Sunday, March 04, 2012

Suburban Voice blog #98

THE SPITS

I'm not going to apologize for taking over three months. And, yeah, I have a huge pile of unreviewed records although the better ones can be heard on Sonic Overload  Let's just say I feel like a sloth-like schmuck and leave it at that. With that out of the way...

AUSSIE DISTORTION
Three nice new discs from Australian label Hardcore Victim, via their US distributor Havoc. Maybe nice isn’t the right term, when it concerns the musical contents. Two 12”s and a 7” and all of ‘em favoring raw, distorted hardcore. Kromosom's 8 track 12”, cleverly titled 8 Tracks, has been remastered and remixed. There seems to be a tad more brightness in the mix but there’s nothing glossy or polished about the blazing Kaaos/Disorder-inspired assault. Yeap (former Pisschrist vocalist) is quiet and soft-spoken until he gets the microphone in his hands and then terror gets unleashed. And it’s not buried under a wall of impenetrable feedback, making it a much more listenable proposition. If Yeap’s a gutteral vocalist, the yin to his yang (or is it yan to ying?) is Vaginors’ vocalist Rat Boy, with a high-pitched helium yowl that sounds like a ranting Doc Dart from the Crucifucks fronting another band inspired by Kaaos, along with some older Japanese influences. On their Nuclear Papsmear 12”, the drums and bass are up front, with the guitars generating sheets of distortion behind them. The synth bleeps (I think that’s what they are) for “”A.D.D.” are a very cool touch. Total annoy-the-neighbors music that’s a whole lot of loud fun. The final selection in this trilogy of terror comes from Leprosy on their 5 Tracks 7”. Basic, crusty thrash that gets the job done, no more or less, and I don’t mean that as a slight. Leprosy imbue their music with a vigorous rage. (PO Box 8585, Minneapolis, MN 55408, www.havocrex.com)

MORE OF THOSE ROUND, BLACK THINGS (except if they're colored vinyl or CDs) 


 ANCIENT FILTH

ANCIENT FILTH-s/t (Shock To The System, 7" EP)
Finally, some vinyl from these guys. Fast, rippin’ hardcore punk with a high-pitched vocal bark and in-the-pocket musical delivery. This is a lavish package with a heavy-stock fold-out sleeve, lyrics poster and plastic transparency on top of it. The lyrics are accompanied by explanatory essays and it’s a plea to break away from complacency and conformity, in the punk scene and in so-called real life. Gaining control and not falling prey to societal norms while also not falling prey to clich├ęd punk norms, as well. Boston hardcore continues to regenerate itself and Ancient Filth are good example of that—fiercely DIY and conveying a more-than-convincing amount of heartfelt passion, both musically and lyrically. (Shock To The System, PO Box 400206, Cambridge, MA 02140)



CRIATURAS-Oscuridad Eternal (Trabuc, LP)
Coming on hard and fast with a high-powered combination of punk, crust, hardcore, speed metal and rock ‘n roll in various permutations. I’ve warmed up to Dru’s rant-sing—there’s range there—and the songs mix things up stylistically. There’s the rockin’, catchy theme song “Criaturas,” the full-on rampage of the title track, “Nunca Va A Cambiar” and “Quemado En La Hoguera. “Anarkia” is carried along by a scintillating bass melody by Eddie Lael and shit-hot axe wrangling from Victor Gutierrez, who delivers an arsenal of shredding leads and warmer textures (as with his and Eddie’s other band Vaaska). Criatuas successfully balance full-on blitz with more tuneful shadings. (www.nodo50.org/trabucrecords/Distributed in the US by Todo Destruido, tododestruido.blogspot.com)

CRUDDY-Negative World (12XU, LP)
This album would most-assuredly have been in my top ten of 2011 if I’d acquired it before the end of the year. Hell, I hadn’t even heard of them until stumbling across some of their music on the internet and it instantly hooked me. Knotty, gnarled punk with a kinetic nervousness. Staccato, jabbing guitar playing off throbbing bass and drums, along with sing/speak vocals. Digging in a bit, there’s definitely a bit of The Fall's thorniness. The rumble of the brief opening song, “Slow News Day,” had me thinking of the old Aussie bluesy pigfuckers Feedtime, albeit without the slide guitar. “Burn It Down” by the Suicide Commandos is an inspiring cover choice, too. Cruddy’s the type of punk band I find appealing these days—bringing a liveliness, a freshness and variety of influences into the basic guitar/bass/drums setup. (3005 S. Lamar Blvd., D109-403, Austin, TX 78704, www.12xu.net)

