Friday, October 12, 2012

Suburban Voice blog #102


Here's another installment of the SV blog. I wanted to add a few more reviews but vacation is coming up and I didn't want to have another week and a half pass. This time, I feature spotlights of recent releases from Nada Nada Discos out of Brazil and Cowabunga Records from the good 'ol USA...



NADA NADA!

Nada Nada Discos, from Brazil, sent along a generous package of records—two LPs and four 7”s (some of them have been out for awhile). The first is a reissue of a split live album, Ao Vivo No Lira Paulistana, featuring RATOS DE PORAO and COLERA, recorded in 1985 as part of three day event to mark the release of Colera’s first album. Raw, warts ‘n all performances by both bands. RDP did the show as a three-piece, during a time that main mouth Gordo wasn’t in the band. Revved-up thrash with a strong DISCHARGE influence at times. Colera’s songs have a slightly more tuneful quality and they keep the speed to a moderate clip. Sound quality is acceptable but I’d still say it’s more of a historical document than anything essential, but that’s just my bias about live albums in general. I wouldn’t have minded being at this show, of course. I did manage to see RDP on their only US tour (a whopping total of 5 dates in 2000) and they were completely raging.

O INIMIGO ply a mid-to-late 80s DC sound on their album Imaginário Absoluto. It’s musically solid, taking cues from Embrace, Dag Nasty and Rites Of Spring (the bass-lines, in particular) but the over-the-top vocals—akin to an over-caffeinated Rob Pennington from By The Grace Of God—are often excruciating and nearly sink the whole thing. It’s a shame because the songs manage to blend brawn with a strong melodic sense.

As for the 7”s, there’s another reissue, INOCENTES’ 1983 debut Miséria E Fome. As the liner notes explain, 13 songs were recorded but only 4 made it past the censors. The one track on side A, “Apenas Conto O Que Eu Vi,” is a mid-tempo punk buzzer and the three on the flip take a thrash route. Raw, gritty and no doubt reflecting the repression they endured at the time. Meanwhile, SPEED KILLS offer up blistering d-beat hardcore with the usual hallmarks—feedback/distortion wrangling on the guitar, hoarse vocals and a full-speed ahead approach. FUTURO provide a change of pace with “Sair De Mim” and “Destrói Você on their three song EP. A melodic wash to go along with the punk punch and Mila’s pealing vocals. The final song, “Mãos Atada,” a cover of a song by fellow Brazilians B.U.S.H., is a brief buzz-burst. Finally, VENENO LENTO have a hearty ‘n tuneful punk sound. I hesitate to call it ‘street punk’ but there’s a streetwise, singalong quality to it. The gruff vocals do strain at times. Otherwise, not bad. (Nada Nada Discos, www.nadanadadiscos.com)

BRAIN DEFORMITIES

COWABUNGA!

I also got a generous package of records from this Illinois label. I'll start with the BRAIN DEFORMITIES' 10", Suburbanized. The band includes members of Cülo and the vocalist is Cowabunga honcho Nick. Snarlin' hardcore punk that manages to sneak in a few foreign hardcore influences, such as "You Can't Catch Me," which sounds similar to a Kaaos song and the title track has a similar feel, bookended by some festering feedback. Mainly, it's just nasty, trigger-finger fodder and the line "got so much pent up bile" could be something of a mantra. Comes with a 20x20 poster of the rather colorful artwork.

SLUGZ, from Richmond, VA, dish out hard-edged rockin' punk on their three song Empty Space EP. Slammin' riffs and raspy vocals add up to a savage, fierce-sounding disc. RATIONAL ANIMALS are also a fierce-sounding band but in a slightly different manner. Their approach is heavier. A wall of sound with braying vocals, reveling in ugliness for their new single. "Gabrielle" is mid-speed rocker with a subtle Black Flag undercurrent as part of the bargain. There's some serious string mangling going on for "Eating My Words, slowing to a sputtering conclusion. THE NARCS, who like Rational Animals are from upstate New York, had a pretty good 7" on Reel Time awhile back and this one, Long Hot Summer, is also quite good. A trebly sound that has the trashcan garage punk ambiance that stomps away in bruising fashion. From the bluesy raunch of the harmonica-drenched "Mobile Jail" to the stomping 'n simple "Rat Bone," it's quite an inviting racket. Not nearly as inviting is the latest 7 song 7" missive by SICK/TIRED. It's definitely a racket and a hammering tandem of ugly thrash and grind. I've gotten somewhat sick/tired of this sort of tuneless wreckery, although there are moments where they pull it into a sharper, hammering focus, especially "Us Vs. Them."

