Sunday, December 31, 2023

Suburban Voice blog #152--The Best of 2023

M(H)AOL (photo: Pete Olshansky)

Yeah, I’ve been missing in action all year, at least writing-wise. I’ve been pouring most of my energies into the radio show. I’m not making an excuse or making it up when I say that I’ve been suffering from writers block for a few years. It’s getting harder to write reviews because there’s not a lot I hear that’s not worthy of hyperbole and I really don’t want to over-praise releases that don’t deserve it. There are albums that have one or two worthwhile tracks but the rest is meh. I’ll play the good songs from those on the radio show but it’s not worth the effort to come up with flowery praise for the rest if I don’t think it’s warranted. I prefer to focus on ones that have a higher slugging percentage, to use sports terminology. It’s taken me quite awhile to pull this post together.

Anyway, I’m doing the alphabetical thing for the list again. These are the releases I spent the most time listening to and will continue to do so after this year. Most of them, anyway. After that, more reviews for records that are just “bubbling under.” I could probably have reviewed a lot more than those but, once again, decided to focus on ones that have a number of strong tracks. And I’m sure I missed a few. You might see those in the next blog, if it's not too long in the future. I have all of these on vinyl, with the exception of a few that were only released on tape and/or digital.

 By the way, all of the writing here is by me, Al, not A.I. (artificial intelligence). I don’t cheat.


ANTI-MACHINE-Too Many Eyes (Toxic State, 7”)
Another ravaging outing from this NYC crew. In case you need to be reminded, Walker Behl from Crazy Spirit is the vocalist and he brings his nasally sneer to the proceedings, accompanied by a hard ‘n fast, two guitar fueled hardcore punk attack. The production is beefier than on the first EP and the fury is unleashed. They even add some wild sax skronk for “What Bothers Me.” Chaotic and cacophonous. (

BRORLAB-Working Out In Heaven (La Vida Es Un Mus, 12”)
Hailing from Antwerp—that’s in Belgium, for the geographically challenged among you—this trio lay out some frenzied mechanized punk created by guitar, bass, a rhythm machine and a vocalist who will cajole, irritate and annoy her way into your heart. Sometimes playful, as with “Any Way The Wind Blows,” but generally plowing straight ahead with feverish adrenalin. And there are some goddanged earworms here, starting with “Shitty Oven.” You can hear some Melt-Banana and Chrome in there, but Brorlab somehow make this all semi-accessible. Well, not to everyone, I suppose. In fact, if you want to end a party populated by people you generally can’t stand, toss this on the turntable. One side features half a dozen + one recent compositons and the flip adds all of their songs from their 2020 debut 7”. A pure sonic head-rush. (

COLLATE-Generative Systems (Domestic Departure, 12”)
Collate are pretty brazen about their influences at times. Opening song “Authority Control” is a complete lift from Gang of Four’s “Ether.” I’m not complaining, though. After that, they mix things up and aren’t as slavish to any band’s particular approach. I’ve been a fan of Collate since hearing their first demo back in 2017 . There are some songs that eschew the sparseness and tension, going for a churning, punkier sound on “New Climate” and “Obliterated By Flowers,” for instance. This is their second 12” release and it’s post-punk perfection, to turn a trite phrase. Killer interplay between Jason’s guitar and Erika’s bass, backed by Janie’s propulsive drumming. The mono recording adds to the edginess. (

FUGITIVE BUBBLE-Delusion (Impotent Fetus/Stucco, tape)
Frenetic outsider (if that’s the right word) hardcore that’s tightly-executed but also has a looseness in the playing. Shards of the Minutemen, Victims Family and Rhythm Pigs to go along with the mainly fast-paced, semi-hooky tunes. They cleverly sneak in the riff for The Who’s “My Generation” at the start of the title track, but it’s just for a fleeting moment as the speed kicks in and the lyrical cynicism pours out. A restlessness, perhaps a feeling of hopelessness and anger as the world continues to collapse. Bass player Harley handles most of the vocals, sometimes melodious, sometimes yearning, sometimes cutting and the music cuts hard as well. Originally released on cassette only, although there should be a vinyl pressing on Sorry State in 2024. (

