Sunday, December 05, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #91



REISSUES AND SUCH
A plethora of reissues, anthologies and like have been crossing my desk lately. That sounds so pretentious--does something really cross a desk? Does it really come through my mailbox? Sure, some music gets piled up on my desk but it's not in motion. Am I being too literal? Should I move on to the reviews? Not a bad idea...

I'm going to begin with a DVD. There haven't been a ton of archival releases from the early Boston punk/post-punk/etc bands. Mission of Burma and Unnatural Axe have been documented, there's the upcoming early 80s Boston hardcore documentary "xxx All Ages xxx" scheduled for next year but not much else. La Peste were one of the earliest Boston punk units, a three-piece who slammed out such memorable  ditties as "Kill Me Now," "Don't Wanna Die In My Sleep Tonight" "Spy Master" (later covered by Jerry's Kids) and the infamous "Better Off Dead," with the classic line "that girl's only 13/she ain't never given head." Nasty, for sure, with a buzzing, jabbing no-nonsense sound, although they could take poppier turns with a song like "Color Scheme" or lighter fare like "Let Me Sleep." Not your standard-issue KBD fodder--there was something of a UK bent here.

This DVD, shot in black and white at the Paradise in Boston in 1979, is fairly no-frills in terms of packaging but the multi-camera shots and creative effects successfully capture LaPeste's burning, driving sound. Actually, there was some "cheating" involved according to Jan Crocker, one of the filmmakers. In a recent interview with Boston Groupie News, he said that the audio came from a show at the Rat and the footage of the pogoing audience came from other venues. All things considered, he did a good job making it look seamless.

Extras? Some conceptual videos mixing live and studio performances with photos and other imagery and a picture gallery with songs that aren't included in the live set. It gives you a feel for what Boston punk was like ca. '79. (www.kinodv.net)

Dischord Records have dug into the vaults. (Actually, is there really a vault? Or were they tapes on a shelf or in a box? GET ON IT WITH IT, AL!). The CD Dag With Shawn is the original 1985 Dag Nasty demo with Shawn Brown on vocals. Most of this material has circulated over the years, most notably as part of a 7" box set on Selfless Records. On this disc, there are 9 tracks and all but one ended up on Can I Say, with Dave Smalley on vocals. Shawn's agitated emanations aren't always well suited for the material--he struggles on "Circles," for instance. But the angry, impassioned delivery gives a grittier edge to these well-known compositions. Shawn really came into his own for Swiz (who don't always get the acclaim they deserve) but these remastered recordings are well-worth hearing.

Meanwhile, Government Issue's Boycott Stabb has been appended to include an entire side of outtakes. This was the band's 12" debut, following the Legless Bull EP and their appearance on Flex Your Head. (The Make An Effort EP was actually recorded before the album) and marked Tom Lyle's shift from bass to guitar. Blistering hardcore with a fuller sound and improving musicianship. The version of "Sheer Terror" here adds some twisted effects and vocal manipulations, stretching out over three minutes and featuring some blowtorch string bending. I've heard this record so many times over the years, I assume everyone else has and those are the hardest reviews to write since they're so embedded in my consciousness. Boycott Stabb doesn't offer any indication of the melodic elements that would eventually emerge, starting with Joy Ride, but it's unquestionably a leap from the early recordings. As for the outtakes, most of them are re-recordings of songs off the two EPs and compilation, complete with studio banter that gives insight into the creative process ("I can't do it fast because I just wrote the words") and Stabb's more mannered vocals that don't always work as well with those tracks. The only previously-unheard songs are "Snubbing," which would have fit in on the album and the piss-take "Georgetown Blues," which we should be grateful wasn't on the original. Look at the original record as a classic and the bonus songs as something to listen to once in awhile.

Government Issue's tenure extended into the late 80s. Artificial Peace's existence, on the other hand, only lasted a year from '81 to '82 before 3/4 of the members moved on to form Marginal Man. Only three songs were "officially" released, on Flex Your Head, although the other 14 songs appeared on a 1992 Lost and Found disc that also had Marginal Man's Double Image album. But here it is with a fresh remaster and these guys bang out some credible "of-its-time" hardcore. The three songs that were picked for Flex were their most accomplished, especially the guitar intro for their theme song "Artificial Peace." I can live without the cover of "Wild Thing" and they weren't really on the level of Minor Threat or Void but they certainly held their own. Glad to see this get a "proper" vinyl release. (Dischord, 3819 Beecher St. NW, Washington, DC 20007, www.dischord.com)

Fraticide, from Vancouver, were supposed to have had a split 12" release with Dutch band Neuroot in the mid-80s on Pusmort but it only reached the test pressing stage. Some 24 years later, their tracks from the split have come out on a release from Schizophrenic and Ugly Pop Records. This fits in well with the crossover sounds of that era, albeit coming from the hardcore side of the aisle. Thrashin' aggro with red hot metallic riffs and leads and scampering drums. Jonzo (who, in recent years, has been with Hong Kong Blonde) has a raspy, phlegm-projecting style along the lines of Blaine from the Accused. The faster songs have the same flailing tumult as that band or Heresy. Never losing control--about the time you think it's gong to fly apart and create a hail of iron shards, they shift into pounding mid-tempo mode. Exactly the kind of music Pushead lauded back then and you wonder why it never came out. It's a moot point, now. (Schizophrenic, 17 West 4th St., Hamilton, ON, CANADA L9C 3M2, www.schizophrenicrecs.com)


The debut release from Chris Prorock's More Than A Witness Product label is Connecticut band CIA's God, Guts, Guns, with the original 1983 7" expanded to a full LP with outtakes, earlier demos, rehearsal and live stuff. Shredding hardcore for the most part, although catchy punk roots are exposed on a song like "I Hate The Radio." That song was later recorded by 76% Uncertain, a band that included most of the members of CIA (a few more outtakes also resurfaced with 76%). CIA actually started out as more or less a traditional punk band but caught the hardcore bug and started playing loud and fast. An all-time classic? No, but this is still above-average hardcore from that bygone era. (3 Webster Place, Newtown, CT 06470, morethanawitnessarchive.blogspot.com)

Our Gang were a late 80s NYC hardcore band who recorded three sessions at Don Fury's studio in '88-89 but didn't have a "proper" release except for the Uprising demo tape. More than two decades later, those sessions have been compiled on a 12" disc entitled, oddly enough, Uprising. Truth be told, this is pretty much second tier NYHC. Scampering thrash with vocals that try to squeeze in as many words as possible into the musical contents. Eschewing the youth crew trappings of the era for something more along the lines of the punk-driven hardcore bands of the early 80s. They've got the right idea at times but it doesn't always gel. (Jack Roy Records, jackroyrecords.blogspot.com)

Finally, Philly band Pagan Babies were one of the bands on Hawker Records, the short-lived hardcore imprint distributed by Roadrunner that also released records by Wrecking Crew, Rest In Pieces, No For An Answer and Token Entry. Their Last: An Anthology gathers all of their studio recordings including songs from their Next album on Hawker, an early 7" on Positive Force, live tracks, unreleased songs, etc. It's packaged with a DVD documentary where the band members revisit their old haunts and it's interspersed with live material from 'back in the day' and from a 2007 reunion show. Semi-tuneful hardcore with tasteful metallic leads and skate punk roots along the same lines as Token Entry. Enjoyable, even if it's showing its age a bit. (DRP Records, PO Box 6257, Wyomissing, PA 19610, www.drprecords.com)

... AND THE REST...

CONFINES

BAD AMERICAN-s/t (Bad Recordings/Discontent, 7" EP)
Pissed-off hardcore from Bethlehem, PA. I imagine if I lived in Bethlehem, PA, I might be pissed-off too. Well, more pissed-off than I already am. This is raging hardcore that thrashes about half the time and pounds away at a slightly slower pace the rest of the time. "Rodent" has a pretty sinister, noise-drenched intro before picking up the pace and it comes across like early stuff from Total Abuse. Did I mention they sounded pissed-off? No sarcasm, here--I like this band's pissed-off sound. Oops, there I go again. (852 N. Clewell St., Bethlehem, PA 18015, www.myspace.com/badamericanpunk)

BLOODTYPE-s/t (Cowabunga, 7" EP)
Anti-social. Not here to make friends. As Bloodtype start blasting away on "Dropout," it's clear that they've found it difficult not only dealing with the outside world but even the hardcore subculture drives 'em nuts. Blazing hardcore that occasionally loses its way with the speed but when they pull it together, especially for "Welcome To Hell," the hair-trigger aggro is quite successful, building on the chord progression of "In My Eyes." Pure hate delivered with buzzsaw rage. (www.cowabungarecords.com)

CONFINES-Withdrawn (Labor Of Love/Side Two, 7" EP)
Newish Boston band including people from Cut The Shit, Blank Stare and other bands--Ryan Abbott, who has played drums in a number of bands, handles guitar duties here and the vocalist is Andrew Jackmauh. An intense package, both from a musical standpoint, as well as the visual/written elements. For the aural component, this is a ravenous, brutalizing hardcore sound with some Ginn-ish guitar lines and powerful arrangements that incorporate thrash and cascading bash. As for the latter, there's a foldout poster sleeve that includes the lyrics but also a two panel hand-written treatise of sorts with a somewhat over-intellectualized verbosity (there I go!) that might provide difficult reading for some. A detailed analysis would have us here all day but the gist of it (as well as in the lyrics) displays tremendous outrage and disappointment not only with the continuing ascent/re-emergence of regressive political policy but there's also a scathing critique of people involved in punk and hardcore--pointing out that there seems to be more concern over social acceptance and a ready willingness to conform to what's accepted. In the meantime, the world is collapsing, the political situation is fucked up and the author wonders where the outrage went. The critique turns inward, as well. That's just a simplified take on things and I'm sure I left something out. But, ultimately, even if you have trouble following the text, there's no missing the agitated vocals and unsettling music. I imagine the national election results will only increase the intensity next time around. I look forward to it... (56 Pearson Rd., #2, Somerville, MA 02144, ittsalaboroflove@gmail.com or 6 Wadleigh Place, Boston, MA 02127, sidextwo@gmail.com)

