Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Suburban Voice blog #126--The Best of 2017

DAME (Halloween show at Harsh House)

The end of another (somewhat) fucked-up year, to quote Embrace. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but DIY punk in Boston is at its lowest point in recent years. Sure, there are some shows at clubs with stage barricades and bouncers and high prices. At least there’s still the Democracy Center, the one steady DIY punk venue that’s still left, and they do a great job. The Cambridge Elks is also steady, although it’s expensive to rent out and doesn’t exactly have the same charm as a basement show. People are moving to NYC, Philly and Olympia, among other places and there are many bands who are skipping the area. I only went to one basement show all year and it was actually about three minutes from my house here in Peabody, in a vacant building owned by the dad of Gary from Bombers, Banshee, GSG and others. They’re calling it Harsh House and hope to do more shows. I love the shorter drive, anyway, although it’s tough for others, of course. 

Enough whining... let's get to my top ten favorite recordings of the year, followed by the "honorable mention" list.

And if you want to hear the Sonic Overload Best of 2017 show, with a lot of other releases that didn't make this list, here's a zip folder where you can download the whole thing. Just click on this link.

Happy New Year!

1. MOD VIGIL-s/t (X-Mist, LP)
The record jacket is a tribute to Gang Of Four’s first EP. So it’s not a major surprise that there’s an angular, post-punk pulse but this is hardly a derivative tribute. The nervy jab is hitched to a full-bore punk attack. Distorted, nasally vocals and songs that build themselves into a whirlwind frenzy, especially album closer “Trout Casualty.” The stop/start “Rare Au Pair” slows it to a moodier clip. And the trebly production by Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring and others) gives it a restless edginess. Just an incredible debut.

2. INSTITUTE-Subordination (Sacred Bones, LP)
Institute's second album adopts a pronounced fuzzed-out guitar tone and has the band leaning in more of a rock direction on some tracks, but it’s not a major departure. There’s still an early goth/post-punk undertow. Some knockout songs, starting with the punky rush of “Exhibitionism.” You won’t be able to get the guitar line for “Only Child” out of your ears, with its Crisis echo. The butcher-block bass lines for “Oil Money” are a perfect accompaniment for the noisy guitar swirl. Mose Brown’s against-the-grain sing/speak vocals wrap around the music in an off-kilter intonation. Continuing to evolve without losing its core grittiness.

3. NURSE-s/t (Scavenger Of Death, 7")
Nurse's second self-titled 7” is just as intense as their first. Nasty, scalding hardcore punk but there’s also haunting guitar textures to go with the onslaught. These guys actually sound like Out Cold with darker musical shadings, especially on opening song “Foreign Objects.” Also, like that band, the lyrics reveal a tortured, tormented soul. Ear-rending sounds. 

4. DAME-s/t (Charm School, 7")
Melodic, yet stinging 80s-inspired goth-punk by these five ladies from Boston and a big jump from their demo. Lauren’s synth isn’t quite as prevalent as on that recording, creating more of an atmospheric effect. Anna’s mellifluent guitar lines come to the fore, underpinned by solid bass lines and drumming. “Hush” speeds things up to a punkier pace without losing the tuneful glow.

5. LA VASE-s/t (tape)
This German band kick up a fucking storm on their first full-length, which came out in tape in November but should be out on vinyl early in the new year. A driving mix of punk, post-punk and garage packed full of hooks and burn. A little Eddy Current here, a little Mission Of Burma there but with an amped-up, caffeinated intensity. 

6. MACHO BOYS--s/t (Neck Chop, LP)
Timeless hardcore punk, both in the band's direct, rough and tumble 80s-inspired sound and pointed lyrics. Mixing thrash with a classic SoCal punk inspiration ala Adolescents and Agression, with a driving backbeat. "Stone Cold," with its wrasslin' theme, definitely falls into that realm. And being a Bostonian, I applaud their pounding cover of Decadence’s "Slam," from This Is Boston, Not LA. I mentioned the timeless lyrical themes and that's rather a pity since the same shit that angered punks back then is still around. And this type of music remains is still a good way to cope.

7. TARANTÜLA-s/t (Lengua Armada, 7")
Tarantüla is the new band with three former members of Cülo and, this time, they’ve brought in a bass player. After a couple of kickass demos, their vinyl debut provides no let-down. The sound is fuller and more tuneful in spots (“Dawning,” in particular), along with some darker shadings and there’s plenty of punk kick. In other words, this isn’t really Cülo Part II but trying something a bit different. The lyrics exhibit some serious demon-wrestling and you have to respect their candor. Released on Lengua Armada in the US and Erste Theke Tontrager in Europe)

8. THE COWBOY-The Cowboy Album (Fashionable Idiots, LP)
Steve Peffer and Drew Banaszak from Homostupids comprise 2/3 of this band and, as you might guess, they rely on a volume-drenched attack although it's not nearly as blown-out sounding as their former unit. An engaging, nervy amalgam of old Clevo scuzz punk, garage and post-punk. Big, cascading, swirling riffs come through to envelop the senses but there's also nuance and a strong rhythmic punch. The occasional melodic hook pops up as well.

9. VANILLA POPPERS-s/t (Lumpy, LP)
No-nonsense, ass-kicking punk/garage/rock 'n roll. Many of the lyrical themes deal with the dynamics of human interaction i.e. people can really, really suck--sexist, useless wastes of space and so on. A straight-forward, fuzzy, three chord attack, along with Christina's pissed-off sounding vocals. Nothing complex, just loud and burning in its most basic form. Why fuck with what works?

10. HARAM-When You Have Won, You Have Lost (Toxic State, LP)
The current NYC buzz-punk sound is at Haram's core but they take things well beyond that in a number of ways. Straight pummel 'n burn, ala Dawn of Humans and bands of that ilk, but there are also songs that go in experimental directions. Lyrics are in Arabic but you still hear the passion and anger in Nader's voice. "Your President, Not A President" and "Not A Terrorist" are cogent anthems for a new dark age. 


BLANK SPELL-Miasma (World Gone Mad, 12”)
CONFIRMATION-++++ (demo)
DREAM PROBE-Demo II (demo)
EEL-Night Parade Of 100 Demons (Beach Impediment, 12”)
ELIX-R-6 hrs (demo)
EXOTICA-Musique Exotique #2 (La Vida Es Un Mus)
girlSPerm-GSP (Thrilling Living, 12”)
GLUE-s/t (self-released, 12”)
HALDOL-The Totalitarianism Of Everyday Life (World Gone Mad, 12”)
OWNER-Demo 2017 (Nervous Energy, demo)
RUT-Attraction (Secret Bathroom, 7”)
STRUCTURE-s/t (demo)
UBIK-s/t (demo)*
UGLIES-Keeping Up With The Uglies (Nopatience, 12”)
XYLITOL-Demo (25 Diamonds, 7”)/Is Toxic To Pigs?? (self-released, 7”)

(*released December 2016)


NOTS (in photo above)

Dave Bakkari
George Czernetzky
Xtina Lloyd 
Susan Tanner

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Suburban Voice blog #125


Nearing the end of the year. The next installment will be the Best of 2017... and, no, I'm STILL not caught up with everything.