HEAVY DISCIPLINE-Your Scapegoat (Painkiller, 12”)
I’ve become a lot pickier about hardcore records in recent years. There just aren’t a lot that stand up to repeated listenings and this an exception. Heavy Discipline push all the the right buttons. Just mean-sounding, raw without being noisy, tough with no tough guy posturing. This Pittsburgh band remind me of one from that city from about ten years ago, that being Blood Pressure (and their vocalist Adam Thomas plays guitar in this band). They also channel Out Cold on some songs, particularly with the vocals. Reinventing the wheel? Nope. But it kills. And even though it’s only 12 minutes long, I somehow don’t feel shortchanged. (

HEZ-Panamaniacs (Discos Enfermos, 12”)
Except for two EPs, Hez have been pretty quiet, release-wise, since 2015. They’re not quiet, anymore. A raging onslaught right from the start. From Panama, although coming from a Spanish muse ala Destino Final or Invasion, along with the obligatory d-beat on some songs. Echo on the vocals and done at a mainly mid-tempo to fast pace. Burning power-chords but there are also some otherworldly guitar effects, sounding like some sort of alien communication. I don’t really need to further elaborate. Your recommended daily requirement of scorch. (

M(H)AOL-Attachment Styles (Tulle, 12”)
M(h)aol’s provocative music and lyrics are meant to make people feel uncomfortable. Certain people, at least. Misgoynists, rapists, abusers, people who don’t understand or accept gender “non-conformity.” It’s time to shut up, listen and learn. That’s established at the outset with “Asking For It,” an indictment of sexual assault that has Róisín Nic Ghearailt starting off with a matter of fact vocal about vicim-blaming. The scrape and tumult builds and her vocals get increasingly anguished and desperate. Horrifying and, as I said earlier, meant to be uncomfortable. The sarcasm drips on “Bored Of Men” and “No One Ever Talks To Us” (“unless they wanna fuck”). The arrangements go from churning post-punk to the Slint-like minimalism of “Cowboy Honey” to the sparse-yet-intense “Period Sex,” where both the music and vocal build to a climax (literally). Unsettling and powerful. (

NICE GUYS-Coin (self-released, digital)
As far as I know, there’s no physical release for this album yet and I’m not sure if you can buy their album with Nice Guys cryptocurrency, even after you give them all of your money (as suggested on the intro). But it’s a worthwhile investment, either way. A wise-assed, driving mix of punk, post-punk and skewed rock ‘n roll done skillfully. A hyperactive quality in the vocals and instrumentation that’s both catchy and abrasive, sometimes in the same song. Nice Guys are quietly one of the best bands in Boston. (

NURSE-s/t (State Laughter, 12”)
I had no idea that this band from Atlanta were still around but, after a pair of strong 7”s in 2015 and 2017, they’re back with a 7 song 12” that picks up where they left off. A haunted, disturbed quality in the hoarse vocals, as well as the desperate lyrics. The opening song “I Live In Fear” is a proclamation of dread and cynicism and that’s a running thread through most of these songs. The music is dark, nettled hardcore punk delivered with full-bore aggression, driven by thundering bass but there are also some shimmery guitar effects. Music for often-miserable times. (

SNÕÕPER-Super Snõõper (Third Man, 12”)
A whirlwind of delirious punk, post-punk, new wave and rock from this Nashville band. This is their debut album after a bunch of singles. The songs are fast-paced, semi-jittery and come and go, one into the other, before you can catch your breath. Even a journey into some harder-edged, expansive rock for the closing pair of songs, “Unable” and the five minute-plus “Running.” Lyrically, many are whimsical observations about technology, exercising, even Powerball—everyday life, in other words and how it’s easy to become a slave to things that are supposed to simplify life. (




AVSKUM-En Annan Värld Är Möjlig (Prank, 12”)
D-beat never dies or, more accurately, the Swedish hardcore take on d-beat never dies. Avskum return with their first album in 15 years. The title translates to “Another World Is Possible,” although the lyrical pessmism comes through—and some songs are done in English. You know the drill—hoarse vocals, galloping drums, burning guitars et al. Traditionalists who don’t break from what you’d expect. Done in straight-ahead fashion, without the blown-out noise. (

