Saturday, May 04, 2013

Suburban Voice blog #105


Hi again (FINALLY!)... Going to start this installment off with label specific reviews, since a few of them sent large packages and I figured it'd make more sense to group 'em together...

The long-time Canadian label has sent along a batch of quality vinyl. First is the latest 12" by Spectres, Nothing To Nowhere. A somber ambiance, with an early 80s aura--the usual post-punk gloom 'n doom references apply--but it's got a warmth and an edgy presence. These songs don't wallow off into nothingness although they'll occasionally go for something a little more atmospheric, such as the percolating "Return To The Sea." Tracks like "Decompensation" and "Remote Viewing" have a sturdy drive.

The latest 7" by Neo Cons, Idiot Circus, was actually given to me by that band's vocalist Jason Halal when I saw them play a rip-roaring set at the Firehouse space in Worcester. He once got irked when I referred to his band as "garage" and I can kind of see his point. This is just good, thumping punk rock, veering into speedier territory at times, with plenty of snot 'n snarl and sarcastic lyrics that still have a message. Making fun of economic Darwinists, warmongerers and NIMBY ("not in my backyard) snobs and it's done without heavy-handedness. Their best stuff to date.

More 7"s: some nervous, manic-sounding hardcore from Wild Child. A vocalist who sounds as though he's on the edge of a breakdown, with huffing 'n puffing and words coming out a mile a minute. With the clean-sounding guitar, this is in something of a modern-day Danish punk vein. Casanovas In Heat, from Boston, include Dave and Con from the Male Nurses and offer up a more melodic punk take with plenty of drive and hooks. Dave's vocals are soaring and emotional and the songs sharp throughout, especially the lead-off track "Calling Bluffs." Pregnancy Scares, from Ottawa, are noisy and ugly-sounding, with a raw, low-fidelity punk sound. It's drenched with feedback and nightmarish vocals and arrangements. There's something downright sinister-sounding on a song like "Cross-Eyed Man," with its snaky guitar line. Finally, Criminal Code, who have a pretty good 12" that I've heard but don't own yet, have a three song EP full of angst and melody. There's a hint of that early 80s darkness, as you hear with other Northwest bands--the textured guitar tone, in particular, but it's a thornier take on it, mainly due to the vocals. (



Mr. Ken Prank himself was nice enough to send along a care package of some of his releases over the past several months and I'm starting with a pair of Forward discs. This veteran Japanese band have a long and storied career, dating back to the mid-90s and the two selections are their 2001 album Just Go Forward To Death and their latest longplayer, War Nuke and Death Sentence. Overpowering, aggressive music that steamrolls anything in its path. A whirlwind of hardcore, punk and even hard-rockin' boogie, particularly for JGFTD, which is the punkier of the pair. "What Are You Gonna Get?" rocks like a motherfucker! WNADS operates in a harder 'n heavier vein, probably due to the band's twin guitar arsenal. One thing that remains constant is Ishiya's gutteral bellow--sometimes, a little goes a long way--but the final track, "AAARRGGHH..." lives up to its name.

Reality Crisis are also a long-standing Japanese band and also trade in fast and throttling hardcore. Two vocalists, three guitarists, bass and drums generate a piledriving attack on their latest album, Not Bound By The Past, We Live In The Present. They might not be living in the past but they adhere to Japanese hardcore traditions. Harsh vocals by both Katsuhisa and Daisuke and all of the songs are delivered at a rampaging clip.

