Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Suburban Voice blog #118

BOSTON HARDCORE & PUNK FACTSHEET (1999-2000), compiled by Chris Wrenn (B9 press, 64 pg., $8)
Thin paperback volume compiling Chris from B9's short-lived mini-zine and included interviews, 20 question sessions with various scene "luminaries" (including yours truly--and my answers don't make me cringe, thankfully), show listings, news items, etc. It was the time of bands like In My Eyes, Ten Yard Fight, Proclamation, The Explosion, Blood For Blood, Ducky Boys and Dropkick Murphys, to give you an idea. It's fun looking through the show listings, remembering the ones I saw and realizing I missed some good ones. How could I miss Hot Snakes or a basement show with Intensity from Sweden and Dead Nation (pre-Tear It Up), for instance? If you want a time capsule about how things were around the turn of the century in Boston, here it is. (bridge9.com)

I recently got ten (!) demos from the Buffalo label More Power Tapes. There's plenty going on up in that neck of the woods. Not every one of them is an artistic triumph or anything I'm particularly into but here's a rundown...

Facility Men's third demo plies more hard-edged post-punk rock that has a 90s vibe. Sharp, angular guitar riffs and sturdy bass-lines come to fore, particularly on "Parading," The band formed out of the ashes of the late, great Plates (their album "Salvation Morning" is well-worth checking out). Vocalist Teodor Lazar's bray (think JJ from the Offenders) soars over the intricate and energetic arrangements. This is the best-sounding recording to date for these guys. Hope we'll see vinyl at some point.

Blobs, a band with Biff, who must have played in dozens of bands at this point (Brown Sugar, Plates, Bad People, I Object, Aaron & The Burrs, to name some of 'em), have already released a pair of demos, a self-titled one and "Shame." They operate in a similar vein as Brown Sugar, mixing up hardcore with garagier and psych touches (particularly in the guitar playing), along with Amelia's against-the-grain vocals. Both have solid tracks although I prefer the first. "Shame" introduces sax and keyboards into the mix and it doesn't always work. Playing up the rock side a bit more and they're clearly moving into different regions, which isn't 100% appealing.

Kharlos is a band, not a person, a band with three guys, two guitars, keyboards, drums and no bass. On their 8 song "Don't Think About Dying At My Party," things get off to a very promising start with the psych/garage/rock of "Dreams" but the fired-up nature of that song isn't really maintained after that. A collection of snappy and tuneful songs that are listenable but not anything that grabs you by the throat, not even the cover of Sweet's "Little Willy."

Cruelster are actually from Cleveland and have a number of releases under their belt. The tape on this label is titled "First Demo 2006" but it was recorded in 2015, if that makes any sense. Fun, dumb punk, a little cleaner-sounding (?) than on the more raw-sounding fodder of their other output (including a newer 7"). Hard not to smile at a song called "Dumb Fuck" and there's a winningly obnoxious nature to it. There's plenty more swill on their bandcamp page (cruelster.bandcamp.com).



¡DISCULPE!-s/t (Tadpole, 7" EP)
Bruising punk rawness that's not really in the d-beat category but it’s a wanton eruption, nonetheless. One song is called “Fuck-U-Therapy” and I imagine it’s a diatribe against psychiatric care but one could say this is its own kind of therapy, an expression of “fuck you” emotion. Bash-your-skull-in therapy? That works. tadpolerecords.blospot.com)

EASTERN BLOC-s/t (demo)
A new Mass. band with 3/5 of Dry Hump, plus Christian Pedro from Social Circkle on vocals. With only one guitar player, it sounds a bit more stripped down and Brian Herrmann's bass is given more prominence in the mix. Loud, fast and ripping hardcore, slowing it down for the stomping "The Mask." Doing it right. Good debut. (noscapegoatnosurvivors@gmail.com)

