Thursday, March 28, 2019

Suburban Voice blog #137


Big Neck Records specialize in provocative sounds most of the time. There's spirit, there's attitude and the bands often make a(n) (in)glorious messy racket. And some of the same parties are responsible for different shades and slices of this sort of mayhem. The split record with Football and White Savage is one such example. Both bands include Jimmy Hollywood and Jered Gummere, who, between them, have logged time in such bands/projects as Tyrades, Baseball Furies, Ponys, Bare Mutants, A/V Murder and a slew more. Both of these bands will bash your fucking skull in although White Savage have a more expansive stew, as the standard guitar/bass/drums instrumentation is augmented by sax and keyboards thrown onto the heap. Football just keep things brief and ugly, with "Hit By Flying Glass" delivering what the title promises.

Richard Vain isn't a person but a band spearheaded by the aforementioned Jered Gummere and quite different. As in totally different. His/their 12" Night Jammer is a mix of shoegaze, Jesus and Mary Chain, early Stereolab and strains of krautrock. Throbbing, fuzzy soundscapes with melancholy vocals and creating a bliss-filled effect. The exceptions are the brief, harder-edged tuneful rush of "Ratz" and the more-bashing "Tar Pits." Music that envelops your senses with volume and hooks.

Dumb Vision's Modern Things is a hard-driving, mainly fast-paced dose of punk energy. It's a dense sound--hammering drums, guitar lines with surfy and garagey tinges. This is delivered with a full-bodied roar, with vocals having a flat, sort of non-expressive nature that are bubbling near or just below the surface. This Madison, WI band create an inviting cacophony that doesn't fit into an easy niche. It's just loud.

Wood Chickens are another Madison band and Well Done! is their second Big Neck album. Cowpoke punk that sometimes gets a little corny although when they nudge up against a Meat Puppets influence, things get interesting. That's the case with "Mall Cop" and "I Live In Your Basement and Eat Mice," while "We Skate In Boots" and "Porkfinger" are manic punk rock joyrides.

Moving on to a couple of archival items, Sweet JAP (or J.A.P. or Japanese American Princesses) were an early 2000s Minneapolis band that included native Japanese members and they released a few EPs and a full length and appeared on a few comps. Be My Venus is a one-sided 12" of unreleased and compilation track material from '03-'04. High energy garage-tinged rock 'n roll cooking up a nice head of steam on "Debusen," "SJAP" and "I'm Only Moonlight," along with the occasional poppier tune (the title track and "La Rock"). I'm not sure this was an essential unearthing but there's some spark here.

The other exhumed offering is a reissue of Lost Sounds' 2000 debut album Dead In Memphis album. It's a more primitive-sounding affair than what followed. Lost Sounds were a three piece at this point--Jay Reatard, Alicja Trout and Rich Crook. A spooky, nightmarish keyboard-drenched collection of gothic rock and garage. Alicja sounds perfectly possessed on "Satan Bought Me." There's a tough garage undertow to "Memphis 99," "Don't Bother Me."and "Don't Ask Why." Some worthy moments, although I think Black Wave remains their high water mark, especially the dramatic and haunting "Don't Turn Around." (


Time for Round 7 of Neck Chop's campaign of destruction. Two LPs and three 7"s this time around. Starting with the smaller round slabs, UK purveyors of rough trade rock Suburban Homes will jitter their way into your hearts on their E.P 3. These four songs were originally slated to be released on In The Red some years back but the label kept dragging its feet and it got delayed until now, with Neck Chop coming to the rescue. The sound of '79, given a modern finish and delivered in glorious mono. "Corporate Hijack" layers on a psych-fuzz guitar flourish and is as angry as they get here, although there's a good amount of drum bash for "City Life." Observational straight-forward assessments, described as songs that, "at least say something about our crappy society."

With an opening song titled "Everybody Looks Like a Fucking Idiot," Baby's Blood capture my heart right away on their self-titled EP. Mean, agitated punk masterminded by Drew from Sick Thoughts, joined by three Finnish friends and recorded in Helsinki. Growling guitars and vocals conveying a kick-you-in-the-nuts attitude. All 47 seconds of "Sex Punk" list all of life's necessities--"gimme death gimme booze gimme punk gimme sex." Not necessarily in that order, of course.

Natural Man & the Flamin' Hot Band are a different kettle of fish altogether. Sax-laden, funky, punky and soulful no-wavy rawk  (is that a little "TV Eye" I hear for "Sudden Wave"?)--more or less. I imagine they're aiming for something revolutionary or righteous and I get the feeling they're a bit tongue in cheek but it's not something I'm ready to raise a fist or take up arms for.