Finally, No Statik are a Bay Area wrecking unit, including people from Scrotum Grinder, Look Back and Laugh, Artimus Pyle and many others. Their second 12" release is divided up into 9 relatively short ragers on one side and a 14-or-so minute piece ("Unclarified"), which is actually the first side. An ambient, mainly instrumental haze of feedback and piano until a tribal drum pattern emerges about ten minutes in and then erupts into a pounding conclusion, with nightmarish howling from Ruby, before fading out. Truth be told, I've listened to it a couple of times for review purposes and can't see playing it again. Kind of like I haven't listened to "Reoccurring Dreams," the 14 minute track that takes up most of side 4 of Husker Du's Zen Arcade. The other tracks provide a non-stop assault, which you'd expect if you took note of bands mentioned at the top. It all falls into place--blazing powerchords, hard-hitting drumming and Ruby's hellion-like emanations. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141-0892,  



ASTRAL TRAVEL-Body Melt/Povos (Vertex, 7")
Melodic sounds that have (seems as though I keep repeating myself) an early 80s influence. What we have are soothing vocals, along with the supple bass-lines and gentle guitar propelling the melody. The b-side, "Povos," has a slightly edgier pulse and is the stronger of the two songs. This Australian band would have fit in well with some of the 80s-era Boston artier, post punk bands--Dangerous Birds, Busted Statues, etc. (13 Bamlett St, Mount Nasura, WA 6112, Australia,

BAD DADDIES-Bad Year EP (Central District, 7" EP)
I loved this band's first 7" and split with White Fang and this one's just as great. On the first side, it's five quick punk songs with lots of buzz, burn and guitar feedback and vocals that are both sweet-sounding and tough-as-nails. "Short Sale" is the epic, nearly two minutes long, with a bass/drums intro flowing into catchy punk and then into a noisy morass. There's only one song on the flip and it's a cover of "If I Gave You A Party" by Sexual Harrassment who, in all honesty, I hadn't heard before. Turns out they were an early 80s group from Cleveland and YouTube reveals a quirky, near-novelty tune consisting of vocals, rhythm machine and synth. The Daddies do a short version of it and punctuate it with plenty of feedback and it's one of those doggone earworms I can't shake off right now. 137 copies this time so don't dawdle. (

BRAIN KILLER-The Complete Punk Recordings (Framework, tape)
Top choice, prime-D-beat by this now defunct Boston wrecking machine. This cassette includes all three of their 7"s, their ultra-limited 8" release and a live radio set. Raw and rampaging fodder full of feedback and harsh vocals. Marcus Benamati handled them on his own at first but was later joined by Dan Joseph. No track list for the live recording but one of the tracks (pretty sure it's "Controlled Reality," extends the white noise portion of the song probably beyond 10 minutes. Packaged in plastic case with a giant button, small booklet and postcard replica of the flyer for their last show (which is where this was sold). Not many left, I'm told. (

BROKEN PRAYER-s/t (Sorry State, LP)
After all these years, it's tough to find an innovative, fresh approach to hardcore and Broken Prayer have achieved just that. This Chicago band, with members of Civic Progress, Cardiac Arrest, Daylight Robbery, Libyans and others, have a relentless sound with a chaotic nature similar to Double Negative, at times, but they take other turns, as well. For one thing, in addition to the standard guitar/bass/drums setup, they have synth as part of the sound, which is mainly used as an atmospheric element and it's often buried in the mix. But, in addition to the faster material, they have darker, doomier, cold wave touches on "What Did You Expect," "Settle For Less" and a few others--on those songs, the synth has a slightly more prominent role and actual melodies emerge from the fray. What a fray, though--and vocalist Scott Plant sounds mighty pissed off, beginning with the opening salvo, "Sick of the scum on this planet." That pretty much sums up the world view--pure, unmitigated bile, largely borne from alienation. (

CHRON TURBINE-Skull Necklace For You (Peterwalkee, LP)
No info on the record but this band includes people from some 90s-era NJ stalwarts like Rye Coalition and Merel and, if you were expecting some guitar-driven rock, that's what you get. A beefy, thick sound that does, indeed, have a heavy 90s flavor to it but there's a strong melodic sensibility as well. There's a warmth and fullness in the guitar and bass tone. And while I wouldn't call these songs epics, they're on the lengthy side, with only two songs under four minutes. A throbbing repetitiveness from the robust pound of "PTSD" and "This Ocean Sucks" to the Girls Against Boys simmer of "Sidewalk Pudding" to methodical crush of "The Ballad of Larry LaLonde"--yes, about the Primus guitarist. Hypnotic and gripping. (

