Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Suburban Voice blog #113--THE BEST OF 2014

Yep, that time of year again and, once again, I didn't have as many posts as I wanted. I suppose I could say one of of my resolutions is to publish more frequently in 2015. We'll see about that but, in the meantime, I've managed to put together a best-of list before the end of year.

2014 seemed to be a better year for releases than 2013. I had more go-to records, this time around--ones that logged a lot of time on my turntable or on my iPod. I was definitely a lot more dependent on digital music for the radio show in the past year. I still refuse to review digital promos and, as a result, some stuff might fall between the cracks. I'm an active record buyer but my budget is limited. I do the best I can and know the cost of sending out review copies is prohibitive so my usual deal stands--if a publicist or band want me to review something, I'll check out a digital promo and, if I like it, I'll see if they can send a physical copy. If I don't like it, I won't ask for a review copy and no hard feelings. Maybe I'm being a stubborn old-timer and, yes, I could publish more than I do but also keep in mind I do a monthly column for an actual print 'zine (Maximum Rocknroll)

Enough yakkin'... I did the list a bit differently this year. The top ten is a combination of 12"s, 7"s and demos/tapes--the ten releases I liked this year, regardless of format, and it's more or less in order. I follow that with an alphabetical list of other releases I liked in each format.

Thanks to everyone who continues to support SV and have a Happy New Year!


1. IVY-s/t (Katorga Works, 12”)
This NYC band’s vocalist Eddie used to be the frontman for the late, great Brown Sugar and there are some musical similarities but it’s with completely different personnel. A gnashing mix of hardcore, punk and garage, with an offbeat lyrical sensibility. Vocals are buried in the mix a bit, sharing space with this band’s mind-melting amalgamation of drill-press guitar buzz and rhythmic thump. Fitting in well with the thorny, chaotic sound proffered by many bands from that city.

2. SAVAGEHEADS-s/t (X-Ploit/Twerp, 7” EP)
It’s a good thing a certain friend of mine is a good friend of mine or I might not have forgiven him for neglecting to tell me about Savageheads’ final show a few months ago. Actually, I am still pissed about missing it because Savageheads were one of the better MassHole punk bands to emerge in the past few years. Boisterous punk with a little bit of a UK-82 influence that’s tough as nails and also catchy as hell. The four songs are perfectly executed. These guys came and went way too quickly. 

3. GOOD THROB-“Fuck Off” LP (SuperFi/White Denim/Sabermetric)
Another band I’m kicking myself for missing but I have no one but myself to blame because I knew about this show ahead of time and could have easily made it in if I hadn’t been such a lazy asshole (sorry, Bryony!). Fuck Off is a perfect title because of the in-your-face sentiments dealing with the day-to-day harassment and abuse that women deal with, no matter where they are. All of this is delivered with Ellie’s scathing vocals and a jarring ‘n jabbing post-punk attack that has prominent bass plucking, jagged guitar and a blunt backbeat. Yes, Kleenex and Delta 5 are easy touch points but this is lot more caustic—and that should be taken as a compliment.

4. A.D. SKINNER-s/t Demo
Four of the songs on this ten song demo came out as a 7” but you really need to hear the whole thing. Australian garage/punk/hardcore bashers, recorded by Mikey Young from Eddy Current Suppression Ring and UV Race (among others). You can hear bits of each band in their tumultuous sound, although it’s closer to what UV Race do, in that it does away with any of that band’s artsier (for want of a better term) impulses. There’s a newer demo, Dicksweat (great title), that continues in a similarly raucous vein.

5. STOIC VIOLENCE-“Chained” 12” (Video Disease)
Sometimes you just want good ‘ol fashioned bash-your-skull-in hardcore and Stoic Violence fit that bill on this 12”. Mean and stomping, without any excess, just an expression of pure fury. The title track, "Two Faced," "Choke" and "No Escape" are bruising fist-pumpers and “Empty Inside” is the crushing conclusion, with Branden Hutchins howling his guts out, repeating the song's title until there's nothing left and it's been stripped down to his emanations being accompanied by an ominous bass-line. The whole thing's over in a bit over 10 minutes and, sure, it might have fit on a 7" but the full-blown sonics aren't compromised and the disc is packaged inside a gatefold sle­ve and has a full-sized fold-out lyric insert. Sorry to hear they broke up.

6. EEL-“Endless Fucker” 12” (Mind Cure/Konton Crasher)
I managed to see these guys twice this year and it was quite entertaining. At the first show, vocalist Jimmy Rose (ex-Annihilation Time/GSMF) came brandishing an angle grinder and, unfortunately, one kid leaned in a bit close and lost a chunk of his forehead (he was OK, though). Jimmy felt so badly that he pretty much retired that tool although I heard it made a return at the Varning Fest. Ellen is getting really sick of me showing the YouTube video of that show to just about everyone who came to our house last year (although you can’t see it actually happen). Anyway, Eel incorporate that power tool and electronic effects into a stew of punk-ala-Chaos UK and Disorder, along with more tuneful touches. It's noisy but not blown-out or covered in sheets of distortion. A new wrinkle on raw punk.

