Friday, December 28, 2018

Suburban Voice blog #134--The Best of 2018

SIAL  (photo: M. Thorn)

Yup, another year passes and this one wasn’t as completely fucked up as recent years. Sure, we still have a fucking fascist asshole for a president. There are also some personal challenges ahead but nothing insurmountable. On a very happy note, my beautiful wife Ellen and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this past June. The Red Sox won the World Series. And punk rock continues to be the balm that helps me cope with life’s pressures. 

So here are my favorites of the year, more or less in order, subject to change, void where prohibited, mileage may vary, check with your doctor or pharmacist… (note: there are a few changes from my Maximum Rocknroll Top 10... what did I say about subject to change?)


1. MARBLED EYE-Leisure (Digital Regress, LP)
This band operates in a similar realm as Institute, in that there's an air of melancholy and detachment, both lyrically and vocally. One difference, though, is the enunciation is sharper i.e. neither vocalist sounds as though they're slurring their words. The songs are built on sublime chord progressions and changes that often add a subtle, sneaky hookiness. It's not somber music, though. Everything is sharp and energetic, melodic and muscular. It all meshes perfectly, twin guitar lines swirling around each other, supported by a hard-hitting, rhythmic versatility. Some jarring post-punk moves here and there but, for the most part, the songs aren't herky-jerky. They have a steadier flow and will burn into your brain.

2. BETA BOYS-Late Night Acts (Feel It, LP)
Their best stuff to date, following a number of 7”s. Snotty, snarly hardcore punk with textured guitar shadings ala Dance With Me era TSOL. There’s an overarching darkness both musically and lyrically but not really falling into the goth category, even with doomy-sounding songs like the title track and “L’Appel Du Vide.” A power-packed journey destined to give you nightmares.

3. NO LOVE-Choke On It (Sorry State, LP)
Feverish and frenetic punk by this NC band. There's melody but there's also a high bash quotient that keep the songs surging along. I hear a little bit of White Lung (without the gothic trappings) and No Love’s label mates Joint D≠, the latter due to the sonic dust-cloud effect, and these are thrown into a hardcore swirl. Three years since their first 7", worth the wait.

4. BLOOD PRESSURE-Surrounded (Beach Impediment, LP)
The return of one of the best hardcore bands in the US, this is just as relentlessly raging as Blood Pressure's Need To Control album. Fast and burning with Adam Thomas' angry-as-fuck vocals and one blazer going straight into the other. The execution is perfect and the anti-social attitude remains as in-your-face as ever. "Misanthropy," "Useless," "Hate"... you get the idea. Suffering no fools. This is the real shit, accept no substitute. Unfortunately, this is the end of the line as they're splitting up at the end of the year.

5. PHYSIQUE-Punk Life Is Shit (Iron Lung, 12")
We make noise because noise is natures (sic) own politic.” That’s what it says on the back cover of this one-sided 12” and noise is what you get, although it’s not wrapped in an impenetrable sonic cocoon. This Olympia band dish out blistering/pulverizing fodder with the requisite Discharge/Disorder/Kaaos bent, all of it done at a fast clip, save for the pounding “Game.” Reverb on the vocals and a razor-sharp musical attack.

6. LITHICS-Mating Surfaces (Kill Rock Stars, LP)
Sharp, jabbing art-punk or post-punk or whatever hackneyed expression you want to use. Tightly-executed compositions with busy instrumental interplay and Aubrey Hornor's detached-sounding vocals. At times, there's a UK flavor to them. "Still Forms" is reminiscent of the Fire Engines, for instance. "Boyce," meanwhile, has a No Wave vibe. Sometimes, they go for more of a straight-ahead punk sound, as with "Flat Rock" or "Dancing Guy," the latter of which also has some stop/start no wavish-flourishes. Nervy and edgy, throughout.

7. SIAL-Binasa (La Vida Es Un Mus, 7")
This band from Singapore played Boston a few months back and there was something I had to do that I absolutely, positively couldn’t get out of, so I missed their show. And that’s something I’m going to be kicking myself about for a long time to come. That’s especially true when listening to this crushing EP. Trebly raw punk with barbed-wire guitar mangling and reverb on Siti’s vocals and she sounds like she could be Dru from Criaturas’ Singapore sister. A sonic buzzsaw, as dangerous as a disturbed hornets nest.

8. COLD MEAT-Pork Sword Fever (Static Shock/Helta Skelta, 7")
Another Aussie band, this one from Perth, and they play tough, gnashing post-punk and Riot Grrrl-tinged punk (you following me here?). Ashley’s commanding vocals are pissed-off sounding and, right from the outset, there’s no missing the point of “Boys Riot”—“Alpha fuck off mate!” An exploration of interpersonal relationships and roles, done in stomping fashion.

9. BB & THE BLIPS-Shame Job (Thrilling Living, LP)
Bryony Beynon (Scepters, Good Throb) has relocated to Sydney, Australia and didn’t waste a lot of time putting together a pretty damned good new band. Snappy and catchy songs, accompanied by Bryony’s low to high, back and forth sweeping, sarcastic vocals. It flows easily from the title track’s punk punch to the fast and furious “L.I.B.I.D.O.” to thumping “Bitcoin Baby” to brooding “The Ballad of Personal Growth” to post-punkier “Cyborg.” Sorry for the run-on sentence. This is a joy from start to finish, brimming with passion and fury but it’s also charming as hell.

10. TERRORIST-American Today (Toxic State, 7")
A killer 7" by NYC band Terrorist. Pancho's vocals are gruff and pugnacious and this unit delve into some furious anarcho punk, with a pounding mid-tempo stomp and plenty of guitar pyrotechnics. "Corruption and Lies" is a numbing mantra that embeds itself in your brain. All of these songs will.

JUST BUBBLING UNDER (in alphabetical order)

MUJERES PODRIDAS (from Bandcamp page)

BAD BREEDING-Abandonment (One Little Indian, 12")
BILLS-Take Two (demo)
BRANDY-Laugh Track (Monofonus Press, LP)
COLLATE-Limited Returns (self-released, LP)
DAUÐYFLIN-Dauþiflin (Iron Lung, 7")
DONKEY BUGS-Ancient Chinese Secrets (Fish, 12")
IV-Magnesium (Total Punk, 7")
JUDY AND THE JERKS-Roll On Summer Holidays (Earth Girl Tapes, demo)
LIÉ-Hounds (Monofonus Press, LP)
MUJERES PODRIDAS-Sobredosis (demo)
NAJA-s/t (demo)
NASHO-s/t LP (Nopatience, LP)

BEST LIVE (in alphabetical order)



The album didn't quite make my top ten but I can't get enough of this song by the Cleveland duo Donkey Bugs, which features Steve Peffer (9 Shocks Terror, Homostupids, Pleasure Leftists and more) and Haley Morris (Pleasure Leftists)