DEAD ENDING-DE II (Alternative Tentacles, 12")
Vic Bondi is still going strong after all these years. He's gone back to his roots, so to speak, in the past decade with a reunion EP by his best-known band Articles of Faith, as well as Report Suspicious Activity and now Dead Ending. This is the band's second 12". And while his some of his fellow Dead Enders have toiled in bands I really don't like--Alkaline Trio and Rise Against--this is a convincing bit of hardcore aggro. Lyrics are politically-tinged, painting with broad strokes, and they've come up with a clever title in "Ayn Rand Chicken Sandwich," The strongest track is actually the slower, moody "Speed Of Lies." I know it's odd to say but I think it'd be more effective if the production was rougher. Hardcore punk doesn't need to be slick-sounding. (PO Box 419092, SF, CA 94141,

FATHER FIGURES-All About Everything (AZPX, CD)
The Fah-thah, uh, Father Figures have a former JFA member in their ranks (Michael Cornelius) but this is pretty far from skate-punk. Instead, it's some jabbingly tuneful post-punk rock. It's a great-sounding recording, too--bringing out the instruments with a slap-in-the-face boldness. Hell, there's even a nod to Kiss with the "Detroit Rock City" riff-pilfer for "Crosstown." There's a sarcastic bent to some of the lyrics, such as "How To Succeed," encapsulating the soul-sucking conformity of the office. It doesn't matter how old you are to feel that one. And this band's vibrancy proves that age ain't nothing but a number. (


GREEN BERET-Violence Is Their Currency (Side Two, 12")
Green Beret is a collaboration between Matt Smith (Social Circkle) and Ryan Abbott (Social Circkle, Confines, Bloody Gears, No Tolerance and others) and they play all the instruments on this 12", although they have a live lineup for their sporadic shows. They rip out short, succinct blasts of hardcore inspired by Discharge and the Varukers, along with such Swedish purveyors of this sound as Totalitar. In other words, it's loud and thumping fodder delivered at a mainly fast clip, although they occasionally slow it down to a galloping tempo. As I always say, it's a well-worn approach and only a handful of bands really get it right. These gentlemen fall into that group. Blazing. (6 Wadleigh Place, Boston, MA 02127,

HASSLER-Amorality EP (Beach Impediment, 7")
I just reviewed this Ontario band's 7" on Schizophrenic Records in the last blog post and here another 7" platter of unfettered hardcore rage with a hint of Poison Idea in the mix. Same hallmarks--gutteral vocals and a full-bore old school attack. About five years ago, the underrated west coast band Nightstick Justice had something of a similar vibe, especially on their song "Control,"  where their vocalist Jeff bellowed "get the FUCK out of my way!" Sounds like a good idea when this pain train is coming at you. (

HERO DISHONEST-Alle Lujaa (Peterwalkee, LP)
Let's face facts--a lot of bands start to run out of new ideas after a few records. Hero Dishonest are a notable exception. They've always taken the parameters of hardcore punk and stretched them without any sort of dilution. And while the two songs that comprise the entire second side, timing in at 7:31 and 4:41, test the patience, the first side has a ferocious, kinetic energy. One of my buddies called what they do "math core." I don't think he really meant it as a compliment but, to me, it's a semi-adequate description for Hero Dishonest's balancing pure force with complex, unpredictable elements. There's speed and burn and the band's chops lift it above the ordinary. To put it in cruder terms, they can play their asses off. 11 tracks on side one, including a cover of Die Kreuzen's "Hope" (the Finnish title is "Kipu"). As for the lengthier compositions, "I'm Hitting Myself To Make Sure This Isn't A Dream As Well" (English translation--think I'm typing out the Finnish title?) starts off with a narrative accompanied by a brooding vamp, transitions into explosive hardcore and then noisy atmospherics. "Same Train" exudes some Side 2-of-My War pain. As I said, stretching the parameters but I think I'll be sticking to the first side. (

