Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Suburban Voice blog #80

I wanted to try to get another blog published by the end of the month and here it is. Realize that as I type this, my arm is in a sling and I'm on painkillers, due to shoulder surgery last week. That means you have to forgive any sort of incoherence, even though most of this was written over the course of the month!

Show-wise, kind of slow for yours truly. I made it to the Midway a couple of times, the first to see Sista Sekunden from Sweden and the second show featured Bring Down The Hammer, Chad from Brother Inferior's latest band. Photos and reviews of the shows can be seen at my Flickr page.

DAS REVIEWS:

LOGIC PROBLEM

ACEPHALIX-s/t (Prank, 7" EP)
A crushing amalgam of metal and crust with a riveting, thick sound and gut-punched vocalizing. In fact, the latter could be likened to Cronos of Venom being gut-punched. The opening song, "Nothing," is dirty, fast and nasty with some tasty wah-wah guitar punctuation and that continues with the careen of "Embodied In Skin." "Patricide" is in more of a pounding vein and things wrap up another speedy blast, "Confession." Thunderous. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141, www.prankrecords.com)

ANS-Pressure Cracks (Tankcrimes, LP)

With "Pressure Cracks," ANS move even closer to the metallic realm. At the outset, there's a clip asking if they're going "a little slow heavy metal" and the reply is "a little bit zany, a little bit wastey." That could be name-checking a certain zany Waste-oid band from Richmond but this definitely isn't a carbon copy of 1987. They embrace a sprightly heaviness, if that's not a contradiction, while maintaining the Bl'ast-Flag inspirations, especially the first part of the hybrid. That applies to the words, taking a search inside and finding painful questions to deal with and express but also leaving time to "party with bros," as stated on ("If You Don't Get It Now) You Never Will." That's the only song that mentions their passion for skating, incidentally. Most of these songs here have a fired-up, rocking fervor reinforced with scorching guitar riffs and leads and wailing drumming. The last pair of songs take chances but aren't quite as successful. "Instru-Monu-Mental" uses the same modus operandi as "Walk Down My Way" from the last album, with spoken word over an instrumental vamp. It's kind of like combining the spoken word and instrumnetal sides of Black Flag's "The Process Of Weeding Out." "Bleeding Out" goes through an excruciating passage of purgatorial emanations (huh?) before finding a groove. Still, those songs aren't complete disasters, just a bit tough to get through. That's definitely not the case the rest of the time. (PO Box 3495, Oakland, CA 94609, www.tankcrimes.com)

ANTIBODIES-... Are Here (Patac, 7" EP)
The head honcho at Patac told me these are older guys who felt the urge to get together and start a punk rock band to work through the midlife crisis--well, I surmised the latter. And that they've done--started a punk rock band, that is. A drunken, loutish, obnoxious one. That description definitely applies to the vocalist. Meanwhile, his musical compatriots batter the snot out of their equally loutish and obnoxious compositions. Maybe they're trying a bit too hard but it takes something--though I'm not sure what that something is--to come up with a song as inspiringly stoopid as "Penis Intravenus." You wonder if their kids would tell THEM to turn down the racket. I say turn it up even louder. (www.patacrecords.com)

BUNNY SKULLS-18 Song EP (Punks Before Profits, 7" EP)

Formerly a duo, now a trio and I neglected to review their first 7". Distored, raw hardcore in short, sharp installments. I mean, you're not going to find any three minute epics here. It's not all blinding thrash either. "Daily War" actually has something of a melody. Pretty tongue-in-cheek and particularly contemptuous of crusties, suicide punx, youth crew-ers and people who wear Hooters shirts. What's funny is this sounds like it was recorded on a boombox or four-track but it was actually recorded by Steve Albini at his studio. And he does a great job of making it sound like a boombox recording. I just went back and listened to their first, one-sided EP and that was recorded on a four-track and is sonically similar. Maybe you can still score one. Go to www.myspace.com/bunnyskullsband. (PO Box 1148, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, www.punksbeforeprofits.org)

EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING-s/t (Goner, CD)
First US pressing for ECSR's 2006 debut and if you haven't heard these Aussies yet, what the heck are you waiting for. This is one of the cooler bands to come along in the past five or so years. The individual who introduced me to these guys (and it spurred me to lay out a pretty good amount of money for the import pressing of this album) said they sounded "old" as in having something of a vintage sound. They certainly use the Australian band X as a starting point, along with early Wire but this isn't a museum excursion. ECSR favor a gnashing, gnarled sound with jabbing guitars reinforced by in-the-pocket bass and drums. Vocalist Brendan Suppression has a knack for sounding both self-assured and nervous. Repitition is a not-so-secret weapon--a song like "Having A Hard Time" gradually builds to a manic crescendo. "Insufficient Funds" replaces the guitar with organ and has the same kind of mind-numbing effect and if the sharp, catchy "It's All Square" doesn't bring on some sort of blissful sensation then it might be good idea to get thyself a stethoscope and check ye pulse. That applies to this album taken as a whole and the follow-up, "Primary Colors," is nearly as great. (2152 Young Ave., Memphis, TN 38104, www.goner-records.com)

LEWD ACTS-Black Eye Blues (Deathwish, CD)

Hardcore of an eruptive and powerful nature. Bursts of blazing speed, pummeling crunch and a dramatic metallic coating. The latter element brings early Voivod to mind, believe it or not, at least in the jarring guitar lines. Things get plodding at times, particularly the laborious closer, "Nowhere To Go" and that makes "Black Eye Blues" frustrating at times but when they unleash the full-bore fusillade of sonic terror (a pretentious way of saying when they play it faster), watch the fuck out. (www.deathwishinc.com)

LIPKICK-s/t (Kink, 7" EP)

Bashing, thrashy punk by four German women. The musicianship is on the primitive side (the drumming isn't too sharp, to be honest) and sounds as though it's going to fall apart at times. Their anger and aggression gets them through to a point but there's definitely room for improvement. (www.myspace.com/kinkrecords)

LOGIC PROBLEM-s/t (Abuse, 12")

A pile-driving attack of hardcore punk, the best material yet from this NC band. Well, the discography isn't that extensive yet, just a previous 7" and demo but this is high quality rage. Speedy songs that do follow a slightly similar rhythmic pattern as early COC or Double Negative (yeah, inevitable touchpoints from my lazy keyboard) but this is more blown-out sounding, as the guitar blasts out a sound akin to a nettled hornets nest. Cameron's vocals, with a tinge of distortion, cut through the raw mayhem with raspy authority. And they turn Gang Of Four's "5.45" into the type of bloody violence that appears on the "18 inch screen" in the lyrics, falling apart into a sputtering mess and battered beyond recognition. I imagine there's no room in there for the melodica used on the original. Nothing held back here. (www.myspace.com/abuserecords).

NIGHT BIRDS-s/t (demo)

Psyched To Die drummer Brian Gorsegner is the vocalist for this NJ band. The four songs each have a distinct approach--an echo of the Descendents for "Send Me Home," a little bit of Buzzcocks crossed Agent Orange for "Paranoid Times," some garage on "Can't Get Clean." This is sharp, jumpy punk fusing melody with the instrumental jab. Not a bad debut. (
6 Clydesdale Ct. Tinton Falls NJ 07701, www.myspace.com/nghtbrds)

PINHEAD GUNPOWDER-Kick Over The Tracks (Recess, CD)

