Thursday, July 12, 2012

Suburban Voice blog #100

Here it is, installment #100 of the Suburban Voice on-line blog. I remember thinking that my goal would to reach 50 print issues of the zine but that stalled out after 45 of 'em (#33-34 was a "double" issue) and I seriously doubt you'll see that happen since it's been 9 years this month since the last one. Where does the time go? This year is also the 30th anniversary of Suburban Voice (originally Suburban Punk), around the end of August/early September--I forget the exact date of when I published the first one. I suppose I should have some sort of celebration but given my past difficulties and/or failure to get people and bands to help out with putting a show together, don't hold your breath...


There was this girl who I went out with for a short time and, the first night we were together, she put on the Avengers' album--the one with the pinkish cover that included their Dangerhouse EP, tracks from their four song 12" and some other odds and ends. Thinking about that night still brings a smile. Alas, it wasn't to be, although I did stay in touch with her until a few years ago. She told me she still loved the Avengers record although she had to turn down the song "Fuck You" when her twin toddler daughters were playing in the vicinity. Sorry to get all nostalgic on 'ya but I'm sure you have records that conjure up various memories. In any case, here's a long-overdue repackaging of the Avengers' material, a definitive set spread over two CDs, after their catalog has been in disarray, legal entanglements and the like for years. Superlatives like timeless, essential, classic can be legitimately bandied about here.

The Avengers were part of the nascent SF scene in the late 70s, playing impassioned music that packed a punch but also full of glorious, melodic hooks. Maybe not so much in "Car Crash," which careens with a churning fury over the course of its four minutes and "Fuck You," as you can imagine, is pure rant. On the other hand, "We Are The One" is an instant singalong, a youthful call to action. "Open Your Eyes" and "No Martyr" have a similar urgency, cutting lyrics and "Second To None" is a boisterous Pistols tribute, which makes sense since it was produced by Steve Jones and the Professionals later did that song with different lyrics as "1-2-3." "Cheap Tragedies" is equally catchy.

Breaking it down, the first disc is "The Pink Album" while the second features demos, live songs and rarities--some of these already appeared on Lookout Records releases from '99 and '04. Included are the far superior mixes of "The American In Me" and "Uh-Oh" (a song with some rockin' piano) that were on the original 12" but replaced on "The Pink Album." Early demos like "Teenage Rebel" and "Friends Of Mine" have a barbed-wire spirit but you can still pick up the fact they were more than just simplistic pogo fodder. Some of the live material is sloppy--Penelope sometimes slurs the vocals--although I imagine the songs where they opened for the Pistols would be of historic interest and she goes off on quite a tirade during "I Believe In Me." Still, this is still mostly top notch stuff. And I hope that my old girlfriend somehow hears this as well. I'd like to see her get her life back on track, given that she turned into a right-wing Mormon. She could use a good dose of the Avengers defiant, spark-filled music. In fact, everyone needs that. (Water,101 Glacier Point, Suite C, San Rafael, CA 94901,



BAD ADVICE-Do Not Resuscitate (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)
A Richmond band bashing out some pretty good hardcore punk that also has a garage feel at times.This was recorded a few years back and the lineup included Brandon and Eric from Government Warning/Direct Control. Not all that far removed from GW at times, although Tony Bitch's vocals are raspier and "Chemical Imbalance" takes a more brooding turn. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

A cool split by two California bands--Bad Daddies' last 7" was reviewed in this space and was an unexpected delight. They combine fuzzy hardcore punk with the occasional pop hook and ranty female vocals. And in my 30 or so years of writing, they've written the first song I've ever seen about Sargent Shriver, the 1972 Democratic VP candidate, whose wife was Eunice Kennedy Shriver--so with the Mass./Kennedy connection, of COURSE I'm inclined to like this. White Fang ply rough garage/punk/hardcore on their two tracks (the latter on the second song "I Hate Anything"). A winning primitivism. I like this. (

BIG EYES-Back From The Moon/I Don't Care About Friday Night (Grave Mistake, 7")
This band have been around a few years, having previously released an album, Hard Life, on Don Giovanni last year, as well as another 7" and demo. But this is the first time I've heard them and "Back From The Moon" is the best pop/punk song I've heard in a long time. Guitarist/vocalist Kate Eldridge is a sweet, yet powerful vocalist and she really nails it on that song. A total earworm and the flip is nearly as catchy.Something that harkens back to the Fastbacks, delivering the hooks with a real kick. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

