Thursday, December 24, 2009

Suburban Voice blog #82


GIVE UP (2003)


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...


Once again, please note my new address. I'm also not sure how much of my mail is being forwarded to my new box so, if it bounces back, now you know the reason why.

Suburban Voice/Al Quint PO Box 43 Peabody, MA 01960

A whole lot of reviews, with plenty to go. About one third are reissues/anthologies/etc and the balance comprise newer slabs. I was originally planning on making this an all-reissue blog but I didn't want to neglect some of the worthwhile recent releases...

Coming soon, a wrap-up of 2009...

THE REVIEW DELUGE...

I HATE THIS
(with the guy who writes this swill, second from right)


AGNOSTIC FRONT-Victim In Pain (Bridge Nine, LP)/United Blood (Bridge Nine, 7" EP)
Long-overdue vinyl reissues of two undisputed stone hardcore classics, that being the 1983 debut 7" and 1984 LP for the one and only AF. There was a little bit of controversy over these repackagings since the original artwork for both records has been relegated to the inner sleeves. Some folks viewed this as a compromise, especially in the case of "VIP" with its rather provocative cover of Nazi death camp imagery and a lynching. But the embossed outer sleeves are a hell of a lot better than the late 80s Combat reissue. And for "Victim In Pain," it's still a gatefold release with the original inner portions reproduced.

"VIP" is, in my opinion, the best of the early NYHC 12" releases (I'm talking pre-"Age of Quarrel"), a firebomb of buzzsaw thrash and sick circle-pit inducers. The breakdown of "Blind Justice" still makes one want to kill. So many incredible moments--Roger's "YEEEEEOW" that starts "Hiding Inside," the "STIGMA" yell that leads into Vinnie's sputtering solo for "Power," the rumbling bass that starts "Fascist Attitudes" and ominous pattern for "Last Warning" and so on. I've listened to this album hundreds of times over the years and it's not stale yet. As for "United Blood," the band were rougher-sounding than on "VIP." Double-time, martial-beat thrashers (with the tubs thumped by Raybeez), one brief blast after another and including an early version of "Last Warning." AF sound as if they were finding their footing a bit but the results are still explosive and demolish everything in sight. Along with the Urban Waste, Antidote and Abused EPs, this is one of early NYHC's Holy Grail releases. Two great recordings created by anti-social beings capable of battering their instruments into a bloody pulp. (www.bridge9.com)

A/V MURDER-s/t (Local Cross, 7")
These guys are from Chicago and the first thing that crossed my mind while listening to these two songs--well besides the fact that this is damned good stuff--is their sound is what I call "nervy" punk band, a garagey primitivism but also some weirder, offbeat impulses. Daily Void and the Krunchies (see review below) are good at that sort of thing, as were the Tyrades. Turns out one of the band's members is Jim from the latter band. I wouldn't necessarily classify "Tourettes" as an anthem, but the gang-vocal cadence that repeats the one-word chorus moves it near that realm. The flip, "Fight Like A Man," heaves into darker terrain, a little Yow-ish vocalese and some sax skronkin' in the stew. More, please! (1619 Commonwealth Ave., #2, Boston, MA 02135, www.localcross.com)

BROKEN NEEDLE-Discography (Lengua Armada, CD)

A west coast band playing hardcore with a classic, catchy style ala Uniform Choice and the like--kind of stating the obvious since they cover two of that band's songs but it fits. Bright, punchy guitars, urgent-sounding vocals and all of it is spot-on. Given the band's name and the artwork with a hand snapping a syringe, one might expect standard-issue edge lyrical themes but that's not the case. Sure, there are the personalized songs about betrayal, confrontation and the like but also ones about larger issues--boilerplate sentiments on church, state, greed, etc and I find it hard to disagree. And "Trash This Place" takes venue-wrecking morons to task. Talk about a timeless theme. Taken from their demo, 12", 7", comp tracks and one of the UC covers ("Use Your Head") is unreleased. Well-worn for sure but they nail it. I'll always have a soft spot for this type of direct, uncomplicated burn. Incidentally, the insert fold-out includes flyer artwork from the late, great Randy "Biscuit" Turner from the Big Boys. (www.myspace.com/brokenneedle)

CRACKS-Dirty Floor (Slipping Grip, 7" EP)
Buzzin' punk and hardcore with some real rawness in the guitar department, even if the snotty vocals chafe a bit. As Obama leads the US into a surge in Afghanistan, the message of "Yellow Ribbons" rings true--pumping up the warmongering while soldiers come home with bloody stumps that you don't always see on TV. Not amazing but it has its moments. (www.myspace.com/cracksstab)