There's someone named Billie in this band and I think he might be the singer for some huge band but that's not really relevant here. Well, it's relevant in the fact that this kind of tuneful punk wears a lot better. Enough sly joking--Pinhead Gunpowder was another musical vehicle for Aaron Cometbus, who played drums and penned the lyrics. Three new songs continuing in the same snappy and catchy vein and the balance of the material is a "greatest hits" compendium from a band that didn't have any hits so to speak. If there was ever a classic Lookout Records sound, these guys fit the bill. And Aaron's lyrics are sharply observational and self-referential. Perhaps a bit sugary at times, especially the acoustic "On The Ave.," one of the new songs--and I was a lot more into this kind of sound in the early 90s before catching the hardcore bug again--but some of the songs remain engaging. I'm just not sure that it's enough to come off the shelf all that often. (www.recessrecords.com)

PISSED JEANS-King of Jeans (Sub Pop, CD)

With Pissed Jeans, up to now, it's been more about the live show than the recordings. Each of their previous albums had their moments of sonic crush but this is their strongest effort to date or perhaps most consistent. For want of a better term, "King Of Jeans" has a bit more accessibility. Accessible in the sense that the songs seem to have a sharper focus--NOT accessible in the sense that they're writing catchy pop ditties.
Not to put too fine a point or box things in but they conjure up Scratch Acid (Matt Korvette has more than a little David Yow in him), Laughing Hyenas and the Melvins mix-mastered together in different permutations. And speaking of the latter, look no further than "Spent," crushing away for over 7 minutes. This song provides a musical approximation of dragging your ass out of bed, sleeping for 8 hours but still waking up tired. Talking about how drinking water didn't satisfy. I imagine, though, that a caffeine jolt could have been an inspirational spark for the furious blast of "False Jesii Part 2" "She Is Science Fiction" and "Human Upskirt"--the latter is particularly explosive. Raucous and dangerous-sounding. (2013 4th Ave., 3rd Floor, Seattle, WA 98121, www.subpop.com)

THE POGO-Police War EP (Loud Punk, 7" EP)

The ranting vocals here might be coming from Jorge of the Casualties' cousin or clone or whatever. And while the two, speedy songs on the flip take on a few of that band's properties, there's something subtly different in interplay between the guitar and bass. It's almost like early 80s anarcho punk on speed along with the "punx" trappings. And the whole thing sounds sped up as it is--it plays on 33 but sounds like it's on 45. Effectively flailing. (PO Box 3067, Albany, NY 12203, www.loudpunk.com)

POINTBLANK-s/t (demo)

An Albany band with Joe (ex-Jury) on vocals and another demo I neglected for a bit, although it's had a good amount of airplay on the radio show. They were originally called Reagan's Still Dead and maybe they should have kept in since there have been a ton of bands called Pointblank over the years. No matter--this is full-bore hardcore punk that isn't the most original-sounding stuff but it more than gets the job done. Cranked up, fast and Joe's vocals bear a resemblance to Mr. Tony Erba from Gordon Solie Motherfuckers, Face Value et al. (www.myspace.com/bloodshotmind)

RAMMING SPEED

RAMMING SPEED-Always Disgusted, Never Surprised (Punks Before Profits, 7" EP)

Boston's metallic hellions Ramming Speed are back with four new tracks. The main muse is straight-up thrash metal with some blowtorch leads. That's particularly true for "Too Close To Almost," the best song here and almost close to catchy (sorry). Given to blasting on occasional and Jonah Livingston has the sticksmanship to pull it off but they're at their best when sticking to the traditional trappings. The lyrics deal with economic collapse and putting too much faith in political leaders i.e. the current occupant of the White House to make things better for the underclass ("No Hope"). Pretty good but you really need to see them in their live, hair-flying fury. (PO Box 1148, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, www.punksbeforeprofits.org)

RELIGIOUS SS DISORDER-Prey (Punks Before Profit, 7" EP)
Dark and churning punk with tribal-like rhythms, buzzing guitar and bass, plus vocals with a whole lotta reverb on them.
The title track begins with collage of clips repeating the word "terrorism" ad infinitum leading into the musical fray. The more aggressive punk side comes up for "Critically Think" and "People Not Property," but there are other times where there's an anarcho punk vibe and that adds a distinctive flair. One of the better recent releases from this label and well-packaged with a hand screened cover and poster. (PO Box 1148, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, www.punksbeforeprofits.org)

