Then you have Nobunny, running around with a bunny mask and creating annoyingly clever minimalist pop ditties that charm, grate or a bit of both. And now Bunny Skulls... those impish little jokers. But it just has me looking forward to the next installment of their punk rock chaos...
I WON'T CALL THIS NEXT SEGMENT ANYTHING AS CHEESY AS "DEMO-LITION"
... but I can't think of anything more snappy than "demo reviews." I do tend to neglect the demo cassettes and CD-Rs that come my way and that's not on purpose. A few sneak in here and there but let's plow through some of the recent and not-so-recent ones that have shown up here.
Let's start with the tapes. First up is Slump, a German band mixing ominous, low-tuned ooze (particularly for the crush that starts things off) and grind blasts. A good-sounding recording but nothing all that memorable beyond the "brutal" nature of the music. (Kink Records, www.kink-records.de) Backslider are also on the grind tip/trip, a guitar/drums duo blasting out Spazz-ish compositions in very short permutations and, once again, pretty much a tuneless flail-fest but the grinders will love it. (www.myspace.com/bsfastcore) Magnum Force's demo is on the same label as Backslider, that being Blastcat, and it's in a similar vein. Ultra-fast hardcore although they do come across as a tighter-sounding unit. Their version of Infest's "Peace Test" is handled fairly well. (email@example.com) From Virgina, Total Wreck play fast and raw old school shiznit and the songs are competently executed. 7" apparently in the works and I'd be interested in hearing it. (www.myspace.com/totalwreckva)
Iron Hand's demo says 2008 on it so this review is long past due. Decent thrashy-crust favoring howling vocals and a sound akin to Born/Dead, From Ashes Rise, Wolfpack et al. A thick wall of guitar and bass and crashing drums power things along nicely. (32 Fairview Ave., Middletown, CT 06457, www.myspace.com/ironhandcrushesall) Over Vert's tape is also from 2008 but no matter. Their monstrous-sounding "Gagging + Swallowing" is one of the best in this batch. The first words you hear are "GET THE FUCK OUT!" and that command is repeated many times. A heady 90s-era Touch & Go/Amphetamine Reptile nerve/noise/core attack driven by pillaging bass and ample guitar shock. If you crave the days of Jesus Lizard and other skull-wreckers who play hard-cored and hardcore music, then this will be right up your alley. Recorded by Steve Albini and I don't think it's a fib, this time. (www.myspace.com/oververt)
With the Peace Creeps, you've got three former members of the late, great Last In Line--vocalist DJ Podolski and guitarists Deuce and Mikey Flynn and two other compatriots trying their hands at snappy punk, rock 'n roll, even a bit of Misfits-meets-surf for "Psychomania" and "Werewolves On Wheels." The latter two songs add some schizophrenia--sounds like a different band, almost, but it's a good start. (Rock & Roll Disgrace, 24 Sadler St., Lynn, MA 01905, www.myspace.com/rocknrolldisgracerecords)
The sound quality for the demo by Albany's Girls Of Porn isn't that great but it's due to the tape since the tracks sound a tad better on their MySpace page. Wacked-out rock/thrash/noise/weirdness, with a lengthy dub-style piece wrapping things up. "Howard's Johnson" is the most straight-forward ripper. Moments of intrigue and not predictable. (www.myspace.com/thegirlsofadultfilm)
From the other other end of New York, Buffalo to be precise, White Whale dish out some enjoyably-tuneful punk in the same way Gaunt did. That means it's poppy but not sweet and the vocals sound as though they're coming through a cheap mike. With this kind of production, it works perfectly well. Two of these guys also play in Everything Falls Apart. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Confidence Men sent their demo on both CD-R and cassette and, in either format, it wasn't anything particularly exemplary. A band with UK anarcho-punk propensities, particularly in some of the guitar lines (echoes of early Banshees there, too), while mixing in some thrash. Trying a few different ideas but not all-that-successfully yet. And their cover of Rudimentary Peni's "Teenage Time Killer" on the CD version is pretty bad. (dontfeedtherats.blogspot.com)
