Thursday, December 26, 2013

Suburban Voice blog #107


I know, I know... about fucking time! The next post will be my Best of 2013 roundup. As always, records and CDs are welcome for review. I don't get to cassettes all that much anymore, unfortunately. And "digital promos" will NEVER, EVER be reviewed but might get some radio airplay (however, I still mainly play vinyl and CDs because MP3s are still something of a pain in the ass to deal with when recording the show).

I love you all. Happy holidays and all that...


ABOLITIONIST-The Growing Disconnect (1859/multi-label, LP)
I'm very selective about the punk w/melody thing these days. It has to have punch and it has to burn the hooks into your subconsciousness. Vocals need to be assertive without coming across as overly-emotional or whiny-sounding. Abolitionist get it done, here. Some great riffs and melody lines and there's plenty of burn, plenty of passion in the lyrics and playing. Also, this is way grittier and harder-edged than their previous album, "It Used To Rain."  There's a theme that runs through the songs--disconnect, discontent, dissent... Fighting back in the face of an oppressive system, the "United States of Endless Struggle," to quote one of the songs' titles. There's definitely a raise-your-fist and sing along aspect and I've seen/heard a lot of that over the years. One grows cynical but I'd rather hear this than some right-wing, libertarian claptrap, even when it ends up merely preaching to the converted. (


Bad Daddies don't mess around--four quick songs in rapid succession with nary a chance to catch your breath. Scrappy punk with feedback-laden guitar, although "The Flood" turns down the distortion for some minimalist, Rough Trade Records-type punk, while "Bad Year" has a catchy chorus. Fun, as always. Meanwhile, the band with the unpronouncable name, Lognhalsmottagningen (I apologize if I spelled it wrong) once again connect with their goofball charm--even have some handclaps. Minimalist, KBD-style punk meets hardcore from two gentlemen, one of whom lives in Arizona and one in Sweden and the lyrics are in Swedish. (

BAD PEOPLE-Pearls Before Swine (Feral Kid/Ut, 7" EP)
Biff from Brown Sugar plays in this band--in fact, his rumbling bass starts the proceedings, and this band share sonic similarities. A frenetic punk sound but opting for a treblier approach. Along with the thrashy songs, there are some garagey excursions, as well, particularly for "Weird One," which adds organ to the fray. A solid debut. Looking forward to hearing more. (;

CITIZENS PATROL/REPROACH-Split (Spastic Fantastic/Way Back When, 7" EP)
Two veteran bands--one Dutch (C.P.) and one Belgian (Reproach) and they remain damned good at hammering out pissed-off old school hardcore. An international thrash annihilation, as Reproach exclaim on "Kanpai!," which is actually about their affection for Japanese hardcore bands. Citizens Patrol is a bit more in a traditional thrashing vein, while Reproach add hammering and double-speed touches. "'92" is an ode to adolescence--it's funny hearing someone musing about being 13 and obsessed with skateboarding that year. The best I could do was ride one of those chopper-type bicycles and I went over the handlebars one time. Probably got fucked up more than any time in the pit, too. Enough about that. Both of these bands connect with lean, aggressive sounds. (

CRIATURAS-Espiritu De Libertad (Residue, LP)
Is there such a thing as melodic d-beat? I'm not sure if that's the right description but Criaturas fit it. Their second album has the rampaging riffs but Victor's guitar riffs aren't just straight buzzsaw chording. Dru's vocals are distinctive as usual, varying between visceral ranting and singing--not sweetly, but in more of a soothing (?) fashion.  Lyrics are in Spanish, with no English translations but, even though my Spanish is very limited, I can hear the passion and urgency in Dru's delivery and it's not hard to pick up the anti-authoritarian themes expressed in the songs, as well as the dramatic cover artwork. That's while being bowled-over by this band's driving sounds. The band can flat-out play and it adds dimension and depth to the attack. Definitely one of my favorite bands these days and a lock for my top 10 of 2013. (