Lillian Shapiro (my cousin)
Todd "Youth" Schofield
Francesca Araya

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Suburban Voice blog #133



The Uncommited's self-titled demo features thrashy hardcore with super-gruff vocals and a pedal steel guitar to go along with the more traditional electric six string. In addition to their five original tracks, there's an updated version of the Fugs' (via Sun City Girls) "CIA Man," retitled as "See Aye." A wild 'n wooly hardcore hoedown. (

Next, we have tapes from two North Carolina bands. Vittna  have released a teaser tape for their upcoming 7" EP on Bunker Punks--two of the EP songs, plus three live songs, one of which is a cover of Sacrilege's "Dig Your Own Grave." Scalding vocals and a rampaging attack that also adds some textured tones in the guitar playing. The live tracks are rough but don't sound like they were recorded on a boombox. Jeff from Vittna also plays in Scarecrow and Daniel from Sorry State Records is their bass player. Straight-up Swedish-style hardcore driven by thumping drumming and full-bore guitar crunch/sizzle, with vocals buried a bit in the mix. No surprises, just blaze. (

The two most recent releases from More Power Tapes are by Science Man and Cyber Bullies. Science Man is a solo project masterminded by John Toohill from Alpha Hopper and Radiation Risks and the insert says it was recorded mostly inside a moving van. That's a tour van, not one you use to move furniture and it was moving. I hope he wasn't driving, too. Bashing, synth and guitar-driven compositions with an angry edge, a bit along the lines of Destruction Unit. There's nothing quirky-cute or mechanized-sounding about it. This comes from a darker impulse. "Science Monster," in particular, is plenty skull-smashing. The one exception is the semi-ambient instrumental "Airport Underground" that won't be mistaken for Eno's "Music For Airports" anytime soon. John's put together a live incarnation and apparently does science experiments while they play. Science gone too far? Let's hope so. (


Lawman's On Patrol demo provides some mean 'n ornery punk/rock 'n roll. Dave Shay (ex-Fast Death/Purgatory) belts out the words with a tonsil-shredding growl and the band exhibit solid high-powered chops. Two mid-tempo crushers, as well as the Motörcharged fury of "Manslaughter." Bare-knuckled pillage. (

Sick Burn includes 3/4 of Sacramento ragers RAD (different guitarist), and, to borrow one of the song titles, it's a demonstration of the joy of thrashing. Loud-fast slam-bang hardcore punk destined to get everyone into a frenzy. "O.P.I.G."
("Old Punks Is Grumpies") is about old punks talking about the good 'ol days while putting down people keeping things alive. All I have to say is #NotAllOldPunks! See you in the pit. (

Barricaded Suspects mix up driving hardcore with edgier elements on their latest demo, Enough. There's the nervy, mid-tempo burn of "Usurp" and the jarring "You've Got A Beard," as well as the mid-tempo thump of "Pyramid" deviating from the thrash formula. High energy material. (

Biff and Nicky from Radiation Risks moonlight in Cyber Bullies and their Leather and Lazers demo is a wise-assed, snot-nosed 80s keyboard-laced new wave/garage/punk throwback full of manic energy. These ain't Devo clones--if anything, it's probably closer to Dow Jones & The Industrials' wilder moments. Funny '80s-oriented lyrics about Gorbachev and the Reagan assassination attempt written by people who were born in the 80s, not the mid to late 60's as they claim on the opening song. (

A few years ago, More Power released a pretty good demo by the Hattiesburg, MS band Big Bleach and there's been a merger of member(s) of that band and another Hattiesburg band Baghead for Judy and the Jerks, who have just released their fourth tape, Roll On Summer Holidays. Fun, spirited hardcore punk with a rambunctious attitude and sharp musicianship. That comes out for the bass and guitar runs on "Dog." "Goblin Reprise" is the tour-de-force, starting with a lumbering bass/drums/feedback tandem that sounds a lot like Gang Green's "Selfish," and, along the way, Judy gives a narrative about one day killing all the people making her life miserable, especially at work. There's a noisy free-form freakout in the middle of the song before settling back into the main riff. A total blast. (

Chicago band Slaughter Rule's modus operandi is raw and angry hardcore whose intent is expressed rather succinctly with "Kill Him," ending with what sounds like a power-tool coming to a stop. Distortion on the vocals and coming from the same dark realm that a band like Hoax populated, especially for "Never Better" and the opening duo of tracks, "The Dream/What's Real." Distorted vocals just add to the menacing ambiance. (


COLLATE (photo: Charlie Zaillian)

ABOLITIONIST-The Instant (1859, LP)
More charging, urgent-sounding melodic punk from this Portland band. There's a bit of a Propagandhi feel at times, although with a rougher edge than that band has plied in years. It all sounds pretty damned upbeat, even as the world crumbles around us. That's what's gleaned from the lyrics. The timeless sentiment of feeling out of step with the world (where have I heard that before?), and striving for some sort of movement to fix it all. I'm not all that optimistic about that happening but I'm a cynical old fuck. What can you do? Anyway, it's another enjoyable effort burning with an energetic passion. (

AGAINST-Welcome To The Aftermath (Radio Raheem/Coladicto, LP)
Against were a somewhat more obscure SoCal hardcore punk band in the early to mid-80s and this is a worthwhile unearthing. It's actually the second time these recordings--a 1984 unreleased album and 1983 demo--have been unearthed. The first time around was on the Grand Theft Audio CD No Arms that came out sometime in the 90s. But this is the first time on vinyl and it's beautifully packaged, with a fold-out poster that has lyrics and liner notes. This is manic hardcore drawing from Discharge school, adding hoarse vocals and shredding guitar leads to the velocity-driven onslaught. This was at a time where the US wasn't overrun with Dis-inspired bands and Against didn't really fit into the old school US hardcore mold. The demo sounds rougher than the subsequent recording and I actually prefer the former's lack of polish, although both hit hard. (

BEYOND PEACE-What's There To Be So Proud Of? (Slugsalt, 7")
Blistering, nearly out-of-control hardcore from Iowa City. A bit sloppy but boiling over with pure anger. There's a white supremacist named Steve King is a Congressman in their state (though not in their district) who just got reelected. The title track takes dead aim at the type of people who support him i.e. what's there to be proud of just because you have white skin?  Unfettered protest music (


BLOOD PRESSURE-Surrounded (Beach Impediment, LP)
Your blood pressure will be sky high after listening to this... the return of one of the best hardcore bands in the US. Just as relentlessly raging as Blood Pressure's Need To Control album. Fast and burning with Adam Thomas' angry-as-fuck vocals and one blazer going straight into the other. The execution is perfect and the anti-social attitude remains as in-your-face as ever. "Misanthropy," "Useless," "Hate"... you get the idea. "Exposed" is about people who act all politically righteous but use it as a front for sexual conquest. Suffering no fools. This is the real shit, accept no substitute. (PO Box 26348, Richmond, VA 23260,