BEEF-s/t (Feel It, 12”)
Imagine Killing Joke, Big Black and Chrome doing stomping new wave-tinged garage rock. No? OK, well imagine… nah, let’s stick with my first instinct. The opening riff of “Lying To You” comes from a similar muse as KJ’s “The Wait” and Big Black’s “Stinking Drunk,” but it’s not an industrial attack, per se. The synth-lines sometimes seem kazoo-like, in fact. But the compositions are heavy and raucous and that’s very appealing. (

BIG CLOWN-Beatdown (Swimming Faith, 7”)
Big riffs, big rock, big sound and beating down your senses. This is Big Clown’s first vinyl release after a number of tapes. The sound is grungy but it’s not grunge. Vocals that are abrasively endearing. “Broke” will churn it’s way into your heart with the thick guitar/bass combo and hammering drums. “Thirsty” is like a sonic thunderstorm. Heavy music with a punk attitude and surreal sense of humor. (

BZDET-Maybe It Is Enough (Tetryon, tape)/Traumy Wystarczy Dla Każdego (Syf, digital)
A compilation of 20 songs from this one-person project from Poland. Bzdet has released a lot of music over the past few years, most of it on the prolfiic Syf label. This is his first US release and has 17 previously-released tracks and three new ones. It’s a melange of post-punk, dark-wave, goth, dub, industrial and Krautrock. Echo-laden vocals are generally buried in the mix, sharing equal space with the music’s headrush. It’s a wide variety, not sticking to any one stylistic groove and just about all of it has an enticing edginess. A more recent release, “Traumy Wystarczy Dla Każdego (Enough Trauma For Everyone”) introduces a slightly poppier feel on a few songs, particularly for “Wrócę.” It’s a thematic collection, dealing with the ravages of warfare. Definitely check out Syf’s site. You’ll find plenty of intriguing bands/solo projects. (;

CEL RAY-Cellular Raymond (Six Tonnes De Chair, 12”)/Piss Park (Six Tonnes De Chair, 7”)
A pair of EPs (the former on tape and 12”, the latter on 7”) by this Chicago band. Hectic-sounding post-punkish rock with sharp instrumentation and catchy bits. Some jabbing riffs but not really “angular” (yes, I’m breaking the rock critic rulebook) sounding riffs. The songs are delivered in more of a straight-forward punk fashion. Cutting vocals along with sarcastic lyrics—“Lakes Mall” brings the lameness of shopping malls into bold relief--and there’s energy to spare. (

CITRIC DUMMIES-Zen and the Arcade of Beathing Your Ass (Feel It, 12”)
The parody cover of a certain Hüsker Dü album cover has me laughing out loud. Even though this band is from Minneapolis, they sound more like a band from Chicago, namely Naked Raygun, along with an early Misfits nod, minus the horror angle. Big and beefy sounding, especially the guitar tone, and there’s an inherent hookiness to go along with the bruising power. The three members of this band look like they’ve been around the block a few times and I’d describe this as a sort of middle-aged rage or about to hit it. Not always a lot of happiness, especially in the relationship department. They even have a bone to pick with Larry Bird. T-Wolves fans, maybe? (


ELECTRIC CHAIR-Act Of Aggression (Iron Lung, 12”)
Taking no prisoners, once again, as this Northwest wrecking unit dish out more adrenalin-fueled hardcore punk. Angry, phlegmy vocals and careening down the proverbial roller coaster. “Security Camera” does go for a darker, mid-tempo musical assault, matching the lyrical desperation. There’s some crossover-style lead guitar but this is definitely in the hardcore camp. Fast ‘n mean. (