For pure unadulterated awfulness, there's Neo Neos' Kill Someone You Hate. Yes, I said awful. It's also funny as fuck, so you could say it's awful in a good way. Loopy, rough, raw minimalist punk barely holding together. Rantings and ravings from Minnapolis resident Connie Voltaire, who has cranked out a couple of full-length cassettes and a handful of 7"s since 2016. Some of the songs here have appeared on those releases and these versions were recorded throughout 2016. The funniest thing is Connie is taking the piss out of all of those lo-fi home recording projects--"The Boneheads," as he calls them and doing exactly the same thing only more sloppily and way more obnoxiously. Yup, "Drum Machines Are So God Damn Lame" is accompanied by a drum machine. For deep philosophical treaties, look no further than "Life Sucks and Then It Doesn't." Want historical epics? Try "Hitler Wuz A Nazi." "The Kinks Are Who's Who" will rock your socks off. The lyric sheet is a collage of hand-scribbled words on pieces of scrap paper. And it was double take time when the last thing heard was a sample of the intro to FOD's song on the first Flipside Vinyl Fanzine comp... "the Ardmore assault is on!" So is the Neo Neo's assault. And it's also far from dumb.

Finally, S.B.F.'s first album Same Beat Forever (or Sour Bee Fiasco) is a  mechanized joy created by two punk rock wizards, Cruz Somers and Ray Schmidt. This isn't some quirky, new wavy weirdness but much more aggro. The rhythms are punchy--perhaps the descendants of Roland from Big Black--and sometimes veer into near-industrial territory, as with "Mortician Bee," "Honeycomb" and "Rock To The Head" (the latter of which also has a near-catchy chorus). Harsh vocals accompanied by burning guitar textures. The earlier recordings were pretty damned good but this pushes it into a more intense realm. Cruz's solo recordings are worth pursuing, as well, especially Take Me To Hell When I Can Dance, which is cut from similar cloth from S.B.F., albeit a tad more minimalist. (



ANEURYSM-Awareness (Tor Johnson, LP)
Throwing it back to the 90s, in a way, with heavy riff-rock-a-rolla. Not metal but bashing volume-soaked fodder that might have fit in on Sub Pop or Amphetamine Reptile, yet it doesn't sound dated. You can hear some echoes of Nirvana and even Mudhoney on a few songs--"Newport" comes across as a merger of both bands. Keeping things up to date, it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out who "National Embarrassment" is aimed at and it's emitted with a whole lot of ferocity. That's the case for just about every song here. Walloping drums and an unholy tandem of big-ass guitar and bass crush, to go with the somewhat-buried expressions of rage revealing a tortured soul. Or something like that. This doesn't require deep analysis--it just rocks like a motherfucker. (

ARCTIC FLOWERS-Straight To The Hunter (self-released, LP)
Arctic Flowers' first full-length in four years and, after a decade, they remain a potent band. Raw melody men and women, to borrow a title from New Model Army, who have certainly influenced this band but it's harnessed to a punk-infused attack. The songs have a haunting melodicism but also a good solid punch, especially with songs like "Waking Things." "Rose In Bend," "In Silence" and a cover of Toxic Reasons' "Dreamer," which appeared on that band's third album Within These Walls. I didn't even realize it was a cover until their guitarist Stan mentioned it--it's not one of my favorite albums by that band and, after listening to it again, Arctic Flowers' version is a lot harder-edged and forceful. And the lyrics about an increasingly divided world are just as pertinent now as they were then. Maybe more so. They also delve into music inspired by shimmery 80s post-punk/goth, although it's not the main focus. Forgive me for this but Straight From the Hunter goes straight to the heart. (

COMBATANT-Witness To Destruction (Not Like You, 12")

Same program on both sides--stop trying to confuse an old man, Combatant! Standard d-beat hardcore punk delivered at a healthy clip, with lyrics about police abuse, foreign entanglements and fascism at home. Proof that even in small town Mane, there's plenty of anger about the state of the world. Loud and fast, just how you want it. (102 Richmond Dr. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106,

