Saturday, November 24, 2018

Suburban Voice blog #133


JUDY AND THE JERKS

TIME TO ATTACK THE DEMO TAPE PILE

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. (uncommitted.bandcamp.com)

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. (bunkerpunks.bandcamp.com)

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. (morepowertapes.bandcamp.com)

LAWMAN

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. (lawman-rnr.bandcamp.com)

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. (sickburn.bandcamp.com)

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. (barricadedsuspects.bandcamp.com)

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. (morepowertapes.bandcamp.com

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. (judyandthejerks.bandcamp.com)

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. (slaughterrule.bandcamp.com)

MUSIC IN OTHER FORMATS...

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. (abolitionist.bandcamp.com)

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. (deathwishinc.com/collections/radio-raheem)

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 (www.slugsaltrex.com)

BLOOD PRESSURE

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, beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)

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. (warthogspeak.com)

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. (www.slugsaltrex.com)

C.H.E.W.

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. (lifeironlungdeath.blogspot.com)

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. (chillerpgh.bandcamp.com)

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. (collate.bandcamp.com)

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. (atomicaction.bandcamp.com

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, beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)

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. (digitalregress.com)

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. (wfbrecords.com)

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. (muelltuete.bandcamp.com)

NEGATIV

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? (mirthlesslaughterrecords.com)

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, publicacid.bandcamp.com)

RAT CAGE

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. (lavidaesunmus.com)

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. (www.phantom.tk)

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. (hellmindedrecords.com)

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. (silverscreams.bandcamp.com)

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. (www.voodoorhythm.com)

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. (wfbrecords.com)

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, beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)

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. (kitschyspirit.com)

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??!! (atomicaction.bandcamp.com)

VITAMIN X

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. (www.southernlord.com)

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. (atomicaction.bandcamp.com)

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. (wfbrecords.com)

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)


PROTO-THIS ‘N THAT

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 whoneedsrecords@sonicoverload.net. 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



NECK CHOP ROUND SIX

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 eriknervous.bandcamp.com for a lot more. (neckchoprecords.com)


SOME DERANGED MUSIC


TARANTÜLA

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. (www.derangedrecords.com)




FUCK THE WORLD... AND YOU TOO!

... 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, www.ftwnu2.com)


OPTION

YOU WANT SOME MORE?  

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. (www.lumpyrecords.com)

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, bigneckrecords.com)

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. (sloperecords.com)

BROWN SUGAR

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. (feralkidrecords.bigcartel.com/thelokilabel.storeenvy.com)

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, bigneckrecords.com)

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, bigneckrecords.com)

GELD

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. (www.ironlungrecords.com; www.nopatience.org)

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, feelitrecordshop.com)

GIANT HAYSTACKS

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. (gianthaystacks.bandcamp.com)

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. (www.feelitrecordshop.com)

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. (www.feelitrecordshop.com)

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. (killrockstars.com)

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. (www.peterwalkeerecords.com)

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. (neutrals.bandcamp.com)

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. (www.sorrystaterecords.com

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." (anotheroption.bandcamp.com)

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. (facebook.com/pezz.memphis; marvinstockwell@gmail.com)


THE PROLETARIAT

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. (www.bridge9.com)

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. (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

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. (antixtodo@gmail.com, stunevent.bandcamp.com


TOZCOS

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. (verdugodiscos.storenvy.com)

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. (tvslime.bandcamp.com)

PRINTED MATTER:




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. (lifeisposers.bigcartel.com)


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Suburban Voice blog #130


(This installment was originally published in Maximum Rocknroll last year...)



HOW MUCH ART CAN YOU TAKE?

When people think of Boston’s original punk era, their attention is usually focused on bands like the Real Kids, Unnatural Axe, LaPeste, Neighborhoods, DMZ and Nervous Eaters. They think of legendary clubs like The Rat (or Rathskeller, as it was formally known). Thing is, while those bands were doing something loud and energetic, it was still rock ‘n roll based. Nothing complicated, nothing too arsty-fartsy.

Still, there were bands who had artier inclinations, who came from a different muse than the more rock ‘n roll oriented bands. Not that they didn’t rock but there was a wider variety of influences and approaches. Ground Zero, The Girls and The Molls are a few examples.