7. BREAKOUT-Razor Wire 7” EP (On-High)
Austin’s Breakout released two 7”s this year—the more recent True Crime on Grave Mistake, which is pretty good but I think this is the stronger of the two. That’s due in no small part to the title track, an inescapable earworm carried along by a scintillating bassline that ends up bouncing around in my head for hours just about every time I hear it. The songs are sharp and tuneful, while maintaining an edgy punk energy.

8. TERCER MUNDO-“Ser Nosotros Mismos” 12” (Cintas Pepe)
I still don’t have a physical copy of Tercer Mundo’s 12” (although I’ve got some people working on it) but there’s no way I’m leaving this out of the top 10. Just about everything I’ve heard involving Dave Rata has been worthwhile and this 12” is no exception. A fair amount of buzzy, fuzzy hardcore but the title track, with its Rudimentary Peni vibe, really stands out while “Caidos” has a mid-tempo, near-anthemic burn. I hope I’ll soon be able to slap a copy of this album on the turntable.

9. ANCIENT FILTH-“You’re Nothing, You’re Everything” 7” (self-released)
Ancient Filth have been cranking out kick-ass hardcore for quite some time but, since they’re not scenesters or beholden to any of the elitist Boston cliques, they’re sometimes undeservedly overlooked, compared to the better-known bands from these parts. Fast and frenetic, sometimes incorporating a melodic element or two, and executed with crack efficiency and impassioned vocals from Matt. Heartfelt, inspiring lyrics dealing with both worldwide and personal concerns. The elaborate package includes a fold-out poster and a lyric booklet with thoughtful explanations for each song.

10. ANIMAL MOTHER-“Seven Minutes In Heaven With...” Demo
Another Boston band, this one consisting of four women and the vocalist is Jen Millis (Red Thread, 40 Watts, St. Ripper). This ain’t exactly heavenly, sedate music. Raw, rough and chaotic punk pounding through the floor and Jen’s vocals are pissed-off and nasty sounding. Animal Mother have been somewhat hit and miss live but they nail it on this demo.


BRAIN F≠-“Empty Set” (Sorry State/Grave Mistake)
COMBAT ZONE-s/t (Side Two)
EX-CULT-“Midnight Passenger” (Goner)
FARANG-s/t (self-released)
GAS RAG-“Beats Off” (Beach Impediment)
INMATES-s/t (Painkiller)
RASPBERRY BULBS-“Privacy” (Blackest Ever Black)


BAD DADDIES-“Negative Fun Singles Club 2014” (Negative Fun)
FLACCID-s/t (Nothing Is Real)
GAG-“Locker Room” (Iron Lung)
GLUE-s/t (Katorga Works/Toxic State)
INSTITUTE-“Giddy Boys” (Katorga Works)
S.H.I.T.-all three 7”s (Iron Lung/Lengua Armada/Static Shock)
SNOB-s/t (self-released)


FACILITY MEN-s/t and “Futility Men”
FLYKILLS-“Lump of Flesh”
WHITE WHALE-“Demo 2014”
VARIOUS-“Cream of the Crop” compilation




Saturday, December 06, 2014

Suburban Voice blog #112


... yes, FINALLY! By the way, if you want to see tons of show photos that I've taken, check out my Flickr page.

AARON & THE BURRS-Release The Bats (Ut/Feral Kid, 7")
No, not a Birthday Party cover--this is straight up instrumental surf rock (the lyrics are listed as "N/A")--from Buffalo, no less. Well played and snappy and, somehow, there's not a kitsch factor. A respite from the hardcore, at least for a few minutes (

AJAX-Bleach For Breakfast (Even Worse, 7" EP)
I can't always keep track who's in each of the newer NYC hardcore bands (such an incestuous scene) but there are people from Warthog, Creem and other units. Whoever/whatever, this is raging stuff. A vinyl pressing of their 2013 demo and with a hard-hitting, piledriving sound. Pure brawn with angry vocals and a loud and punchy sound, packed with memorable riffs. New 7" on Katorga Works is due to be released in December. (

ALERTA ROJA-Algo Esta Cambiando... (Lengua Armada, LP)
Compilation of this Buenos Aires, Argentina band recorded between '82 and '86. There's an insert with a short interview, as well as Spanish-language lyrics but other details are scant--recording dates, etc. Alerta Roja were a band that embraced both the '77 era punk and the more Oi!-oriented sounds of the early 80s. As time went on, they added darker elements that pushed them into goth-inspired regions, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The best songs here embrace a straight-forward catchy sound, as with "Sin Oportunidad" or "Revolucion En La Evolucion." Varying sound quality but more hit than miss, with some real keepers. And they were creating their politically-tinged lyrics during an oppressive era in that country, which is admirable. (

