Saturday, January 22, 2011

Suburban Voice blog #92


 VAASKA

BEST OF 2010
Happy New Year! Well, after a week or two of plowing through the past year or so of releases, which I consider December 2009 to November 2010, here's my 'best of,' not necessarily in any order although my two favorite 12"/LPs of the year were Double Negative's "Daydreamnation" and Vaaska's "Ruido Hasta La Muerte." Overall, I found 2010 to be a better year for records than the last few.

A few of the records below didn't get reviewed in the previous blog. So let me give the capsule reviews. I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard of longtime Japanese band Genbaku Onanies before. Their album "Solid" is a rockin’ and rollin’ treat that embraces heavier rock as much as punk. Even a Minutemen/NoMeansNo bass pummel on one song and a cover of the Yardbirds' “Shapes Of Things.” Nothing typical here, going through various chord-driven permutations. Unfortunately, only available on CD from Japan and quite expensive. This should be more widely available. (Trippin' Elephant Records)

Heratys are quickly becoming one of my favorite current Swedish hardcore bands. A traditional approach and appropriately harsh vocals but the wall of sound is traded in for more of a stripped down feel. Relentless songs to pump your fist until you feel as though your arm will fall off. I’ll cut ‘em slack for the SHAMELESS plunder of “Ace Of Spades” on one song because this is a riveting album and the new 7", "Helvettiin Ja Takaisin" is just as good. You can get both the 12" and 7" from Havoc Records (www.havocrex.com

I reviewed a Secret Prostitutes 7" in a previous blog but just got their LP before the end of the year. Their 12", "Never Mind The KBD, Here's The ADD," has been a constant on my turntable and iPod ever since. 23 tracks that definitely sound as though it’s made for people with ADD and the hyperkinetic energy of these songs won’t alleviate it. A Houston band but drummer/vocalist Amit sings in Indonesian (!) and in high, nasally cadence. A ’77 spirit but not easily nailed down. The songs also have a garagier jitteriness at times. Unfortunately, there were only 400 copies pressed but check with their label Bad Hair Life anyway.  

... and now, the list...

LP’s and 12”


DOUBLE NEGATIVE-Daydreamnation (Sorry State)
VAASKA-Ruido Hasta La Muerte (US pressing: 540/Euro pressing: Hardware)
YOUNG OFFENDERS-Leader Of The Followers (Deranged)
GENBAKU ONANIES-Solid (Trippin’ Elephant)
THE ENERGY-The Energy’s First Album (Team Science)
EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING-Rush To Relax (Goner)CATBURGLARS-s/t (Criminal HER√ĄTYS-s/t  (Not Enough)
SECRET PROSTITUTES-Never Mind The KBD, This Is ADD (Bad Hair Life)
FLAG OF DEMOCRACY-Home Lobotomy Kit (Motherbox)
 

 7”s:
MANIPULATION-s/t (Fashionable Idiots)
CONFINES-s/t (Labor Of Love/Side Two)
ARCTIC FLOWERS-s/t (self-released)
SCEPTRES-Flatline Generation (Dire)
DRY HUMP-Culture Fuck Experience (Shogun)
SUNSHINE SS-Throw My Brain Against The Wall (Death Agonies and Screams)

Demos:
MURDER-SUICIDE PACT
ZERO ZERO
NINPULATORS
BOSTON STRANGLER
VACCUUM
VILE BODIES

Live:
SYSTEMATIC DEATH, TALK IS POISON, YOUNG OFFENDERS, SLANG, BASTARD, JERRY’S KIDS, NOMOS, THE TROUBLE, EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING, MALE NURSES, CONFINES, BLOODKROW BUTCHER, BRAIN KILLER, BUZZCOCKS

MORE RECORD REVIEWS:

COKE BUST

CIVIL VICTIM-No False Hope (Loud Punk, LP)
These guys, from Germany, had a 7" on Loud Punk a couple of years ago and things haven't changed much. Nothing-out-of-the-ordinary hardcore punk touching on both the early and late 80s period with a modern polish. "Workmares," for instance, has the sweep of Chain Of Strength. The tempos are mixed up here and there but it's your basic loud and fast fodder. Packed with enough throttling energy to keep me listening. (PO Box 3067, Albany, NY 12203, www.loudpunk.com)