Ground Zero released a pair of 7” EPs, in 1979 and 1980, each with four songs, all of them compiled onto a self-titled album on the Rave-Up label as part of their “American Lost Punk Rock Nuggets” series. In addition, there’s a nearly half-hour video called Televoid. It’s a video and aural bombardment that’s mostly a collage of miscellaneous clips and a few glimpses of the band in the live setting.  The song “Ground Zero” is accompanied by video of nuclear tests, while “Cybernetic War” shows a primitive video game (Asteroids, maybe?). No narration or words of wisdom from the band. They let the art speak for itself.




To give a bit of background, Ground Zero formed at the Star Systems Loft in Boston’s South End. I never had the privilege of going there but it was an early DIY space and was home to a number of performances by the likes of LaPeste, The Girls and Mission of Burma and visiting acts like The Contortions (my god, can you imagine what it must have been like to see those guys at a loft show?) According to the liner notes on the Rave-Up abum, Star Systems was “a group of musicians, film makers, photographers, xerographers, artists, and videographers who decided to join skills to produce an anarchic, movable musical and visual feast combining post-war angst, deconstructed 60s pop with Dada and existential influences.” Pretty heady stuff—certainly an ambitious scope. And if that seems too arty for you, at their core, Ground Zero dished out some pretty hard-edged fodder. One can hear similarities to Chrome, with the drill-press guitar sound and synth washes. But Ground Zero were capable of straight-ahead punk blasts, too, as with “Nothing” on the first 7”. That song ended up on the Killed By Death #12 compilation, and the liner notes were kind of dismissive of them (dross and pseudopunks were two terms used), but they’re wrong. The sleeve for that first 7” comes in an oversized full-color xerox jobbie with small images from live shows. Not quite abstract but certainly leaning that way.


THE GIRLS

The Girls were also part of that loft scene and they’d also play places like the Punkt/Data Gallery and their practice space was at the Modern Theatre, a building that bordered on Boston’s “adult entertainment” district the Combat Zone (the Modern also screened adult films in the 70s). During their existence, ca. 1976 to 1980, they only released one 7”, “Jeffrey I Hear You,” on Pere Ubu linchpin David Thomas’ Hearthan label. Mr. Thomas produced it, in fact. It’s one of the great lost gems from that era of Boston punk, a nearly six minute excursion that builds to a psychotic conclusion. Daved Hild’s vocals become increasingly desperate and unhinged and the song’s driving rock is punctuated by Robin Amos’ synth mania, which was a key part of their sound. The b-side is a nice bit of Ubu-esque melody-meets-atonality. 

 


Besides the 7”, there was a 1986 album Reunion that wasn’t a reunion but a collection of unreleased songs, along with “Jeffrey” (but not “Elephant Man”). The quality of material varies but they hit the mark a good chunk of the time. “Vietcong Women,” with its synth drone and eastern guitar lick would, once again, fit in nicely on an early Ubu album. They were capable of wanton punk bash, as well, on the relentless “Keep It Simple” and “Methodist Church,” which cribs a bit from the Sex Pistols’ “Sub-Mission.” Elements of Krautrock certainly inspired their music, Can in particular. If you listen to that band’s “Father Can’t Yell,” it’s not too hard to discern where they were coming from on “Jeffrey.” In fact, Amos later worked with former Can vocalist Damo Suzuki in his band Cul-De-Sac.

Unfortunately, the single and album are long out-of-print and definitely worthy of reissue. There are a couple of easier-to-find releases. Live At The Rathskeller 5.17.79, with somewhat lo-fidelity sound quality, but they effectively bash their way through their material. Some real punk scorchers here, “Just Got Back” and “Stiff Bird” in particular. The 2015 Feeding Tube Records release Punk-Dada Pulchritude (a pretty good description) is a collection of rough-sounding early demos. Opening track “Never Did Believe In” is a numbing, repetitive mindblower and the best song by far. There are two versions of “Little Suburban Territory” and the second one dabbles in No Wave mania. They were more experimental at this point, not yet veering into more traditional punk territory. 