THE ESTRANGED-The Subliminal Man (Dirtnap, LP)
Things are perhaps a bit more polished for the Estranged on their second album but that shouldn't be construed as a softening in sound. There's always talk of how much this Portland band is influenced by the Wipers--and it shows up in some of the guitar lines, no doubt. There's no missing the Sage-isms for "Statue In A Room," previously released as a single (this is a new version, though) and it's the strongest track here. Haunting, hooky, propulsive and emblematic of the musical synthesis they've created during their existence. The other aspect of said synthesis is what was good on the other side of the Atlantic during the emergence of post-punk during the late 70s/early 80s. There's the melodic yet intense emotionalism of the Sound and, as I've mentioned before, strains of early Cure and Banshees. I hate to be repetitive but that's still accurate. As if to prove my point, they cover the UK band the Flys song "Love And A Molotov Cocktail"--and the 1977 original was post-punk that was ahead of the curve. And while I've spent half this review mentioning other bands' influences, I'm not being trite (honest!) in saying these guys have found their own identifiable sound and the songwriting/musicianship to back it up. (2615 SE Clinton St., Portland, OR 97202, www,dirtnaprecs.com)

INSUBORDINATES-s/t (Cowabunga, LP)
Not sure how the surfing is in Rochester, NY but the Insubordinates' music displays an affection for that style of music, with a punk twist. Two of the songs are instrumental and sax is sporadically added to mix, although it doesn't dominate the arrangements. Other times, they go for a thrashy hardcore approach or a darker, heavier sound on "Cuckoo Cass E." The best song here is "River City R'N'R," a solid west coast punk tune and "Hipster County" works well in a similar vein. Not a bad effort although there are only a few songs I keep going back to. (www.cowabungarecords.com) 

LADIES

LADIES-Six More Reasons To Hate... (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)
Third 7" already by this Richmond band fronted by the infamous Tony Bitch. This is semi-tuneful punk/garage/thrash. I imagine a few of you might be offended by the front and back cover and some of the lyrics but it's not completely over the edge. OK, maybe a bit. Think Dwarves around the time of  "Sugar Fix" and you'll be on the right track. That's the "sensibility" here and they've got it down pretty much perfectly. (PO Box 12484, Richmond, VA 23241, www.gravemistakerecords.com)

LAPINPOLTHAJAT-s/t (Hohnie/Roku/multi-label, LP)
Every time I play this Finnish band on Sonic Overload, it's always a challenge to pronounce it. That's an ongoing thing because I like this record and it's been getting a good amount of airplay. These guys definitely mine their country's hardcore heritage, a sound that's both muscular and melodic. There's plenty of presence without being overly heavy-handed. No metallic blowtorch effects here--guitar burn but a more tasteful selection of lead licks, along bass playing and drumming that relies as much on finesse as force. Lapinpolthajat let us know that classic Finnish-style hardcore is alive and well. (www.hohnie-records.de or www.rokurecords.com)

LOSE THE TUDE-s/t (Sacred Plague, 7" EP)
I'm not sure I'd exactly call these guys posi-core but the band's name and a song like "Give A Shit" make me think of RKL's "Keep Laughing"--THINK POSITIVE! Enjoyable, energetic hardcore with instrumental dexterity and keeping things upbeat although I'm tempted to lift the needle before the concluding minute-plus free form sonic collapse of "Fleas." Speaking as the jaded type of person they're trying to avoid becoming, I still like the 'tude here. (www.losethetude.tumblr.com)

NO PROBLEM-Your Eyes (Handsome Dan, 7" EP)
Graeme from the Wednesday Night Heroes fronts this new band, adding guitar to his vocal duties. Four solid tracks of gut-punching, catchy punk. The two guitars give the band a beefy presence, to accompany Graham's passionate emanations. It's not far removed from what the Heroes did, maybe a little less blatantly poppy save the chorus of "Your Eyes." (3244 31A Ave. SE, Calgary AB, CANADA T28 0HB, handsomedanrecords.com)

SPASTIC PANTHERS/THE THROWAWAYS-Split (Handsome Dan, 7" EP)
For their second release (I think), the Panthers continue to ply spirited hardcore punk with a decidedly non-serious bent, exemplified by "(I'm Gonna) Punch You In Dink." Well, maybe they're dead serious about it. Not bad, if fairly routine. The Throwaways have a garagier approach, two of 'em with a hardcore sound, two of 'em on the poppy side--"Mikey Erg!" even sounds Ergs-ish, albeit rougher. Once again, not bad, maybe a little less routine than the Panthers. (3244 31A Ave. SE, Calgary AB, CANADA T28 0HB, handsomedanrecords.com)

 VILE BODIES

VILE BODIES-s/t (Razors and Medicine, tape)
Vile Bodies is essentially a continuation of the Conversions, with the musical core of that band joined by vocalist Jeff Walker (Sleeper Cell/Balance of Terror/Bloody Gears). The modus-operandi remains the same. Challenging, dynamic music that works in straight hardcore with noisier/atonal elements, often within the same song--"The Healer" is one such example. The playing exhibits a tremendous amount of skill as they effortlessly maneuver through the different musical aspects. As with Terry Cuozzo, the Conversions vocalist, Jeff offers a howling approach that syncs up perfectly. Complex but not so much that it dilutes things--Vile Bodies are very much a hardcore band but without the standard trappings. (vilebodieshc.blogspot.com)

WORMEATERS-Wardeath (Sorry State, 7" EP)
Well, there's nothing as graphic as the forced prison sex lyrical theme for "Dutch Roulette" that was on the Wormeaters' previous 7" but they haven't gone pop or anything nor have the lyrics gotten any sunnier. Nope, not a chance. Blazing, angry, fast-paced hardcore, although there's the slower, equally crazed "Scabs" to wrap things up. There's a new vocalist, PJ, whose pipes are as nasty as his predecessor, albeit higher on the timbre scale and, to be honest, he's an improvement. Best stuff to date. (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

ZERO PROGRESS-Derailed (Piledriver, 7" EP)
As I read through this band's lyrics, it's apparent that things don't change too much with hardcore bands--well, the ones who use this musical style to express their venom at what causes life's turmoil, what pisses them off. Zero Progress are no different. Positively negative (not original, I know) and pounding out the fast hardcore the same way countless bands have done it for three decades. Passable, but that's about it. (antiprogrock@gmail.com)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #90


 PYROKLAST

Same old story--I don't review records on a timely-enough basis, they pile up and multiply, I do what I can to at least play them on the radio show but the blog gets neglected. Lack of motivation, procrastination. Excuses, excuses I know. And then I look at some of the past print issues of SV and wonder how the hell I did that. It must be because I was younger and more ambitious. Well, enough of that. I've kept y'all waiting two plus months so it's time to at least publish something. No promises as to when the next installment with be. Bear with me--and enjoy the blog.

Also, my radio show Sonic Overload has a new site at www.sonicoverload.net. Same show, but now with stereo sound quality (128 kpbs for the more technically-minded out there). Think of it as a version of Suburban Voice where you can actually hear the music first.

'Til next time...

ANTIDOTE-Thou Shalt Not Kill (Bridge Nine, 7" EP/CD)
A long overdue reissue of one of the high-water marks of early 80s New York hardcore. There was a CD on Hellbent Records in '04 but even that's out of print. Pure scorch packed with speed and rawness and catchy, memorable songs—especially “Real Deal” and “Life As One.” Granted, the lyrics for “Foreign Job Lot,” about them pesky “aliens from another world” who come to the US and take up all the jobs are on the dicey side and that could be a sore point with some people. The same applied to Agnostic Front's "Public Assistance.” And like AF with “Fascist Attitudes,” these guys have their own song in that vein, “Nazi Youth.” In this day and age of scapegoating of undocumented immigrants, maybe I shouldn’t give them a pass, maybe it’s fencewalking but there’s no denying this record is completely blazing. Faithful to the original, maybe a little less “bright” production-wise than the first pressing (you won’t notice, anyway) but its reissue is long overdue. (www.bridge9.com)

AUTISTIC YOUTH-Idle Minds (Dirtnap/Black Water, LP)
The second album from Autistic Youth has them continuing to play the kind of tuneful punk that their hometown of Portland, OR has been spawning in recent years. Not as post-punk inspired at the Estranged nor as mannered vocal-wise as Red Dons (reviews of both can be found below) although the melody quotient is high. Sonically, Autistic Youth are akin to the latter band. They follow a driving, burning blueprint working in classic 80s west coast punk influences and plenty of emotional gravitas in the lyrics. The minds are hardly idle, they're filled with plenty of intense thoughts--the title track is particularly direct about the feelings of despair. Definitely not happy-sounding music but the energetic surge doesn't devolve into primal screamo therapy nor completely somber wallowing. Strong vocal harmonies, potent musicianship (especially the bass playing), quite lively-sounding. (PO Box 5223, Portland, OR 97208, www.blackwaterpdx.com or www.dirtnaprecs.com)


CONCENTRATION SUMMER CAMPS-Amour Et Sourires (Trabuc, 12")
The band's name might make you cringe but how can you not be drawn to the colorful, psych-o-delic cover as shown above. Looks are deceiving although the final song, "Coffee and Coke," is an extended garage/psych mind-messer. The rest of the time, CSC specialize in hardcore punk with tunecraft and drive. Innovative guitar playing--a little East Bay Ray here and there but there are other things going on in the sonic mesh. And it should be noted that "Discharge Were Right" doesn't sound anything like Discharge, although the words confer with the band's worldview. No easy pigeonholing here and that's a refreshing asset. (PO Box 160, -46740-, Carcaixent (Valencia), Spanish State, www.nodo50.org/trabucrecords)

DISPARO-s/t (Stomp/Trabuc, 7" EP)
The first song, "No Quiero, Ser Como Tu," comes off fast and heavy at the outset but those aren't the only tricks this Spanish band possess. Burning, semi-melodic songs along the lines of No Hope For The Kids or a Pedestrians-type stomp. In fact, speed is kind of an anomaly here--the songs stick to a mainly moderate speed. In Spanish with English translations and willing to provoke, such as "Estrellas de David," about Israeli aggression, which probably won't win them much of a Zionist following. I imagine Disparo would have little problem with that. (PO Box 160, -46740-, Carcaixent (Valencia), Spanish State, www.nodo50.org/trabucrecords)