Finally, for something completely different (where have I heard that before?), there's the album by TENEMENTThe Blind Wink. Eclectic doesn't begin to cover it. It's essentially a solo project for a guy from Wisconsin named Amos Pitsch, assisted by two other people on some of the tracks. Amos definitely has a pop heart and expresses that through different musical shadings that bring to mind, at different times, Dinosaur Jr., the Beatles, Bowie, Guided By Voices and the Jesus and Mary Chain (although without the sheets of feedback)--those are the names I jotted down. At its best, there's a knack for a solid hook, such as "(Messy Ending) In Middle America," "The Pleasure We Get (In Scratching An Itch)" and "Viscous." "Urinal" is a warmly-engaging, albeit lengthy dose of tuneful rock. Unfortunately, you have to wade through some overly precious and twee material to get to the gems. Maddeningly inconsistent. (www.cowabungarecords.com)

MORE OF THOSE PLASTIC PLATTERS...

WHITE PAGES

ABORTION SQUAD-Demo 1983 (Who Cares?, LP)
Manchester, NH—home of the Union Leader, one of the most right-wing papers in the US. Home of Channel 9, which once featured a children’s host named Uncle Gus, who didn’t seem to like children all that much. And home of the Abortion Squad, a hardcore trio who started as a punk band called the By-Produx but caught the hardcore bug. They recorded a demo 20+ song demo in 1983 and it’s just been given a limited vinyl pressing on French label Who Cares. (full disclosure—I had the source tape for this release and did the ‘rip’ myself—unfortunately, there’s some tape hiss. I was hoping the guy releasing it would fix up. It still came out sounding fairly clear). Very much “of-its-time,” with a fast thrash sound --some might call it generic--punctuated by buzzsaw guitar, 1-2-1-2 drumming and standard anti-authoritarian sentiments—“No Authority No Rules” was their anthem of sorts and there’s no missing the point of “Fuck You Ronnie,” “Stupid Jerk” (unfortunate use of the word “faggot”) and “Pledge Allegiance.” There was something of an outsider kinship with bands like Psycho, Cancerous Growth and, a bit later, PTL Klub, bands that weren’t really accepted by the Boston hardcore elite but built up followings away from the city. An endearing grittiness though far from top tier. Sadly, I recently found out that the band’s vocalist/guitarist Pat Landry passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was only 48. I always liked seeing these guys play and I offer my condolences to his family and friends.(www.whocaresrecords.com)

BLACK WINE-Hollow Earth (Don Giovanni, LP)
Super-catchy, melodic rock. The vocals (both male and female) are sweet and melodious but don't fall into twee territory (I HATE twee!). OK, the quieter song "Blurry" does veer awfully close to that but not enough to make me sprint to the turntable to lift the needle. But these two guys/one gal know their way around a hook and have probably boned up on the likes of Guided By Voices, Big Star, the Undertones, Fastbacks and the Pixies because there are bits and pieces of those bands sprinkled into their compositions. And Black Wine pull off the feat of making it more than the sum of those parts. There's a manifesto of sorts on the lyric sheet where Black Wine talk about being "no core" and it encourages, in essence, just being yourself. "Stop thinking about how you can label yourself/sell yourself/make yourself accommodating, marketable and attractive and start thinking about what makes you actually happy." I think they're on to something there. (www.dongiovannirecords.com)

BLUE CROSS-Mass Hysteria (Shogun, LP)
An Ottawa duo with Jo from Germ Attak collaborating with a vocalist named Jess and quite a bit different than the UK-82 punk of his other outfit. This is goth-tinged, post-punk rock with a hovering, warm shimmer and texture. They proudly wear their influences--definitely Siouxie in the vocals (although it's a more soothing cadence) and there's borrowing from Bauhaus on "Disconnect" and "End Up Alone." But it's not as derivative as you might assume and there are other shadings, such as the sizzling guitar noise for "Headstone." Music to pull you into a dreamlike state, although that's likely to be jarred loose for the near-cacophony of "Calling Combatants." This came out some time back (I know, tardy as usual) and they have a newer album that I haven't heard yet but my curiosity is certainly piqued. (3 rue du Lavoir, 51140 Bouvancourt, FRANCE, shogunrecordings.pagesperso-orange.fr)