ENZYME-Golden Dystopian Age (Hardcore Victim/La Vida Es Un Mus, 12”)
A thumping, disorder-ly raw noise attack from these Aussies (with former Krömosom vocalist Yeap on guitar), although there are a few different wrinkles. “Masquerade” adds a synth to the mix for an industrialized twist and there’s also the Krautrock-sounding outro (for real!), after the rage of  “Farce.” The next to last song is called “Abuse of Power” and this 12” could be called “Abuse of Eardrums.” Nothing wrong with that at all. (;

GEL-Only Constant (Convulse, 12”)
Pounding, bash your skull in hardcore with a two guitar meat-cleaver attack, along with Sami’s hoarse vocals. Most of the songs are done at a hammering tempo, although they hit thrash speed on occasion. Gel call their music “hardcore for the freaks” and it’s definitely appealing to anyone who feels like an outsider and hate the idiots who make their lives miserable. The same goes for the hardcore "gatekeepers" who might not always be so welcoming. It’s expressed through the clips on “Calling Card,” the mellow interlude at the end of side one. This is their outlet for it. Get out the aggression but also have fun. (


GOLPE-Assuefazion Quotidiana EP (Beach Impediment, 7”)
I’m a bit embarrased to say that I didn’t know Golpe was a one-person project masterminded by Tazdio Pederzolli and that he uses a rotating group of musicians for live performances. And they did a pretty damned good job ripping it up live when I saw them this year. Meat and potatoes, thumping hardcore punk in short, succinct doses. D-beat inspired and the songs are sharp and energetic. Themes of day-to-day complaceny and, to borrow a phrase, Talk-Action=Zero. (

THE HELL-s/t (Not For The Weak, 12”)
No nonsense hardcore punk from Cleveland done in a lethal and efficient manner, with one song flowing into the other. The guitar tone comes from the Pig Champion school and early Poison Idea is definitely one of the influences here. Final song “What A Laugh” cribs from the riff of “In My Eyes.” So, yeah, well-tread ground but The Hell keep it fresh-sounding. No songs over two minutes, no mosh parts, no crunch, just scorch. And anyone who hates their job can certainly relate to “Bloodstains In the Boardroom.” (

ISMATIC GURU-III (Swimming Faith, tape)
Third installment from one of the countless projects emanating from the mind of John Toohill. Minimalist synth, with guitar, bass and a rhythm machine. There’s something almost funky and soulful here, although it’s still in a post-punky framework. Reminds me of Brainiac, at times. (


An enjoyable tour split for these more or less solo acts who toured together this year—and used most of the same musicians, switched around, for each set. Lothario’s pair of songs are a minimalist punk banger, “Doggy” and the poppier “Missing Person.” Buck’s side includes a stripped-down, catchy punk track “Frozen Shut” and a version of the Queen Haters’ (from SCTV) snotty punk send-up “I Hate The Bloody Queen.” (

MALLWALKER-Danger (Tetryon, tape)
One side studio, one side live, recorded at the end of the last decade and in memory of their vocalist Sarah Underhill, who passed away in December 2022. Boisterous punk with a whole lot of lyrical agitation about family pressure, misogyny and sexual abuse. Burning/buzzing guitar riffs and a walloping backbeat. There are both live and studio covers of Flux’s “Tube Disaster” and there’s also a live version of the Nubs’ KBD chestunt “Job.” (


MUTANT STRAIN-Murder Of Crows (Sorry State, 12”)
Boiling over rage. I saw this band tear apart a community center in Cambridge. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean. Scalding, pissed-as-fuck vocals and a relentless attack. Squalls of feedback and powerchords, along with frantic drumming. Teetering on the edge of oblvion without going over the cliff. No skimping on the packaging—a lyric booklet, two-sided foldout poster and even a “Make a mutant” cutouts. (

NO FUCKER-Tombs (No Real Music, 7”)
First new release in 15 years for this Discharge-worshiping unit and providing four ripping tracks of d-beat fury. “Just Another Junkie” is a cautionary tale (of sorts) based on personal experience. Nice ‘n raw, just the way you like it. (no website or Bandcamp info but available from many distributors)