DOUBLE NEGATIVE-Daydreamnation (Sorry State, LP)
It's been three years since Double Negative's debut album, my album of the year for 2007. They were also my favorite live band that year--you could compare it to Ichiro winning Rookie of The Year and MVP in his first year. For their second album, the band have one again appropriated the name of an 80s era album (The Fall last time, Sonic Youth this time) but the only commonality I can find with the latter are the brain-melting atmospherics. While the band's rampaging approach remains, they've pushed things into slightly less-predictable realms. The production is hazier, denser, for want of a different term, and Kevin's vocals deeper in the mix. He also widens his range, with a lower register howl for "Endless Disappointment"--and let me make the one COC comparison here--it's Mike Dean-esque. There's an explosive experimentalism without being pretentious about it. Die Kreuzen-ish haunt shows up in some of the guitar lines and there's also a kinship to some of the ferocious Amphetamine Reptile bands from the 90s, Hammerhead in particular. That band had an aggressively piledriving sound but you couldn't really lump it in with standard hardcore and DN's sound takes that sort of chaotic, frayed sound, propelled by a rhythmic wallop. "Beg To A Vile Nude," for instance, lurches along like the punishing slop from that period until the speed-burn conclusion. There are so many generic bands out there and Double Negative find a way to stand out. They did it again... this will, without question, be in my top 10 of the year. (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

EVERYTHING FALLS APART-Ghost (EFA/One Percent Press, 7" EP)
WHITE WHALE-s/t (self-released, 7" EP)

I'm reviewing these together because there are some of the same personnel involved, namely Pat Shanahan and Derek Raybeck, who play in both bands. There's a restless quality to each group. Everything Falls Apart put out a pretty solid album this year and neither of these songs really match the high points of that release. "Ghost" is a sturdy mid-tempo, semi-hooky rocker while "Brace Position" degenerates into frayed, sputtering chaos. Heady and a little more interesting sonically than "Ghost" but it doesn't really stick with you. As for White Whale, their debut 7" is quite good. They have a burning hookiness--"1995" could be from 1995 and performed by New Sweet Breath, with the same sort of fevered surge and vocals that have emotional and gutteral qualities. In my review of their previous demo, I mentioned some similarities to Gaunt and I don't think that's off the mark, either. Melody without the pablum. (23 Manchester Pl., Buffalo, NY 14213, www.everythingfallsapart.org, www.thepalewhale.com)

FAGGOT-s/t (Selfish Satan, CD)

Excessive and depraved in more than a few ways, starting with the "Penis Landcape" tribute on the cover. This is raw rawk with a garage and punk edge that sounds messy and often unhinged. That's particularly true on the 11 minutes of endless musical butchery for "Black and Blue," the grand finale to this 8 song disc. Apparently, it's the live thing with Faggot--the photos make 'em look like a homoerotic combination of GWAR and GG Allin and I think I'd probably wear older clothes or stand towards the back if I was at a show. On a purely musical level, this is some blistering fodder. The fuzzed/blown-out guitar on the likes of "The Cleaner" and "You're Dead," the latter with some formidable string torture towards the end, is the most appealing element. If Faggot are out to provoke (and it's pretty obvious they're trying to do that by the name of the band alone), they do a pretty good job of it. They do a pretty good job at rockin' hard, too--and yes, the pun is intentional. Incidentally, there's also a video for "The Cleaner" and let's just say it doesn't leave a lot to the imagination, nor is it really for the kids. (www.selfishsatanrecordings.com)

GAS CHAMBER-s/t (Warm Bath Label, LP)

The record starts with the sound of static--industrial experimentation? Not exactly, although those elements reappear from time to time. Nope, it's a gateway to spasmatic, scampering thrash emanations. Howling vocals, all-over-the-place drumming, blistering guitar but the thing that really stands out is the dexterity of the bass-playing. If only it held together better. Gas Chamber have energy to spare but would benefit from tightening things up. Not completely rein things in but gain some control over the mayhem. As it stands, the band's chaotic flail is still partially effective but room for improvement, as they say. (PO Box 652, Buffalo, NY 14215, www.myspace.com/warmbathlabel)

INSERVIBLES-s/t (Shogun, 7" EP)
A vinyl pressing of this Mexican band's 2008 demo and it's pretty wild. Reverb-drenched vocals and a kinetic hardcore sound taking an 80s-era Italian route despite their geographic locale. Lyrics are in Spanish but there are handy descriptions of the songs--who would think "Risa de Puta" would be about quantic (sic) physics and pizza. Their theme song "Inservibles" is about "girls laughing at us because we are really ugly." I have no idea if they're fibbin' or not, since I don't speak the language but the guy could be spitting out the weather report and I wouldn't know the difference, just that the band have an engaging craziness. (3 rue du Lavoir, 51140 Bouvancort, FRANCE, www.shogunrecordings.com)

LACKEY DIE-s/t (Feel It, 7" EP)
Lackey Die were from Charlottesville, VA, together from '82-'86, never releasing anything during their tenure. Some 25 years later, here are recordings taken from two sessions, one in '84 and the other in '85. According to the printed interview and letter that accompanied the record, they were older "townie" guys in a college town and, obviously, that leads to friciton. Anyway, after being in other bands since the late 70s, the members caught the hardcore bug and started playing in a faster vein. Pretty standard in every way, with the thrashy delivery and lyrics that touch on religion (even stealing a lyrical line from Minor Threat's "Filler"), nuclear warfare and personal alienation. Not a lot of vocal presence but played with a good amount of scrappiness. (4630 Mill Run Ln, Earlysville, VA 22936, feelitrecords@gmail.com)

LIBYANS-A Common Place (Sorry State, 12")
A brief blast from Libyans, packing in 13 songs in 16:21, give or take a second. For their second album, guitarist Kevin Gebo handled the recording and it's kind of tinny and distorted sounding. Once you get past that (and I'm not 100% past it), this is a solid effort. Sharp, frantic, economical hardcore with melodic underpinnings and Liz's vocals are cutting and sweetly emotional and it's usually a combination of both although they lean towards the former. Plying west coast elements in much the same way some of the Danish bands do but you can also hear mid-80s DC hardcore--Dag Nasty in particular--in the mix. The lyrics are printed with circular text so it's dizzying if you try to read them, exacerbated by the head-rush these songs provide. (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

MURDER-SUICIDE PACT-Do It Or Don't (Give Praise, 7" EP)/Full Time (Bacon Towne, 7" EP)
MSP re-formed in the past few years and, as I mentioned in the review of a demo CD from last year, they sound better now than back then and that's no bullshit. The songs from these two EPs are pulled from the same December '09 session and most of these. Feisty mid-tempo hardcore, with some thrashers mixed in, as well, and there's a dark/twisted quality to it. "I Respect You and All Your Body Parts" certainly proves out that point by offering a sick love poem--very sick, as in murderous. The thing about MSP is the guitar lines have a way of embedding themselves into your consciousness--the line for "Heavy Hand" is ringing through my brain at the moment. Black Flag-inspired? No doubt but a song like "My Own Poison" also conjures up Swiz. Bob Suren's vocals convey the requisite menace and the production is punchy without any sort of slickness. Collect the whole set--well, the two installments here, at least. (Band contact: PO Box 3204, Brandon, FL 33509, www.myspace.com/mspfl)

NASA SPACE UNIVERSE-Brainrailers (Shogun, 7" EP)
A wild collision of speedy hardcore, Flag-ish twists and off-kilter craziness, including some harsh vocal screamitude  "BWAP," the opening track on the flipside, showcases some rockin' furor, as does "Bukkake Sake," something I hope to never imbibe. Hell, I don't even like regular sake. I like this band's jolting sound, though. (3 rue du Lavoir, 51140 Bouvancort, FRANCE, www.shogunrecordings.com)

NO ESCAPE-Generation Trap EP (Trabuc, 7" EP)
Spanish band with a melodic, mid-tempo punk sound along the lines of Insomnio, who've also had releases on Trabuc (and No Way in the US). I mentioned a No Hope For The Kids influence in the Disparo review above and that's true here as well. Buzzing guitars and sturdy, lively bass-playing/drumming although it doesn't make an exceedingly strong impression overall. Falling into that "pretty good" realm. (PO Box 160, -46740-, Carcaixent (Valencia), Spanish State, www.nodo50.org/trabucrecords)

NO FRIENDS-Another Wrong/OFF WITH THEIR HEADS-Fields Of Darkness (No Idea, 6")
Two bands covering other bands, but not each other. No Friends, Tony from Municipal Waste's punkier sounding band, do a decent job of Dag Nasty's "Another Wrong, ditto for Off With Their Heads' take on Pegboy's "Fields Of Darkness." Probably something for the collectors but the songs are handled with energetic affection, particularly No Friends. (PO Box 14636, Gainesville, FL 32604, www.noidearecords.com)

 RAW NERVES

RAW NERVES-s/t (Inimical, LP)/We Must Be Dreaming (Inkblot, 7" EP)
The two latest releases (following an earlier 7") by Portland's Raw Nerves, continue to convey a combination of influences—echoes of Poison Idea (particularly in Matt Svendsen’s voice) and Articles Of Faith but it’s got a crustier tinge that’s in kinship with their Oregonian compatriots. As you’d expect, there’s a dim view of the current state of world affairs. “Slave Trade,” for instance, ruminates on economic exploitation and collapse, while those being exploited still fly the flag and think these corporate interests will be their saviors. Sound familiar? Yep, I’m making another allusion to Teabagger Nation, those who are manipulated by those “leaders” and organizations into foolishly believing in the “take back America” gospel. There’s a reliance on dramatic effect and pure power over catchy verse/chorus/verse arranging but it has the intended result. I mentioned Poison Idea earlier and “Lifetime Guarantee,” the opening song on the Dreaming EP does have some similarities. The EP also includes a cover of Youth of Today's “Live Free,” which was a highlight of their Boston show over the summer--a set which a lot of the local DIY elite chose to stay outside for. Oh well--their loss. (Inimical, PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111, www.inimical.com/Inkblot: www.inkblotrecords.net)

RAW POWER-The Reagan Years (Beer City, 2xCD/DVD)
A package that includes Raw Power's first four albums--"You Are The Victim," "Screams From The Gutter," "You Are The Victim" and "Mine To Kill," the "Wop Hour" EP and the song that introduced a good chunk of the world to Raw Power, "Fuck Authority," off the "Welcome To 1984" compilation. What's not included is their 1983 demo, which ended up being released in the US by BCT on cassette and later on CD by Grand Theft Audio. That's still my favorite Raw Power recording (it's where "Fuck Authority" came from), which may not be the slickest recording but I don't think they ever matched the ferocity of it. Still, you won't hear me complaining too much about the re-recordings of many of those songs for "You Are The Victim," recorded in '83 and "Screams From The Gutter," recorded in '84. Blazing thrash, accompanied by whizzling guitar squalls. "Victim" sounds primitive but that's part of its charm. "Screams" is a tour-de-force of mayhem. Mauro was the main vocalist and he's a serviceable frontman but the band's music is the main attraction. Unfortunately, what followed with "After Your Brain" and, especially, "Mine To Kill," wasn't quite up to the same level. The former maintains some of the band's loose & ravaging qualities but there's a big decline for "Mine To Kill." Increasingly metallic and with some dragging/thud-like compositions. Even the faster songs don't provide a lot of inspiration. The DVD is taken from two live shows in '85 and, sadly, is quite poor in quality. The sound is wretched and it's really a shame because Raw Power were one of the most ferocious, over-the-top bands I've ever seen.

