Sunday, November 27, 2011

Suburban Voice blog #97



... and I won't review them. Never. No exceptions. It seems more labels and publicists only want to send digital files for review. What's especially ridiculous is some send them at low bit-rates like 128 or 160, which sound like shit. Why even bother if you're not presenting the music with the best sound quality? An acquaintance of mine said that's like sending a scratched record for review. Truth be told, I'd rather listen to the scratched record. I know how expensive it is to blindly send out promos in this day and age so I have a compromise--I'll check out the digital download and if it's something I like and would review, then I'll ask if it'd be possible to send a physical copy. If I don't like it or you won't do it, no hard feelings and you've saved both of us the trouble. As for digital-only releases, as far as I'm concerned, they don't exist if they're not in a tangible format.

Taking a hard line? Damn right. Like it or lump it... I've been at this almost 30 years and I'll continue to review music the way I always have--blasting records or even CDs on my stereo. The day those formats aren't available anymore is the day I finally hang up my reviewer's pen or, more accurately, word processor--although I'm not sure if you can actually hang up a word processor...


Yes, I still get them from time to time and it makes me want to bring back a print version of SV. Never say never, I guess. In the meantime, here are five that have showed up in my mailbox lately (well, one was given to me in person but I digress).

Matt Average, late of Engine zine and one-time vocalist of Reagan SS, returns to the zine wars with the first issue of Taste Maker. It has the basic column and interview format but no reviews--he's thinking of only putting them on his on-line blog--but there's a cool "ephemera" section where he displays various set lists. I also collect set lists, but not as much as in the past. I'd actually like to see him go more in depth with memories about the shows or even a thought or two on the band. The interviews are with Total Abuse, Timebombs, artist/musician Gary Panter, Glass Candy and The Secret Society of The Sonic Six and are fairly in-depth. I like the fact that Matt's not sticking to one style although he said the next issue will probably have more of a hardcore bent. (PO Box 25605, LA, CA 90025,

The first issue of Stay Cool is a thick effort and was many years in the making (hmmm, that sounds familiar). A smorgasbord of interviews, photo essays and ruminations on various topics, from vegetarianism (even including Mexican recipes) to racial issues to various musings about punk and hardcore and it's with a Latino bent. Interviews are with Lifes Halt, Faded Gray and El Mariachi (that's the sole newer one). Cut and paste and you can tell that Fernando, the creator, is still passionate about this music even at an 'advanced' age. (1920 Jones Ave., LA, CA 90032,

Narcomensaje takes its name from "drug messages" disseminated by drug cartels in Mexico, mainly to threaten government security forces and rival drug cartels--that's the gist of the intro to the first issue of this zine. As for the contents, there are interviews with Men's Interest and Nuclear Cult, along with a smattering of reviews and full-page photos. Pretty basic, both layout and content-wise. (

Fastcore Photos is pretty self-explanatory. The second issue, published by Will Butler from To Live A Lie Records, is half-sized and on heavy stock. Actually, half of the zine consists of in-depth live reviews accompanying the photographs, followed by a photo-only segment. The bands veer towards the grind/powerviolence end of the spectrum although there are exceptions. Nice-looking effort. (

And, finally, Craig Lewis has published the 14th installment of his long-standing zine Upheaval. One double-sided page this time, with an essay that has Craig detailing his ongoing battle with (and recovery from) his ongoing mental health issues, plus reviews of punk and hardcore bands from around the globe. (



The band Chicago used to number all of their releases with roman numerals. Since they got back together, Systematic Death  have been numbering theirs, starting with the Systema-6 LP. And now we have the three latest installments, the just-released Systema-8 on Way Back When/Even Worse, Systema-7 on Armageddon and a split with the Czech Republic's See You In Hell on Insane Society. The latter pair are actually from 2010 but I'm including them here since I'm having a Systematic Death marathon--well for about 20 minutes anyway. Do you really need me to tell you about these guys? True legends, one of the greatest Japanese hardcore bands of all time. They went into hibernation for nearly two decades and then picked up as if no time had passed--both on record and especially live. The hallmarks remain--furious instrumentation, especially the drumming and the hearty lead and backing vocals. Systema Seven sounds a tad muddy production-wise compared to the other pair but it doesn't diminish the savagery all that much. I should also mention See You In Hell, of course. Their split w/SysDeath was pressed for a European tour and the two songs are raw, fast and hammering--a strong Japanese hardcore influence, themselves, so it's certainly a compatible pairing. (Even Worse: ;Way Back; Armageddon Label:; Insane Society:


Mr. Jeff Clayton sent me a package of five 7" EPs awhile back--new studio recordings with originals and covers, a live EP, a split with veteran hellraisers Zeke and Clayton backed by another band with the moniker The Mongrels and a few other friends join in the festivities. So let's run down the latest from these legends, whose style of punk pays attention to the music's traditionally loud trappings but you'll also hear traditional country, blues and rock 'n roll. The best one is the three song "Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match." The title track is an average Antiseen rager but things pick up on the flip--covers of Cocknoose's "Invader #1 Must Die" and their associate Mad Brother Ward's blazing "Kill The Scene." The next one features a pair of covers, the slow, bluesy take on Louisiana Red's "Sweet Buzz Call," with the band's patented buzz and backed by a rocked-up version of a traditional country song, "Black Eyed Susie," with banjo by their pal Joe Buck. That song reappears with just the banjo (by Buck) on their split with Zeke. Mr. Buck also lends his vocals to Zeke's hard-driving punk rock and Antiseen's  pounding"At The Crack Of Dawn."

Moving along, there's a live EP (World Wide Live Ass Kickin') with two songs recorded in scenic Pittsfield, MA and another three from the Speedfest in Holland. The highlight is a blistering version of "Sabu" and their cover of the Sonics' "The Witch" is perfunctory. Finally, the Clayton/Mongrels EP has a lengthy Skynyrd-meets-AC/DC brooder, "Warhero," with tasteful guitar work but drags otherwise. Two medium-speed punk rockers on the flip, covers of Mad Brother Ward's "Need It Bad" and the scurrilous Rupture's "If I Had A Thousand Dollars."

All in all, this is far from the band's best work and probably for completists, only. I'll stick with the likes of  "Eat More Possum," "Southern Hostility" or the early EP like "Drastic Plastic" and "NC Royalty." The discs are on various labels but if your interest is piqued, visit the band's website at Quite a bit from the band's extensive back catalog on there.



BRAIN F≠-Sleep Rough (Grave Mistake/Sorry State, LP)
Finally, a full length from the artists-formerly-known-as-Brain Flannel, or maybe it's still pronounced that way. I have no idea about that but know that this is a mind-melting excursion. It took me a few listens since some of the songs aren't as immediately-accessible as on their previous demo and 7"s but it's worth the effort. Brain F≠ create a gnarled and gnashing punk sound. It's a distorted whirlwind of tumultuous guitar, bass and drums. It's not an atonal mess, though--in that fray, discernible melody lines emerge from the dense arrangements. And then there are the vocals--Nick and Elise aren't John and Exene or Kevin and Bilinda (from My Bloody Valentine) but their harmonies and tradeoffs are engaging and give the band another distinctive element. I don't have any niche descriptions at the ready except to say they play raucous, boisterous, garagey punk that actually was recorded in a garage. Hopefully, that's enough to convince you. (Grave Mistake, PO Box 12492, Richmond, VA 23241, State:

BROWN SUGAR-Get Fuckin' Mugged (Feral Kid, flexi)
Ah, the crackle-crackle-crackle of a flexidisc, although you can't hear it too much during the songs themselves. Spirited, non-predictable punk these guys have been honing over the past few years and these recordings are actually from 2009. Three rough compositions pulling in thrash, garage and rock' strains, stretching out and freaking out with sax to wrap things up for "Mind Funk." In all honesty, the first 7" and split with Mayday are better and I'm really looking forward to the LP, because they were kickass when playing here over the summer. (

BURNING ITCH-s/t (Tic Tac Totally, LP)
Yes, punk rock exists in Knoxville, TN--although where doesn't it exist?--and the songs on this album possess a tuneful quality along with the rough-hewn production values. Certainly rooted in various strains of '70s era proto punk. Slashing, raw guitar underpinned by bubbling bass-lines, trashy drums/tambourine and Ian Lawrence's resonant croon. Some real burners here--"Dead End Street" and the sweetly titled "You Should Fucking Die" stand out although things take a somewhat poppier turn for "Brains Fall Out" and "Stay." Doing it right--with a not-too-slick buzz. (PO Box 558383, Chicago, IL 60655-8383,

COUGHING FIT-s/t (Loud Punk, 12")
Faaaast and hyper-fast hardcore that also breaks down into mid-paced floor-pounding parts and there's nary a break between songs. Once in awhile, they have a punkier moment, as with "Flash In the Pan." Then, completely out of left field, this one-sided 12" ends with a rowdy (and uncredited) cover of the Kinks' "All Day and All Of The Night." Unhinged, raw aggression threatening to ride off the rails and I think a bit less reliance on brute speed would be to their benefit because there are some moments of dead-on rage here. (PO Box 3067, Albany, NY 12203,

DAMNABLE EXCITE ZOMBIES!-Discography 1990-1996 (Not Very Nice, CD)
90s era Japanese hardcore band (if you weren't paying attention to the title) and more-than-credible Systematic Death worship. That's meant as a compliment, not a slight--this is pure rage, with just about all the songs played at a fast and throttling clip with the hallmarks of the classic sound. Razorwire guitar, merciless bash-em-up drums with plenty of cymbal involved and harsh vocals from Markey on the majority of songs (they were a three piece with the guitarist and bass player sharing vocal duties in '96). Not as much of the metal influence associated with the "burning spirits" bands, although there's the occasional guitar lead. There's a bonus track featuring a live reunion performance from 2010 that suffers from substandard sound quality. Collecting various EPs and compilations and a handful of unreleased songs. Non-stop obliteration. (

DRY HUMP-Fucks Your Ears (SexCult, LP)
Dry Hump come right out and tell you what their album is going to do to ‘ya—Fuck Your Ears. The front cover is rather provocative, with a couple of demonic creatures doing... well, see the photo above. On the back cover, it says "This is Lowell: Fuck Boston." A bit of parochialism directed at a city that is a HUB (pun intended, although only locals might get it) of parochialism itself, both in a universal sense and punk scene sense. Since their Culture Fuck Experience EP, vocal duties have passed from Erik to PJ Kuda, whose formidable drumming skills are on display in such bands as Male Nurses, BloodKrow Butcher, Brain Killer and probably a half-dozen I'm forgetting. Whereas Erik's vocals were delivered in a high-pitched rant, PJ emanations are harsher and gutteral but the music remains the same--rampant, thrashy hardcore with rock 'n roll riffing and leads sprinkled in, such as on the Black Sabbath-y (without the doom) "Sex Cult Pt.2." "I Am The Doorway" has a solid mid-paced Discharge pulse. These gentlemen mainly hail from the suburbs surrounding Lowell and there's a large amount of annoyance directed at their stifling surroundings or "Fucksville," as they call it. Dry Hump effectively channel their bile into a walloping sonic attack. (

