Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Suburban Voice blog #143--38th anniversary edition!


Yeah, that's right... 38 years this month. Suburban Voice started as Suburban Punk in early September of 1982 as a four page, xeroxed zine with record and live reviews. And here I am, still hammering away on a keyboard, only it's connected to a computer and I'm sending this off into cyberspace, instead of the copy shop... but I digress...

In case you missed it, I've retired from Maximum Rocknroll. I posted my final print column for them last year. I hung in there for awhile, doing on-line columns but it definitely wasn't the same. And then I hit a bad stretch of writer's block, plus it's been a tumultuous year with coronavirus. So my work has been suffering since the beginning of the year and I thought time time was right to step away from MRR and refocus my energies on getting SV back on track. Starting with the next blog, I'm going to (probably) follow the format of my column... a roundup of various releases, instead of individual reviews, plus additional content. Musings, ruminations, maybe an interview here and there, done in the video or audio format. I don't have the ambition to transcribe any more. I actually have a bunch of interviews from the 2000s that I never transcribed. Maybe I could digitize some of them.

On with the show...

ABSOLUT-Demonstration 2019 (Schizophrenic, 7")
This Toronto band have been around for awhile and they're back with four new tracks. A raw tandem of Motorcharged mania, along with some NWOBHM guitar licks that sounds like it's emanating from an abattoir. You can almost feel the studs and smell the eau-de-crust aroma. (schizophrenicrecords.bigcartel.com)


Now this is how you do a reissue--everything but the kitchen sink. A 24 page booklet, poster, inserts that include musings and remembrances, stickers, CD and, oh yeah, the record itself, sounding as kick-ass now as in 2002. Annihilation Time's debut was the only album to include Fred Hammer on vocals... Jimmy Rose took over, starting with "Bad Reputation." While you can already hear the hard rock 'n roll undertow that would later emerge, this still mined a more blatant Black Flag/Bl'ast muse. There's even artwork by Raymond Pettibon--both on the cover and the included fold-out poster. Muscular riffs with an in-the-pocket, ferocious backbeat. This still rocks like a motherfucker--in all honesty, I think this has aged a bit better than what followed. (annihilationtime.bandcamp.com)

COLD FEET-Punk Entity (Feel It, LP)
Not exactly an LP, as it's over in a bit under 11 minutes (might have been too long for a 7") but this Baltimore band make the most of it, achieving full impact. Old school hardcore punk, pulling from the Career Suicide well, along with early Boston HC, although it threatens to fly apart, as with the chaotic conclusion of "Acid Death." The production is fuller-sounding than their previous 7" but don't mistake that for something that sounds too slick or overdone. Prepare to be pulverized. (feelitrecordshop.com)

COLD MEAT-Hot and Flustered (Static Shock/Helta Skelta, LP)_
Punk rock in 2020? I still love it, especially bands like Cold Meat. They dispense with the bullshit and, even with the nods to the past, it sounds fresh and exciting. Many of the songs center around relationships and the trauma and conflict that come with them, as well as creepy individuals in particular. A little Poly Styrene in Ashley's vocals and she cleverly quotes X-Ray Spex's "Plastic Bag" on opening song "Pisces Crises" ("when I cry in line at the supermarket"). I'm not going to call this riot grrrrl, because that's lazy, but it does have that feel. But Cold Meat distill everything to its essence--sharp, ear-grabbing songs with driving power. I'll even give them a pass on the ZZ Top diss ("ZZ Top Hat"), although it's probably facetious. (staticshockrecords.bandcamp.com/heltaskeltarecords.bandcamp.com)

THE COWBOY-WiFi On The Prairie (Feel It, LP)
Another head-messing, sense-lashing outing from this Cleveland three piece (two of whom were in Homostupids). Driving punk with artier inclinations and dabbling in a bit of Wipers-ish tonalism (the guitar line for "On The Prairie") and a couple of "Pink Flag" inspired licks. It's their own thing, though, not slavish mimicry. Those are just touchpoints. They even chill a bit for the instrumental "Trippy Movies," but this is mainly feisty 'n hammering. Songs like "From The Grave" and "SS" go straight for the skull. (feelitrecordshop.com)

DELETÄR-s/t (Kick Rock/Destructure, LP)
Fast 'n ripping Swedish-tinged hardcore from France, including Befa from State Poison, trading his drum kit for a guitar. Pretty clean-sounding, not awash in noise or distortion and accompanied by pissed-off, lower register vocals. All of it at a rapid clip, save the medium-speed "Barricades." Playing is sharp and ruthlessly-executed throughout. (www.kickrock.org; www.destructure.org)