BOUND-Lost Songs (Warthog Speak/Figure Four, 7")
Central Mass. band from the 90s who more or less morphed into Hatchetface (track down their killer 12" if you get the chance). What we have here are two unreleased songs from their 7" session plus a song off a compilation 7". Frayed, intense, heavy hardcore riding an emotional crest and lashing out with speedier blasts on occasion, accompanied by scream from the soul vocals. And there's a download with a shit-ton of material--demos, an original and remixed version of the 7"and a folder of photos. (

CASUAL BURN-Tomorrow Problem (Slugsalt, 7")
Chaotic punk with gothy overtones. An echoey ambiance and vocals that could best be described as Siouxsie Styrene. Hard-edged but also overcooked and overbearing at times. An ugly morass of sound and that's sometimes good and sometimes not so good. (


C.H.E.W.-Feeding Frenzy (Iron Lung, LP)
Damaged, off-kilter sounds on C.H.E.W.'s first 12" release. With nary a break between songs, it's fusillade of feedback and bash possessing an abrasive intensity and culminating in a six minute noise dirge. Some of the sputtering guitar fray brings Die Kreuzen to mind on occasion, but this is from a much less-accessible region. And the lyrics express a pointed agitation and disgust. "Open Secret" is about turning a blind eye or blaming the victim for sexual assault. Savage sounds from a bruised, yet defiant soul. (

CHILLER-s/t (self-released, 7")
Another raging hardcore punk band from Pittsburgh. From the opening strains of guitar feedback and rumbling bass, Chiller's sound is dead-on. The longest of the six tracks clocks in at 1:13 but this isn't blur-core. A few songs pick up the pace but they operate in a mid-to-fast vein guaranteed to generate some furious circle pits. Not far removed from what a band like Blood Pressure are doing. There must be something in the Allegheny River fueling this sort of anger. (

COLLATE-Liminal Concerns (self-released, LP)
If you've ever read Collate's bass player Erika's column in Maximum Rocknroll, which mainly focuses on post-punk, this band's musical approach should come as no surprise. Unreconstructed late 70s UK sounds, starting with the Au Pairs tribute of "Who Cares About Tradition?" "Occurences" takes a page from the Fire Engines. Straight-forward, nervy, in-the-pocket playing, with snaky 'n sputtering guitar interlocking perfectly with the supple bass and minimalist drumming. They're damned good at what they do. (

KINGPIN-s/t (Atomic Action, 7")
Kingpin were a band from Holliston, MA (about 30 miles southwest of Boston) and yours truly released their debut 7" Holding Tomorrow in 1991. After that, they recorded an EP that was originally supposed to be released on Redemption Records but it sat in the can for over 25 years. Heavy, melodic hardcore that took over part of the Boston area scene in the early 90s (see also: Eye For An Eye, Said and Done, Third Degree) and much of it hasn't held up particularly well. The four songs here show a lot of instrumental skill and finesse but it's the kind of hardcore that was far removed from any sort of punk influence. Instead, the songs are laborious and overwrought sounding. I hate to say it, but this is an era in Boston's hardcore history I'd kind of like to forget about. (

LAMOUR-Look To The Artist: 1978-1981 (Beach Impediment, LP)
Lamour--or L'Amour as it's spelled in the liner notes--were an early Richmond punk band who released one three song 7" in 1979. Those songs are here, along with demos that were recorded about a month before the 7" tracks and there's also a side of live material from 1984. This wasn't really a KBD-sounding band. Lamour's songs have more of a pub rock 'n roll sound and the demo songs have slightly more edge than their 7" counterparts.There's a snappy catchiness to "Sunglass Party." Still, this was more bar rock than punk. The live songs have them expanding the song lengths--three of them top the four minute mark--but there's not a lot of excitement, just something rather pedestrian that doesn't have a whole lot of grit. The album has its moments but I wouldn't say this falls into the "necessary reissue" category. (PO Box 26348, Richmond, VA 23260,

MARBLED EYE-Leisure (Digital Regress, LP)
Marbled Eye operate in a similar realm as Institute in that there's an air of melancholy and detachment, both lyrically and vocally. One difference, though, is the enunciation is sharper i.e. neither vocalist sounds as though they're slurring their words. The songs are built on sublime chord progressions and changes that often add a subtle, sneaky hookiness. It's not somber music, though. The songs are sharp and energetic, melodic and muscular. Everything meshes perfectly, twin guitar lines swirling around each other, supported by a hard-hitting, rhythmic versatility. Some jarring post-punk moves here and there, particularly on "Isle," riding a Minutemen-meets-Burma crest. But, for the most part, the songs aren't herky-jerky. They have a steadier flow and will burn into your brain. A stellar album. (

MODERN CONVENIENCE-So So Modern (What's For Breakfast?, LP)
One of those bands that don't fit into any easy pigeonhole. In fact, it's not really a band but a one man project by a guy named Mikey Bibbs. There are elements of post-punk but they're submerged into surging, gnashing art-punk arrangements. Not overpowering but providing a steady, tuneful kick. "Run To The Mirror and Look!" is the strongest track here, a hard-edged mesh of guitar sting and thumping rhythm. "No Strings On Me" has a similarly assertive flavor. Mac Blackout did the cover art and Modern Convenience do occasionally sound like a slightly less manic version of his old band Functional Blackouts. Truth be told, earlier recordings I've heard from him had a rougher edge. especially his 2014 demo Reckless Dreamer. Still, So So Modern is hard to dismiss and it's an album that grows on you. (

MÜLLTÜTE-s/t (self-released, LP)
This German duo's second album, although they have some help from friends on synth and vocals. The emphasis remains scrappy, stripped-down hardcore punk ala Amdi Petersens Arme, although there are other wrinkles. Opening song "Halbschlaf" begins with a new wavish synth mixing in with the staccato attack. "Argnhgst"is definitely full of the angst mentioned in the lyrics, achieved with a jarring, sometimes atonal breakdown--that's as in brief blasts of free noise. The final two songs that follow that one also incorporate a slight sense of melancholy into a fired-up framework, with some of the harshest vocals on the album. The simplicity is deceptive--there's plenty going on in here. (


NEGATIV-Projections (Mirthless Laughter, 12")
Walloping, power-packed punk from this Oslo band on their debut 12", following a few demos and a 7". A twisted concoction of UK anarcho punk, Rudimentary Peni in particular, infused with bursts of hardcore adrenaline. Vocalist Ken Doll has a throaty yowl that sounds as though it emanates from a dark part of the soul. On many songs, the cadence is similar to Mike Brown from United Mutation and there are some musical similarities. On the short side but quite ass-kicking. Quality vs. quantity, right? (

PUBLIC ACID-Easy Weapons (self-relased, LP)
Burning, buzzing d-beat/raw punk. You know the drill--distortion on the guitars, thick bass-lines and held down with thumping drums. And it's not completely blown-out noise and the tempos are at a fast-but-not-too-fast clip. It's been done thousands of times already, it'll be done thousands more but Public Acid have enough energy and rage to keep you listening. (1110 Lexington Ave., Greensboro, NC 27403,


