Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #85

BRUCE ROEHRS (1950-2010)

This blog is dedicated to the memory of my fellow Maximum Rocknroll columnist Bruce Roehrs, who passed away unexpectedly last month. I never got to meet Bruce in person. Ellen and I were in SF a couple of summers ago and I had it in the back of my mind that I’d try to get in touch with him and see about joining him for a few beers at that bar he always mentioned. And after reading the outpouring of reminiscences and tributes to Bruce, it’s obvious he was universally loved and respected and a really unique character. I read about such exploits as selling acid for Grand Funk Railroad, about his love for all styles of music, including the fact that he owned every record Fats Domino ever released and the first record he bought was the 13th Floor Elevators’ “You’re Gonna Miss Me.”

It’s obvious Bruce lived and breathed music and never got jaded, that his enthusiasm never wavered—every “FUCK YES!” that punctuated his writing seemed genuine and sincere. I found that goddamned inspiring, since he had a decade on me and there are times when I do feel jaded as hell. From what I read, he was able to intelligently converse on just about any topic, not just music. As someone said on a message board where there was a thread paying tribute, “he lived life to the FULLEST.” It makes me think that’s something we’d all better do every single day, because who knows how long that life’s going to be. I still hope I’ll have a chance to meet Bruce at the bar someday and the first round is on me, ‘ya fuck!


I figured it was high time I posted a new blog even though, as always, I didn't get everything reviewed that I wanted to. But what else is new? I can only promise a quicker update. One thing that's changed over the past month and a half is I've started attending more shows again and that's reflected on my Flickr page. I've still got a few more sets to post but they'll likely be up there a few days after this installment hits the web.

Let's get to those reviews:


ANAL WARHEAD-s/t (Loud Punk, 7" EP)
Credible early Poison Idea-type hardcore, right down to Cannonball's (that's the name he uses) channeling of Jerry A. Basic basharama, nothing breathtakingly original but they've got it down. (PO Box 3067, Albany, NY 12203, loudpunk@gmail.com)

BUKKAKE BOYS-s/t (Sorry State, 7" EP)
These Georgia jokers were one of the pleasant surprises of last year's No Way fest and they make a mighty return on their second EP. Uncorking a clattering barrage of hardcore agitation somewhere between early Poison Idea (yes, again) and COC, favoring raw production and a whole bunch of bile. If you read the Slimy Cunt and the Fist Fucks review below, I mention about that band reveling in being excluded, hated if you will. Bukkake Boys know who their enemies are and express it with "Elite" and "Trend Junkie." A liberating ugliness in this band's sound. (1102 N Greensboro St, Carrboro, NC 27510, www.sorrystaterecords.com)

CATBURGLARS-s/t (Criminal IQ, LP)
Garagey punk rock that's full of vim, vigor and fun times. Buzz and bash in the vein of some of the Rip Off Records bands i.e. the sound is rough and the songs snotty as hell. Willfully stoopid lyrics... want an example? "You make me mad/you make me mad/You make me so mad/You make me mad/You never give me what I want/All you ever do is piss me off." Heavy sentiments there! I mean, that sums up life's disappointments in a nutshell.
The tongue is planted so far into the cheek that it's in danger of poking through. A winning tandem of wise-assed attitude and the burn to back it up. (3057 N Rockwell 2nd Floor Chicago, IL 60618, www.criminaliq.com)

CUTE LEPERS-Smart Accessories (1-2-3-4 Go!, CD)

I thought this was going to be some cutesy power-pop fodder--and, no, it wasn't because of the band's name. While there is a certain squeaky-clean and bouncy chipperness, a fair number of these songs have teeth in them. Not all of them--there's a lighter touch here and there and a few that approach bar rock territory but overall, things are sharp 'n smart (there I go again). The horn-laced title track is a stand-out with a tip of the cap to Rocket From The Crypt, the Fleshtones and "Eternally Yours"-era Saints. "Young Hearts," "Thanks For Not Showing Up" and "Some Hits Hurt" possess an irresistible hookiness along with the hearty musical sting. You can tell they've listened to a fair amount of Buzzcocks and Undertones, judging by some of the guitar lines. Nothing wrong with that and this is a vibrant, enjoyable effort. (www.1234gorecords.com)