DIVINE RIGHT-Pray For Me (Residue, 7" EP)
I thought about using religious punnery, like "oh hardcore lord who art on the dance floor" but I'll resist the temptation (lead us not...). This is just rough, straight-ahead hardcore punk punctuated by aggressive riffing and snarlin' vocals. There are definitely 80s touchstones (Poison Idea, early COC) and it's convincingly venomous. (www.residue-records.com)


 EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING

EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING-So Many Things (Goner, 2xLP)
A collection of singles, EPs and compilation tracks dating back to 2004 and, to use a cliche, these guys have come a long way from their humble and primitive origins. The first song, the title track, is minimalistic, with simple keyboards and vocals that almost seem ad-libbed. After that, though, the band's hallmarks quickly come into bold view. Over the years, ECSR have honed a synthesis of punk, garage and post-punk. I know that's a pat, all-encompassing and broad definition but it works and there are stylistic variations, from the brooding "Demon's Dance," which surges to a thrilling conclusion, to the gleeful-sounding "We'll Be Turned On" to the jerking garage delights of "Hey Mum" and "It Ain't Cheap," to the nervous jitter of "You Let Me Be Honest With You." I could probably live without the Go-Gos cover ("We Got The Beat") but the stabs at other people's music are better-executed, especially their take on Aussie obscuros The Chosen Few's "There's A Lot Of It Going Around." They definitely honor the roots of late 70s Aussie punk, as X could clearly be cited as an influence. Dynamic musicianship, especially Mikey's versatile guitar playing--jabbing and angular but balanced with subtlety and nuance and his occasional keyboards add colorful flourishes to some of the songs. That's along with the steady bass/drums and gloved vocalist Brandon's sung/spoke vocals--they could be an acquired taste for some but they have a winning charm. A godsend for the long-time fans and not a bad introduction for the novice, since it encompasses their varied musical arsenal. Time for a new album, boys... (www.goner-records.com)

FAMILY CURSE-Julia Armant/Last Days (Drawing Room, 7")
Two killer songs by this Brooklyn band--hard-edged post-punk rock. "Julia Armant" has features stinging/angular guitar lines with a surge in the chorus accompanied by lively bass and drums--the production is bright. I know I'm making a shit-load of Fall comparisons lately but Erick Bradshaw is obviously a fan of Mark E. Smith. The flip rides of a gyrating bass-line with another catchy chorus. They have an album due on Dead Beat that I'm definitely looking forward to hearing. (www.drawingroomrecords.com)

FRONT LINE-Basic Training EP (Beach Impediment, 7")
'82 style hardcore--which makes complete sense since this actually was recorded in 1982. Front Line were a Norfolk, VA band who appeared on Master Tape Vol. 2 and a tape comp but this is otherwise unreleased, originally intended to be a 7" but the band broke up and it was shelved. Trigger-finger, raw hardcore punk done with unfettered anger. The flyers on the insert show that they played a number of shows with White Cross and they come from that sort of muse. They're mean-sounding but there's still some wise-assery with a song like "Quaker Meeting" and the piss-take cover of "Blue Velvet." This is a ripper. (beachimpedimentrecords.blogspot.com)

KIM PHUC-Copsucker (Iron Lung, LP)
Pittsburgh's Kim Phuc have been lurking about for a number of years and, finally, here's their subtly-titled debut album. A moody, yet muscular sound with droning, fiery properties, although it’s not always at a slackened tempo. In fact, after the mid-paced “23,” that opens side two, there are three quick-hitting scorchers in a row. Kim Phuc have the same sort of early-80s UK haunt that permeates the sound of a band like Arctic Flowers, although the riffing here is chunkier and it’s a tougher-sounding male vocalist. And there’s warmth in the crush of “Prostitute” and the closing “Wormwood Star,” even when it’s not the happiest-sounding music. An ear-enveloping collection. (PO Box 95521, Seattle, WA 98145, lifeironlungdeath.blogspot.com)

NO STATIK

NO STATIK-No Hospice/Clean Sweet Sunshine (Prank, 7" EP)
A bit of a letdown after their killer 12" and seeing them live, though not bad. "No Hospice" is an intense, mid-tempo track  with a burning ambiance and the flip is a faster rager, fading off into a cloud of feedback. Ruby's an acid-larynxed hellion and it's a piledriving crusty hardcore attack. As I said, though, the 12" is better. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141-0892, www.prankrecords.com)