COLTRANES-I've Got Heaven In My Smile (Shogun, LP)
A tandem of hardcore and hard rock, with a vocalist summoning his inner Danzig at times, but also letting out some blood-curdling shrieks. It's not really thick enough to qualify as stoner metal for the heavier compositions but songs like "20/40" and "Fear Of Frozen Foods" certainly follow a St. Vitus template. There's even a little "Bleach"-era Nirvana with the snaky riff of "Cataracts." Fairly rocking at times but the production is thin and it negates the power-level. Also, a little of the vocals go more than a long way. Not really into this. (3 rue du Lavoir, 51140 Bouvancourt, FRANCE, shogunrecordings.pagesperso-orange.fr)

FOREIGN OBJECTS

FOREIGN OBJECTS-Mammonism/Fable (Cut The Cord That..., 7")
It's tough to follow up the best album of 2011 but this 7", the first recording with new bass-player Andrew Farr, fares pretty well. "Mammonism," provides some edgy rock with some atonal trumpet bleating mixed in with a sturdy bass-line and Terry's piercing vocal. "Fable" is a succinct, straight-forward burner. In all honesty, it took a few listenings to sink its hooks in but it's another solid release. (ctct-records.tumblr.com)

THE GUNS-s/t (Red Hour/Smog Veil, 2xLP)
Long overdue "legit" release of this great lost Cleveland punk band's album. It's been booted over the years and I've had MP3s that I've been listening too for probably a decade at this point. They had a few songs on the "New Hope" compilation and another compilation or two but that was it. The Guns were a teenage band (early teens, in fact) who got caught up in the nascent Cleveland hardcore scene in the early 80s and bashed out some credible noise full of teenage angst and anger. That's pretty much epitomized on the anthemic "I'm Not Right." Later material introduced a metallic element into the sound, as the lineup shifted a bit. Besides the various studio recordings (which sound the most pristine), there are songs from a radio broadcast and various, not-too-great live recordings. But it's worth it alone for the primo hardcore swill and it's presented in a gatefold package with extensive liner notes by Tom Dark, the brother of the late Scott Eakin, who was the guitarist/vocalist in this band and later played in Step Sister with Tom. (245 E. 235th St., Euclid, OH 44123-1507, www.smogveil.com)

HAUTE COUTURE-Max's Rooms (Shogun, 7" EP)
The cover pays tribute to the Fix's "Jan's Rooms" EP, right down to the last detail and French band Haute Couture slam out some thorny, agitated-sounding hardcore punk that sounds at least partially inspired by that band. Mainly fast and raw, although "Hello Finn," the best song here, is a mid-paced stomper. Max's Rooms probably aren't as plush as the ones you can get at the Hotel California but I'd rather hear this than the Eagles anytime. (3 rue du Lavoir, 51140 Bouvancourt, FRANCE, shogunrecordings.pagesperso-orange.fr)

INSULT/RAMPANT DECAY-Split (Patac, 7" EP)
Kind of "outsider" Massachusetts hardcore bands in that they've never been part of the cool clique. Insult were around in the 90s but haven't been heard from that much in recent years. These 2010 recordings show them to still be a pretty potent outfit. Occasional blasting/double-speed thrash but with stop-on-a-dime tightness and "Diddler On Parole" takes a dirgier route. Rampant Decay have a little death metal in their engines but the hardcore side also comes out on their three pounding songs. Should I be trite and say both bands play ugly songs for ugly times? Oops--too late. (www.patacrecords.com)

NIGHT STALKERS-s/t (Who Cares?, 7" EP)
A one-sided 7" featuring some fast, ’82-inflected rough ‘n tumble hardcore going the “punk-noxious” route i.e. dicey lyrics exuding drugging, drinking, killing, etc. Yes, they have a song called “True Punk Fags” and I imagine that’s going to disqualify this record for some of ‘ya. They’re definitely suffering from a case of arrested development and/or it’s just good ‘ol fashioned button pushing. Yeah, we get it, punk shock value. Pretty stupid. It’s one of those records I almost hate myself for liking. (www.whocaresrecords.com)

NO MISTAKE-Connect The Dots... Complete The Puzzle (demo, CD)
With the old-school layout, semi-generic name, SS Decontrol and Negative Approach covers, you know what you're getting right off the bat. Thumping old-school hardcore punk from four guys who don't look like they're kids. The guitarist (and occasional vocalist)  is Mike Bullshit from Go!, and it sounds like the late 80s NYHC bands who took cues from the earlier part of the decade and molded into something of their own. And while they express outrage and a chip-on-shoulder attitude, there's no bluster. Songs about environmental destruction, corporate ladder climbers and even the colonization of Hawaii. Well-tread ground and they get it right. I'll bet they're a lot of fun live. (PO Box 59321, San Jose, CA 95159, nomistake.bandcamp.com)