Continuing with the CD demos, Fucked For Life connect with three songs of furious distort-core and one song in a rock 'n roll vein--not as good, either. The title track, "Distortion and Death," sums things up: "Life is simple, simple for us/We crave distortion, all we see is death... all we drink is whiskey and beer/all we know is distortion and death." Whatever gets you through it. I like the rawness, here. (www.myspace.com/fuckedforlifethrash) The Love Below aren't quite as distorted but lean towards a crusty 'n raw sound along with heavier elements. Vocals howl painfully and the band's bash has presence. Nothing amazing but some flash. (www.myspace.com/thelovebelowhc)
Excuse The Blood is another demo CD I sat on for awhile and the band's energetic, upbeat yet still hard-edged hardcore and punk wears well. Catchy songs--even the reggae parts that pop up aren't that bad. I could still live without them but it doesn't ruin everything. (www.excusetheblood.com)
Minnesota band Thanks! play clever, fairly good pop/punk on their "It's Not Funny" demo and do it without being cutesy about it. Getting close at times--"Winning A Marble Eating Contest Isn't Winning" ups the cloy quotient, but this is mainly rough and hook-filled. It'd probably be less appealing with too-clean production. (317 Raymond Ave., St. Cloud, MN 56304, www.myspace.com/thanksband) Finally, MRKAXN, from the UK, have a heavy and lurching hardcore sound. Not really metal but a dark 'n anguished ambiance with the occasional speed break. The final song is a lengthy dirge and beyond the tolerance threshold after awhile. Some interesting twists but largely not going anywhere beyond that. (mrkaxn.blogspot.com)
... and a few records (with many more to come next time)
DESTINO FINAL-Atrapados (La Vida Es Un Mus, LP)
This is just as great as people have been saying it is. Spainiards Destino Final are essentially a continuation of Invasion. Simply blazing, brimming with sizzling-whizzling guitars, drumbeats packing plenty of straight-on speed blitz along with some tribal rhythms and vocals that act like a cutting, razor-like instrument. As with Invasion, the reverb remains on Guille's emanations although the production isn't as echo-laden. It just provides a more direct route to the band's savage burn, anyway. A tandem of Disorder and Discharge-isms and some anarcho touches, all of it coalescing into something remaining distinctive. There's pure excitement in the way a song like side two opener "Laborinto II" builds through an intro and provides a satisfying, powerful payoff, careening from one song to the next, each side ending with a mid-paced ravager. One of the best of '09. (www.lavidaesunmus.com)
PREYING HANDS-Through The Dark (Inimical, LP)
Some (well at least their vocalist Spoke) of the people in this Montreal band used to play in Ballast and, as with that band, there's a good amount of melody in their overall approach. The difference is things are cleaner-sounding, with nothing down-tuned or plodding. A warmth in overall tone but still driving and some intense howls emerge from Dave's backing vocals. Lyrically, it's a cry for help in a world gone mad (thank you, Agent Orange) or, at the very least, a plaint. It's a single voice asking questions but also exuding defiance, as with "Sinking," asserting that "I'm never giving in... not until I've got you by the throat." Despite that latter phrase, the lyrics aren't overly bombastic nor the music funereal. No acoustic passages or any of that nonsense and that makes Preying Hands eminently more listenable. (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111, www.inimical.com)
SWORN LIARS-Vile Device (Big Neck, CD)
Snarlin', nervy punk and garage with some electronic effects scattered here and there. The title track offers the invitation "welcome to my doom" (that's what it sounds like, anyway) and it's gladly accepted. The traditional garage/psych side is played up on the likes of "Kill Me" or "Foul Thing" but most of the time, it's pure throttle, as with "Down," "Bubble Boy" or "Mental Fissure." There's something sinister at work here. These German deviants include members of the underrated Moorat Fingers and you should seek out their album "Punk (As In Prison)" from 2002 or so. (PO Box 8144, Reston, VA 20195, www.bigneckrecords.com)