PARANOID-S.C.U.M. (Beach Impediment, 12”)
“S.C.U.M.” (or “Saboteurs and Criminals United In Mayhem”) originally came out as a 7” and it’s on a one-sided 12” here, with an etching on the flip. Two of the 7” tracks are extended to over four minutes. Anyway, those are statistics. As for the musical contents, this Swedish band create a wild ride of Japanese-inspired noise, d-beat and expansive elements, particluarly on closing track “Taikeiteki Kunou,” which concludes with almost a minute of static white noise.  (

PHAGOCYTE-B.U.D.L.I.T.E. (self-released, demo)
Or “Bitch, U Don’t Like It? Go Home Then!” Three more songs from Phagocyte, with rougher-sounding recording quality than the first one. And the playing is harder-edged, as well—a fast-paced, buzzing punk attack and a venomous attitude to go with it. (


RAT-NIP-My Pillow (Song Book, 7”)
Pissed off d-beat meets American style hardcore punk although they add a little death rock to “Schemer” and you can feel the darkness (get it?) for “Old River.” Trigger-finger rage from the get-go. (

REJEKTS-Manmade Hell (No Norms, 7”)
Bare-knuckled punk and hardcore with an oi-ish tinge from this Boston band. If there’s a theme, it’s feeling trapped by daily life and wary of everything around you. Timeless sentiments. Rejekts include people who have been around the musical block a few times, playing in bands like Combat Zone, Bombers, Flaccid, Banshee and many others, so they’ve got it down at this point. (

SAVAGEHEADS-Summer Demo MMXXIII (Active-8, demo)
Five new tracks, including an Insane cover and re-recording of the early song “Savageheads.” More classic UK-82 style punk done in thumping fashion. “Overworked” could very well become a Labor Day perennial for my radio show. This should get a vinyl release. (

SCIENCE MAN-Mince’s Cain (Swimming Faith, 12”)
This is John The Science Man’s most raw-sounding effort. A ripping and ravenous collection of twisted, sputtering hardcore emanations. A fusillade of gnashing, slashing, alien guitar tones executed at a high velocity. And the accompanying vidoes, which can be seen on YouTube if you didn’t get the VHS release or have a working VHS player, are also twisted and highly creative. Not for the squamish, though, especially “Magnetic Death.” The title is another anagram of Science Man—the last one was Nines Mecca—and this will mince your eardrums, as well as eyes, into oblivion. (

SIAL-Sangkar (La Vida Es Un Mus, 7”)
After a 2021 single featuring two lengthy tracks, Sial are back to delivering their songs in short blasts. Six of ‘em on this 7” and succinctly delivering the fury. Buzzing riffs accompanied by nettled, repetitive rants. Mixing up the tempos and rhythms—mostly at a fast clip, although opening song “Tali” goes for a medium-paced pound. Dishing out the fury for half a dozen years at this point, with no let-up in sight. (

SWEEPING PROMISES-Good Living Is Coming For You (Feel It, 12”)
Gloriously lo-fi and catchy as hell post-punk/new wave/punk. That’s what makes it appealing. It adds an edginess that glossier sound quality would wipe away. This duo sure as hell know their way around a hook. Some of those hooks come from rangy, swooping vocals, as well as a cool mix of potent and sometimes quirky instrumentation—strong bass-lines and backbeat, juicy guitar lines, synth blips, even the occasional sax, which adds nicely to “Conoisseur of Salt,” the best song here. And the influences aren’t blatant—echoes of Wire, New Order, Gang of Four and Kleenex, but with their own stamp on it. (

TELEGENIC PLEASURE-Concentric Grave (Feral Kid/No Front Teeth, 12”)
Synth-driven punk/new wave/pop that’s a colloabortion between Rob Brake from Mononegatives and Marco Palumbo-Rodrigues, who’s been a number of bands. X-Intruder was one and I liked their album from a few years ago. A stylistic mix with the punky drive of “Sugar Effigy” and “Greed For Guilt” making the strongest impression. Reminisicent of the Mind Spiders, at times. Using technology (to use an old phrase) but still sounding human. (;

