Sunday, April 13, 2008

Suburban Voice blog #59

LIBYANS

THIS IS BOSTON AND I’M NOT GOING TO SAY “NOT L.A.

So what’s happening in Boston, you ask? Well, let me tell ‘ya. This ain’t gonna be about the Dropkick Murphys nor the Unseen nor any of the other higher-profile punk or hardcore bands. As always, underneath that radar, DIY is alive and well here, with new bands emerging all the time and fun shows all over the place, from basements in Somerville and Boston to the Ratscellar warehouse space to various college spaces and halls. Hell, I just saw a fun show in a classroom at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts with Belgian band Sunpower (LP review below) and there was a pretty good turnout for a Monday night. Even the Midway club, in Jamaica Plain, has been doing all-ages shows, although a lot of ‘em feature bands that don’t interest me all that much.

Getting to those recordings, though, first up is the three song 7” by LIBYANS, “Welcome To The Neighborhood” (Shock To The System, PO BOX 300991, Jamaica Plain, MA, 02130, www.myspace.com/shocktothesystemrecords) The poppy title track owes more than a little to the Avengers’ “Cheap Tragedies,” although vocalist Liz Panella has a lower, somewhat rougher voice. I imagine the Dangerhouse type logo on the record isn’t meant to be ironic—and I don’t mean that as a slight, either. It’s a catchy song. The two songs on the flip, “Cough It Up and “Higher Standards,” take a faster hardcore punk turn.

Next is a demo tape by GENERAL INTEREST (59 Myrtle St., Somerville, MA 02145, generalinterestpunk@gmail.com), who are a fairly new band with two people from the Conversions and one from Red Thread, all playing different instruments than in their other bands. Meanwhile, lead mouth Steve Shea conveys some sarcastic sentiments. You can’t read along to his words because the lyrics sheet features a passage about Hitler’s sexual history but “Out With A Bang” is an undisguised slam at the Italian band (“would it shock you if I called you a fag?”) and their so-called shock value, no doubt inspired by a show they played in Boston last year, where there was a fight during their set. “Myth of The Female Musician” pokes fun at the all-too-prevalent mentality from some males that, in essence, girls can’t rock. From a musical standpoint, it doesn’t fit an easy definition, although shards of post-punk mix with a punk attitude. “Bagley,” the final song, has a serious Minutemen jones. Stretching the boundaries like the Conversions, albeit without the hardcore element.

Another new band with a cassette demo is LIKE RATS (likeratsboston@gmail.com), who have the Conversions’ vocalist Terry Cuozzo on guitar and Pat Wilding (Mecchanibal, Daggers Rule) on vocals. An energetic hardcore sound with a hint of Poison Idea, particularly in Pat’s raspy vocals. A quick-paced, no nonsense approach and thoughtful lyrics on a variety of topics—“Grandfather Clause,” which is about moving on and refusing to acknowledge what you were a part of. I imagine that weighs on the so-called “older” punks, who sometimes question their continued involvement in what some perceive as immature pursuits.

WEAPONS GRADE (PO Box 301426, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, www.myspace.com/weaponsgradeboston), the latest band fronted by Craig Lewis (ex-Melee, Keep Laughing) use a combination of raw thrash and more melodic properties that isn’t easily pigeonholed. The lyrics are intense and personal, dealing with very real pain and emotional trauma and passionately exorcised. In all honesty, it’s tough to listen to, at times. This recording sounds like a band still looking for its footing, although there are solid moments (“Put To Sleep,” Razor Blades”). Having seen Weapons Grade improve in the live setting over the past few months, I hope that will be reflected the next time they hit the studio.

In a loud ‘n spirited garage/punk vein come HOSPITAL RATS (www.myspace.com/thehospitalrats). Their CD demo is packaged in a paper bag. Organ-drenched gnash as these four guys effectively bash their way through their material. There’s definitely ­a 60s mind-bending angle, particularly the chaotic conclusion for “The Beast,” but it still doesn’t come across as a Nuggets/Pebbles retro trip. That tune is one of four live tracks that accompany five studio (or maybe basement) tracks. Sure, there’s no denying where the Hospital Rats are coming from, but they add their own appealing (?) crudeness to it, each song introduced with a bit of hiss/hum and a hearty “1-2-3-4.” Just so you know, the bag has enough room for a 12oz Pabst, if that’s your brew of choice—and at least you’ll have good musical taste, if not taste in beer.

