Friday, March 13, 2009

Suburban Voice blog #73

WIPERS (1987)
photo: JJ Gonson

TAKING TOO LONG...

... to get a blog out and, even though I haven't quite finished all the reviews I wanted to, it was time to get something out there. One of these days, I really will get this done on a timelier basis. Hey, at least it happens more quickly than the print zine, at least since the early days. By the way, the title of this column comes from a song off the Wipers amazing album "Youth of America" and, as much as I like most of the recordings reviewed here, that one is timeless and you really need to hear it. So let me give a plug for one of the best deals out there. There's a 3 CD box of their first three albums with oodles of bonus tracks. It was released in 2001 and you can get the whole shebang for $17 plus shipping. A bah-gain, as we say in Mass. Go to www.zenorecords.com for the details. For you kind folks who sent me stuff to review, please be patient. And I can't get to everything sent to me but there's still a chance I'll play it on the radio show, at least.

VINYL RE-PRESSINGS

A couple of previously-released LPs are out again on different labels. Well, the case of LETS GROW's "Disease Of Modern Times," it's the first time on a US label. Rampaging hardcore punk from this Serbian band, representing a sharpening of their approach. They have the ability to shift easily from the double-speed blast into a more measured tempo. An energetic hardcore punk outburst with some rockin' touches. "Man Is The Measure" scorches in a 9 Shocks way, one of the best songs I've heard from them. (Know Records, PO Box 90579, Long Beach, CA 90809, www.knowrecords.com).

WITCH HUNT's "Blood-Red States" came out in '07, originally on Profane Existence. After a less-than harmonious parting of the ways with that label, they've reissued the album on their own label. It was a step forward for the band, with Rob moving from drums to guitar and the addition of a new drummer. Rob also had an increased amount of vocal duties. Raging, impassioned music with a combination of speed and melody. Lyrically, the title track draws together the war in Iraq and the indifference towards the victims of Hurricane Katrina as part of the Bush mis-administration's pure evilness. Witch Hunt really came into their own here. Tucked into a sleeve that displays a dead man sprawled across the blood red states--an appropriate visual accompaniment.

As long as I'm writing about Witch Hunt, they also have a new 7", a split with TO WHAT END?, with both recordings dating to 2006. The Witch Hunt material was done at the same time as "Blood-Red States" and the driving, melodic hardcore of "Punk By Numbers" is one of their better songs. Cool cover of Rudimentary Peni's "Cosmetic Plague," as well. To What End? have the dual male/female vocal tradeoff and a dramatic, semi-metallic Swede-crust sound that hits pretty hard with the opening blast of "Low." Not always my favorite kind of hardcore from that country--the down-tuned, more "epic" sound--but the brevity of the songs and speed make 'em palatable. (Witch Hunt, PO Box 30923, Philadelphia, PA 19104, www.myspace.com/witchhunt; for the split: Final Attempt, PO Box 972, Bellmawr, NJ 08099, www.myspace.com/finalattemptrecords)

ABRADE-Inch 7 (SouthKore, 7" EP)
Thrash/grind/blast, repeat and vocal tradeoffs that sound like finger-in-the-light-socket. Or maybe elctrodes-on-the-testicles, matched by lower level grunts. Those vocals are accompanied by guitar and drums (no bass). The lyric sheet is mandatory and has an esoteric approach to issues of indiviuality and science, to name two--actually, the words are so obtuse I'm not sure what they're ranting about half the time. It's a buzzing, raw hardcore swarm with hints of death metal that, unfortunately, offers little in the way of memorable songs, sacrificing impact for speed. (2814 S. Spaulding Ave., Chicago, IL 60623, www.southkorerecords.com)

AVO-Domestic Violence Kept The Neighbourhood Quiet (Even Worse/Kangaroo, 12")
Looking at the back cover of AVO's 12", four unsmiling, older visages stare back--well, only two of 'em make eye contact and it only takes a second to realize that the music is equally unsmiling... or pissed-off. These Aussies haven't been heard from in a bit and this is their first release in the larger format. It showed up incredibly warped but, miraculously, plays perfectly. Ranting vocals and fast, bruising thrash done with crackerjack efficiency. "Gearheads Suck" does go for more of a medium trot. The lyrics fall into the DGAF (Don't Give A Fuck) category, as in they don't like anyone. And, yeah, they use a bit of dubious language at times and cover Vile's "5 to 10" and it'll get a rise out of some folks, so be forewarned. The memory of Poison Idea's Pig Champion is honored with an appropriation of the intro to "Made To Be Broken" for "Crawl Like A Wreck" and what's funny is the preceding song is called "Broken"--which serves as a resignation note from the punk scene. Nothing new under the hardcore sun here, just bile and what's wrong with that? (www.geocities.com/evenworserecords or www.geocities.com/tysonkangaroo)