The Molls' single White Stains is a stomping avant-punk classic. It had the requisite pogo punch but was accompanied by driving keyboards and even electric bassoon. Future Mission of Burma drummer Peter Prescott played on the record. They played the first punk show I ever saw, with The Plasmatics at the Rat. They didn’t upstage Wendy and her chain saw but I remember that particular song. The b-side, “Is Chesty Dead,” is atonal skronk and not as memorable. 
Most of these guys went on to play in Someone and the Somebodies in the 80s, with a fair amount of success. Their best song, “People Are Dumb,” was only released as a demo. That’s something I’ve been singing a LOT lately. Their bass player Tris Lozaw became a music journalist, one of the few credible local rock scribes.



If any of this intrigues you, my old friend Jordan Kratz (from early Boston punk band The Transplants) has a website with a shitload of free downloads including music from all three bands. Hit it up at www.bigmeathammer.com/koehler.htm. Make sure you check out The Transplants, too. They were more of a straight-forward punk band and had LaPeste drummer Roger Tripp in their ranks for a time.


Saturday, April 07, 2018

Suburban Voice blog #129

 
TIM (right) and MARTIN SPROUSE, 1987
(from MRR site)

IN TRIBUTE TO TIM...

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Tim Yohannan, one of the founders of Maximum Rocknroll. Tim passed away on April 3, 1998, from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was only 52 years old. I’ve written about my interactions with Tim in different print outlets in the past but I'll re-tell them in case you missed it the first time around. 

I stayed at MRR headquarters a few times, in March 1985 when he was living in Berkeley and again in October 1986, when they were on Clipper St. in San Francisco. That has to have been one of the steepest hills I ever walked up. My shins still ache just thinking about it. I even got to be a shitworker when I was there, helping to pack up and ship out a new issue, which was #43. I just took the issue out and there I am, forever immortalized. Maybe “got to be” wasn’t the right term. I think drafted might have been more appropriate. I suppose it was a fair trade for the free lodging and being able to tape a bunch of the records in the MRR collection. I mean record them—not actually put the legendary green tape on the record covers. That was one task I didn’t get to take part in. 

Tim had me on the radio show a couple of times. In case you don't know the story of MRR, it actually started as a radio show in 1977 and the zine began in 1982. I have a tape of my first appearance and listened to it awhile back. No wonder he made fun of my Mass. accent. It was pretty bad back then. I’ve managed to rein it in a bit over the years but it still slips out. The second time Tim had me on the radio show, he came up with the brilliant (devious?) idea of having me interview the Virginia band Unseen Force, even though I’d never heard their music and only knew at least one of ‘em had been in White Cross. Incredibly, I managed to get through it without making a complete idiot of myself—at least I don’t think I did. I remember Tim also took me over to the as-yet-unopened Gilman Street Project and had me get up on a ladder and hammer in a few boards—“now you can say you helped build this place.” 

Even though we didn't agree about everything and he could be intransigent in some of his beliefs, he always treated me very well and made me feel at home. He was supportive of my work over the years, something I’ve always appreciated. Before my first trip to the Bay Area, I was already contributing to the zine, doing scene reports and the occasional interview, so I was already acquainted with him. People would always mention his hilarious seal-like laugh and that was one of the first things I also noticed when I met him. I wasn’t really following baseball at that point, but he seemed excited that the Red Sox were in the ’86 World Series against the Mets (let’s not mention Bill Buckner, OK?) and, now that I’m more of a diehard Sox fan than ever, I’ll note that any native of New Jersey who roots for the Sox is OK in my book.

Tim did give me crap about being a fan of Agnostic Front and the FUs—I think he believed I was some kind of right-winger or at least tolerant of those elements because of the reputation of certain segments of Boston and NYC’s hardcore scene. That was far from the case, though. Even back then, I knew how dumb AF’s anti-welfare song “Public Assistance” was. And when my politics took a sharper turn to the left after the ’94 Republican takeover of Congress and their Contract ON America, he made a positive note of it in a letter to me just before he passed away. 

I always appreciated MRR, period. People like to rip on it, question its relevance, question its dogmatism. One of my dear friends originally contacted me on-line because she was a fan of my column in AMP, which I wrote for for a number of years. When I told her that I felt more privileged to write for MRR, she sniffed that the ‘zine is elitist. I told her that she was entitled to her opinion but getting the opportunity to take up 2000 or so words of valuable space in each issue was something that I truly appreciated.