I'm not trying to be entirely negative, here--there's some great music contained on these discs and it's a worthy introduction to the band for the novice. Just don't expect a 100% success rate. (PO Box 26035, Milwaukee, WI 53226-0035, www.beercityrecords.com)

REACTIONARIES-1979 (Water Under The Bridge, CD)
A split CD of sorts, with songs from a practice tape by this San Pedro band recorded, if you weren't paying attention, in 1979. Who were the Reactionaries? They were the predecessor to the Minutemen, featuring vocalist Martin Tamburovich plus D. Boon, Mike Watt and George Hurley. And while you can hear hints of what would come later, such as "Getting Existential On The Beach." The Reactionaries decidedly fell more in the punk rock camp. It's obvious that those visits to Hollywood to "drink and pogo," as Boon sang on "History Lesson Pt. 2" made an impression on their sound--echoes of the Dils, Middle Class and no doubt other bands. "God and Country" has the same sort of political urgency as what would come later. While things would get refined a bit when the musical core moved on to their better-known aggregation, these songs are edgy and energetic and the playing is solid. So how is this a split CD? The ten songs are covered by different permutations of members of bands with San Pedro roots. That includes Messrs. Watt and Hurley, Jack Brewer and Joe Baiza from Saccharine Trust, Todd from Toys That Kill and others who I'm too lazy to detail (and don't know who they are, anyway). While it might seem redundant, it doesn't have that "tribute album" cheesiness to it. The songs aren't overproduced, maintaining some of the lively/unfettered feel of the originals--basic, stripped down punk treatments. The originals, though? Killer... (PO Box 1794, San Pedro, CA 90733, www.waterunderthebridgerecords.com)

RED DONS-Fake Meets Failure (Deranged, LP)/Pariah (Deranged, 7")
A new album and 7" (one LP song/one non-LP) for the Red Dons, who continue to offer scintillating melodic punk. It's not that simple, though, even if I mentioned such touchpoints as Naked Raygun, Buzzcocks and Hot Snakes. I mention the first two bands due to pealing guitar notes. It's still not a complete picture.  "Pieces," the closing song on the first side, is the real standout, here. The main guitar line twists its way into your brain matter and is reinforced with a heady wallop, fading out for a semi-subliminal voice collage and then kicking back in until its acoustic fade-out. The non-LP track, "It's Your Right," is also far from a throwaway. There's a depth, a density to their sound and engineer Stan Wright (Arctic Flowers/Signal Lost) has way of bringing out those elements. Doug Burns' impassioned vocals float over the mesh of potently surging and jabbing guitar, bass and drums. Red Dons have turned it up a notch here and moved away from merely being a continuation of the Observers. (www.derangedrecords.com)

ROOFIE & THE NIGHTSTALKER-GHB/Total Dementia (Rich Bitch, 7")
Balls-out rock 'n rollin' punk--well, in a manner of speaking since the vocalist is named Jenny. She rants 'n raves effectively along with the two burning, hard-driving tunes here. Unfortunately, the band have already split up. Pity. (richbitchrecords.com)

TALK IS POISON

TALK IS POISON-Straight To Hell (self-released, 7" EP)
Released to coincide with their reunion shows awhile back, these are Talk Is Poison's first new recordings in a decade. Still raging, still pissed-off but it doesn't sound exactly the same as their "vintage" recordings. OK, it's not that radically different. If they were a new band, though, I'd give it kudos. Raw, fast thrash with piercing leads, slowing it down for the jabbing "Keep The Peace." Beautifully packaged, from the heavy stock cover right down to the screened inner sleeve. Welcome back--and I hope it's not the last we'll hear from them. (PO Box 5783, Oakland, CA 94605, www.badskulls.com)

UX VILEHEADS-Catch 22 EP (Sorry State, 7" EP)
People from Regulations, ETA, DS-13, etc etc--and pretty much the kind of fast, no-BS hardcore punk you'd expect. The skate punk-sounding "Kill For Peace" provides a slight departure. It isn't the Fugs song but it takes a similarly sarcastic approach. Not oozing originality but the playing sounds quite inspired and exhibits skill. Enough to make me want to track down their other 7". (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

VIOLENT SOCIETY-We Don't Believe (Creep, CD)
First new recording since VS reconvened a few years ago. Vocalist Pat Society logged time with Cranked Up during the downtime. "We Don't Believe" features a few re-recordings and one of 'em, "You're Gonna Fall," has Greg from the Boils on vocals. "Coming Back For You" remains one of their all-time best songs. VS always traded in a straight-ahead sound that blurred hardcore and UK-82 punk and cover Kill Your Idols' "Hardcore Circa '99," retitled here as "Hardcore '77," to reinforce that point. Pat's vocals are gruffer and more weathered than in the past. Memorable songs with power and catchiness. A stirring return. (www.myspace.com/violentsocietypunks)

WARTORN/PYROKLAST-The Last Line of Resistance (Profane Existence/multi-label, LP)
These Madison, WI bands recently toured together and also pair up for this split LP. Different shades of crusty hardcore punk here. Wartorn's side consists of two lengthy songs. I'm trying to avoid using the term "epic" here but the tracks flow from doomy intros to speed to pounding heaviness and, in the case of "Overdose," an acoustic conclusion. The death-grunt backing vocals are an acquired test--oh, let's be honest: they're terrible although main voice Bitty fares better with an impassioned, higher tone. Fair to middling--their low-tuned style providing moments of crush. Pyroklast steal the show, here--raging thrash in half a dozen blasts. Relentless in its speedy execution and, here, the harsh, larynx-shredding vocals are quite effective--the howl at the end of "Victims Of All Nations" is maniacal. Impressive both live and on record. (www.profaneexistence.com)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #89

Hey! Only about a week and a half this time. See what happens when I put my mind to it? I've still got some kick-ass records sitting by the turntable that will get the deserved attention shortly so watch out for another installment in the not-too-distant future...

DETROIT HARDCORE (and more) IN THE PRINTED FORM


In recent years, my bookshelves have been crushed under the weight of the seemingly endless glut of tomes concerning various aspects of the history of punk and hardcore. In terms of the latter, Steve Blush’s American Hardcore seemed to get the ball rolling—both the printed version and the film that followed. I’ve expounded on AHC in the past, finding it to be a flawed work with its good and bad points and also recognizing the fact that no one book or film is going to provide a comprehensive view of hardcore (or any musical genre, for that matter). I did think it was lame that Blush referred to hardcore (or Hardcore, since he felt the need to capitalize the term) as a “lost subculture.” The book had a consummate “in my day” attitude, dismissing anything that had come in recent years as redundant or not worthy of attention. Not to generalize too much but it seemed as though the people who loved the book and film the most were the “old timers." There seemed to be a split verdict among the younger folk.

Over the years, there have been different projects aimed at covering certain geographical areas and a pair of books connected to the Detroit scene have come out practically simultaneously—one is Why Be Something That You’re Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985 by Tony Rettman and the other is Touch and Go, The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine ’79-83. The former takes the oral history format, bringing together such scene “movers and shakers” as Tesco Vee (who wrote the intro in his inimitable style), members of the Necros, The Fix, Negative Approach and other bands, Touch and Go co-founder Dave Stimson, even the teacher who helped create the cable TV show that book is named after (which came from an NA song, of course) and featured these bands playing live in the studio.

The book’s broken down into short chapters interspersing Rettman’s observations with recollections from the various parties. First-hand accounts of such “legendary” events as the shows at the Freezer Theater, early Touch and Go record releases, the Process of Elimination tour and their invasion of the “Saturday Night Live” set for the infamous Fear appearance. It documents the rise and eventual fall of that era—regressive elements being introduced (nazi bullshit) and band members moving on to new musical and life adventures. There are plenty of vintage photos, flyers, set-lists, et al, with the last third of the book given over to a gallery of such ephemera.

It’s also humorous to see that certain rivalries persist a quarter century after the fact—I’m thinking of the mutual admiration society that Steve Miller from The Fix and Barry Henssler from The Necros still seem to have for each other. When I interviewed Barry in ’92, he expressed a less-than-complimentary viewpoint about the virtues of The Fix’s music and Steve wrote a rather caustic letter in reply, which I printed in the following issue. It seems as though time hasn’t softened those feelings.

As for the T&G anthology, it's over 500 pages that will keep you occupied for weeks and a warning--if you read it on the hopper, it'll make your legs go numb if you sit there too long. It includes all 22 issues of the ‘zine, reproduced exactly as they first appeared, along with brief introductory pieces by Tesco, Stimson, Miller, Ian MacKaye and a few others. Tesco and Dave weren’t afraid to call things as they saw them, barbs pointed and expelled very sharply at their targets. These targets included a good chunk of the original crop of Detroit punk and new wave bands, radio stations and DJs peddling safe swill and whatever else bored, bemused or enraged them. As Tesco mentioned in Rettman’s book, that necessitated the creation of his pseudonym. Tesco said, “I came up with the pen name so I could trash the people I hated while extolling the virtues of others without being tracked down and killed. We always tried to write reviews that entertained first and informed second.”