RAT CAGE-Blood On Your Boots (La Vida Es Un Mus, 7")
Raging hardcore punk perfection by this one man wrecking machine, Bryan Suddaby. Throat shredding vocals and full-bore blaze, save the slower, boot-stomping "Ain't Got A Clue."  His previous 7", Caged Like Rats, is also worth hunting down. And he's also put together a devastating live lineup who I was lucky enough to see recently. The four songs here will leave blood on your turntable. (

SCHIACH-s/t (Phantom, LP)
Get out your bilingual Schiach hymnal that comes with this record and bow your head. It's time for a daily affirmation or, more accurately, a protest against the "right and proper" that bores you, against a life populated by annoying, ignorant people. After all, Schiach means ugly or nasty. And now for the hymns. You'll hear a gnarled post-punk concoction driven by jabbing guitar lines but with melodic underpinnings provided by throbbing, fluid bass lines. Echoes of Warsaw (Joy Division in their early days) and Swell Maps at times, only with an angrier edge. After you're done listening, finish the Soduko puzzle in the back of the booklet and please leave your donation on the way out. Bless you. Damn everyone else. (

SCHOOL DRUGS-Relative Suffering (Hell Minded, 7")
A lot of suffering--all of the songs by this New Jersey band deal with mental anguish and suicidal thoughts and those words are delivered with Josh's vocals sounding like he's on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Musically compatible, they play a dark, nervy and edgy style of hardcore with dramatic double-barreled guitar riffs and sturdy rhythms along the lines of the Nerve Agents (if anyone remembers them). Soul-rending. (

SILVER SCREAMS-Alive In The Afterlife (Voodoo, CD)
Three new songs by this Mass. band. The title track is one of their toughest-sounding recordings to date, a boisterous, driving and catchy punk tune. "Stiches Up" is a fairly tuneful rocker and they wrap things up with a fairly good cover of Goverment Issue's "Understand." Not bad at all. (

SLOKS-Holy Motor (Voodoo Rhythm, CD)
Holy shit! This is some raw, dark, nasty, bloozy garage punk primitivism. Real fucking primitive. Guitar, drums and snarly, whooping vocals. Sloks, who are from Italy, revel in a fuzzy, clattering attack, hammering away in repetitive fashion. The minute-long "Killer" is about as close to pop as they get, although the wailing vocals means it won't be in Top 40 rotation anytime soon. Nor any other song on this album. (

SPEED BABES-Orangetape (What's For Breakfast?, tape)
Primitive garage punk rock'n roll type muzak with not-so-high fidelity and having a bedroom feel to it. A winning simplicity and it also eschews any sort of cutesy new wavey overtones. It's just the rock, except for the closing pop song "Nothing Will Ever Be The Same," which seems a bit out of place. Otherwise, this is a spirited no-muss no-fuss joyride. (

STIGMATISM-s/t (Beach Impediment, 7")
A vinyl pressing of Stigmatism's 2017 demo. A two man studio project, stretched out to a five piece for live performances and the one of  the (guilty) parties are Marc Grillo (Vagra, Pleasure Industry, Olde Ghost) both drumming and bellowing the words of hate and Kevin "Spoiler" Alen (Omegas, Proxy) taking care of the string section. Hammering hardcore with a strong early Agnostic Front influence, along with some boot-stomping passages. "Your Demise" and "Death Sentence" have a total United Blood vibe, although the production is a lot less primitive-sounding. No lyric sheet but there's a strong anti-war message to "Bloodshed." Real mean-sounding (PO Box 26348, Richmond, VA 23260,

TRASH KNIFE/DUMB VISION-Split (Kitschy Spirit, 7")
Philly meets Madison (Wisconsin, that is) on this enjoyable split. Trash Knife continue to dish out scrappy, snotty and catchy punk with a trashy spirit (pun intended). Dumb Vision also have a tuneful bent, wrapped up in a buzzy guitar cocoon and it's not too saccharine-sounding although it's nothing mind-blowing, either. To be honest, I'll be listening to the Trash Knife side a lot more. (

VERBAL ASSAULT-Trial (Atomic Action, LP)
Three decades since this album came out? And the members are now in their 50s? Say it ain't so! This was Newport, RI band Verbal Assault's debut long-player (and their second 12"), on the short-lived Giant Records label and it's been out of print on vinyl for a long-ass time. Verbal Assault started as a pretty straight-forward, uptempo hardcore band inspired by 7 Seconds and the like. By the time this record came out, they'd evolved into a more "mature," melodically-inclined band with longer, intricate compositions that were still capable of packing a punch, especially the lead-off title track, the best song they ever wrote. Chris Jones' emotive vocals were delivered in a MacKaye-ish tone and the band were certainly inspired by what was going on in DC in the mid-to-late 80s. They could also hold their own musically with any of those bands. It may not hit me same it did thirty years ago but it does still strike something of a chord. Given a good-sounding remix and packaged in a much better-looking cover. Three decades??!! (


VITAMIN X-Age Of Paranoia (Southern Lord, LP)
More than two decades in, Vitamin X's debut for Southern Lord, their first album in six years, see the Amsterdam four piece continuing to bash out fast and furious hardcore punk with metallic touches. While there's plenty of speed and burn, the rock 'n roll fervor comes to fore a bit more than in the past, as Marc Emmerik dishes out an array of tasty guitar riffs and leads. The title track's intro is quite Iommi-esque before kicking into a vintage Raw Power feel. Executed like a well-oiled machine at this point and always a fun excursion. (

WAY OUT-Age Of Descent (Atomic Action, LP)
Gothy post-punk with vocals that sound like an overly melodramatic Peter Murphy. To be honest, that detracts a bit as it can overwhelm everything. If you can get past that, the music is gripping and surging. This isn't wallow in the muck material played at a snail's pace. The echo-laden arrangements have a gritty power, while also using various 80s touchstones. The guitar tone echoes the Cure's early days and you can also hear strains of the Chameleons. (

WIRMS-Ain't Gonna Find Me (What's For Breakfast?, LP)
Hell-raising garage/blooze/slop from a guitar 'n drums two piece. I'd really like to hear these songs with a bass player because I think it'd sound fuller but they do a good job at making an unhinged racket. Sometimes a bit too unhinged, if that's possible, but it'll probably scare the bejesus out of your average White Stripes fan. Closing song, the leering "Merry Christmas," certainly beats the snot out of any of the standards, including punk takes on them. Certain to wreck any party, holiday or otherwise. (

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Suburban Voice blog #132

Here's another in the occasional series of my Maximum Rocknroll columns. This originally appeared in the October 2015 issue (#389)


My email inbox is clogged nearly every day by an abundance of music biz press releases, most of them from a small group of publicity companies. The releases usually provide a link to a digital “promo” for me to review. I wrote about this a few years ago, as part of an April Fools column in MRR, where I said I’d only be reviewing digital promos from that point forward and the email address to send them to would be It’s still an active address but, except for the occasional spam message, it’s pretty quiet. Some wiseass subscribed me to a “cougar” website. I’m much too old for any “cougar” to be interested in me. And I know many people are offended by the term so let’s just move on.

