Someone just interviewed me for a zine and asked why I was publishing this blog less frequently. I really didn't have a good answer. It's not due to a shortage of material. The bombardment continues and I always hope I won't overlook anything mindblowing. I just can't seem to get my shit together lately. Story of my life...
The year's kind of been off to a slow start, in terms of getting out and seeing live music. February's almost over--I didn't see one show in January and made it to three this month, one of which was for my 50th birthday, on 2/13 (my birthday was actually the 12th). In all honesty, that was a nightmare to put together. I asked so many different bands to play and they couldn't (or maybe wouldn't) for one reason or another. I won't call 'em out on it because the show ended up being a blast, with one of my current local favorites, Male Nurses, knocking out both their early 80s-influenced hardcore and recent compositions that veer in a snottier punk rock direction. Payload did their FU's tribute (the band has John Sox and Slade from Straw Dogs on guitar) and I got to cross one thing off the "bucket list" by getting to sing "What You Pay For" with them. Two grind bands from Philly, Backslider and Nothing Is Over, got things started and, as far as grind goes, they were both decent.
Then there was the debacle of a set by the first band I played in, Isolated Youth, with yours truly on bass and lead vocals on a couple of songs. People seemed to be into it but after just two practices and it being our first show since '82 (and only second-ever show), let's just say it was on the rough side and I'm being generous. But thanks to everyone who came down for it, to Kimberly and Tom for their hard work promoting and running the show and Mick providing some of the PA (along with Tom). And, of course, the bands...
As always, you can see photos from the shows I attend at my Flickr page.
RELIGIOUS AS FUCK
AMERICAN CHEESEBURGER/RELIGIOUS AS FUCK-Split (No Idea, LP)
Blazing, blazing blazing--and that description applies to both of these Florida bands. With ACB, it had always been the live thing up to this point. Not that the records were terrible or anything but they didn't capture this band's in-person mania. No more--the band's 9 Shocks-ish scorch comes leaping at 'ya like a gasoline-generated fire. Former vocalist James Greer (since replaced by Jeff Rapier) demonically emits the words while the band's full-tilt thrash is meticulously executed. "Faster Than The Speed Of Night" brings their side to a metal-singed conclusion after the hardcore blast subsides. And we're only half-way done. RAF also pack a mighty 'n speedy punch with seamless tempo shifts. Some blasting here and there but not to the detriment of the songs' impact. Slightly darker in tone than ACB, hints of crust but nothing "epic." These are short doses of hammering mania. Comes with a download code and I've been rockin' this while on the treadmill. Add this to your own workout regimen. (PO Box 14636, Gainesville, FL 32604, www.noidearecords.com)
APPLACHIAN TERROR UNIT-Discography Pt. 1 (Profane Existence, CD)
Anthologizing ATU's first EP and "Greenwashing" album. ATU came out of West Virginia some years back, dishing out dual-vocal crust punk with metallic overtones. "Greenwashing," for instance, draws from Slayer's "Reign In Blood" album and early Celtic Frost in its intro. Weighty lyrical content--anti-government, anti-religion, anti-capitalist, speaking up for those who suffer without health care (talk about timely!) and even keeping it local for the opening treatise about strip-mining. That's a big issue where they live and some anti-mining protests have been disrupted by violent pro-mining thugs. "Sago," a song about mining, points its wrath at companies who pillage their surroundings. While some of the compositions are on the lengthy side, with quiet passages setting up the charging blitz, it still creates a bruising ambiance. (PO Box 18051, Minneapolis, MN 55418, www.profaneexistence.org)
ASPIRIN-We Do Painkilling To Your Anger (Schizophrenic, 7" EP)
Wild, crazy Japanese hardcore with all the subtlety of a nailbomb, musical shrapnel flying in multiple directions. Even with the drumming nearly out of control and the bombardment of powerchords and leads and howling vocals, it somehow holds together. Aspirin have more in common with bands like Framtid, Systematic Death, Gauze, et al than the "burning spirits" stuff and that's actually more to my liking, anyway. (17 West 4th St., Hamilton, ON CANADA L9C 3M2, www.schizophrenicrex.com)
AVSKUM-Folk Som Har Sanger Kan Inte Do (Prank, 7" EP)
The wily Swedish veterans return... sheesh, sounds like I'm talking about a still-crafty pitcher here but this is hardcore punk and they can still get it over the plate. Enough baseball analogies--besides, that's probably not the main sport in Sweden. Maybe I should talk about hockey. Maybe I should knock it off. All the hallmarks of this style--roiling, blazing riffage driven by strong drumming and howling vocals that are reinforced on some songs by Diana from Shades of Grey. The standout is "Glom Aldrig Hiroshima," with a tad more melody (relatively speaking) and solid lead break. Furious... (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141, www.prankrecords.com)
CLOAK/DAGGER-Lost Art (Jade Tree, CD)/Don't Need A (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)
