Friday, May 22, 2009

Suburban Voice blog #75


Considering I took ANOTHER month to post a blog, I figured it was time to get something up here even though I didn't review quite as many records as I would have liked. I suppose that's due to the fact that some kick-ass stuff has been coming through here lately. My show-going hasn't been too crazy lately but the international invasion--OK, more of a friendly visit--continues to go on. In the past month, the area was graced with the presence of Danish tuneful punk unit Hjertestop who played with an ingratiating looseness and bite and Japan's Crude, who provided some ferocious hardcore with pretty incredible instrumentation. I also grabbed the reissue of their 2000 album "Attitude" which is quite raging, although I thought $12 for a US LP was kind of steep. It was also warped but, miraculously, that didn't effect how it played.

Being that both of these bands are trios, you don't have a vocalist jumping around like a madman (that was definitely the case for Crude's tour mates Unit 21, though) but there was still plenty of presence. And I'm looking forward to Swedish band Nitad's appearance at the Midway on June 9.

So let's get on to the recorded matter for this installment... yeah, they're almost all positive reviews--someone once said I was too easy in my reviews--but, as has been the case in recent times, I'd rather write about the releases I find worthwhile.


Bay Area ragers playing a streamlined, seamless style of crust, US hardcore 'n UK-82. In the latter's case, for instance, "Blood, Bullets and Bones" had me thinking of Varukers. The songs here aren't raw, production wise, but there's still an abundance of musical and verbal bellicosity. Some of these guys used to play in Deathtoll and that band had the same sort of inspiration. Pretty much one speed and that's fast. Basically, you know what you're getting--and I'm not complaining one bit because they play it with plenty of pissed-off vigor. (1442A Walnut Street #419, Berkeley, CA 94709,


BLANK STARE-s/t (Refuse, 12")

Ferocious, no-holds-barred hardcore from what could now be called a veteran Boston band. This is one angry-sounding combo (does anyone still refer to bands as "combos"), starting off with Benjamin's curmudgeonly lyrics and vocals that encompass outrage, but without the typical screaming . OK, he's not an old man or anything but there's no suffering of fools here. I'd say "Fuck Your Life" provides a pretty good clue and the lyrics are rants burst out in fragmentary fashion. For the most part, it's frenzied thrash with no breaks, just hot-as-fuck riffing and bass-lines and stellar drumming. For a change of pace, there's the Bl'ast-like sputter of "Another Blessing" and the pounding "Better Odds," the latter making its entrance with an ominous intro. They wrap things up with an uncredited cover of Last Rights' "Chunks" and it's almost as good as Dinosaur Jr.'s version. Just kidding. No weak shit, here. (PO Box 7, 02-792 Warszawa 78, POLAND,

COUGHING FIT-The Reptar EP (Homewreckords, 7" EP)
Thrashin' mania navigating the twists and turns pretty well plus a few heavier breakdowns that will make you want to punch the floor and some youthful yell-alongs. In the lyrical department, Coughing Fit express the agitation that bridges adolescence into adulthood--and beyond. Par for the course--not bad, not mindblowing, but right in the middle and still enjoyable. (37 Imperial Ave., Cohoes, NY 12047,

DEEP SLEEP-Paranoid Futures (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)/Three Things At Once (Grave Mistake, CD)

A new 7" EP and, on the CD, that's combined with Deep Sleep's previous two EP's.
The newer material moves into slightly catchier terrain although that's always been an element for these guys. Some of the drum patterns and guitar lines are quite Descendents-like and I can also hear a slight mid-late 80s DC emo touch wrapped up in the band's punk rock package. A tweaking without changing the formula and the balance of the material on the CD offer a quick/easy way to catch up with this band's punchy 'n tuneful sound. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

DISCARGA-Musica Pra Guerra (625, CD/Refuse, LP)

Multi-label releases for both the CD and LP and I'm listing where I got 'em from... the CD came out awhile back, the LP more recently. Now that we have that out of the way, one of the first things you notice on the lyric sheet is this longtime Brazilain band own up to where they got ideas for the songs although it only occasionally reveals the truth. It's true, though, that the guitar lick for "Somente Mais Um Numero" does grab from the Angelic Upstarts' "I Understand" and it's also one of the standout tracks here. Also notable is the cool guitar tone and the concluding (mechanized?) rhythm for "O Porque Da Violencia." While the drumming is a tad wooden on the hyper-paced thrashers, this is still a mostly-effective, ravenous affair. You know my thoughts about different variants on speed, at this point. The last track, "Sob Influencia" is a list of various R&B/jazz/hip-hop artists set to a reggae arrangement. Kind of a novelty, to be honest. On the CD, their songs from a split with H-Zero is put on one track, with them blasting out six songs in the space of just a couple of minutes. (,

Sort of the bastard children of local hardcore--FTW being Bostonians and EFL coming from Providence, although their vocalist Kevin is from Mass. and used to shout for Suckerpunch a long-ass time ago. Bastard children who would put a firecracker up your ass or, in the case of FTW vocalist Mike McCarthy, piss on your heads. I've seen the latter happen! Anyway, his band lay it out hard and fast and "PND" has a Slapshot inspiration, although Mike's vocals are a high yelp as opposed to Choke's growl. Their side ends with a rowdy cover of Fang's "Skinheads Smoek Dope." EFL mix up the speeds with a good chunk of double speed thrash and more reasonably paced fodder, particularly for "News For Me." Their side's a little on the sloppy side but there's still plenty of chaotic fodder by both bands. (58 Lexington Dr., Hyannis, MA 02601,