Boston punk legend Mike McCarthy and his socially deviant combo are paired with Canadian punx the Wednesday Night Heroes. One original and one cover for each band. “Revenge” by FTW is a mid-tempo punk basher, kind of a departure from their fast hardcore sound with loud riffing and topped off with Mr. McCarthy’s piercing yelp. Meanwhile, The Bruisers' “American Night” is given a buzzsaw airing. Both songs were recorded in ’06. As for the WNH, “No Control” is a feisty ‘n catchy full-bore anthem and their cover is a decent-enough rendition of the ZERO BOYS’ “Civilization’s Dying.” (Patac, www.patacrecords.com/Give Praise: www.givepraiserecords.com)

LOST BOYS-Work, Life, Regret (multi-label, 7" EP)

LOST BOYS/IRRADIATES-split (multi-label, 12" EP)
Two new records by this fine fine French combo—one of ‘em a new four song 7” and the other being a split 12” with their countrymen The Irradiates. The 7” is another cut ‘n slash burst of no-nonsense, fast snot-punk. A revved up tandem of garage and early 80s hardcore styles, although slowing it a tad for “Some Won’t Come Back Tonight.” The perfect complement to the caffeine surging through my veins at the moment. And if you remember that song by Rockwell, “Somebody’s Watching Me” (I’d rather not), the same kind of paranoia rings through the lyrics of “They’re Watching,” but they also note that folks aren’t watching the watchers and satisfied with their complacency on “Keep Your Smile.” The cover choice is also inspired—a bolt through MIA’s “I Hate Hippies,” an early song from those guys that hasn’t been flogged to death elsewhere. Their pair of songs on the 12” are slightly different—an older California sound with a surfy inflection for “Big Day Big Fun” and straight into the surf for the instrumental “Neist Point.” Well-played but kinda ho-hum. The Irradiates are more of a straight-up surf-punk band, also offering one instrumental and one vocal track and the latter, “When The Birdmen Flew,” is a catchy rocker. The LOST BOYS solo 7” kind of blows this split out of the water (sorry).(www.lostboys.fr)

NINPULATORS-2009 Demo (Teenage Riot, CD)
OK, as of this writing, 2009 has been over for over three months but, to use a cliche, better late than never, I suppose. West coast thrash and skate punk are the main musical tools—not an uncommon approach these days—see Smart Cops, Hjertestop and many more—but the basic sounds laid down by this Hungarian band are quite good. Their vocalist Viktor claims that the lyrics in Hungarian are “translations of either early Madball or late Dead Moon songs” but I think he might be pulling the wool over my eyes. Who knows—maybe he’s telling the truth. I’m too lazy to find out. (www.myspace.com/teenageriotrecordsbp)


PINKO & THE ACTION BOYS-Louder Than Everything (self-released, LP)

When I was a youngster, my family vacationed a few times at a blissful place called the Wyonegonic in North Bridgton, ME. It was somewhat run-down but there were comfy cabins, delicious meals in the main building, swimming in the pool or nearby pond, shuffleboard, etc. It still operates as a camp, but I haven’t been there in 40 years and have no idea what it’s like these days. But punk rock DOES exist there. Pinko & The Action Boys, from the adjoining town of Bridgeton, have been around for many years but Louder Than Everything is the band’s first 12” release. Nothing sedate or restful here. It’s whomping high energy hardcore punk with agitated, gritted-teeth vocals and a rough and fast oeuvre. Yeah, the drumming loses the beat once in awhile but these guys have such an unaffected feel that it’s impossible not to love it. The packaging is superlative—clear vinyl (one of five colors), a hand-screened inner sleeve, CD version and a “Pinko Moxie Army Field Manual” booklet about their “unconventional warfare tactics and techniques.” This tome not only provides the lyrical matter (along with a guitar pick tucked inside!) but lays out the agenda. The hopped-up-on-Moxie PINKO are into political as well as musical subversion, keeping a wary-yet-winking eye not only oppressive forces but also laying down the punk rock law, demanding the return of the circle pit. Not much to add except, as they say on “Organization Of A Raid Force,” “up the fucking PMA!” Amen, comrades. (www.pinkoandtheactionboys.com)