A couple of recent ones stick out. There was one pushing a cover of the Troggs’ “With A Girl Like You” by an artiste named William Alexander. There was a link to check out the song on a site called Culture Collide. As you can imagine, it wasn’t very good. Alexander does his damnedest to sound like the Troggs’ Reg Presley and comes up a bit short. The whole thing comes up short because there’s little chance any cover is going to capture the primitive gleefulness of that song. But the accompanying blurb caught my attention. It called “With A Girl Like You,” “perhaps the best Troggs song (and likely the only memorable one aside from "Wild Thing.”)” My immediate thought was, are you fucking kidding me? Only memorable songs? I left a comment on the page asking if the writer had actually listened to the Troggs. I emailed the publicist and told her the same thing and she replied and said, “off the record, I think you’re right.” I guess it’s not really off the record anymore but I doubt William Alexander or his handlers read this column.

Incidentally, if you do ever want to check out a rather, uh, unique cover of “Wild Thing,” look up Fancy’s 1974 version of it—it’s on YouTube. Fancy was basically a studio group who got together to do this song and they hired a Penthouse Pet named Helen Caunt (I am NOT making that up) to do the vocal—which was basically her whispering and grunting and groaning her way through it. They rearranged it into a minimalist, Gary Glitter-ish hand clapper with some choice synth and wah-wah guitar lines in the middle. After it proved to be a hit and an album was released. (I got it for my 15th birthday, along with ELP’s three record live opus Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends aka the album that never ends), Ms. Caunt—whose vocal performance wasn’t credited—had been replaced by Annie Kavanaugh (who appears on the album cover), an adequate belter but the songs, save the “Wild Thing” retread “Touch Me,” were forgettable. It’s still on my record shelf. The ELP record is long-gone.

The other press release was for a band who play "Proto-punk influenced post-punk." That makes absolutely no sense. I mean, using those genre terms is a reviewer crutch of which I am 100% guilty. The band, Dark Palms, actually sound more like the Stooges-meet-shoegazer rock, if I had to pin it down. It wasn’t that bad, honestly.

So it got me to pondering whether or not there was music you could call “proto-hardcore”—music that had speed and velocity and inspired hardcore but predated it. It’s arbitrary but I guess you could call something proto-hardcore if it came out before 1980, maybe even 1979. I know Black Flag started earlier than that but I don’t think “Nervous Breakdown” is really hardcore. A strong argument could be made for The Germs' 1979 (GI) album being one of the first pure hardcore albums.

The RutsThe Crack album came out in ’79 and features a few songs that have the speed of hardcore—“Society” and “Criminal Mind” pick up the pace a great deal. “Society” was also the b-side of their “Babylon’s Burning” single.

Punishment Of Luxury weren’t really a dyed-in-the-wool punk band, having come from more of a Roxy/Bowie/early Ultravox muse. But the b-side of their 1979 Secrets 7” is a different matter altogether—a fired-up ripper called “Brainbomb.” Pure explosiveness with an engaging “B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B, Brainbomb!” tagline and a wacked-out noisy mid-section before the pillaging resumes. Chaos UK covered it on their Chipping Sodbury Bonfire Tapes album.

There were other UK bands who inspired hardcore bands. “Disease,” from the UK Subs’ 1979 debut album A Different Kind Of Blues, had the requisite speed and SOA sped it up considerably for their cover on “Flex Your Head.’ Minor Threat covered Wire's “1 2 X U” on the same compilation. That came from Pink Flag and that song wasn’t really proto-hardcore but “Mr. Suit” sure as hell was. Another DC band, Second Wind, did that one on their Security album. 999’s “No Pity,” from 1977, has a near thrash beat, going along perfectly with Nick Cash’s cat-thrown-into-the-fire snarl.

One could make a convincing argument that the UK band who had the biggest influence on hardcore was The Damned. There are some pretty formidable bashers on their debut album Damned Damned Damned and their cover of The Stooges'’ “1970” (re-titled “I Feel Alright”) is non-stop bedlam. But it’s the title track of their third album, Machine Gun Etiquette (1979) that dishes out the speed and fury and “Love Song” isn’t far behind. Swiz covered “MGE” on one of their records. It makes sense that you see Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins and Keith Morris all singing the praises of the Damned in the Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead documentary (granted, they’re in EVERY music documentary but still...). By the way, the title comes from the lyrics of “Machine Gun Etiquette.”

The Middle Class' Out of Vogue EP came out in ’78 and the title track and “Insurgence” are relentless. They did gradually move into a post-punk relam (I know...) but those early recordings are certainly what one could call proto-hardcore.

Going back even further—and maybe stretching things a bit—Blue Öyster Cult's “The Red and The Black,” from their Tyranny and Mutation LP, has a pretty rapid tempo for 1973.The Minutemen liked it enough to cover it later on. Hell, I might give a nod to the rave-up (i.e. unhinged) part of the Count Five’s 1966 hit “Psychotic Reaction”—which sounded like a more up-tempo Yardbirds knock-off.

What about “I Got A Right” by Iggy & The Stooges? I once wrote a column about that, stating it was ahead-of-its-time punk rock and, given the upbeat arrangement, it does come close—and, of course, has been covered by a number of hardcore and punk bands over the years, but I don’t think I’d really call it proto-hardcore. It’s the same for the Belgian band Blast’s two song single “Damned Flame/Hope.” At the very least, it’s some pretty raw punk-sounding fodder for 1972 and has a similar feel as “I Got A Right,” in its Detroit punk predilection. It just got a legit reissue on the Death Vault label but it’s already sold out (and, of course, I snoozed and missed out). Yes, lines can get blurry but the bottom line is both of those records were pretty off-the-rails for that time period.

Maybe next time, I can do a column about proto-straight edge. Like “I’m Straight” by the Modern Lovers or the anti-drug “Kicks” by Paul Revere & The Raiders, written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, from 1966, with these inspiring lyrics: “Kicks just keep gettin' harder to find/And all your kicks ain't bringin' you peace of mind/Before you find out it's too late, girl/You better get straight.”

Maybe not... I should probably quit while I’m still ahead.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Suburban Voice blog #131


The poster accompanying the press release touts this as Washington vs. Indiana,with the former represented by Kid Chrome, Lysol and Stiff Love 7" slabs and the latter by odds 'n sods compilation LPs from Liquids and Erik Nervous. Neck Chop keeps cranking out a quality assortment of spirited punk sounds.

Out of the Pacific Northwest comes the latest from Lysol, two songs of slam-bang punk. "Teenage Trance" is a collision of hardcore and garage, throwing in a nod to Bad Brains' "Right Brigade." Meanwhile, "Chemical Reaction" has a purer garage feel, with a keyboard-less Hank Wood and the Hammerheads type arrangement. All you need to know is it fuckin' rocks.

