Thursday, October 23, 2008

Suburban Voice blog #67



I figured it was time to post what I’d written lately, since it’s been over a month and despite the fact I’ve been suffering from miserable writer’s block. I mean, I get a lot of cool records, I play them but it’s sometimes tough to come up with an original way to describe records that I thoroughly enjoy but have to rehash the same words over and over to the point where it might become boring for the reader. Or become one run-on sentence! So this may not be my best work but read between the lines and it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out what’s lighting a fire under you-know-where. And I'm going to keep hammering away at that pile of records and books and DVDs and...

BALLAST-Fuse (Inimical, LP)
Inimical did a remaster of this Montreal band’s album and it was released earlier this year. Melodic crust but the guitars aren’t downtuned and Spoke’s vocals have a rasp but are sung clearly and forcefully. And the haunting quality on a song like “Untitled” has a Wipers-ish feel, as well. I’m not always into the somberness but there’s a warmth and richness paired with the band’s aggressive drive. (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111,

BROWN SUGAR-Deportation EP (Feral Kid, 7”)
The title of the EP is in reference to their vocalist Eddie’s “undocumented” status but that’s the only song with any sort of mention of the immigration issue. The balance of the time, it’s the laundry list of plaints against conformity, big-mouths and the like. Energetic hardcore with a few west-coast elements; basically, it’s loud and catchy (well, my definition of catchy) rough-hewn fodder. (379 Ontario St., Buffalo, NY 14207,

CEREMONY-Still Nothing Moves You (Bridge Nine, CD)
Unpredictable, often explosive hardcore from Ceremony. There are brutalizing, hammering properties but also intros and bridges with ominous and droning elements. The instrumental “Overcast,” for instance, leads into the furious “Birth.Conspire. Be. Upset.” The opening song “Dead Moon California (Midnight In Solitude)” slowly builds up and develops over a few minutes until the soul-scream comes in. Quite a dramatic entrance. Their earlier records also had a kinetic attack but, this time out, it comes across as more focused and they’re the better for it. (

CHRIST ON PARADE-Loud and Live-KFJC-08/15/07 (Prank, CD)
A live on the radio recording from the reunited Christ on Parade and they sound like they haven’t lost one step. People can bandy the whole reunion argument back and forth but these songs from the mid-80s spring to life and maintain the aggressive nature. This was a time where things were crossing over a bit and maybe there was the occasional hint of that here but COP still found themselves very much on the thrashy hardcore punk side of the street. If you’re curious, this is the lineup that appeared on “Sounds Of Nature,” with Barrie on vocals. And, as history repeats itself ad infinitum, the lyrics maintain their resonance. OK, the reference to “Ron” on “Another Country” is of its time but lines like “We do it all for the rich/we’re buried in a corporate ditch” may not qualify as poetry but I’d say it’s still relevant. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141-0892,

COLA FREAKS-Dødt Batteri/Nej! (Local Cross, 7”)
Two jittery gems by the Danish Freaks. Enough rock-crit speak. The Cola Freaks’ first EP (which is all I’d heard up to this point) had a jabbing, stripped down punk sound and it’s maintained here while also adding some haunting melody to the mix. “Dødt Batteri” has a pronounced nervousness, especially vocally. Flip it over and there’s a slightly more straight-forward riff but the tension still bubbles. Definitely a step up for these guys. (16 ½ Suffolk St., Cambridge, MA 02139,

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST-Life’s Hateful Seed (Inimical, LP)
A provocative band name isn’t enough... you’ve got to have the sound to back it up and, once again, that’s the case for this trio. There’s a familiarity with JFC that harkens back to bands like Christ on Parade and, with some of the bass-lines, Final Conflict. I could see this coming out on Alchemy Records in the late 80s. Flirting with metal, at times, and also packed with haunting riffs. Vocals going back and forth and if one of ‘em’s a little too cookie monster-ish for my tastes, it’s not a deal-breaker. They also go instrumental for the foreboding “Forty-Third” (about a certain 43rd president about to leave office, one wonders?). And I don’t know what pissed these guys off about the 924 Gilman space in Berkeley, as they rant on “A Living Hell,” but it sounds like they mean it with the refrain “Jesus fucking christ! You’re all assholes! Jesus fucking christ! Go to fucking hell!” Incidentally, not that it really matters and this is a complete non-sequitur but I found out recently that their bass-player Dave Ed is also in Neurosis, who I saw on my honeymoon at, of all places, 924 Gilman! (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111,

LIBYANS-s/t (Upstate Chamber of Commerce, 12”)
Since this band’s 7”, Libyans have had a change in guitarists and the sound is slightly more stripped-down, with less distortion on the guitar. Still, the older lineup wrote most of the songs here and it remains a strong combination of fast old school hardcore and more melodic, west coast punk properties—especially for “Missing Pills.” Also, as with that 7”, the packaging is really cool, with a transparency over the cover and it came with a Libyans wooden airplane, which has been getting a lot of use around here and, fortunately, I still haven’t broken any lamps or windows. One of my favorite local bands over the past year or two. (