REPORTS-Bill Wyman Metal Detector/Attleboro Trailers (Ride The Snake, 7")
Yet another record that came out awhile ago. Two engaging songs with a skewed, primitive and chaotic beauty. In other words, poppy without being obvious about it. "Bill Wyman..." pulls one hell of a vocal hook out of the chorus and it all builds to a fever pitch with a gnashing, feisty determination. "Attleboro Trailers" favors a garage-style bash with searing guitar leads. The recording is perfect--it'd probably lose something in the traslation with cleaner production although calling it lo-fi is something of a misnomer. (www.ridethesnakerecords.com)

REVILERS-Stand Or Fall (Patac, 7")

Another fine dose of hearty 'n tuneful punk rock. As with the first EP, they favor punchy arrangements and endearinly gruff vocals, a '77-era meets No Future Records sound. "Road Rage" aims for a Motorhead style and sounds more like Motorhead-lite but that's the only misstep here. They're not changing the world but it's still decent. (www.patacrecords.com)


SHITTY LIMITS-Beware The Limits (Sorry State, LP)

Beware, indeed. There's a newer crop of UK punk bands playing with a rough 'n jarring sound that incorporates post-punk and garage into the aural mixer. This year has brought stellar 7"s from Fashion and Hygiene and the Shitty Limits come from the same region (London and surrounding regions) and a similar muse, that being a penchant for shaking things up. After a slew of earlier 7"s, some of which have been re-released, "Beware The Limits" is their first bigger-sized release and it uncorks a delirious, jittery sound. "Transitions" has a Fall-like tinge to it and if their vocalist Louis doesn't parrot Mark E. Smith, he still has a sing/speak/shout cadence. He practically drove himself into convulsions when they performed here over the summer and I wondered if he was going to
have an aneurysm from shaking his noggin too hard. The same thing might happen to you once the needle hits the vinyl. (1102 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro, NC 25710, www.sorrystaterecords.com)

STATE-Wuste dtld EP (Gossenwelt, 7")

The State's second German and English languages EP (the title means "Dregs 'o Detroit") with two songs apiece in each tongue and taken from recordings ca. late '07/early '08. "You Against The World" is a solid change of pace for these guys, taking a rockin' punk turn with some blowtorch guitar. The other three songs run the gamut from a mid-speed wind-up ("Emo-X") to hammering hardcore ("Wuste Deutschland") to the no bullshit rager "Pop Tart." Not the greatest record ever by these stalwarts but the "You Against The World" and "Pop Tart" are definite keepers. (www.myspace.com/statenoillusions)

TASTE THE FLOOR-s/t (Rising Riot, CD)

Cleanly-produced fast hardcore respecting the roots but having the modern twist. Maybe a little too clean for my liking since hardcore, at its best, needs some roughness but it's not a deal-breaker. The songs bristle with an urgency, both musically and in the vocals. These Italians eschew the chug and don't sweeten things up too much, either. Overall, nothing all that out of the ordinary--just songs that are well-played and energetic. (www.myspace.com/tastethefloor)

WHORES OF WAR-s/t (self-released, 7" EP)
Due to my now-standard tardiness, the Bay Area band Whores of War have broken up before this review gets published. Ranting, thrashy hardcore from these three ladies/one gentleman and they would have fit in well on the early 80s Northern Cal. comp "Not So Quiet On The Western Front." Kat's vocals are murderous and the songs equally-nettled sounding. Not anything real distinctive about this crew (i.e. a tad generic) but it sounds good coming out of the speakers. 300 copies. (1033 Rosewood Ave., San Carlos, CA 94070, www.myspace.com/whoresofwar)

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