The two other 7"s from that part of the country include people from Lysol. Kid Chrome is the nom-de-punk for Chad Bucklew's solo project. His latest musical ommunique features three re-recorded songs from earlier demos and the recordings are sharper and clearer but far from pretty or polished. The rhythm remains mechanized but the guitar riffs slash and burn and the vocals are full of soulful howls. Stiff Love has Lysol's Christine Lundberg (under the name Lazy Susan) handling guitar and vocals and their four song  Trouble 7" is a fun 'n brash garage punk excursion, with sneaky hooks and a whomping backbeat. What's not to love?

Northwest Indiana, as many of you probably know, has been a hotbed of quirky, weirdo punk for the past several years, an incestuous scene where it seems like everyone involved plays in multiple bands or have their own solo type projects. Liquids' Hot Liqs Revenge offers 20 rip roarin' tracks in about 30 minutes (19 are listed and the one that isn't is a rough 'n ready cover of Nick Lowe's "Heart In The City.") I can't keep up with the band's prolific discography but, as far as I can tell, this is the first time these songs have been on vinyl, although they've been available digitally. Liquids mastermind Mat Williams has a pure punk rock 'n roll heart and he takes the traditional trappings and lowers the fidelity, more on some tracks than others. "Don't Give A Fuck About You" is the attitude and that's there in spades. Almost all of 'em are loud, fast and snotty.

Erik Nervous (real last name Hart), who is actually from Kalamazoo, MI and not Indiana, has a similarly minimalist bent. He also orders listeners to "stop calling it DEVO-core." Well, Erik has a point, because these songs won't make you think of the Spuds from O-H-I-O. The closest he comes to that is synth-driven track "(Do The) Simulate." If anything, he draws from the Urinals (who he covers) and early Wire, along with jabbing post-punk ("Misfit Right In" sounds like Delta 5). "&&&" is near pop. There are some offbeat cover versions--the somewhat obscure "Bridgeport Lathe," by the Boston band the 2x4's, which is a longtime favorite song of mine. It sounds a bit off but I'm impressed he (un)covered it (pun intended). His dismemberment of blues chestnut "I'm A Man" is also quite entertaining. For bedroom recordings, the fidelity isn't that low, either. Taken from a number of demos and 7"s on Total Punk and Neck Chop plus a few unreleased songs and only a small sampling of what he's released over the years. Check out for a lot more. (



Deranged Records has been going strong for over a decade and a half at this point and label founder Gord continues to put out quality releases. The latest batch includes some gems, although not all of them fall into that category. Chicagoans Tarantüla maintain their full-bore power on their third 7" The Very Best of Sex and Violence. They could have added "drugs" to the title, as well, as three of the songs here deal with substance use and abuse. The musical attack remains muscular, mid-tempo punk rock 'n roll with gutteral vocals and, as I've written before, it sounds more complete and focused than Tarantüla's predecessor Cülo. 

Damagersself-titled 7" is a vinyl pressing of their demo from last year and provides a bruising hardcore punk assault with a bootboy undertow. Nothing new or different, just loud and energetic fodder with floor-thumping drumming and plenty of anger.
No Problem's third full length, Let God Sort 'Em Out, is their first in four years and they still offer urgent and earnest melodic punk. The title track is a collage of musical and audio samples, with the main rhythm coming from DYS' "Wolfpack" (cool) and that fades into their west coast-inspired sounds, albeit with a darker undertow at times. "Warpaint" comes on strong with a vintage Adolescents-tinged approach. "Eyes Of A Killer" and "Let It Bleed Pt. II" both have a sinister edginess. The heart-on-sleeve sentiment sometimes gets more than a bit obvious--"No Justice No Peace" comes to mind--but it's in the right place.

Spiritual Cramp probably take their name from the Christian Death song but don't sound like that band and the lead off track on their Police State EP is called "Spiritual Cramp" but its not a cover version. It's also the best song by far, a feisty, energetic garage punk stomper. Unfortunately, the other three songs don't live up that--the lilting reggae of "850 Bryant," the reggae/rock of "I Feel Bad Bein' Me" and melodic "Blood Clot" are a complete letdown after that promising start. Strong lyrical messages, describing the grittiness of their San Francisco home, but the music doesn't match up.

Criminal Code are another band who haven't been heard from in a bit--2534 is their first album since 2013 and second overall. They continue to ply melody-driven punk mixed with goth but, while they had a shimmery rawness in the past, that's been cleaned up on this new collection. There are strong hooks on such songs as "Exiled" and "Cancer," but it seems as though some of the band's previous edginess has been lost. The expanded lengths on the closing tracks for each side tend to drag things out. Still, they exhibit solid tunecraft and, at times, you can hear echoes of a band like the Chameleons. It just doesn't leave all that strong an impression. (


... or FTWNU2 for short. That's the moniker for a relatively new label out of Minnesota. They specialize in brutal hardcore. Not a pop song to be found on the pair of 7"s or two CDs that showed up here. The Hive/No Skin split 7" is a rager. Hive have a crusty heaviness on their two songs, punctuated by soul-screaming vocals. But I prefer the flip. No Skin, in case you missed my review of their 12", includes Ben Crew from In Defence and Damage Deposit. Rabid, raw hardcore punk done the right way, boiling over with venomous intent.

Bonefire also pack a of rage into their Murderapolis CD. Energetic Motörcharged hardcore punk, pulling a few early Final Conflict tricks out of their collective amps. Nothing to change the world but the production is raw and the there's some nasty bass rumble underneath everything. Includes two somewhat unnecessary live tracks but the five studio tracks are worthwhile.

I'm not as enamored with Dissident Clone. Their Civilized CD is pretty much by-the-numbers grind/thrashcore/death metal created by two guys handling all the instruments and vocals. Blasting away in pretty much tuneless fashion. Creating The Consumed is a vinyl pressing of a 2014 recording, just guitar and drums, no bass, maybe a little more on the death metal side of things. (PO Box 822, Hopkins, MN 55343,



AQUARIUM-Hex (Lumpy, 12")

Jittery, wiry, garagey, post-punk from Minneapolis, but all the lyrics are in German. One of the band members played in the similarly-minded band Uranium ClubNo matter the language, the vocals are spirited and so is the music. It had me thinking of early west coast punk purveyors like the Urinals, Modern Warfare and the Plugz, in that the band favors a kinetic, trebly sound. An angular attack. (

BASEBALL FURIES-All-American Psycho (Big Neck, LP)

A reissue of the Furies' 1999 10" EP, adding on the four songs from their 1998 "Sounds Of Mayhem" 7" to add up to twelve inches of prime, raw 'n nasty garage punk. Distorted, nasally vocals and a gnarled and barbed mess of low-fidelity slop. I mean that in the best possible way. Sure, "Rapid Fire Attack" borrows a little from "I Got A Right," but they condense it to a minute and a quarter of fury. "Last Man," which was the last track on the original 10", is a cacophonous rave-up. And the four songs from the 7" are even rougher-sounding. To use a hoary reference from the movie where they took their name, time to come out and play. But watch out for the bats. (38977 Thomas Mill Rd., Leesburg, VA 20175,