ICEAGE-You're Nothing (Matador, CD)
Some acquaintances of mine have been somewhat dismissive of Iceage, one saying it's hardcore for hipsters and that the novelty is the age of the members--I guess they're teenagers or were on their first album, "New Brigade." Ah, yes, the inevitable backlash. Well, I'm not buying it. The backlash, that is. I heard "New Brigade" before I even saw a picture of them and found it an enjoyable album with a few complete knockout tracks ("You're Blessed," "Collapse") and a passel of good ones. So here's "You're Nothing" (I guess some of us are blessed, some of us not so much) and it's mainly a success. They have a winning way of fusing charging punk with a sublime guitar tone--sliding and shoegazerish in a way that would make both Kevin Shields and J Mascis smile (or at least come close to it)--and this album blows away Mr. Shield's "did we really wait 22 years for that?" opus "m b v." Back to Iceage, though--they're not predictable, with a piano-laced ballad, "Morals," smack dab in the middle of the album. I'm calling it a noble failure and it could end up being a skip-over track but it's the only one. The album is bookended by two complete killers--the gripping surge of "Ecstasy" and brief 94 second blast of the title track. "Coalition" and "It Might Hit First" hammer so hard, with brain-grabbing guitar lines and explosive drumming. "Wounded Heart," "Awake" and "In Haze" subtly take a bit from mid-to-late 80s emo-core fodder but make it brasher. Loud and spirited and sonically superior to the debut. (304 Hudson, 7th Floor, NY, NY 10013,

MISSION FOR CHRIST-The Complete Sessions (Ektro, CD)
There were what could be called "outsider" bands that were tangentially related to the legendary HarDCore scene in the 80s but never fit in with those bands. In fact, it might be more accurate to say they never wanted to be part of that as it was. No Trend were one of them, United Mutation to a lesser extent and then there was Mission For Christ. They only released one 7" during their existence, on their pals No Trend's label and that was taken from a demo entitled "2 Jews, A Black, A Woman and a Criple" (that comes from a rather unfortunate statement by Reagan-era interior secretary James Watt). There was also a second batch of recordings with a revamped lineup that was never released. All of that output is included on this disc. Mission For Christ didn't follow a set formula--even the hardcore songs had an artier twist and it seemed rather tongue-in-cheek. So, along with thrashers like "Psycho," "Poseur" and "Stay The Course," there's the funkier "Pennies From Hell" (one of the tracks for the single--the other was the dub version that follows it), the PIL-ish vibe of "Blunt Instrument" and the abrasive drone of "Nancy Reagan," which might be sincere, taking the piss or both. Not a 100% success rate by any rate. Except for "Blunt Instrument," the other songs by the later lineup are dispensable and some of it sounds almost like make-it-up-as-you-go-along. It depends on how much art you can take (ouch!). I can take some, I can leave some. ( 

PERMANENT MAKEUP-The Void... It Creeps (New Granada, CD)
Another band playing in what could be called a post-punk vein. Roger Miller/Mission Of Burma-ish squalls, vocals with a D. Boon cadence at times, a few Fall touches. These should be viewed as influences because they all gel together into a tight, fresh-sounding amalgam. A warm 'n thorny guitar tone--it has a fuzzy quality and it's paired with in-the-pocket bass and drums. It all adds up to something that's both edgy and melodic. (