MRR really meant a lot to me during those first few years after college, where I had a lot of confusion/anxiety over what direction my life would be taking. Was it going to be a so-called straight career path? Within six months after graduating, that was clearly not the case—or so I thought. I still ended up taking a job at a bank as a teller and simultaneously got a one-room studio apartment in Lynn. 

By then, hardcore and punk had become a much bigger part of my life. I remember bringing my copies to work with me at the bank where I was employed and I’d peruse it in the lunch room—wondering if I’d be in trouble if one of the bank’s officers came in and saw the cover of whatever issue I was reading. How would they react to the cover of issue #6, the infamous “The Dicks: A Commie Faggot Band???!”? Nah, one of ‘em, Tom, was probably too busy harassing female employees. I found out later on that he got into some hot water over that. Anyway, all of those issues are in plastic bags but quite yellowed since I didn’t take care of ‘em for a long time. That musty newspaper smell isn’t all that pleasant on the occasions when I’ll pull them out of the plastics but it’s more than compensated for by having an opportunity to once again read a first-hand history of hardcore as it was unfolding.

TIM IN HIS VOLVO (from Lavella-Blog!)

While Tim could be dogmatic and had a narrow definition of what was or wasn’t punk, his knowledge and passion always came out in his writing. Who could forget his review for Die Kreuzen’s first album—“This is fucking great! This is fucking great! This is fucking great…” repeated nearly ad infinitum. Sure, it didn’t exactly convey the musical contents but you had to figure if it had such an enthusiastic stamp of approval, it was probably at least decent. Same for New Bomb Turks' !!Destroy-Oh-Boy!!” album. Tim’s 1993 review said it was the best record of the past five years. Once again, I figured it’d at least be halfway decent and that was an understatement. From the opening buzzsaw chords of “Born Toulouse-Lautrec,” it was like all the shitty music I’d been listening to in recent years got blown away with one sonic blast. It’d take a few years before I stopped listening to godawful grunge music and warmed-over cock rock and get rid of the long hair but it was definitely a step in the right direction. So thanks Tim. Thanks for giving me a shot as a writer and thanks for the musical recommendations. It’s time to pay the best tribute I can—put on that Turks album nice and loud…

... AND NOW, AS WE SAY IN MASSACHUSETTS, REKKID REVIEWS...

FLOWER

BIG CHEESE-Aggravated Mopery (Quality Control HC, 7")
There's a less-than-subtle late-80s NYHC sound in this band's oeuvre but damn if they don't have it down, drawing from Sick Of It All and Leeway in particular. I’m reminded of the former due to the vocal delivery and the latter from the metallic riffery that pops up here and there. The production even has the cavernousness of that era of hardcore but it’s not a detriment. Bringing back the floor-pounding Sunday matinee sound. Nicely packaged with a foldout lyric poster. (qualitycontrolhc.bigcartel.com

CLUSTERFUCK-Losing The War Of Ideas (self-released, 12")
This was released in mid-2016 (just got it recently, though), right before that dark day in November and maybe the war of ideas has been lost since then. Clusterfuck reconvene from different parts of the country every few years--they've been doing the band since 2003--and this was actually their first 12" since 2009. More spirited and tuneful hardcore with a good amount of sarcasm and absurdism in the lyrics. Not overtly political, reading more as prose than any sort of standard verse/chorus/verse structure. At times, it comes across like a less-frenetic Flag Of Democracy i.e. there doesn't seem to be as much caffeine involved. Donny's vocal range goes from hyper to soothing and the brief compositions showcase solid chops that navigate through the high energy songs--fifteen of 'em in a bit over 14 minutes. Ideas are a potent weapon in Clusterfuck's hands, although you have to read between the lines a bit. The music is equally potent. (clusterfuck.computer)

COMBATANT-Sick Plot (Not Like You, 7")
Haven't heard a ton of quality hardcore out of the state of Maine over the years but here come Combatant to raise holy hell. Mean, full-speed ahead old-school bile with a meat-cleaver riffs and in-the-pocket arranging, along with bellicose vocals and sentiments. The production brings out the power without being too slick. Yeah, by the books, but with a savage edge. (www.notlikeyourecords.com)

