SAWDUST AND SHOPPING CARTS
I've been trying to come up with a way to describe the Evacuate warehouse space in scenic Roxbury, thinking about whether a term like "demimonde" or "darkside" would accurately state things. In any case, it's a spacious, dusty room with a high ceiling and wretched acoustics--at least that was the case for the Hatred Surge, Mammoth Grinder, Total Abuse and Mind Eraser show there on 7/15. Actually, the dust was sawdust and, as for the shopping cart, one of 'em made it into the pit at one point during the show.
My favorite band of the night was Total Abuse, from Austin (all three of the out-of-towners are from there). Rusty didn't have his pedals or electronics (said he's been too lazy to replace the batteries and such) but no trickery was necessary for their tandem of thrashy rage and damaged 'core. Mammoth Grinder mix up the metal and some lower-tuned Swede core into a pummeling combination and some hot guitar leads on their last song. Hatred Surge have the hammering metallisms along with crazed grind. Those may not be the most incisive, elaborate descriptions for these bands but they'll have to do.
I made it to two other shows over the past month, both of 'em pretty memorable. Shitty Limits, from the UK and Logic Problem, from North Carolina, had a joint tour and hit PA's Lounge in Somerville on 7/28. have animated vocalists, as you can see in the photos. The Limits are refreshingly original, while drawing from a diverse array of influences including post-punk (a Fall bent on some songs), 60s garage and thrashed-out hardcore punk.
Logic Problem weren't quite up to that level. A thorny, aggressive sound. At one point, I heard a guitar line that sounded very familiar and it turned out they were doing a warp speed cover of Die Kreuzen's "In School." Cool... there's a band from the 'old days' who aren't covered all that much. Libyans played last and debuted some new songs, sputtering at the start but picking up momentum as the set progressed.
Finally, Perdition returned to town on 8/5 at a basement space in a pretty nice Brookline neighborhood. I'm amazed it was able to get almost all the way through (one local band, Isolation, didn't get to play). It was a good-sized room, too, and the acoustics were surprisingly good.
Perdition are from NYC and the last time they were here, they only got to play one song because some traveler fucks who had been thrown out of the show tossed a couple of bricks through the window of the Democracy Center. Completely wailing/raging distorted hardcore punk. Lotus Fucker, from DC, probably played around 10 minutes but it got the job done... an out-of-control vocalist, performing barefoot (as you can see) and the band's sound is a wild, crazed thrash onslaught puncutuated by his screech-your-lungs-out emanations. Finally, The Epidemic marked their return with an energetic array of UK-82 inspired punk.
And now to the music review segment of our program:
BEAR PROOF SUIT-A Suit To Alter Fate 2005-2008 (Urban Pirate)
A collection of this band's 2008 B.Y.O.B.O.C. LP, two earlier 7"s and a few unreleased songs. A potent hardcore punk band who evade any sort of easy compartmentalization. Jarring guitar lines and riffs--some real scorching stuff--wrapped around a tight bass/drums tandem and accompanied by primary vocalist Ryan Poortenga's throaty growl. In fact, the vocals from Jon Hanson are almost as gruff. There's a good amount of speedy savagery unleashed on most of these songs. Not thrash, so much, but it's a charge of full-bore adrenalin (how much hyperbole can I put in one sentence? Never mind.) "Fourth World" adds a little Bl'ast stop 'n start. And the choice of cover versions shows impeccable taste--the Wipers' "Up Front" (from one of the 7"s), Poison Idea's "Pure Hate" (previously unreleased) and Husker Du's "Real World," one of that band's best songs and handled very well here. They also sneak in a few tips of the hat, such as the opening guitar line for the heavy-sounding "Bear Proof Suit" that borrows, albeit briefly, from Black Sabbath's "Embryo" and "Sans Equity" does the same thing with Blue Oyster Cult's "Before The Kiss (A Redcap)." In an earlier review, I said they were on the right track but not "mind blowing yet." After hearing the songs from the LP and re-evaluating the EPs, I've changed my view on that a bit. Quite a bit, in fact. (1509 Bell Ave., Sheboygan, WI 53083, www.myspace.com/urbanpiraterecords)
CAUSTIC DEFIANCE/NEGATIVE ELEMENT-Split (Akashic, CD)
Straight outta the suburbs of Chicago came these two bad-ass hardcore punk bands ca. 1983. OK, they weren't exactly bad-asses but, instead, typified the fast, generic sound of the day. There are distinctions, though. Let's begin with Negative Element, since they were the first band and perhaps have a bit more notoriety since they got a 7" EP, Yes We Have No Bananas, released back in the day. I've always had a soft spot for this band's goofy approach... songs about Elmer Fudd and the Pillsbury dough boy, an anti-Pac Man song (that was the video craze at the time), as well as the de-rigeur plaints about the cops and religion. The mixes here are different than on the 7", although definitely not slick. There are also some very rough-sounding, unreleaed demos that probably could have stayed that way. So after Negative Element split, due to the Stepe brothers (Chopper and Barry) moving away, Caustic Defiance was born and the sound was much more aggressive. A nastier guitar tone leading to a buzzsaw ambiance. They played the same kind of thrash plenty of other bands did at the time but with enough youthful vigor to make it enjoyable. Just don't expect any sort of revelation. I should mention it's all previously unreleased. Nicely packaged with a booklet that has lyrics and reminiscences. (Mukasoi 1058, Wakayama 648-0025, JAPAN, http://www.myspace.com/akashicrecs)