Cloak/Dagger continue to not fit any set niche while kicking out some brash music. Hell, they say as much on "Don't Need A," which states "avoid classifications at all costs." Jabbing punk/post-punk/garage in various permutations. Do I use the words nervy or edgy too much? Probably, but it fits the bill here. The songs rock AND roll with authority but there's almost an aura of nervousness, here, too much caffeine coursing through their collective veins. Not only in Jason's vocals, but instrumentally, as well. The guitar is snakier, not relying solely on powerchords and generating a speedy gnarl. And while it was recorded at the same studio as their first album, "Lost Art" benefits from what seems like some tweaking in the production qualities--on the last album, the bottom end was a tad too prominent. There's still a good amount of rhythmic punch but it's not as claustrophobic-sounding. From speed bombs like ""Fast Food Dream," "Same Old Story" and "Deathbed Rebels" (and, truth be told, those aren't the stronger tracks) to the moodier "Dead Town Beat" and "Lost Art" (both Hot Snakes-esque) Cloak/Dagger keep things moving with an appealing, energetic pulse. Add this one to my best of '09... The 7" pairs the aforementioned "Don't Need A" with two non-LP tracks--the fast and frenetic "Jesus Had A Twin" that moves seamlessly into the bashing "Twenty On One." Collect 'em all. (Jade Tree: 2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19380, www.jadetree.com/Grave Mistake: PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241, www.gravemistakerecords.com)
COCOCOMA-Things Are Not All Right (Goner, CD)
Toe-tapping, poppy garage rock that has an unaffected snappiness to it and it's good 'n all but not an album that really grabs me. A few things have changed--not as much of the Farfisa as on the firt one and it's not as rough-around-the-edges. I'll accentuate the positive, though--the bouncy charm of "The Right Side," the taut, sharp "Water Into Wine," the enjoyably Real Kids-like "Lie To Me." But if you're expecting any sort of loose, out-of-control savagery, it's not here. (2152 Young Ave., Memphis, TN 38104, www.goner-records.com)
CONDENADA-Mother Tongue (Thought Crime, 7" EP)
Condenada continue in a jarring vein featuring against-the-grain punk with a semi-warm, yet thorny guitar tone, nimble bass-playing and clattering drums. As always, Mariam's vocals soar with visceral authority--alternately crooning and raspily gutteral, emitting more than a modicum of anger. Truth be told, that can occasionally overwhelm things. The songs have presence and the crude production adds an edge. Not predictable although I still don't think their recordings completely connect. I suppose you could say my praise is lukewarm. (Muskauer Str. 19, 10997 Berlin, GERMANY, www.thoughtcrimerecords.de)
DEATH CRISIS-s/t (Too Old To Die, 7" EP)
Out of the ashes of Life Crisis (clever, eh?) comes this boiling-over San Diego band. Rippin' hardcore carnage in short, loud and fast doses. Half the songs are in Spanish, half in English and, for "El Masturbador," Alberto channels his inner Martin Crudos. That song's not all that serious but "Until We're All Dead" and "Saddam Is Dead" take on corporate conquest, mindless consumption and the "war on terror," all of it intermingled. No artsy fartsy stuff--just direct, to-the-point burn. (www.myspace.com/deathcrisis)
MALINHEADS-Probegepogt Aus Spandau (Thought Crime, 7" EP)
Reissue of this Berlin band's debut three song EP from 1983. Even though they called Germany home, the Malinheads drew more than a bit from early Scandinavian hardcore and various strains of early 80s UK blaze, with lyrics in English. An abundance of buzz-distort, phlegm-rant vocals and wrecking everything in sight. (Muskauer Str. 19, 10997 Berlin, GERMANY, www.thoughtcrimerecords.de)
MORPHEME-s/t (Prank, 7" EP)
Had these guys pegged as a Japanese band because of the song titles and band members' names but it turns out that, while one of them is from that country, they're actually from the Bay Area. It really doesn't matter, anyway. Raw as fuck hardcore with reverb on the vocals and a distorto guitar attack. I hear more of a Finnish inspiration, actually (Kaaos, mainly) but we're splitting hairs. This is brain-melting pillage, something these ears can never get enough of. Nor yours, hopefully. (PO Box 410892, SF, CA 94141, www.prankrecords.com)
PRIMATES-Control Salvaje (Thought Crime, 7" EP)
From Barcelona, no bull... sorry, that's bad. The Primates are far from bad--this is damn near perfect hardcore punk. Ultra-tight, fast, catchy with no breaks to catch your breath. Tasty, dexterous guitar lines and propelled ahead with in-the-pocket drumming and bass-playing. Mostly done in rapid-fire fashion, although "Venganza" slows the pace for a moment. Pretty much flawless. (Muskauer Str. 19, 10997 Berlin, GERMANY, www.thoughtcrimerecords.de)
SCRAMS-s/t (self-released, 7" EP)
Organ-laced garage punk with echo on the vocals and a loose spiritedness, if that's a word. If not, I just invented it. It's certainly not clean or polished but also absent of trash-can production or noise overload. Two quick ravers ("Ralph Rook," Dram Shopper") and two more danceable ditties. Enjoyably trashy. (scrams.bigcartel.com)
SEVERANCE PACKAGE-All Down Hill (Shut Up, 7" EP)