FAITH-Subject To Change (Dischord, CD)
Dischord's catalog overhaul continues with a reissue of the Faith's "Subject To Change," the 1983 follow-up to their split LP with Void, appended with their first, 11 song demo. "STC" represented a stylistic leap for the band, having added a second guitarist and fusing melodic shadings with their straight-forward, speedy DC hardcore sound. "In The Black," from the split, was kind of a harbinger of what would follow with this EP--moodier, more inventive. And it's a stirring fusion. The bass-playing really shines on songs like "Limitations" and the title track. Whether this disc represented the end of that original era or a bridge to what followed in '85 with the Revolution Summer bands, there was definitely a change, a transitional moment. The demo tracks include 10 songs that were re-recorded for the split and one for STC ("No Choice"). They were still finding their footing a bit and the songs were played at a slightly slower tempo--and I don't think that's to their detriment--but these recordings sound warmer/fuller than the versions on the split. No hyperbole--this is absolutely essential. (3819 Beecher St., NW, Washington, DC 20007,

FATAL FIGURES-Blue Zed/Alright (Big Neck, 7")
Ugly, bluesy garage/slop with echo on the vocals for this pair of songs, one an original, the shufflin' "Blue Zed" and the flip being a cover of Pussy Galore's "Alright." The latter title sums things--'tis alright and nothing more. (PO Box 8144, Reston, VA 20195,

GERM ATTAK-Fear Of The Unknown (Loud Punk, LP)
As I've written before, Germ Attak started out pretty strongly inspired by Chaos UK, Disorder, etc and they've still got the UK-82 bug but it's been coming from the Varukers/Exploited/GBH side over the past few albums. The songs are mainly fast-paced ragers that conjure up visions of mohican youth running around in a big circle. If there's a running theme, it could be give us a future, to paraphrase another early 80s UK band, One Way System. Or, more accurately, it might seem as though there's no future, given the sentiments of "Poisonous Lifestyle," "Face The Reaper" or "Back's Against The Wall." This album was recorded by two Germ Attak-ers, with Jo handling guitar, bass and vocals along with his drummer compatriot Will and this will likely be their final missive. I always thought these guys were slightly above average, if not exactly top tier and "Fear Of The Unknown" reconfirms that opinion. Solid, competent headbangin' punk. The limited package is great, by the way--huge poster, flexi disc with two extra songs and colored vinyl. Just watch out for your fingers when handling the rough edges of the record--you don't want to get any blood on it like I almost did! (PO Box 3067, Albany, NY 12203,

HOLLYWOOD-Stunts (Big Neck, CD)
If you didn't tell me, I'd swear this was a new Mudhoney album, with the Mark Arm-type vocals, tongue in cheek lyrics and somewhat grungy, swampy guitar sound. It could even have been a new Monkeywrench disc, the sporadic collaboration with Mark and his Mudhoney compatriot Steve Turner, Tom Price from Gas Huffer and Tim Kerr. I've heard a new Mudhoney album in recent years and Hollywood's album is quite a bit better. Enough about those bands--let's get to Hollywood's rock 'n roll stew. The best song here is the raucous, rump-shaking "Toe-To-Toe," with a spacy instrumental break. The opener,"(Scary) Cemetery," borrows a lyrical line from the Ramones "Pet Semetary," and pounds along nicely on a sturdy bass-line, thunder-crack guitar and single note piano plink during the chorus. Bluesy, garagey, down 'n dirty rock done with simple, enjoyable aplomb. (

NAIFA-s/t (Faca Cega Discos, LP)
I'm fighting through a bit of writer's block today and having trouble coming with any sort of clever prose in reviewing this album but I'll press on because it's a winner. Naifa are a Brazilian band playing tuneful punk inspired by (though not entirely) classic 80s-era west coast fodder.  Plenty of drive and chops from all three musicians, with the guitarist, Arthur, handling the vocals as well. They complement each other perfectly. It's tough to miss the burn and hooks on songs like "Nada," with the jabbing, angular guitar underpinned by a bass line that pushes the melody along and that's also the case for "Pau No Cu and "Colisao." All of this is reinforced with impassioned vocals and it adds up to a strong, power-packed collection. As Arthur yells at the end of side one, all right! (

NEO CONS-Hardcore Elite/Kill The Police (Abscess, 7")
A two song 45, with an original backed by a ravenous cover of a  Jezus and the Gospelfuckers song. Speaking (or writing, actually) as someone who has been carping, at times, about the "hardcore elite" in Boston and other places--and lost some people I thought were friends in the process--I have to give this feisty, snotty punk song a big round of applause. The song's target is people who pull the age card and slag off younger kids but I think it can work the other way, as well. You respect me, I'll respect you. OK, end of lecture. Time to turn up the buzz. (

NIGHT BIRDS-The Other Side Of Darkness (Grave Mistake, CD)
After a passel of 7" releases, Night Birds unleash their debut album and it's more of the west coast Adolescents-meets-DKs punk sound. Surfy guitar and driving arrangements exhibiting a high level of musical skill fuel the band's catchy oeuvre. Lyrical inspiration comes from plenty of time watching movies, bookwormery and even catching up on the news, occasionally, as with "Paranoid Times." "Hoffman Lens," is based on the schlocky John Carpenter movie "They Live" (you know, with Rowdy Roddy Piper) and there's a Woody Allen reference on "Landfill Land," which is one of the better songs here, encapsulating this band's energetic appeal. Snappy 'n catchy. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

OBN IIIS-The One And Only (Tic Tac Totally, LP)
OBNIII is actually Orville Bateman Neeley III and this is his rock 'n roll combo and it's an enjoyably rockin' permutation of various influences. There's the Stooges/Radio Birdman bent on "If The Shit Fits" and "New Innocence," the bluesy stomp of Wager My Heart" and catchy Stones-inspired rock on "No Enemies." In lesser hands, this might veer into bar rock but there's enough looseness and ornery, beer soaked spirit to prevent that from happening here. (PO Box 558383, Chicago, IL 60655-8383,

OILTANKER-The Shadow Of Greed (No Funeral/Slainte, LP)
Throttling, crusty hardcore and it's what you'd expect--a tumultuous sound with dramatic riffing, an earthplow bottom end and scampering drums. Only it's not done in d-beat fashion but with more of a rumble and it's all accompanied by harsh vocals from three of 'em. A thick sound drawing from the requisite Swedish/PDX influences. They're from Connecticut and that state has a long history of these types of bands going back to the 90s. Adept at the style although they don't distinguish nor differentiate themselves all that much. (

POISON PLANET-Bleed For Me/Nazi Punks Fuck Off (ThirdxParty, 7")
DKs tribute, with two of their better-known songs given a raw bludgeoning--Nick is certainly a lot meaner-sounding than Jello and, even with the faithful surfy guitar trill on "Bleed," this ain't exactly a subtle treatment. The intro for this version does convey a good amount of menace. The short essays state, in essence, not a whole lot has changed since the 80s regarding economic or foreign policy and that there are still idiots who, pretending or not, think it's funny to spew racist and other hateful terminology. Not bad but not really essential, either. (

RESIST CONTROL-Dissipation EP (Feral Kid/Shock To The System, 7")
Is it thrashy powerviolence or violent power thrash? I dunno but these are short/fast/loud songs that the Short, Fast and Loud zine would love but I'm not quite as enamored. Standard criticism--rat-a-tat drumming fused to some hot riffing but the over-reliance on that kind of drumming hurts 'em. The final track, "In Time Of Actual War," is a good example--a solid mid-to-fast song but they feel the need to blast during the chorus where it's not necessary. Ah well. (

RETOX-Ugly Animals (Ipecac/Three One G, CD)
People from the Locust and affiliated bands playing frenzied, chaotic hardcore with more than a modicum of relentlessness, as you'd expect. The parties involved have made a career out of playing abrasive head-throttling music. Cacophonous, but there are distinct songs and a few standouts--the Dead Kennedys guitar signature for "Thirty Cents Shy Of A Quarter" or the haunting bash of "A Funeral On Christmas Sunday" and "Piss Elegant Beats," for instance. Cut from the same cloth as the Locust only they've left the keyboards home. The "mysterious guy" hardcore aura although these guys were successfully bashing out this sort of inspired noise long before there was an arguably vague, catchall term for it. (

SOKEA PISTE-Ajatus Karkaa (Karkia Mistika/Tuska & Ahdistus/Kamaset Levyt, LP)/Oire (Peterwalkee, 7" EP)
Two power-packed discs for this Finnish band, comprised of members of Kyklooppien Sukupuutto, Aortaorta and a few others bands, some of which have names I'm too lazy to spell out. Dark and nasty-sounding, a doomy ambiance harnessed to moderate and slower paced material. Imagine an amalgam of "My War" era Black Flag, the Wipers, Killing Joke and Voivod in various permutations. Something like that and I'm grasping for a description that really captures this band's essence. These aren't happy-sounding, overly accessible compositions but there's a potent, dramatic, near nightmarish dynamic at work. Colorful artwork with kind of an abstract style and the 7" cover is screened. (Band contact:

TINO VALPA-Walk The Walk (Kangaroo/Even Worse, 7" EP)
Kind of a hideous cartoon-style cover--head stabbings, hangings, etc. On the vinyl, though, there are 15 brief old-school hardcore blasts with bright production and an abundance of well-executed, single-minded aggro. And, offering a reverse on the old Blondie Is A Group statement, Tino Valpa is a guy, not a band and this is his solo project. He plays all the instruments here, along with bellowing the words. "Walk The Walk" is actually his second EP. If there's a theme, it's an exhortation that age ain't shit, that it doesn't mean you need to give up what you love, especially playing music. 13 originals plus a Verbal Abuse and Poison Idea cover. (Way Back When: Taskinlaan 9, 2361XM Warmond, The Netherlands, Kangaroo Records: 9 Corniche Andre de Joly, 06300 Nice, France,

