gritty aplomb. Attention Span’s raw hardcore comes across fairly well, as does the twin vocal/speed attack of Jesus Crisis—definitely no love for religion on some of these songs. Religious SS Disorder have a similar musical vibe as I Object, Ryan’s former band. Overall, there are competeent moments but, for the most part, not a lot that transits into anything that blows me away. (PO Box 1148, Grand Rapids, MI 49501,

YOUTH OF TOGAY-Tossed Salad Days (Rejected, LP)
The balancing act of tribute, parody and, at its core, attempting to combat homophobia in the hardcore scene—particularly in the straight edge universe. I guess their modus operandi has created some controversy with some folks from that corner of the hardcore spectrum (Have Heart, in particular). This is ’87-inspired youth crew hardcore brushed with modern elements, such as the tougher sounding “Tough Gays.”. Some of the songs are covers with altered lyrics—“Banned In Tennessee,” for instance, which borrows a riff from a certain Bad Brains song and there’s more irony when you consider the Brains’ undisguised homophobia. The slide whistle (in lieu of a guitar solo) is a humorous touch. So is the “sproing” noise on their cover of Righteous Jams’ “Bust It.” Still, I think Limp Wrist do this sort of thing better a lot better, especially from a musical perspective. (