PLATES-s/t (Big Neck, LP)
Like Kim Phuc, Plates have been around for a few years, as well and and their self-titled LP is a volume-drenched head messer. Thick, huge slabs of guitar and, especially, bass (played by Biff from I Object/Brown Sugar/etc) stake out the band’s pummeling attack.   I’m not sure about the point of calling one side “Flashing The Steel” and the other “Gang Shower,” but plenty of musical steel is flashed here (damn, that’s some crappy rock critiquery). This is the type of heavy, semi-abrasive rock that wouldn’t have been out of place on Amphetamine Reptile in the 90s. Nods to Hawkwind, with some of the whizzly guitar effects, and “Sentimental Jenny Jones Fodder” manages to be crushing and somewhat trippy at the same time. For pure punk-imbued raucousness, look no further than “Sociology 101” or “Under Suspect Tutelage.” Something tells me I’d need heavy-duty earplugs if I saw these guys live. I hope I get the chance. (Big Neck, PO Box 8144, Reston, VA 20195, www.bigneckrecords.com)

 POISON PLANET

POISON PLANET-Demo 7" (Offside)/Ugly Truths Vol. 1 (CTW, LP)
A couple of records released for Poison Planet's Euro tour. The demo recording shows the band at its rawest, a blast of pure, primal hardcore vitriol and it's better than I remember it being the first time I heard it. The Ugly Truths disc collects the band's Oblivious and Undermine EPs, adding on a few unreleased songs--the "medley" of "Pleather Jacket Attitude" and "Leveraged Debts" are absolutely smokin' (no tobacco, though--this is a straight-edge band, after all). What's interesting--and it probably wasn't intentional--is that the essay along with "Leveraged Debts" talks about the ongoing battle between liberal and conservative schools of economic thought. Unfortunately, the free-market oriented Milton Friedman bullshit has thrived for the past 30+ years. I say it's interesting because they cover DYS's "No Pain No Gain" and Dave Smalley from DYS is a conservative libertarian who is a true believer in the Friedman school. He even tried to talk about it with me when I saw DYS in 2010 but I wasn't in the mood. Maybe Nick will debate him if DYS makes it to Chicago! Urgent, impassioned hardcore without an ounce of contrivance. (Band contact: thirdxparty.blogspot.com)

POWERBLESSINGS-s/t (Manhattan Chemical and Electronic, 7" EP)
The guys in Powerblessings aren't really old-timers but did play in some 90s-era bands (Maude, Pageant, a few others--I admit I looked it up) and it definitely has a 90s vibe. No, not metal or grunge shit but something nervier. Surging, energetic rock that has melody and kick but it doesn't cross over into a cringe-inducing emo region--the vocals are too rough for that. Opening song "Stunt Whale" is the strongest track, with a mellifluent guitar hook playing nicely off the bass-line and drumming. (manhattanchemicalandelectronic.bigcartel.com)

SHITTY LIMITS-Speculate/Accumulate (Sorry State, 12")
This 6 song 12" will serve as the Limits' vinyl epitaph. Not hitting the quality level of their full-length but still connecting with jittery aplomb. The Fall spectre hovers most brazenly for "Future Mantra," with Louis channeling his best Mark E. He also channels Lydon a bit towards the end of "Medication Time," where the bass riff  nicks a bit from a segment of the Pistols' "New York." Barbed post-punk/garage frenzy right in your face. (111 Old Pittsboro Rd., Carrboro, NC 27510, www.sorrystaterecords.com)

SMASH DETOX-Shanguri-La/Like Water (Prank, 7")
Not sure if you'd say it's a supergroup but there are people from Forward, Judgement, World Burns To Death and a few others in this band. Tour-de-force Japanese hardcore overkill with metallic leads, a semi-melodic heaviness and male/female vocals. Let's just say a little of Ishiya's gutteral vocals goes a long way and afraid that's not a big compliment. The best thing I can say is if you're into the bands mentioned above, you'll probably like this. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141-0892, www.prankrecords.com)

THE SPITS-V (In The Red, LP)
The Spits have released their fifth self-titled album and there aren’t any real surprises, although the massacre depicted on the cover might make you wonder if this is going be their thrash metal excursion. Nope, it’s just more boisterous, catchy punk rooted in a classic ’77 sound although there are spacier/wavier elements, as usual, and different sonic textures from track to track. “All I Want” is a standard Ramones-ish opener but there are twists—such as the mechanized-sounding beat on “Tomorrow’s Children,” with a nervy guitar break.   Sometimes, there’s jarring effect, as when the engaging punk of “Fed Up” just abruptly cuts off without warning. Buzz-burn guitar, keyboard flourishes and drones, the latter showing up most-predominantly for “Last Man On Earth.” No cartoonishness—this has a darker, sinister ambiance and it’s such fun. (PO Box 50777, LA, CA 90050, www.intheredrecords.com)