BIGGY STARDUST AND HIS WRETCHED HIVE-Bad Excuse For Bad Manners (Scat Boy/Mystery School, LP)
Semi-obnoxious punk rock 'n roll that's a little off-color/wise-assed without entering into scatology or anything like that. It's more like your grumpy uncle who's had a bad week and holes himself up with some pals to blow off some steam. And I'd imagine this hits the spot with other folks who have had crappy weeks and want to blow off some steam, themselves. In this case, it means plugging in instruments and turning it up loud to chase the blues away.  Sometimes reminiscent of Blanks 77, although this has more of a rock 'n roll focus. In fact, while Biggy exclaims that "we don't need another r-n-r band," that's pretty much what they are. The organ for "Gimme Gimme A Tommy Gun" is a nice touch and they should use that more. Nothing terribly original, just loud and boisterous, the way it should be. (

BILL BONDSMEN-Overcrowded Control/Untitled (Fourteegee, 7")
The Bondsmen have long been an underrated band and have been plying quality music for a decade. They have a new two song 7”, their first release in a couple years and they continue to avoid any obvious mold. “Overcrowded Control” pairs harsh, edge-of-psychosis vocals with a razor-sharp mid-speed pound that features some haunting, snaky guitar lines. The untitled flip has a long, ominous intro building up like Black Flag's “No More,” only it maintains a moderate tempo and has the same sort of guitar texture. This is a band you should be paying attention to. (15106 Paris, Detroit, MI 48101,

BLOODY GEARS-Frozen Rain (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)
A real split verdict from this Boston three-piece. The long title track is moody and down-tempo and never builds much of a head of steam although it's grown on me a little.  The two songs on the flip (including a re-recording of "Bite The Hand," originally on their demo) are sprightlier and make up for the semi-tedium of "Frozen Rain." I'll go ahead and  play the W(ipers) card, given Jeff Walker's vocal delivery and the melodic guitar trills. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

CLUSTERFUCK & COJOBA-Split (Computer Crime, 7" EP) 

Clusterfuck aren't really an active band and their three songs (with nary a break between them) were recorded a few years ago. Fast and scorching hardcore delivered with precision and the lyrics are scathing and satirical, particularly the ruminations of "Warped tour pretty!" people on "Eek Eek Eek." It's over way too quickly. Cojoba, relocated from Puerto Rico to NYC, also operate in a speedy hardcore vein, although the instrumental skill pales next to Clusterfuck, especially for "Papeles." The melodramatic vocals detract, as well. Not really into their side. (24 Circular Ave, #1B, Bridgeport, CT 06605,

DOOM TOWN-s/t (New Dark Age, 7" EP)
Jabbing, yet somewhat melodic punk from this St. Louis band. Male/female vocals ala X although I, to be honest, I found 'em kind of grating at times. A shame, really, because the songs and production aren't overly polished and it creates a winning brashness. The vocal excesses are reined in on "No Rumors," which ends up being the strongest song here. I have to make the inevitable comparisons to Gorilla Angreb and Masshysteri--lazy, I know, but that's where they're coming from and if you like those bands... (

HARABALL-The Rope (Fysisk Format, 7" EP)
Haraball are here to remind us that Norway isn't just the bastion of black metal and that quality hardcore still comes from there. It was always the case, of course. The Rope is a four song 7" and the band includes former members of Fairfuck (who put out a pretty good 7" in the late 90s) and Tiebreak, an 80s era band. A definite old-school feel although it comes from more of a late 80s US muse. Economically-delivered aggro, good if not anything overly distinctive. (

IMPALERS-Demo (Beach Impediment, 7" EP)
On this vinyl pressing of the Impalers' 2010 demo, you get some explosive Discharge/Swedish-inspired, rockin' rollin' mayhem with echo on the vocals and a speedy attack except for the mid-tempo bash of "Return To Eden" that will have you furiously banging your head. OK, "Turn Me Loose" couldn't sound any more like Discharge if they tried but the problem is? The rest of the songs aren't as blatant about it but you know where they're coming from. (

KRANG-Sounds Of Death (Sacred Plague, LP)
A long time ago, I saw Nun Slaughter play here and, at one point, their vocalist took a bone and tapped it against a human skull and said "this is what the dead sounds like!" I'm not so sure this album is what death sounds like but it could be the soundtrack to impending doom. Hardcore/metal/crust with epic propensities and it's not always to their advantage. As someone who prefers this sound without any excess and in and just gets down to business, there's quite a bit to wade through. The extended narrative of "Acceptance; Here At The End of All Things," basically a spoken piece set against a somber musical passage, is sleep-inducing. When they just tear into the faster material, it works better. The build-up on opening track "Black Standards" does achieve a speed-driven payoff and "The Unbearable Weight Of Knowing" is a solid ripper. Those moments are too few and far between, unfortunately. (

NO MORE ART-Peripeteia/Evil Eyes (New Dark Age/Erste Theke Tontrager, 7")