PINK LINCOLNS-Yinz: The Live Album (24 Hour Service Station, CD)
Florida punk legends captured live in their drunken glory in Pittsburgh in 2005. Loud 'n snarly with some crowd-baiting banter between songs. It sounds like vocalist Chris Barrows got increasingly inebriated as the set progressed. The Lincolns operate at the nexus of '77 punk and thrashy hardcore, along with rock 'n roll touches. Sputtering and spirited in mostly a good way, although they didn't include my favorite song, "I've Got My Tie On" and I probably would have been "that guy" yelling for it. I'm sure Chris would have given me a beer shower as a reward. At least I can stay dry while listening to this. (www.24hourservicestation.com)

PLASTIC CROSS-Grayscale Rainbows (Don Giovanni, LP)
NJ band with members of Kamikaze, Degenerics and other aggregations and continuing in a similar vein--that means frantic, heartfelt hardcore with melodic sting in the guitar and passionate vocals. No chug or metal--this is a tuneful approach with some mid-to-late 80s DC hardcore inspiration and the occasional Gorilla Biscuits-ish guitar trill. I'm guessing most if not all of these guys are in their 30s at this point and they continue to make energetic, potent hardcore that's the product of skill and experience. And I imagine it's a way of coping with the adult world that's "so full of shit" and chafing against expectations of others and elements that attempt to submit people into numb compliance. I can certainly relate to that! Music for misfits, for those who still refuse to "fit in," no matter the numerical age. (www.dongiovannirecords.com)



POTTY MOUTH-Sun Damage (Puzzle Pieces/Ride The Snake/Feeble Minds, 12" EP)
An impressive debut by this Western Mass. band. Snaky punk/post-punk with strong melodies that, at times, make me think of another band that started in WMass, the Pixies, at least with some of the semi-surfy guitar lines. It's just one element, though. Six downright catchy songs with the hooks emerging from the arrangements as well as Abby's charming vocals that flow from sweet to assertive shout 'n swoop for a song like "Superfriends" while the band bash away behind her. Potty Mouth don't go for a brazenly pop sound but that's the effect--a blissfulness sets in but it also has an edge. (pottymouth.bandcamp.com / Ride The Snake: www.ridethesnakerecords.com)

WHITE PAGES-s/t (Can't Stand Ya!, 7" EP)
Fast, geeky and fun punk by this Cambridge, MA three piece. The songs made me think of early Showcase Showdown with the trebly guitar sound and unaffected charm, although Joe's vocals are more nervous-sounding. And I doubt you'll be able to get Christine's "ah-ah-ah" backing vocals from "Please Kill Them" out of your head. Quite enjoyable. (whitepages.bandcamp.com)

ZOOPARTY-You Must Be Joking! (Devil, CD)
Third album for this Swedish trio and, for the third time, they're joined by some well-known friends, namely Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols/Rude Kids) and Brian James (Damned/Lords Of The New Church) contributing to a few songs. Unsurprisingly, this is straight-ahead tuneful trad-punk with a definite Pistols/UK-77 slant. "Sick Of The Racket," for instance, owes a bit to "The Great Rock 'n Roll Swindle" (the song). They also occasionally pick up the pace, such as on the title track and "Shout It Out" but the mid-tempo, anthemic songs are better. If the bands I mentioned above float your boat, you'll like this. (www.facebook.com/DEVIL.RECORDS)

2 comments:

Bort Frock said...

Well you know, personal taste is an interesting phenomenon. One particularly exemplified in the art/music realms. And somewhere in there are 'taste makers' who can really appeal to listeners and pique their interests. You have made bands many new fans over the years. More recently, less so. May I suggest revisiting your prior format, covering wider-ranging artists, and including negative reviews. Re-broadening your scope would be to everyone's benefit.

Al said...

... I write about the kind of music that interests me and appeals to me--that's the purpose of my writing. If people want to check out the bands, fine. And I don't just cover one type of punk, either. If anything, I've started listening to/writing about bands outside the strict hardcore/punk sound in the past few years but could still loosely be considered part of it. Also, while I seek out new records and bands, if labels and bands aren't sending me stuff to review or play on the radio show, I can't write about it. My budget and time are limited. I'm only one person and I'm not interested in bringing other writers in. Let them write their own blogs. This is one person's point of view.

As for negative reviews, not all of my reviews are 100% positive. Also, if I put something on and it doesn't grab me right away, I might not review it because I don't want to spend 30-45 minutes of my time dealing with a record that doesn't interest me. That gives me the time to write about the records that I do find worthwhile.

 

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