PISSED JEANS-Honeys (Sub Pop, CD)
Hard to believe it's been nearly four years since the last Pissed Jeans album--where does the time go? But here they are after a decade, still kicking out some hard 'n heavy, head-messing rock and the songs have a sharp, succinct focus. Yes, you could say more accessible than in the past but don't confuse that for any sort of settling down, not with the painful lurch of "Chain Worker" and that's the perfect ambiance for the theme of a soul-ripping existence. The Jeans know their way around a riff and unleash a fusillade of volume, whether it's the Jesus Lizard-tinged "(You're Different) In Person," the bluesy strut of "Male Gaze" or Nirvana-esque "Health Plan," complete with the Grohl-roll drumming. "Cat House" and the opener "Bathroom Laughter" flat-out rock. If there's a running theme, it's coming to terms with a life of alienation--balancing outrage and pragmatism.  It's a world where bosses suck and human interaction often isn't the same as on-line (the aforementioned "You're Different In Person"). Still, "Teenage Adult" wags a finger at those still suffering from Peter Pan syndrome. You always see blurbs that say "this is their best album yet!" Well, this is their best album yet or at least their most consistent. The pre-order version comes with a 7" vinyl pressing of their 2003 demo. Thorny and against the grain, a sound that's darkly enticing and not without a twisted wit, expressed with titles like "Ashamed Of My Own Cum" and "Throbbing Organ." And, with Honeys, that remains the case after ten years. (

RAD-Loud & Fast (Sacramento/Phono Select, 12")
Loud and fast, indeed--relentless thrashy hardcore with nary a break between songs and precision musicianship. They somehow manage to keep up the breathless clip without it turning into a tuneless cacophony. Angry sentiments, for sure, but there's still a joyousness in how they do it--it comes across as a release, a way of coping with daily life and general assholedom. The title track is actually a cover, originally by the Worst, and they nail it. Rad, indeed. (

RATSAK-s/t (12XU, 7" EP)
Loud 'n raucous Aussies with a muscular, guitar-driven approach and beefy vocals. Thorny, coming on like a cross between west coast punk and early Fucked Up. Fiery and driving but without the bombast. Nearly catchy, dare I say. Four songs and I'm looking forward to hearing more. (3005 S. Lamar Blvd., D109-403, Austin, TX 78704,

REAL ENEMY-Life With The Real Enemy (Mind Cure, LP)
Pittsburgh hardcore from 1983, with a couple of guys who went on to be in Half Life, Mike LaVella and Vince Curtis. The songs come from their demo and there are four live tracks recorded at CBGB, as well. It comes with a foldout poster that includes photos, flyers and a history of the band. Despite the fact they were only around for about half a year, Real Enemy seem to have been the go-to opener for all the bigger bands that came though. Not top-level stuff by any stretch but pretty energetic and it and some of it does sound like the early Half Life recordings. This brings back pleasant memories of sitting in my one room apartment, listening to these types of demos and reading the latest issue of Maxiumum Rocknroll and making notes of bands and zines to trade with. No hopping on the internet to check out MP3s--you tooks your chances and sometimes you were pleasantly surprised. I like this now and that no doubt would have been the case back then. (3138 Dobson St, Floor #2, Pittsburgh, PA 15219,

ROUGH KIDS-The State I'm In (Sorry State, LP)
Snappy 'n sharp pop/punk/rock by this LA band. It has the same sort of vibe as Red Dons, Marked Men, and even The Boys, with the piano plinking on some of the songs, especially "Cyanide." "This Techonology" even segues from a Stones-ish intro into irresistibly catchy terrain. There's lots of that here--irresistible catchiness, I mean. Even though this is on Sorry State, it sounds like quite a few of the bands on Dirtnap. Big 'ol hooks, strong harmonies and tight arrangements make this quite enjoyable. (

SACK-Punk Is Not Dead (self-released)

Old punks never die and don't have to fade away, either. Damn, that's trite but what I'm trying to say is Chris Barrows, who you might know from Florida legends the Pink Lincolns, is still involved in this thing we called punk and his new band provides a bashing good time. Rough, loud fodder that comes across as more aggressive than the Lincolns (although they were hardly a soft rock band). The bass sound is particularly pulverizing and it toughens up the sound. Simple and straight-forward and that's all 'ya need sometimes. (