FACILITY MEN-It's Fun To Disappear (Big Neck, LP)
This comes out of the blue. Facility Men had some pretty good demos in the middle of the last decade and, after a delay (these songs were recorded in 2017), here's their first vinyl release. Seething post-punk rock with a 90s indy rock pulse. The lyrics have a pointed nature--such as making fun of people trying to relive past glories on "Reunion Show." At least I think that's the intent. In fact, a number of these songs seem to be about people living as sheep--life in "The Factory." Teodor's vocals bray over the proceeding and the playing is muscular and hard-hitting. (bigneckrecords.com)

Two energetic 'n abrasive Wisconsin bands. Fire Heads have been around a bit and this is the loudest, nastiest music they've come up to date. Vocals have are both croony and scathing and the twin guitar attack makes for a head-fucking mesh. Touches of hardcore along with the aggressive bash. The abrasiveness continues with Sex Scenes, who also ply volume-soaked noisy rock. The photos portray nice, friendly-looking gentlemen but there ain't anything nice about this music at all. (bigneckrecords.com)


FITNESS WOMXN-New Age Record (Sorry State, LP)
Definitely not new age music, as Fitness Womxn provoke instead of soothe. An excursion into post-punk and dub elements. At times, it sounds like a merger of the Slits and "Second Edition" era PIL, particularly for "Desire + Application" and "Kadzriff." "Easy" takes an edgier, driving turn. A musical minimalism, as synth lines and offbeat percussion accompany the jabbing guitar and pulsating bass. Even with the abrasive elements, you could almost dance to this stuff. I get the feeling they'd smash the disco ball first. (sorrystaterecords.com)

GINO AND THE GOONS-Off The Rails (Big Neck, LP)
Fired up and furious rock 'n roll from these Goons, who've been around for over a decade. A whole lot of attitude as they fuse garage and punk into an irresistible and insolent combination. Trebly, in-the-red bash and vocals that sound like they're coming through a cheap mike. Those elements prevent it from sounding slick or overly-produced. The closing title track unloads a sputtering fusillade of six string gnash. A good kick to ass. (bigneckrecords.com)

HERO DISHONEST-Maailma Palaa Taas (IfSociety/Peterwalkee, LP)
Still kicking it out after 20 years or so and Hero Dishonest remain a potent hardcore force. They've always a bit extra to their sound. It's mainly a speed attack but with tempo shifts and stellar musicianship. All the lyrics are in Finnish (they've mixed in some English in the past) but delivered with passion and fury. An explosive rampage from start to finish, threatening to run off the rails but those hairpin twists are negotiated perfectly. (www.ifsociety.com/www.peterwalkeerecords.com)

ISS-Too Punk For Heavy Metal (Total Punk, 7")
How can you not love a song that's critical about the label that puts it out? That's what ISS do on the title track, mixing scratchy guitar with the bass line from DKs "I Am The Owl." The flip," A MSG 2 U" and "Hittrack" are basically one song and they pilfer Rudimentary Peni's "Nothing But A Nightmare." Minimalist post-punk that could have appeared on last year's album. Please sirs, give us more. (totalpunkrecords.com)

LAFFING GAS (photo: Austin Roberts)

LAFFING GAS-It's A Beautiful Day In The Gulch (Beach Impediment, LP)
No bullshit, no nonsense hardcore punk from these Hoosiers. I'm sure I've written that thousands of times over the years but, when it's done right, it still grabs my ear. The cover art mimics the old Copenhagen hardcore band Asbest. That band came out of the same scene as Amdi Petersens Arme and Laffing Gas are somewhat reminiscent of them. Fast 'n bruising, slowing it down on occasion, as with "Dunce." And these guys can play really well, with an instrumental finesse. A seamless assimilation of the best of 80s US hardcore and it still hasn't gone out of style. (beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)

LIÉ-You Want It Real (Mint, LP)
Fourth album for lié (name is in lower-case letters) and it's another session of churning goth-meets-post punk. Instead of sparseness or any sort of dynamic tension, they go for a full-throttle, bristling mesh. "Bugs" and "You Got It" ramp up the speed to a near hardcore pace. lié opt for force instead of atmospherics. Aggressive, as well as haunting. (mintrecs.com)

LIQUID ASSETS-SNC Lava Lamp EP (Schizophrenic, 7")
New-ish Ottawa band with former Born Wrong vocalist Scott Paige. Two raw, fast and snotty songs on side one and something a little more rockin' rollin' on the flip, all of blown out with spat-out vocals under the mix. This is nasty. (schizophrenicrecords.bigcartel.com)


