Saturday, October 30, 2010

Suburban Voice blog #90


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 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. (

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, or

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,

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,

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. (

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,,

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. (

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,

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,

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,

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. (

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,

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,

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,

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,


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,

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,

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,

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. (

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. (


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,

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". (

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. (

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. (