GUILTY FACES-Nightmares (Room 101, 7")

Guilty Faces' vinyl debut (after a GREAT demo a few years ago) is this 3 songer. A tandem of snotty punk and tuneful properties. Stinging guitars, a solid backbeat and Tommy Perkins' phlegm-spewin' vocals. There are some strong hooks on the choruses, particularly for "Hospital Eyes." Looking forward to their album, which Tommy claims is a lot better. This ain't bad, though. (PO Box 37271, Philadelphia, PA 19148,

HAMMER & THE NAILS-s/t (Rock and Roll Disgrace, tape)
Debut demo and this local band dish out the mid-speed street-style punk. The lyrics for a few of these songs take a hardline on the crime and punishment issue, such as with "Legislation, Not Rehabilitation" although they don't trust the cops all that much on "Dirty Cop." Brian's vocals are tough-as-nails (sorry) and the musical approach is OK, if not overly energetic and I'm not enamored with some of the conserv-Oi!-tive lyrics (sorry, again!) (24 Sadler St., Lynn, MA 01905,

KRIEGSHOG-Hardcore Hell EP (HeartFirst, 7" EP)
A reissue of this Japanese band's long-gone EP and adding an extra song, to boot. Raw-as-fuck DIStort-core to blow your eardrums to pieces. Everything is in the red here but not to the point where it's buried in a morass of noise (such as with a band like Lebenden Toten). Feedback-spewing guitar blaze, earth-moving bass and cymbal-destroying drumming along with a little echo on the rabid vocals to complete the sinister effect. To quote one of their songs, this is battlefield indeed! (Landsberger Str. 146, 80339 Munchen GERMANY,

LIGHTS OUT!-Destroy-Create (Dead Beat, CD)
It's a punk rock smorgasbord in that Lights Out! (from Germany) smush together different flavors of punk, thrash and garage. "Something Is Rotten In The Age Of Hope" has vocalist Jay Hell adding a Rottenesque twist in his enunciation and it's snotty sounding but in a gruffer vein. Jabbing instrumentation with an abundance of spirit. The guitar sound doesn't rely on powerchords but, instead, has a stripped-down ambiance and the bass/drums are sharp and snappy. There's a particularly impressive bass run on the title track. Kind of along the same lines as the Regulations and Jay's voice does remind me of Otto's a bit. Rockin' with attitude and quick-hitting drive. (PO Box 361392, Cleveland, OH 44136,

PSYCHED TO DIE-Sterile Walls (Grave Mistake/Firestarter, 7" EP)

An impressive debut EP for these Jerseyites. There's definitely a catchy quality in their songwriting and considering that one of these guys (maybe more?) used to be in The Ergs, it's not a stretch although this is a much harder-edged punk band. There's a west coast feel at times, particularly drawing from the well of The Adolescents for "Staged Reality" and "Five Year Plan" and TSOL-ish "Sterile Walls." On the more basic hardcore side of the equation, there's "OCD Life" (clever Rikk Agnew reference, by the way). Solid stuff all around. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

TIME TO ESCAPE-Cost Of Living EP (Grave Mistake)
Despite sharing a name with a Clash EP, this is pretty much boilerplate US-style thrash. There's no revelation, no unique personality emerging, just no-BS 'core with speed and burn. The attitude? Succinctly expressed on "World Of Shit," which is what they think of the state of society. Records/DIRECT CONTROL/GOV'T WARNING, etc. What's not to like? (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

URBAN UNREST-On A String (self-released, 7" EP)
Urban Unrest's second EP possesses the same boil-over qualities as the first one. Six rippers dispensing with any pretense of artiness. Nope, these are rough-hewn songs although the production isn't that rough. These guys could very easily be on either No Way Records or Grave Mistake but the band put it out on their own label in coordination with United Shoebrothers (Tahtikalliontie 12, 00240 Espoo FINLAND,

VARIOUS-Does It Hurt? (Thought Crime, LP)

An international comp that has no weak shit... Let's break it down, band by band. Sotatila are back with their old school Finnish hardcore, especially in the vocal department, albeit with modern production qualities. Can't get enough of these guys. Dumbstruck's contribution consists of unreleased songs from 2002, with the first one "Weakness" being an epic blazer. Most of these guys were in Ripcord and it's the same kind of balls-out thrash. The paisans called Charlie, from Italy, thrash like crazy themselves. Definitely a Scandinavian touch but there's little more of a crazy, unhinged quality, as well. No Slogan are probably the most melodic of the lot here but these two songs are more aggressive than on their recent album and "Columbine" is a poignant reminder of what happens when kids get pushed too far, "just like Columbine." There's no excusing such actions but it also shows how there can be an extreme response to bullying. Ruidosa Inmundicia push the speed envelope as far as they can without crossing over into blastarama and do so with a combo of savagery and tightness and Caro has a scalding vocal style. These songs are from '05. Yellow Eyes are the other American band besides No Slogan and their sound is plenty ravenous with one fast one and two of 'em more moderately paced. A combination of hardcore sounds, from early COC to Discharge to Poison Idea all melded together for direct impact. There are some sick bass runs for the hammering "Beyond Hope." Finally, German band Narsaak have two songs to complement their hot 7" from awhile back. A slightly lower-tuned, heavier sound but still sprightly. A rippin' collection. (Muskauer Str. 19, 10997 Berlin, GERMANY,