EVERYTHING FALLS APART-Relief (self-released, LP)

A fine 12" debut (following a couple of 7"s, which were actually compiled on an LP) for this Buffalo band, who dip quite a bit into the mid-to-late 80s DC sound-scape--Rites of Spring, Ignition and the like--for inspiration. But instead of merely mimicking that sound, they use it as a piece of their frenetic, feverish tumult. Emotional? Well, sort of, although Pat Shanahan doesn't sound like he's about to break out into tears. But the warmth of the guitar tone offset by throbbing bass and propulsive drumming certainly conjure up that impression. I mean that in the best possible sense. It's a feverish swirl that veers closer to hardcore for the likes of "Paralyzed" and "First Time."
But it's a song like "Leave No Record," with the stop/starts and stinging guitar line, that leaves (sorry) an even stronger impression. It's been a few years since their last 7" and EFA have shown growth as a band, infusing their hardcore roots with an infectiously melodic focus. (www.everythingfallsapart.org)

FUNERAL SHOCK-California's Dead/Petty Motherfuckers (Tankcrimes, 7")

"California's Dead" is a driving punk tune with the brute, bruising properties that informed Funeral Shock's previous efforts. Harsh vocals and a solid mid-tempo burn. The song details the state's decay with ass-kicking success. Unfortunately, the stretched-out, slower "Petty Motherfuckers" fares badly. The anger seems real, especially with the stentorian vocals, but it really drags. One out of two ain't bad, I suppose. (PO Box 3495, Oakland, CA 94609, www.tankcrimes.com)

GEARS-Rockin' At Ground Zero/D.I.s-Rare Cuts (Hep Cat, 2xCD)

The deal is this a two-fer/double pack/whatever you want to call it. The commonality is both bands featured vocalist Axxel G. Reese (clever) and drummer Dave Drive. Each band had its own style, the Gears playing mainly lively punk, albeit with a stronger emphasis on melody, while the D.I.s (not to be confused with the Adolescents-affiliated D.I.) dove headlong into the country-meets-blues-meets rock 'n roll that became popular in LA in the early to mid-80s. The Gears disc has more tracks than on the previously-released Bacchus Archives anthology from about ten years ago, tacking on five demo tracks from '79. Axxel's vocals could occasionally overwhelm the punk tuneage. Not as gritty or hard-edged as other bands from the time and you can hear the direction that would be taken with the D.I.s, such rockabilly-ish title track. Some classic songs, though--the thumping "Don't Be Afraid To Pogo" is a perennial favorite and the leering "High School Girls" equally potent. The D.I.s, meanwhile, were more polished-sounding and had their moments of rock-itude, especially on the songs produced by X's Billy Zoom (most of which ended up on their first 7" and 12") but the punk roots only show up on occasion. They'd really gotten slick by the time of their unreleased A&M session from 1985. Essentially, this is bar-band rock. Mild thumbs up for the Gears, not the case for the D.I.s. (PO Box 1108, Orange, CA 92856, www.hepcatrecords.com)

GIVE UP-s/t (Peterwalkee, CD)

A compilation of this band's 7"s (there were only 100 of the second one), demo and a radio set. Raging, rabid-sounding hardcore, the latter element particularly true with Liz's vocals. It's a fast-paced assault, with short and blistering songs. For a change of pace, there's the punkier "Boring," complete with a "whooah" or two. From the early part of the decade and a band that shouldn't be overlooked. (408 Richmond Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222, www.peterwalkeerecords.com)

I HATE THIS-s/t (American Waste/Blastcat, 7" EP)
Blazing hardcore done with tight execution and full-on aggression, the strongest material yet from I Hate This, especially production-wise. Song structures are increasingly diverse, with on-a-dime tempo shifts and getting downright crushing for "Sick" and "Virus." An old-school hardcore influence informs some of the songs here. As always, there are strong and pointed lyrical sentiments aimed at those who see fit to denigrate others, destroy the environment and oppress workers. The final song, "Fuckface," is about the dangers of botox injections and it hits close to home because I have a close, 50-ish friend who is trying to fight against her natural aging process with plastic surgery and a recent procedure put her in intensive care. I don't want to tell people how to live their lives but I don't understand that mentality. Just vanity, I suppose. My copy also came with a booklet about emergency herbal remedies "for the punx," where their vocalist De offers help for fungal infections, ringworm and other nasty afflictions. This is a rager. (www.myspace.com/americanwasterecords or www.myspace.com/blastcatrecords)

INSURANCE RISK-Violence In Our Minds (Crucial Response, LP)