Their musical taste was unpredictable—in the pre-hardcore days, there was an affection for plenty of British post-punk/experimental music such as Pop Group, Cabaret Voltaire, Gang of Four, PIL et al, along with late 70s/early 80s west coast bands (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Germs, Avengers) and such UK fodder as 999 (Tesco’s first zine, reproduced here, was 999 Times, devoted to that band), Blitz, Revillos, etc. But it was the burgeoning Detroit hardcore punk scene that provided the most inspiration, documenting in real time what the Rettman book covered, so they complement each other very well.

The T&G honchos’ bible was Slash and it certainly inspired their own irreverent attitude and, at first, a more “artistic” layout approach. To quote Don Imus (does anyone quote him anymore?), this is laugh-out-loud funny stuff. These guys eventually took scatology to new heights—or, more accurately, depths. In fact, the gross-out humor only increased over the ‘zine’s life span. There are some screamingly-funny forays into juvenilia. When I interviewed Tesco for issue #20 of SV, he talked about driving around in a $40,000 RV talking about poop. Well, here, they put it on the printed page--euphemistically speaking, of course. While we're on the subject of private functions and body parts, I’ve never seen so many creative descriptions for male genitalia—“pork sword”and "beef bayonet" are just two favorites.

As T&G progressed through subsequent issues, they tightened up the layout and increased the content, introducing an increasing number of interviews with many of the “choice” (one of Tesco’s favorite terms) bands of the time. The layout never reached a slick level--it still had a cut and paste look--but they made better use of the space. And you can see how they inspired other punk zines, Forced Exposure in particular. Both zines championed their respective scenes but also made connections outside the city, generating a solid network particularly connecting Boston, DC and Detroit, although not so much New York. The exception from that area was the Misfits, who were from New Jersey, anyway. To use yet another cliché, you’re watching history unfold as it happened. (Why Be Something: Revelation Records Publishing, www.revelationrecords.com/T&G: Bazillion Points, www.bazillionpoints.com or www.touchandgobook.com; Amazon has ‘em, as well)

THE RETURN OF UPHEAVAL 'ZINE

One of Boston's longest-running punk zines makes a return and in a different format than before. Craig is back for his first full issue since 2002 (hell, even longer than the last printed SV!) although he did a few single page issues in the interim. In the intro, Craig said it took him about 3 years to finish it. Tucked inside a screened manila envelope, you'll find 17 double-sided 8.5 x 11 pages--they were originally packaged loosely, like the one I got, but Craig decided to staple the rest when people found it unwieldy. Craig has always been a tireless supporter of the underground, international DIY punk scene and the coverage of bands from around the globe, both in the reviews and interviews, proves that out. He writes passionately about this music, knowledgeably describing the sonic contents and often the way he interacts with it. The interviews are with Agitator (Serbia), Malazar (Turkey) and Hellowar (Indonesia). In those interviews, he tries to go beyond the music to find out more about their respective countries and lives. There's also an interview with another Boston mainstay, Pat "Opie" Foley, who currently spews his venom for the band Nothing But Enemies and is quite candid in revealing his life story and opinions about punk rock. Good job. Now where's my stapler? (upheaval.fanzine@gmail.com)


RECORDS AND STUFF:



ANTI YOU

ACEPHALIX-Aporia (Prank, CD)
Molten emanations of metallic savagery that attack without mercy. Sorry--I guess I was channeling the Puszone there for a moment but that's the kind of reaction Acephalix bring out on their first album, following last year's 7". Although there are crusty trappings, Acephalix are, for all intents and purposes, a metal band harnessing crossover elements, the occasional Voivod-ish guitar line and nasty, gut-heaving vocals. I'm not talking bandana thrash but the kind of brutal metal that hardcore people can appreciate. Heavy-duty riffage, quite a bit of it delivered at sprightly tempos, although they often opt for the crush effect, such as with "Gift of Death" and the closing epic "Only The Dying," concluding with the final expelling of vocal venom. You feel relieved for the guy. It does drag a bit in spots but the crushing nature of this band's pillage is quite effective. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141-0892, www.prankrecords.com)

ANTI YOU-Two-Bit Schemes And Cold War Dreams (Six Weeks, LP/CD)

No bullshit, no muss, no fuss hardcore courtesy of the Anti You paisans. The low-distortion guitar sound keeps things clean and very lively. There are definitely moments where you suspect they've got crib notes on American hardcore--"Contaminated" sounding like the Circle Jerks' "Coup D'Etat" or the bass intro to "Cop Out" making you think they're about to cover the FUs' "What You Pay For." Danged catchy, too--if "Operation SS" or "H-Bomb" don't get your toe tapping, check your pulse. As for "Punks Quit"--a song about growing out of punk, abandoning all those ideals you once vehemently spouted--the thought crosses my mind occasionally. After all, this music has been around 30 years, it's been done the same way a million times and is it possible to get excited about every no bullshit, no muss, no fuss hardcore band? Not always but Anti You's rambunctiousness still manages to win me over. Good job, boys, and I'll stop the navel-gazing for now. The CD version also includes the "Johnny Baghdad" and "Pig City Life" EPs and serviceable covers of Discharge's "Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing" and the Descendents' "I'm Not A Loser," both played with their scrappy style. (www.sixweeksrecords.com)

CEREMONY-Rohnert Park LP (Bridge Nine, LP)/Sick (Bridge Nine, 7")

Anyone used to Ceremony's spasmatic hardcore is in for giant shock with "Rohnert Park," because it's almost a 180 degree change in direction. Ceremony remain an edgy band but in a much different manner this time. The intro, "Into The Wayside Part 1" makes you think they're about to break into the Minutemen's "This Ain't No Picnic," then the drum pattern leads into a numbing mid-tempo rocker, "Sick." That's a litany of complaints from vocalist Ross Farrar, emitted in a convincing rasp as he goes off on everyone from Republicans to Obama to Baptists to Black Flag to himself. Completely equal-opportunity. "MCDF" follows with a jabbing garage style. There are also forays into moody rock that's almost Pavement-esque ("The Doldrums") or the bitter, My Bloody Valentine-ish acoustic guitar sound for Parts II and III of "Into The Wayside." "Don't Touch Me," "All The Time" and "Night To Life" are searing mid-paced rockers ala Black Flag/Bl'ast/early Fucked Up, while "The Pathos" provides a brief throwback to thrashy hardcore. Same for the uncredited bonus track tucked onto the end of the album. I'm sure some of Ceremony's older fans might end up scratching their heads but it takes cojones to radically alter things and talent to completely pull it off. That's the case here. The single has a brief non-LP track, "Life As A War" that seems to bridge the old and new, with a speed attack going into an abrasive pound. (www.bridge9.com)

CITIZENS PATROL-s/t (Way Back When/Even Worse, LP)

Hardcore for the rejects, for those lacking social skills, who suffer from cabin fever, who live with panic attacks and need medical care and dental work but can't afford it. Talk about a song I can relate to--it's the latter one, entitled "Plastic Teeth." I guess the Netherlands' dual health care system doesn't work for everyone because it's not single-payer. Anyway, Citizens Patrol had some previous releases on No Way and they continue to play their hardcore punk in competent, straight-forward fashion. Raspy, ranty vocals over clockwork, thrashy arrangements. Not one positive song, either. Somehow, I don't think it would be fitting. The world does pretty much suck these days. (www.waybackwhenrecords.com or www.evenworserecords.com)

PAHAA VERTA-s/t (Bad Hair Life, LP)
Finnish rippers with an old school tinge encompassing US hardcore from both the east and west coasts, perhaps similar to their countrymen Hero Dishonest. The drumming and the rest of the instruments are a bit out of sync at times. The aggressive nature gets 'em by, though, and they're unafraid to throw in catchy bits here and there, such as for "Krapula" or "Kirje Rintamalta." A solid release. (www.badhairliferecords.blogspot.com)


THE PIST

THE PIST-Live And Still Pist (Rabid Dog, LP)

I'm not really a fan of live albums and it's probably a safe bet that I'll continue to listen to the two volumes of "Input Equals Output" (which anthologizes EPs, comp appearances and the like) and "Ideas Are Bulletproof" more than this one. Those were released by Havoc Records awhile back, incidentally. That stated, this disc documents a September 2007 set at Emo's in Austin and was released at this year's Chaos In Tejas fest. The recording quality is so-so--the vocals and drums are mixed way higher than the guitar and bass. The songs still resonate--catchy, timeless street punk/UK '82/hardcore and all the "classics" are here--"We're The Pist," "Black & Blue Collar," "Street Punk," "Destroy Society"--basically, every song you'd want to hear. I think if they'd wanted to make this better, including a DVD of the set might not have been a bad idea although that might have made the price prohibitive. Limited to 400 copies, in a heavy stock, screened cover and a keepsake for the kids. I'm not sure about availability so drop 'em a line to find out (www.thepist.com)

SECRET PROSTITUTES-Mati Di Moskow (P.Trash/Bad Hair Life, 7" EP)
At first, I couldn't figure out if the record was supposed to spin at 33 or 45 because at the latter speed, the vocals sound sped up but after going to their MySpace page, that's the way it's supposed to be--and their vocalist/drummer Adit sings in Indonesian! This is deliriously jittery and thumping punk from the ever-incestuous Houston scene. There are several bands from Astros-land that share members--The Energy, No Talk, Crime Wave and some that I'm no dobut missing. These guys love to cross-pollinate different punk sounds, but it mainly sounds like KBD fodder on speed or at least some pretty strong coffee and they take a pretty successful stab at the Nubs' "Job." Looking forward to hearing their album. (www.badhairliferecords.blogspot.com)

SICK/TIRED-Highlife (To Live A Lie, LP)

Mainly tuneless blast-core, although the instrumentation is pretty solid. They favor howling vocals that sound like the guy is in the middle of being electrocuted. That's not necessarily a bad thing--and what I mean is the vocals are cool, not that he sounds like he's being electrocuted. He reminds me of Charles from Rorschach, in a way. I do like their cover of Phobia's "Day By Day" and the metallic guitar sound is appealing, particularly for the slower, heavier "Banishment" that closes things out. Maybe that's the way to go for them, because their thrashier songs are far from memorable. (www.tolivealie.com)