Ending the Boston segment, NOTHING BUT ENEMIES, formerly known as Slimy Cunt and The Fist Fucks (for real), have their first album, “Mental Damage,” out on Welfare Records (58 River St., Haverhill, MA 01832, www.welfarerecords.net). There’s a declaration from this band’s vocalist Opie at the outset—a shout-out to all the rejects, freaks, drunks, mentally ill, dropouts and others, including the people “that ain’t even accepted by your so-called friends in punk rock… come join us!” A-fuckin’-men to that sentiment and the pure hate is conveyed with a direct hit. Opie rants and brays and the music is a heady, mainly mid-tempo hardcore punk bash. A visceral ugliness but it’s also a controlled, concise assault. A Blitz-ish touch figures into “No Apologies” and “Detonation” reminded me of the Dead Boys a little. This is music for the anti-social, the ugly and proud, to quote the late, great Sheer Terror.

Incidentally, the General Interest and Like Rats demos were recorded at Side Two studios, which is located in the building that hosts the Ratscellar and the recordings coming out of there sound good and the rates are reasonable. For more info, check out their site at http://www.sidetwostudio.com).

THIS AIN’T BOSTON… BUT THAT’S OK!

DFC/PRESTO?-Inferno Na Terra (Peculio, CD)
Both of these Brazilian bands have the crossover thing, to an extent. Hardcore ‘n thrash with a driving and a ruthless, murderous attack. Another commonality the brevity of the compositions. As for differences, Presto? throw in some blastbeats , chuggier elements, plus slightly lower tunings, as well but it doesn’t impede the power—but since DFC eschews those things, I like their half a bit more. I have to say that the sampling of the “1-2-3-4” from Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile” on one Presto? song is pretty damned clever, too. If you like metal in your hardcore or vice versa, there are worse ways to spend 24 minutes. (CX Postal 393, Santos-SP, 11001-970, BRAZIL, www.peculiodiscos.com.br)

D.O.N.D.O.N.-Last Warning (Schizophrenic, CD)
Reissue of this Japanese band’s 1991 album, long out of print and appended with three compilation tracks. The initials stand for Detestation of Negative, Destruction of Nuclear and it’s throttling hardcore that would have made much better listening for yours truly than the grunge shit I was into at the time. Let’s not talk about that—let’s talk about the pummeling content here. D.O.N.D.O.N had a visceral aggressiveness and, along with the thrash, incorporated metallic guitar trills and even a few odd effects. There are a couple of slower songs that sound like they came off the “Protest and Survive” assembly line but, for the most part, it’s raw, clattering thrash in the traditional Japanese style. Not on the same level as the Japanese hardcore legends but still making a loud statement. (17 West 4th St., Hamilton, ON L9C 3M2, CANADA, www.schizophrenicrex.com)

IRON LUNG-Sexless//No Sex (Prank, CD)
This is death or, more accurately, Iron Lung’s latest opus is about death. Physical death, mainly, but also death of the soul and one could say those often go hand in hand. It’s a hammer-shock musical effect, grinding out ultra-fast thrash and oozing slowdowns that are far from accessible or tuneful but appropriate for the mood, here. For a two-piece, Iron Lung have a huge sound. The final track, the lurching “Cancer,” ending with another blast and an abrupt ending, seems a fitting conclusion. Accompanied by haunting artwork from Rudimentary Peni’s Nick Blinko. I’ve never really been an aficionado of powerviolence (everyone who reads my stuff knows that by now), except seeing it live. But this never gets completely out of control and one thing that stands out here is Voivod-ish guitar touches, especially effective on a song like “Politics Of Science.” Enough inventiveness and variety to keep it interesting. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141-0892, www.prankrecords.com)

NO PEACE-Zombie Brains (Decision Of Fate, 7” EP)
Raw, nearly blown-out sounding hardcore and there are both old school Swedish and Japanese hardcore influences, at least to my ears. It’s just a way to give an indication that it’s high energy fodder. From Cleveland and definitely sharing the devil-may-care aggro of other DIY bands from that region. The fact that other Clevo hardcore “luminaries” were involved in the mixing and mastering of the recording is another indicator that this ain’t gonna be no pleasant-sounding sonic excursion. Feedback, wheedling lead guitar and agonized vocals. The only misstep is the semi-sung, off-key vocal for the slightly slower-paced “Thanks Friend.” (2122 Robbins Ave., #108, Niles, OH 44446, play_it_faster@hotmail.com)