CYBERPLASM-What Is Flesh? (Fuckers Will Pay, demo)
Heady noise-mongering creating a buzz-stun effect. Chrome and Metal Urbain figure into the equation, with drill-press guitar and mechanized rhythms infused with punk speed, but there's also the nightmarish industrial excursion of "Perfect Body." The entire second side of the tape is taken up with a twelve-and-a-half atmospheric/ambient piece, "The Psychic Hologram," that's pretty unnecessary. The rest is prime, ear-wrecking scorch. (cyberplasm.bandcamp.com)

DEVILS-Iron Butt (Voodoo Rhythm, CD)
For a two-piece, The Devils make one hell (pun intended) of a racket and that continues for their second album Iron Butt. This ain’t no White Stripes garbage, this is raw, nasty garage/blues/punk slop done at a healthy clip—or maybe unhealthy. Sure, there are traditional blues influences--that really comes for the slow cookin’ “White Collar Wolf”—but they harness it to a wanton, high-octane fuzzed-out attack and take you for one nasty hellride. A few different wrinkles here and there, such as the numbing cacophony of “Red Grave,” with an unholy rant from drummer/vocalist Erica Toraldo. To quote a quite different band, the sound of an enormous door slamming into the depths of hell. (www.voodoorhythm.com)

DIATRIBE-The Black Parade (Rancid Cat, LP)
San Diego band Diatribe’s history goes back to the 1980s. Their 1985 Aftermath demo came out on vinyl in 2007 on the Get Revenge label and they’ve been an active band again in recent years, with vocalist Vince Udo the sole original member. Their new 12”, The Black Parade, was recorded between 2012 and 2014 and is finally out, with a limited pressing of 200 copies, on splattered vinyl and with a screened cover. A blunt, rough hardcore punk sound embracing crust, thrash and d-beat and harnessing it to still-angry sentiments. This is all spat out in angry bursts, particularly on songs like “Fraternal Order Of Hate” and “Emblem.” Three decades later, there’s still a bone to pick with the world and raw musical emanations remain a suitable weapon of choice. (diatribe.freehostia.com)

EXILES-No Comply (Shredding Material, CD)
Sturdy mid-tempo punk with melody and incisive lyrics about personal travails and corrupt "democracy." The guitar has a whole lotta buzz and the vocals are earnest-sounding. Listenable, although not really providing any sort of full-on rush. Catchy, though. (theexilesband@gmail.com)

FLOWER-Violent Crusades (demo)
Nothing flowery about this music. It's a raw expression of rage, a maelstrom of fast hardcore and melodic, anarcho-punk shadings, complemented by impassioned vocals. The words aren't flowery either--they express dismay at the ravages of religion, nationalism and a system set up to grind you down. They're all part of an oppressive whole. Potent and powerful, both on this recording and live. (flowernewyorkcity.bandcamp.com)


FUTURA

FUTURA-Spit On The Flag (En Tu Kara, 7")
The words that Erika sings on some of the songs on this EP could very well have been written in the 1980s--at least the title track and "Boom," about nuclear obliteration. The other three songs deal with personal turmoil, especially "Eyes Wide Open," about the death of a relationship. Fast and peppy hardcore punk played with skill and ragtag spirit. (entukara.bigcartel.com)

GAME-Who Will Play (Quality Control HC, flexi) 
I really wish this had been done on vinyl—too much damned surface noise—but Game are a ferocious unit. Opening track “Game” comes charging full-speed out of the gates, coupled with Ola’s angry, raged-filled vocals. “Crush” threatens to stomp itself right through the floor, before kicking into faster gear with a Sacrilege inspiration and you can hear echoes of that elsewhere. Still, Game come down on the hardcore side of things and it’s a murderous attack. Five songs, two of them with Polish lyrics and one of them, the fast and ripping “Rząd i Osioł,” provides an obliterative conclusion. (qualitycontrolhc.bigcartel.com

HAIRCUT-Shutting Down (Feel It, 7")  
No-BS, speedy hardcore punk with some early Poison Idea in the engines. Not exuding originality—what does these days—but they keep the energy level high. It does exude a pointed lyrical outlook, both in English and Spanish. “Fucked Up” is a song about sobriety that’s done without flying a “nailed to the X” straight edge flag, while “Boys Club” is about not needing acceptance from any group of people. Kicking up a storm. (www.feelitrecordshop.com)