ASYLUM-s/t (Vinyl Conflict, 7" EP)

A punishing effort by this Richmond band featuring scathing vocals and a full-tilt thrash attack. Delivered with rock ‘n roll fury and driven by powerhouse drumming and a scorching two guitar tandem and murderous-sounding female vocals. A hard and fast attack that erupts from the speakers. (324 South Pine Street, Richmond, VA 23220,

BILL BONDSMEN/SBLC-Resurgent Cinebus (Rust On The Blade, 7")
The Bondsmen keep teasing us with one great 7" after another and this is their first one in over a year. Their track, "Terrible Diagnosis" is dark, driving, riveting punk with burning, haunting guitar, a propulsive bass-line and Tony's anguished vocals. And is that a synth I hear percolating at the end? Sick stuff, as always. Flip it over and SBLC (an old-timer Detroit punk band who apparently just got back together) connect with charging hardcore punk attack on their song "Wired," which certainly sounds that way. Keith's hoarse vocals are in the same vein as Tony's and the sound is muscular. (


BORN WRONG-Art District (Schizophrenic, 7" EP)
Some of this Hamilton, ON's best material to date, four savage rippers full of anger and bile, both sonically and vocally--especially vocally. The title track is about the sanitization and white-washing processes that suck the life and edginess out such areas and, for some reason, is split between the sides of the record. That disrupts the flow a bit but, overall, the intensity doesn't waver. (17 W. 4th St., Hamilton, ON L9C 3M2, CANADA,


BREAKOUT-True Crime (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)
Breakout's second 7" of the year (following Razorwire, which came out last spring) and it's an interesting mix of punk and nervier rock--the loping bass-line and sturdy rhythm of the opening title track gives off an almost Pixies-ish vibe and the brief "No Sooner Said That Done" has a similar feel. Kyle's hoarse vocals provide a counterpoint to the band's instrumental adeptness. Guitar with melody and burn fused to a fired-up bass/drums tandem. Far from anything generic. (

THE BROOD-Defective (self-released, 7" EP)
Debut vinyl by this Philly band, following one of 2013 best demos. Rampaging hardcore with shit-hot riffing and a sound wedged comfortably in between Swedish hardcore and Poison Idea-inspired pillage. People from Lost Cause, Witch Hunt and lots of others--vocalist Ned Wells has been fronting bands for over 15 years, going back to his days in Balance of Terror and he sounds as pissed off as ever--expressing the frustration of a soul-sucking existence, to simplify things--and he's complemented by occasional lead vocals from bass-player Janine. The four songs here come at you non-stop and the people in this band certainly know what they're doing by now. (5032 Florence Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19143,

CARDIAC ARREST-In The Mouth Of Madness (Even Worse/Way Back When, LP)
Cardiac Arrest have had something of a low profile, at least record-wise, in recent years. A couple of 7"s nearly 10 years ago, a demo for a 2010 tour and, finally, their debut full-length (which was actually recorded in 2012). Vocalist Rob Ruzicka is the sole remaining original member and he sounds just as agitated as ever, giving Choke a run for his money with his throat-shredding bark. Fast, blistering hardcore that doesn't let up for a second, except for the Slapshot-like "The Days." Blistering sentiments, as well, such as the critique of Rob's hometown St. Louis on "The Gateway Drug" but it seems as though he'll stay put even with all the crap. But there's also a "lighten up, Francis" (Stripes reference) take for "What A Joke," where Rob calls out people for lacking a sense of humor. Good to hear these guys are still kicking around. (;

CATHOLIC GUILT-Futile Attempts (Cut The Cord That.../Doomtown, 7" EP)
Semi-melodic hardcore from Austria--maybe that's not the right term but the melody comes in the textured, Die Kruezen-ish guitar lines that possess a good amount of crunch. It's a muscular-sounding musical framework, with a hard-driving rhythm section pushing things along nicely. Some of it reminds me of Vaaska's earlier recordings. (;

CRETINS-s/t (Vinyl Conflict, 7" EP)
6 tracks of  rough, fast ass-kicking hardcore with angry-as-fuck vocals that are spat out with venomous rage. A bare-knuckled sound and some pissed-off sentiments, such as the ones directed at crusty traveler punks on “Shoogle.” More venom than you can shake a stick at. (324 South Pine Street, Richmond, VA 23220,

DEATH IN CUSTODY-The End Result (self-released, CD)
DIC might be from Detroit but they've got some NYHC crunch in their sound, to go along with their city's fast-paced hardcore legacy and occasional "oi-oi" street punk element, as with "The Bottle Never Says No." This is their first new album in years (it actually came out in 2013 but was just sent here recently) and they still sound as agitated as ever  Ralph has an in-your-face vocal style and the hardcore attack is lean and mean. (