BLANKZ-White Baby/Sissy Glue (Slope, 7")/(I Just Want To) Slam/Baby's Turning Blue (Slope, 7")

The gimmick for this Phoenix band is to release a bunch of 7"s and then press them on a 12". Here are the first two installments. Driving, catchy new wavish-punk with an early LA feel and also along the lines of the Briefs. Things do feel a bit forced and obvious at times but "Sissy Glue," in particular, has a winning charm, driven along by cheesy keyboards. I just wish it was a bit grittier-sounding. (


BROWN SUGAR-Long Strange Drip (Feral Kid/The Loki Label, LP)/Adumdum (Feral Kid/The Loki Label, tape)
Two compilations and over an hour and a half of music (35 songs stretching over almost an hour on the 12"! Talk about bang for your buck...). "Long Strange Drip" collects the band's various 7"s and flexis, plus a few unreleased songs, starting with a rockin' cover of "Hey Joe." The tape features live material and various demo songs, including a cover of Antidote's rather racist "Foreign Job Lot." What makes it funny is the fact that their vocalist, Eddie, is an undocumented immigrant. Brown Sugar were always a wonderful mess, a cascade of punk, hardcore, garage and rock 'n roll with a devil-may-care wittiness. Not that there wasn't a message with the madness--"Deportation" certainly deals with a serious topic. The sharp wit also comes out in the detailed liner notes written by their guitarist Brandon. There was an evolution over time as a good chunk of the earlier material had a thrashy emphasis but still exhibited a good amount of musical skill. They eventually broadened their horizons a bit, while always having a manic and frenetic edge. The live set on "Adumdum," recorded in Cleveland, has them going full-tilt but never falling into disarray. Considering that Eddie was usually charging around like a madman during their sets and I'm sure that it was a wild scene, that's quite an accomplishment. Never predictable and always potent. (

FIRE HEADS-s/t (Big Neck, LP)

Another band with the involvement of the ever-busy/ubiquitous Bobby Hussy, who also recorded and mixed it. Fire Heads incorporate strains of punk, garage and even country/roots music. No acoustic guitars, though, except for the last track "Night Comes Again," an almost Jandek-type solo guitar/vocal piece that eventually gets subsumed by feedback. Most of the songs are at a high-energy clip, providing a headlong rush, while also maintaining a melodic sensibility. Pretty good. (38977 Thomas Mill Rd., Leesburg, VA 20175,

GALLERY NIGHT-s/t (Big Neck, 7")

Big rock-riffarola by this Milwaukee three piece, including a former member of the Baseball Furies. A whoop 'n holler, AmReppy Stooges-meets-Jesus Lizard inspiration fused to a propulsive grind and they pound their way through your senses. Ugly and heavy, but with plenty of rhythmic drive. (38977 Thomas Mill Rd., Leesburg, VA 20175,


GELD-Perfect Texture (Iron Lung, 12")/Demo EP (Nopatience, 7")
A wild hardcore ride. On Australian band Geld's 12" debut, there's an ominous lead-in for about half of opening track "Cleaver" and then the sonic eruption begins. Razor-gargling vocals mixed into a relentless attack but they mix odd guitar effects and phasing in there, along with some formidable shredding. Pronounced echoes of 80s-era Italian hardcore turned into something fresh. It's a twisted concoction, leading to the sputtering, cataclysmic conclusion of "Parasitic Fucker," where everything fades out except for Al's vocals, howling right 'til the end. Meanwhile, Nopatience Records has pressed their 2016 demo onto vinyl. There's not as much of the swarm effect but they still leave behind a wanton trail of destruction. Fast 'n raw. (;

GEN POP-II (Feel It, 7")

Olympia band with Maryjane and Ian from Vexx. The first two songs, "Oh No" and "No Change," are loud 'n fast hardcore chargers and just when you think this is going to be pure rage, they go do a near 180 into the moody 'n brooding "Plastic Comb" and follow that with the art-punk attack of "Waxing State." Then it's back to the hardcore races for "No Identify" (part of it, at least) and then another dose of jarring art-punk. Quite a ride and it keeps you guessing as to what will come next. (PO Box 25045, Richmond, VA 23260,


GIANT HAYSTACKS-This Is All There Is (Mistake, CD)
This Is All There Is is an anthology of this Bay Area band's singles and EPs, plus one song recorded live on WFMU. A post-punk pulse but there were always melodic underpinnings, accompanying the dynamic, jabbing interplay. There's a familiarity in what you're hearing (Minutemen, especially, but it wasn't a reenactment of their influences. Giant Haystacks mixed those with observational lyrics done in a non-sloganeering style. Singing instead of shouting out any sort of obvious buzz phrases. It's hard to believe it's been over a decade since this band existed but the material still sounds fresh and brash. (

INSINUATIONS-Prompt Critical/US Muscle (Feel It, 7")

Obscure, quirky punk from Richmond ca. 1980. Punk is kind of a misnomer, so would be art-punk or post-punk but Insinuations don't follow your standard KBD blueprint. Two offbeat, engaging compositions with male/female vocals and barbed, minimalist instrumentation. Satirical lyrics about a nuclear meltdown on the a-side and a poke at the so-called American dream on the flip. (

LANDLORDS-Hey! It's A Teenage House Party (Feel It, LP)

Awhile back, Feel It put out an unreleased Landlords album, Fitzgerald's Paris and now there's a reissue of this Charlottesville, VA band's album from 1984. Two of the people, John Beers and Charlie Kramer, went on to do Happy Flowers. It's a joyous hardcore punk smorgasbord that incorporates the standard thrash of the day, along with some tuneful and heavy metal elements. Collegiate wiseasses making a fun racket. There's also a cover of Moving Sidewalks' (Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top's early band) garage/psych chestunt "99th Floor." Some of that wit showed up later on in the Flowers was certainly incubated in the Landlords, although there could be darker lyrical material, as well. Includes a booklet with lyrics, flyers, photos and reminiscences and the download tacks on another 18 demo songs. (

LITHICS-Mating Surfaces (Kill Rock Stars, CD)

Sharp, jabbing art-punk or post-punk or whatever hackneyed expression you want to use. Rock critic crutches for sure, but that's where Portland, OR band Lithics are coming from on their second album, following 2016's Borrowed Floors. Tightly-executed compositions with busy instrumental interplay and Aubrey Hornor's detached-sounding vocals. At times, there's a UK flavor to them. "Still Forms" is reminiscent of the Fire Engines, for instance. "Boyce," meanwhile, has a No Wave flavor. Sometimes, they go for more of a straight-ahead punk sound, as with "Flat Rock" or "Dancing Guy," the latter of which also has some stop/start no wavish-flourishes. Nervy and edgy, throughout. (