COWBOYS-The Bottom of a Rotten Flower (Feel It, LP)
The Cowboys are one of those bands I've just never been able to get into and that remains the case. I'd say it's power-pop but it's not powerful enough to even fit that category I don't hate music that has a tuneful bent but these songs mainly come across as cloying and precious. Only a few songs have enough fire to catch my (passing) interest, those being "Pie In My Eye" and "Red-headed Girlfriend," which pack a slightly more energetic surge. Ultimately, it's still innocuous and inoffensive. Maybe that's the problem--at least for this listener. (


DISSEKERAD-s/t (Varning, 7")
By-the-books Swedish hardcore from people who have been around the block... a few blocks, in fact, with their vocalist Poffen, whose pedigree goes back to the 80s with Totalitär and has continued with Institute, Krigshot, Makabert Fynd and others. Four song EP that was pressed for the Varning fest last year (yes, I'm late). Loud, fast and angry, the genuine article. Accept no substitute. (no info)

DRUX-s/t (Static Age Musik, LP)
Mean, well-played hardcore punk from Leipzig, Germany and balancing speed with stompier elements. Rough and tumble production to prevent it from sounding too slick. Lyrics are in English and concerned with hating people, hating romance, hating being judged and just hating life in general but, in the end, "I want to free myself," as they say on "Stuck In The Past." Did I say it's mean-sounding? Tucked inside a heavy stock, screened cover. (

FRIED EGG-Square One (Feel It, LP)

The sound of alienation, a soundtrack for coping with misery and disappointment. Not exactly cheery but Fried Egg's first full-length provides an effective platform to work through it. Edgy, sense-warping hardcore that's evolving and maintaining their core intensity. Ravenous thrash, as well as slower creepy crawl bringing Bl'ast to mind a bit and this is definitely coming from a dark place.The vocals exude snarly rage and that alienation I mentioned earlier comes from a lyrical standpoint as well, with titles like "Why Bother," "Fatalist" and "Grin and Bear" ("sold a lie. told life was fair, it's all a ruse.") The older I get, the more I feel that way. Life often sucks. Idealism is dead. Thankfully, this sort of provocative music isn't. (

HEAVY MANTLE-Weights & Measures (Tor Johnson, LP)

12 songs pressed onto a clear single-sided 12" and--I hate to use the phrase--emotionally-charged punk and indy-style rock that sounds like a throwback to the 90s/early 00s. Not overwrought but there's definitely some soul-baring going on here. There's strong instrumental interplay and a warmth in the tone. The best songs here--"Sleep Escape Artist" and "Filming Cops"--have a gyrating, cascading hookiness. It's not quite enough, though, and the somewhat sludgy production doesn't help, either. (

HYÄNE-Demontage und Zerfall (Static Age Musik, LP)
Hyäne do a great job of mixing melodic post-punk and gloomy elements with surging punk. That's especially true with songs like "Regress/Exzess" and opening track "Kreisel." "Eiszeit," underpinned by a rhythm machine and synth lines, goes into more of a goth realm, as does "Leitung Tot." A mixture of moods and textures, always with an ear-grabbing presence. (

MASK-World Gone Crazy (Slugsalt, tape)

People from Urochromes, The Guests and Stagger and it's a dark-hued punk excursion. Gothic guitar shimmer but it's more of a sonic accoutrement to the band's fury. Definitely a potent, haunting quality but, to be honest, I wish the sound was better because it mutes their power a bit. Maybe there's some vinyl in the offing? A re-release of their 2017 demo. (

M.A.Z.E. (photo: Naoshi Sugiura) 

M.A.Z.E.-Tour Tape (demo)
M.A.Z.E./NICFIT-split (Episode Sounds, 7")
Japanese band M.A.Z.E. was one of those random discoveries I made last year, either through a blog or surfing Bandcamp. I honestly can't remember but their demo ended up being one of my favorites of 2018. This year starts with two new releases and M.A.Z.E. have been gradually getting tougher sounding. The tour tape includes three thorny new compositions with an engaging edginess, plus re-recordings of all of the songs from last year's and the band's garage/post-punk/punk is a lot more in-your-face. Same for the songs on their split 7" with another Japanese band, NicFit. Their pair of tracks connect with some fierce post-punk, punctuated by gnarled guitar lines. M.A.Z.E. have a record due on Lumpy sometime this year. I'm definitely looking forward to that. (

RED DELICIOUS (from Bandcamp)

RED DELICIOUS-Far From The Tree (Slugsalt, 7")
Buzz and burn from this Illinois Portugeuse-language band. They alternate tempos, from mid-speed Rudimentary Peni-inspired fodder to thrashier compositions. Nasty, raspy vocals, along with a trebly tandem of razorwire guitar, thick basslines and cymbal smashing drumming. Nothing nice here. (