DIVIDED MINDS-Strangers EP (Doomtown/Crapoulet, 7" EP)
Darkly tuneful punk by this Croatian three piece. There's a little bit of a west coast whiff to the overall sound although a song like "Invitation" sounds almost like a punked-up Warsaw (Joy Division's original name) track. Not gloom 'n doom by any stretch--there's a kick to the songs, especially the closing "Burning Hell." (;

FACILITY MEN-Futility Men (Subject, tape)
SLEEPTALKER-s/t (demo)
WHITE WHALE-Demo 2014 (Subject, tape)
Three new demo tapes from Buffalo bands and the common denominator is Pat Shanahan, who plays bass in Facility Men and White Whale (where he also handles vocals) and is the vocalist for Sleeptalker. Pay attention--there'll be a quiz later. The common thread for these bands is a haunting quality of one sort or another. Sleeptalker even have a song called "The Haunting" on their demo, although there are varying degrees of aggressiveness with these bands. Facility Men's first demo was pretty damned good their new one, Futility Men is even better. The production values have improved and the songs are sharp. I'm guessing they've listened to some alt-rock in their past because the first song "The Whip" sounds influenced by the PIXIES. The post-punk inspiration is there, as well, with the guitar jabs for "Down In The Valley." White Whale aren't dissimilar from Facility Men. Four new songs with a dark, post-punk hue, especially in the guitar playing and “Three” has a wicked ear-grabbing hook in the chorus and strong guitar solo. Sleeptalker is Mr. Shanahan's newest band and Biff (BROWN SUGAR, PLATES, BAD PEOPLE and tons more) plays bass. More trebly and reminiscent of HOT SNAKES with the gnashing guitar. Give 'em all listen on their Bandcamp pages--it's worth your time. (;

FIRE RETARDED-Scroogz Mamor (Big Neck, CD)
Bobby Hussy from The Hussy plays guitar in this band. Harder edged than his other unit, proffering a garage/punk/semi-psych combo, the latter coming from the fuzzy, dirt-under-nails guitar sound. Grungy although they eschew any sort of cock rock trappings. This is closer to what the Marked Men or Hex Dispensers do. Getting overtly poppy at times, as with the concluding song "Overrated Kayak," and it doesn't provide nearly the same charge. That misstep aside, this is a pretty solid effort, albeit nothing I'd probably go out of my way for. (PO Box 8144, Reston, VA 20195,


FLYKILLS-Demo (tape)
NYC band Flykills have a unique sound on their ten song demo tape—ranty, Darby Crash-esque vocals and an edgy guitar-driven approach embracing post-punk, a dollop of goth and more straight-ahead punk. Something that can’t be specifically pinpointed and I suppose I shouldn’t rely on such easy comparisons, anyway. They told me they consider themselves outsiders in their hometown but there’s certainly the same sort of punk rock parameter stretching that some of the other bands mentioned here follow. And I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a band pin with a dead fly laminated on it. They've since posted a new four song demo that's even better. (

GAG-Locker Room (Iron Lung, 7")
Just two tracks on Gag's latest but they both kill--one original and one by a couple of these guys' former band Dehumanized (I think), "No Hope No Change." Reverb on the vocals and just a savage and loud attack in a mid-tempo vein. "Locker Room" starts with a fusillade of guitar mangling and wreckery before kicking into overdrive, while "No Hope No Change" follows a more pounding route with messed-up, nightmarish vocal effects and torrents of feedback. Gag's brutality continues to mow down all in its path. (

GLITTER-s/t (Pee Blood, 12")
A gnashing joy--braying, ranting, abrasive vocals that you have no hope of making out, along with a trebly sound that has punk, garage and post-punk elements. Jabbing guitar that also incorporates a glowing sort of feedback, accompanied by lowdown bass-lines and thudding drums. They keep it stripped down to the essence. This Calgary band were a pleasant surprise when I saw them on a bill with Born Wrong, Flykills and Ancient Filth over the summer. A trip into darker regions. (,

GLUE-s/t (Katorga Works/Toxic State, 7" EP)
Glue's vinyl debut cleans up the sonics a little from their demo but it puts their strengths into clear focus and that's floorpunching, slammin' fodder that connects like a slug to the gut. Not tough-guy moshcore--the songs have catchy elements and the guitar playing has an arsenal of crunch, texture and string-sputter. Vocalist Harris Greenwood likes to punctuate his harsh vocals with plenty of RRRARFFS (I think that's how you spell it) and, with hardcore this ass-kicking, it makes sense. (;


