Saturday, June 26, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #87


ARCTIC FLOWERS (at Chaos In Tejas) 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.



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. (

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. (

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. (

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,

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.

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. (

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,

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. (,

LĂ–GNHALSMOTTAGNINGEN-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. (

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. (

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,

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. (



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,

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. (

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,