Beyond shameless, beyond derivative, from the band's name being plucked from a DYS song to the plucking of song structures lock stock and barrel from that band, SS Decontrol, Negative FX and The FU's. Complete with Springa-with-a-bellyache emanations. And you know what? It's a blast. They do cross the line of stupidity with the shock-homophobic "We Don't Care," meant to piss-off the so-called "politically correct people," as drummer/bassist Ollie puts it in the liner notes. OK, keep backpedaling. I just think it's dumb but not enough to get all self-righteous about it. This LP compiles the Norwegian edgers two 7"s from '99 and '02 (shit is it that long ago?) and the remastering job brings out the bile in bold relief. (Von-der-Mark-Str. 31, 47137 Duisburg, GERMANY, www.crucialresponse.com)

JOHNS TOWN ALOHA-Digworker EP (HG Fact, 7" EP)
This band's last EP, "Blood Ravens Wander" (which I didn't review) featured a band with a noisy, chaotic hardcore sound. "Digworker,"the band's third release, is no less chaotic but the delivery seems sharper. Sputtering feedback and a dirty, frenzied attack. Pure noise that throws up a razor-wire curtain and dares you to try to cross through. You'll be bloodied, for sure, but the prize is there. Ex-members of Exclaim and Breakfast. (
www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact)

KAMIKAZE (2003)

KAMIKAZE-The Spirit Of Battle (Soulrebel, LP)

Kamikaze's vocalist Craig was/is in Degenerics and, as with the Degenerics discog LP awhile back, he does the same thing for this sick early-'00s (weird to see that) band--all the stuff was recorded in 2003. "The Spirit Of Battle" collects the band's LP, 7" and one compilation song for this boiling-over volume. It's fast and frantic hardcore that has more of a stripped-down sound than Degenerics, who at times had a Die Kreuzen-ish flair. One song here, "Going Through The Motions," does echo that and, of course, Craig's yowl 'n rant remains the same. "Nothing Seems Real" brings the proceedings to a torturous (not in a negative sense, though) conclusion and a trail of doubt, anger and rage is strewn behind them. And if there's an admission of "singin the same ol' song" and "another cliche about changes," it remains a timeless and universal theme. And even if starting the album with a clip from "Repo Man" (the one where the grocery store manager is lecturing Otto about not paying attention) is also a bit of a cliche, it's still a great starting point as Otto's "FUCK YOU!" leads into the lament of "Coma Life." Direct and soul-grabbing. (www.myspace.com/xsoulrebelrecordsx)

KRUNCHIES-s/t (SouthKore, 7" EP)
Fast garage punk, nearing hardcore speed occasionally, on this new EP from Chicago's Krunchies and it's the first stuff I've heard from them in awhile. I missed their 7" a few years ago so the most recent disc I have by them is '05's "In De Winkel" and time hasn't dulled this three piece one bit. There's a lot of scrappiness and brashness but the musicianship is also creative, particularly for "Victim All The Time." Jagged, thorny songs and the Krunchies will slash their way into your heart. (2814 S. Spaulding Ave., Chicago, IL 60623, www.southkorerecords.com)

MAD WORLD-s/t (Even Worse/Kangaroo, 7" EP)

Given that they're from North Carolina and the band's name could possibly have been taken from a COC song title, I was expecting something along those lines. That's definitely part of the sound but not nearly the whole story. This is hammering hardcore punk, sometimes going into a double-speed vein and with an abundance of guitar whizzle and scorch, battering drums and hoarse emanations. A raw presence, here. (evenworserecords.com or www.myspace.com/henkangaroo)

PELIGRO SOCIAL/TV EVANGELISTS-split (Tankcrimes, 7" EP)

A couple of new tunes from Peligro Social--well, one's an original, while "Ruidos" is a cover of an early 80s Spanish punk band called La Uvi. The latter has a catchy, almost No Future records sound on their rendition. "Salvame" mines a successfully tuneful route, as well. The TV Evangelists apparently consist of the legendary purevyors of the form. In fact, this could be Oral Roberts and Tammy Faye Baker's final recorded appearances. Enough feeble attempts at humor. "Farewell Falwell" (fitting the theme, here) has something of a west coast skate punk feel and that continues to an extent for "Generation RX." 'Tis OK.
(PO Box 3495, Oakland, CA 94609, www.tankcrimes.com)

PISSCHRIST/FRAMTID-Hardcore Detonation Attack (HG Fact, 7" EP)