UNDER AL KRITIK-s/t (Bad Hair Life, LP)

So let's see--there are bands trying to replicate the early 80s US sound, there are bands that take more than a few pages from west coast/Dangerhouse type punk and others who go for the crossover/thrash inspiration. Under Al Kritik, from Denmark, are somewhere in the middle. Their influences come mainly from the mid-80s--not so much crossover but it was a time where bands would flirt with metallic squeals and melodic, moodier inclinations in their sound. Darker shadings--there are ominous guitar lines and screams on both "Sort Psykose" and "Forrykt," exploring the regions of craziness and psychosis (I translated the titles--I admit it). A familiar ring but not sounding like it's been beaten to death and with an engaging quality. (www.badhairliferecords.blogspot.com)

UNDERDOG-Matchless (Bridge Nine, 2xLP)

This collects two demo sessions on the first LP and the "Vanishing Point" album on disc #2. Hate to say it, but "Vanishing Point" has not aged well, at all. First, it has that cavernous late 80s production which detracts from the overall effect and their attempt at an "I Against I" Bad Brains sound isn't all that successful. What we have is rock with a mid-tempo groove and some reggae flourishes and it lacks the full-on forcefulness of their NYHC contemporaries at that time. The musicianship isn't a problem, especially Chuck Treece, who has always been a talented guitarist but the songs don't really go anywhere. As for the demo tracks, the first side is the 1985 session that yielded their debut 7" (re-released by B9 awhile back). Granted, there were some of the same elements but it had a directness, a punchiness that "Vanishing Point" lacked. As I said in the review of the 7", "Say It To My Face" is the kind of song that makes one want to break things. The b-side are early demos for the album, with vocalist Richie Birkenhead playing guitar instead of Chuck and the rougher quality works in their favor although the songs still don't really connect.

When the LP package was being compiled, there was too much material for a small insert so they put together a 64 page booklet that includes photos (including pix from recent reunion shows), flyers, interviews and other ephemera in scrapbook fashion. Worth checking out if you're interested in the story of the band as it happened in real time. Bass player Russ Iglay apparently saved every last letter (including a letter from an A&R guy at a label who wanted them to have more "metal-flavored material") and it's a fun scrapbook for fans. (www.bridge9.com)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Suburban Voice blog archive!

In case you couldn't tell by the title, I've set up an archive for the first 15 Suburban Voice blogs, which originally appeared on MySpace and were published from August 2005 to July 2006. Since that site seems to be rather moribund these days, I've decided to post those installments here. There were some other articles posted on that blog and I might re-post some of those here, as well. The archive can be found at subvoxarchive.blogspot.com.

Consider the reviews a snapshot of my opinions at that point in time. There's always the chance I underrated or--more likely--overrated something back then but they'll stand as written... You'll also notice I wrote about other topics in these blogs, some of them non-musical, while I've pretty much stuck to music content for quite some time. Perhaps that will change again.

If you're still on MySpace, the blog can be found at blogs.myspace.com/suburbanvoice. There's also a Facebook page for SV that includes a gallery of all the covers for the zine as well as other photos and content.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #88


COUNTDOWN TO ARMAGEDDON (2007)

Another long delay. Strictly music reviews this time. In the next blog, there will be a few zine and book reviews, including the Touch & Go anthology and the oral history of Detroit Hardcore, Why Be Something That You're Not. Soon, I promise...

CATCHING UP WITH THE CASSETTES


Time to attack the growing pile of cassettes--actually, not really a pile since I keep them on a shelf but I digress. I don't get to recordings in this format as often as I should, which is strange because I still have a tape deck in the car. But, with the lovely deck I inherited from my beloved old man, it's time to blast the tunes. As I listen to them, it does reveal that the format does have limitations. A good chunk of them would benefit from better reproduction/sound quality. It may be nitpicky and I don't want everything pristine but the power of the performances can be lost, sometimes. That said, thanks to Robert Collins for hooking me up with most of these tapes. I've provided some contact info below but I'm sure he'd point you in the right direction, as well: iamtheverybadman@gmail.com.

COUNTDOWN TO ARMAGEDDON
are a three piece from Seattle plying a dark, aggressive, crusty hardcore sound. They actually formed in '03, but had some downtime. Not dissimilar from other bands from the Northwest region (Portland, in particular). Howling vocals from a pair of them, dramatic riffage and in a mainly speedy vein and adding up to an intense soundscape (www.myspace.com/countdowntoarmageddon).

SUICIDE BOMB were a short-lived Bay Area unit that existed for a few months in 2009 and included guitarist Will Kinser and Mr. Collins on bass (both of whom have played in tons of bands you might have heard of--Born/Dead and Artimus Pyle are a couple of note). Hardcore punk at a mid-to-fast pace ("Looking Back" is a thrasher, though) and while I wouldn't exactly call it catchy, it doesn't go for tuneless brutality, either. The sound on the tape is a little tinny but the songs are memorable. (nooptionsrecords@gmail.com)

CONQUEST FOR DEATH return with their first new material in a few years--this stuff was actually recorded in '08 and '09. Since the members are spread out across the globe (the Bay Area is the home base, though), they don't get together all that often. The border-stretching message is addressed on the title track, "Many Nations, One Underground" and in this era of xenophobia and nationalism, without sounding too naive (OK, maybe I do), you've got to love it. There's a departure on the first couple of songs, with a mid-tempo hardcore sound but then the throttle-hammer returns. As with their previous output, all of this is executed with incredible precision, navigating the various shifts, twists and turns. (www.conquestfordeath.com)

Robert also shows up, this time on vocals, for VACCUUM's demo and it's relentless, raging fodder with the distortion turned way up. My favorite of the bunch, here. NO STATIK have the description "raw sound, recorded by us" on their demo, and it lives up to that billing. Very raw, agitated hardcore that would definitely benefit from a better recording. The last of the tapes he sent comes from OPT OUT, another Bay Area band, bashing out 9 tracks of rough-hewn, no bullshit hardcore, all of it first take and successfully capturing the "of the moment" spirit.

ZERO PROGRESS's tape doesn't offer much fidelity-wise and their thrashy hardcore is fairly typical. They've made the songs available as a download, too, and it sounds a little better there although these 9 songs don't offer anything that really stands out. Not bad, not great--in the middle. If you're curious... (http://0progress.blogspot.com)

TIME FOR THE RECORDS (and a CD or two):

MALE NURSES

ARCTIC FLOWERS-s/t (self-released, 7" EP)

A more-than-impressive debut for Portland band Arctic Flowers, whose guitarist is Stan Wright, late of Signal Lost. There are similarities and I'm not just making the obvious one that both bands have/had female vocalists and bass-players. There's a strong post-punk emphasis but they maintain the punk roots. That's most obvious for the fast-paced "Neon Tombs." While Stan's guitar tone attracts the most immediate attention, a burn and buzz amalgam of Gang Of Four and Ruts inspiration, the other instruments make their presence felt and Alex's vocals have nuance as well as power. Three distinct songs. "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" (the best, in my opinion) has a stinging surge while the lengthy "Technicolor Haze" builds on Lee's New Order bass-line and engaging melody. I've got a feeling this band has a killer album in them. (www.myspace.com/arcticflowerspdx)

DAYLIGHT ROBBERY-Through The Confusion (Residue, LP)
This was an LP that slowly grew on me as the melodic charms revealed themselves over repeated listenings. The ragged male/female harmonizing of Christine and David Wolf definitely conjure up John and Exene, although the music doesn't have much in common with X. Also, the timbre isn't quite the same except when their voices join together. Tuneful, post-punkish rock with sneaky hooks, favoring a clean guitar sound and supple support from the bass and drums. There are subtle flourishes here and there--a slight copping from "Youth Of America" (without the blowtorch ambiance) for "Rerun" or the reggae jab on "Ignominious Defeat," for instance. The songs have a presence without any sort of bombast. A somewhat somber quality but too lively to sink into mopedom. I wrote this band off a little bit in the past and this makes me want to go back and listen to their previous 7"s. (www.residue-records.com)

DEFECT DEFECT-s/t (Residue, 12")

It makes perfect sense for Defect Defect to be on Residue records since they have sonic elements akin to Residue honcho Jordan's band, Pedestrians. Brash, tuneful punk with beefy guitars and strong hooks and, when at a medium pace, the Pedestrians comparison is apt. The lead-off song, "Stolen Land," is likely to become a Columbus Day staple on my radio show, with its theme of imperialist, murderous conquest, stating that "this ain't no new world/it's a graveyard." The guitar line for "Post-Apocalypse" brings to mind the underrated 80s-era Chicago band Bloodsport. But Defect Defect are from Portland and in recent years, such bands as the Observers, Autistic Youth and now Arctic Flowers have gone for a sturdy but catchy approach. And some of the folks here have played in some of those bands (I cheated to find that out) so it makes even more sense. A hard-driving, impassioned surge and one hopes they'll never become the "Ex-Punks" they deride, as corny as that might sound. I'm jaded as hell lately and this un-jades me a little. (www.residue-records.com)

DRY HUMP-Culture Fuck Experience (Shogun, 7" EP)
These guys had personnel change recently, with PJ Kuda, drummer for Male Nurses and Bloodkrow Butcher, replacing Erik on vocals. This 7" was recorded before Erik's departure. The first pair of songs, “Culture Fuck Experience” and “Let Down” ply the speed with some impressive, feedback-laden noisemongering providing a bridge between them. Erik’s distorted vocals just add to the rawness. The Disorder-ly buzz introduces the dirge-like track on the flip, “Sex Cult.” This used to be their opening song and, here, it’s accompanied by a call into one of those national talk shows by one of the band member's relatives where he talks about paranormal experiences. Thing is you can't always hear what's going on as most of it is submerged under the racket but that's the gist of it. The same track also appeared on their 2008 demo but that’s the only repeat. I don’t want to know what kind of subliminal effect this piece might have on me but the intensity will draw ‘ya in. (Recordings, 3 Rue du Lavoir, 51140 Bouvancourt or nribas138@gmail.com)

EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING

EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING-Rush To Relax (Goner, LP)/Wet Cement (Mexican Summer, 7")