BLACK MARK-Wrecked (Hardware, 7" EP)
The old-school hardcore look, with a block letter logo (Helvetica font?) and a xeroxed image although it's a nice quality cover. Inside, the mood/feel of the music matches the packaging. Direct, to-the-point and not a lot of esoteric discussion or music that moves beyond its no bullshit hardcore punk framework. Being that they're from Kansas City, maybe the frustration comes from how lousy the Chiefs and Royals have been in recent years. Maybe not--but something's got a bug up their asses and it's an effective musical/verbal expression. (PO Box 1646, 49006 Osnabruck, GERMANY, www.hardware-records.com)

CONTROL DE ESTADO-s/t (IFB, 7" EP)
Rapid-fire hardcore imbued with speed and rawness and the second EP by Floridians Control De Estado (State Control). Actually, the production here is cleaned up a bit but it doesn't smooth out any of this band's ferocity. Alonso has a murderous, barking cadence, with words in both English and Spanish and taking on prejudice, colonialism and globalization. Something to think about while the bass-led breakdown of "Myth Grand Narrative" makes you want to wreck people--in a fun way, of course--and there's some serious guitar flay on that song, as well. Cool packaging, with the recycled paper sleeve folding out into a poster. Potent rage. (4447 St. Clair Ave., Ft. Myers, FL 33902, www.ifbrecords.com)

DESCARADOS-s/t (Discos Emma Navajas, 12")
A band that includes Carlos and Gordo from Sin Orden and offering something different from that band's rabid hardcore approach. The music is inspired by the more melodic side of the DC hardcore spectrum, especially "Subject To Change"-era Faith, along with later 80s progenitors like One Last Wish, Ignition, et al. There's a warm passion to the sonic content and, although my monolingual self doesn't understand Spanish (well, about 98% of it), you can hear a similar passion in Carlos' vocals, moving away from the scream 'n screech into something nuanced yet still forceful. It's a one-sided 12", with an etching on the other side and tucked inside a heavy stock, hand-screened cover. n attractive package all around. (PO Box 207188, New Haven, CT 06520, emmnavajas@gmial.com)

THE ESTRANGED-Singles (HG Fact, CD)
Some of the Estranged's singles have been tough to come by so the release of this CD anthology is a godsend--well, I don't really believe in god but you know what I'm getting at. Forceful and melodic and a tip of the cap to early Cure, New Order and Siouxsie (really!), at least in terms of the bass and guitar sound and, as I've written before, there are always the Wipers comparisons, as well--that seems to be the popular band to namecheck these days. That can be heard in the semi-somber nature of the music and the guitar tone, to an extent, but it's only one element. This is still punk rock but with intriguing twists and songs that stick in your head. Not that "Static Thoughts" was stingy with the energy but there's a tad more edginess on this collection. www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact)

FASHION-s/t (Yibbidda Yibbidda, 7" EP)
Follow me here--Fashion are Australian blokes living in England and sounding like they're from Cleveland. What I mean by Cleveland is it's the raw 'n rough hardcore punk sound created by the likes of the Inmates and 9 Shocks Terror. Throw in a dollop of early Poison Idea, too. You're getting something loud and fast and about to come unhinged but still managing to hold together. A flurry of speed, razor-sharp guitar and ranting vocals from the man who calls himself Fingers. Fashion provide a reminder that hardcore, at its best, was never meant to be too soothing or polished-sounding. (www.myspace.com/fashionablestunners)

LIBYANS-Crash Course/Erased (Headcount/Shock To The System, 7")
Two new songs, with "Crash Course" showing the poppier side of the band--new guitarist Kevin Gebo adds melodic flourishes and some harmony vocals on the catchy chorus. "Erased" is more of a straight-forward punk song although, once again, there are some cool guitar licks towards the end. Good, if not on the level of their kick-ass 12" that came out last year. (www.myspace.com/shocktothesystemrecords)