I was disappointed with Hank Wood's second full-length, at first. It's hard to top an album that was in my Top Five of 2012, one of the best garage records I'd heard in a long-ass time. For "Stay Home," they've cleaned things up to an extent and added a percussionist (you should have seen them trying to jam all their gear into a tiny basement space in Boston) but this is still a heady gnash with a pugnacious flavor, mainly due to the with staccato cadence of the vocals. The melody lines come to fore more than in the past--such as "I Thought I Was A Good Man"--but they're still capable of bashing away into delirium, starting with the opener "The Ghost." and the hard-driving "This World Is Beat" and "Shook and Hungry" The organ riff to "In Space" is quite ear grabbing. The lyrics are first person narratives of alienation,longing for escape and who knows where to find it, although "In Space" does seem to assert there's a coping mechanism. There's nothing here that's on the level of "It's Murder," "My House" or "It's Hard On The Street"--not even close, but this really is one of those records that eventually connects. I'm glad I gave it time. (

INFEKZIOA-Ezin Da Alde Egin Sufrimenduaren Zulotik EP (Blindead Productions, 7" EP)

Pure distorto-d-beat mayhem from Spain (the lyrics are in the Basque language). Low-fi 'n tinny, with a sheets of guitar noise fused to bass/drums pummel and hoarse, spat-out yells. Ear-slaughtering damage that sounds like it's about to fly apart. Inspired by the likes of Wretched and some early Finnish hardcore and it's a sonic buzzbomb. (


INMATES-s/t (Painkiller, LP)
100% scabrous, nasty, don't give a fuck Clevo hardcore punk. The Inmates have been kicking this shit around off and on since the 90s (this is their first 12" since 2002 and first record since 2008) and they've got it nailed. The "bye-bye" at the end of  "Little Bitch" and 1-2-3-4 cowbell clang at the start of "Pintar El Mundo Oro" ("sung" in Albanian, allegedly) give away the inspiration--GISM and Raw Power--and you certainly hear raw Japanese and Italian hardcore in their sound. The fake ad that introduces "Crustdust" might be one of the funniest things I've heard on a record in awhile--as someone else said, Inmates' drummer Wedge might have a future as a radio announcer. You can probably guess who the target is on that song, with Paul exhorting "if this is punk, I'm not punk... I want no association, I'm handing in my resignation." No, this IS punk, born of anger and, well, not giving a fuck what anyone thinks. A buzzbomb delivered with one hell of a prickly attitude. They even cover Joe Dolce's "Shaddup You Face"--sort of. (

INSTITUTE-Giddy Boys (Katorga Works, 7" EP)
"Giddy Boys" is one of the catchiest songs I've heard all year, with a guitar line that quickly works its way into your consciousness, playing off a descending bassline that's equally sublime and it has a strong Eddy Current vibe. "Success" is a briefer punk jab while "Fate In A Pleasant Mood" is more expansive, mixing PIL and the Australian X during its nearly five minutes. Moses's vocals are unique, with a choppy, nearly hard-to-decipher cadence. Essential, just for the title track alone. There's a new five song 12", Salt, that just came out on Sacred Bones. (


IVY-s/t (Katorga Works, LP)
Brilliant debut album by this NYC band, whose vocalist is Eddie from Brown Sugar. Completely different personnel but there's still something of the throw everything against the wall (or maybe it's throw caution to the wind) sound that mix-masters hardcore, punk and garage. A thumping rhythm lays the foundation for the buzzing, drill-press guitar attack and Eddie's vocal rant, which are buried in the mix a bit. Fiercely rockin' and mind-melting, the same kind of inspired chaos wielded by Crazy Spirit et al. Top ten material, for sure. (

KOHTALON KÄSINE-Laki On (Urban Gorilla, 7”)
2 songs by self-described old guys from Helsinki who played in bands back in the 80s. Here, it’s more-or-less a fired-up, mid-tempo rock ‘n roll sound tinged with punk. Sturdy riffs but coming and going without leaving that strong an impression. (

KONTAMINAT-s/t (Lengua Armada, 7" EP)
A Chicago band with members of Rat Bastards, Chronic Seizure, Los Crudos and Sin Orden. Their demo came out in 2011 and, finally, here's their first vinyl slab. A loud 'n fast affair, as you might imagine, sounding closest to the underrated Rat Bastards buzzsaw attack (Jay Perris, from that band, is one of the guitarists) and it's ear-singeing throughout. There's no lyric sheet but, instead, an insert with thoughtful essays about each track, with an eye cast towards education on a few songs--vocalist Mike Friedberg is a teacher--as well, as employment issues, wondering why working class people vote against their own interests. (

KRANG-Bad Moon (Sacred Plague/multi-label, LP)
Another Chicago band, this one trading in a heavy, crusty metallic style along the lines of Sacrilege, etc, albeit with semi-polished sound quality (though not too slick). Things start off quietly and delicately for both sides, a sense of foreboding, before the crunch kicks in, along with the harsh vocals. The band is at its best when the pace is picked up, particularly for "Replacer," "Lost Road" and "No Arbiter." Not wallowing in sludge and with nimble musicianship throughout. (