ÜBERKRØPPLING-Kroppen (Blood Sausage, 7" EP)
Snarlin', nasty punk mixed with Detroit-honed garage swill. Vocals are harshly spat out in Danish and the guitars have James Williamson-manufactured guitar venom ready to sink its fangs into your skull. I have a toothache at the moment and this EP's mean, sputtering ugliness somehow seems appropriate. The vocals are a bit much after awhile and the title track is a mid-tempo rocker that goes on way too long. They get it right(er) on the shorter tunes. (

VARIOUS-Noise Ordinance (Maximum Rocknroll, LP)
It's been almost 30 years since the first MRR comp, Not So Quiet On The Western Front came out (and that was released on Alternative Tentacles). It was a two LP collection of Bay Area bands. This is the third comp of area bands--the other was the double 7" Turn It Around. And like the Not So Quiet comp, this one is hit and miss although there aren't any songs I'd consider completely unlistenable. Still, I don't think I really need to hear the grunt 'n grind of I Will Kill You Fucker (great band name, though) or the Mamas and Papas meet punk of Love Songs. But there are different shades of punk here--from the tough, melodic sounds of NN, Ruleta Rasa to the off-kilter Fleshies (they've been around a long time and remain underrated) to post-punk-inclined Airfix Kits and Rank/Xerox to hardcore ragers like Fix My Head, Morpheme and Conquest For Death. I didn't really feel the need to get up and move the needle--I imagine that's a sign it's a pretty good comp. (PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146,

WAX MUSEUMS-Zoo Full Of Ramones: The Singles 2006-2008 (Tic Tac Totally, LP)
Entertaining, goofy punk from this Denton, TX band, who also have two other albums to their credit, including the recently-released Eye Times, after a three year hiatus.. Some of the songs here are (to quote Don Imus) laugh out loud funny--"I Eat Vomit" and "Billy's Room," for instance, the latter of which starts with the kid's 'grandpappy' asking what he does after school and the answer is "looking at pictures of naked chicks in Billy's room." Simple '77-era, garage punk that was really primitive and minimalist on their earliest EPs although none of the songs here are exactly high fidelity. One of the unreleased songs, "Livin In The Eyeball," has glorious buzz-fuzz guitar, accompanied with what sounds like a rhythm machine. Hell, there's even a conceptual trio of songs from one 7", Ancient Structures, with the titles "Pyramid," "Stonehenge" and "Catalcombs." In addition to the 7" releases, there are a handful of comp tracks and unreleased songs. A deliriously fun time. (PO Box 558383, Chicago, IL 60655-8383,

WHITE WHALE-Widow's Peak/Rats In The Snow (Big Neck, 7")
White Whale's previous demo and 7" were decent-enough but the two songs here don't immediately grab me. Frayed, semi-melodic punk working best on the higher-energy "Rats In The Snow," but something's missing, that extra spark to singe the ears. (PO Box 8144, Reston, VA 20195,

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Suburban Voice blog #96

I'm sure you're all tired of my apologies for the tardiness of this blog, as well the standard-issue mea-culpas for not getting all the record reviews done that I wanted and stating that it was high time I published a blog, anyway. So I won't do that...


British writer Brett Callwood's book The Stooges: Head On, A Journey Through The Michigan Underground, is a revamping of a 2008 book originally published in the UK. As Callwood points out in the introduction, the original book had as much of a personal approach to discovering the Stooges as telling the story of the band itself. The new version sticks with the latter although it's obvious that this is still written from a fan's perspective.

All the main movers and shakers in the band's history are involved--all members of the band (including the late Ron Asheton) plus various individuals who were caught up, one way or another, inside the Stooges universe. These include members of the MC5, Niagara from Destroy All Monsters, activist John Sinclair and various writers and friends who weigh in on how they were affected by the Stooges, both as a band and as people. One thing that makes this book different than the typical tome about this band is Iggy isn't really the main focus. The basic biographical info is there and he's interviewed but you get to know the other players just as well if not more. Bands that the members were involved in both before and after the Stooges are covered at length. Instead of this being merely Iggy's viewpoint, you get to experience what happened through the eyes of the Asheton brothers, "Raw Power guitarist James Williamson as well as saxophonist Steve Mackay, who played on Fun House and late-period Stooges keyboard player Scott Thurston.

The story is told in chronological order and there's an in-depth examination at the songwriting and recording processes and how the different lineups gelled--significant as the story flows from the self-titled album and Fun House into Raw Power although there isn't all that much mention of the sessions they did in '72 that yielded one of their greatest songs, "I Got A Right." It's not done in typical "oral history" style but by weaving extensive quotations into the narrative.

As you'd expect, there are the obligatory tales of debauchery, shenanigans and rock 'n roll excesses that go with the territory but it's not overdone. This isn't a tell-all treatment but, instead, an effort to explore the totality of the Stooges legend and what came after, leading up to the reunion and recording of a new album (not a great idea, in my opinion). There are a few repetitive passages here and there but, as a lifelong Stooges fan, I think it gives a pretty good overview of the band's legacy. And that's the point--they were a band and the musicians' contributions were just as crucial as Iggy's antics. You realize that the second you hear the opening guitar riffs to "I Wanna Be Your Dog" or "Search and Destroy." (



AGAINST EMPIRE-Thieves and Leeches (Profane Existence, LP)
A crust/thrash/hardcore assault  in a similar vein as World Burns To Death, Deathreat and the like, along with metal guitar flourishes. Rabid vocals from two of the three gentlemen involved, often in tandem. A scream from the gut, in other words. "Wordsmiths" starts with an extended instrumental intro over which anti-capitalist commentary is sampled from Noam Chomsky and others. I'm loving the Crucifix cover ("Another Mouth To Feed"), too. Well-executed in this band's hands and the rage on their original songs is successfully executed. (PO Box 18051, Minneapolis, MN 55418,

ARCTIC FLOWERS-Reveries (Inimical, LP)
I've been waiting for this one, since seeing them last year and giving their previous 7" plenty of play. When I reviewed that EP (and there was also a split 7" with Spectres), I said I think they have a great album in them, and "Reveries" lives up to those expectations. Encompassing early 80s post-punk and goth and hardcore and it's a seamless fusion. Those are just elements and they've got their own sound. Glowing, haunting guitar reinforced with in-the-pocket bass and drums and powerful vocals--not yelling but sung with soaring authority. A track like "Crusaders + Banshees" really brings out the band's strengths--a guitar line and chorus that sticks and packing a primal wallop. Even when they delve into moodier regions, there's no softening in the approach. Nor does the melody disappear when they pick up the pace although I prefer it when they play at a measured tempo. The lyrics tend towards the oblique although that's not always the case--"Vexed" cogently describes dealing with life's day to day struggles. The definition of reveries means to be lost in ones thoughts or daydreaming but the songs sure as hell won't allow you to drift off into blissfulness. On the contrary--they command your full attention. (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111,


ART YARD-The Law/Something In Your Eyes (Ride The Snake, 7")
Back in 1981, there was a loose collective of bands called Propeller that released a couple of 7" compilations and one cassette compilation. If there was a musical commonality, it was a wiry post-punk sound of different shades and permutations and, although they weren't part of this group of bands, Mission of Burma were certainly kindred spirits. While the tape comp was more than a bit uneven, the lead off track by Art Yard, "The Law," was by far the standout song. A driving song but also filled with strong hooks, jabbing guitar and the bass-line carrying the melody and it was all poppy in a unique way. I liked this song so much that I got permission to release it on one of the Suburban Voice CD compilations around a decade ago. Now Ride the Snake have done a single with both of the songs on the cassette comp. The flip is slower and gorgeously haunting, a ballad if you will but one with a strong and warm presence. This band, featuring 3/4 of the membership of the Maps, came and went very quickly but left behind songs that have remained in my consciousness for three decades. Now it's your turn. (

BAD DADDIES-s/t (Central District/Finch, 7" EP)
Wonderful lo-fi buzz-punk-pop. Distorted guitars and killer hooks and Camylle's singing is so damned charming. 7 songs, 6 of which appear on side one and none of which are more than a minute. The flip has one song, the infectiously catchy "Not That Kind of Girlfriend," ending with a squall of feedback. Turns out that's a cover by 90s era band the Smoking Popes but this version is quite a bit better. Only 83 copies so you might want to act quickly. (337 W. Vine Street, Stockton, CA 95203,

CEREMONY-6 Cover Songs (Bridge Nine, 12")
All-cover records often represent a holding pattern for bands, indicating they're unable to come up with any new ideas on their own. That's not completely true here--and that statement comes from someone who tends to be suspicious of bands following that path. On this one-sided clear picture disc, there are a variety of bands covered and they're not obvious choices. Let's get the not-so-great out of the way--a dull cover of Eddie & The Subtitles' "American Society." It might have worked better if they'd played the faster version of the song instead of the slow-paced one. Their take on Crisis's "Holocaust" sputters a bit, as well. More successful are the versions of Urban Waste's "Public Opinion," helped by appropriately-raspy vocals. Vile's "5 to 10" retains its scurrilous aura, bringing out the punk nastiness and enhanced with sputtering guitar, the Pixies' "Nimrod's Son" and a fairly engrossing version of Wire's "Pink Flag." All in all, though, I'm more interested in what will follow up their last album, Ronhert Park, because that was such a left turn into a garage/post-punk realm from their previous blur-core inclinations. Who knows what's on the horizon? (

CRIPPLED OLD FARTS-s/t (Shogun, 7" EP)
Needless to say, I'm drawn to this Paris band's moniker since some have accused me of being an old fart, at times, and I imagine the crippled part might occur if I ever come out of semi-retirement from the pit (not likely). Standard hardcore punk on this 7 song EP, with one side spinning at 45 and the other at 33. "Like A Disease You Chose To Ignore" is the best of the bunch here, with a catchy mid-tempo pulse and "For The Worst Or The Best" connects in similar fashion. Fairly typical, overall--good, not great. (3 Rue Du Lavoir, 51140 Bouvancourt, FRANCE,

DARK AGES-Can America Survive? (Sorry State, LP)
I have a friend who currently lives in Kansas City, the home turf for Dark Ages, and he can't wait to move back. Being that he's a hardcore leftist, he's felt more than out of place living there. I'm not sure how Dark Ages relate to their middle-America surroundings but given their anti-authoritarian message, it might not always be so pleasant. Whatever the case, this is a hard-hitting, dynamic hardcore band with an impressive debut 12". The title track is divided into two halves, an ominous instrumental building up to a thrash eruption. High-powered throughout although there are a few changes of pace--the catchy, nearly anthemic mid-tempo pace of "Power" and "Why," as well as a cover of "Easier to Die" by Choke (I'm not familiar with the band or song) that dirges it out for over 5 minutes, ending with a numbing mantra of the phrase "easier to die." 80s hardcore influences but from the mid-80s, as opposed to the early stuff. Mid-period Black Flag, Die Kreuzen's first album and Christ on Parade come to mind. A lyrical muse of someone pushed to the edge, wondering where life will take them and also wondering if there's any sort of future to look forward to--will they and/or America survive? (