CRIMINAL DAMAGE-Call of Death (Feral Ward, LP)
Not exactly new recordings--it was done piecemeal from 2008-2012 but Criminal Damage are back with their third album of tuneful, No Future Records-inspired punk. And maybe I never noticed it before, but the rhythm guitar/drums tandem have some striking Ramones similarities. Nothing d-u-m-b about it. The title track is one of the best they've ever done--nearly four minutes of blissful warmth, driven great guitar hooks and introduced with an ear grabbing bassline. A total fucking knockout to wrap up this strong disc. (

DESTRUCTIVE NEW AGE-DNA Demo 2011 (Kangaroo/Way Back When, 7" EP)
A ripper of a 7" by this Maine band--yes, there's good hardcore punk in Maine, apparently. Fast and thrashing with a tougher, harder edge to it, but not falling into the beatdown core camp. This has an old school, chug-free sound. From their demo (duh) and there was a 2012 EP, which is also worthwhile (and something I still need to get). (

E.A.T.E.R.-Doomsday Troops (Loud Punk, 7" EP)
A reissue of E.A.T.E.R.'s 1983 EP. This isn't the the UK band but a Swedish band whose full name was Ernst and the Edsholm Rebels. The record starts with a pisstake pop intro that leads into the full-tilt thrash attack. This band had the traditional Swedish elements but there was also a ramshackle Riot City Records flavor in these songs. E.A.T.E.R. weren't always the tightest band--the drumming sometimes lags behind and the vocals also don't always sync with the music. But there's something to the whole sum being greater than its parts description when you're talking about this band because this one's a rager, well-worthy of a re-press. Nice packaging, with a lyric booklet included. (PO Box 6115, Albany, NY 12203,

GAS RAG-6 Track EP (Even Worse, 7" EP)
Vinyl press of a recent demo, which was recorded after their Human Rights 7" and it's another dose of boiling-over, thrashy high energy hardcore. Old-school 80s-inspired wreckage and favoring a trebly sound. Hell, they even touch on an 80s political topic ("Chernobyl"). And, being the wiseasses they are, you have to get up and move the needle to play the last song on side one, which is a bonus track and a cover of the Fix's "Vengeance." (

THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY-Crunch On! Demo 1984 (Radio Raheem, 7" EP)
After Drew Stone (from The Mighty C.O.'s) moved back to NYC from Boston after going to Emerson College, he ended up in this hardcore combo. Raw, loud and fast, coming on in a similar vein as early Agnostic Front and Urban Waste (albeit without the hornets nest guitar sound). "The Road Warrior," a crowd favorite (well, it went over well when I saw them) is a mid-tempo, rock 'n roll ode to... you can probably guess it. This is a vinyl pressing of the High and the Mighty's demo, which was previously released on the Grand Theft Audio anthology that combined these songs with live material from the Stone-fronted Antidote lineup, recorded in 1984. Nicely packaged in a 12 page booklet with lyrics, flyers and photos. (


HOAX-s/t (self released, LP)
There's a song on Hoax's eponymous debut LP called "Sick Punk" and, yeah, I guess that fits the description of this band and it's "aesthetic," if I could use such a pretentious term. A somewhat hyped band that's worth the hype. Visceral, edgy and soul-rending hardcore, from Jesse's gutteral emanations to the mid-to-fast paced buzz 'n burn (hey, more pretentious word-flinging!). This is an incredible visual package, as well. Instead of a lyric sheet, there are six two-sided, fold out posters that have the words accompanied by visually-striking (and often-disturbing) imagery. I have labels trying to send me digital downloads to review. Fuck that--sure, you get plenty from the band's churning, heavy, build up-and-release tenseness but this just adds to the effect. The page for "Drive" shows a sharp-toothed beast no-doubt letting out some kind of primal scream. Primal scream therapy is actually an apt description. (

IMPALERS-s/t (540/Todo Destruido, LP)
VAASKA/IMPALERS-Split (Beach Impediment, 7" EP)'
A couple of raging records from Impalers--their debut album and a split with fellow Austin-ians Vaaska. Both bands feature guitarist Victor Gutierrez, who is one of the best axe-slingers in punk these days. His lead breaks are searing without being excessive. Impalers' sound is a bit cleaner than in the past. No echo on the vocals and not quite as blown-out but don't take that to mean it's slick or over-produced. It's Swedish-inspired and they go back and forth between thrash and pounding rockers, the latter of which were some of the standout songs when I saw them play live. Vaaska's latest pair of tracks continue in the same wrecking-ball style they've always plied, although they've eschewed the "glow" or cloud-like ambiance (not sure how you'd describe it) of their first pair of albums on this EP and their last 7". I saw these two bands together over the summer and it was a killer show and the aggressiveness translates well to vinyl. (