SECRET PROSTITUTES/COLA FREAKS-Split (Bad Hair Life, LP) You might think that a band from Houston with a vocalist who sings in Indonesian and a band from Denmark who sing in, well, Danish might not have a lot in common but that's not really true. Both the Secret Prostitutes and the Cola Freaks (who recently called it quits) have a jittery sound inspired by '77 punk but they each add their own warped elements to it. The production on the Prostitutes' tracks sounds a bit cleaner than in the past but it's certainly not slick (thankfully). Short, simple, succinct (and catchy) songs. Cola Freaks have always had a jumpy, minimalist sound and the keyboards add to that nervousness. The final track, the lengthy "Had for Had," has a numbing and repetitive arrangement that comes across like Krautrock gone punk, with more dominance on the keyboards. Something like that. Killer material by both bands (

THE SHIRKS-s/t (Grave Mistake, 12")
After a number of decent-if-not-mindblowing 7"s, the Shirks make their 12" bow and it's quite good. It flat-out fucking rocks, in fact. Slammin' bangin' punk rock with a semi blown-out sound that makes the speakers shake if you play it loud enough--and I've been doing just that. The one-two punch that starts this disc, "Motherhood Of The Wolf" and "Sex Gear," don't allow you to take a breath. They occasionally opt for a poppier emphasis ("I Don't Want To Work It," ""Bad Area") and the rough production prevents it from getting wimpy. Nice chiming guitar solo on "I Don't...," as well. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

SOKEA PISTE-Väliksi (Ektro, CD)
Uplifting sounds from Sokea Piste on their second album. OK, not so uplifting. In fact, if you read the English translations of the songs, it paints quite the bleak picture. The ravages of a "market-based" economy and how it results in not viewing those victimized by such systems as human beings. And that's just on the first song although it's a running theme throughout this album. Dark is an overused term for musical descriptions but the musical mood is certainly overcast. Sokea Piste don't choose to create a moribund ambiance, though. Strong and sturdy songs with a Killing Joke-ish flair mixed with punk and hardcore where necessary. "Samassa Veneessä" ("In The Same Boat") stands out, with a fired-up riffing and pounding tribal drum patterns for part of the song and that recurs throughout. Dragging on occasion but this band's moodiness is mainly an asset. The CD tacks on their first album and 7", as well. (

SOVIET VALVES-Death Trumps Romance (Vertex, 12")
Recorded in 2005 and just seeing the light of day now. Why, I have no idea but I'm pleased they decided to finally take it out of the closet or wherever the tape has been hiding. Two guitarists and a drummer making a heady racket to go along with Milos's sometimes mannered, always emotion-laden vocals. Jittery and gnashing, but equal attention is paid to poppy and melodic strains, coming out nicely for "Carrion Luggage" (clever) and "Crossover Angst." "Zip" merges those elements with a garagey drive. The guitars intertwine and fill up enough space that you don't miss the bass. Fresh and ear-grabbing. (13 Bamlett St, Mount Nasura, WA 6112, Australia,

TRAUMA-10 Song EP (Bulkhead, 7" EP)
Vinyl pressing of this Portland band's 2009 demo. Trauma includes Billy and Todd from Tragedy (and a million other bands) and Jeff Paul from '80s hardcore band Final Warning. Tragically, Jeff was killed in a motorcycle accident earlier this year. This was his first band since the 80s and he still sounded as bellicose as ever, accompanied by the full-on, d-beat hardcore blitz. Short, simple songs packing unfettered rage with nothing complicated to mess things up. A complete ripper. I might like this better than the 12" that came out last year on Feral Ward, although that's definitely worth hearing as well. R.I.P. Jeff. (6376 N. Vancouver Ave., Portland, OR 97217,