INSUBORDINATES-1968/Rendezvous (Feral Kid/Crotch Rot, 7")
Two short songs with the a-side a slice of catchy 80s west coast punk and the b-side a garage/surfy instrumental, albeit without the reverb or twang. Definitely a subject for further research, to quote the insufferable rock crtitic Bob Christgau i.e. I'd like to hear more. "1968," in particular, is a real keeper. (379 Ontario St., Buffalo, NY 14207, www.myspace.com/feralkidrecords)
LIFE PARTNERS-AIDS of Spades/Teenager In Trouble (Ride The Snake, 7")
You might think a band with amplified trumpet, occasional organ, screamy and atonal vocals along with guitar and drums would sound like a trainwreck. That's true, but it's an intriguing (and highly abrasive) trainwreck. Yet the songs do follow verse/chorus structure--sort of, anyway. No Wave in the '00s? Something like that, at least on this pair of songs. I'm still not sure if I'd want to hear this more than a few more times but the songs are running through my brain at the moment. (www.ridethesnakerecords.com)
MAKABERT FYND-s/t (Flat Black, 7" EP)
A pack of Swedish rippers laying out the thrash brutality. Damn, how many cliches can I jam into one sentence? But you should still pay attention. Fast and aggressive songs at a mostly quick pace although "Var Fam Ar Er Respekt" has more of a measured velocity, while still stomping your senses. Not specifically following either the d-beat nor downtuned metallic style usually associated with this country's hardcore bands. All that matters is the band's power-filled attack. New album has just been released and it's definitely something I'm looking forward to hearing. (www.myspace.com/flatblackrecords)
NIGHT OWLS-s/t (Hex, CD)
Pretty tuneful rock 'n roll with a DC-ish touch--I thought a bit of the first Gray Matter album, although "Fake Blood" definitely has a Nirvana vibe to it and that inflects a couple of other songs as well. And there's a thrashier side for "Results Inconclusive." These guys show it's possible to play nervy rock music without any sort of cheesiness. There's an abundance of juicy/sharp riffage and it whets the appetite for more. The six studio songs are appended with a not-so-shabby live set. (201 Maple Ln, N. Syracuse, NY 13212, hanginghex.blogspot.com)
NUCLEAR FAMILY-s/t (Loud Punk, 7" EP)
Three engaging songs favoring a melodic and edgy sound. Jen's vocals swoop over, under and sideways around the arrangements--maybe a tad grating in spots but certainly distinct. "Doublespeak" is the best of the three, a straight-ahead song powered by Paul Henry's always-impressive sticksmanship and buzz-sting guitar. (PO Box 3067, Albany, NY 12206, firstname.lastname@example.org)
PSYCHED TO DIE-Year One (Dirtnap, CD)
A compilation CD (no duh) of this band's new EP, Scatter Brained, out on Dirtnap plus their earlier Sterile Walls EP and demo. Bright 'n punchy melodic hardcore created by a band that includes former Ergs, only with a harder edge than that band. An air of futility and anger permeates the lyrics--confusion about life's direction, jobs that grind people down and ultimately deciding that, no matter what, we may still be fucked. Despite the lyrical cynicism, they don't sound defeated and the music exudes a fighting spirit (if that's possible). Don't miss the hidden bonus track, a cover of Freestone's "Bummer Bitch," which wraps things up on a lighter note. (2615 SE Clinton St., Portland, OR 97202, www.dirtnaprecs.com)
RAW NERVES-Murderers Among Us (Poisoned Candy, 7" EP)
New-ish Portland, OR band with people from Squalora, Forced March and a few other combos. They had a CD demo earlier this year that I neglected to review (but have played on the radio show so maybe you heard 'em already) and four of the seven songs have been re-recorded for this EP. Raw hardcore featuring Matt Svendsen's rabid howlings and a feisty tumult that incorporates crusty thrash (or is it thrashy crust--no matter) and more ominous passages. Opening song "Hello To Oblivion" actually opts for the latter, with that kind of intro before settling into a bruising mid-speed assault. Not-so-cheery politically oriented lyrics fit the music's mood very well. To quote a pretty well-know band from their city, feel the darkness. (www.poisonedcandy.com)
RESIST CONTROL-s/t (Peterwalkee, CD demo)
Pummeling fodder toggling pretty seamlessly back and forth between DRI-ish double-speed thrash and circle-pit-inducing and hammering moments. The first thing you hear is an earth-moving bass-line and that really drives things throughout, complemented by raging guitar, drums and vocals. The playing is tight and executed in effective fashion. Twelve songs in twelve minutes. (408 Richmond Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222, www.peterwalkeerecords.com)
SPREAD 'EM-Pizza Crisis EP (Peterwalkee, 7" EP)
Hardcore/punk/rocknfuckinroll for a band that probably doesn't take itself all that seriously, as some of these ditties are titled "Too Many Zits" and "Jamie Lee Curtis Fingerbang." That song raises the question as to whether Jamie Lee is an "X or Y," if you catch their drift. Meanwhile, "Fuck Megatron" flashes some metallic trills 'n thrills. Fun and raucous. (408 Richmond Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222, www.peterwalkeerecords.com)