KURRAKÄ-s/t (Trabuc, LP)
Dru Molina from Criaturas plays guitar and sings in this all-female trio. While there's still an abundance of echo on her vocals (and the lyrics are in Spanish), there's no guitar shredding and the compositions have a darker pulse to them. Amber's thick bass-lines have a lot of presence and provide the main thrust for the songs here. The majority of tracks do follow a d-beat blueprint but the closing trio of songs, "Histeria," "Bailando" and "Lunar Eclipse," have moodier, mid-tempo arrangements. More kick-ass sounds from Austin and offering a slightly different wrinkle. (


LONG KNIFE-Possession (Long Knife/Black Water, 7" EP)
FORWARD/LONG KNIFE-Split (Long Knife, 7" EP)
I'm sure Long Knife are getting tired of the Poison Idea comparisons but it's hard not to think of it when hearing Colin's very Jerry A-ish vocals and the dark, metal-tinged hardcore sound from that band's late 80s/early 90s period. Their "Possession" EP features two mid-tempo rockers and two thrashers and provides a potent kick. Feel the darkness. OK, I'll stop now. They just completed a tour with Japanese ragers Forward and, while there's a split 12", I only got the split 7" for now. Two more corkers from Long Knife, the hard-rocking "Rusted Shut" and speedier Rusted Shut," although the latter also rocks out at the end. The two Forward songs are no-less formidable--ravenous and raging. I need to get their other new stuff. Their show at the Middle East was pretty fucking great, by the way. (Long Knife: 715 NE 55th Ave., Portland, OR 97213; Black Water, PO Box 5223, Portland, OR 97208,

THE LOWEST FORM-Negative Ecstasy (Iron Lung, LP)
Mean 'n raw hardcore that has a thorny, feedback-laden buzzsaw guitar tone and rabid vocals. The Lowest Form are from the UK but they have a sound akin to a band like Hoax and there are noisier Finnish influences (Kaaos, for instance). Vicious blasts of speed and mid-tempo pound, all of it played with maximum intensity. The title track wraps things up with six-plus minutes of minimalist, sizzling/whizzling throbbing burn that will leave you drained, like the illness referred for "Some Horrible Bug"--maybe that could be used on the news reports about Ebola. Maybe not--why frighten the public even more? Pain of mind, pain of body, all wrapped up in an ugly package. (

MAD DOG-Demo (tape)
A new band with Garrett McGrath, vocalist of the late, great Nomos. Pounding, mid-tempo punk ala early Fucked Up. Harsh vocals and bright riffs and, while some of the lyrics exude personal turmoil, it's not always so serious, as with their street punk-tinged theme song ("We party all night/we live the life/we are MAD DOG). When referring to another band, someone once told me the band plays at one tempo, but they play it well. That's the case here. (

MANLIFTINGBANNER-Red Fury (Crucial Response, LP)
MLB's first album in almost 20 years (although they got back together a few years ago), with most of the old lineup, including the Van Den Berg brothers (Seein' Red, Larm). Intense political punk and hardcore with a strong (as you'd imagine) message and the songs are a mix of aggressive thrash and more tuneful moments, interspersed with sound clips. One is from Frank Sinatra and one of the stickers that comes with the disc quotes him as saying "Let's not forget we are all foreigners." Quite timely given Obama's executive order on immigration. I wonder what Ol' Blue Eyes would have to say about that, given that he became a Republican later in life. The tuneful element appears most prominently for "Riding High," with ex-Exploited guitarist Big John and the rousing "(Just Another) Union Song." With conservatism on the rise, especially in this damned country, it's a good time for some good old socialist punk. Pressed, of course, on red vinyl. Glad to have 'em back. (

MIDNIGHT CRISIS-s/t (Rindherz, 7" EP)
Midnight Crisis are from Germany, their vocalist (Janne, ex-Heratys) is Finnish and sings in his native tongue but it's not the raw style his former band played. This is something on the more tuneful side of the spectrum, albeit still played with speedy adrenalin. "Hunningolla" even throws in a few "oi"s. Enjoyable. (

MODERN DELUSION/CHRESUS JIST-Split (Doomtown, multi-label, 7" EP)
Modern Delusion are a Croatian band and have a post-punk/goth/punk mesh going on, coming across strongest for "Lost In Fear," which has an ear-grabbing synth hook and the other two tracks (one a cover by a band called Manmachine) are semi-catchy and energetic. Serbian band Chresus Jist sound as though they could have come from the late 80s/early 90s with a hazy/poppy sound. "Il Giorno Del Cobra" takes a surfier turn. "Kill" packs the strongest hook of their three songs. Nothing essential, although I'd give the edge to Modern Delusion. (