THE EPIDEMIC-Losing Control (Loud Punk, 7" EP)
This was apparently supposed to come out years back on the label—the songs were recorded in 2006 and 2008--but got shelved until recently and then remixed. Good punchy punk and “Sanctified Youth,” in particular, is a total ripper. Guitarist Matt Frado sadly passed away in 2008. The other members are now in Cinderblock, Who Killed Spikey Jacket? and Sadist, to name a few. (PO Box 6115, Albany, NY 12203, loudpunk.blogspot.com)

FUCK YOU PAY ME-Public Disgrace (Deep Six, LP) 
Tony Erba and crew are back with their second album and, as always, Erba has a bone to pick the world. “Pro Gear, Pro Attitude” could be an updated version of Gordon Solie Motherfuckers' “Closed Mind, Open E,” about music scene assholes, for want of a better term. “Jesus Loves You (Everyone Else Thinks You’re An Asshole)” is for people stuck having to deal with Fox News-loving fuckheads in different situations. Musically, as always, it’s no bullshit hardcore punk played at a fast clip. They throw in a few other tricks along the way, such as the Die Kreuzen-ish guitar lick for “Long Live The New Flesh” and they wrap things up with a cover of Subhumans’ “Religious Wars.” Their third album, “Dumbed Down,” is already in the can and due for release later this year. (www.deepsixrecords.com)

HALDOL-s/t (World Gone Mad, 12") 
Originally based in Nashville, Haldol have a few releases under their belts but this is the first since Geoff Smith moved from Nashville to Philly and reconfigured the band. It's also the best stuff I've heard from them. There were some hardcore elements in earlier recordings but those are gone as a dark ‘n gothy/post-punk sound is the main focus. Sound gloomy? Not really. It’s certainly not chipper-sounding but there’s a driving edginess to their compositions. The songs are powerful, driven by tribal rhythms, thick, fluid bass-lines and nightmarish guitar, coming across like a combination of Killing Joke and Part I. This is done at a fairly healthy pace, except for the intro to the languid “Beyond The Pleasure Principle,” which introduces early BANSHEES guitar tones. Definitely taking it to the next level on this one. (worldgonemad.bigcartel.com)

KIELTOLAKI-Vapauden Illuusio (Feral Ward, LP)
Translating to "The Illusion Of Freedom," this is Kieltoalki's first release since 2011 and first full-length since 2009. This Finnish band sound as ferocious as ever. The production is somewhat cleaner than in the past but it comes roaring out of the speakers. Their earliest records were packaged similar to records on the Propaganda label in the 80s and there was an obvious affinity for their country’s classic sounds, but there’s always been something of a modern polish. One of the lamest things I saw in recent years was when they played a show at a skate park in Massachusetts in 2011. A lot of people who would have loved what they were doing didn’t watch them because their t-shirts and shorts didn’t fit the Scandi-punk fashion mode. Too bad, because they ripped it up and do the same on this album. (www.feralward.com)

LATEX-Losing Game (World Gone Mad, 7" EP)
Latex's second 7”  is a three song punk thumper with high-pitched, piercing, pissed-off female vocals and a blunt ‘n buzzing musical attack with a whiff of UK-82 in the mix. Critiques of lying politicians, lying media and people who just talk too fucking much, delivered in full rant mode. (worldgonemad.bigcartel.com)

LONGINGS-s/t (Framework, LP)

Longings are a three piece with bassist Meghan Minior (Foreign Objects, Ampere, Vaccine and others) and guitarist Will Killingsworth (tons of bands including Orchid, Failures, Ampere and Vaccine and owner of Dead Air Studios) sharing vocals and this is a potent debut. Goth/post-punk/punk with an abundance of power and presence punctuating their melody-laden compositions. Lyrics asking a lot of questions about working ones way through life—“Tarnished” wonders “What’s it take to feel significant if even just to myself” and lamenting that goals feel out reach on “Trapped.” But it’s not a depressing-sounding album. As with many styles/genres that can get quickly oversaturated and stale, this sound is perhaps heading down that path but Longings transcend that—there’s a real sense of passion and barely-beneath-the-surface fury to be found in the songs on this album. (Framework, 4 Elm St., #1, Ipswich, MA 01938, www.frameworklabel.com)

