Friday, March 11, 2011

Suburban Voice blog #93



Time for another round of demo reviews. Even though the Sony Walkman isn't being manufactured anymore, even though tape decks in newer cars are a thing of the past, even though cassettes are a rather inconvenient format, I listen to 'em when I can and still proudly have a deck in my 2000 Corolla. And, given life's circumstances, that will remain my car for sometime to come!

Out of the ashes of underrated Boston band Fruit Salad comes Ancient Filth, with vocalist Matt and bassist Andrew joined by three new recruits. These guys go for more of a straight-forward thrash sound as opposed to the more powerviolence approach of Fruit Salad. Matt still rants like a maniac and the more-measured tempo works in their favor. 10 songs (unless I miscounted) and a Zero Boys' cover. An elaborate lyric sheet with explanations for each track and covering a number of topics concerning both human and societal conditions. The sound quality is so-so but they're off to a good start. They've since done a recording at Dead Air and a 7" should be out in the not-too-distant future. ( Another relatively new local band is Aspects of War, who plow through four songs of raw, blown-out DIS(torted) core. As with Ancient Filth, I'd like to hear a better recording. Plenty of rage, here. (Who Killed Fucker,

Aussie band Kromosom actually have a Massachusetts connection--their vocalist Doom lived here for many years and yelled for Kirrotu (a Finnish-style hardcore band with Finnish lyrics). The guitarist is Yeap, former vocalist for Pisschrist. Credible distorto-burn with reverb on the vocals and buzzing guitar. The first song is called "Systematic Death" and that gives you something of an idea as to where they're coming from, although there's equal inspiration from the likes of Kaaos and the "epic" pound of "Et Sa" makes that fairly obvious. (

Night Prowler are from the Bay Area and, on their "Crime Wave" 5-songer, connect with a no-nonsense old school sound mixing in such influences as Negative Approach, DYS and Urban Waste. Hardly groundbreaking but pretty effective. Packaging is cool--the box is designed like one you'd see from Warner Bros. back in the day, right down to the text, as well as on the tape itself. Sonics are excellent, as well. (1617 47th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94122, Meanwhile, former 86 Mentality drummer Jason Halal has moved out from behind the kit, moved to the Bay Area from DC and grabs the microphone in Neo Cons. Rough 'n tumble hardcore punk with a winning scrappiness. "Overstimulation" is reminiscent of the Skulls' "Fuck You" (best known version is by the Subhumans). Expect a 7" on Deranged by the end of March. (

Two French bands, Take Warning and Pervers Et Truands team up for a split tape. Neither of 'em are particularly mind-blowing. Take Warning play rock 'n roll flavored punk but lack much in the way of ferocity. Pervers et Truands are a heavy, slow 'n doomy band. Not to the point of pure sludge but it gets painful at times and the sound quality isn't that great, either. (

Finally, the last cassette isn't really a demo but a cassette compilation, New York Rules, packaged in a printed manila folder and with a newspaper poster. A collection of mostly-released songs by the likes of hardcore rippers Nomos, brain-pounders The Men (who turn in a fun cover of Devo's "Gates Of Steel"), tuneful Cali-style punks the Nightbirds and catchy rock of Pregnant. Hank Wood & The Hammerheads cover garagey terrain, while Dawn of Humans play Dinosaur-ish swill. The noisier Dawns of Human and shoegazery (?) Nude Beach. A decent enough sampler with a diverse lineup. (66 Steuben St., #3, Brooklyn, NY 11205,


AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED/ANS-Tribute To Gang Green (Tankcrimes, 5")
I didn't know labels were still putting out those tough to play 5" records. but here's a tribute to the Boston hellions. ANB capably proffer yet another cover of "Alcohol," while ANS wail through "Let's Drink Some Beer," preceded by their own metallish rocker "Bl'azing Saddles." On lime-yellow vinyl or maybe it's meant to replicate the color of piss, after drinking all that beer. Not a crucial release, although I wouldn't use it as a coaster for a bottle of beer, either. (