MALE PATTERNS-Headaches (Peterwalkee, LP)

Male Patterns had a song on their first 7" called "Pissed and Old" and you could say they're just as pissed. Maybe more so. Definitely older, as the 7" came out in 2015. Well-played anger-driven hardcore that's semi-catchy, like a cross between 86 Mentality and Poison Idea. The title track is a cogent expression of frustration and anger borne of life's monotony. Yup, life's a pain in the ass. So play loud and tell the neighborhood kids to get the fuck off your lawn. (

NEUTRALS-Promotional Compact Disk (self-released, CD)

Neutrals is Giant Haystacks guitarist/vocalist Allan McNaughton's latest band, following his stint with Airfix Kits. Two demos--one from 2016, one from 2016--on one CD, in case you weren't paying attention. This is a simpler, straight-forward and tuneful approach as opposed to the post-punk angularity of Giant Haystacks (although that's a subtle element). Instead, it's a mainly different strain, taking more from late 70s UK, Rough Trade bands. Lyrical wittiness, as well--"Swiss" points out that while the band are "Neutrals," they are not Swiss, while tweaking some of that country's traditions (neutrality, Swiss Army knives, Kleenex--the band, not the product). Once again, using the past as an inspiration but it's not a sepia-toned image. (

NO LOVE-Choke On It (Sorry State, LP)

Feverish and frenetic punk by this NC band (including Sorry State honcho Daniel Lupton). There's melody but there's also a high bash quotient that keep the songs surging along. I hear a little bit of White Lung (without the gothic trappings) and Brain F≠, the latter due to the sonic dustcloud effect, and these are thrown into a hardcore swirl. Re-recordings of the two songs from their 2015 7" plus a cover of ISS's "Back Taxes & Anaphylaxis," given a rocked-up reading and riding an engaging guitar line. Three years since the 7", worth the wait. (

OPTION-The Hour Of Action (demo)
This Boston three piece includes Dan from No Sir I Won't and Brain Killer and Sam from Innocent and Mundo Muerto. Continuting in a somewhat similar vein as NSIW, only sharper. Punchy UK-style anarcho punk with an urgent delivery and top-not playing--buzzing guitar and a pumping rhythmic undertow, along with outspoken lyrics given a forceful delivery. And it's all quite catchy, especially "The Front Page." (

PEZZ-More Than You Can Give Us (Truant, LP)
The songs on Pezz's latest were recorded in 2012 but are just now seeing a vinyl and digital release.This Memphis unit has always plied a melodic take on punk, along with impassioned lyrics that takes on societal concerns with a first person approach, such as with "Welcome To Palestine."    The title track is the best of the lot, providing an energetic surge of older Bad Religion-inspired power and closing song "Guilty" provides a speed-driven conclusion. About the only misstep is the nearly four minute ballad "Miss You So Bad" and, sorry, I'm in favor of keeping cellos out of punk. Not bad, otherwise. They've beefed things up with a three guitar lineup and everything meshes well, a combination of burn and tunefulness. (;


THE PROLETARIAT-The Murder Of Alton Sterling (Bridge Nine, 7")
Yes, new stuff by the Proletariat, their first new recordings in over 30 years. 3/4 of the original lineup--Rick Brown, Peter Bevilaqua and Tom McKnight are joined by new guitarist Don Sanders. Not exactly picking up where they left off, after their somber-sounding "Indifference" album (which was culled from different sessions). The two songs here are aggressive, in-your-face punk, with the title track a sub-two minute rage session ripped from the headlines, as they say, about an unarmed black man being gunned down by the police. "Push Back" infuses a post-punk pulse into a rocking arrangement. A good return and they've got more new material already in the pipeline. (

RULETA RUSA-Viviendo Una Maldicion (Sorry State, LP)

First full-length album since 2013's Aqui No Es and featuring re-recordings of the 7 songs on their Euro 12" from 2015, plus three new originals and bashing covers of two songs by early 80s Spanish band Paralisis Permanente. A rough 'n tumble array of fast-paced hardcore mixed with tuneful punk ("Vivre Sin Ti" is damn near poppy), along with raspy vocals sung in Spanish. No translations but a title like "Todos Es Mierda" gives a pretty good indication where they're coming from--"World Of Shit." There's an anger in the way the words are projected but the music has an energetic, upbeat appeal. Scrappy and boisterous. (

STUN EVENT-s/t (Antitodo, LP)

Despite the fact that this band includes three former members of Out Cold--vocalist Keven Mertens, drummer John Evicci and guitarist Freddy Defecto adding some lead work (Kevin also plays guitar)-- Stun Event don't really sound like that band. The songs here are herky-jerky hardcore compositions with odd time signatures. There's a post-punk or even jazzy sensibility, but it's something they incorporate instead of it being an obvious element. There aren't always standard song structures or the brevity has them moving on to the next one just about when you've gripped what's playing. In other words it's fairly hookless but the playing is sharp and intense. (,


TOZCOS-Sueños Deceptivos (Verdugo, LP)
Rough hardcore punk en Espanol from this Santa Ana, CA band, although there are European punk influences, as well. Monse's vocals exude raspy rage and passion and the band sound muscular, with a warm, buzzing guitar tone. There's nuance, though, and darker, semi-goth shadings emerge on "Ritmo De La Muerte" and there's also a near-four minute, intense dirge in "Un Hogar." Most of the time, though, they play at a mid-to-fast clip and avoid having the "all the songs sound the same" syndrome. Solid live band too. (

TV SLIME-Slime Demon (Byaaaaaah!, 7")

The first release in three years from this Chicago crew and their second 7" overall and it's a riff monster, much heavier than their debut. Crushing, punk-driven AmRep style rock, in the same ballpark as a band like Metz, only meaner-sounding. Three sturdy mid-tempo blasts plus one speed bomb ("Timber"). Ugly and crushing. (


LIFE IS POSERS--Inflammable Metropolis
The latest installment of Mike "Rufio" Kadoyima's Life Is Posers comic series is about the return of Poserton punk legends The Opposers, about to play their first show in over 20 years. Needless to say, this creates much excitement for Bazz and Skuzz and their punk compatriots. In fact, Bazz is so excited that he can't wait the month until the show and enlists his friend Spit to create a time travel elixir, which is a "carefully crafted mixture PCP, crushed pills, lemon blast moonshine and formaldehyde." As you'd imagine, the results don't come out as expected. And having Frisbee and the Ratpunks opening the show creates other problems, big ones...

For this issue, Rufio has enlisted other artists to draw panels and there are multiple contributions at the end that capture a pivotal Posterton punk event and many of these drawings take a very dark turn. Another thing to look out for are the selections of Posteron's various food establishments. You can get Rudimentary Panini at UK Subs or Springa Rolls at the Chinese Takeaway food truck.

Entertaining as always and Rufio's created his own little on-line punk kingdom where not only can you check out his books but also sample the music of Posterton's various bands, including the Opposers. (