Sunday, August 08, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #88


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...


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:

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 (

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. (

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. (

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... (

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


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. (

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. (

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. (

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


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." (

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. (

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. (

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,

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. (

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. (

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. (

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. (

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. (

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,

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,

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. (


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,

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-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. (

1 comment:

Karl Bakla said...

I've been curious about that Ergs! record & want to pick it up... damn being unemployed!