ISS-s/t (Sorry State, 7") 
A new four song 7" by the dynamic duo of Eddie Schneider (Brain F≠) and Rich Ivey (Whatever Brains). Hammering mechanized punk, but it sounds human, not robotic. "I Wanna Be Dated" has some serious guitar shredding. "Armchair Aryan (Richard Spencer's Gifts)," in addition to having one of the coolest titles of the year, is a spot-on perfect excoriation of the alt-right dickheads, calling them out for the cowards they are. "C.H.U.D.F.R.E.A.K. Swamp Meet" takes a moodier turn and the kill effect returns for "My Miata." And, yes, once again, there's clever sampling from old punk records, including Dead Kennedys' "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" and Flipper's "Nothing." Fucking brilliant. Eddie told me they've only done a couple of live shows, since he and Rich live in different cities. I hope that changes, at some point. (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

LAUGHING STOCK

LAUGHING STOCK-Rough Crowd (Not Like You, 7")
The vinyl debut for these Massholes, who've been around four years at this point. Manic hardcore with cavernous production and it makes me think back in time to the Mystic Records compilations or the old Toronto band Youth Youth Youth (look 'em up if you've never heard them). There are a few double-speed rhythms, as well as melodic touches, singeing leads and even a split-second skank on "Just My Luck." Not bad at all. (www.notlikeyourecords.com)

M.A.Z.E.-s/t (Abonormal Broadcasting, tape)
Jittery post-punk/garage minimalism from Japan, in glorious trebly low-fidelity. The brittle guitar lines sometimes have a nearly-traditional Japanese feel, but you get the feeling they listen to more Kleenex than shamisen records. For "Spread The Girmicide," it's a funkier arrangement, while "Pain In The Gum" is a sprightly frolic. Their previous demo had more of a poppy approach and, while their are some hooks, these songs sound edgier and rougher. (abnormalbroadcasting.bandcamp.com)

NEGATIVE SPACE-Gestalt (Drunken Sailor/Always Restrictions, LP)
Classic post-punk from the UK that probably should have been in my top ten last year. They're not really sons of Gang of Four, although it's probably not a stretch to say they've listened to that band and Wire. Piercing guitar lines that also flame like embers at times, along with rhythmic perfection, interlocked and intertwined to create a gyrating whole. The bass-lines on this album are massive. The vocals are emotional but it's borne from anger, not lamentation, although the lyrics exude a dark-soul desperation and it culminates with the deliberate, brooding tension of "Payday Loan," that builds to a noisy conclusion, before going into the driving punk of "Without Jealousy." I like these guys for the same reasons I like Mod Vigil or Rank/Xerox. Nods to the past but given a powerful updating. (Drunken Sailor, drunkensailorrecords.co.uk; Always Restrictions, alwaysrestrictions.com)

NO BLUES-s/t (demo)
Members of Ontario ragers Born Wrong do a 180 into tuneful, ragtag punk territory with hooks galore. Bright, snappy compositions but there’s a snarl underneath and the semi-low fidelity gives it all an edge. Pop without the pap. (blowbloodrecords.bandcamp.com)

NUMBER ONES-Another Side Of The Number Ones (Sorry State, 7")
Power-pop that's unafraid to lay on the glop a bit and, alas, it gets a little cutesy. When I say power-pop, I don’t mean the skinny tie variety but the kind of bands you’d hear from the UK and Ireland in the late 70s. Still, the production is rough around the edges and there’s sting in “Lie To Me” and “Long Way To Go,” but a little preciousness goes a long way. (www.sorrystaterecords.com)

OPTION

OPTION-The Hour Of Action (demo)
New Boston band with members of No Sir I Won't, Brain Killer, Innocent, Purgatory and others and it's one hell of a debut. Buzzing, burning Crass-inspired anarcho punk delivered with incredible precision and passion. Max sounds like he's playing two drum kits and locks in perfectly with Dan's nimble bass and Sam's razor-sharp guitar lines. The vocals, mostly from Dan, occasionally from Sam, have an outspoken fervor, particularly for "Four More Years." Even with the somewhat dour sentiments, there's still a musical uplift. This should be on vinyl. (anotheroption.bandcamp.com)