BRAIN CAR-Rock + Roll Bologna (Reel Time, 7" EP)
When this record showed up, I noticed some sort of rubbery substance with the words "Rock + Roll" carved into and tucked inside in a plastic bag attached to the sleeve. Since I wasn't paying a lot of attention, I figured it was plastic puke and filed it in the review box. A few weeks later, I'm going through the box and there's a rather pungent odor. Turns out it was a real piece of bologna and had, um, aged a bit. After airing out the box and sleeve (and deep-sixing the bologna), things are more or less back to normal. So the bologna's gone but the record remains and it's a good one. A satirical bent in the lyrics and semi-abrasive hardcore/punk music with an almost garagey twist and ranting vocals. Fun. (32 Engel Pl., Rochester, NY 14620)

BROKEN NECK-s/t (Art Fraud, 7" EP) 
Raw-sounding metal-tinged punk on this six song EP. The cover is a tribute to Black Sabbath’s Masters of Reality and they have a song called “Paranoid” that sneaks in a snippet of the Sab song but isn’t a cover. Scalding vocals from Holly—it’s a wonder she hasn’t destroyed her vocal chords yet—and a good amount of bash. (

CONFIDENCE MEN-Funnypapers (Art Fraud, 7" EP)
Stirringly dark, mid-tempo punk that makes me think of another Pittsburgh band, Brain Handle. An urgency to the songs and speeding things up for a moment on "Catching Flies." Looking forward to hearing more from this band. The guitar sound is particularly grabbing, with a haunting and jarring burn. (

DESCARADOS-El Canto De Los Humildes (Stonehenge, 7" EP)
I hesitate to refer to anything as emo-core, since it’s such a loaded term/description but that’s the musical realm occupied by Descarados. On their new EP, the band follow a similar blueprint as on their previous 12”. Melodic punk with a DC-ish tilt—think Rites Of Spring, only without being completely overwrought about it. Warm, stinging guitar lines and hard-hitting drumming give the songs presence, while Carlos sings in an impassioned style, quite the opposite of his high-pitched rant in his other band Sin Orden. Packaged nicely in a screen-printed fold out sleeve, printed inner sleeve and with a poster. (BP 30005, 33037 Bordeaux, FRANCE,

DIRECT CONTROL-Bucktown Hardcore (Tankcrimes, LP)
Oh hell yeah...a collection of this band's demos. The first side is the band's 13 song demo recorded in 2003 and with Ryan from Municipal Waste on bass and his nimble runs really stand out here--in fact, as great as Direct Control's first album  "You're Controlled" was, these performances outdo them. Flip it over and there's a four song session from '05 that yielded comp tracks for one of the "No Bullshit" discs and MRR's "Public Safety" comp and some really rough four track recordings from 2002 with the original North Carolina lineup. Humble origins and the '03 demo represented a pretty big leap. You probably know the deal with these guys by now but, just in case, it's early 80s-styled hardcore played with reckless enthusiasm—loud, fast and kicking ass from start to finish. The way it should be done. (

It's hard to believe that Disaster Strikes have been around for over a decade. More accurately, vocalist JR has continued with a dizzying amount of personnel changes. Their three songs here are throttling, aggressive hardcore taking on the health care racket, religion and corporate predators. Leftist boilerplate, for sure, but you won't hear criticism here because I know JR's backed up his words with action over the years. Bring Down The Hammer, in case you haven't heard of them before, is Chad Malone from Brother Inferior/Assembly of God/etc's latest band. Short blasts of mainly hyper-speed hardcore, although some of it is played at more of a measured pace and there are some heavier, crushing moments as well (trying to avoid 'hammer' terminology, here). Lyrics mainly concerned with ongoing economic and political battles. A varying amount of success but "Public Lands--Private Hands" is a good example of what they can do with a more focused attack. That's only about half the time, though. (PO Box 525, Fleetwood, PA 19522,


GASMASK TERROR-Black Sun/Fake Gold (Solar Funeral, LP)
Ces enfants terribles, les créateurs de la violence D-beat, de retour pour une autre session de gravure. Il n'y a rien de compliqué ou de fantaisie sur ce jeu Gasmask Terror. Ceci est fort, rapide, de la musique brûle. Il est brutal. C'est premières. Vous allez adorer. (I apologize if my French is mangled or nonsensical. I used Google Translate.) English synopsis? More loud, raw d-beat mania from these enfant terribles. And the wall of sound is stripped away for a rough-hewn, scrappier approach. Mainly fast-paced fodder but "The Cult" is damn-near catchy rocker. (