SUNSHINE SS-Teen Choices (Sacred Plague, 7" EP)
More stinging, rocking punk done at a medium clip. These guys are tough and snarly, powered by beefy guitars and, as I’ve said before, the vocals remind me of Al from The Pist, a bit. Flag-via-Annihilation Time propensities (without the cock rawk) at times and it'll getcha doing the creepy-crawl or whatever kind of punk rock dance you do. (www.sacredplague.com)

TAKE WARNING-s/t (PurePainSugar, 7" EP)
Fine, loud poppy punk from France (lyrics are in English) with beefy guitars and hooks galore. More than a hint of Naked Raygun, especially for "You Are What You Buy," with the "oh-way-ohhh" vocal line. The production isn't too slick, either--just the way 'ya want it and that's what makes it rise above the mundane. (www.purepainsugar.com)

TV FREAKS-s/t (Schizophrenic, LP)
In this blog, I've already mused about Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Shitty Limits. TV Freaks could be the offspring of both bands since there's a similar vibe, only angrier. The edgy garage/punk thing and agitated as all hell. The last track, "You're Cool," confronts the listener/target with "are you lookin' at ME?" In recent months, I've once again seen Blue Velvet, Goodfellas and Taxi Driver and all three of those movies have characters stating words to that effect. I don't think these guys are about to pull a Frank Booth, Tommy DeVito or Travis Bickle on anyone but that's what crossed my mind. Hell, they even make a song about skating ("Four Wheels") sound like a threat. A brash, trebly sound with murder in its heart. And recorded in a barn. (17 W 4th Street, Hamilton, ON Canada L9C 3M2, schizophrenicrex.com)

USELESS EATERS-The Moves (Jolly Dream, 7" EP)
Down 'n dirty, semi-hooky garage/KBD punk with somewhat primitive production. There's a barbed minimalism that almost edges into post-punk territory but this guy probably ain't been to no art school. There's only one Eater and that's a character from Nashville named Seth Sutton. It's a one-man project and he's rather prolific--3 albums in the past year! The first song, "American Cars," is a tad underwhelming but the other songs are throbbingly energetic. Cool EP and I've got some catching up to do. (jollydreamrecords@gmail.com)

UX VILEHEADS-Hardcore XI (Sorry State, LP)
Well, (MM)XI has passed and we're now into (MM)XII which, by my count, is year XXXI for hardcore, give or take year or two. No more Roman numerals, let's just talk about the hardcore part of the album's title. After a few 7"s, the Vileheads' debut 12" provides a feisty dose of what's listed on the package. Fast, tight, energetic and peppy with a few change-ups i.e. they delve into some really tuneful punk on a couple of songs, "My Path" and "Kitchen Knife." The former has a nice west coast hook to it and the latter connects with a catchy chorus. Those songs indicate there's something besides hardcore purity coursing through their veins and I could see them moving beyond a basic thrash attack--which they're quite proficient at. Smart songwriting, as well. (111 Old Pittsboro Rd., Carrboro, NC 27510, www.sorrystaterecords.com)

BETTER LATE THAN ETC... SV BEST OF 2011 (more or less in order)
It was a pretty good year...


 ALBUM OF THE YEAR: FOREIGN OBJECTS-No Sensation (Vinyl Rites)

THE REST OF THE LPs/12"s

RANK/XEROX-s/t (Make A Mess, LP)
BRAIN F≠-Sleep Rough (Grave Mistake/Sorry State)
DRY HUMP-Fucks Your Ears (SexCult)
FOLDED SHIRT-s/t (Fashionable Idiots/Proud To Be Idiot)
THE SPITS-V (In The Red)
BRAIN KILLER-Every Actual State Is Corrupt (Deranged, LP)
TOTAL CONTROL-Henge Beat (Iron Lung, LP)
ARCTIC FLOWERS-Reveries (Inimical, LP)
VIDEO-Leather Leather (Play Pinball!, LP)

7”
MANIPULATION-2 (Sorry State)
BRAIN F≠-So Dim (Sorry State)
BLOODKROW BUTCHER-s/t (Total Fucker)
DOUBLE NEGATIVE-Hardcore Confusion (Volumes 1 & 2) (Sorry State)
SYSTEMATIC DEATH-Systema-8 (Way Back When/Even Worse)
SUNSHINE SS-Teen Choices (Sacred Plague)
NEIGHBORHOOD BRATS-We Own The Night (Abscess)
NEO CONS-s/t (Deranged)
SOCIAL CIRCKLE-Expiration Date (Side Two)
BAD DADDIES-s/t (Central District/Finch)