It's taken me a little while to completely warm to this album. A tough task considering the pure brilliance of "Primary Colours." I can't see them ever topping that album. So for "Rush To Relax," the songs remain engaging, an assimilation of X, Wire, The Fall, hell, even the TV Personalities come to mind on "Tuning Out." "I've Got A Feeling" sneaks in the descending riff from "(I'm) Stranded." The title track nicks from the Stooges' "1969," with its tribal rhythm, minus the fuzz. But ECSR have developed their own distinctive sound, centered around Brendan's flat-yet-expressive vocals and Eddy's intricate guitar patterns, given steady rhythmic support. For a real change of pace, there's the 7 minutes of "Second Guessing," with Eddy (who's real name is actually Mikey) replacing the guitar with an electric piano to glorious effect, completely numbing the senses. For the shorter attention span, there's the driving "Isn't It Nice." (www.goner-records.com)

ECSR recently toured the US and I had to schlep to NYC to see them play at a beyond steamy Cake Shop. It was worth the miserable traffic approaching the city and every drop of sweat that was endured. and And they had a new three song 7" with two of 'em (title track, "Hey Mum") recorded last year and one back in 2007 ("Through The Trees"). The latter creates the most impact, since it harkens back to the material on their first album. "Wet Cement" is a tad lethargic but things pick up nicely for the post-punk danceability of "Hey Mum." Worth having and apparently limited to 1000 copies. (www.mexicansummer.com)

THE ENERGY-The Energy's First Album (Team Science, LP)

You look at the front cover and see the abstract collage drawing and it could lead you to believe that it's going to be some kind of psychedelic revival. But the dagger through the bird on the back cover quickly dispels that notion. They don't sound like Discharge, either, by the way. Ever hear the expression murder ballad? Well, let's call the songs here attempted-murder non-ballads. No ballads, just jittery, edgy rock accompanied by near deadpan vocals that still manage to be expressive. Maybe it's the matter-of-fact delivery for such songs as "I'm Gonna Cut You To Pieces," "Stabbing In The Dark" or "Drugged Skull On The Jagged Rocks" that make things even more chilling. No musical chill, though--it's a jabbing, chaotic sound.
"Destroy Imagination" introduces the affair with five plus minutes of stop/start/surging delirium--just when you think the song is over, it comes back for another round. Maybe it is somewhat psychedelic, if you're thinking bad trip--perhaps the squall for "Girls Don't Like Me" might indicate that kind of experience. Some garage inspirations, as well, such as "Perfectly Possessed," with a single note piano plink joining the fray. "I Won't Let You Waste Me" is dense and raucous with searing guitar lines bubbling up through the rhythmic slash. A sonic dagger puncturing the skull. (www.myspace.com/theenergyhtx)

ERGS-Thrash Compactor (Grave Mistake/Firestarter, 7" EP)

The Ergs were generally known for playing hyper-melodic punk ala the Descendents but these five songs that are slapped on a one sided 7" show their hardcore punk side. Four of them recorded in '03, one in '07 and harnessing their high level of musical skill to loud and fast material and it's over before you know it. So play it again. Gratuitous slams at both Johnny from Goo Goo Dolls ("Johnny Rzeznick Needs His Ass Kicked" and Dubya ("I Shot The Devil's Son"). Accompanied by witty liner notes. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241, www.gravemistakerecords.com)

FLAG OF DEMOCRACY-Home Lobotomy Kit (Motherbox, CD)

More than a quarter-century as a band and still raging, with few lineup changes--the current drummer, Bob Walker, came on board in 1986. This new album actually isn't all that new, since it was recorded in 2005 but, even at that point, who'da thunk FOD still had this much frenetic energy left?
Perhaps it's the fact that FOD don't release albums all that often (the one before this came out in 2000) that maintains their sonic quality. They've always found a way to mix up speedy, crazed, tumultuous hardcore with incredibly stinging melody lines that fight their way through the fray. Songs like "Glimmerglass" and "Number 1" provide an incredible powerload, to quote the title of a song from their first 7", fusing the rage with poppiness. The vocals take the primal scream route but it's a damned harmonious one, particularly when Jim and Dave's emanations end up tangled together. They haven't lost a step. (www.myspace.com/motherboxrecords)

KIELTOLAKI-Massahypnoosi (Feral Ward, LP)
Finally, 12 inches of Kieltolaki's blazing hardcore. They're Finns but draw as much from Swedish fodder as their own country's tradition (Kaaos, in particular, but without the reverb). Splitting hairs, I suppose, a case of over-analyzing. Buzzing guitars with a dollop of feedback and plenty of rhythmic rampage. Speaking in the figurative sense, this kills everything in front of it. Maybe I should put the speakers outside--it'll get rid of the weeds a lot easier than any gardening tools. Probably scare the neighbors too, but that's their problem. It'll keep those annoying little kids away from me for a bit. (www.feralward.com)

KVOTERINGEN-Samhallets Forradare (Feral Ward, LP)

Second album from this Swedish band that includes Jallo from Totalitar, Meanwhile, Krigshot et al so you pretty much know what to expect here and it's as promised. Cranking out the Swedish hardcore rage, playing what they know, which is d-beat inspired mayhem with enough rawness to give it an edge and the adequate amount of vocal venom. They've got a newer split with Nitad and their tracks on there sound even rougher but I like these recordings better. Quality noise. (www.feralward.com)

LETS GROW/JAIBO!-Split (Thrashbastard/multi-label, LP)
Lets Grow recently called it quits so I imagine this might be it for the long-standing Belgrade band. With this recording, Lets Grow have pretty much abandoned the hyper-fast thrash, save one song, and complete the evolution towards a powerful, mid-to-fast sound ala early Annihilation Time, right off the bat for "Tired," "Gone" and other songs, although there's more of a melodic hardcore fervor for a song like "Judge and Jury" and "Darker Place." Sorry to see 'em go. Jaibo!, also from Belgrade, marry rock 'n roll, metal and boogie elements to their hardcore sound. Fairly tasty, musically, although the vocals get a little overbearing at times. I'll stick to the Lets Grow side. (thrashbastard@yahoo.de)

MALE NURSES-s/t (Deranged, 7" EP)
FINALLY, some vinyl from these guys. About fucking time. The Nurses started out as more or less a straight-up ’82 era hardcore band. That influence permeates a good chunk of this EP with the rampaging “Red, White, Blue” being the standout. They’ve also added a snottier west coast punk-meets-Dead Boys element as well, particularly for “Pull The Trigger.” Vocalist Nick Norrman conveys the appropriate attitude and there are some impressive guitar squalls throughout. (www.derangedrecords.com)

NIGHT BIRDS-s/t (Grave Mistake/Dirtnap, 7" EP)

They might be from NJ, but the Night Birds are looking westward and go for some punk rock surfing. Well, only the instrumental "Harbor Rats" is pure surf but other three songs have that tinge to varying extents. More than a little East Bay Ray in those six string exercises, especially for the walloping punk of "Prognosis: Negative." The brief "Unanswerable" eschews the surf for straight hardcore. A strong vinyl debut after a not-so-shabby demo.
(PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241, www.gravemistakerecords.com)

RED INVASION-Ugly To Know So (Rebel Sound, CD)

These trashy rockers aren't afraid to brazenly flaunt their musical inspirations, those being the Dolls and other 70s strut-rockers. Damn if it doesn't work--up to a point. If they were rougher and even trashier, I'd probably be a tad more impressed. Still, Joey Boy's Bators-conjuring yowl matches the band's rock 'n roll brashness and, speaking of Stiv, there's a Lords Of The New Church flavor to "Disappear." Also, to be fair, it's not a carbon-copy tribute. Opening song "Gimme A Lot" is a fast-paced, surging blast that gets things off to a strong start. Good enough to keep around. (146-A North St., Pittsfield, MA 01201, www.myspace.com/redinvasion)

RENEGADES OF PUNK-s/t (Thrashbastard, 7" EP)
A reissue of a 7" that came out a few years ago. This Brazilian band blast out fast, slam-bang punk with a stripped down, non-distorted guitar sound. Within the confines of this sound, Daniela's voice has a gritty but sonorous quality, emphasis on the former. An energetic combination of garage, '77 and early '80s hardcore influences. (thrashbastard@yahoo.de)


UNNATURAL AXE/NASTIES-Split (Lawless, 7")

Two songs apiece from the Axe and Italian band the Nasties, each covering a song by the other band. Unnatural Axe's side is their first new recording in well over a decade. The original, "I Am The Way," is an average mid-tempo rocker while their version of the Nasties "Back To LA" is fairly tepid pop. As for the Nasties, I think they upstage the Bostonians with the punk pop of "Maybe" and a punchy cover of the Axe's "The Creeper." Overall, kind of underwhelming. (PO Box 689. Hingham, MA 02043, elaw@fifieldfabrics.com)

VIPER-Committing The Seven Deadly Sins (540, 7" EP)
Emanations of pure evil with a hardcore punk take on Venom and Hellhammer, cavernous production and all. This is the entertaining brainchild of a couple of guys, who augment the lineup to a five piece for live performances. Definitely not polished and the lyrics about the deadly sins (on six tracks--"Pride and Desire are combined) are appropriately nasty. “Gluttony” threatens a buttering of the flesh and inserting a certain male organ in a certain place, followed by a blood spitting facial. I think I might look into a diet. (Band contact: 113 Cowls Road, Amherst, MA 01002)


YOUNG OFFENDERS

YOUNG OFFENDERS-Leader Of The Followers (Deranged, 12")

The band's first 12" release--well, they were on a split 12" with Giant Haystacks if you want to be technical about it.
An abundance of jittery energy and big hooks, underpinned by adept playing and strong harmonies. It sounds as though the Offenders have ingested some of the "Black Coffee" they sing about on the song with that name. Still, their approach is much more pop-oriented than the mutant dance inclinations you'd usually associate with this musical territory. Continuing to crank out the quality music and I hope they can somehow find their way to the east coast, 'cause they were great at Chaos in Tejas. (www.derangedrecords.com)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #87

WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS...