ABOLITIONIST-The Pinnacle EP (1859, 7")
Melodic punk with a full-bore sound and from-the-gut vocals. Not wimpy, poppy stuff or dull street punk. Abolitionist's song feature loud, beefy riffing and bashing drums. Echoes of Leatherface, particularly on closing track "Not Alone." First time I've heard from these guys in awhile and they still provide a solid kick. (

BANSHEE-Caw! (self-released, LP)

Seeing Banshee live is quite the experience... half a dozen or so (I lost count) guys playing an arsenal of guitars, bass, drums, sax and keyboards, fronted by a vocalist doing his best to channel both Iggy and Stiv. And the music is total widescreen, kick-out-the-jams-motherfuckers psyche-rock-a-rama. A thick 'n heady stew. All of this is executed by members of Boston bands Male Nurses, Casanovas In Heat, Combat Zone and many others. And it rocks like crazy, punk guys flying their freak flag and imbuing that kind of attitude into the fray. Banshee tend to stretch out on their songs--five of seven top the five minute mark    When they're on, they're on, as with the fired-up fury of "Wave To The Police," "Culture Vulture" and "Cop Caller," which fades off into noisy mayhem. Sure, it can get ponderous or hazy on occasion and I get the feeling ingesting various substances might enhance the effect. But this hits you between the ears. Get out the black light and boogie. (

B.D.-Over 30 Singles (Emotional Response, LP)
B.D. is the band formerly known as the Bad Daddies (although they apparently answer to both) and this is a compilation of songs taken from various demos, 7"s, splits, etc, along with a few unreleased songs. This is their first 12" release as B.D. never did an album, although they've been prolific. It's not complete--in fact, the accompanying booklet doesn't provide info about the songs on the album but about the songs they left off and there are interviews with past and present members, photos and flyers. While the songs are mostly wrapped in a noisy cocoon of feedback squalls and fuzz and are mainly brief bursts of spirited, ranty punk, it's not the whole story. Poppy touches come through and those elements are played up on songs like "We Never Will" (which has a knockout chorus hook), the more-recent "Panama Papers" and their utterly charming cover of Smoking Popes' "Not That Kind Of Girlfriend." Camylle can sound sweet and she can also sound pissed as all-hell. And the fury flies for the likes of "Regress" and near-epic (3 minutes!) "You Ain't Right." Many of the songs are under a minute, as they flow from one thorny composition to another, not following any set formula. If you've missed the boat on these guys/gals, here's a good way to at least partially catch up. A few people have said that "underrated" should be stricken from the music critic lexicon but I'll say it anyway. (


BOMBERS-Loaded Gun (demo)
Bombers are quickly becoming one of my favorite local bands... stomping, mean-as-fuck punk rock 'n roll. The last words you hear out of guitarist/vocalist Eric's mouth are FUCK YOU (that's how he usually starts their sets, as well)--such a lovable guy. Well, sometimes everyone needs a good 'ol dose of bile and hate and Bombers are more than happy to give it to you. About as subtle as a brick to the face. And it rocks like a motherfucker. (

THE BUG-Humbug (IFB, 7")
A relentless aural bombardment by this Chicago band, on their first 7", following two demos. Dangerous and frenetic, a cyclone-like gnarl of sputtering guitar lines and off-kilter bash.  The axe-mangling for "Opinionated" will shred your brain. It comes with a booklet that includes the lyrics, artwork and explanations behind the songs. Damn fucking straight it has a message but there aren't any slogans, just ruminations on mental health, gender and political issues. And lest you think the political vitriol is meant for the current occupant of the White House, it's actually aimed at the previous one, as the title track is about the "hoax of hope." One can hear echoes of early Die Kreuzen, although this is a lot more twisted-sounding and not any sort of dated relic. (

CINDERBLOCK-The Executioner EP (Loud Punk, 7")
Four new songs from this Boston punk crew--a tough 'n tuneful UK-82 inspiration, delivered with a solid kick. The title track starts with a Blitz "Warriors" nick and then and settles into a punchy mid-tempo pounder. "No Means No," about sexual assault, slows to a bootboy stomp. Enjoyable, if fairly average. (

CONFIRMATION-++++ (demo)
Post-punk messthetics with melody, although that comes from more of a haunting nature instead of blatantly poppy elements. Moody but energetic and building to a manic, jarring level for "V" (the six songs have Roman numerals for titles). Even with the vintage feel, Confirmation bring it up to date with a churning intensity and fresh approach. I also concur with the lyrical sentiment of "II"--"most people seem useless." I imagine their music acts a sort of coping therapy. Works for me. (

THE COWBOY-The Cowboy Album (Fashionable Idiots, LP)
Steve Peffer and Drew Banaszak from Homostupids comprise 2/3 of this band and, as you might guess, they rely on a volume-drenched attack although it's not nearly as blown-out sounding as their former unit. An engaging, nervy amalgam of old Clevo scuzz punk, garage and post-punk. Big, cascading, swirling riffs come through to envelope the senses but there's also nuance and a strong rhythmic punch. The occasional melodic hook pops up as well, starting with opening track "Everyday We Grow." Surging, stinging and brain-piercing. (  


DAME-s/t (Charm School, 7")
Dame craft melodic, yet stinging 80s-inspired goth-punk on their debut 7". Lauren’s synth isn’t quite as prevalent as on their demo, creating more of an atmospheric effect, as Anna’s mellifluent guitar lines come to the fore, underpinned by solid bass lines and drumming. “Hush” speeds things up to a punkier pace without losing the tuneful glow. Their demo was OK but this 7” is big leap forward. (

DIRTY & HIS FISTS-s/t (Feel It, 7" EP)
Vinyl debut for west coasters Dirty& His Fists. The four songs were originally released on their summer tour tape. In case you missed the demo review, it's a dose of high energy, burning, buzzing punk rock ‘n roll at a sturdy mid-tempo clip, with the occasional synth coloring, as on "23rd Century." The brash production adds to songs' energetic kick. (


EEL-Night Parade Of 100 Demons (Beach Impediment, LP)
With each successive release, Eel get increasingly raw. The vocals get buried further into the mix and the trebly guitar sounds like a buzzing hornets' nest at this point. Lyrics? Who needs to hear lyrics? They even state as much on "Always Never"--"Lyrics are stupid/lyrics is boring... I can't remember any words/Impossible to remember." Is the increasing primitiveness some sort of completion backwards principle? (Tubes reference--look it up). The modus-operandi remains the same--full-bore Japanese inspired hardcore, as well as a little Anti-Cimex thrown in, and topped off with noisy effects. Their Endless Fucker album almost sounds like pop music by comparison. A deadly sonic brainbomb. (

girlSperm-gSp (Thrilling Living, 12")
Boisterous and engagingly abrasive--no, that's not an oxymoron. girlSperm--or gSp for short--is a thorny-sounding post-punk trio bringing to mind the likes of Delta 5 and Kleenex, along with 90s era riot grrrl. That's not a stretch or easy categorization, since Bikini Kill's Tobi Vail plays in this band. Guitar and bass lines snake around each other, accompanied by martial drumming and gang-style vocals. A nervy racket that will pierce your brain. '79 meets '92 in '17, still sounding timely. (

HARAM-When You Have Won, You Have Lost (Toxic State, LP)
The current NYC buzz-punk sound is at Haram's core but they take things well beyond that in a number of ways. Straight pummel 'n burn, ala Dawn of Humans and bands of that ilk, but there are also songs that go in experimental directions--the atmospheric collage "Voice of the Hari'meen" or slow-churning tribalism of "What Is This Life?" and "Road To Liberation" that bring to mind some of the newer Una Bestia Incontrolable material. The lyrics are in Arabic but you still hear the passion and anger in Nader's voice. He was investigated for ties to ISIS last year, so songs like "American Police" and "Not A Terrorist" are born of personal experience. And in the midst of our current national nightmare, "Your President, Not A President" is a dissident anthem. The whole thing moves like a motherfucker, with unstoppable fury. (

HOT TIP-Hold Me Closely (One Percent Press/Radical Empathy/Bitch-Face, LP)

This one's been out awhile--it came out at the tail end of 2016--but just showed up here recently. I've actually had MP3s for awhile and it's nice to have the real thing to play nice 'n loud on the turntable. Hot Tip, from Buffalo, had a pretty good demo in 2014, but this album shows growth. You can hear that immediately when comparing earlier versions of songs with the re-recorded versions. Bracing post-punk with bits of 80s goth and melody and it's a churning excursion. Along with Katherine's urgent vocals, the band create a head-messing mesh punctuated by textured guitars--shimmery, nightmarish, jabbing--accompanied with thick, fuzzy bass lines and tribal-inflected drumming. This comes out most forcefully for the penultimate song "God Feels" and the driving opener "DNA." Uneasy sounds that weave a potent spell. (