WET SPECIMENS-Over Pale Bodies (Brain Slash, 12”)
Haunted emanations emerging from an aural catacomb. Slash and shimmer on the guitars and harsh, echo-y vocals just beneath the surface, along with synth effects. Lots of pain and torment going on here, done with a thunderous intensity. There’s almost a death-rock feel or even a hint of Joy Division, but it’s strained through their ugly hardcore punk murkiness. Nothing soothing here. (


DYS (photo: Bruce Rhodes)

DYS-Brotherhood (Bridge Nine, 12”)
40th anniversary reissue—yikes! Just for the hell of it, I dug out my original review I published in issue #7 of Suburban Punk. I’m not going to reprint it here because some of it sounds a bit naïve but I suppose it’s hard to feel embarrassed about pointing out that the lyrics are about standing up for what you believe in, seeing beyond fashion, lifestyle and skin color and getting together to fight for a better world. Perhaps a bit idealistic but, hey, we were all young. Anyway, it’s a raging hardcore album, mixing up thrash and medium-speed material. There’s a metal piss-take, “Girl’s Got Limits” and the trippier “Escape,” with the silly King Arthur spoken word intro, and weird vocal effects at the end. Their anthem “Wolfpack” is included but it’s not the original demo version that was actually two songs—the fast one at the end was called “Bible” and was recorded with their first guitarist Steve. This is a later version (I think) with the Hüsker Dü guys doing backing vocals. All of the songs are pressed on one side and the other side has a screen print on it. A high-energy record that conjures up great memories. It nearly inspired me to start thrashing around my room but my knee is fucked up and what would the neighbors think if they looked through the window? Oh well. (

МИР-Mindecision (Beach Impediment, 12”)
Some vintage, ranting hardcore from this Roanoke band that came out on a demo in 1985. The name is MIR in English and it’s Russian for Peace. Mainly fast thrash, although melodic bits pop up here and there. Proof that the hardcore bug reached almost every nook and cranny in the US. Incidentally, their bass player Mary Huff went on to play in the garage/rockabilly/surf band Southern Culture On The Skids. (

THE PROLETARIAT-Indifference (Restless Empire, 12”)
Reissue of the second Proletariat album, which was actually done posthumously in 1986 and features two different lineups—after drummer Tom McKnight and vocalist Rick Brown left the band, they were replaced by Steve Welch and Laurel Bowman respectively, and they appear on two songs. Laurel’s cadence is similar to Rick’s but perhaps a tad more mellifluous. Anyway, “Indifference” is darker and bleaker-sounding than their debut LP “Soma Holiday”—not that they were ever a chipper unit-- but there’s still a lot of energetic burn along with the politically-charged lyrics, particularly for “Pride, “Marketplace” and “Instinct.” There’s also more melody mixed into the sonic density. Capturing the times and, unfortunately, the times have been changing backwards in recent years. Restless Empire doesn’t seem to have any sort of web presence, except for a Facebook and Instagram page, but various distributors and Discogs have it in stock.

QUICKSAND-Slip (Iodine, 12”)
Very lavish package for the 30th anniversary reissue of Quicksand’s first album—pink swirly colored vinyl plus a full color glossy hardcover book. The latter is filled with photos, brief essays, ephemera, flyers and zine articles (including my interview with Walter form SV). I haven’t listened to this album much over the past 25 years or so, to be honest. It was part of the early 1990s post-hardcore rock thing I’d left behind when getting back to hardcore basics but there’s still something appealing about it. You can tell they were listening to a lot of Fugazi, Jane’s Addiction and Helmet—most of which Walter readily admits. There’s a swirling/swaying to-and-fro feel to the bulk of the songs and strong melody lines emerge. And there’s a warmth in the production. Includes their stripped-down cover of the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now.” Quicksand got caught up in the post-Nirvana signing frenzy and this album stands up somewhat better than quite a bit of the post-hardcore music I was championing back then. (