Holy motherfucking shit... this is the real deal. There are plenty of bands who play d-beat styled crust, to the point where they're a dime a dozen. Pisschrist are a notable exception. They're just so over-the-top and punishing that it makes me want to punch the wall. Walls, for that matter. Sick and insane vocals along with a relentless musical pillage including one hell of a circle-pit part for "Extinction." Perfection, from the full-bore drumming to the guitar/bass fusillade to Yeap's throat-rending vocals. And then it's time to flip it over for Framtid, with their first new recordings in some time. The same sort of walloping attack as Pisschrist--three songs with the subtlety of a rhino charge. No hyperbole, here--one of the best records of 2009. (www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact)

RORSCHACH-Remain Sedate/Protestant (Gern Blandsten, 2xLP)

I think Rorschach are a band I appreciate more now than I did back then and I was definitely a fan at that point, as well. I was late to the party in realizing the importance of the DIY ethic that sprung up in NYC during the late 80s/early 90s. That changing of the decades was something of a fallow time for quality hardcore, as the testosterone levels grew in some quarters and the music largely became sluggish and static. With the passage of a decade and a half, listening to these remastered/remixed albums gives perspective, a handle on where Rorschach were coming from. It's trite, but they were coming a dark region. Howling vocals, dramatic arrangements shifting between heavier lurch and blasts of adrenalin. The twisted guitar lines drew from the well of Die Kreuzen and, to an extent, Voivod although the latter was certainly influenced by the former, themselves. And the nods to Black Flag have to be acknowledged, as well, although it's a subtler take than, say, Bl'ast. That stated--and to once again be a tad trite--they twisted those musical ideas into something of their own. The albums are separated by two years and, while it's simplifying things a little, the first of the pair, "Remain Sedate," had it's moments of more straightforward hardcore, particularly on the speedy "Checkmate." The brain damaged elements already had started to rear its theoretical head. Roraschach's approach proved that it's possible to play heavy and intense music without any sort of mindless machismo or boring chuggishness. And this reissue is done right, with a gatefold sleeve and 180 gram vinyl (on different colors--one was sold in each city of the reunion tour)--the sound is killer. Brutal and brilliant. (www.gernblandsten.com)

SPG-Special Patrol Group (American Waste/Give Praise, 7" EP)
Solid old-school hardcore mixing up thrash and punkier sounds ("Destroy," "Thought Control," "Never Give In"). "Rhetoric" takes a provocative stance on treating soldiers as heroes (these guys don't think that's the case) and there's pissed-off finger pointing at patriots, the media elite and, let's see, political leaders. Ah, to be young and pissed-off, again. Well, I'm old and still somewhat pissed-off and this kind of hardcore remains capable of providing a charge, even with a sense of familiarity. (
www.myspace.com/americanwasterecords or givepraiserecords.com)

ULTRATUMBADOS-s/t (SouthKore, 7")

An interesting mix of punk and garage not fitting any pigeonhole. The A-side, "Autogesto, Al Exceso," includes a nifty instrumental break with near-spacy guitar, underpinned by a throbbing bass-line. The bass leads the way for the flip, their "theme song," adding in some Raygun-ish whoops to the heady bash. I definitely want to hear more from these guys. (
2814 S. Spaulding Ave., Chicago, IL 60623, www.southkorerecords.com)

WHITE LOAD-s/t (Leather Bar, 7" EP)
Talk = Fuck, yelled as many times as possible and it's also the last word you hear. "Talk" is the first of three rippers on this one-sided 7", pressed on lovely Pepto Bismol-colored vinyl. Actually, that word about fornication is about the only one I can make out but they lay out some gloriously raw punk bash here. Two fast ones that careen into the slower, sinister 'n savage "Chemicals." No self-consciously low fidelity, as far as I can reckon, but this wouldn't work nearly as well with cleaner sonics. Play loud but be careful not to scratch the record on the staples when removing it from the sleeve. (www.myspace.com/leatherbarrecords)

WORLD BURNS TO DEATH-The War Can Go On Forever/Black Becomes The Sun (HG Fact, 7")
WORLD BURNS TO DEATH/BLOWBACK-Split (HG Fact, 7")

The latest from WBTD features the band's hallmark, bulldozing sound. Swedish and Japanese hardcore meets metal and both songs on their own 7" and the split with Japanese wreckers Blowback are raging as always. Their song on the split, "Here A Dream Dies Everyday," has a tasteful, non-overblown classic metal touch. As for Blowback, how can you not love a song called "Fuck Fuck Fuck." Nasty vocals and pure rampage from the guitar scorch and hard-driving drumwork. Like WBTD, they have the Dis-metal elements although it's slightly scrappier. Blowback are definitely one of the better Japanese bands in recent years. (www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact)

2 comments:

Marvin said...

all along, you have been the secret weapon!

natural said...

Very interesting site. Hope it will always be alive!