RAD-Sacramento Is Rad +1 (tape)
RAD's latest pays tribute to their Sacramento punk forebears, as well as Poison Idea (“Cult Band,” from Pick Your King is the “+1” selection). They tear through a pair of Rebel Truth songs, “Child Hosts the Parasite” and “All I Know” and one from Lizards, “Coke Up My Butt,” with reckless, yet precise aplomb. Rebel Truth tend to be a bit overlooked so it’s good to see them get the recognition. Maybe RAD could cover Square Cools or Tales of Terror on their next Sacramento tribute. (sacramentorecords.com)

RATS IN THE WALL

RATS IN THE WALL-Warbound (Programme Sounds/Indecision)
RITW, with former F-Minus axeman Brad Logan, have been kicking around for about five or six years, with a number of releases under their belts. The latest is Warbound, a five song 7” that comes with a download that has a bonus track. Stomping and pounding hardcore punk that’s angry and damaged-sounding. It ups the level of intensity heard on their previous recordings. I’ve been using the term “heartfelt punk” as an epithet, lately, to describe beefy punk with an often-corny, heart-on-sleeve style. This really is heartfelt punk, coming from the gut and reveling in not fitting into life’s plastic molds… chafing against authority. Eva’s vocals are pissed-off and raspy and I’m with her when she yells, “and maybe our parents were right—maybe punk rock ruined my life/it’s the only place I’ve ever belonged, my chosen family—as dysfunctional as they come.” Preach! (Programme Sounds, programmesounds.com; Indecision, indecisionrecords.com)

RIK & THE PIGS-Blue Jean Queen (Feel It, 7")
Three new songs from the prolific Pigs, branching into a rawk ‘n roll sound, without as much of the low fidelity. They’ve also added a saxophonist to the lineup and it doesn’t really add much to the songs. They redo “TV Bloopers” and I prefer the roughness of the original. The title track is a fired-up 70s-inspired rocker with vintage references—the Stones, Sonny & Cher, etc and is the best of the trio.“Off/On” is a dragged-out blooze rocker. Kind of disappointing. (www.feelitrecordshop.com)

SECT MARK-Worship (Iron Lung, 12")
Relentless noisy hardcore, driven by killplow bass and burning guitar mangling, along with echo-laden vocal howlings. They're from Italy and it comes across like a mix of their native thrash forebears and Japanese-style hardcore. "Scouts" provides a slightly slower, thumping change of pace, although it mows down everything in its path. Flat out nasty, a fusillade of musical hell being unleashed. And it leaves you wanting more. (ironlungrecords.bigcartel.com)

SKINNED ALIVE

SKINNED ALIVE-s/t (demo)
Even with the paucity of DIY venues around here, Boston’s hardcore punk scene keeps regenerating itself in different permutations. Skinned Alive fit that bill. People from Chain Rank, Combat Zone, Contingent, 2x4, Bloodkrow Butcher and many others plying, as you’d imagine, no-nonsense scorch. Their four song demo tape provides kick-to-the head hardcore buzz mainly in a loud/fast vein, with “Forced To Die” adding a bit of bootboy punch. (J. Damage, 12 Morton St., Somerville, MA 02145, twerpjerks@gmail.com)

SO BE IT-s/t (Deep Six, LP)
So Be It is a punk/noise/sludge metal/hardcore anti-war opera (whew!) created by Siege drummer Robert Williams, who wrote all the music and lyrics, with a few exceptions He enlisted the help of his Siege compatriots Chris Leamy and Ernie Kim, as well as a collection of vocalists from bands both local and around the world to sing the different parts. These include Ami Lawless (Voetsek, Cliterati), Dan Harrington (Fistula), Jeff Heyward (Grief), Stoffel (Yacopsae), Larry Lifeless (Kilslug) and Giulio (Cripple Bastards). The theme, as you probably already guessed, looks at the ravages of war from the perspectives of the dead and the living, all of them victims. You have grieving mothers, both American and Arabic. Ron Kovic from "Born On The Fourth Of July" (voiced by Giulio) makes an appearance. as do the ghosts of a soldier and the corpse of Uncle Sam. You also have a giddy president who can't wait to send more young men off to war.