LITHICS-Tower of Age (Trouble In Mind, LP)
Super-tight post-punk, once again. Guitar and bass lines intertwined into an irresistible combination, along with multi-dimensional drumming and detached vocals. Arrangements have a fair amount of sparseness but then there's a sudden jolt, as with "Hands," that also has one hell of a hook mixed into the slide guitar-laced atonality. There's more atonality for the clarinet squawks on "Victim's Jacket" and percussive assault during the mid-section and conclusion of "Mice In The Night." Touchpoints? The usual suspects--Leeds ca. '79, Bush Tetras and Pylon but it's not slavish recreation. Lithics don't settle for an easy formula on every track. (troublemindrecords.com)

MAN-EATERS-Gentle Ballads For The Simple Soul (Feel It, LP)
People from Cülo and Tarantulä rocking out. Or, as the fire 'n brimstone preacher says at the start, rocking, rolling, twisting, smoking, drinking, cursing, sniffing glue to get high... well, I don't know if they partake in any or all of it but it certainly has that vibe and it's not hard to discern reference points, at least to my ears. "Slow Demise Of A Futuristic Mind" comes on like Sweet's "Set Me Free," with some Motörhead mixed in. "Taste Concrete" lifts a page from Judas Priest's "Hell Bent For Leather" album. They expand out a bit on closer "Midnight Gleam." Considering their age, I'd imagine they might have tapped into their dads' or uncles' record collection and there are probably a few seeds stuck inside the gatefold. Rock to get the rump shaking. (feelitrecordshop.com)

MURO-Pacificar (Beach Impediment, LP)

Fast 'n frantic hardcore from Colombia, with the occasional speed metal and Japanese hardcore lick. Muro exhibit a dynamic power hroughout, blending blazing, razor-sharp musicianship with raspy, agitated vocals. This never lets up from start to finish, but it's not an atonal, ultra-fast blur. Ass-kicking. (beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)


NICE GUYS-s/t (digital)
Yeah, I don't usually review digital releases but, since this isn't (I don't think) available in any other format, here we go. Nice Guys have been kicking around my neck of the woods for at least six years at this point--their first demo came out in 2014 but this is their first full-length. A bashing, crashing mix of punk, garage and 90s furious, twisted, hammering rock-a-rama. "Brunch Poisoning," for instance has guitar fusillade reinforced with a pounding rhythmic crush ala Jesus Lizard. On my radio show, I mention that one of the styles I play is "other loud music." I think that fits the bill here. Loud... very loud... and not very nice. (niceguys666.bandcamp.com)

NOXEEMA-s/t (..., 7")
Good slammin' punk from PDX here. Jabbing, jittery guitars and a whomping rhythm. Opening track reminded me of the Urinals a bit and there's definitely an old-school fervor given a modern finish. Katie's vocals are hyper-caffeinated and tough-as-fuck, delivered in a sometimes staccato cadence. Eight songs, all under two minutes, giving no quarter. Bassist Cissie played in Pedestrians many moons ago. (dotx3.bandcamp.com)

SADIE & THE WIVES-s/t (Schizophrenic, 7")
I don't see anyone named Sadie in this band, just three people bashing away like unholy terrors. Well, I hear them doing that. Noisy, ugly hardcore punk mixing up thrash with a medium speed wallop. A frenetic barbed-wire assault accompanied by throat-rending vocals. Raw's an overused term but it fits here. (schizophrenicrecords.bigcartel.com)

SCARECROW-Revenge EP (Bunker Punks, 7")
Charging Swedish-influenced hardcore executed in piledriving fashion. In all honesty, it's been done thousands of times but they're efficient at it. A little echo on the vocals and a non-stop attack, all at the same fast tempo.Topical subject matter, as with a song about modern-day concentration camps i.e. the cages used to hold undocumented immigrants for "Zero Tolerance." (bunkerpunks.bigcartel.com)


SCHIZOS-s/t (Sweet Time, LP)/F.U.C.K.N In The USA (demo)
This is some nasty-sounding shit... the opening song is "Driller" and it starts with a hellacious sounding drill. I don't think I should ever play for my dentist. I don't think she'd like it anyway, because she plays older mainstream stuff in the office. Anyway, mega-distorted, blown-out garage punk bash that will mess up your head aplenty. Even getting a little bluesy for the slower-paced "Bar." Schizos did a 7" called "Fuck Iggy Pop" in 2017 and, besides the ranting vocals, it was completely different, with only synth and drum machine for accompaniment. While this is still abrasive as all hell, it's a huge leap into the morass. Since this platter, Schizos unleashed two more songs on Bandcamp, their own anthem "F.U.C.K.N In The USA" and a cover of the Reatards "Sick When I See. Back to a minimalist approach--guitar, drum machine and nightmarish emanations. Seems like these guys have a rotating lineup but it's loud 'n ugly in any combination. (sweettime.bandcamp.com/schizosal.bandcamp.com)