Two tracks by this Berlin band, although one of the guitarists, Will Kinser, is an American. He's played in bands like Born/Dead and other hardcore units but he also plays in the Red Dons and NMA's sound is more in that vein. Driving, melodic punk with powerful female vocals, and it's also musically similar to Arctic Flowers and Masshysteri. I wouldn't mind hearing more. (

POISON PLANET-Boycott Everything (Third x Party, 12")

It's PARTY time with the Planet! Those booze-guzzling, weed-toking bon vivants are back to take you higher. OK, just having a bit of fun here. This is a five track, one-sided 12" bristling with aggressive, pissed-off hardcore punk that, at its lyrical core, is a critique of predatory capitalism, as well as racist, anti-immigration initiatives and even cruelty in language ("I Hope You Choke"). I have a friend who is always lamenting "political correctness." Even though he's not a bad guy and, as far as I know, not prejudiced, I point out to him that it's a term bigots often use to justify their hateful words. Some full-bore rippers here, especially the title track with a sick breakdown in the middle and sputtering lead. "Border Fences" packs the same type of punch as their fellow Chicagoans, The Repos, who were one of the best bands I saw in the past decade. Big build-ups, bursts of speed and the words are spat out with bilious authority. Comes with a lyric booklet and big fold-out poster. (

P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S.-s/t (Doomtown Sounds, CD)

P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. are from P.O.R.T.L..., uh, Portland and the band hammer out some hard rockin ‘n rollin’ punk. Not a cock rock, not metal although there are hints of it. A reliance on volume, searing riffs, with more of a Detroit tinge at times. The final song, “Graveyard Kiss,” takes a darker and moodier turn. The CD includes earlier single and EP tracks. (

RED DONS-A Forced Turning Point/Se Foi (Taken By Surprise/New Dark Age, 7")
A pair of new songs by the Dons and no major change. Two tuneful songs with strong musicianship and Doug Burns's mannered vocals. This band has always featured great instrumental interplay. The a-side is far and away the best of the pair, with much more oomph than the less-sprightly "Se Foi." The melody brings the late, great Boston band Moving Targets to mind. (


SECTARIAN VIOLENCE-s/t (Grave Mistake, 7" EP)
Sectarian Violence is an international band with Nick from Coke Bust on vocals, joined by three Brits and a Swede. Is there a joke in there somewhere? I know one thing for sure--you won't see them walking into a bar given their straight edge beliefs. I like this better than Coke Bust as it's straight-on thrash (along with pounding breakdowns) without the powerviolence. Anger and agitation honed into a sharp weapon. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,


SICKOIDS-s/t (Residue, LP)
Prior to this album, Sickoids had only released a not-so-great sounding demo tape but they make the jump to the vinyl format with a jarring debut. This Philadelphia three-piece, with Rob and Vince from Witch Hunt joined by Eric from Direct Control and Government Warning, slam out some piledriving hardcore but there are barbed-wire melodic touches ala Husker Du that are burned into the fray (such as with “Hope Subsides”). Some of the guitar lines echo Die Kreuzen’s haunting slash via Voivod, whose drummer Away has admitted to purloining some of DK’s guitar sound. That’s particularly true for “Bleached Bodies,” “Clarity” and “Human Steps.” Despite the snatches of melody, this is still an abrasive, ear-challenging proposition at times and sometimes tough to grasp onto. Still, Sickoids have put together an attention-grabbing assault and they’re on the right track. (2023 W. Estes Ave., Chicago, IL 60645,

UNHOLY THOUGHTS-The Attic (Even Worse, LP)
Another Richmond crew with "members of..." (including Government Warning) dishing out the agitated hardcore/punk, along with a dollop of rock 'n roll that you've come to expect from that city's 'core-meisters. Snotty 'n ranty vocals with a decidedly "leave me the fuck alone" mentality and burning arrangements throughout, leading off with the momentum building "Excess." And if you think "Whiskey Weed Girls and Speed" is a cover of an obscure Motley Crue song, that's not the case Intsead, it's a rampaging thrasher and you wonder if they're serious or being sarcastic when talking about needing those things to get by day to day. Bruising sounds from these miscreants. (

WHITE WHALE-No Solace/Waxing (Feral Kid, 7")

White Whale have been putting out quality records for a few years now. Their calling card is driving punk with tuneful properties emerging from the fray. Here are two new discs, one of 'em a split with another upstate NY band, Mallwalkers. On "Waxing," the sound is denser and poppy, with gnashing guitar supported by a bass-line carrying the melody. Meanwhile, Mallwalkers play what could be loosely described as mod/pop/punk with horns. A decent groove and it almost works but not quite. (