GIRLS OF PORN-s/t (self-released, 7" EP)
An abrasive, trebly, blown-out mess of a garage punk sound along the lines of Homostupids. Those are positive attributes in this instance although I think extended exposure could cause my (or other listeners’) head(s) to explode. It comes with a 3D cover and glasses and that’s pretty nifty but the music is plenty head-messing on its own without additional visual effects. (369 Hamilton St., Apt. 2, Albany, NY 12210,

HERO DISHONEST-Dangerous (IfSociety, LP)
This veteran Finnish band have never strayed all that far from aggressive hardcore punk and on Hero Dishonest's latest album, that remains the primary focus. It’s not the whole story, though. The closing song on the first side, “Space Command,” starts out full-tilt but then settles into an ominous lope with an odd sci-fi narrative recorded by Hewhocorrupts’ vocalist Ryan Durkin. Things take a slightly more expansive route on the flip, starting with the Black Flag-meets-Effigies inspiration (to my ears) for “Company Bad Man” and both “Finger On A Button” and Like A Moth To A Flame” display a driving rock dynamic. “A Cult Of Comfortable Everyone,” alternates between a stew of barbed ‘n sputtering guitar over percolating bass line, interrupted by some manic thrash. There’s something of a whimsical, semi-abstract nature to certain song titles and lyrics. Perhaps to confuse the listener or, in this case, record reviewer, some of the titles listed on the back of the cover and record label don’t always match the titles on the lyric sheet, although there’s thematic link: is it “Fag Agenda” or “From Fred Phelps With Love,” about the Westboro Bapstist church i.e. “God Hates Fags” psychopaths? When one writes that an album is “interesting” or “creative,” it could be considered damning with faint praise. No “grit in the grooves,” to use a phrase heard on a radio ad many years ago. Trust me—that’s not the case here. Hero Dishonest are a dynamic, unpredictable band. (

The pair of songs by Kitty Little operate in a power-poppy region along the lines of Superchunk. A warm guitar tone, a fairly nifty drum 'n percussion break on "Milkshake" and a tad edgier for "Never Stay." Mildly enjoyable although not something mind-melting. I really can't get into the bouncy, lightweight 60s-inspired pop w/trumpet of Scientific Maps. One step above twee. (408 Richmond Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222,

LOW THREAT PROFILE-Product #2 (Deep Six/Draw Blank, LP)
LTP are one of those bands spoken about in hushed tones. Add my voice to the choir of people lauding the virtues of their new 12”. A collaboration between members of No Comment, Lack of Interest and Infest and it took a long time for this 12” to see the light of day, with the music recorded in 2000 and Andy’s nettled vocals in 2010. The Infest comparisons are inevitable, with Matt Domino’s guitar sound and the tempo shifts—and those are executed with ruthless precision. Beyond that, there’s an obvious affection for early Boston hardcore (Negative FX, in particular) and early DRI. These “old-timers” can definitely teach the youngsters a lesson or two and the sentiment behind “My One and Only True Love,” about a life-long affection for this kind of music I’m writing about, seems sincere. Too bad they’re not going to be doing any sort of touring or all that many live shows. (

MANIPULATION-s/t (Sorry State, 7" EP)
Another session of punishing hardcore on Manipulation's second self-titled EP. Rampaging soundbeds, as one song goes into another, bridged by squalls of feedback and creating the accompaniment for Jordan’s venomously emanated words. If there’s a theme at all, it’s pretty well summed up on “Under The Influence”—“there’s no such thing as a world of plenty” and a lot of people are finding that out the hard way. I’ve repeatedly talked about a return to an 80s state of mind, full of despair and Manipulation express those thoughts with unabated anger both in a lyrical and musical sense. And they don’t try to slavishly recreate the sounds from back then—this has a forceful, contemporary feel to it. (

MURDERESS-The Last Thing You Will Ever See (Aborted Society, LP)
A cavernous hodgepodge of 80s crossover hardcore/metal along with doomier crust trappings. The pit 'o doom ambiance brings Sacrilege to mind, as well as early Voivod and even Venom (sound-wise) but coming from the hardcore side of things. Rachel Nakanishi handles guitar and bass on this recording, in addition to her nasty, howling vocals and the emanations are nightmarish. Same for the lyrics--well, expressing a nightmarish world where only death is certain, if I can use a cliche here. Dark and intense but not bogging down into a sloggish morass. (1122 E. Pike St, #1377, Seattle, WA 98122-3934,