SMUT-First Kiss (Iron Lung, LP)
First kiss? More like a punch to the 'ol kisser. The second I hear the "1-2-3-4" and the blare of guitars come in, I know it's going to be one raucous good time. Rip roarin' punk with snotty vocals, blasts of speed and floor-stomping, head-banging mania. Vocals remind of Jimmy Rose from Eel/Annihilation Time, etc... and it packs a somewhat similar buzz, although switch out the Japanese noise influences for more of a US hardcore tilt. Not a whole lotta subtlety in the lyrics, either. Unlucky in love, unlucky in life, and raising a huge middle finger to all of it. (ironlungrecords.bigcartel.com)

SNIFFANY & THE NITS-The Greatest Nits (Thrilling Living, 7")
Definite up and comers from the UK. Jabbing punk with lyrics that are inspired by Crass' "Bata Motel" i.e. exploring women being abused and made to feel submissive from a female perspective. It's the other side of the coin from the songs on their demo, where the woman is in the dominant position. Vocals that go against the grain, accompanied by a jittery slash 'n burn. I mentioned Crass earlier and Sniffany (Josie Edwards) and her Nits pull a few tricks from "The Feeding of the 5000." A barbed attack, both musically and lyrically. (www.thrillingliving.com)

SOAKIE-s/t (La Vida Es Un Mus, LP)
Some venomous hardcore punk and a big 'ol lyrical chip on the proverbial shoulder. Nasssstyyyyy vocals from Summer, who possesses quite a gifted set of tonsils running up and down the scale from a gutteral rasp to shrieks and rants. I could see Summer pointing her finger and yelling in the faces of people in the audience during "Or You Or You." No doubt a great crowd participation song. Tirades against a male-dominated punk scene, fratboys and jocks, plus a call to class warfare. Raw and vicious as all fuck. Yeah, I like this. (lavidaesunmus.com)

THE SOUND-Physical World (Reminder, 7")
The story of Adrian Borland is a sad one--an immensely talented musician who suffered from lifelong bouts with mental illness, until he took his own life at the age of 41. "Physical World" was The Sound's debut EP, originally released in 1979." There was also an album, "Propaganda," recorded around that time that wasn't released until the late 90s,  The title track and "Cold Beat" are driving punk in a similar vein the The Sound's predecessor, The Outsiders. The moodier "Unwritten Law," meanwhile, is a blueprint for what would follow on The Sound's masterpiece, "Jeopardy." In fact, the song was re-recorded for the album. Even in this embryonic phase, The Sound were a force to be reckoned with. (reminderrecords.com)

SPEEDEALER-Black Nights (self-released CD)
Haven't heard this Dallas band's name in a long time... not surprising since this is their first album in over 15 years, with a reshuffled lineup (Daniel Barron takes over on vocals). Hard rock/metal done in high octane fashion, sounding best when they pump up the tempo--opening song "Never New" and "Losing My Shit," for instance. Sometimes, they delve into slower 'n simmering metal that has heaviness but doesn't always go anywhere. And "Blue Days Black Nights" is a tease-- a sum-minute speed bomb leading into a lethargic piano-laced fadeout. I can't say this is a glorious return. Just a few dazzling moments. (speedealer.bandcamp.com)

SPIT KINK-Yes To Everything (Feral Kid, 7")
A one-sided lathe cut disc from this duo, one of whom is the ever-busy John Toohill (Science Man, Alpha Hopper, Radiation Risks, to name a few). Sensuous, sinewy synth minimalism with an incessant mechanized beat. Something that you can almost dance to, especially the title track, although my attempts at dancing these days are pretty pathetic. So I'll stick to listening. A little more bombast and this could have been on Wax Trax. Groovalicious. (feralkidrecords.com)

UZI (photo: YouthNoCrew)

UZI-Cadena De Odio (MMM)
Colombian band playing thumping South American-style punk--that means it has speed and burn, to go along with more melodic touches. That comes out on the title track, opener "Existencia Abusrda," and "Planeta Inviable." Forceful vocals and strong backups to go along with the full-tilt attack. Even with the Spanish lyrics, you can still pick up the passion and fury. This band shares a guitarist with Muro. (discosmmm.com)

VARIOUS-So This Is Progress? (flexi/zine)
A 7x7 photo zine with a flexi disc tucked into it (songs are also available digitally). It's like one of those book 'n record sets I got when I was kid. Photos of bands mostly from Ohio and Pennsylvania and five bands playing various strains of hardcore. The guilty parties are Forest Fucker, Peace Talks, Nukkehammer, Wounded Paw and Body Farm. Peace Talks' twisted, semi-damaged sounding track stands out and Nukkehammer sound like a crustier Repos-meets-Void. Seeing the photos reminds me of how much I miss shows right now. (sothisisprogress.bandcamp.com)

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