RUBBLE-s/t (Distort Reality, LP)

UK82-inspired punk from PDX and the songs are loud 'n catchy with a thumping beat, burning guitar and dynamic bass playing, the latter of which really stands out. With Mare's high-pitched vocals, there's definitely a Vice Squad and Action Pact feel on a few songs, especially "B.P.A," Lyrical themes are timely/timeless--pollution, police brutality and the meaningless trope of "Thoughts & Prayers," which has become a buzz-phrase to offer meaningless platitudes instead of doing something about rampant gun violence. One of those bands with a winning scrappiness that makes this album very enjoyable. (

SCIENCE MAN-s/t (Swimming Faith, LP)
After a fine demo, here's Science Man's debut album. In case you missed the review, it's a one man project masterminded by John from Radiation Risks and, according to the letter he sent me, while some of it was recorded in a van traveling between cities, he also recorded it in random attics, basements and kitchens ("including my own"). And he's created something that sounds human and fleshed out--nervy, guitar-oriented punk, new wave and rock with a mechanized backbeat. Even with the bargain basement (literally) recording approach, there's a vibrant brashness that doesn't sound like it was recorded in those settings. Music that sears your nerve impulses and hits hard. (;

THESE BASTARDS-Old and Pissed (self-released, 7")
At LAST, a band I can truly relate to at this point in my life. At LAST, a band with a song called "Get Off My Lawn" although it's about a larger lawn being spoiled--their Bay Area environs being taken over by the tech boom. Raw, fast, sometimes griniding thrashcore with metallic guitar licks and featuring miscreants from such bands as Conquest For Death and Venkman. While there's a whole lot of ranting going on, it's not mindless or completely negative. In fact, some of the lyrics have a fair amount of intellectual heft. Up the old punks! (

TROPICAL TRASH-Southern Indiana Drone Footage (National Waste Products, LP)
Head-messing music that has expansive properties without becoming some hippy-dippy excursion. We're talking bad trip time but with a punk attitude. They're capable of Stooges-informed bash with the title track, awash in fuzz and wah-wah, along with through-the-floor drumming. "Third & Fourth Ingredient" dips into some no wave skronk--sax and clarinet pop up in the mix and that occurs elsewhere. It provides a drony effect for the methodical crush of "Leather Charm." A dense, chaotic aural concoction you just might drown yourself in. (39 Emeline St., Providence, RI 02906,

VAASKA-Inocentes Condenados (Beach Impediment, 7")

Continuing to bash out the relentless d-beatery with shit-hot guitar work. That's what separates Vaaska a bit from other bands playing this style--Victor's six string wizardry. "Atrapados" starts with the same sort of fanfare as Discharge's "Fight Back" and they proceed to fight their way through six tracks without any sign of losing their fired-up rage. (

VILE-Vile Says Fuck Off (Radio Raheem, 7")

An unreleased song ("Overload") and a pair of alternate takes from their album--"Definitions" and perhaps their best known song, "5 to 10." I imagine many of you know the story with this band but in case you don't, Vile were from Mansfield, MA (near the Rhode Island border) and made a rather strong impression at their show opening for the Angelic Upstarts in 1982 (I was there). What I mean by that is they engaged in some pretty nasty crowd baiting--racist and homophobic taunts, a mike stand fired off the stage--and then thrown right back at the vocalist Bill Bile. They barely made it out of the club in one piece. This was followed by back and forth letters in Boston Rock magazine between someone who was offended by their act and the band pretty much saying they didn't give a shit. There was also an ad that's reproduced for this cover. Their drummer Joe O'Hare (who sent me "Overload" in 2012). told me they had kind of a tough time getting shows after that.

Anyway, they recorded an album and distributed it by leaving it on car windshields in the Channel parking lot and throwing the rest into the Fort Point Channel. Yeah, the lyrics are really nasty but it was a complete wind-up, aimed at pissing off the local hardcore scene. Some people dug it, though. I remember Choke from Negative FX and Slapshot saying that Vile was his favorite new band. I still have my copy. Anyway, that's the gist of the story. As for this record (oh yeah, this is a review), it's quite entertaining. Musically, they were damned good at what they did--fast and snotty hardcore punk, skillfully played, and that's what you get here. "Overload" doesn't sound like some crappy outtake and, since the album's again out of print after a 2004 reissue, this is the only Vile disc currently available. (