DOUBLE NEGATIVE-Hardcore Confusion Vols. 1 and 2 (Sorry State, 7" EP)
Two separate 7"s here, two songs on each disc and I'd imagine there will eventually be parts 3 and 4 because if you put the covers together, it shows half of the Double Negative logo. Ever since their first album, DN have continued to evolve or maybe it's devolve, as their sound gets increasingly intense and continuing to eschew the COC inspiration. Considering that their home state of North Carolina just got hammered by a hurricane, maybe I should avoid such hyperbolic descriptions as tidal wave of hardcore fury or a sonic typhoon but, in all honesty, that's the effect here. "Writhe," the a-side of Vol. 1, batters its way to a numbing, repetitive conclusion while "Cunny Hop" is a brief straight-ahead blast. For the second volume, "Fat City Address" shifts the cacophonous intro pure rock fury and "Face Jam" also operates in a raucous rock mode. This isn't hooky music, it's bombast with an inescapable grip. (

Except for four songs that came out on a 7" last year, this is an entirely-unreleased compilation of music by this San Jose band, recorded in '82 and '83, along with a couple of songs recorded in 2008 that I wouldn't have realized unless the liner notes told me. Culled from demo sessions, plus a few live tracks and not presented in strictly chronological order. Sound quality varies, with the 1983 recordings sounding sonically superior and they'd also shown musical advancement since '82. In fact, the other recordings sound rather rough, especially the 6 songs that were released on the "Growing Pains" cassette compilation. Tuneful 'n snotty west coast hardcore, metallic guitar touches and razorwire vocals conjuring up Blaine Cook from the Accused/Fartz. It's a pity this didn't see the light of day until after a quarter century although I probably would have done a vinyl pressing with the '83 session and the two 2008 recordings, in a proper sequence. Still, there's some scrappy punk to be found here. Packaged in a 7" sleeve with a fold-out poster that has a collage by Winston Smith. (

GLOM DA!/MAKABERT FYND-Split (Sorry State, LP)
Straight-up Swedish mayhem from both of these bands, with a familiar sound. Loud guitars, harsh vocals and a fast pace. Glom Da! have a clear old-school influence, inspired to an extent by the unfettered blaze of Anti-Cimex, albeit with cleaner production. Makabert Fynd have a dual-vocalist tandem and one of 'em is Poffen from the late, great Totalitar. Don't expect anything on that level and I'd probably give the edge to Glom Da but they hold their own in the burn department, adding some rockin' guitar licks. You pretty much know what you're getting here. (

GOD EQUALS GENOCIDE/LIBYANS-Split (Shock To The System/Dirt Cult, 7")
Split between two bands on opposite coasts and each band's songs are presented with rough-hewn production. God Equals Genocide have been around awhile but I'm pretty sure this is the first material I've heard by them. Jabbing, almost garagey punk with a certain amount of charm. Adrian's over the top vocal on "Anyone Can Do It" is ear rattling but it really wins me over. The three new songs by Libyans aren't quite as memorable as the tracks on their previous records. They do bring a feisty energy to the songs and "Misquote Me" is the catchiest of the three tracks. It's not really a competition but I've been playing the God Equals Genocide songs more. (PO Box 400296, Cambridge, MA 02140,

IN DEFENCE-Party Lines and Politics (Profane Existence, LP)
In Defence continue to perfect their 80s-era thrash metal-meets-hardcore sound and do so with an occasional touch of tongue-in-cheek humor. The opening song, "The Police Are Fuckin' Rad!" isn't what you might think it's about. It's not a pro-cop song, it's a pro-Police song, as in Sting and the boys. On the other hand, it's not all fun and games, such as the the timely sentiments expressed on the likes of "Corporate Bailout." "Curbside Dentistry" is a combination of the two--lamenting a lack of dental insurance and coming up with a creative solution i.e. getting a curbside treatment courtesy of a skinhead's Docs. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll sometimes do both at the same time and be relatively impressed with the metallic bombardment. Nothing earthshaking but enjoyable. (PO Box 18051, Minneapolis, MN 55418,

MAJOR DAMAGE-s/t (Even Worse/Way Back When, 7")
Solo project for Brandon Ferrell, who you might know from such fine combos as Direct Control and Government Warning. He played all the instruments and did the vocals for the seven songs here, although he has a live band. Short blasts of old school hardcore with varying tempos, rougher and meaner-sounding than his other bands and he sings in a lower, tougher cadence. It sound like a collision of NYC and Boston hardcore bands, at times. For instance, "Demise" is part Antidote, part DYS. Straight outta '83. (

NASA SPACE UNIVERSE-Across The Wounded Galaxies (Shogun, LP)
Abraso-core! NSU's sound hitches high-flying hardcore to gnarled 'n gnashing post-punk. Jarring and kinetic, with Kevin's vocals sounding like he's just imbibed an acid cocktail and coming on with a nastier Minutemen inflection at times. I forget the name of the Jeopardy category where phrases are combined in a clever fashion but there are a few here--"Tiny Tim Allen Wrench" and "Denzel Washington DC" and neither song apparently has anything to do with the actor mentioned in the title. The lyrics just seem like a collection of random thoughts and prose, done in ranting fashion and meshing well with the band's barbed attack. (3 Rue Du Lavoir, 51140 Bouvancourt, FRANCE,

ORGANIZED SPORTS-I'm So Proud Of Him (Bulkhead/HIV Town, 12")
Boiling-over, raging hardcore. I've been saying I'm burnt out on this sound lately. The exception is when a band has a certain head-grabbing relentlessness and that's the case here. Drawing from a Systematic Death muse and it also had me thinking of Caustic Christ, with the rough, howling vocals and straight-on fury. They do stretch things out and slow the pace during the mid-section of "Sweet Chin Motion," but it doesn't dilute the furiousness all that much. Every instrument has a pulverizing effect and, to paraphrase one of the lyrical lines, they DO sound cheesed-off.  First-person expressions of life's frustrations. Nothing new, of course, but life's been sucking lately so it's easy to feed off this sort of anger. It has me banging my head, stomping my foot and shaking my fist. Consider that an endorsement. ( 
RANK/XEROX-s/t (Make A Mess, LP)
Brilliant debut album from this SF trio. You could call it post-punk or art-punk and it wouldn't be off the mark. Jarring guitar gnash underpinned by menacing bass and drums that provide a solid foundation. Some obvious touchpoints are the Fall and early Wire but, to my ears, they remind me of the early 80s Boston band Native Tongue, another trio who had angular guitar lines counterpointed by nimble rhythms. The final song, "Turn To Stone," has a synth melody that you won't be able to get out of your head. Same for "Helpless," only the bass provides the hook on that song. "Padek Man" begins with the lumbering clank of the A Frames before concluding with a frayed climax. "You Might Follow" is darker, with distorted drums and a brooding arrangement. Themes of alienation and isolation permeate the lyrics and that shouldn't really come as any sort of surprise. There's an anti-social sentiment on the aforementioned "Turn To Stone," with the music's cold ambiance complemented perfectly with the opening statement "I got a massive problem, I'm falling apart and people want me to be a part of some kind of race/But I don't feel like you and I don't look like you..." In this era of disillusionment, this album makes for an appropriate and inviting soundtrack. (


RAW NERVES-Burnt Skin (Inimical, 7")
Three new songs from Raw Nerves, following their Poison Idea-meets-crust blueprint, at least on the two fast-paced songs on the a-side. The b-side, "S = K LOG W," is a slow, brooding pounder on the Born Against-ish tip with an anti-religion theme. I get the feeling this song works better live, but it's a little tedious here. The other songs are good, though. (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111,

RIPPER-Into Oblivion (Blackwater, LP)
Motorhead-ish hard rock 'n metal, taking a tour through NWOBHM land, as well (New Wave of British Heavy Metal, for you non-headbangers). "Born To Lose" might even be a blatant tip of the cap or pumping of the spiked wristband to Sir Lemmy (has he been knighted yet?). Raspy vocals, lead guitar and lead bass tradeoffs, versatile drumming with an abundance of cymbal riding and it rumbles along at a steady clip. It's a thick sound but sprightly enough and, dare I say it, catchy in spots ("Soldier of Fortune" and "Razor's Edge" for instance). To quote "Soldier of Fortune," let the battlehorns blow. Or let the guitars roar. They do a pretty good job of that, here. (PO Box 5223, Portland, OR 97208-5223,

SHEGLANK'D SHOULDERS-Skate Assassin (Handsome Dan, flexi)
Two songs on a one-sided flexi so, needless to say, there's a bit of snap-crackle-pop when you drop the needle. I'm grateful for the higher-fidelity MP3 download they provide but it's fine either way. Two rockin' songs concerned with skating (in case you didn't know) and a west coast flavor particularly on "Skate Pit." Recorded in 2009. (

SMART COPS-Per Proteggere E Servire (Sorry State, LP)
There's always been an air of schtick with the Smart Cops, with the matching outfits but they also delivered the goods with their snotty old-school punk/garage/hardcore sound. For the Cops' debut album (their first release in a few years), the punk jab remains although this is a slicker, more polished effort and they largely eschew the speed these days, while playing up their rock 'n roll side a little more. Sharp and catchy songs and I guess I never realized there's a little bit of the Celibate Rifles in their sound. There's even a bit of a "freakout" jam section of "Nella Giungla" and UFO-type sound effects on "La Soffiata." I miss the roughness but it's still enjoyable. (

SSS-Problems To The Answer (Earache, CD)
Thrash revivalists from the UK with a serious Slayer jones, from the meat-cleaver riffs to the vocals with a few differences, the main thing being the brevity of the songs, with 25 of them packed onto this disc. That means the songs aren't particularly memorable, except for the relatively lengthy lead-off "The Kill Floor" and the pounding/raucous "Dismantle The Dream." Mixing up heaviness with thrash and not veering off into powerviolence or grindcore--definitely working to their benefit. If you're a dyed-in-the-wool thrasher, you'll like this. (

Slam-bang hardcore punk by both bands. Nothing groundbreaking but loud 'n fast 'n energetic and I raise my glass of iced coffee to the Panthers' "I Can't Make The Scene (Without Caffeine)." Some solid bass-playing in both bands and the right amount of attitude. (

WHATEVER BRAINS-s/t (Sorry State, LP)
Ain't heard anything like this in awhile. I ran into Justin from Double Negative not too long ago and he said Whatever Brains's album is different from any other Sorry State release. He's got that right. For want of a batter term, this is inspired weirdness. There's definitely some Fall-ish tendencies (especially on "Withnail" with the keyboards and jabbing guitar) although the vocals have a snarly, adenoidal cadence as opposed to Mark E. Smith-uh's style. "Math" has a synthy vibe coming across like early what you'd hear on the first Tubeway Army album. "The Future Of Porn" is direct in its  repetitive punk riffing but still unconventional. Edgy rockers, music that sounds like it could come from a keyboard store in the mall and other aural delights. (

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Suburban Voice blog #95


Long overdue, once again. Let's get right to it. Sorry to the bands/labels whose records I couldn't squeeze into this installment. Also, make sure you check out my Flickr Page for live reviews and photos of recent shows. I've been to some good ones over the past few months and, as always, listen to Sonic Overload, because I play a many more newer releases than the ones you see reviewed here.