SCEPTRES-Flatline Generation/The Tow (Dire, 7")

Another fine release from the up 'n coming Dire label. The Sceptres play sturdy punk-verging on-post punk that's underpinned by dynamic bass and drums, jabbing guitar and charming vocal calisthenics from Bryony, sometimes double-tracked so it sounds like she's harmonizing with herself. The band includes members of the Shitty Limits. (www.direrecords.com)

Ah, the band name some people love to hate. In fact, SCFF revel in being hated, being the "bastards with big mouths." Mean, mid-tempo punk bruiseability with Opie's agitated bray at the fore--even a few demonic grunts to start things off. This is middle-finger, anti-social punk for the rejected and, uh, anti-social. Those who never quite adjusted either to "norm" society or the elitist punk pecking order. When all those here-today-gone-tomorrow types have moved on to their Brooklyn apartments and lame bands, the SCCF boys will continue to haunt Boston's punk demimonde. What did a certain DC band* say years ago? Hated and proud! (www.patacrecords.com)

Subtle band name, eh? OK, NOT subtle, especially the closeup photo of bible resting on a woman’s thigh and I imagine about to be used in a quite unholy fashion. That lack of subtlety also applies to the raw musical contents. Loutish hardcore punk and fairly inept, sad to say. They sound pissed off as hell and I imagine I’d be the same way if I had to live in Alabama, in the middle of the bible belt, to mention one of the song titles. That doesn’t change the fact this isn’t that great. (2724 Glastonbury Rd., Apex, NC 27539, www.myspace.com/noprofitrecords)

SOUTHSIDE STRANGLERS-Too Much TV (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)
These Richmond Stranglers have Kenny and Brandon from Government Warning indulging their more rockin ‘n rollin’ inclinations. Kenny adds a bit of swaggering bravado to his vocals while maintaining the snottiness and the songs are ass-kickers devoid of any sort of cock rock cheesiness—the semi-raw production prevents that from happening. There's a newer 7" on Fashionable Idiots that just came out, but I haven't heard it yet. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241, www.gravemistakerecords.com)

Nihil Ex Nihilo (Punks Before Profits)/Excommunicated (Statement)
The stream of State 7"s continues unabated. Add two more to the collection. There are a pair of absolute scorchers on "Nihil Ex Nihilo, "Destroyed Rock City” and “Vixen." Both songs feature great guitar work by Art Tendler, channeling Mr. Ron Asheton and dumping it into a punk rock acid bath. "Excommunicated" is the newer recording and release. It starts with another rocked-up anthem, “Dropout,” the best of the four songs here, although “Excommunicated” and “Reign Of Terror” have plenty of fieriness, as well. (www.myspace.com/statenoillusions, www.punksbeforeprofits.org)

A tumultuous, cacophonous rock ‘n roll joyride. That’s not really giving you much to go on, is it? It also wouldn’t help if I said this band doesn’t really sound like anyone else. What you have a is fist-pumping amalgam of punk energy and some hard rockin’ 70s impulses filtering through. It’s loud, guitar-oriented rock although there are also organ shadings. They don’t veer that far from the nervy/edgy thrust all that often—well, except for the brief hip-hop throwaway “My Notes.” When I say you hear some funk in the bass-line of “Photonegative,” I’m not talking about JB or Sly Stone. I mean funk as in Grand Funk. Somewhere, Mel Schacher is smiling (Mel was GF’s bass-player, in case you couldn’t figure it out). There’s a little more of that “red album” Grand Funk (and maybe some Sabbath) for the concluding “Precinct.” The tornado-like “Theophylline” conjures up the best of Amphetamine Reptile noise with a dollop of Jesus Lizard. Then there’s the sonic eruption of “MFA” and jarring groove of “90% Tone.” I imagine there a conscious brazenness in all of this rockitude but it still hooks you. (1658 N. Milwaukee Ave., #284, Chicago, IL 60647, www.smogveil.com)