JOINT D≠-Satan Is Real Again, Again... (Sorry State, LP)
Joint D≠'s first LP was my album of the year in 2012 so expectations were high, of course. On their second longplayer, there's not the knockout punch of a song like "(I'm) Haunted" but plenty of raucous, full-on punk that maintains a thundercloud ambiance--that's particularly true for the intro and bridge for "E.R.V." A stirring mesh of fury and speed and there's an echo of Die Kreuzen-ish guitar haunt at times, such as for "False Flag," a pointed indictment of the Confederate flag "heritage" bullshit (these guys are from North Carolina). Incidentally, the title is a play on the old Louvin Brothers album "Satan Is Real Again" and the full name of the album is "Satan Is Real Again, Again, Or: Feeling Good About Feeling Good About Bad Thoughts." The Louvins' album peddled a strongly religious theme but I won't be so lame or trite as to say that Joint D≠'s music is a religious experience. A spiritual uplift perhaps, something soul stirring but not a religious experience. I'll stop now. (

KONTRASEKT-End of Destruction (MCR/Vex, 12")
Not that I want to give away anyone's age, but Kontrasekt's guitarist/vocalist Bob has a few years on me and he's never lost his urge to throttle, with URBN DK some years back and now in Kontrasekt. Not exactly the end of destruction, this is a relentless, near out-of-control attack of buzzed-out speedcore. Sometimes, it sounds on the verge of falling apart during the speedier parts but the hammer comes down hard on tracks like "Indomitus" and "Consumed," which closes out this 12". All the subtlety of a 2x4 across the skull. (

LONG KNIFE-Wilderness (Feral Ward, LP)
Pretty brazen Poison Idea worship here--mid-period PI, to narrow it down a bit, plus their vocalist Colin sounds rather like Jerry A. and they're from Portland, to boot. That stated, it's quite credible Poison Idea worship and these guys can play their asses off. A smokin' tandem of thrash with metallic leads, nimble bass-lines and strong drumming (Joe Schuerger, formerly with ANS, is behind the kit). The production does have some slickness but it doesn't diminish the power of these songs. (

THE LOVE TRIANGLE-Clever Clever (Static Shock/Sorry State, LP)
Tim and Louis from the late, great Shitty Limits are in this band (Love Triangle actually started before Shitty Limits' demise). These guys carry over the jittery guitar sound but it's got a poppier bent, as opposed to the garage-meets-hardcore flavor of that band. Caffeine-rush, jabbing compositions that pack the hooks. The album was recorded and mixed by Daniel Husayn from Red Dons and there's definitely a little of that band's stamp here, particularly for "Be Old Soon" and "Swift Exit," although the songs are sprightlier, punchier and shorter and I also here some late 70s mod punk and even an early Orange Juice inspiration coming out in the bright compositions. Melodic but also possessing a sharp edge. (

MAJOR DAMAGE-Sheer Mayhem EP (Even Worse/Way Back When, 7" EP)
Raw 'n rough hardcore punk, courtesy of Brandon Ferrell (Direct Control, Government Warning, etc). As I've mentioned before, Major Damage is one of Brandon's solo projects and it comes on like a cross-breeding of early Boston and NYC hardcore. "Can't Fight Back" even starts with the kind of rant that Vile's "5 to 10" did. Tons of distortion hanging in the air, hammering drums (let's not forget that Mr. Farrell is one of the best sticksman in the business), while he conjures up his inner Choke. One mean-sounding disc, just the way I like it. (

MELT-BANANA (photo stolen from another blog)