ARCTIC FLOWERS (at Chaos In Tejas)

...to the blog that never ends (where have I heard that before? Never mind.). Sure, it doesn't get updated as often as it should. I've reached the conclusion I'm never going to catch up. I shouldn't even put up the pretense I will. I really appreciate all the sick records people have been sending my way and do the best I can to at least play them on the radio show but it's a daunting task to review a million records in each blog. Besides, actually hearing the music makes it easier to figure out what you'll like or won't, correct? I'd also like to do other things with this space on occasion. So don't get disappointed if I don't review something--it doesn't mean I didn't like it but I just can't seem to work my way through the review pile that efficiently.

I finally made it to the Chaos In Tejas fest over Memorial Day weekend. In brief, it was a hell of a lot to absorb over four days and the recovery period was a lot longer than that. I have a photo gallery from the fest with a rundown of the festivities at my Flickr page. Check that out and a number of other sets I've posted recently.

As for when the next blog will be, there's always hope it won't take as long. I'll aim for having one done well before the end of July.

REVIEW TIME

KYKLOOPPIEN SUKUPUUTTO

ALLIANCE-Resonant Agitate (HG Fact, LP)

A sweeping and powerful effort from Alliance. I know some people have recommended a moratorium on the term "epic" when referring to musical performances but I can't really come up with anything better to describe it--most of these songs cross the four minute mark as the songs unfold through various segments. A visceral cacophony of guitar/bass/drums accompanied by rabid vocals although there are melodic guitar underpinnings--maybe a hint of Voivod here and there? I think there is. It creates a haunting quality on the bridge of "Cry Earth." A colorful 6 panel sleeve with the front page folding out a twisted rendition of buildings, cars and highway, all of it in a non-linear state of chaos. I imagine that's their way of visually presenting the chaotic musical ride. (www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact)

BROKEN-Active Denial (Vex, CD)
Broken are still going strong in 2010. As agitated at the world as always--you can hear the outrage in Jim Martin's bellicose vocals. Heavy-duty crust-core reinforced with a bruising wall of guitars and rhythmic rumble. Lyrics about diminishing civil liberties, environmental destruction and economic globalization. Timeless lamentations that never seem to show improvement, do they? I'd imagine the devastation caused in the Gulf of Mexico by BP could be next on their lyrical agenda, as well as other bands. I'll be listening for it. (www.myspace.com/vexrecords)

COMMON ENEMY-Living The Dream? (Overdose On Records/Horror Business, CD)

They claim they're "still having fun" and it sounds like they are, bashing out the noise that makes life bearable. Pretty standard thrashy hardcore, ranty vocals and drumming that sometimes cause things to fall apart a bit. OK, more than a bit. Not adding anything unique to the hardcore canon yet it's enjoyable at least some of the time. (www.myspace.com/overdoseonrecords)

CULO-Nuke Abuse (Punks Before Profits, 7" EP)
While Culo would probably benefit from the addition of a bass-player, some of these songs will get the circle pit going. When I mentioned to Ryan from PBP that one of the songs ("Shock Troops") sounded somewhat garagey to me, he scoffed about how much he hated garage rock but, for a moment, it does have that feel until the speed kicks in and "Kill The Pain" favors straight-forward punk that's close to catchy. Without the bass, though, it sounds thin. (PO Box 1148, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, www.punksbeforeprofits.org)

DEFIANCE-Johnny Was A Soldier (HG Fact, 7")

Wow, Defiance are still kicking around and, these days, have Brian Hopper from Hellshock on guitar. Each song shows a different side of the UK 82 thang, with "Johnny" taking a tuneful route and the b-side, "Will We Survive," going for the speedier attack. Listenable but paling in comparison to their classic 90s era releases.
(www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact)

DEVOUR-Insect Circuitry (Headcount, 7" EP)

Another barbed-wire hardcore attack on this new five song EP. The vocals remain raspy and nasty and the songs stick to a speedy assault although there's a change-up with the noise-field fade for "Laugh Track" before the pillage continues with "Living Scraps." As I mentioned in the review of their LP, there's a hint of early COC in terms of the bass runs, drumming style and arranging but it's not pure tribute. Devour forge together a hardcore sound with a bulldozing presence. (www.headcountrecords.com)

FIX MY HEAD/KNIFE IN THE LEG-Split (Inimical, 12")

Fix My Head, in case you forgot, have former Scurvy Dog Matt McDonald on vocals and he sounds as rabid as always. Mainly raw and fast thrash, along the same lines as 9 Shocks Terror--maybe not as crazed--but these guys channel the Japanese hardcore sound in much the same way and add US influences. The slower "8 Years" is a critique of how Obama's regime, so far, seems to be more of the same on some issues and you won't get any argument here. Knife In The Leg, meanwhile, are from Poland and also play energetic, surging hardcore but with more of a melodic emphasis. I like the sentiment behind their song "Kill/Die For Limited Edition," about the fetishization of collectible records. Record collectors have become as insufferable as baseball card nerds. On black vinyl--damn, now I can't flip it on eBay. Not that I'd want to because this is one kick-ass split. (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111, www.inimical.com)

KYKLOOPPIEN SUKUPUUTTO-Likana Valikoimassanne (Primitive Air-Raid, 12")/Kusisessions Vol. 1 (Kissankusi, 7" EP)
On their second 12", there remains an off-kilter sound with this Finnish band. Explosive and challenging, the latter attribute not necessarily a plus all the time. The three songs on the first side are frantic, unhinged hardcore that sounds like an eruption of instruments doing battle and the drumming threatens to overpower everything else. Flip it over and change the speed to 33 1/3 and there's a distinctly different approach--slower, intense but still a scream from the inside. More of a focus, a cohesiveness especially for "Matka Unholaan" but difficult and I don't think it's something that would find its way into regular rotation here. The 7" is a collection of earlier recordings that originated, according to the info, during 2006 but took a few years to complete, press, etc and here it is. Much rougher production for the thorny, sputtering hardcore following a slightly more conventional path though still veering out of control. Sometimes, I'll say a record benefits from cruder sound quality--in this record's case, it would probably work better with better sonics. A "for the fans" artifact. (www.primitiveairraid.com, www.kissankusi.com)


LÖGNHALSMOTTAGNINGEN-Fina Nyanser i Nya Finanser EP (Local Cross, 7")

When I've played this record on the radio show, I've given up trying to pronounce the name of this 2 piece Swedish band, whose name loosely translates to Liars Recption (thanks, Google Translate). One guy handles the vocals, the other all the instrumentation. Semi-noxious old school punk where the songs are fun, catchy and primitive. One of the songs, "Positivt Tankande," is actually a cover of "Positive Thinking" from Australian obscuros the Young Identities. Yes, I looked it up and even found the snotty-sounding original version (which you can find on a CD compilation called "Shakedown: Original Brisbane Punk.") Back to this record, though, this duo have the KBD spirit and if some might find that passé, it's their problem. (www.localcross.com)

MANIPULATION-s/t (Fashionable Idiots, 7" EP)

God DAMN is this a ripper. New ragers from Chicago with Jordan Atkins (Pedestrians) on vocals and Bryan Welch (Chronic Seizure/Fourteen or Fight) manning one of the axes. Is it lame to call a guitar an axe? Well, it has the same impact. Lest you think I'm being hyperbolic, just listen to the damned record. Jordan howls in a much harsher cadence than he did in Pedestrians, getting back to his hardcore days in Dearborn SS some ten years ago--he sounds like the vocalist for the Repos, here. Rampaging hardcore with a Swedish tinge but minus the rock 'n roll inclinations. The drumming on "White Scare" sounds like a locomotive at times, with the twin guitar squalls creating some accompanying mayhem. Plenty of overdriven mayhem contained in these five songs. (www.fashionableidiots.com)

PERDITION-s/t (Distort Reality, 7" EP)
ARRRRRRGH... The first emanation heard here. and it's not the last exhortation of that type, either. Vocals that sound as though the individual is trying to expel something causing him great agony. Maybe it's life. More raw, blown out hardcore from this NYC crew and As I've said many times, it's all in the delivery, how far a band pushes things without it turning into formless noise. Clattering drums, sputtering guitars, distortion, feedback and unfettered rage. Dis-core by way of Swedish noisemongering, if one was to pin it down. This will pin down or, rather, pin back your ears without very much difficulty. (PO Box 80338, Minneapolis, MN 55408, skell@hotmail.com)

PLAGUE RATS THROUGHOUT HISTORY-Comorbid (Primitive Air-Raid, 7" EP)
Crude and crazy garage/new wave/punk pulling 70s era proto-punk-muck screaming through a hellacious time warp. Jabbing guitars, spooky keyboards and a wild 'n wooly ambiance, all of it in glorious low-fi. Young, fast and scientific raw rock mutancy. To paraphrase a song title, I'd love to know what kind of spoilage these two guys are diving into because it's obviously created quite the violent infection. (www.primitiveairraid.com)

POSITIVE NOISE

POSITIVE NOISE/XTRA VOMIT-Xtra Noise (IFB, 7" EP)

Thrasharama in full-effect with two Michigan bands, with the man who goes by the name of Sock playing in both bands. Now that we've taken care of the details, they're each loud and fast, with the occasional variance in speed and, in the case of Positive Noise, it adds to the songs' impact. Xtra Vomit take a grindier route and the songs don't hold together quite as well. (2311 Katherine St., Ft. Myers, FL 33901, www.ifbrecords.com)

SHORT CHANGED-s/t (Rodent Popsicle, CD)

Ever have one of those days where you just want to scream at the top of your lungs? Well, the bloodcurdling yell that starts "Bottle Or The Knife," the second track on Short Changed's first album, provides such a moment. That song appeared on their 7" from a few years ago but that's the only repeat (well, besides "Send In The Clones"). This is revved up, raw and boisterous hardcore punk. Angry-as-fuck vocals and, instead of guitar, the instrument with the strings is named "chainsaw." No stretch there. Observations about gentrification, white flight and the tragedy of assholes that smoke half your stash. Even though I don't smoke weed, I can feel their pain. Anyway, not a lot of nuance either, just bile, and there are days when one definitely needs a dose of that. (www.rodentpopsicle.com)

THURNEMAN-Tegelsten-For-Tegelsten EP (Sorry State, 7")
Thurneman's songs are mainly in a fast hardcore vein but there are some melodic change-ups on about half the songs, although shards of tunefulness poke through other songs, as well. Those moments make this disc a little more distinct than other 7"s in the current review pile. (1102 N Greensboro St, Carrboro, NC 27510, www.sorrystaterecords.com)