MACHO BOYS-s/t (Neck Chop, LP)
There are actually two girls and two boys in the Macho Boys--okay, two women and two men--and their debut album is a throttler. A timelessness, both in the band's direct, rough and tumble 80s-inspired hardcore punk sound and pointed lyrics, mixing thrash with a classic SoCal punk undertow. I'm not talking EpiFat shit, I'm talking about bands like the Adolescents or Agression, with its driving backbeat. "Stone Cold," with its wrasslin' theme, definitely falls into that realm. And being a Bostonian, I applaud their pounding cover of Decadene's "Slam," from This Is Boston, Not LA. I mentioned the timeless lyrical themes and that's rather a pity since the same shit that angered punks back then still remain. Yet, with the rage, there's still a warmth, a "we're all in this together" vibe. Punk as a sort of group therapy. (

NO SKIN-Paying The Fine EP (Give Praise, 12")
New(ish) band with Ben Crew from In Defence and Damage Deposit. In Defence traded mainly in crossover thrash metal but No Skin are a different beast. This is straight-up ripping hardcore, a mix of US influences and the occasional Dis-sertation. Anger unleashed, as Ben barks like a rabid dog and the band sounds muscular and in-your-face. From the one-two opening blast of "Knee Jerk Circle" and "Neck Deep" to floor rattlers like "White Elephant" and "Drill Pressed," No Skin kick up a power-packed storm. Only 100 pressed. (

THE NERVOUS-s/t (Nervous, LP)
ZERO-FORM-s/t (demo)
A couple of Denver bands--The Nervous, who are now on hiatus (I think) have been around since 2009, with a 7" and a few demos under their belts. This album was recorded in 2014 and it's a second pressing of 200 copies. Punchy, melodic punk that reminds me of the some of the early 2000s Danish bands like Gorilla Angreb or Swedish band The Vicious, with an edgy roughness. Zero-Form is a newer band that includes Jen and Johnny from the Nervous and not far-removed from that band, although there aren't as many poppier touches. Snotty, dual vocals from Jen and Sara and basic, straight-forward arrangements. Some serious lyrical matter, as with the domestic violence theme of "Perineal Fallout." Sharp, tough, catchy punk done the right way. (,

OBEDIENCE-2017 Demo (demo)
Three songs from an upcoming 12" and more rage from this Austin band, fronted by Dave Ackerman (ex-Tear It Up). Basic, raw hardcore punk with a d-beat influence and the drumming provides a solid wallop. Looking forward to the vinyl. (

OXIDANT (photo: Jessica Domino)

OXIDANT-Deconstruct (To Live A Lie, 7")
The hammer effect as Oxidant maneuver their way through blazing speedcore/powerviolence territory. Perfectly executed and unrelenting. KJ howls at the top of their lungs, spewing out lyrical fragments as opposed to a verse/chorus/verse structure. Includes a cover of an early Hüsker Dü song, "Bricklayer," which originally appeared on Land Speed Record. Maybe the Hüskers were early purveyors of powerviolence. This is probably something I'd rather experience live and in my face but they do nail the sound with skilled mettle. (

OWNER-Demo 2017 (Nervous Energy, tape)

Some hot new London punk from this three-piece. The start of "Spent" makes you think it's going to be a d-beat assault but it's a feint, as the band settle in a loud, mainly mid-paced mode and they mix in a few different influences--90s riot grrrl, even some Nirvana riffage for "Nothing To Say." A fired-up blast, making for a strong debut. (

RASH-Midnight Crooner (IFB/Hawthorne Street, 7")
RASH/C.H.E.W.-Split (Slugsalt, 7")
Chicago's Rash is one mean-sounding band. Face-melting hardcore that provides a loud and dark scream from the soul. That's evident on their latest 7" Midnight Crooner (following up their Skinner Box 12"). Screeching and squalling riffs underpinned by a sturdy crunch, slowing it to a pounding creepy crawl for "Tick." There's also a split where Rash is paired up with C.H.E.W., another edgy and provocative Chicago band. C.H.E.W. (which allegedly stands for Cocaine, Heroin, Ecstasy, Weed) connect with an aggressive and driving hardcore sound and also add a Jesus Lizard-like twist for "Moral Panic." Doris' vocals exude a savage, murderous intensity. The same can actually be said for Eric from Rash's verbal emanations. That'd make for one hell of a duet, I imagine. A perfect pairing. (;


RIXE-Collection (La Vida Es Un Mus, LP)
A handy dandy collection of this French Oi band's first three 7" EPs. An even dozen loud, boisterous, catchy ravers. Gruff vocals, whoahhing backups and a meatgrinder powerhouse of sound. What's old is new again or at least keeps regenerating itself and, while Rixe draw from the obvious 80s touchpoints--what was happening in France back then (Komintern Sect and Kidnap, to name a few), as well as the No Future bands, there's a gusto to the proceedings. Songs like  the peppy "Razzia" and stomping "Coups & Blessures" make me want to start a boot party. At that big bar in the sky, I'm sure the late, grate Bruce Roehrs from Maximum Rocknroll would raise a glass to them and go, FUCK YES! Exactly, Bruce, exactly. (

ROTTEN UK-Waiting For The Bomb/Protest & Survive (Loud Punk, 7")
Two songs from this upstate New York (not UK) band. The title track is a somber, melodic punk song ala Crisis. The cover of Discharge's "Protest & Survive" is perfunctory but that's about it. Nothing that great here. In other words, I'd rather listen to Crisis and Discharge. (

RUT-Attraction (Digital Regress, 7")
The cover is the comic strip character Nancy kicking the band's name and that fits the mood of the record. "Provoked," indeed, as the opening track with that title gets things started with a storm of feedback leading into pounding hardcore punk. Dense and thumping, guitar pyrotechnics that don't veer into wank territory and thick basslines. Rut are from California, although they remind me a bit of UK nasties like Snob or Frau. One of the people in this band also plays in Acrylics so you know this is music with a bone to pick with the world. (

SUBURBAN HOMES-Unemployed/Anxiety Attack (Total Punk, 7")
Only two jittery gems here and maybe it's s concept, with unemployment leading to an anxiety attack? Whatever the case, Suburban Homes have perfected their late 70s DIY post-punk sound that draws from Swell Maps, O-Level and other bands of that ilk. Non-distorted guitar lines, a sturdy bass/drums combo and plaintive vocals and lyrics. "Unemployed" has a cool little guitar break while "Anxiety Attack" ups the bash quotient and urgency of the vocals. More, please. (

A one-sided disc with an etching on the flip and really fucking expensive for 9 minutes of music that could have fit on a 7". Sometimes you have to bite the bullet, I suppose, because Systematic Death remain as raging as ever. They've changed guitarists and new axeman Ryu is a little flashier but the style remains the same. Fast, blazing hardcore punk with delivered with savage relentlessness. One of the few exceptions to the rule that older bands shouldn't release new music. (

No-nonsense, ass-kicking punk/garage/rock 'n roll. Many of the lyrical themes deal with the dynamics of human interaction i.e. people can really, really suck--sexist, useless wastes of space and so on. That comes out for "Time To Say Goodbye, "Dead Inside" and "Where You Told Me I Belong," in particular. A straight-forward, fuzzy, three chord attack, along with Christina's pissed-off sounding vocals. Nothing complex, just loud and burning in its most basic form. Why fuck with what works? (


DEAD BOYS 1977: The Lost Photographs Of Dave Treat (Signature Book Printing, 88 pg.)
Just what it says, a collection of mostly-unreleased images tracing the early days of the Dead Boys. It's divided into three parts--the first is a photo shoot of the band, before they moved to NYC. The backdrop for the black and white images are the decaying buildings and urban landscape of downtown Cleveland, before its resurrection. Then there's a collection of color live photos from two shows--one set in color, one in black and white. The final segment is a collection of black and white photos of Stiv Bators, done for Treat's student portfolio and taken in his apartment (Cheetah Chrome pops up in a few photos as well). Even though they're not music shots and Stiv is largely in repose, you have a pretty good idea what his life's destiny will be. Cheetah and drummer Johnny Blitz offer brief snippets of commentary throughout the book. Although it's a nice looking, hardcover/glossy book, at only 88 pages and a $30 retail, it seems a bit steep, to be honest. Probably for the diehards only. (

xXx FANZINE (1983-1988) Hardcore & Punk in the Eighties by Mike Gitter (Bridge Nine, 288 pg.)
Years in the making (the idea was originally conceived in 2005), this is a  compendium of original content from the 20 issues of xXx published by Mass. native Mike Gitter from 1983 to 1988. The book is augmented with updated interviews of people interviewed “back in the day,” as well reminiscences by Gitter and other individuals who were involved, along with additional photos and flyers. (full disclosure: I wrote one of the forewords and contributed a few other written passages). Those items surround the original zine layout. In addition to the interviews, the vintage content includes scene updates, show, zine and live reviews. It’s a history exhibition unfolding in real time.