VANDAL X-God Knows (Fons/Rough Trade, CD)
Naming your band after the Unsane's best song--I'm guessing that's the source anyway--is a good way to pique my interest and it was worth piquing. This a heavy-duty post-punk/industrial clobbering that's closer to the sonic savagery of Ministry and some of the harder-edged, guitar-oriented Wax Trax bands whose records I used to listen to in the late 80s/early 90s. They even give fellow Belgians Front 242's "No Shuttle" a good pummeling. And they'd fit in with some of the AmRep roster, as well, on a track like "One Shot In the Head." This duo aren't newcomers, having been active since the mid-90s but this is their first album since 2008. An earlier album was called "13 Basic Hate Tracks." There are 12 of 'em here but there's no shortchanging. Inspiring abrasiveness. (

VARIOUS-Land Of Nod: Atlanta Punk & Hardcore Omnibus (Scavenger Of Death, LP)
A scene comp of high energy bands put out by Greg (GG) King and Ryan Bell, both of whom have played in a number of bands over the years. While there are few completely mindblowing moments, just about every band on this comp has something worthwhile to offer, except for the noisy grind of God's Balls. But there's quality hardcore from Ryan's now-former band Bukkake Boys, GG King, Manic and Shaved Christ (with a couple of guys from American Cheeseburger). Wymyns Prysyn, Acid Freaks and GHB have a darker punk sound, while Vincas have a harder-rocking Detroit approach. Some compilations suffer from inconsistency but that's not the case here. (


VARIOUS-R.I. X-CORE '84-'86 (Atomic Action, LP)
VARIOUS-You Can't Kill Me... I'm Already Dead (Atomic Action, LP)
Old Rhode Island hardcore/new Rhode Island hardcore. The three bands represented on the '84-'86 volume were actually from Newport and I made many road trips to see them play in their home town and Providence quite frequently. Only Verbal Assault ever really got out of the state and the other two bands only had demos to document their existence. So here they are, 30 years later, and they definitely show their age, although there are some enjoyable, peppy performances. Verbal Assualt's tracks come from a radio broadcast and their songs have an urgent, melodic sound. If Chris Jones occasionally sounds a bit too earnest, the band is tight and energetic. Vicious Circle had something of an early 7 Seconds inspiration, with fast 'n thrashy arrangements, adeptly executed. Their anthem of sorts was "Skate Death" and, live, they'd bring out a cross made of boards. The sound quality is probably the weakest for the three bands. Positive Outlook had some excessive metallic leads and a somewhat melodic thrash sound. The vocals were one-dimensional and, truth be told, these songs don't hold up all that well. The digital download comes with an extra song apiece. It ain't "Boston Not LA," that's for sure, but it brings back some fond memories.

You Can't Kill Me... has a pair of songs each by 8 bands, although one song by Barnswallow is excised from the vinyl pressing (but on the digital release). Not all of these bands really fall into what you could call a hardcore realm--the aforementioned Barnswallow have a shoegazer sound. Holy Night start the album off with some maniacal laughter and a nightmarish sound that sounds like a cross between Bl'ast and Laughing Hyenas for the second song (they're both untitled). Neon Bitches, with people from Dropdead and Straight to Hell, rip out the sort of aggressive hardcore you'd expect, given their pedigree. Idiot Vehicle were the only other band who really grabbed me, with some churning early AmRep-ish aggro. One of Fucking Invicible's songs is pretty raging but Convul, Raindance and Weak Teeth's screamier emanations are less-enticing. (

XADDAX-Counterclockwork (Skin Graft, LP)
Here's a label I haven't heard from all that much in over a decade, although a perusal of Discogs shows they've been active all along. Skin Graft's bands always went against the grain, creating unsettling sounds and that's the case with Xaddax. A two-piece band with vocalist/gutarist Nick Sakes (ex-Dazzling Killmen, Colossamite and others) and his wife Chrissy Rossettie (ex-My Name Is Rar Rar) on drums and electronics. Heavy, rhythmic post-punk rock with hammering drumming accompanied by slash 'n jab guitar lines and drill-like synth noises used to add an ear-piercing effect. There isn't anything all that accessible, here, but they do achieve a power-packed effect and they get it done in under half an hour. Good thing, because it's the kind of sound better experienced in a shorter time frame. (