COKE BUST-Lines In The Sand (Six Weeks, CD)
This disc collects Coke Bust's album plus comp, demo and 7" tracks. They're a good live band and have an incredible drummer in Chris Moore. On record, the hyper-space thrash doesn't always have quite the same effect although these guys are very tight and have some crushing moments, such as the mid-speed stomp of "Countdown to Death." Full-sounding production without any sort of slickness and it brings out Nick's pissed-off vocals and the hammering instrumentation in bold relief. (www.sixweeksrecords.com)

COLA FREAKS (2007)

COLA FREAKS-s/t (Hjernespind, CD)
Finally a debut album and an increasing emphasis on keyboards. That adds an experimental new wave (I guess) element to the nervy guitar/punk mesh. "Sniper" comes across like a slightly more accessible, guitar-driven Screamers. The whole thing is reminiscent of some of Jay Reatard's expansive body of work. In fact, a couple of these guys played in Jay's band before his untimely passing. An evolution into new regions but maintaining the engaging nervousness that's always been part of the Freaks' sound. (PO Box 505, 2200 Copenhagen N, DENMARK, www.hjernespind.com)

DE HOJE HAELE-Skal Vi Aldrig Vidre? (Hjernespind, CD)
And another Danish band on Hjernespind. De Hoje Haele have a taut, pubby punk sound (as in pub rock) played with a farily light touch. The songs are catchy and engaging at times ("Hak Hak Hak" and the snappy "Udan Ilt," in particular) and the playing much more than adept but it only sporadically sparks into anything beyond that. It's probably a case where I'd like them more in the live setting and there are enough good songs that make me keep it around but not much beyond that. (PO Box 505, 2200 Copenhagen N, DENMARK, www.hjernespind.com)

FEAR OF TOMORROW-No Fucking Future No Way (Charged//Distorted, 7" EP)
You probably get a pretty good idea of the not-so-chipper subject matter with the record's title and the anger is conveyed through both the words and gut-bucket buzzin' crust thrash attack. The production is a tad muddy but the songs are merciless in their ferocity. Doomsday artwork by Chany from Inepsy that, once again, matches the mood. (PO Box 21530, 1424 Commercial Dr., Vancouver, BC V5L-5G2, CANADA, distortvancouver@hotmail.com)

INERDS/COWORKERS-Split (Feral Ward, 7" EP)
Two abrasive bands. Inerds have a lower-tuned, crusty sound with nasty male/female vocal tradeoffs with straight-forward thrash and blast rhythms. Sad to say, this is rather tuneless fodder. Coworkers are a bit more interesting with strong instrumentation but their mix of 90s era screamy hardcore with the occasional grind touch comes up lacking, as well. (www.feralkidrecords.com)



I OBJECT-Save Yourself (Feral Kid, 7" EP)
First new music for this band in quite sometime and recorded as a three piece, with Biff playing both guitar and bass and he's quite proficient on both and generates a fiery wall of sound. Three blistering songs--the thrashy "Savior," mid-tempo "Taboo" and a hammering cover of the Screamers' "In A Better World," which obviously takes on a different dimension with the addition of non-keyboard instruments. And quite a colorful cover, as you see... Glad to have 'em back. (www.feralkidrecords.com)

MAYDAY!-s/t (Feral Kid, 7" EP)
Scrappy surf punk with somewhat overbearing vocals and that kind of wrecks things here. Actually, it makes it rather excruciating. Too bad because there are a few intriguing musical ideas, such as the slower, intense segment for "Blud Beach." Not enough, though. (www.feralkidrecords.com)

NUCLEAR FAMILY-s/t (Loud Punk, LP)
Albany's Nuclear Family have just called it quits but leave behind their first and final 12" release. Jen packs every ounce of passion that she can muster into her vocals. There's a danger of overwhelming the songs and while a little goes a long way, it's an integral element and ends up being an asset instead of a liability. Her exclamation of "THEY JUST WANT YOUR MONEY!!" for the TV evangelist critique of "Believer's Voice Of Victory" will make your hair go back like in that old Maxell ad with the guy sitting in front of the speaker. Driving and melodic compositions that hammer home strong rock hooks. Going out with a shout and that's true in both a literal and alliterative sense. (PO Box 3067, Albany, NY 12203, www.loudpunk.com)