Robin and Josh from Black Fork comprise 2/3 of this band. Tuneful punk with Billy Zoom-esque guitar lines, particularly for the title track, the strongest of the three. Unfortunately, the somewhat off-key dual vocals are on the grating side (that was something of a debit for Black Fork, as well). Some musical merits but not that great, overall. (www.shutuprecords.com)
SHITTY LIMITS-Yesterday's Heroes (Motorchest, 7" EP)
The Limits' earlier EPs have gradually been re-released on different labels. This is from 2007 and showcases the band at its most furious--on side one, there are three fast ragers that flail by in 104 seconds. The b-side has one song that goes over a minute (the title track) and two sub-minute ones preceding it. Same kind of guitar sound as Amdi Petersens Arme (in other words, not much distortion) and while there's a throwback hardcore sound, the velocity doesn't completely mask their garagier impulses. The full-length had the Limits spreading out, trying new ideas. This is the band's attack condensed to its purest essence. The cover parodies an old 4 Skins sleeve. (PO Box 725, Poplar Bluff, MO 63902, www.myspace.com/nocausepunk)
SIN ORDEN-Arte, Cultura Y Resistencia (Emma Navajas, LP)
After a decade of band-hood (although there was a hiatus), Sin Orden have finally released their first full-length album, which was recorded in 2007. Uncorking ravenous hardcore punk that seldom lets up, except for the occasionally subdued intro. Carlos's high-pitched bark does engender comparisons to Martin from Crudos et al, and add the crazy-sounding vocalist on some of Raw Power's recordings as well. "Too Punk To Be," the closing song, actually sounds like Raw Power. The mix on the drums isn't too hot, unfortunately, being kind of heavy on the snare. This makes the songs sound mono-dimensional, on occasion. Ultimately, though, the band's raging approach more than compensates for that shortcoming. (PO Box 803251, Chicago, IL 60680, firstname.lastname@example.org)
SLAYER-World Painted Blood (American, CD)
Friends, metal-heads, Slayer fans--lend me your ears. There is no way in hell this band will EVER top "Reign In Blood" or perhaps "South of Heaven." There's always skepticism as to whether the old guard 80s thrash metal combos can deliver the proverbial goods. Well, "World Painted Blood" is a pretty noble attempt and better than anything they've put out this decade. I'm not damning with faint praise, either. Sure, one could roll their eyes with the dramatic build-up for the opening title track that sounds more than a little like "Raining Blood." For the seething 'n gripping track "Playing With Dolls," I also have to make a bit of a comparison to "Spill The Blood." There's the bridge for "Beauty Through Order" where you're waiting for Araya to bray "I HAVE YET ONLY JUST BEGUN TO TAKE YOUR FUCKING LIFE." Speaking of which, one of the most chilling things I ever experienced at a show was when "Criminally Insane" was being played between sets at the Orpheum and over 2000 headbangers yelled that line in unison. Getting back to "WPD," though, it's lean, streamlined speed metal that has no fancy stuff. Lyrics certainly express zilch optimism, from the first line, "disease spreading death/entire population dies." "Americon" delves into American occupation in other lands that's "all about the motherfuckin' oil." Blood, death and destruction, just the way you like it. "WPD" is definitely a back-to-the-roots album and there could be some scoffing about rehash and the like. A comment like that could easily be said about the umpteenth generation D-beat knockoff too. It's about playing it well, playing it the right way and that's the case here.
VARIOUS-Boston Underground (KemoTherapy, CD)
Four band split of (mostly) new local bands, all of 'em operating in some sort of hardcore punk vein. Superpower have been around awhile and their vocalist is Dave from the late Boston band Tree. A mish-mash of full-bore hardcore, thrash and metal in a similar vein as Dave's former unit. Allston Pants are reminiscent of early Unseen at times with sore-throat vocal tradeoffs. I'm not sure if the ode to Pabst ("PBaRtsy") is meant as tribute or critique but I still don't know how people can drink that shit. There are a few technical glitches on their songs--mainly the volume jumps and drops during a couple of the tracks. I can DEFINITELY live without the ska-inflected "Suicide Girls." No Shit keep things going in a loud/fast vein and Colin and the Cancer (from my current locale of Peabody) inject some melody into their hardcore punk buzz. Nothing groundbreaking but each band have their feisty moments. (www.kemotherapyrecords.com)
ZOOPARTY-Re-Fuse (ACME, CD)
The term '77-inspired punk is often bandied about, including by your faithful scribe, but what does it really mean? Ramones? Sure... but going across the pond, it can also encompass such bands as the Boys, Lurkers and, of course, Pistols. Well, Zooparty conjure up those bands on their latest and, just to reinforce things, bring along some heavy-hitters for "Re-Fuse." Glen Matlock from the Pistols/Rich Kids and Brian James from the Damned are all over this record, contributing some tasteful guitar scorch, Thunders toss-offs and the like. Well-tread rockin' punk but damn if it doesn't do the trick with the songs' formidable hook-craft. Every buzzin' guitar line and harmonious backing vocal perfectly in place for a rousing good time. (PO Box 441, Dracut, MA 01826, www.acmerecords.net)