"Fetch" is  Japanese band Melt-Banana's first studio album in six years. A collision of manic, noisy hardcore, experimental elements and adding sublime melody at times.The synth/keyboards and programming create a ear-enveloping mesh, a sound that washes over the senses in nearly an otherworldly fashion. And there's there Yasuko's peppy sing-yelp that acts as the punctuation mark. The sequencer-gone-amok segment of "Hive" is one those mind-melting moments. "Infective Defective" has a danceable thump to go with the tuneful cacophony, as well as "Zero" (which veers way too close to dance music for me). Melt-Banana have been around since the early 90s and this album falls on the more-accessible side of the spectrum of their recordings I've heard over the years. Don't take that to mean this is a sedate effort by any stretch--they challenge and provoke but there's still beauty in chaos. By the way, if you happen to go on YouTube, you should check out their cover of the Damned's "Neat Neat Neat." It's pretty fucking cool. (


MERCY KILLINGS-s/t (Beach Impediment, 7" EP)
A new band with Mark Shubert from Wasted Time and Mike Scibetta from Direct Control, among other Virginia hardcore luminaries. Some of these guys were recently in Violent Outburst and at least one song ("Force of Fusion") was in that band's repertoire. There ain't no mercy here. Just hardcore--loud and aggressive hardcore, influenced by Poison Idea and with some d-beat thump. Not blinding thrash--these songs are mainly delivered at a measured, mid-to-fast pace. Mark sounds as bellicose as always and the music comes on full-tilt, enhanced by the band's two-guitar attack. Great start. (

NEGATIVE PRESS-Long Haul (Inimical, LP)
I was told there were members of other Seattle bands, such as Criminal Code, but this is something of a throwback to the aggro-driven sounds associated with labels like Amphetamine Reptile in the early 90s or maybe some of the non-suck Sub Pop bands (and, in retrospect, there was plenty of suck associated with that label but I digress...). It's not the whole story, either. Negative Press rock hard but without the cheesiness often associated with that phrase and they also get noisier and jazzier (?). Sax is introduced into some songs and everything wraps up with the unholy, lumbering pigfuck (anyone remember that term?) of "Naked Idiot." A few similarities to Pissed Jeans, Jesus Lizard (the David Wm. Sims bass-lurch of "The Smoker") and even Bl'ast ("Stillborn"). An inviting racket, indeed, but also possessing nuance and subtlety. (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111,

NUDES-Sister EP (Inimical, 7")
Inimical is cranking out some killer records lately. Nudes play nasty, acidic (not acid rock--I mean acidic in attitude) punk. After the speedy gnarl of "Fiend," Nudes slip into a noisy, pounding sound for "Sickfucker." The two songs on the flip are delivered at a medium tempo with driving bass and seething, molten guitar licks. Vocals are spat out with a petulant snottiness. This band loves to abrade and they don't even make the lyrics accessible. You have to hold the sleeve apart to view the lyrics and info printed on the back side of each panel. Not that those words are all-that legible. I can't make out more than "stay away you junkie fuck." To quote a song title, sick fuckers, indeed and that's meant as a compliment. (PO Box 2803, Seattle, WA 98111,

OBLITERATION-War Is Our Destiny (Beach Impediment, 7" EP)
The title track is a cover (albeit truncated) of the Saint Vitus song and Obliteration--with Jon Westbrook from Knife Fight and members of various Boston bands--Mind Eraser, Waste Management, etc--play raw, occasionally metal-tinged hardcore that also has a Swedish aura at times. Throat-rending vocals from Mr. Westbrook and a full-tilt musical assault possessing speed and crush. Loud and ugly-sounding, punctuated by scorching guitar riffs and leads. The Vitus song is handled well, given a good pummeling. Just good 'n loud. (

OPPOSITION RISING-Get Off Your Ass, Get Off Your Knees (Opposition/multi-label, 10" EP)
Bill Damon (Toxic Narcotic/Mouth Sewn Shut) is just as pissed off now as he was 25 years ago when he started his long punk journey and it comes out in his agitated lyrics and vocals. Musically, Opposition Rising have a hard-charging hardcore punk attack. Most of the songs are delivered at a mid-to-fast crush, although "Get Off Your Ass" adds a reggae guitar jab and that comes out fully for "Opposition Dub," a reggae re-working of "The Rich Are Killing The Poor" from their first album. Still kicking ass. (PO Box 1143, Allston, MA 02134,