Inserted into the musical battleground of volume-driven fodder are snippets of "Taps," "The Star-Spangled Banner," the World War I song "Over There" and early 60s R&B song "Soldier Boy." There's also a kick-ass cover of Alice Cooper's "Elected," sung by Jeff Heyward. The cacophonous conclusion, "Mission Accomplished," begins with Larry Lifeless, playing Uncle Sam who has just risen from his casket, intoning those words. According to the written narration, Uncle Sam is joined by the ghost of the soldier and one of the grieving mothers for a kick line. This is done over a dirge that degenerates into a mass of free-form skronk, with Ernie Kim letting loose on his saxophone over the guitar histrionics and hammer-to-anvil-like pound. I'll resist the urge to call it "A Corpse Line" and just say mission accomplished. War sucks and So Be It are here to remind you of that. (deepsixrecords.com)

STAGES IN FAITH-Forgiving Man (Quality Control HC, 7")
Stages In Faith draw inspiration from the melodic punk created by bands in the late 80s/early 90s on both sides of ocean whose members were rooted in hardcore or more aggressive punk but were opting for something more tuneful. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the songs have grit and drive. That’s not really the case here. Decently-crafted but a little too poppy for my liking, especially with the vocal harmonies. (qualitycontrolhc.bigcartel.com)

STALEPHISH-Pole Jams (Not Like You, LP)
Peppy, uptempo skate-themed punk. Musically, this reminds me of the 90s-era melodically-inclined bands. Not Green Day-type swill but music of the snottier variety, something that might have been on the Johann's Face or VML labels. Energetic, with hearty backups, although nothing all that distinctive. And what's up with the hip-hop pisstake at the end? (www.notlikeyourecords.com)

THERAPY-Demo 2018 (demo)
Not to be confused with the 90s-era Irish band Therapy?, this band is from San Diego and the six songs on this tape pack a wicked punch. Fast, bruising hardcore punk with a crusty undertow and hint of Swedish hardcore. Loud production, bringing the band's meat-cleaver riffage and pulverizing rhythms into bold relief, along with Chris' scalding, nasty vocals. A fine debut. (therapysd.bandcamp.com)

TRASH KNIFE-TK (Crapoulet/P.Trash/FDH, 7")
The newest Trash Knife 7" combines four of the songs from their 2016 demo tape with a couple more recorded last year. Slam-bang punk/rock 'n roll filled with both melody and anger, along the lines the Bags or, for a more recent reference point, Neighborhood Brats. Lauren's vocals have a sarcastic, pissed off edge, whether taking aim at self-absorbed selfie takers ("Kill Your Selfie") or abusive restaurant customers ("Tips"). Tuneful but with a razor's edge. (band contact: trashknife.bandcamp.com)

UGLIES-Keeping Up With The Uglies (Nopatience, LP)
A couple of ex-Vaginors play in this loud, fast 'n nasty Australian band. Instead of the loopy punknoxiousness of that band, the Uglies stick to meat 'n potatoes ass-kicking hardcore punk. No wank, no bullshit, although there's a sick bass run on "(I Got No) Self-Control." No suffering of fools, either--that comes out most-blatantly in "Make Punk Great Again" i.e. it's not so much an anti-Trump protest as telling privileged so-called punks to fuck off. And that's just for starters. Ugly and proud? Where have I heard that before? Pure malevolence, gleefully delivered. (nopatiencerecords.bandcamp.com)

VICIOUS CIRCLE-Born To Destroy (Not Like You, LP)
Back to destroy, although Aussie hardcore veterans Vicious Circle have never really gone away. In the 16 page, full-size lyric book that accompanies this record, vocalist/guitarist Paul Lindsay states that, "hardcore, punk, to me, is a way of life. Of being that I carry with me." And, after more than thirty years as a band, the sound is as vital as ever, as is the message. The lyrics speak out against injustices and life's obstacles and tribulations, while also trying to maintain an upbeat, self-empowering attitude. Rough and tumble hardcore, punctuated by Paul's super-gruff vocals, a few metallic licks here and there and executed in bare-knuckled fashion. Long may they rage. (www.notlikeyourecords.com)