NARSAAK-Prasina (Thought Crime, 7" EP)
Following a standard Swedish hardcore blueprint, even though Narsaak come from Germany. I did a little cheating and found out they were a 90s era band who just got back together in the past few years. Anyway, the guitars are loud and the vocals are hoarse, and they're accompanied by a galloping (though not incredibly fast) tempo. There's not a lot to separate it from the pack, nothing to put it over the top, but Narsaak are good at this style. (www.thoughtcrimerecords.de)

NO SLOGAN

NO SLOGAN-Killed By Gentrification (Desobediencia, 7" EP)
Energetic and tuneful songs and an impassioned vocal delivery. Echoes of Articles of Faith can be heard here, particularly for "Let's Kill," while "KGB" has a little bit Effigies and early Naked Raygun. In other words, No Slogan have a Chicago punk inspiration coursing through their veins but manage to avoid sounding derivative. Following me here? I just got their new LP that sounds good on first listen. It's on Residue Records and you can expect a review in the not-too-distant future. (desobediencia2000@yahoo.com)

PAINTBOX-Raw Ore (HG Fact, 7" EP)/Relicts [Single Collection, HG Fact, CD)
I can guaran-goddamn-tee you're not going to hear a 7" like the rest of the year. I doubt many people have heard a song quite like "Iron Ore." It's one of those compositions where you go "what the FUCK??" the first few times. In fact, it might be every time. In the course of six minutes, there's an acapella intro leading into a catchy hard rock song punctuated by the late, GREAT Chelsea's melodic trill. Add the female backing vocals harmonizing (?) with Mune's gravel growl and then the thrashed-out conclusion with a wailing sax solo. Somehow, it all works and the main tune gets its way into your brain. On the flip, there's a tribute of sorts to Poison Idea with "Thorn In My Side" (Plastic Pump), a medley of a couple of their songs... that starts off with a jazzy vamp and some whistling before getting down to the pillage. Then there's the piss-take cover of Slade's "Come On Feel The Noize" which has another quite memorable and unique vocal performance and sputtering guitar solo before basically falling apart. As I said, "what the FUCK??" The singles collection also shows this band's eclecticism and combination of mesmerizing brutality and quirkiness--the former being the defining (and deafening) characteristic. These guys write epic compositions. Chelsea was one hell of a string-mangler and his lead work is jaw-dropping. Trumpets? Harmonicas? Bongos? They're here but the icing on the cake is that guitar playing... he even throws in some Spanish guitar on "The Door." The chorus for "Cry Of The Sheep" is bouncing through my consciousness while writing that. They append the studio stuff with some bootleggy quality live material. People have spoken in hushed tones about Paintbox's live brilliance but you don't really get a full feel for that here. Just a bit of a letdown on an otherwise exemplary collection. (www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact)

PLATES-The Garth Butcher EP (Feral Kid, 7" EP)
A few different things going on here... the A-side, with the quizzical title "Sentimental Jenny Jones Fodder Has Been Around For Fucking Ever," is moody drone with a numbing presence and punctuated by a jolt of fuzzy guitar in the chorus. The vocals, though, sound like a less-gruff version of Andy from Kill Your Idols, and that's kind of an odd fit for that song. On the flip, the more uptempo punk sound has more compatibility but the voice still kind of wrecks things. Too bad, because this is really solid from a musical standpoint, especially the first track. (379 Ontario St., Buffalo, NY 14207, www.myspace.com/feralkidrecords)

RED THREAD

RED THREAD-s/t (Shock To The System, 7" EP)
It took 'em awhile--their demo came out in 2006--but Red Thread finally make their vinyl debut. Ferocious sounds from these four ladies, especially in Jen Millis's howlings, although sometimes she'll also sing over the fray. Bashing, mostly mid-tempo hardcore punk and with a lot more aggressiveness than on that demo, although they weren't exactly soft rockers there, either. The lyrics exude a determination to battle through obstacles, through discouragement from others and escaping that sense of doubt for something empowering. It's a dual conversation with herself and those who have made her life miserable. And it definitely commands your attention in all respects. Unfortunately, they've just split up. (www.myspace.com/shocktothesystemrecords)