Gitter started his zine in the spring of ’83, some months after the first issue of mine. As with most embryonic zines, the layout was a primitive cut and paste format and the quality improved as time progressed—half-toning the photos, using offset printers instead of going to the copy shop etc. xXx never got away from its fanzine look, though. He never went to a full-color glossy format.The writing and depth of interviews also improved as time progressed, as did the scope of bands that Gitter interviewed. At the beginning, he wrote about and interviewed mainly hardcore and punk bands and spoke with just all of the “legends”—Minor Threat, Black Flag, Necros, 7 Seconds, Void, Negative Approach, Battalion of Saints, etc., as well as all the classic local hardcore bands and even some that didn’t always get a lot of ink, like Psycho. He didn’t just stick to one style of hardcore or punk either—it ran the gamut from UK bands to west coast punk to straight edge purveyors. He eventually moved a bit beyond strictly punk and hardcore to include acts like Lydia Lunch and Swans and expanded into the metal realm with the likes of Metallica (around the time that Ride the Lightning came out), Exodus, Voivod and Motörhead, along with second and third generation bands like Dag Nasty, Kingface, Ignition and All. It’s a documentation of Gitter’s musical journey, as things went in different directions. One thing Gitter didn’t do was editorialize about political issues. It was always about the music for him.

The then-and-now aspect of the book is a different wrinkle and it’s fun to see people giving their current day perspective on what happened then, now that they’re older and wiser (maybe the latter is sometimes questionable).You have Vic Bondi from Articles of Faith revealing that the band had already broken up when he did the interview but it wasn’t public knowledge yet and the members of Void talking about their unreleased Potion For Bad Dreams album. All in all, it’s an enjoyable trip down memory lane, while also tying things to the present day.

The book comes with a 19 song download  of a compilation album, Still Having Their Say, with (mostly) modern day bands covering 80s hardcore tunes. It's also available as a limited vinyl pressing as part of a package deal that also includes a couple of posters and a 64 page paperback book compiling the three issues of Gitter's pre-xXx zine Suburban Mucus that he produced with a partner, Mark Dincecco (who was actually in Siege for about 5 minutes). I'm a little leery of all-covers or tribute albums these days. The versions often sound uninspired or rote or perfunctory. Strife's adding youth crew backups to their version of Void's "Who Are You?" An acoustic/folky version of Agnostic Front's "Society Suckers" by Walter Schriefels? Jesse Leach turning Minor Threat's "Salad Days" into lilting reggae rock? Nope, not feeling it. On the other hand, Nomads smash their way through a medley of Crucifix's "How, When and Where" and Agnostic Front's "The Elminator" with pure malevolence. Tombs' bashing of Samhain's "Kiss Of Steel," American Nightmare's raging version of Cro-Mags' ""It's The Limit" (recorded in 2001) and Fuck You Pay Me's spirited take of Subhumans' "Relgious Wars" are both enjoyable, as is  Dan Kubinski from Die Kruezen joining Voivod for a live version of his band's "Man In The Trees." Some good tracks, if not 100% essential.

The Suburban Mucus book is stretched out with reproductions of classic Boston hardcore flyers and photos from Claire Sutherland, who did work for a number of zines back then, including my own. It's very much the effort of two high school kids reviewing not only punk and hardcore but also new wave (Soft Cell! Adam Ant!), post-punk and industrial. By the third issue, it was moving into the direction Mike would pursue, with interviews of the Freeze and the criminally-underrated Sorry. (

Friday, October 06, 2017

Suburban Voice blog #124


We start with three recent tapes from Buffalo's cassette-only More Power label. Big Bleach's demo Riffin' With Biff was a happy accident of sorts. When Biff Bifaro (who's played in a zillion bands, including Brown Sugar, I Object, Plates and the list goes on) came through Hattiesburg, Mississippi with the Brazilian band Pessimists, he decided on the spot he wanted to record a demo with Big Bleach. They dutifully obligated and it's a fun, rough-hewn dose of catchy punk and garage, even adding a surfy guitar trill for "Long Groover." A triumph of spontaneity.

Speaking of Biff, he has a solo project, Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips. Enjoyable minimalist tuneful punk, with Biff's rough vocals accompanied the standard instrumentation and programmed drums. He even sneaks in a cover song by pro wrassler Exotic Adrian Street, "Breaking Bones," complete with sound effects.

Finally, Western Massholes Accident connect with some nervy punk on their Platinum Summer demo. There may be a concept or theme here--an internet cowboy yarn? Can't tell with no lyrics but that's my guess with titles like "Lone Riders of the Infinityscape," Oxbow Cowboys" and "Thee Battle At Net Deep (World Wide West)". Whatever the case, they play in a gnarled, jabbing vein, getting really abrasive for "Idle Spurs" and it makes a heady ruckus. By the way, all of the releases on More Power are available as free downloads on their Bandcamp site (


ABSOLUT-Demo 2013 (Schizophrenic, 7")
A vinyl pressing of this now-defunct Toronto band's demo from 2013 (in case you weren't paying attention). It’s an unholy mess of raw crust madness that sounds like it’s about to fly apart and there’s an abundance of metallic guitar flourishes. A little definitely goes a long way here but it’s a tumultuous excursion. Their subsequent releases upped the musical skill level a bit. Punk Survival, in particular, is an absolut(e) rager. Pun very much intended. (

BLANK SPELL-Miasma (World Gone Mad, LP)
Blank Spell merge shimmery and stinging guitar and bass lines with driving punk, without going into total goth/darkwave territory, although that's certainly part of their sound. It's kind of like early Siouxsie and the Banshees jamming with Die Kreuzen or a speedier Part 1. Cassidy’s high-pitched vocals turn this into a nightmarish hellride, with lyrics that read like poetry spat out in rapid-fire bursts. (

CRIATURAS-Ruido Antisocial (Todo Destruido 7")
Criaturas' first release since 2013 is a 4 song 7” and it's a d-beat driven blitzkrieg, once again, with smokin’ guitar work accompanying Dru’s fierce, echo-laden vocals. Past efforts had the occasional melodic flourish. That’s absent here—just pure bile and rage, done to perfection. (

DAGGER-Writhing In The Light Of The Moon (Lengua Armada, 7") 

Six tracks of low-fi, raw as fuck 80s style hardcore. I’d imagine they didn’t break the bank on the recording budget but who needs flashy production, anyway? Pure hit and run. (


DAUÐYFLIN-Ofeldi (Iron Lung, LP)/split tour tape
This Icelandic band (whose recent tour with Xylitol is one of the best shows I've seen so far this year) follow up their demo and 7” with their first full-length, the title of which translates to “violent.” That’s a good description of their sound. It’s an aural hornets’ nest, with a sputtering, barbed-wire guitar tone. A fusillade of feedback, thick bass-lines and strong drumming, both at a fast ‘n thumping clip and at a more deliberately pounding pace. The swirling “Níðstöng” has a nightmarish quality. By the way, I wasn’t able to bribe anyone into requesting a Bjork song while they were playing. Hey, don’t laugh—she has legit punk roots, having played in K.U.K.L., who were on the Crass label. And K.U.K.L. aren’t anywhere near as good as this crew. The Dauðyflin songs and a pair from Xylitol. Explosive tracks from both bands and there’s an offbeat cover choice from Xylitol, taking on '77 era UK band The Jerks' "Get Your Woofing Dog Off Me," which is given quite a battering (;