OUT COLD-A Heated Display (Painkiller, LP)
A posthumous album, due to the fact that Out Cold quietly called it a day in 2009 and also due to the death of vocalist Mark Sheehan in 2010. The story is that Mark and drummer John Evicci laid down some basic tracks in 2005 (with Mark playing rhythm guitar, as he did on other recordings). After Mark passed away, it was decided to complete the recordings. Additional tracks were recorded with bassist Mikey Flynn and guitarist Mike "Deuce" Stauffer, and the vocals were handled by Out Cold's first singer Kevin Mertens. The end result is this 14 song ripper. Kevin handles the vocals with agitated aplomb and the band tear through their songs in clockwork-like fashion, a good mix of pure thrash and medium-speed ragers. Nothing half-assed, up to the level of their previous albums and the recording quality is sharp without being slick. I miss this band and I really miss Mark. A fitting epitaph. Out Cold never did anything fancy, never gave a crap as to whether or not they were part of any trend or scene. They were a no-nonsense hardcore punk band and a damned great one at that. By the way, there were 14 other songs recorded and those will eventually see the light of day, as well. (

RAW NERVES-Futile Efforts (Man In Decline, LP)
The first release with Raw Nerves' new vocalist Mike Dubose, who replaced Matt Svendsen. There's a bit of a back story there, but I won't go into it and focus on reviewing the record instead. Mike's vocal style is harsher and gutteral and it meshes pretty well with the band's heavy crust-inspired attack. Tempos are slackened more than in the past although the pace is picked up on tracks like "Reproduced," "Always Forget," and "Limitless," which all go right for the throat with a speed-driven tumult. Lyrics rail against societal injustices but feelings of futility are exhorted for "Not Getting Better." The title track, meanwhile, turns inward for its critique. Brad Boatright from From Ashes Rise mastered the album and Raw Nerves sound certainly has a kinship with that band, as well as fellow Portlandians Tragedy (probably moreso). A sense of sameness settles in for the plodding final trio of tracks and that drags the album to its conclusion. I miss the raw/fast elements that they've cut back on, although this album has its moments. (

RULETA RUSA-Aqui No Es (Trabuc/Sorry State, LP)
First full-length for this Bay Area band, whose vocalist Jose used to be in Peligro Social. Super-catchy songs that have some decided UK-82 influences crossed with melodic Spanish punk and Jose's vocals have an engaging quality--just enough of a rasp to give them increased presence. Some real rousers here, especially "Me Dan Asco," with singalong "ah-ahs" on the chorus. Hot guitar licks and a punchy emphasis make this a treat from start to finish. (

SICK THOUGHTS-Need No One (Can't Stand 'Ya!, 7" EP)
A one-man or, more accurately, one-teenager "band." Drew Owen, the 16 year old mastermind behind this project, apparent don't need no one. Rough, snotty punk done on a four-track so the sound is quite primitive and it's all the better for it. Blown out-sounding KBD/garage-style fodder making one hell of an enjoyable racket. Drew is quite prolific already and he's only been at it since early 2013. No doubt this kid has a bright future. (

SPACE WOLVES-Space Wolves IV (Ut, tape)
A side-project for one of the guys in Bad People (see review above). Short (sometimes well under a minute) power-pop compositions although there's not always a lot of power. Sometimes, it sounds like something you'd hear at a sock hop, especially "Ethel." That's not a good thing. One of the songs is a cover by late 70s band New Math and the original version (which I looked up on YouTube) has a bit more punch. You can also hear that the near-chiming guitar playing is heavily influenced by that band. I like a well-crafted power pop song but it has to have some "oomph" to it. That's absent here. (

THE STOPS-s/t (Residue, 7")
Melodic punk by these five women from Portland (their bass-player Cissie played in the late, great Pedestrians) that has a darker hue but doesn't delve into the gloomy post-punk realm that's permeated that city (and other areas) over the past few years. Stefania's vocals sound like a female counterpart to Doug Buns from Red Dons, right down to the phrasing. The four songs are punchy, two of them at a mid-paced clip and a pair of faster ones. Not bad. (