PATH OF DECAY-s/t (Ha-Ko Bastards, CD)
Surging, beefy punk with plenty combined with beefy vocals. This Serbian band sound as though they've learned a few lessons from Pegboy, Pedestrians and Naked Raygun. Maybe that's not intentional but it comes across that way at times and you won't get any complaints here. ""Repent" takes a thrashed-out turn but that's the exceptions to the balance of the material. The songs rock hard with commanding riffage and a rhythmic punch. (www.myspace.com/hakobastards)

PREGNANT-s/t (Burn Books, LP)
Some original, non-predictable rock. Kevin Manion has a gruff style in the manner of John Reis from Rocket From The Crypt. It's not party rock but disarmingly catchy in spots--the poppy, but jittery melody of "Help" and the soothing chorus for "Safe & Sound," for instance. "Wormie" has a harder-edged drive that borrows a little from the Who's "My Generation." "You Give It To Me" actually sounds like a cross between a horn-less RFTC and one of Mr. Reis' other bands, Hot Snakes. So does "Toothache," for that matter. A pleasant surprise, a record whose charms envelop you with repeated listening. (burnbooks.org)

RED RED RED-New Action (Big Neck, CD)
This Detroit band has Piranhas drummer Ryan Sabatis handling vocals, manning the axe and adding the occasional bit of Fun House sax-squawk. A heady collection of fired-up rock ‘n roll, punk and garage with a nod to Ryan’s musical heritage but adding other elements. “Greatest Hit/Regeneration,” a quick medley of two songs, careens with whizzle-singe guitar coming in somewhere between The Users' “Sick Of You” and you-know-who’s “Raw Power” (the song, not the album). The distorted vocals are part of the mix instead of dominating things and tuneful touches emerge from time to time, such as the chorus of “Another Plane" or guitar line of "It Never Ends." Boisterous and having an air of atonal unpredictability to go with the rock. (Big Neck, PO Box 8144, Reston, VA 20195, www.bigneckrecords.com)

SPECTRES/ARCTIC FLOWERS-split (Charged//Distorted, 7")
Each band draws on early 80s post-punk influences but does it a slightly different way. Spectres' track, "Pattern Recogntion," incorporates synth into a driving punk gnash. Arctic Flowers follow up their excellent 7" with "Rats In The Walls," another forceful, hauntingly melodic song.    My copy is pressed off-center and it took some effort to get it set on the turntable so it wouldn't sound wobbly. Completely worth the effort! (PO Box 21530, 1424 Commercial Dr., Vancouver, BC V5L-5G2, CANADA, distortvancouver@hotmail.com)

SUNSHINE SS-Throw My Brain Against The Wall (Death Agonies and Screams, 7" EP)
The front cover of this record is rather disturbing, involving a syringe, a male appendage and I think I'll just leave it at that. Get past that and this is an impressive debut by this NC punk band. Plenty of punk snottiness but also elements of Black Flag, particularly on "For Your Consideration." The vocals remind me of Al from the Pist. Ain't no sunshine, just burn. (PO Box 19555, Asheville, NC 28815, deathagoniesscreams.wordpress.com)

VAASKA-Ruido Hasta La Muerte (Hardware, LP)
This is the Euro pressing for Vaaska's second 12" and it's actually a 'two-fer,' with the band's debut platter pressed on the other side ("Ruido Hasta.." also came out on 540 in the US). In the d-beat realm, Vaaska are one of the more distinct bands plying this style. That mainly comes from the warm, subtly melodic quality to the guitar tone and that’s fused to the band’s straight-on-wallop. Piercing leads are added to the charging fray and show off incredible chops without dominating the proceedings. I wouldn't say the songs are hummable but a track like "Destruye" certainly worms its way into your consciousness. A formidable ripper. (www.hardware-records.com)

ZERO ZERO-s/t (CD demo)
Not to be confused (thankfully) with the awful US band that included Ari Katz from Lifetime. Surging, slamming punk from these Brazilians. They do suffer from a pretty bad case of vocal overkill as Juliano wails over the band's driving compositions, sometimes punctuated with whoops and yells. Nothing to fault musically, though. A half-dozen hard driving, jolting songs riding the line between hardcore and semi-melodic inclinations. If you can get past the vocals (and it's tough, sometimes), Zero Zero have an attention-grabbing sound. (www.myspace.com/zerozerospace)