EXCESSIVE CRUELTY-s/t (Sorry State, 12") 
When I put on this one-sided, self-titled 12” slab (the other side has an etching), I thought these guys kind of sounded like Strung Up, a somewhat overlooked Bay Area band from the 2000s (one of their records was a split 12” with the great Direct Control). Well, it turns out Excessive Cruelty consists of 3/4 of that band’s personnel and the sound is similar—no-nonsense, fast ‘n scrappy hardcore punk that’s always been a Bay Area mainstay. A hint of crossover but no metallic lead breaks, just plenty of six-string burn, with Klint yapping out the words in a rough, rat-a-tat-tat cadence. (

GAY KISS-Rounded Down (Sorry State, 7")
The swansong release from these Phoenix ragers. More “outsider” hardcore, as I’ve called certain bands—savage, frayed and intense. They come charging out of the gate with the raw attack of “Conceit” and then navigate through some hammering, damaged-sounding twists and turns. It’s another scream from the soul and clawing against life’s oppressiveness and, to use the title of the final song, they really expel the vitriol. (

GLUE-s/t (self-released, 12")
Glue's first vinyl release since 2014’s self-titled 7” and it’s a scorcher. Buzzing and burning hardcore, stomping all over everything in front of it and Harris’ guttural growl is the perfect complement. “Flowers Of Friendship” pushes things in a catchier direction. Overall, the lyrics express plenty of alienation, summed up nicely with “I’ll Never Be Like You.” Striving for individuality and having no patience for people who choose to live as victims or won’t escape their dreary existence. (self-released, available through 540,

HALDOL-The Totalitarianism of Everyday Life (World Gone Mad, LP) 
On Haldol's latest album The Totalitarianism of Everyday Life, there’s an energetic burn and a variety of ebbing and flowing mood shifts. Goth/dark/post-punk, although it doesn’t go into sit-in-a-dark-room-with-the-blinds-drawn territory. There’s dynamic interplay between Matt Martin’s rubbery bass lines, powerful, multi-faceted drumming from Aaron Muchanic (who also plays in Blank Spell) and the dazzling array of guitar tones and textures from vocalist Geoff Smith. There’s an otherworldly quality on “Nostalgia for Dreams” while “Decentrement” goes through a spacy middle passage. The lyrics do have a bleakness and the totalitarian theme is overarching and it’s just as much about personal oppression—many songs touch on physical abuse—as well on a wider scale. Somehow, though, you’re left feeling invigorated instead of wanting to, well, go sit in a dark room with the blinds drawn. (

IMPALERS-Cellar Dweller (540, LP)
Impalers' latest disc doesn’t even give you a chance to prepare yourself. No intro, just the immediate bombardment of “Secret Beach.” A relentless, burning onslaught ruthlessly-executed and punctuated by Victor Gutierrez’s string shredding lead work. and he takes the reigns for the instrumental “Cellar Dwellar III” (the other two “Cellar Dweller” songs were on last year’s promo tape). The full color lyric poster has a drawing for each song and it shows society’s ugly underside—from gentrifying yuppies to cops to racist rednecks to ruthless business operatives. No wonder wanting to barricade yourself away from all this shit sounds like a good idea—that’s the gist of “It’s So Hard.” A sonic wrecking machine. (


INSTITUTE-Subordination (Sacred Bones, LP)
Institute's previous longplayer, Catharsis, was one of 2015’s best so there’s plenty to live up to and Subordination is a solid follow-up. One noticeable difference is the guitar tone—it’s much more fuzzed-out and has the band leaning in more of a rock direction on some tracks. The intro to “Powerstation” nicks from Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part II.”  It’s not a major departure, though. There’s still an early goth/post-punk inspiration poking through There are some knockout songs, starting with the punky rush of “Exhibitionism.” You won’t be able to get the guitar line for “Only Child” out of your ears, with its Crisis echo (think "Holocaust"). The butcher-block bass lines for “Oil Money” are a perfect accompaniment for the noisy guitar swirl. Mose Brown’s against-the-grain sing/speak vocals wrap around the music in an off-kilter intonation. The somewhat oblique lyrics touch on looking back to what it was like growing up and personalized takes on social issues although “Powerstation” is a more direct expression. Institute continue to evolve without losing its core grittiness. (

JOINT D≠-Intelligence (Sorry State, LP)
As I said in my Best of 2015 column, this band's third album was originally released on tape last year by Scavenger of Death and actually recorded in 2014. It's kind of a comeback from their Satan Is Real Is Real album, which was good although not on the level of their debut Strike Gently. This packs a real wallop, with a dense, burning intensity. There’s some complexity in the arrangements but it doesn’t get in the way of this band’s full-bore attack. And they sure don’t seem to like Ayn Rand all that much, given the burning copy of Atlas Shrugged on the cover and caustic lyrics aimed at materialistic go-getters on “Rote Atlas.” Nothing rote about this. (

KATASTROF-s/t (Beach Impediment, 7")
Five tracks of Swedish hardcore devastation from this project that pairs Poffen from Totalitär with Martin from Herätys (they were also in Institution, together, a band I REALLY wish I'd seen when they came through here some years ago). Poffen's been doing this for over three decades and hasn't lost a step. Martin proves himself adept at all of instruments--even the stampeding drum attack--to create a blazing wall of sound. I'd love to see this in the live setting if they ever get over here. (


LIMP WRIST-Facades (Lengua Armada, LP) 
I'm not sure if Limp Wrist's new 12" is  an attempt to reach out beyond the hardcore punk realm or an exercise in musical enlightenment for the closed-minded. Maybe it’s all of all of the above. Whatever the case, Facades is probably not what a lot of their fans expected, at least for the three tracks on side two, where they delve into electronic dance music. That’s right—EDM. Thing is, they’re not throwaways, as one of my friends opined, but meticulously constructed excursions. The best of the three is “Systems In Place,” mixing electronic rhythms and synth blips with live drumming and stinging guitar licks. If that’s a bit much for you, on the top side, they still effectively hammer out sharp and blistering hardcore punk with lethal musical skill. A few melodic flourishes here and there, particularly on  “Como Vos” and “They Tell Me.” The theme for the latter is about how people try to lump all queers into one group. Enlightenment is at the core of what Limp Wrist do, along with affirmation. It’s OK not to become part of the “gaystream,” as it’s called, but to revel in being queer, being different, being an individual. There’s a 40 page zine that accompanies the records and, in addition to the lyrics, there are essays, photos and artwork done by queer contributors from around the globe—pieces about oppression of gay people in places like Singapore and Indonesia, a lengthy piece on queer photographer Alvin Baltrop and even a Martin paper doll. Provocative in many ways and provocation is what we need more of. (

NATURAL CAUSES-s/t (Sorry State, LP) 
The second self-titled album from Natural Causes (the first came in 2015) has them plying nervy, garage-new wave-post-punk concoction (I think that covers it), mixing synth into the jabbing gnash “Brat,” Bad Habits” and “Behave” all provide a gnarled adrenaline rush. “Like It Should” The two lengthier tracks—“Average Cost of Living” and “So It Goes”—have head-messing properties, even if they drag a bit. Along the same lines as bands like Mind Spiders or UV Race i.e. there’s a punk spirit, as well as a willingness to experiment a bit, without getting all pretentious about it. (


PERSONALITY CRISIS-s/t (Sounds Escaping, 2xCD)
One of a pair of re-releases of vintage Winnipeg punk (the other is from the Stretch Marks, review below). Personality Crisis favored a hard-hitting punk attack but infused it with hard rock and metal, “rock ‘n roll that shocks people,” as vocalist Mitch Funk described it when I did an interview back in 1984. According to the liner notes that accompany this two disc compilation, PC actually eschewed the punk label but they certainly moved in that direction over years. That’s readily apparent as you trace their history from the three demos included on the second disc to their Creatures For Awhile album on the first disc, which also includes pair of compilation tracks. The band’s shifting personnel definitely had an effect.