LOGIC PROBLEM-s/t (Sorry State, 7” EP)
Some slammin’ hardcore, with four songs culled from two different sessions and there’s definitely a noticeable difference. The “-“ (or negative) side has a rough, demo-like quality with a thorny, gnarled guitar sound leading the way through the slammin’ tunes. Things don’t get much prettier on the other side, since it remains a wailin’ attack but the production has a tad more punchiness but the rawness remains a part of it. Those songs do have more presence, though. (1102 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro, NC 27510,

LOST CAUSE-Walk Alone (Love The Music, Hate The Scene, 7” EP)
Four blazing new songs from this Philly band, their second piece of vinyl. The opening song “Ending Time,” in addition to being a virulent critique of shallow interactions and the search for “meaning” in life (amen, Brother Ned), has a hint of rock ‘n roll swagger. “Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds” also follows a medium-paced blueprint while the other pair of songs have a go-for-the-throat speediness as Ned spits out the angry words of alienation. Still pissed, still raging. (

OUT COLD/FOR THE WORSE-Split (Kangaroo/Even Worse, 7” EP)
No bullshit hardcore and a perfect pairing. That’s pretty much all that needs to be said but I imagine a little elaboration wouldn’t be a bad thing. Well, Out Cold don’t need any sort of deep explanation. The three songs here are pure roughness although “Colder” changes the pace and throws in some formidable lead breaks. For The Worse keep up the raw pace with a tight, classic sound and include a solid version of Cops and Robbers’ “Dropping Like Flies”—now, there was an underrated Boston band. Mike McCarthy barks away in typically rabid fashion and the songs possess the usual ferocity. ( or


RAMMING SPEED-Brainwreck (Teenage Disco Bloodbath, CD)
Thrash metal maniacs who also embrace some NWOBHM moves—you should have heard their live cover of Grim Reaper’s “See You In Hell”--but the spirit of ’87 is the main emphasis. While there’s a nod and a wink in the execution, it’s interesting that the lyrics explore some serious topical issues. Well, sometimes—“Shane Embury Is The Brad Pitt Of Grindcore” is a tribute to the Napalm Death bassist. But “Immigrant Song” is about nativism, “Bogus Facade” deals with racism and “Speed Trials” deals with the drudgery of day to day existence (actually, for the latter two songs, that’s a timeless theme). Shredding with a sense of purpose. (

SHELL SHOCK-Comics, Transformers, & Punk (multi label, 7” EP)
Sadly, this ends up being a posthumous release—not only the band’s recorded swan-song but, more poignantly, in that vocalist Jeff DiLorenzo passed away earlier this year at the way-too-young age of 32. That’s something difficult to get my mind around. This five song EP was released as a tribute to Jeff and given away at a benefit show for a non-kill animal shelter. Continuing in the same no-bullshit hardcore vein as their fine album a few years back (with their original vocalist Andy). That means blunt, aggressive sounds and lyrics. Scoot, their guitarist, mentioned that he wasn’t satisfied with the three songs on the b-side but I think the roughness adds something to it. And there’s a sad irony to the opening song “Not Like You,” with the chorus that states, in part, “I may have inherited my father’s addictions, but I refuse to live with his curse... You may be gone but I wish you were here/Unlike you I’ll do something good with my life.” I hope that Jeff found that sort of satisfaction during his brief life. (

SMART COPS-s/t (Sorry State, 7” EP)
Italian band with people from the late, great La Piovra and Ohuzaru. As with La Piovra, it’s a fast/rough hardcore punk attack with a whole lotta snot. There’s a mid-tempo thump for the righteously rockin’ “La Soffiagta” and “Tra Le Reclute Un Pessimo Soggetto. No idea what it’s about but I suppose I could punch it into a translator. I’ll tell you this much—if Italian is one of the romance languages, the Smart Cops are trying to refute that tradition. Their tradition is punk fuckin’ rock and that’s something worth preserving. (1102 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro, NC 27510,

Just ripping old-school hardcore with a skate punk flavor on occasion and an anti-authoritarian bent—what else would you expect with songs like “Ignorant Assholes” and “Destroy”? Wouldn’t mind hearing more from these guys. (

STATIONS-s/t (Abiology, 12”)
Stations, in case you hadn’t heard of ‘em before (I did review a previous 7”) are a Philadelphia wrecking machine that let forth a formidable hardcore sound. Vocalist Kane sounds as though he’s trying to expel demons or at least a particularly awful Geno’s cheese steak from his inner being. Or perhaps he’s vegan or has the common sense not to patronize such a lousy establishment, since their food is always awful and they’re right-wing assholes, anyway. No matter. Stations have a sound that brings 9 Shocks to mind, especially in the vocal dept. In other words, it careens like a motherfucker, with an abundance of speed and hot riffs. All of ‘em fast, except for a slight respite with “Recycled Air,” which closes the first side. J. Robbins’ recording brings out a fullness without making it sound overproduced, keeping the rawness a part of the equation. Lyrical concerns tie together, for one thing, a sterile middle class existence and consumption, while “Shepards” is a critique of band reunions that are divorced from any sort of sincerity and how that inspires a defiant DIY attitude. Blazin’. (

1 comment:

Bleeding Edges said...

lucky for you SPG is recording a 7" this week, and your favorite songs "ignorant assholes" and "destroy" will be re-recorded as well as some new ones. thanks for the review.