SIN ORDEN/CONDENADA-Split (Amor Sin Fronteras, 7" EP)
VARIOUS-Amargado De La Vida (Amargado De La Vida, 7" EP)
First on the turntable is a split from two Chicago punk bands. Sin Orden's latest material maintains the ripping thrash that they've always plied. With "Impeach Bush," it's one final blast at the ex-prez, done with malicious precision. Slashing instrumentation and complemented by Carlos's rabid ranting. Condenada are still something of an uneven proposition. "Promise Of Destruction," riding a melodic crest, is one of their better songs but the paddle-thrash tendencies in the remaining pair of songs diminish the power a bit. Kudos for the cardboard, screened cover. Sin Orden also make a strong appearance on "Amargado De La Vida," an international, Spanish language comp. Sin Dios have been around forever and still connect with a speedy attack. Fronterrorizmo offer a hearty cover of Massacre 68's "Misteria," which reminds me of the Circle Jerks' "I Just Want Some Skank," for some reason. Seres Humanos have a scrappy punk song for "Miedo Habeiento" but flounder for the disjointd "Factoria De Sufrimiento." Has its moments. (ASF: PO Box 803251, Chicago, IL 60680, sin_orden@yahoo.com/ADLV: x0737x@sbcglobal.net)

TYRANNA (Boppa Do Down, 7" EP)
Unearthing a bit of Toronto punk history--five songs recorded in '78 and '79 at two sessions and this one girl/four guy unit operated on the tuneful side of the punk rock street. The killer here is the kiss-off "Back Off Baby," a three chord delight. And whoever "Johnny" was, their vocalist Rabies wasn't fond of him either ("Johnny? You fuckin' jerk..."). In other words, as sweet as she sometimes sounds, the attitude sure as hell isn't that way. Crudely recorded and definitely adding something--I think the songs might have lost something with better production. (www.myspace.com/boppadodownrecords)

VICTIMS-Killer (Deathwish, CD)
This has been out for awhile but Deathwish have put out a US pressing for eager, soon-to-be-damaged American ears. Pared to a power trio for this recording, with vocalist Johan Eriksson handling the bass duties as well, it's an unstoppable onslaught of Swedish hardcore mayhem. Johann's hellacious scream is the first thing you hear. The second is a tidal wave of sonic viciousness. Victims have the right mix of driving, Swede-core crust and fired-up rock 'n roll. A nod to Lemmy and company for "Fade Away," for instance. "Holy Shit!," meanwhile, is a catchy punk blast. Four albums in and Victims definitely know what they're doing by now. Brutal. (www.deathwishinc.com)

VIOLENT ARREST-Criminal Record (Grave Mistake/No Way, dbl. 7" EP)
I've said it before (probably) but Violent Arrest are one of the best hardcore bands in the UK Senior Division. Hell, they give most bands a run for their money. A brutalizing force with a classic US sound--a little Boston (not the band, the hardcore scene) here, a little Poison Idea there ("Barren") and even some rousing street punk ("Suicide Squad"). It's all in the delivery--loud production that leaps out of the speakers, with everything pushed to the front. Steve sounds like an older Springa with an English accent and the instrumentation, particularly Baz's guitar, is spot-on. Worth the energy to get up and keep switching over the records. (www.gravemistakerecords.com or www.nowayrecords.com)

WORMEATERS-Cattle Cannot Choose (American Waste, 7" EP)
I've neglected my job with this band, with their demo and first 7" falling through the (review) cracks. So it's time to catch up and this NJ band's second EP is an old-school hardcore gem. The growly vocals are kind of ridiculous--imagine John Brannon with a lower voice (!)--but they've got a way with a powerchord. "Dutch Roulette" has some rather unsettling lyrical matter, being about, um, forced gay sex while incarcerated and being concerned about ending up with some sort of malady. Hopefully not based on a true incident. "Rule Without Consent" takes on the decaying economic situation. Their theme song "Wormeaters" brings a chuckle, a twist on the self-pitying childhood song "nobody loves you, everybody hates you, might as well go eat worms." This is the kind of music you need to hear when you're in a bad mood--a way to release those angry thoughts and preferential to consuming those worms. (332 Felton Ave., Fl. 1, Highland Park, NJ 08904, www.myspace.com/americanwasterecords)

1 comment:

Broken Zine Blog said...

Really like your blog. Saw your column in MRR and find it to be one of the highlights... along with Mykel Board and George Tabb. Thanks for putting up band reviews with their contact info in there.