Their earliest demo, from 1981, comes from more of a Joy Division realm and isn’t particularly good. Things started moving in the right direction with their second demo, recorded late in 1981, after drummer Jon Card joined the band, with songs like “Shotgun” and “Empty Sky” hinting at what was going to follow. The transition was completed on the 1982 “Club Foot” demo, their hardest-edged material up to that point and six of its seven songs were re-recorded for Creatures. The album itself is an explosive, high energy affair, especially the fast and furious “People In Glass,” while “Mrs. Palmer” (about, uh, self-gratification) and “Name Dropper” are burning rockers. PC could play their asses off, but it wasn’t show-offy and, at the center, is Mitch’s distinctive, nearly basso profundo vocals. It takes some getting used to but his voice effectively conveys the sometimes dark lyrical matter. Mitch said that that a lot of their lyrics came from dreams, as well as personal observations and there’s no lack of imagination. (

PRESSING ON-Future (Deranged, 7")
Pressing On has quite a pedigree—former members of Talk Is Poison, From Ashes Rise and Raw Nerves, among others. Their Future 7” is a combination of bare-knuckled hardcore fury and crunch, with hearty lead and background vocals. There’s an urgency in the playing and the lyrics—instead of taking a fatalistic approach, it’s more of a call to arms. Sounding tough without sounding like tough guys. You can almost hear Bluto in “Animal House” yelling “LET’S GO!!!” (

RADIATION RISKS-Goodbye Money (Lumpy, 7")
Buffalo band with a couple of ex-Brown Sugar people. Definitely an offbeat sound--garage, punk, thrash, jazz and soul punctuated with sax to go with gnashing guitar and hard-driving rhythm section. Its pretty damned brash to name a song "Help! By The Beatles." It's not even about the Beatles, it's about sitting in a bathroom stall contemplating suicide. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't (I'm generally not fond of sax in punk with a few exceptions--X-Ray Spex and Rocket From The Crypt, in particular) but it's not predictable and Radiation Risks have an engagingly kinetic sound. I'll bet they're a blast live. (

SICK OF SHIT-Fuck You Volume One (Schizophrenic, 7")
The title should give you a pretty good idea about Sick Of Shit's mindset—raging against the world—and working it out by playing loud, fast ‘n raw hardcore punk. Musical primal scream therapy, as Adam casts out all the rage he can muster and it's damned effective. (

SKEMÄTA-A Bright Shining Hell (Sorry State, LP)
Skemäta's second album takes its title from a piece written by Mumia Abu-Jamal and that song and “Justice For All” deal with the prison/industrial complex. The latter mentions the drug war and how it disproportionately affects people of color. Very timely given the fact that (as of now), you have a racist attorney general wanting to take an increasingly punitive approach to drug usage. As always, this is a punishing Swedish-styled hardcore attack. A formidable bass rumble, powerful drumming and blazing guitar dishing out powerchords as well as tasteful leads to accompany the throat-rending vocals. An ass-kicking hellride and Skemäta are one of the better US bands playing this style. (

STRETCH MARKS-Who & What—The Complete Studio Recordings (Sounds Escaping, CD)
A collection from this Winnipeg punk band that's drawn from their Who’s In Charge 7” and What D’ya See? album, plus a few compilation tracks and one unreleased song. They had a bit of a gimmick, that being pro wrestling. When I interviewed them for Suburban Voice in 1984, we actually spent a fair amount of time talking about that instead of music. But this isn’t any novelty act—only one song dealt with that topic, “Turnbuckle Stomp.” Stretch Marks were a boisterous, rough ‘n tumble punk band, packing a thrashy punch, topped with Dave McCombe aka Dik Savage’s gruff vocals but it’s also deceptively melodic at times. The lyrics were thoughtful and often poignant, dealing with such topics as suicide, child abuse and societal decay.  And if the goofy “Dogs World,” with its barking chorus, or their enjoyable cover of CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” don’t make you smile, then give up ‘cause there’s no hope for ‘ya.(

TARANTÜLA-s/t (Lengua Armada, 7")
Tarantüla is the new band with three former members of Cülo and, this time, they’ve brought in a bass player. After a couple of kickass demos, their vinyl debut is a self-titled six song 7” and provides no let-down. The sound is fuller and more tuneful in spots (“Dawning," in particular), along with some darker shadings and there’s plenty of punk kick, such as on “Pulverized By PCP.” In other words, this isn’t really Cülo Part II but trying something a bit different. The bass playing really adds another dimension. The lyrics exhibit some serious demon-wrestling but you have to respect the candor. Looking forward to hearing what comes next. (band site:

Skemäta guitarist Jeff Young plays in this band and their debut demo tape (limited to 100 copies) is equally ravaging as those guys. The Swedish influence is found on a few tracks but “Fatal Light” takes more of a hammering approach. There’s also a subtly haunting tone in the guitar playing alaDie Kreuzen," such as on “Hands Around Your Neck.” There’s nothing subtle about vocalist Sea Bass’ harsh, visceral screams. A pulverizing debut. (available through Sorry State)

XYLITOL-Is Toxic To Pigs?? (Total Negativity/Thrilling Living, 7"); Demo EP (25 Diamonds, 7")
Xylitol have unleashed a pair of 7”s—a vinyl pressing of their demo and the brand spankin’ new Is Toxic To Pigs?? Fast and blazing hardcore on both of these slabs, save for the Black Flag “Damaged” feel for “Extruder” from the demo. I really love the sentiment of “I Don’t Wanna Be Punished” from Toxic. The lyrics mention the whole “so what do you do” smalltalk starter, something I’m sick of. I’m me, I’m not what I do. It’s about trying to compartmentalize people and put them into strict categories. You know, individuality. Raw, scalding punk attacks and Laura casts out the venom with frightening, larynx-shredding aplomb. (Thrilling Living,; Total Negativity,; 25 Diamonds,

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Suburban Voice blog #123

We're almost halfway through 2017, the reich, uh, presidency of a certain Mr. Trump is underway and, goddang it, punk's going to be GREAT again! Even a few of the discs reviewed below have a timely nature to them. DOA's once again recycling their "fucked up" song into "Fucked Up Donald" (sad to say, it's not very good). Green Day did a riff on a line from MDC's "Born To Die," inserting "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA" into the song they played at the Grammys. That might be the last time you see that band mentioned in this space, by the way. It might even be the first time I've mentioned them since reviewing one of their albums in the 90s... yeah, I used to review stuff like that.

But since the day the country died (I'm sorry), last November, you keep hearing people say about how we need lots of anti-Trump songs and to go back to the 80s. That punk will be relevant again. Such a fucking myopic view. It also presumes that, since&the Reagan era, there hasn’t been much in the way of punk that has inspired criticism of the political and sociological realms. Also, this is the wake-up call you need? Where have these “make punk great again” people been while people of color, the LGBT community, Muslims and the economically-disadvantaged lives’ have been made a living hell? It’s always been with us but really got ratcheted up after 9/11 and especially after Obama’s election. Trump just brought it out in the open even more. People didn’t have to try to disguise their prejudices anymore. Someone I know also pointed out that it discounts what’s been going on with all the punk movements and communities in the rest of the world.

But, hey, we might as well try. Maybe some of the records reviewed here will inspire some kind of rebellion--starting with personal rebellion. Small steps, my friends...