PERTH EXPRESS-s/t (Teenage Disco Bloodbath, CD)
A 22 song anthology for this band from Germany and, after listening to nearly an hour of this heavy, doom-laden music, it’s had a draining effect. I don’t really mean that in a positive sense, either. The effect is largely overbearing and oppressive. Anguished, lower-register vocals and tuned-down, thick ‘n ominous arranging. On occasion, it connects—the speed roar of “Schon Gewusst? and “1001,” although the drumming seems a bit out of sync. Probably of interest to people who like the newer Swedish hardcore/metal stuff and maybe it would have been better in shorter doses but it gets numbing after awhile. (www.tdbrecords.com)

STATE-Verboten EP (Statement, 7”)
On the State’s latest record, the hook is that two of the songs are in German and the other pair in English. The EP was originally supposed to come out in Germany but the band ended up doing it themselves. Gritty hardcore punk, as always, imbued with speed and agitation and the songs here are better than the ones from their recent split with I Object. The not-so-secret weapon in this band remains guitarist Art Tendler, adept at both scorching leads and buzzing rhythm work . Lyrics casting a jaundiced eye, especially towards those who genuflect before their god or their government. Age is only a number and they kick the ass of many bands half their age and younger. (www.statenoillusions.com)

SUNPOWER

SUNPOWER-Pain For Profit (Holy Shit!/Still Holding On, LP)
Ah, the LP with the gatefold cover—how I love them, even with the depressing drawing of an animal about to be murdered so the woman on the back can wrap its fur around her neck. Sunpower are from Belgium but are clearly influenced by US punk and hardcore. “BXHell,” for instance, has surfy guitar ala the Dead Kennedy and.Mike Meat’s vocals sound like a cross between Jello and Willy from Young Wasteners. Once in awhile, there will be a change-up, such as the jazzier rhythm for “Gore’s World.” Most of the time, though, they play at a faster speed and songs are short and catchy. And add “Stuck Inside The Midlife Crisis” to the ever growing library of “getting older in the scene” odes. I don’t necessarily “wish I was a teen again,” like Mike sings, but also have similar feelings of ambivalence. But fuck it… do what you want and look at this as a musical fountain of youth. (www.myspace.com/stillholdingonrecords)

SUPERBUICK-s/t (Motherbox, CD)
I’ll avoid the car references in this review—like “souped-up” “high octane” rock ‘n roll,” “taking a manic ride,” etc etc. Nope, not my style. Errr… moving right along, this is some pretty rockin’ rollin’ stuff from dudes with a hardcore punk background—people from Violent Society, Race To Die (who had a pretty good demo awhile back), Fisticuffs and more. There’s some bad-assery in the vocal department, although there tends to be an overbearing element to them, as well. To be honest, that’s not always that great a thing and the one thing here about which there are any reservations. Otherwise, while it’s well-tread rawk terrain, Superbuick’s songs have a lively punch and plenty of adrenalin and feisty guitar riffs. This isn’t strut ‘n swagger—it’s more like tearing down the road with the pedal to the metal. Oops—there I go again. (12 Madison St., Lynbrook. NJ 11563, http://www.myspace.com/motherboxrecords)

YOUTHS-Generationless (Still Holding On, 7”)
It’s been awhile since the Youths’ demo, which was pressed on vinyl by Criminal IQ, came out so I was happy to see this 7” show up. Catchy, anthemic punk with a garage tinge. Not a lot of variation from track to track—just sturdy, tuneful songs with bright-sounding guitar and plenty of rhythmic punch. Along with the boisterousness comes some sharp commentary about flag waving and religion, to name a few. Restless youth, to borrow a trite phrase but nothing trite about the music. (www.myspace.com/stillholdingonrecords).

3 comments:

Brushback said...

Hey, Al, what's up? Dropping you a line (sorta)....

"Mr. Z"

Ian EBH said...

Hey Al,
Good post, as always. However, you missed something. The State split 7" that came out last year was with Fuck This, not I Object!. There are common members, but they're seperate bands.

RobxT said...

Great site, always enjoy it, picked up the LIKE RATS demo on the basis of your review above...

I've linked SV from my new blog, has interviews with Vic Of Faith and DJ from Last In Line so far. Take a look: http://youbreedlikerats.blogspot.com