ANAL WARHEAD-Time To Die (Suburban White Trash, 7" EP)
"Loud Music For Total Shitbags," eh? That's the title of the shortest song on this five track EP, the second by this Albany band. Raw, pissed-off hardcore punk with sloppiness here and there. The type of band you'd see at a rowdy basement show. The title track has the big build up and then the mayhem ensues. Not much change from their first EP except for beefier production. (PO Box 270594, Fort Collins, CO 80527-0594,

ANS/RAMMING SPEED-Split (Tankcrimes, LP)
Texans and MassHoles who proudly wave the crossover/metal flag. Both of these bands have been playing this kind of loud 'n heavy muzak for years, now. There's not a huge difference--ANS and Ramming Speed each trade in heavy riffage bolstered by manic speed and bellicose vocals. ANS's songs have a decidedly early Exodus vibe, although concluding track "Roehrs' War" (a tribute to the late, great MRR writer Bruce Roehrs) goes for stoner vibe and it's a bit on the long side. Ramming Speed aren't all that different--Bay Area thrash, though the drumming is a tad more manic. And kudos for the anti-homophobic message of "Dogmatic Horde." Metallic brothers from different mothers. (

BRUTAL KNIGHTS-Blown 2 Completion (Deranged, LP)
The final salvo from this merry band of punk rock miscreants. The Knights have been an enjoyable proposition for years, flinging out energetic, catchy fodder concerned with such important issues as chicken wings, getting out of household chores, food shopping and there's even an ode to iced coffee for "Summertime Coffee." I'm raising my medium cup of iced Dunks right now. It's empty but I'll still raise a toast and then see if there's another drop left in there. That track is unique for a minimalist electro-punk sound powered by a mechanized rhythm. "Bad Choice," which also appears on the "City Limits" comp reviewed below, is the toughest punk track here with Nick doing his best Damian Abraham (from Fucked Up) impression. Always fun, always kick-ass. I'm glad I got to see them a bunch of times. (

Aussies Burning Sensation are a hardcore band but they also exhibit some expansiveness  in their bare-knuckled approach. A healthy dose of X-Claim/Boston hardcore fused to a Zeke-ish beat (no rawk, though). What's interesting is they're apparently unfamiliar with the early Boston fodder. Whether that's true or not, the songs have a straight-forward energy but there are diversions--"Weeping Wound" has a decidedly west coast punk sound, favoring slashingly melodic guitar with a few surfy trills and "Terminal Decay" follows that blueprint, as well. "I Wonder" also possesses a near-poppy, tuneful pulse with tasteful, surging guitar licks and a supple bass-line. Some diabolical song titles, too--"I Fear Erections," "I Chopped It Off," "Wrapped Up In Plastic." Burning Sensation manage to avoid any sort of thrash ghetto. There's more at work here and it's intriguing. (

CRIME WAVE-Savage Reaction (Agro-Wax, LP)
Being that Crime Wave are a Houston band, you figure the members have been in a myriad of other bands and you'd be correct. You also figure it's high energy fodder and you'd be correct on that account, as well. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Grayum had the same job in Janitor (I review their 7" below) and, more recently, the PMRC (reviewed in blog #93). In Crime Wave's case, it's not that far-removed from what the PMRC were doing. There's still the urge to thrash but they also temper things with melody and fit in nicely between west coast punk and a band like the Celibate Rifles. "Get With The Sickness" fits the latter description. No-nonsense, hard-driving punk rock."Fashion Assassinate" even touches on that, with an admission of playing "standard issue punk rock shit" but staying away from the inbred "tattooed gene pool." No matter what bands these guys play in, you get the feeling it's not a fashion statement, whatsoever, and they're in it for the long haul. (

CREAMERS-Modern Day (Jolly Dream, 7" EP)
The guv'nah of Texas, Mr. Good-Hair Rick Perry, just had a day of prayer and fasting at a big-ass football stadium in Houston and there were gospel and Christian rock performers. Somehow, I doubt this band would have been invited 'cause this kind of music just invites sinnin'. Not to be confused with the old LA band, these Creamers come from Austin and dish out a boisterous '77-informed garage punk sound. Braying vocals--the vocalist sounds like he might have downed a few Lone Stars--accompanied by plenty of gnash and slash. I wanna hear more. (


CÜLO-Toxic Vision EP (Deranged, 7" EP)
Damn, what an ornery bunch these guys are--vocals, guitar and drums and no bass so there's almost a garagey quality to their old-school hardcore sound. Inspired by old Boston stuff, Void and early DRI. Raw guitar, squealin' feedback and, if the drumming gets a little sloppy at times, the purity in their aggression will still win you over. The title track, a cautionary tale about addiction, flirts with catchiness. (

DEATH TRAP-No Hicks (Feral Kid/Warm Bath Label, 7" EP)
From King City, on the central coast of California and, according to the liner notes, that was basically the middle of nowhere but it still spawned this snotty punk band in the early 80s. The four songs on this 7" are taken from a four track recording ca. 1983. Rough in more ways than one, as Pat Grindstaff rants along with and sometimes out of sync with the music, with all the venom he can muster up about their surroundings ("No Hicks," "Peer Pressure") but the environmentalists might be bothered by "Fuck The Whales, Save The Humans." Garage-tinged punk--there are even cheesy keyboards and odd guitar noodling on a few tracks--and it's a wonderful mess. (www.feralkidrecords,com,

LE FACE/DVA DAMAS-Split (Psychic Handshake, 7" EP)
Two LA bands coming from darker regions. Le Face's two songs are frenetic, twisted punk creations. Jabbing, intense but also sinister-sounding. DVA Damas's electro-minimalism is engaging, especially on "Man Skin Pants." Detached, cajoling, echo-laden vocals along with a surfy guitar signature, atmospheric keys and a drumming that sounds like a rhythm machine but a drummer is listed. Who knows? Both of these bands are quite cool. (

FOREIGN OBJECTS-No Sensation (Vinyl Rites, LP)
On their first 12" release, the Objects go from being a good band to a great one. The songs are sharp and catchy and the musicianship really gels here--from Melissa's jabbingly melodic guitar lines to Meghan's solid, full-bodied bass playing to Dan's straight-ahead, skillful drumming. Terry sings in an impassioned high timbre, stretching the lyrics around and over the stirring music. Foreign Objects are somewhere in that region between punk and post-punk. It might just be by accident, but the Objects would have fit in well with some of the 80s era Propeller label bands, a loose-grouping of Boston bands who generally favored a jarring approach but combined it with memorable hooks. "One Made Two," in particular, brings that to mind. Actually, that song reminds me of Mission of Burma or even Sorry, a younger, underrated Boston band in the early to mid-80s. The lengthy closer "Obliteration" pushes things into an abrasive realm although they don't stray into free-form territory. "No Sensation" is an album that is probably headed for my top ten of 2011 and this band transcend any easy category. (Vinyl Rites, PO Box 924, Gainesville, FL 32602,

FRUSTRATION-Broken Defective (Inimical, 7" EP)
Fast-paced hardcore with super-gruff and hoarse vocals (not always an asset) and a semi-melodic pulse at times. People in this band have played with various crust-styled bands but the sound here isn't that distorted nor tuned down. The follow up to their self-titled EP that was released on the same label last fall and this one is stronger, overall. Not bad but not mind-blowing, either. (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111,

GET RAD-Choose Your Own Adventure (Get Rad/Halo of Flies/The Perpetual Motion Machine,  7"EP)
When I was a kid, I had a Bugs Bunny set that came with a book and two 10" records that spun at 78. Yes, I'm old, deal with it. Get Rad's latest missive is accompanied by a booklet where you're given choices to make and then flip to whatever page your choice leads you. The lyrical contents echo that narrative. As usual, with this Milwaukee band, the music is enjoyable, buzzing old-school hardcore punk with burn and occasional melodic touches. And it's a good thing it plays at 45 instead of 78 because my turntable doesn't have that speed option. (4144 S 1st Place, Milwaukee, WI 53207,

GONE BAD-s/t (self-released, 7" EP)
Gone Bad bash away at their songs crudely and rudely. Loud, boisterous garage punk powered by a stomping beat and a full-bodied guitar roar. Coco's vocals convey a don't-fuck-with-me rage. "Let The Poison Out" goes on a bit long, timing out at a shade over 4 minutes, but it's entertaining listening to them beat their songs to a bloody pulp. (

GUNNAR HANSEN/UTI-Split (Schizophrenic, LP)
Two bands from Hamilton, ON--NOT Toronto. I've been told that bands from Hamilton get testy if you lump them in with Toronto bands. Anyway, Gunnar Hansen had a pretty good 7" about 5-6 years ago and most of the songs here were recorded in 2008. Bruising punk/rock 'n roll/hardcore with a bile-filled orneriness. Occasionally sounding like Fucked Up, particularly for "Phil's Song." The harder rocking side is shown off for "My Crimes," with a sputtering guitar break. UTI are also a nasty-sounding, aggro-laden band. Leah is a venomous-sounding vocalist and songs like "Commodity" and "Klaebouter Manniken" harken back to the days of Babes In Toyland, et al. And while "Fake As Fuck" is a credible thrasher, they don't fare as well on "A. Fish." All in all, this isn't merely two bands from Hamilton, ON. It's two nasty-sounding bands from Hamilton, ON. (17 W 4th St., Hamilton, ON, CANADA L9C 3M2,

HAZARDOUS WASTE-Destroy EP (Schizophrenic, 7" EP)
Raw thrash agitation, in terms of sound quality and delivery. Both of 'em work to their advantage. Some similarities to Career Suicide, although Durk's rant is in a lower register. "I wanna destroy everything" kind of sums up their outlook on life. Enjoyable, albeit generic. (17 W 4th St., Hamilton, ON, CANADA L9C 3M2,