THE MODERNS-When She Gets Back (Ut/Feral Ward, 7" EP)
Recorded in '79 but unreleased until now. "When She Gets Back" mines the jangly power-pop sound that came into popularity during that time and is pretty lightweight. The two songs on the other side, "Escape Velocity" and "Run," are much, much better. Still melodic but crackling with infectious energy, especially "Escape Velocity," which would have fit in well on one of the Back To Front compilations. One of the these guys (Jim Bemis) went on to start the Bemisbrain label and play in Modern Warfare. (

NARCOLEPTIC YOUTH-One Nation Under Nothing (Dr. Strange, LP)
Pro-forma west coast punk that hits a middle ground. Melodic and peppy with stinging guitars and lotsa vocal harmonies and not going the complete pop/punk route. There's some lyrical wiseassery that's not quite as clever as they might think it is. They play their hand with a cover of Rikk Agnew's "Falling Out" (which appeared on both his solo album All By Myself and DI's Ancient Artifacts) and, truth be told, it's the best song here and I'd rather listen to the original material. Just OK. (7136 Amethyst Ave., Alta Loma, CA 91701,

NO PROBLEM-Already Dead (Deranged, LP)
No Problem's latest continues to mine a melodic west coast punk sound, as well as possessing some similarities to bands like Red Dons or Marked Men on a few tracks (truth be told, those are the weakest ones here). Charging and energetic, especially "Boots," the track that leads off the second side, the tandem of "Deprogram Me" and "We Got Secrets," while "After The Crash" is a full-on thrasher. There's a smoothing of the rough edges from their last album, 2011's And Now This (three years, already? Where does the time go?), which was one of that disc's more appealing characteristics but the songs have punch and power. (

NVs-Trust Fun Suicide (Big Neck, 7" EP)
GaragePunkRocknRoll that shows a poppier heart at times, at least on the two songs on the flip side. The title track, meanwhile, is a tough 'n catchy rocker and Sal Go has just enough menace in her voice to have you lookin' over your shoulder. (PO Box 8144, Reston, VA 20195,

RAJOITUS/RATSTAB-Split (Patac/multi-label, 7" EP)
A shredder of a split from Swedish hardcore ragers Rajoitus and Providence band Ratstab, who make their own hard-hitting racket. Rajoitus started in the early 90s and were on hiatus until recently. They've reconvened with a revamped lineup and tear through their five tracks with a focoused fury. Ratstab play in a slightly noisier and chaotic vein--something of a Siege influence in their sound and a few Swedish nods. (

RATOS DE PORÃO-Seculo Sinistro (Alternative Tentacles, CD)
Still shredding away after 30 or so years, RDP return with their first full-length since 2006, save for a split release with Looking For An Answer, and it's in a decidedly metallic vein (they'd returned to more of a hardcore sound in the late 90s/early 00s). They still play like a well-oiled machine and, with the squealing guitar tandem and precision drumming, there are several songs here in a Slayer-ish vein, with Gordo's gutteral bray still at the center. No ballads, no acoustic guitars, no extended multi-part songs, just fast and in-your-face crossover aggro. Includes a cover of Anti-Cimex's "Progeria Power." Blazin'. (PO Box 419092, San Francisco, CA 94141,

RAVAGE FIX-s/t (Rinderherz, 7" EP)
This one's been out awhile but just got sent to me--a band with German and Swiss members and a couple of them used to be in Civil Victim. Muscular hardcore that's a bit darker-sounding than their old band and throwing in a few Swedish HC twists but there's not a major departure from a straightforward sound. Not bad. (


SEE YOU IN HELL-Odvolej/Proti Proudo (self-released, flexi)
Two new tracks from this longtime band from the Czech Republic, their first new disc since 2010. Blazing Japanese-inspired hardcore, one fast, one a mid-tempo pace and pushing all the right buttons. Flexis need to be handled with care, of course, but the sound quality is fine and the packaging--a heavy stock cover and foldout insert with flyers from shows they've played all over the world. Long may they rage. (

SEX DRIVE-s/t (Crucial Response, LP)
Aggressive old-school hardcore (more late 80s NYHC, without the chug)--a thrash-driven emphasis although there are a few floor-pounders along the way, as well. A beefy guitar sound, with some heady pyrotechnics for the final song, "Bag Of Hammers." Standard-issue 'core but with energy and venom to spare (

S.H.I.T.-s/t (Iron Lung, 7" EP)/Generation Shit (Lengua Armada, EP)
Two 7"s by this Toronto band (four songs on each), recorded at the same session and it's their long-overdue vinyl debut.  This band slayed live when I saw them last year in Worcester and there's no disappointment here. Charging d-beat hardcore with the requisite reverb on the vocals. The recording, by Career Suicide/Fucked Up's Jonah Falco, is rough and basic, without sounding blown-out. New 'n original? No. Hitting all the right buttons? You got it. Well-packaged, with fold-out sleeves for each disc. The Iron Lung release has ominous and creepy grayscale artwork. The Lengua Armada record has a modification of the (in)famous napalm raid photo in Vietnam in 1972, with a naked Kim Phuc running down a road. Provocative in both a musical and visual sense. (Iron Lung,; Lengua Armada,