MALE PATTERNS/SCUZZ-split (Loud Punk, 7" EP)

As on their previous 7", Male Patterns tear through their songs with pissed-off vigor. They’ve got a bug up their ass about people glued to their phones or spending way too much money of punk gear. A Poison Idea feel, right down to the Jerry A-sounding vocals, plus a fun cover of Showcase Showdown's "Police Police." As for Scuzz, their three songs are a non-stop blitzkrieg of hardcore fury with slightly-distorted, angry-as-fuck vocals.(PO Box 6115, Albany, NY 12203, loudpunk.blogspot.com)

MINNEAPOLIS URANIUM CLUB-Human Exploration (Fashionable Idiots, 12")

For a moment, I thought I had the wrong record, as the record labels said it was an album by Pencil called "Not Pen." I was all set to email the distro that I got it from before discovering a note inside the cover saying there had been a minor mix-up at the pressing plant in the Czech Republic. Wise-asses... and there's some wise-assery and cheekiness running through this band's debut (originally released as a demo tape). An offbeat, jabbing sound that occasionally brings Eddy Current Suppression Ring to mind i.e. a collision of garage-inspired rock with '77 Wire-y impulses given a modern polish and occasional bracing, hard-charging bursts of punk energy. The lyrics are cheeky but in a dark way--a sinister undertow to what might be a stalker tale for "The Collector" or the murder ballad of "The Misadventures Of Prissy Chrissy." A winning brashness throughout. Vocalist Brendan Wells used to be in Solid Attitude and they dished out the same kind of snotty swill so you might want to look into that band, as well. (fashionableidiots.blogspot.com)

LA MISMA-Kanizadi (Toxic State, LP)
NYC's La Misma draw from the musical well of other Toxic State and Katorga Works bands--buzzing and pressing ahead at a steady but not-too-slow clip, adding post-punk touches on some of the songs A pealing and stinging guitar sound, underpinned by sturdy and versatile bass lines and drumming, along with high pitched vocals from Nay that are a combination of abrasive and endearing. They do slow it down for each side's closer, "Martiz e Vidro" and "Afirmacao," with stick-in-head melodies emerging from each. There's the usual quality packaging for this label, coming with a booklet that has English translations for the Portuguese lyrics and a full-sized poster. A strong effort. (katorgaworks.bigcartel.com/category/toxic-state/Euro pressing on La Vida Es Un Mus, lavidaesunmus.com)

MÜLLTÜTE-s/t (self-released, 12")

After three 7"s, here's the first 12" by this German band. Fast and basic hardcore with a trebly guitar sound ala Amdi Petersens Arme, to name one band. Short, sharp songs done in no-nonsense fashion, although the 3 minute-plus (an epic!) "Welle" has a gloomier, Wipers-ish feel with atmospheric female vocals, before the two brief blasts that wrap up the album. One thing I like about this band is they sing in their native German. When overseas bands sing in their own languages, it sounds more natural. And languages like German, Finnish, Danish, etc, have a certain harshness in the cadence that give the overall sound more of an edge. That's the case here. (muetue@heartfirst.net

NIGHT BIRDS-Mutiny At Muscle Beach (Fat, LP)
Night Birds' latest album maintains the west coast via New Jersey punk sound but there's not as much of the surfy guitar. It does show up here and there but the sound is tougher, starting with the hardcore speed of opening song "(I'm) Wired," which careens straight into the Adolescents-sounding "Life Is Not Amusement For Me." The love for horror movies and TV are part of the lyrical content but it's in the context of facing life's struggles. "The Golden Age of TV," for instance, prefers "getting lost in fictional worlds" to watching cable news--maybe it's meant to be tongue in cheek but, truth be told, I'd rather watch the football game or a movie most nights than CNN these days. CJ Ramone pops up to lend backing vocals and, of course, a "1-2-3-4" for the driving and tuneful "Off The Grid" and there's also a cover of a somewhat obscure Kinks song (I didn't know it) called "King Kong," given a rockin' rendition. There's a hyper feel throughout and Brian Gorsgner's vocals fall into that description, as well. A spirited album that doesn't rely on just one songwriting approach. (www.fatwreck.com)

ONMACHT-s/t (Tadpole, 7" EP) Another Tadpole EP that's been out for awhile (like¡Disculpe!'s--see review above)Onmacht's four song EP is a loud ‘n furious hardcore expression, with a dark overtone. Screams from an agonized soul, accompanied by a nasty, brutish cacophony. Truthfully, a bit of this bile goes a long way (tadpolerecords.blogspot.com)


PROTESTER-No Identity (Triple B, 7" EP)
Protester's second 7” “No Identity” maintains their mean-as-fuck hardcore sound. Nothing posi, just anger, reinforced with a beefy sound drawn mainly from late 80s sXe hardcore. Connor’s bellicose vocals mesh perfectly with the full-tilt compositions, executed with ruthless precision from burning speed to floor-rattling stomp. Nothing that hasn’t been done before, of course, but it’s convincing. (23 Bay State Rd., Apt. 2, Boston, MA 02215, www.triplebrecords.bigcartel.com)

SNOB-s/t 7" 2 (self-released)
Four more bits of punk bile from London's Snob, on their second self-titled EP. A dense sound with razor-sharp guitar riffs and a thick, thumping bottom end. Two songs about hating work, one about litter bugs (with the great title "Litter Lout") and one ("Death Erection") about, well, I'm not exactly sure. The lyrics are done in a more or less conversational style i.e. these aren't singalong anthems. Dark and bristling. Hope they make it over here someday. (snoblondon.bandcamp.com)

SPLAT-s/t (Saucepan, 7" EP)
Eight songs of stripped-down, fuzzy-sounding no-nonsense hardcore punk. Splat aren't an angry-sounding bunch—they don’t sound like they take themselves all that seriously and there’s a semi-goofy appeal here.  Songs like “Negmo,” “Shitspew/Breakfast” and “Blankness” remind me a bit of 90s-era band Dead Fucking Last. Keep it simple, stupid. (11211 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, OH 44102, saucepanrecords.bandcamp.com)


SUDOR-Enamorado De La Muerte Juvenil (Todo Destruido, 12")
Despite the fact this full-priced 12" clocks in at just a shade under 13 minutes, I don't really feel like I've been ripped off here and will stop complaining. For now. Sudor's latest is another punk smorgasbord encompassing thrash, d-beat and more melodic Spanish touches, particularly for "Algo en Su Cabeza Hizo Crack." Sure, "De Madrid a La Vinagra" steals Discharge's "Decontrol" riff and "Mesuena a Mierda Tu Grupo de Punk" sounds like a faster version of that band's "Protest and Survive" but there's a winning catchiness throughout and energy to spare. (tododestruido.blogspot.com)

TØRSÖ-Sono Pronta A Morire (Sorry State, LP)
The title for this Oakland band's album translates to “I’m Ready To Die,” from Italian (their drummer Giacomo is from Italy) and it’s a blazer. Driving d-beat hardcore that, yes, doesn’t leave a lot of room for originality and is a formulaic approach but they get it down perfectly. In-the-pocket drumming, shit-hot guitar riffs underpinned with big bass-lines and Ethan’s scalding vocals. The cover has a woman being burned at a stake in the shape of an X and they’re a self-described vegan straight-edge hardcore band, although the lyrics don’t really touch on that very much. Band members have also played in Holy, Punch, Neighborhood Brats, Neo-Cons and Ritual Control. (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

210*-Extinction Event (self-released, CD)
Chris Barrows is a true punk rock veteran, going back to his days with Pink Lincolns in the 1980s and, more recently, Sack. Chris has put together a lineup with more punk rock veterans—Robert Lee Davidson (ex-Scream) on guitar, Rob Sexton (Slap of Reality) on drums and Scott Fagerstein (ex-Crucifucks) on bass. Still playing pure punk, as with Chris’s previous bands, although this one has more of a rock ‘n roll/metal tinge with Robert’s six-string lead work and it’s not quite as raw as Sack was. Truth be told, I liked Sack’s album a little more but this is still a high-energy good time and the sentiments continue to take a sarcastically observational tone—ruminations on religion, politics, addiction to social media and so on. (210florida@gmail.com)

UDÜSIC-s/t (Painkiller, 7" EP)
This Chicago band ply fainly fast-paced hardcore with an old-school Midwest inspiration, along with metallic licks and taking a mid-paced route for “Mature” and “Nice Try.” Sarah’s vocals have a sarcastic and cutting tone and the music is equally cutting—muscular, two guitar riffing and lots of rhythmic bash and the rough-around-the-edges recording gives it presence. (painkillerrecords.bigcartel.com)

USA NAILS-No Pleasure (Bigout/Smalltown America, CD)
Not from the US but from the UK and with a sound that'll nail your head to the floor, if I'm allowed to use an old Piranha Brothers reference. Loud and heavy music with huge, ominous riffing that creates a powerful swarm from the outset. They bring in some spacey effects for the lengthy "They'd Name An Age," add a burst of speed on "Laugh It Up" and "I Cannot Drink Enough" (also working in some spacey sounds) while "Automated Cyst" takes a lumbering Jesus Lizard-ish post-punk turn. A dark and menacing concoction and something you'll want to play at a high volume. (www.smalltownamerica.co.uk)

WOODBOOT-Crime Time (Erste Theke Tonraeger, LP)
"Crime Time" will give you your daily dose of scorch and then some. It’s everything that’s right about punk—snotty and catchy, played at full volume and not giving you time to catch your breath between songs. Some Spits touches, without the new wave trappings, especially for “Trash Dump,” “Smash Your Face” and “Million Dollar Car.” So many killah punk bands from Australia lately and Woodboot are one of ‘em for sure. Three chord terrorists with a whole lot of attitude. (erstetheketontraeger.blogspot.com)

YOUTH BRIGADE-Complete First Demo (Dischord, 7" EP)
Oh HELL yeah! I've had the DC Youth Brigade's demo on a bootleg 12" (backed with Minor Threat's demo) since the early 2000s and like it just as much as the "Possible" EP. If you need a history lesson, vocalist Nathan Strejcek was in the Teen Idles and when that band split, this band formed with a much meaner, beefier sound. Not as thrashed-out as SOA or Minor Threat, instead taking a pummeling mid-to-fast route and songs like "Bouncer," the anti-military "Snow Job" and "Last World" (which ended up on "Flex Your Head") hit you like a fist to the face. It all does, in fact. Eight songs, four of which weren't re-recorded later on. The sound of agitated teenagers at the dawn of the Reagan era. Dischord continues to do a great job emptying the vaults and the packaging is top-notch. Essential. (3819 Beecher St. NW, Washington, DC 10008, www.dischord.com)

ZEX-Fear No Man/I Didn't Know (Loud Punk, 7")
The latest from Ottawa band Zex (a band with Jo from Germ Attak) has them playing up the more tuneful side of the UK-82 equation, with a sound more along the lines of Vice Squad. “Fear No Man” is the stronger of the two, with a good amount of energy and catchiness. “I Didn’t Know” takes a poppier turn. To be honest, I’ve never been that blown away by anything I’ve heard from this band so far but “Fear No Man” comes close. (PO Box 6115, Albany, NY 12203, loudpunk.blogspot.com)