JANITOR-s/t (Agro-Wax, 7" EP)
Recordings from a Houston hardcore band from 1999 and 100 copies were released last fall. I got it a few months after and I'm FINALLY reviewing it. Better late than... well, moving on, this is thrashed-up hardcore done in economical fashion. The band existed from the mid-90s to mid-00s and members went on to play in the PMRC, Crime Wave (you just read the review of their record above!), No Talk and more. It could have come out/been done at any time and you probably wouldn't know the difference. It reminds me of another late 90s US band, namely Rat Bastards, who had a no bullshit, straight ahead sound. It might be tough to find but do some Googling. A distro or two might still have it. The label's site has a download, anyway. (

JESUS H. BOMBS-Push The Button (Bookoven, 7" EP)
I love the way these guys just bash their way through their songs with raw, snotty punk attitude. They put their guts into it--yelling, screaming and battering the songs with all the subtlety of truncheon. From what I gather, these songs were recorded at various points during the past decade. It's also another record that's been out for awhile and (as per usual) neglected by yours truly but it's still available. (


KIELTOLAKI-s/t (Moo Cow, LP)/Dying System (Feral Ward, 7" EP)
The self-titled full-length isn't a new album but a compilation of the band's demo, first two 7"s and compilation songs. With Kieltolaki, there’s a respect for the Finnish hardcore tradition but it’s not a pure retro trip. Loud, fast and blistering throughout (although they slow it down on occasion) and with harsh vocals accompanied by ripsaw guitar, thundering bass and charging drums. "Dying System" has throwback artwork that looks like it could have come out on Propaganda Records in the 80s and it's more of the same--taking the best of the era and bringing it up to date. A double dose of destruction--and even a Destrucktions cover on the LP. (Moo Cow, 38 Larch Circle, Belmont, MA 02478, Ward:

KICKER-Innit (Tankcrimes, 7" EP)/Broke (Inimical, 7" EP)
Even though KICKER's two EPs are on different labels, they showed up around the same time. Both of them are packaged in heavy stock, gatefold covers. I figured they might be a UK band due to the vocalist's accent and verbiage ("shite," "nicked" etc) but it turns out they're from the Bay Area and the disparaging commentary about the college students on Telegraph (as in Berkeley's Telegraph Ave) on the thrashy "Two Hats" should have been a giveaway. Not a bunch of happy campers--a life of pain, poverty, drugs and god knows what else. Although "Two Hats" follows a traditional HC blueprint, that's not always the case here. "Broke" has a FALL-ish lope and "Wrong Things" favors more of an anthemic punk flavor. Likeable, gritty buzz. (Tankcrimes: PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111,


KROMOSOM-8 Tracks (Havoc/multi-label, LP)
After Kromosom's demo, with their original vocalist Doom, he's gone and guitarist Yeap moves over to vocals, taking the same role he did in the late, great Pisschrist. While his former band had a driving Swedish hardcore sound, these guys offer up more distortion and rawness along the lines of Kaaos, early Riistetyt or Disorder but the crazed, gutteral howlings remain in effect (and thank god for lyric sheets). Relentless and I hope y'all had a chance to see them on their recent US tour because it was ear-shredding, a wall of noise. On this disc, though, you can make out the songs. (

LEATHER-Sterile (Jade Tree, 7" EP)
Unsettling hardcore that's rather hookless but potent. "Relapse," for instance, has an explosive stop 'n start pummel and leads into "Novitiate," which works off the riff from Joy Division's "Warsaw" a bit. "Zek" is a faster burst. Some good ideas and I'd be curious to see what they're like live. Further developments will bear watching/listening for. (2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810,

LIEUTENANT-s/t (Art Of The Underground/Warm Bath/Peterwalkee, LP)
This LP sat on the proverbial shelf for a long time--I've had a CD-R of it for well over a year and their origins go back to the early part of the last decade. Members of No Time Left, John Brown's Army, To Hell and Back, Resist Control and others and this is pummeling hardcore driven by bulldozer bass and vocals that sound like a cross between Springa and Tony Erba. They also have a sound akin to one of Erba's former bands, namely Nine Shocks Terror. The vocals do get a bit over-the-top at times and Lieutenant are hardly the most unique band at playing this style but the production is hot and powerful. Glad this saw the light of day. Nice screen printed cover, too. (408 Richmond Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222,

NEO CONS-s/t (Deranged, 7" EP)
Neo Cons follow up their solid demo with a scorching vinyl debut that includes re-recordings of all four demo songs. As I said in the previous review, they're a scrappy punk band with an appealing roughness. And, the more I've listened to these guys, the more I realize that Jason's vocals are semi-reminiscent of Mark Sheehan (R.I.P.) from Out Cold and there are times where they have that kind of buzz, especially on the last song (and one of the new ones) "Don't Touch Me" and it has the same sort of lyrical sentiment as Out Cold too, i.e. "leave me the fuck alone!" The title to "Teenage Snark" had me laughing on its own--snark is such a great word--and the song is a complete ripper. Makes me regret not seeing them when they were here awhile back. (

NIGHT BIRDS-Fresh Kills-Vol. 1 (Grave Mistake, CD)
A collection of the band's three 7" discs and demo and showcasing their peppy, catchy blend of surfy/slashing west coast punk, even though they're New Jersey-ites. Opening song "Killer Waves" and "Triple Feature" could be a DI outtakes, with surging guitar lines, sturdy backbeat and "ahhh-ahhh" backing vocals on the first two. The faster, hardcore-tinged songs aren't quite as memorable but they're dead-on most of the time. Even better live. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

NIHILIST CUNT-You're Next (Suburban White Trash, 7" EP)
Maybe it's kind of a silly band name--and lest there be charges of sexism, the vocalist is a woman. Charging punk and lyrics offering poison observations along the same lines as the Profits, especially with Becca's vocals. Songs about decaying mental, physical and emotional health and feeling at odds with societal norms and a pair of songs railing against the likes of the homophobic Fred Phelps and corporate hegemony. 30 years and the themes remain the same. In other words, it's not terribly original but the sentiments come across as heartfelt. (PO Box 270594, Fort Collins, CO 80527-0594,

NO CLASS-Keine Klassed (Deranged, 12")
Ravenous hardcore incorporating different shadings, only they're all dark and pissed-off. The rampage of Double Negative or Sex/Vid and some NYHC bile. Bass and drums to club you into submission, big guitar riffs that bridge the songs with feedback and concluding with a few minutes of noise that will force you to lift the needle. Or maybe not, if you're a masochist! Add a whole lot of vocal agitation spewing out pure venom and this is a heady, hard-hitting mixture. (

NO PROBLEM-And Now This (Deranged, LP)/Paranoid Times (Handsome Dan, 7" EP)
A new album and EP from No Problem, who continue to crank out rousing, spirited punk. The 7" preceded the album and the title track ended up on the album. The difference between the two is in the recording quality--the album sounds rough and trebly by comparison and it really gives the songs an edge. Slamming guitar riffs, strong melodies and heartfelt vocals with some killer choruses--"Enemies," in particular. Paranoia (duh), turmoil and even bands cashing in on past fame--all part of the lyrical oeuvre here and it meshes well with the songs' punch. (

OBNOX-I'm Bleeding Now (Smog Veil, LP)
Obnox or obnoxious? Both! Obnox IS obnoxious. Low-fi garage/blues/psych bash underneath a wall of noise. If the intent is to be jarring and abrasive, this essentially one man band (the perpetrator's name is Lamont Thomas) succeeds. Not that there's anything wrong with that. There's still the occasional recognizable song in there, such as the down 'n dirty title track. And is "The Get It Inn" some sort of twisted ballad? Could be. It eventually reaches a cataclysmic conclusion on "Whaddup Young Blood," subtitled the "Drum Thunder Suite." Free-sounding degeneration powered by a storm of guitar mayhem and clattering drums. Exhausting by the end and I'm not quite so sure I feel like another go-round. (

OUTDOORSMEN-Tell Your Folks I'm A Goner (Psychic Handshake, 7" EP)
"... I'm A Goner" is gloriously scuzzy, revved-up garage slop that will hamfistedly worm its way into your heart. On the flip, "Stink Up The Bathroom" continues in a similar vein while "She Wants To Go Steady" is their (semi-successful) stab at a poppier song, albeit with not-so-sweet lyrics. Kind of in take it or leave it territory although they've got the right idea, especially for the title track. (

POOR LILY-s/t (self-released, CD)
What a walloping effort and it's always a pleasure to be blindsided by something out of the blue like this album. The musical pedigree of some of the members include various New York hardcore bands but that isn't all that relevant here. Let's take this album/band on its own terms, without any preconceptions. Imagine NoMeansNo or the Minutemen off on a hardcore bender. Bands like the Rhythm Pigs and Victims Family used to do the same thing. Music that's ostensibly punk in attitude and intensity but incorporates a tight musical dynamic to the proceedings. Like those bands, these guys are a trio (I know NMN did eventually add a second drummer) and incredible musicians. While the chops are obvious, they don't let things get so busy or overcooked that it dilutes the power--even with the jazzy interplay on a song like "Regular Guy" or "Pretty Little Uniform." There's a nervousness in Poor Lily's music and it also comes out through the edge-of-a-breakdown lyrics espoused on a number of songs and, what the hell, "sanity is for the insane," anyway, as they sing on "Decide To Sleep." Although that might be debatable--I'm thinking of when GANG OF FOUR sang "some are insane and they're in charge" on "To Hell With Poverty." Enough thinking, though--I'd rather have the braincells rattled in a more positive way and this might be the ticket. (

SHIRKS-s/t (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)
Three songs of garage/punk/rock 'n roll. The hallmarks of the sound are here--guitar riffs with a rockin' swagger delivered at a mid-to-fast pace. "Prostitution Summer" is a decent Saints knockoff and there's a New Bombs Turk-ish inspiration, as well. Those aren't bad touchpoints and, while it doesn't get the walls shaking as much as I'd like, they get the job done. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

VARIOUS-City Limits (High Anxiety/No Idea, LP)
A showdown between Montreal and Toronto that's more intense than the Canadiens/Maple Leafs rivalry. OK, maybe not. I'm sure there's plenty of musical kinship. Anyway, one side is from TO and one from Mtl. and features a hit and miss array of punk, hardcore and rock 'n roll talent, with more hits than misses. On the Toronto side, things get started with snotty fodder by Career Suicide. Not the best song they've ever done but it's good to something unheard. Speaking of CS, their guitarist Jonah Falco's solo project Mad Men connects with some tribal punk minimalism. Bad Choice, Brutal Knights and School Jerks rip out feisty punk--same for Urban Blight, who add a distorted rawness. On the flip, Castevets have a tough garage-fueled attack and that applies to Slobs, as well. Dead Wife bash through their song with riot grrrl ferocity. Unfortunately, the slugging percentage isn't quite as high, here. Inepsy's rock tune goes on a bit long and the Omegas song isn't nearly as good as on their other releases. I'll probably be playing the Toronto side a lot more. (