SS DECONTROL-The Kids Will Have Their Say (Trust, 12”)
Finally back in print after over 40 years. A cornerstone of Boston and straight-edge hardcore, of course and one that’s provided inspiration to multiple generations of fans. Fast and raging, with a hornets nest of guitar riffs, strong drumming and bass playing and Springa’s wailing caterwaul on top of everything. Most of it is at blitz speed although slowed down for “Police Beat” and, of course, “How Much Art” (AHHHHT!!), a seething critique of art-punk, post-punk and new wave. The original demo version had a rant with Al calling out names. “A Certain General, A Certain Ratio, a certain bullshit! New Order—short order!” Many of the lyrics are about rejecting societal norms and conformity, especially alcohol and drug use (fancy way of me saying straight-edge) as well as police abuse and mindless patriotism. I think there are 13 different variations of this reissue, through different stores and distributors. One is an alternate white cover. It shouldn’t be too tough to find a copy, though, even if it’s just black. Besides, it’s about the music, right? Essential. “Get It Away” will be reissued sometime in 2024. By the way, that whole thing about the Boston Crew slapping beers out of people’s hands? Urban legend. But don’t them where you heard that. (

… and just before “Kids” was reissued, the SSD “coffee table” book was released…

HOW MUCH ART CAN YOU TAKE? photos by Philin Phlash and interviews by Nancy Barile, Radio Raheem, hardcover 
A combo oral history and photo book by Philin Phlash (Springa from SSD’s brother) that tells the story through interviews with the band members, along with their friends/crew from here, Pushead (who illustrated the cover of the “Get It Away” EP) and the late Mike “Mr. B” Bastarache, who produced the first two records It’s more or less chronological, starting with the band members’ origins and covering crucial events in the band’s history. The birth of DIY hardcore shows in Boston at Gallery East and Media Workshop. Out of town shows, straight edge, even the infamous pig’s head incident at a show at the Channel. Nancy, who moved up here from Philly, offers her own observations and how she became involved not only in a relationship with Al but the local scene. By the way, you should check out her book from a few years ago, “I’m Not Holding Your Coat” ( where she details her own punk and hardcore journey. 

What’s interesting is how you had four very disparate personalities (adding a fifth later on, lead guitarist Francois Levesque) who could often be at odds with each other and they somehow made it work for four years. Some of the photos will look familiar but many were unpublished up until now and there are shots both onstage and offstage, although the emphasis is on the former. There’s a complete set of the photos from the iconic “Kids” cover shot at the Massachusetts State House. Phil was able to capture the intensity of the early days, where something life-changing for so many people (including myself) was happening—not only in Boston but around the country. Worldwide, in fact. A visually striking and sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant collection. (

JUST A MINOR THREAT by Glen E. Friedman, Akashic Books, hardcover
Glen E. Friedman refers to his work as “making pictures,” instead of shooting photography. I think he views his work as coming from more of an artist’s sensibility. I suppose there’s an art to making photos that are 40 years old so vibrant and that’s the case here. Friedman had this knack for being right in the fray and getting photos that show every bead of sweat and every emotion from the people playing this music, as well as the audience—with little or no separation between the two. All of the photos are black and white, adding to the dramatic effect. Words are pretty much kept to a minimum, save an intro by Friedman and essays from Guy Picciotto (Fugazi, Rites of Spring), Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses), Alec MacKaye and a few others. But it’s not an oral history—that’s been done in many other places.The sections are broken down by shows, mostly in DC but also NYC and California, both live and candid and that includes a collection of the iconic Dischord House stoop photos, one of which was used for the “Salad Days” EP. It’s not hyperbole to say that Minor Threat were an important band, in many ways. There was an honesty and directness, especially in the lyrics and the way Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson conducted “business” with Dischord. It was a great moment and, without becoming too misty-eyed (OK, a little), listening to those records and seeing them play changed my life. Many others, as well. (


2023 was a rough year and I can’t say I’m not glad to see it in the rearview mirror. In the past twelve months, I lost too many people—friends and acquaintances, both people I grew up with and knew from my musical “family.” All of them gone at way too young an age…


Amy Saltz
Dave Stein
Jimmy Flynn
Liz Reagan
Mark “Stem” Stemniski
Otis “O” Bartholoumeu  
Scot “Coop” Cooper (in photo with his faux-punk band The Vitamins)
Wendy Winer Patrinos