SILVER SCREAMS-Creep Joint Scratch (self-released, CD)
A pretty good 5 song EP by this Boston band that embraces older art-punk/post-punk with a harder edge. The opening guitar lines for "Infinite Mirror" (the best song here) have a Burma-esque quality, although these guys operate in more of a straight-ahead vein. There's a dark hue but no wallowing in the murk--the songs are lively and forceful. Includes a cover of TSOL's "Wash Away" (from Beneath The Shadows) sans keyboards. Worth a listen or two. In fact, more than a listen or two. (

SLUMS OF THE FUTURE-Demo 2014 (Compressed Thought, tape)
Noisy, thrashing hardcore that stops, starts and squeals with torrents of feedback, coming to a head for the lurching closer, "Build and Kill." A lyrical cynicism, to the point of being fed up enough that it's desensitized them to the point of not being able to "empathize with the misery I see in other people," as is stated on "Systematic Failure." That's kind of sad although, admittedly, it's easy to just throw ones hands up at what's going on around them. That said, this San Diego band tear into their songs full-tilt and full-speed a good amount of the time. (

URBANOIA-Psykisk Terror (Solar Funeral/D-Takt & Rapunk, 7" EP)
Four rippers from Norwegian band Urbanoia--pure thrashy hardcore that doesn't bring anything new to the sound, to be honest, but just provides a good 'ol fashioned throttle session. No heavy distortion, just ravaging guitar riffs and straight-ahead drumming that successfully mine the classic Scandinavian style. (;

SONNY VINCENT-Cyanide Comsomme (Big Neck, CD)
SONNY VINCENT & SPITE-Spiteful (Ultramafic, CD)
Two recent releases by punk vet Vincent, who cut his teeth in the Testors before most of you were born. Cyanide Consomme, the better of the pair, has a revolving lineup of musicians where he handles guitar on most tracks and widely varying sound quality, obviously recorded at different times (a few of these songs appeared on a German album, Ultramafic, that came out last year). No surprise that the opener "James Brown's Evil Son" has a Detroit tinge, with Steve Mackay from the Stooges on sax (that's the only track with that instrument) and the MC5/Stooges axis runs through a number of these songs, from straight-up rock 'n roll to some speedy thrashers. There are some real lo-fil rippers here--"Snort My Snot" (lovely) and "Super Nova."

Spiteful has Vincent in a band setting, joined by Mackay, once again, along with the Pistols' Glen Matlock and Damned's Rat Scabies, although it was done in piecemeal fashion. Mackay has a more prominent role on this album and it's a more coherent package, although not always packing the napalm-like scorch of "Cyanide Consomme." And only a handful of the songs pack much of a punch--"Shameless Face," in particular, along with "Borders" and "Bad Superstition." The ballads and songs that have a bluesier feel aren't nearly as successful.

In all honesty, if you really want to hear Sonny Vincent at his best, you should check out a Testors anthology, such as the one that came out on Swami in 2003. "Bad Attitude" is a song for the ages. (Big Neck, PO Box 8144, Reston, VA 20195,

WARTHOG-Prison (Iron Lung, 7" EP)
Warthog had a top-notch demo in 2013 and played at one of the best shows I saw last year, with Missionary and Green Beret (how's that for a lineup?). And now we have their first vinyl offering. Nasty and dirty hardcore with scabrous vocals. A potent two guitar attack and plenty of buzz on the bass. Just relentless. (


WHO KILLED SPIKEY JACKET?-Beerstorm Trooper EP (Headcount, 7" EP)
The WKSJ? gang are back with four new tracks. Punks taking the piss out of the spiked ‘n studded scene (“when you fail to wear studs you are a failure”) although most of them have played in those types of bands over the years. Catchy UK-82 inspired punk providing beer-fueled fun—three of the songs mention beer, in fact. All hell usually breaks loose when they play, like the time someone set off a mortar inside a club at one of their shows, though nothing like that happened the one time I saw them. In any case, here's a way to experience their music without dodging flying debris or fireworks. (324 South Pine Street, Richmond, VA 23220,

X-RAYS-Jameson Shot (Big Neck, 7" EP)
Back from the grave or wherever they've been lurking--a new three songs EP by these UK garage punk maniacs. Just blown-out enough to keep from sounding slick and it's rip-roaring good time. If you miss bands like the New Bomb Turks or bands on the X-Rays' old label Empty, this might do the trick. (PO Box 8144, Reston, VA 20195,