VARIOUS-Speed Trials: Worst Bands Of West Michigan Vol. 1 (Punks Before Profits, LP)
A one-sided compilation on red vinyl with an artistic rendering of the state of Michigan on the other side and tucked inside a screened cover. The xeroxed booklet is tough to read on some pages. Song titles are always nice, in some instances. The whole thing was recorded on one day, where the 17 bands each recorded a single song. All loud and fast hardcore, thrash and grind and varying quality, as you would imagine--sad to say, most of it is tuneless and forgettable. In fact, only a few of 'em really stick out, in a good way. Shattered Badge's ravenous thrash packs a solid punch, Attention Span feature scalding vocals and a musical edginess and Dissertation's raw d-beat might be cool to see live. Otherwise, there's not much else I'd want to hear again. (PO Box 1148, Grand Rapids, MI 49501,


VICTIMS-Dissident (Tankcrimes, LP)
This Swedish band have been around since the late 90s, having released five albums, a split LP with From Ashes Rise and a number of 7"s. Over the years, they've moved towards a heavier Swedish sound with thicker, lower-tuned riffs that accompany the speedy attack and harsh vocals. All of this is in line with their countrymen Skitsystem, Wolfbrigade  and others. The new album gets the job done with concise bursts of rage that will warm the heart of anyone who wears a studded vest. I do prefer the earlier recordings, especially Neverendinglasting--much rougher and raw sounding --but they remain a pulverizing live band and that comes across pretty well on this album. Full-gatefold sleeve with some wild artwork.(

Friday, June 03, 2011

Suburban Voice blog #94


Yeah, I suck at this blog business. I've been rather hermit-like--as of this writing, I've only been to half a dozen shows the entire year. It's been almost three months since the last blog and I figured I was long overdue to post one even though the review pile hasn't diminished all that much. Ah well--it happens when you get old, the weather gets nice, you're suffering from writer's block or some combination thereof. It's not like I don't listen to the new music that shows up here and I manage to get a lot of the material onto the radio show at least.

I did manage to get through the biography about Hüsker Dü by Andrew Earles, Hüsker Dü: The Story Of The Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock. It's kind of a lofty premise, I suppose, and Earles spends over 200 pages trying to make that claim. The Hüskers certainly deserve their legendary status and it's an entertaining read but there are some flaws/shortcomings. The biggest one is that Bob Mould, who is publishing his own memoir, wasn't interviewed for the book although Grant Hart and Greg Norton were, as well as people involved with the band over the years.

Earles also tends to repeat certain passages and the chronology gets a bit jumbled. He over-analyzes in spots and there's the occasional factual error, such as saying that Television and Blondie recorded for Sire (it was Elektra and Chrysalis, respectively). And while the inter-band conflicts are given mention--particularly between Bob and Grant--it doesn't delve into them that deeply. Not that the book has to be a tell-all soap opera but it doesn't need to be glossed over, either. And while Earles is complimentary towards their hardcore-leaning material, some comments seem to be a tad ridiculous: "No hardcore band offered the acute wallop of something like Land Speed Record or In A Free Land." I could think of a lot of records in that time packing that kind of wallop but LSR is admittedly raw and over-the-top. I also don't know if I agree with the description of "Wheels" (from Everything Falls Apart) as being "No wave influenced." And while side two of Zen Arcade is arguably their most visceral eruption of hardcore since Land Speed Record, I don't hear the Discharge influence that the author mentions. At least there isn't unconditional love for each release--Warehouse gets a much-deserved panning.

I should also mention that Earles never got to see them play live. It shouldn't disqualify him from writing about the band but I'll admit I'm prejudiced in that regard. I saw them around a dozen times. I obsessed over Zen Arcade for months. They were an IMPORTANT band to me and some of those records are reliable "go-to" albums to this day. As an (irrelevant?) aside, I was stoked to see Earles use quotations from the interview I did with Bob in issue #8 of my 'zine. Surprised would be a better term, actually, since it wasn't all that great an interview--not Bob's answers but my lame questions. He was more than gracious and patient.

Criticism aside, there are some cool photos, flyers and other artifacts displayed. I think he manages to tell the Hüskers' story fairly competently--how they came together, the "scene" they helped create, a peek behind the scenes of the recording process and dissection of their records. Earles tends to look at them through the prism of how they inspired a more mainstream pop/punk and indy rock aesthetic, even going to far as to list bands they've influenced, who have covered them, etc--and that doesn't seem overly-necessary, although I never knew that Robert Palmer did a snippet of "New Day Rising" live. Go figure.

I'm really looking forward to Bob's book (which has just been published), especially if he doesn't filter himself. I definitely want to hear his reflection on things...

RECORD REVIEWS... just skimming the surface...

I'm going to begin this segment with a rundown of the most-recent batch of records from Lengua Armada, Martin Sorrondeguy's label. Maybe not so recent since, as I said above, this blog is ridiculously tardy. Hopefully, some of them are still available. Martin’s records tend to go out of print fairly quickly so you might want to shoot him an email at to see what’s available or check with your friendly distro. We begin with Bay Area band Vaccuum and their massive onslaught of distortion. The buried-in-the-mix vocals are provided by Robert Collins (Artimus Pyle, etc) and, while the attack isn’t as noisy as, say, Lebenden Toten or Nerveskade, the aesthetic leans towards that. A sonic terror. Japan’s Totsugeki Sensya offer a similar type of terror for the five song Chain of Tragedy EP. Harsh vocals and a trebly, distorted blaze that has an old-school Japanese hardcore fervor. Necromongo, from Peru, offer plenty of speedy d-beat wreckage on their five song Grabaciones Desde La Ultratumba EP, although “La Perdicion” slows things down. “Vamos” takes a Raw Power-ish turn, especially with the guitar buzz.

Upon hearing some of the shredding guitar leads and overall tone on Criaturas’s Aranas en el Corzon EP, I thought it sounded a bit like Vaaska. It turns out Criaturas are from Austin and include a couple of Vaaska-ians, namely guitarist Vampis and that band’s vocalist Eddie appears here on bass. Dru’s vocals are sometimes more offkey/abrasive than I handle but the songs have a potent surge. Actually, their songs do have a hint of melody here and there, such as on “Paranoide.” Solid d-beat thump with metallic flourishes.

Finally, there’s Porcodio, a project with Anti You drummer Paolo on vocals joined by various Richmond luminaries from Government Warning, Direct Control, etc. Bass-driven hardcore providing a pummeling effect—as always, Brandon Ferrell’s drumming provides an abundance of locomotive-like bash. Given their Euro/American composition, the sound draws from both regions although the main emphasis is old Italian hardcore and Paolo’s nasally timbre sounds inspired by the vocalist from Indigesti.

RECORD REVIEWS... (and still just skimming the surface)


BANRAN-Stop Kor (Even Worse/Way Back When, 7" EP) 
A band from South Korea who play in a fast thrashy vein with buzzed-up guitar and howling vocals. And while South Korea is the “democratic” part of Korea, that doesn’t mean that its leaders were admirable. For instance, there was Park Jeoung Hee, who was the president of the country in the 60s and 70s and had an apparently oppressive regime (yes, I did a bit of research while the record was spinning). Banran rant against his racist, anti-Japanese sentiments. But this isn’t a history lesson, it’s a review of a punk record and this is a mostly-effective blast. The noisy, whizzling tumult during “Being Retarded” stands out a bit. (Way Back When, Taskinlaan 9, 2361XM Warmond, THE NETHERLANDS, Worse, Van Ostadestr 93-F, 1072SR, Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS,

BLACK CLOUDS-s/t (Ride The Snake)
OK, so this 7" has been out for quite awhile but I only got a copy in the last few months and you punters need to know about it. The Black Clouds play simple, bashing ‘n bluesy garage rock that fans of the Oblivians, Cheater Slicks, et al will enjoy. I’m enjoying it myself. The best of the four songs here is "5 Years Behind My Time” and maybe it’s a sly in-joke about playing this music after any sort of so-called trend. I’m too busy being mesmerized by the string slamming and delirious tempo. Recorded at the late, great Twisted Village store in Harvard Square.(6 Wadleigh Place, Boston, MA 02127,

BRAIN F≠-So Dim (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)
Another record I neglected for awhile and shouldn’t have because it’s a real keeper I’ve been playing this record and tracks from their earlier demo on the radio show. From North Carolina and also known as Brain Flannel, this is some spirited, rough-hewn garage/punk bash, with semi-distorted male/female vocals. A full-length is due in the not-too-distant future. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

COKE BUST-Degradation (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)
As always, Coke Bust's music has all the subtlety of a jackhammer. While this band's musicianship has always been stellar (their drummer Chris Moore is a monster behind the kit), I still wish they didn’t rely so much on the velocity, although I guess it makes the crushing, if brief, breakdowns stand out. And “Deathbed” is a pounder in the tradition of Negative Approach’s “Evacuate.” I’ve enjoyed Coke Bust when I’ve seen them live but I don’t listen to their records all the time. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,


DEEP SLEEP-Turn Me Off (Grave Mistake, LP)
Deep Sleep's full-length debut, following three previous EPs (which were compiled by Grave Mistake on the Three Things At Once CD that came out last year). Turn Me Off is a little more polished than the earlier records but the songs still have a good amount of energetic drive. This Baltimore band have always emphasized a Dag Nasty-meets-Descendents-inspired melodic pulse in their sound, reinforced with Tony Pence’s urgent and emotional (but NOT emo!) vocals. Still, they come storming out full-force for “Live Forever” and other songs. Speaking of the Descendents, that band’s Stephen Egerton mastered the album, so I imagine the band wanted that kind of biting-yet-tuneful ambiance. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

HELLMOUTH-Gravestone Skylines (Paper + Plastick)
A scorching metal eruption with a no-nonsense leanness. Sure, you definitely hear mid-80s thrash ala Slayer--ominous riffs and all that, along with various hardcore and crossover influences. There are also chuggy and blastbeat moments but they're not detracting factors. Hellmouth, who hail from Detroit, charge through their songs with ruthless, relentless efficiency and the howling vocals more-than-effectively convey the lyrical ruminations on a world in decay, if I can use such a trite expression (too late!). When they sing about resisting control, I admit I clench my fist a bit. A good mix of heaviness, speed and haunting riffs. I haven't been too impressed with metallic fodder in recent years but this album is an exception. When it comes to this type of music, maybe I'm not such a jaded fuck, after all. (