CAPITLE-Melodies of Capitle (Cacophone 7")/Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (Cacophone, 7")
Capitle were an early 80s Albany, NY hardcore band who only recorded a few demo tapes and appeared on a compilation. Following the death of original bass player Phil Samuels, Capitle returned with a revamped lineup and a pair of newly recorded 7" EPs and it hardly sounds like some lame attempt to recapture past glories. Not fitting any pat category, although there are a few similarities to the Circle Jerks (post-"Group Sex"). Vocalist Jim Romano has a Keith Morris-like cadence at times. Herky-jerky and kinetic, as the words are spat out in semi-narrative fashion, sometimes breaking from the songs’ meter. If this is a mid-life criss, well, let’s hear it for mid-life crises. (

CLITERATI-s/t (Tankcrimes, 7")
Cliterati is the new band with ex-Voetsek vocalist Ami Lawless, who relocated to Portland awhile back. While there are a few grindcore moves here and there, Cliterati favor a crustier hardcore/thrash attack than Ami’s former band—bruising riffs, propulsive drumming and vocals barking out the harsh sentiments. The song was written before the election but “Make America Hate Again” could be a mantra for the new dark age. “Virtue” takes on sexuality—the hypocrisies for people who pledge purity but their actions and fantasies are anything but--“preach purity while practicing perversions.” Powerful, both musically and lyrically. (

CONNOISSEUR-Over The Edge (Tankcrimes, LP)
Stoner music i.e. every song is about the joys of smoking weed and, while it’s done with a knowing wink and sense of wit, it’s kind of a one-trick pony. Musically, it’s not your typical stoner metal. It’s a heavy sound with both high-pitched and cookie monster-timbre vocal tradeoffs, but they also have an ugly punk edge to go along with the metallic elements.   I’m actually kind of surprised the vinyl color was pink and not green—the price of the digital download is $4.20 (natch). Maybe if I was high… who knows? (


DIRTY & HIS FISTS-East Coast Tour 2017 Tape (demo)
High-energy punk rock ‘n roll at a sturdy mid-tempo clip from this LA band. Thick riffs chock full of buzz and burn. “23rd Century” adds some spacey guitar effects to the fray. It’s not wild or out of control but their volume-driven, not too slick-sounding attack does connect. They'll have a 7" later this year on Feel It. (

ELIX-R-Six Hours (demo)
Raw and abrasive punk from this Denton, TX band, with yelping vocals buried into a din of buzz-burn instrumentation. There’s a Rudimentary Peni feel, with the thumping repetitiveness. The guitar tone for closing track “Higher” has a bit of a death rock feel. In glorious low fidelity. (

FATHER FIGURES-Heavy Lifting (Slope, LP)
Another solid offering (their fourth album overall) from the Father Figures, who include JFA's Michael Cornelius in their ranks. A post-punk framework but, instead of jabbing angularity, it’s subsumed into a percolating melodicism, with stinging guitar lines and a high degree of rhythmic dexterity. It’s not sedate—the vocals pack a good deal of emotional intensity and the music has a potent presence. “Rigged” packs a wicked punch, the hardest-edged song on the album, while “USS Destroyer” has a Fugazi-ish pulse to it. More of a sneak attack than a bombardment and an effective one. (

FEEDERZ-WWHD: What Would Hitler Do? (Slope, 7")
Frank Discussion and his merry band of Feederz return for their first new recordings in 15 years. Maybe they'd been planning it for awhile or perhas the election of you-know-who inspired it. Anyway, age hasn't brought subtlety, not the with a drawing of Cheeto Benito (I can't take credit for that) dressed in a Nazi uniform. "Stealing” is an ode to looting, delivered with a punk-meets-samba rhythm, while “Sabotage,” with the refrain “Time to put this country out of our misery,” packs rhythmic tension with a catchy chorus and is the better of the two. Just so-so and not anywhere close to the classics. On orange vinyl, of course. (      

FRIED EGG-Back and Forth (Beach Impediment, 7")
Fried Egg continue to exhibit a frenetic hardcore sound, punctuated by ranting, nearly-unhinged vocals going along perfectly with the fast-paced riff attack. Dynamic instrumentation, with intense guitar textures sharing space with nimble bass-lines and hammering drumbeats. No wheel reinvention, just succinct, well-executed rage, with the damaged-sounding “Side By Side” the standout. (         

FUCK YOU PAY ME-Dumbed Down (Tankcrimes, LP)
This album was actually in the can for a couple of years before its release.. About time because it’s their most kick-ass effort to date. A detonation of rampaging Clevo hardcore that’s raw, fast and relentless and goddamn does Erba sound pissed off. As he says on “Douche Chills,” “Everyone around me puts me in a rage.” You do reach a point in your life where there’s no tolerance for people with hipper-than-thou obnoxious attitudes, to say nothing of shitty work situations or garden-variety knuckledraggers. That latter is the topic of “Ammosexual,” railing at Fox News-loving gun fondlers, while “50 Dudes With Machetes” is pulled from the Cleveland news headlines after some tough-guy gang-banger violence at a hardcore fest there. “Steubenville City Limits” is about college football playing rapists getting protected. And all of this is from 2015. I can only imagine what the next installment could be like—and I hope there is one because we need this kind of punk rock scream therapy. It could make this album sound like soft-rock. (


FUTURO-A Torre da Derrota (demo)
The title translates to The Tower of Defeat and, after hearing this, I’m kicking myself for missing this São Paulo band on their recent tour. It would have meant a four hour round trip through a rainstorm but, still… Surging, impassioned vocals (lyrics are mostly in Portuguese, with a few in English) and stinging arrangements incorporating melodic punk, hardcore and a little goth. Includes a cover of Sado Nation’s “Mom and Pop Democracy” that fits in well with their musical style and it’s a band that hasn’t been covered to death. As of now, available on tape and download. (

HVAC-Mentality (demo)
HVAC are another nasty NYC band, albeit in a slightly different vein i.e. they’re not d-beat devotees but still play in a savage ‘n visceral style on their “Mentality” demo. After a tribal-type intro, “The Fuckening,” they kick into overdrive with a full-on blitz and shrieking, ranting vocals. They bash their way through the songs with a blunt aggressiveness, working in thrash and more pounding elements. (

INFANT MORTALITY-Infamous (Violated CD)
Old-timers from Dover, DE who started this band back in the 80s and, after a hiatus in the 2000s, reformed a few years ago. Pretty basic fast, snotrag hardcore punk with metallic guitar leads. It gets a bit monotonous after awhile, although there’s a wise-assed sense of humor. They also tack on the tracks from their 1994 split with Violent Society and a few extras and there’s an enjoyable scrappiness to those songs, which include a cover of Bad Posture's “GDMFSOB.” (

INTERCISION-Their Names (demo) 
Intercision's tape has a fold out insert that says “No Ban/No Wall/No Registry/No Trump… Fuck White Supremacy.” Thing is this tape could have come out at any time—timeless lyrics about misogyny, religion, police abuse, as well as a poignant letter to a childhood friend who got killed in one of this country’s endless wars. Those words and some of the other lyrics read more like prose or essays than rhyming lines. The demo’s title track reads off the names of people murdered by the police in recent years. Unfortunately, some more names will have to be added soon. Full-on, power-packed hardcore punk—reminds me of Aus-Rotten a bit. Includes a Pist cover. (

ISS-Endless Pussyfooting (State Laughter, demo)
The third tape from ISS—the collaboration between Rick Ivey from Whatever Brains and Edwin Schneider from Brain F≠--is another ear-grabbing excursion of electro-punk/new wave mania. It’s fun picking out the samples they use—the Cure’s “Jumping Someone Else’s Train,” X-Ray Spex's“Oh Bondage Up Yours” and even the yell that starts Faust’s “The Sad Skinhead” are woven into the kinetic musical tapestry. “Peniss Envy” has a chaotic industrialized fervor, while “Hot Boi” mixes in gothy textures and “(919) Sui-Cide” has a downright danceable rhythm. Experimental, yet completely unpretentious. (

KALEIDOSCOPE-Volume Three (Feel It, 12")
After some tape releases and one 7”, Kaleidoscope’s Volume Three 12” features a somewhat more accessible take on their experimental punk approach. Mastermind Shiva Addanki has also played with the likes of NYC bung rockers Ivy, JJ Doll and Deformity, so there’s a dirty ‘n gritty vibe to these songs, a lowdown bluesiness harnessed to expansive sonic elements. There’s a concept at work, perhaps a cautionary tale of sorts, where man bows to machine but the machines end up inheriting the less-savory elements of the human condition, which makes one wonder who or what is controlling who. (


LONG KNIFE-Sewers Of Babylon (Beach Impediment, 7")
Yeah, they still kind of sound like Poison Idea and Colin certainly channels Jerry A. There’s no denying it but they're good at it. High energy hardcore punk with searing guitar licks and metallic flourishes. Sticking to a loud/fast blueprint, although “The Tower” is a fired-up mid-tempo rocker. Keith Testerman (Hellshock, Warcry, etc) now mans the drum kit and provides a potent backbeat that really fires the engines. Floor-rattling. (

MIRROR-Universal Dismay (Erste Theke Tontrager, 7")
An Austin aggregation including members of such heavy hitters as Vaaska, Criaturas, Glue and others. Needless to say, their Universal Dismay 7” provides a reckless excursion with spacey guitar tones to go with the noisy roar and ranty vocals. Kind of a Finnish hardcore feel at times, particularly Kaaos. Six songs of sonic dynamite. (Erst Theke Tonträger,

MOD VIGIL-s/t (X-Mist, LP)
The cover of Mod Vigil’s disc is a tribute to the sleeve for Gang Of Four’s debut 7” “Damaged Goods,” adding a few scientific symbols. They definitely have a semi-angular post-punk pulse in their sound, with the nervy, jabbing guitars but it’s a punkier attack. Surging and stinging, accompanied by nasally, distorted vocals, driving a hole through your skull with the driving “Trout Casualty,” “Driving Is Easy” and “Bad Day,” while “Rare Au Pair” has a stop-start moodiness to it. “K-Hole” provides rhythmic, whirlwind frenzy. As far as I know, this is this Australian band’s debut—no previous demo or 7”, jumping straight to the 12” format and it’s a bold splash. (

NEW CROSS (demo)
Debut demo from this Boston area band that includes Nate Thompson from the late, great Flaccid on vocals. This six song tape starts with a tough, floor-pounding intro and they play no-BS hardcore with a street punk undertow, ala 86 Mentality. It was recorded straight to cassette and, truth be told, these guys need to get into a real studio because these songs deserve a much better recording. (300 Lafayette St, Apt. 4, Salem, MA 01970,

NURSE-s/t (Scavenger of Death, 7")
Nurse's sophomore 7" is just as potent as their debut. Nasty, scalding hardcore punk but there’s also haunting guitar textures to go with the onslaught. These guys actually sound like Out Cold with darker musical shadings, especially on opening song “Foreign Objects.” Also, like that band, the lyrics reveal a tortured, tormented soul. Ear-rending sounds. (

POLITICAL CRAP-Slow Death (Slope, 7")
Political Crap was Duane Peters’ first band and the three songs on this disc originally appeared on the 1981 compilation "Who Cares." Young, loud and snotty (where have I heard that before?), capturing the essence of early 80s southern California punk, especially for the brief, hard-hitting “Slow Death”—funny to see the reference to reading a 1991 obituary. The other songs are in more of a tuneful, mid-tempo vein. Duane’s vocals have a snarling quality that’s quite different from the weathered emanations that would come later with US Bombs. A worthwhile unearthing.(


RAD/CROISSANTS-Split (Sacramento, 7")
CROSS CLASS-Reflection (demo)
Two Sacramento bands, RAD and The Croissants, have hooked up for a split 7." They're quite different stylistically yet it works. RAD are back with 11 songs of trebly hardcore with no breaks and they do it with a lot of precision, with hairpin tempo shifts. 10 originals--before you finish reading the title of the song, they're on to the next--plus a well-done cover of Jerry's Kids "I Don't Belong" that's longer than the rest of the tracks put together. The songs are laced with humor as well as rage. Lory's vocals have an endearingly-sarcastic cadence The Croissants offer noisy, melodic buzzy, fuzzy punk that's pretty rockin.' "Everyone's A Rocker" sounds like a slowed-down minimalist take of the Ramones' "I Just Wanna Have Something To Do," accompanied by a rhythm machine (or it sounds like it) (

Cross Class features Craig from RAD. Their six song tape is taken from a future 14 song release. Raw, fast, hardcore punk with the occasional blastbeat and also incorporating some floor-pounding properties. Only one song, the heavier-sounding title track, breaks the one minute barrier. Angry-as-hell sounding but a little kind of goes a long way. (

RANK/XEROX-M.Y.T.H. (Adagio830, 12")
It’s been quite awhile since Rank/Xerox released anything, 2011 to be precise, and their self-titled album was one of that year’s best. It was a wiry, angular post-punk attack that conjured up memories of early 80s Boston art-punk bands like Native Tongue. Their new four song 12” M.Y.T.H. fucks with that formula, a bit. In fact, it’s something of a departure. The title track works in synth bleats and it’s got a mutant pop feel ala Total Abuse, as does “Ingenue,” which also cross-pollinates Devo and 154-era Wire. “Zero Hour” and “Deletation” do harken back to what they did on the first album—two edgy and mind-numbing compositions. It did take a few listens but all four songs have an engaging presence, with different shadings. (

SEEING SNAKES-For Who? For What? (Violated, CD)
Seeing Snakes come from the melodic punk side of the street, with beefy riffs, heartfelt vocals and boisterous backups. They sound like they’d fit perfectly on one of those TKO Records "Punch Drunk" compilations, sharing space with the likes of The Forgotten or Hudson Falcons. Tuneful without devolving into anything saccharine. Nice ‘n loud. ( 

SIAL (demo)
Raging stuff from Singapore. Sial generate a buzzsaw fury, both at a fast ‘n ripping clip and songs that have more of a pounding, tribal feel. Guitar and bass riffs that are thick as molasses and Siti’s piercing, urgent sounding vocals with a bit of echo on them that bring to mind Spanish bands like Destino Final or Una Bestia Incontrolable. It’s a big, sense-enveloping sound. (

SILVER SCREAMS-Defective Machines (self-released, 12")
A dose of hard-driving, rockin’ melodic punk. Silver Screams are at their best when they plow straight ahead with a volume-soaked attack, as with “Dead Air” and “Brownbagger." Those both connecting with a feisty west coast punk fervor, packing some scorching guitar riffs. The cover of Joy Division’s “Disorder” is well-executed, if fairly faithful. The only real misfire is the more down-tempo, slower-burning “Straightjacket.” (

SLIMY MEMBER-Ugly Songs For Ugly People (Drunken Sailor, LP)
It should come as no surprise that Slimy Member, who take their name from a Rudimentary Peni song, would draw at least some inspiration from that band. Their debut album isn’t complete tribute but the latter’s influence can certainly be heard on songs like “Revelations” and “Age Old Time.” Still, it’s the not the whole story. This Dallas band emphasize a goth-tinged ambiance with shimmery and slashing guitar layered over nimble, somber bass-lines and a solid rhythmic kick. The pace is picked up for the fast and furious “No God” and “Destroy and Resist.” While there’s a bleakness, it’s not really dark wave and there aren’t any keyboards. Slimy Member definitely come down on the punk side of the equation. (

UBIK (demo)
Melbourne, Australia continues to crank out quality bands and Ubik is one of the latest. A tuneful post-punk meets anarcho-punk sound. Ash’s vocals have an engaging quality, with a passionate cadence. One song is about a right-wing Australian crank named Andrew Bolt, who seems to be a racist, down-under counterpart to the Breitbart acolytes that pollute the political stream in this country. A stirring message and stirring, sharply-played music (

UNA BÈSTIA INCONTROLABLE-Metamorfosi (La Vida Es Un Mus, LP)
The latest from this Barcelona band has them continuing to fuse repetitive tribal rhythms to a powerful, numbing, guitar buzz, a sound they hone into a fiery concoction. Propulsive and explosive, particularly for “Estic Buit Per Dins” (”I’m Empty Inside”), with a relentless burn. “Tot Sol” (“Alone”) is a short, industrial excursion ala Ministry or Young Gods. To paraphrase Killing Joke (a band these guys certainly draw from), it’s time to go the fire dances. Smoothing off the rough edges a bit, perhaps a tad more melodic/accessible but still mighty powerful. (La Vida Es Un Mus,


VIDEO FILTH/MUTANT ITCH-split (Dark Raids/Total Fucker, 7")
Video Filth have become one of the hottest live bands in Boston over the past year or so and their split release with Fresno’s Mutant Itch proves that out pretty well. Brian’s a soft-spoken guy but his vocals are harsh and guttural and it’s matched with the band’s meatgrinder Swedish-influenced hardcore. Mutant Itch have an ear-damaging sound that’s part noisy Japanese hardcore, part Disorder/Chaos UK-frenzy with the vocalist’s emanations basically being AAAAAAAAGGHH, as it says on the lyric sheet. (Dark Raids,; Total Fucker,

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