NARCS-s/t (Reel Time, 7" EP)
From the same label that brought us the Brain Car EP. No bologna or other luncheon meats included with this one but not that dissimilar, in that these guys mix up snotty/thorny punk, hardcore, garage, even some surf and don't take themselves too seriously. Not a joke band, though--sharp playing and a kinetic approach. (32 Engel Pl., Rochester, NY 14620)

THE PMRC-Politics, Morality, Religion, Cash (Motorchest, LP)
The "lost album" by this band who come from the incestuous Houston scene, where it seems as though everyone is in a dozen bands. This three piece dish out rockin’ punk with hardcore touches and smart topical lyrics. But they reach into other musical regions, as well, such as on the moody “Civilized Vultures.” Songs like “Get Away From Me,” “Mass Infection” and “Leaders of the Free World” slam in a Big Boys-ish manner although Mike Grayum’s vocal style is throaty and beefier (for want of a better term). They wrap it up with a cover of Cracked Actor’s infamous “Nazi School.” As with other Houston bands (The Energy, No Talk, Secret Prostitutes), punk is used a starting point but the PMRC refuse to fit any strict mold. Some heavy vinyl, too—210 gram!—and tucked inside a screened cover. Limited to a one-time pressing of 200 copies. (

RKL-Come On In, The Water's Fine (Live At The Pound SF) (Malt Soda, 2 CD/DVD)
A pretty elaborate package for this band--two CDs of shows recorded in '04 and '05 and the 2004 one is also presented on DVD. RKL started out as a straightforward hardcore band from the legendary Oxnard scene and were eventually bitten by the metal bug by the time their second album "Rock 'n Roll Nightmare" came out. They were together up until the time of these recordings, except for a hiatus in the early 90s. Truth be told, the band's recorded legacy is pretty spotty and these live performances don't really change my mind. They play well, they mix up the set list and have a wise-assed nature but there are annoying elements--the late Jason Sears wasn't as funny as he thought he was and the thwacky finger-picked bass sound detracts a great deal.  In terms of sonics, the '04 recording sounds a lot better and the video is a multi-camera shot that would have been better if they'd lost the camera shooting from the audience. The '05 recording is inferior soundwise. There's actually an overarching sadness with the braggadocio about alcohol and weed use, given that Jason died in a detox clinic from pulmonary thrombosis not long after the 2005 show, their last performance. There's no sense of going through the motions, nothing pretentious but these aren't shows I would have felt badly about missing. (PO Box 617127, Orlando, FL 32681,

SWANN DANGER-s/t (Mess Me Up, 7" EP)
The starting point is between the Banshees and Bauhaus but it's just bass, drums and atmospheric effects. Unfortunately, Cynthia's vocals, kind of like a melodramatic Siouxie Sioux, become a detriment and it overshadows he two musicians' interesting, churning rhythmic attack. A rather large detriment, in fact, which is unfortunate because that basically sinks it. (1442A Walnut St., #419, Berkeley, CA 94709,

TIMEBOMBS-Mumbling (Cowabunga/Quiet Down Silence Death, 10")
More noisy 'n chaotic fodder and increasing both elements on this three song 10" EP. Howling, harsh vocals and a gnarled mess of feedback-spewing guitar, bass 'n drum clatter along with appropriately-harsh vocals. The b-side is a backwards track. Maybe there are some sort of subliminal tricks going on there but it's quite unlistenable. Pretty much the deal for this whole disc, unfortunately. I wouldn't expect any sort of melody here but any sense of structure is buried under the sonic howlings. (

VOMIT SQUAD-Amon Ra Bless America (Psychic Handshake, 12")
A complete mess... and an intriguing one at that. With the involvement of the ubiquitous King Khan, this is developmentally delayed (it's not PC to say retarded anymore) proto punk played, no doubt, with a sly grin. Tuneless, offkey vocals mixed that dominate the mix and playing that would seem to be willingly inept but if you listen closely, the simple melodies are executed quite competently . Beyond goofy--they offer up a punk version of the alphabet song. What's on their mind(s)? Conspiracy theories! Fighting Satanic forces! Rapture guns! And those buggers sneak in some pretty cool guitar effects for the song about that particular weapon. The kind of record you really have to be in the mood for but I can see that happening from time to time. (