TOXIC HOLOCAUST-Chemistry of Consciousness (Relapse, CD)
Toxic Holocaust have come a long way since I saw them play in a basement space in scenic Allston in 2005. A ravenous, thrash-metal machine with meat cleaver riffing and non-excessive leads and down 'n dirty, growling vocals. 80s-inspired rage but without the party-hearty atmosphere. This is head-down, no-nonsense, punk-inspired material. Sure, there are a few pages taken from the Book of Slayer and some  rock 'n roll moves and Swedish hardcore touches show up, as well, but I'm overanalyzing. Just turn it up loud and prepare to have your skull rattled. (

TV FREAKS-Two (Schizophrenic, LP)
The Freaks' first album was in my top 10 of 2012. While their second longplayer didn't grab me at first, that didn't last long. "Two" really sank in after a few listenings and the single-word titled compositions have a whole lotta punch. As mentioned before, they sometimes drink from the same well as Eddy Current Suppression with the jittery guitar and big bass-lines but there's a fieriness, as well. A gnarled mesh, a repetitive throb that will work its way into your brain. "Game" is whirling, jabbing head-messer with some wah-wah pyrotechnics. A few of the tracks brought Nirvana to mind, believe it or not--"Salvation," for instance, rides a similar riff as that band's "Mr. Moustache" and "Friend" is also rockin' in a 90s sort of way--and that's not meant to be a pan, either. No mope, just muscle and it's a volume-drenched journey. (17 W. 4th St., Hamilton, ON L9C 3M2, CANADA,

VARIOUS-Drop The Needle--Boston Punk Anthology (Trev, CD)
A collection of various bands that the Stilphen brothers--Chuck and Glen--played guitar and bass in respectively from the early 80s to early 90s. The real find here is the five tracks by Smegma and the Nunz, fronted by the late Alec "Smegma" Steere. Smegma was in what was arguably Boston's first hardcore punk band, Leper, in 1980-81 and I hope someone will eventually do a release of their sick demos. They only had one officially-released song, "Mums," on the Wicked Good Time Volume 2 compilation. That's not here but the Nunz are and they played snotty punk and thrash. "Napalm Sticks To Kids" (great title, eh?), with its ominous opening guitar peal, connects with a winning scabrousness. "Insanity," which has a rockier feel, eventually ended up in the Freeze's repertoire. The Nunz more or less morphed into the second lineup of Gang Green, with Smegma out and Chris Doherty in. They're represented with the fun and raucous "Let's Drink Some Beer," this version of which originally appeared on the Mr. Beautiful Presents All Hard comp (and that was one of the best tracks). After that, the Stilphens went in a rock direction with Scratch, Mallet-Head and Celebrity Death Certificate. Hard rock material that probably would have been at home on Sub Pop and the like (Mallet-Head were actually signed to a major label subsidiary) and, while it's listenable from a musical standpoint, a little of the vocals for these bands goes a long way.  What I probably would have been furiously rockin'-out to in the late 80s/early 90s hasn't aged particularly well. The furious ""El Monstro" by Scratch is an exception. The Smegma tracks would have made for one hell of an EP. They're definitely worth hearing in any format. (PO Box 66104, Auburndale, MA 02466,

WORMS-s/t (Last Watt/Darkworld, LP)
Worms are a Western Mass. band who most-certainly spent a lot of time listening to Dinosaur, Jr--the Mascis-inspired guitar leads that pop up from the time to time make that an inescapable conclusion. This isn't a mere copy, though.  Engaging, hooky melody lines and with subtle shadings but always accompanied by a brute forcefulness that never wavers. These guys started life under the name Whirl but changed their name earlier this year (another Whirl threatened legal action if they didn't) and this is their second full-length album. It's dense thundercloud of heavy riffage and plowing bass that would have fit in well with the early 90s Amphetamine Reptile bands--yes, there's that comparison again but it's accurate, particularly for "Gun," driven by a relentless bass line and then overlaid with howling vocals and noise-stun guitar. "Ice Skater" draws the album to a more sedate close, both musically and vocally, quiet after the storm, I suppose. Even with the slightly-less electrifying conclusion, this is still a formidable, ear-grabbing and head-messing effort. (57 Amherst Road, Pelham, MA 01002,