HERDS-Michigan (Residue, 7" EP)
Each of Herds’ records have had a common theme running through them. For their album, the loose theme was about seasonal cycles and how it affects nature, wildlife and humans. For Michigan, Herds write about tragic events in different areas in their home state—a devastating mine explosion, the collapse of a building, a tornado and slow death caused by toxic contamination. So these songs are mainly about man-made atrocities although, in the case of the tornado in “Bay City,” the tables are turned to an extent. But it’s the music that really commands your attention. Pillaging, crust-tinged hardcore with ferocious instrumentation and vocals. Many bands playing this style put reverb on the vocals (sometimes to good effect) but Herds resist that temptation and it enhances the songs’ impact. A familiarity in the music, perhaps, but powerfully-executed and the lyrical themes don’t cover the standard-issue topics. (

IMMORAL DISCIPLINE-Complete Discipline (DSI, CD)
UNION STRIKE-The [Demo]lition (demo)
Passable bootboy punk from DC recorded from '87 and '89 and including Immoral Discipline's demo, EPs and an unreleased album's worth of material. The music is simple and straightforward punk--definitely paying tribute to early 80s UK strains, both oi-ish material and faster material. Flyin' the flag for the good 'ol (?) USA on "Boots and Braces, Stars and Stripes," but also exuding an anti-racist attitude. Punks and skins unite, etc... Shawn Garard has kind of a flat voice in the vein of the vocalists from the Hates and Crucial Youth. Can't say this didn't make me smile, at times. For a good cause--proceeds are being donated to St. Jude's hospital, the Human Society, a food bank and the ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's Disease) Association. The same package brought a CD pressing of Union Strike's 1988 demo. They were another street-style DC punk band from the same period. A slightly heavier sound punctuated by gruff vocals, buzzing guitar but not all distinctive otherwise. And there's a ton of hiss on the recording--cleaning it up might have helped a bit. (PO Box 346, Dunn Loring, VA 22027,

NOTHING BUT ENEMIES-Creepy Crawl (Welfare, CD)
Creepy crawl was part of the Black Flag/SST Records vernacular and NBE have taken it to heart. Unsettling punk that crawls its way into your brain and rips it apart. OK, that's hyperbolic, even more than usual for this writer. This is one of the best albums to come out Boston in awhile. Ominous and fiery from the outset, as Opie brays over the Flag-meets-Fang sonic setting that appears most prominently on such songs as "Dropout" and "Another Day Of Nothing." "Tonight" is more upbeat, with a tuneful No Future Records pulse. The title track is also melodic but in a different way--fusing a nearly goth-like arrangement to the punk burn. Punk is supposed to be the music of the rejects but it often ends up with elitist pecking orders, just like in so-called real life. NBE are the rejects of the rejects and perfectly happy with it. And there's an originality in the songwriting, sparked by solid, powerful musicianship and reinforced with an animated vocal presence. (58 River St., Haverhill, MA 01832,

OLDE GHOST-Use Yer Illusion 3'N'4 (Handstand, LP)
The cover for Olde Ghost's debut album  parodies a certain west coast hard rock band (guess) but that’s the end of the similarity. This is nervy, pounding rock with howling vocals and a muscular musical focus—a few Drive Like Jehu touches but you can also hear bits of Swiz and Rorschach (especially vocally) in there, too. Former members of the underrated Books Lie and it’s a heavier-sounding proposition. Only misstep is an ill-advised cover of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by the Animals. (PO Box 110398, Brooklyn, NY 11211,

OUR BAND SUCKS-Pic 'N' Save (self-released, CD)
West coast old-timers return for another go-round. Sloppy Seconds-ish poppy-punk with semi-goofy lyrical matter although the liner notes inside the disc are actually more humorous. Four quick songs, mildly entertaining and the title track is catchy but nothing essential. (

POISON PLANET-Nothing Gets Done (ThirdXParty, 7" EP)
Nothing seems to get done around here, that's for sure. That's why it's been three months between blogs and this record review is also overdue. Oh, that's right--this is a record review. ThirdXParty honcho Nick Baran is the vocalist in this Chicago band, who have shown steady improvement with each subsequent release Poison Planet ply the kind of rough hardcore you’d expect, also inspired by early Boston rumblings (though not exclusively)—that point is made obvious by a cover of DYS’s “No Pain No Gain.” And, as I’ve said before, while I’m old, jaded and cynical, I recognize and admire this band’s idealism and attempt to shake people out of their apathy. It’s a tough battle.


This relatively new Boston band play various permutations of punk, garage, rock and even hardcore on their debut demo. “Pet Sounds” provides some jabbing garage rock, “Control” picks things up to a thrashier pace, while “Suffocation” and “Men For Men” are both moody rockers. There’s post-punkish flavor for “Vaccine” that intersperses a steady pulse with freeform bursts. The cover choice is pretty obscure—the Rings’ ’77 one-off “Automobile.” Jessica sings in a lower register but she’s expressive and has range. An auspicious debut and reinforced with warm, punchy production. (

RATZ-Uniformed Youth (Kink, 7" EP)
This German band showcase a west coast hardcore guitar surge on their five song EP, fusing it to a fast-paced attack on side one and, for the second side, slowing it down and coming up with a pair of catchy songs. Those are the stronger tracks here although the whole thing is pretty decent. (

SCHOOL JERKS-s/t (Cowabunga, 7" EP)
Another self-titled EP for Toronto's Jerks, their third and another snotty punk excursion. Yep, the Jerks in the name is appropos since they occasionally bring to mind another west coast band that shares part of their moniker and other bands from that time/region--Amdi Petersens Arme did the same sort of thing. As I've mentioned before, some of the personnel here used to be in Terminal State and this has a similar feel--ranting vocals accompanied by taut, razor-sharp compositions. (

SHARDS-s/t (Sorry State, LP)
Here's a band that's not all that easily-classified. Shards merge a shadowy west coast punk and Naked Raygun vibe (without the “whoahs” or overt pop influences) and take those elements and stomp all over ‘em. And while it’s a shortcut to call lyrics “dark,” what else to make of songs about “watersports” (and I ain’t talking about diving or polo) or ingesting harmful items? The production sounds a bit muddy at times and the songs don’t have obvious hooks but there’s enough burn to hold interest. (

SLOBS-Look Busy, Do Nothing (Cowabunga, 7" EP)
Here I sit at my computer, reviewing a record for my on-line blog and the song playing is "Technophile Society," about "being connected yet so alone." I suppose there's some truth in that statement and the songs here have an overall theme of dehumanization and alienation. Montreal's Slobs might be alienated, but they connect furiously with three thrashers and one song (the concluding "Assembly Line") with a garagier touch. Hardcore punk that's endearingly scrappy. (

SORRY STATE-s/t (Lifeline, 7" EP)/Listen With Prejudice (Third x Party, 7" EP)
One new, one not-so-new record. Both of 'em serve up some mean hardcore with pounding breakdowns interspersed with speedy thrash. Elements of Infest and early Boston HC, both from the “crew” bands and Siege. These guys are “nailed to the X,” so to speak, but straight edge themes doesn’t permeate the lyrics. On the Lifeline EP, there’s a lament about losing a family member to smoking and there’s no attempt to conceal the anger. Actually, there’s nothing held back on either of these records. (Lifeline, PO Box 692, Midlothian, IL 60445,,

STRIPMINES-Sympathy Rations (Sorry State, 7" EP)
Hammering hardcore punk that’s somewhat reminiscent of a band like Deathreat, at times. The drumming seems a bit off on occasion but the riffs are thick and mean-sounding, along with the hoarse vocals. A reliance on speed but they can get you pounding the floor, too--see the intro to "Aneurysms" or "Empty Threat." Not too shabby a debut. Not at all. (

SWEET TOOTH-Japanese Void EP (Cowabunga, 7" EP)
Blasting hardcore done in relentless fashion--sometimes too relentless in the speed department where the drumming becomes a tad monorhythmic. Still, it's not grindcore--this is flaying thrash with some solid breakdowns and tempo changes and the lurching conclusion for "Don't Come Close To Me" is attention-getting. Definitely something you have to be in the mood for--a bad mood. (

THINK TWICE-National Sacrifice Zone (Give Praise, 7" EP),
This band, with former Life Crisis vocalist Sean, create some savage crust-inflected hardcore. A three-piece with harsh back and forth vocals that are buried in the mix a bit. Opposed to corporate bailouts, thinking that the Obama administration is just more of the same ‘ol shit and, of course, chafing at the dehumanizing nature of the workplace. They sound properly and credibly agitated over the course of these five songs. (PO Box 494, Barnstable, MA 02630-0494,
TO HELL AND BACK-Will We Be Torn Apart (Peterwalkee, LP)
Straight-ahead hard rock/metal and somewhat better than THAB's first album, a few years ago. That could be due to a revamped lineup. There's still a propensity for vocal overkill and some of the arrangements stretch out a lot longer than necessary. NWOBHM meets 70s inspirations that occasionally pushes the right buttons, with punchy riffing and strong drumming but the vocals really do hurt things here. A mixed verdict. (408 Richmond Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222,

URBAN WASTE-Recycled (Rebel Sound, LP)
Urban Waste's 1982 EP is one of the greatest to ever come out of NYC. Almost 30 years later, there's this new album. It probably isn't fair to make comparisons to the first EP but it's inevitable and I'll give it a fair assessment. This isn't a complete failure, by any means. Some songs do have a speedy, semi-metallic feel and they also hammer out some credible straight-ahead rock 'n roll (particularly the opening song "Eat Cake"). On the other hand, some of the attempts at old-school hardcore (songs that were actually composed back then) feel forced, especially "Urban Waste." Kenny Ahrens' voice lacks little of the manic intensity of old. And I can definitely live without the groove rock of "No Joke." In all honesty, I kind of wish they hadn't done this. Even with 3/4 of the original lineup involved, it's a shadow of their one-time greatness. (PO Box 281 Dalton, MA 01227-0281,

VILE NATION-Tight Leash (Way Back When/Even Worse, 7" EP)
A stripped-down, somewhat lo-fi thrash attack with bass up in the mix and, along with the thumping drums, creating the foundation for the guitar slash ‘n sputter. The playing is definitely on the primitive side yet I ended up liking it. Just don’t expect anything exceedingly original. (Way Back When, Taskinlaan 9, 2361XM Warmond, THE NETHERLANDS, Worse, Van Ostadestr 93-F, 1072SR, Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS,