Thursday, June 12, 2008
Die Kruezen - Dirt and Decay
The Methdones - Ammunition
The Geeks - If the Kids Are United
Redd Kross - Kill Someone You Hate
Organism - Judge
Retainers - Blue Jean Attack
Icons of Filth - They've Taken Everything
Oi Polloi - Pigs For Slaughter
Crass - Securicor
Conflict - Bullshit Broadcast
Flux of Pink Indians - Some of us Scream, Some of us Shout
Rudimentary Peni - Flesh Crucifix
Dirt - Plastic Bullets
Amebix - Fear of God
Subhumans - All Gone Dead
Napalm Death - Crucifixion of Possessions
Discharge - Realities of War
The Ex - Weapons For El Salvador
Anthrax [UK] - Capitalism Is Cannibalism
Zounds - Little Bit More
Shot Baker - Falling Apart
Dillinger Four - Mosh For Jesus
Mighty Mighty Bosstones - You Gotta Go
MC5 - Shakin' Street
Huey Lewis and the News - Hip To Be Square (request)
Invasion - Son Cristianos
Blitz - Youth
Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat
The Replacements - Nowhere Is My Home
Suicide Machines - Nuclear Generators
Ramones - Don't Come Close
Terrible Twos - Tuning Song
The Phenoms - Eric's New Blues
JFA - We Know You Suck
F-Minus - Food Not God
Chronic Seizure - Disaffected
Minutemen - Maybe Partying Will Help
S.O.D. - Chromatic Death
The Ergs! - Never Going To Be the Same Again
Behind Enemy Lines - Her Body, Her Choice
Darvocets - Another Roswell
The Weirdos - Life of Crime
Acid Reflux - Oh Good, There's An Applebees
Subculture - Stomp Your Ass
World Burns To Death - Holocaust Rehearsals
Charles Bronson - Tony Victory Knows How To Party
The Marked Men - Fix My Brain
The Dicks - Dicks Hate The Police
Screeching Weasel - You Blister My Paint
Poison Idea - A.A.
Punch In The Face - At War With Everybody
No Slogan - Let's Kill
Descendents - Clean Sheets
Chemical People - Nudist Camp
Adolescents - Who Is Who
Social Circkel - Canned Response
Jerry's Kids - I Don't Wanna (request)
The Pagans - I Don't Understand
Out With A Bang! - I Can't Cum
Framtid - Scapes of Tragedy
The Repos - Hearts and Heads Explode
Government Issue - Time To Escape
Warcry - Vicious Cycle
Bhopal Stuffs - Not Just My Head
Disfear - With Each Dawn I Die
Annihilation Time - Jones Town
Los Crudos - Illegal Y Que
SSS - New Dogs
Crude - Complete The Run
Off With Their Heads - Sleeping In Carrie's Car
Chinese Telephones - Waiting For You
Paint it Black - The Beekeeper
Sick of it All - Machete
Strung Up - I'd Rather be Smashing Christitanity
Born Against - Set Your AM Dial For White Empowerment
UK Subs - C.I.D.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Punch in the Face
At War With Everybody
In the calendar year of 2007, Chicago’s Punch in the Face played exactly three shows: the first came with The Vicious in an art gallery basement in April, the second was May’s Chaos in Tejas festival in Austin, Texas, and the final was the record release show for “At War With Everybody” with Dropdead in August. How does a band that plays less shows than your average bar band maintain such high standing in the US hardcore scene? To understand the reason, one must listen to this record, their first LP, and resist the overwhelming urge to break something. It isn’t easy, trust me.
As the needle spins around at 45 RPM and begins the first song “Never Follow,” each instrument comes in one by one. First it’s the drums, racing a long at breakneck speed. Then it’s the bass, struggling to keep pace. These two elements drop out to introduce the guitar, and finally, with tension at a complete maximum, we hear Ebro’s scream; all four elements finally meet and we’re off the races. If you aren’t sold by now then you might as well turn off the record and go back to the B9 board or AbsolutePunk.
The title track is easily the best song this band has ever written. It vividly captures the seething hatred of a man being pushed to the edge by the every day life of a city’s crowded streets. “In the city/I can’t connect/Surrounded by assholes/With no respect… Keep on pushing me/They keep on pushing me/Keep on pushing me/Everyone’s an enemy.” You don’t have to be from Chicago to understand this, or even a big city; it is universal. This, my friend, is incurable anger with the whole fucking world, condensed into just over two minutes. This is the universal appeal of punk rock. It may be the slowest (yet not slow) song on the record but it is by far the most intense.
For all the bands that cite Poison Idea as an influence nowadays, PITF understand the same key element that Jerry A and crew did; if you’re going to make sinister and dangerous music, you better have the songwriting chops to back it up. Anyone can play four really fast chords. That in itself is no challenge. It takes a special band to expand the hardcore formula without abandoning it. At War With Everybody is packed with hidden gems that only reveal themselves after repeated listens.
Punch in the Face are not going to be playing your town any time soon. Hell, they probably won’t be playing in their hometown soon either. The best we can do is listen to this record over and over again. I cannot recommend it enough.
The Wonderful and Frightening World of Double Negative
No Way Records
The average age of the four men in Double Negative falls squarely in the early 40s. All four cut their teeth in punk rock during the deadly era of the thankfully departed Ronnie Reagan. This fact is only relevant if you are struggling to come up with an introduction for a review and need to eat up space. Double Negative proves with their debut album that age honestly does not mean a thing when it comes to putting out completely ripping hardcore records. Double Negative is a new band made of old guys that created one of my favorite albums of 2007.
I am a huge fan of introductions. I need to feel that chill down my spine every time I put on the record, the one that forces you to pump your first on the first drum beat or sing a long with the first words. The introduction to “Technically Disfigured” is one of the best put on record in ages. 45 seconds of feedback creep up until you’re hit with a guitar tone unlike any in recent years. This sears right through your ear drums and into your brain until the first hit of the snare drum, echoed out to mimic an explosion. The first audible word on the record is an extended, yelping “DIE” screamed for dear life. Two words; holy shit.
The main selling point of “The Wonderful And Frightening World Of Double Negative” is the vocal performance. I can honestly say I have never heard another singer who sounds like DN’s Kevin Collins. I have been racking my brain for a good fifteen minutes but coming up empty. His vocals are at once snotty and whiny, yet also menacingly ferocious. He is the total star of this album.
Noise. There is a lot of it on this album. Not in the cheesy “beep beep SCREEEEEEECH doop beep” way, but genuine, fucked up, Greg Ginn-influenced guitar noise. In amongst the blasting power chords are interludes and introductions that will sear their way into your brain. These bits are not thrown in just for decoration; they make the songs what they are. Witness one of their cathartic shows, complete with extended interludes connecting the song together, and you’ll see that the noise bits are just as important as the verses and choruses.
If you’re a jaded old fart like Zander Schloss and think hardcore died in ’86 then this is a record you need to hear. These 17 minutes will prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that you are dead wrong. If you’re a kid that’s new to punk rock, you need to listen to this record and hear what is possible. Double Negative welcome everyone into their wonderful and frightening world. Be prepared.
Marvels of Industry
Marvels of Industry is long awaited the follow up to 2003’s Exanator Orange. Four years is a long time for a fan to wait for a new record. The wait is even crueler when the band insists on playing sets made up of 75% new songs for the majority of that wait. We all knew they were great songs but were left with only our memories of the melodies. By the time this album was finally released in June, I had heard every song performed live at least twice. After letting the recordings digest for a few months I have to say it’s worth it.
Since the last album, quite a few things have changed in The Arrivals’ camp. The first thing most people will notice is the lineup change. Bassist Big Dave parted ways sometime in 2005, and in swooped Paddy Costello of Dillinger Four fame. This personnel change certainly raises The Arrival’s worldwide profile. Another difference is the production value. It is fairly obvious that the band wanted to get this record to sound perfect; otherwise it wouldn’t have taken so long. This is definitely the best sounding record of The Arrivals’ career, crisply recorded by Matt Allison at Atlas (Methadones, Alkaline Trio, Lawrence Arms, etc). The band also left long-time home Thick Records for the greener pastures of long running Recess Records.
Of course, without memorable songs those changes wouldn’t mean a thing. On the first two albums The Arrivals sounded like they could not have come from anywhere but Chicago. The songs were tough but never overly harsh, melodic but never too poppy. This style is best represented by “Sorry for Saying I’m Sorry,” “The Joke,” and “Open Faced.”
Though Marvels of Industry is still a Chicago punk rock album, there is evident songwriting evolution throughout. “White Hero Type” does not feature a single power chord during its entire length, and instead of “woahs” it features almost falsetto range “la la la” harmonies. The centerpiece of the album is “Company of Salt.” This nearly five minute epic manages to be upbeat, fast, and restrained at the same time for the first half before shifting gears for a slowed down, dare I say, breakdown-style ending.On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, “Why You Talk All Shitty?” rages through in 45 seconds and features Lil’ Dave’s goofiest vocal performance ever. No two songs on this album sound the same, yet they all beg to be sang along to.
Despite my impatience as a fan, I can understand why Marvels of Industry took so long to create. After repeated listens, I can tell just how hard the band worked to put this together. The intricate guitar work and the layered harmonies all fit together so well it hurts. I just hope it doesn’t take another four years to get another album of this quality.
Among The Living
If someone were to come up to me on my walk to class and ask “excuse me, can you tell me about thrash metal?” this is the album I would give to them without any hesitation.
Granted, that situation might be a little far fetched but the truth behind it stands. Among The Living is without a doubt one of the greatest metal albums of all time; it’s a time capsule to when Scott Ian had more hair on his head than on his chin and Joey Belladonna reigned supreme. Among The Living is so over the top that it deserves a similarly bombastic review. Let the hyperbole begin.
Trying to describe the Anthrax musical cocktail to someone who hasn’t heard it is almost futile. Of all the pioneering thrash bands, they successfully integrated the monster riffs of Iron Maiden, the gang vocals and breakdowns of NYHC, the speed of Venom and the lyrical ability of Stephan King the best.
I have a really short attention span when it comes to song length but I am never bored through the nine songs making up this album. That being said, it’s time for the one sentence per song reaction portion of the review.
Among The Living: There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best metal intro ever.
Caught In A Mosh: That bass line alone makes the song.
I Am The Law: If you don’t sing a long to the chorus of “I AM THE LAW” then you have no soul.
Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.): Difficult song title to read, not a difficult one to headbang to.
Skeletons In The Closet: Don’t try to hide away how much you’re rocking out right now.
Indians: This breakdown inspired thousands of terrible hardcore bands, but that can’t take away from its mightiness.
One World: Socially conscious thrash is the best kind.
ADI/Horror of it All: The required acoustic/classic guitar intro is in this one. Rock.
Think of every thrash metal cliché you can. Think of the pompous vocals, the squealing guitar solos, the never-ending double bass drum, the long hair. Among The Living has them all and dares the modern day listener not to get caught in a one-man bedroom mosh. To sum it up, (NFA) – Mublanikufesin.
I don’t remember where I read this, but in one overview of the self titled Undertones album the author noted that this album was the quintessential form of rebellion. The blurb noted that when your daily life living in late 70’s Northern Ireland is consumed by religious terrorism, bombings, and uncertainty on whether you’re going to live to your next birthday, the ultimate “Fuck You” to your situation is to create a blindingly optimistic power pop punk album.
Whoever that author is, he or she was right. The album basically demands that you have a smile firmly planted on your face while listening. Feargal Sharkey’s warbling, moderately falsetto voice may turn some listeners off but it perfectly compliments the shiny pop melodies written by the rest of the band. Even in the dead of winter, the imagery of “Here Comes the Summer” brings me back to waking up in early April, anticipating the warmth and fun filled months ahead. “Get Over You” and “(She’s A) Runaround” for some reason make me think of an alternate universe version of Happy Days, where the show didn’t suck and used awesome tunes as a soundtrack to the 1950s adventures of the Fonz and the Cunninghams. “Teenage Kicks” can only be described as immortal; it probably deserves own book. It was the favorite song ever of legendary DJ John Peel and has been covered by too many bands to count (Groovie Ghoulies, Franz Ferdinand, Moral Crux, The Raconteurs, Therapy?, millions more), yet still manages to never get old.
Though many people are just familiar with the poppy sounds, The Undertones offers a surprising bit of variety. Some of the songs veer into proto-hardcore speed, such as “Girl’s Don’t Like It” and “Smarter Than You.” “True Confessions” has a loosely tribal feel to it. The choruses of “Male Model” are more sing-a-long worthy than any rousing Oi! chorus. A few songs benefit from keyboard arrangements that flush out rich, golden oldies like feel.
If you pick up the CD version that I have, you’ll have 23 songs of pure pop punk bliss. The Undertones never matched the quality of this album with their later material but it’s hard to climb back to the top when your debut is consistently listed in “best punk rock albums ever” lists.
Red Scare Records
Ladies and gentleman, they did the impossible. Teenage Bottlerocket have more than adequately followed up 2005’s Total, which I consider one of the best pop punk records ever, with Warning Device. There’s nothing even close to innovation or vast musical growth but that’s exactly the point. To quote my old asshole high school gym teacher, Teenage Bottlerocket knows how to KISS: keep it simple, stupid.
If you haven’t heard Teenage Bottlerocket before, they are four guys who wear leather jackets making music for kids that also wear leather jackets. Most songs revolve around girls or losing one’s mind. Very rarely will you hear more than three chords in a song and when guitar solos are present, they are limited to three or four notes. You will inevitably hear quite a few “woah way ho oh oh” variations throughout the record. Choruses are often times catchier than small pox.
Lest you think I’m joking about the lyrical simplicity, let me share a few lines with you. “Think of you is the way I like to waste my time.” “I’m in the nut house/ I’m in the nut house/ I’m in the nut house/And they’re not gonna let me out of here.” “I’m acting totally stupid/You’re acting totally stupid/We’re acting totally stupid/Because we’ve got nothing better to do.” These things are custom designed for fist pumping sing a longs.
If you’re into buying the same record on different formats for the bonus tracks then this is your ideal record. The MP3 store version has a bonus track entitled “I Know You Know” that’s not on the CD or LP. Details are scarce about the LP version, due out some time in March of 2008, but it will have at least one more bonus song not on the MP3 or CD version. Whatever musical format you prefer, if you love three chord pop punk you owe it to yourself to pick up Warning Device. It’s already an early contender for my favorite album of 2008.
Modern Advice EP
Rock Bottom Records
Right off the bat, I believe this is the finest band to ever come out of
Pretty simply, American Cheeseburger sound like the bastard son of Filth and 9 Shocks Terror. Thrash thrash thrash is what you’re getting. My copy of this 7” did not come with an insert and there’s no track listing on the back but I’m perfectly fine with that. When I listen to this type of music understanding the lyrics is a bonus but not always necessary. During their summer 2007 tour I couldn’t understand a word coming out of the singer’s mouth except random interjections of “SCIENTOLOGY” between songs, and it still ranked as one of my favorite shows of the year.
If you’re into the harder edge of punk rock check out this record. As you can tell, the cover art alone is worth the cost of admission.
Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed
If there’s one absolute truth in rock and roll, it’s the fact that Iggy Pop should be dead about sixteen times over by now. I am not joking at all. I knew the general overview of the man formerly known as Jim Osterberg’s life but had no idea just how batshit insane his life was at times. Paul Trynka’s attempt to cover the entire life of this fascinating man more often than not achieves its goal.
Open Up And Bleed can be divided into four separate parts. The first deals with Jim Osterberg pre-Stooges life growing up in a trailer park in
The meat and potatoes of Trynka’s book covers the transformation of Jim into Iggy, and the lifetime of one of the greatest rock and roll bands ever, The Stooges. Once again Trynka did his homework, interviewing anyone and everyone that was in contact with the band from their start as the Psychedelic Stooges in
Portion three covers the entirety of Iggy’s collaborations with David Bowie, starting with The Idiot and ending with Blah Blah Blah. In this portion of the book Trynka delves deeper into the mind of Iggy to find out why exactly he slowly lost his mind in the early 80s. Most people know about the musical collaboration between Bowie and Iggy but don’t know about the personal rivalries involved. Bowie apparently derives a smug sense of satisfaction from “saving” Iggy so many times, creating a rift between the two that is still going on to this day. The music that came from this era was either amazing or atrocious with little to no middle ground, but the anecdotes from the era are all relatively compelling.
The last and by far shortest segment covers the late 80s onward. Trynka manages to cover the most recent twenty years of Iggy’s life in just about the same amount of pages. I know that this isn’t the most glamorous portion of Iggy’s life but it was definitely his most commercially viable and visible period, with charting singles and guest spots on television shows.
Spaced throughout the book are two sections of photos that are almost worth the price alone; most of them haven’t been re-printed a thousand times so they’re new discoveries to me. Each era is represented; from little Jim’s grade school yearbook pictures to Iggy’s mental breakdown phase in the mid 80s to the creepy 60 year old guy with a too-hot girlfriend. Another cool feature of the book is a complete Iggy studio discography with ratings and comments from the author on each release.
I only have a few minor gripes with Trynka’s writing. For one thing, it takes quite a bit of time to figure out who exactly he’s talking about at times. Trynka switches back and forth between using “Jim” and “Iggy” with little to no warning, often times using both within the same paragraph. On top of that so many people have similar names so I found myself going back to re-read portions because I didn’t know who the hell he was talking about. The lack of information on the reformation of The Stooges in 2003 was also pretty disappointing considering how unexpected it was. But like I said, these gripes are minor and don’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. Whether you’re a hardcore Iggy fan or just someone who likes to read rock and roll biographies this is a good one.
Flipper – Live 1980-1981
If you’re reading this then you probably know just how divisive a band Flipper is. They either inspire slavish devotion or intense outrage. Hell, both my roommate and my boss cringe at the mere mention of their name, so you can imagine how they react when I actually subject them to the music. As you can guess, I fall firmly on the devotion side of the coin. For the certain stripe of punk rocker who has learned to not only tolerate but love Flipper, this DVD will be your holy grail.
The thing about Flipper is that they have two distinct sides to them. They can be devastatingly funny and playful on one song then do a complete 180 and crush your soul on the next. Live 1980-1981 perfectly represents both sides of this schizophrenic band.
The first set on the disc sees the band headlining a well lit, tiny club 1980. All of the band members are smiling throughout and the audience spastically dances along. Everyone is obviously having a great time and don’t seem to mind the numerous mistakes the band is making because they’re in such a good mood. The guys run through goofy and shambolic versions of early songs like “Love Canal” and “Oh Oh Ay Oh” with just enough self deprecating gusto. The high/lowlight of the set depending on who you ask is the thirteen minute version of “I Am The Wheel.” You read that right; it really is over thirteen minutes long, and I don’t really mind all that much.
The second set was taped a few months later in a large, dark auditorium opening for Throbbing Gristle. The band plays in front of a projection screen showing disturbing images of seals being gutted and birth among other things. Any trace of humor has been obliterated by pure hopelessness and hostility. In “One By One” Shatter, who swigs from a gigantic bottle of wine the entire time, manages to break the head off of his bass off simply because he was throttling it so hard. One song later Ted Falconi, himself looking like a strung out version of The Boss with a red headband, military threads and a “get the fuck away from me” face, spontaneously destroys his guitar mid-song, lets it feed back for several minutes, then finally grabs another axe from the side to finish up. Wow. This set makes me want to drop out of my life and become a junkie like Will Shatter. It honestly seems like the only logical choice after viewing this part.
The bonus feature of the DVD is “Sex Bomb” taped at a San Fran public access television station in 1983 I believe. The audience interaction is obviously lost but it’s a transcendent performance of the garage standard nonetheless. I commend the editors for their placement of “Sex Bomb” as it offers the viewer one final reprieve before heading back out into the real world. I can’t recommend this DVD enough.
Hardcore “super groups” are kind of a dime a dozen. With so many bands breaking up all the time, it’s inevitable that the members will form new bands with other people from other halfway successful bands, and that that band will in turn break up in a year and a half. It’s the cycle of hardcore and I doubt it will ever stop. Let’s be serious though; Needles is a goddamn super group. There are members from Look Back and Laugh, Los Crudos, Talk is Poison, Limp Wrist, and California Love on this record. Yikes!
As to be expected the star of this record is vocalist Martin Sorrondeguy. As much as I like Limp Wrist, they never grabbed me in quite the same way Crudos did. This record is Martin’s return to form; his vocals on this recording sound better than they have in years. The high pitched yelp that dominated most Limp Wrist material has been toned down in favor of the more natural sounding yell of early Crudos material. I’m not sure if I can describe the music of the 7” in any other way than sinister. It’s a journalistic cop out to compare it to the member’s other bands but I swear to god it really does sound like Martin singing for Look Back and Laugh. And that is in no way a bad thing, trust me.
As is the case with most Lengua Armada releases, this will probably be kind of hard to get a hold of pretty soon. Please do yourself a favor and buy this 7” if you want some raging hardcore. It exceeded even the highest of my expectations; literally every time I listen to this record I like it more than the previous spin.
Live The Storm
I’m probably the only person into heavy music that got into Disfear by virtue of their name starting with “Dis” and not because the fact that vocalist Tomas Lindberg also sings for At The Gates. Sure, it’s a cool bonus but it’s not the main attraction by any means. I just love crusty Swedish hardcore and Disfear has been delivering the goods for almost twenty years now. A new album from these guys should satisfy me, right? Well, yes, but not in the ways one would expect.
Live The Storm sees Disfear moving into a new direction with their sound. For starters the album contains only ten songs, yet is thirty five minutes long; that should be your first indication that things have changed in the Disfear camp. For the first time they came over to
“Phantom” caps the album off in suitably epic form by clocking in at seven minutes and eleven seconds. It’s the pride and joy of the record and the only logical choice for a closing song. Every element that makes Live the Storm a compelling album is present: throat scraping vocals, blazing guitar solos, rolling drums, and one of the most crushing intros in punk/hardcore history. In spite of its length “Phantom” never bores.
Disfear had the potential to royally screw this album up by moving away from their d-beat roots and incorporating outside elements. Instead it’s a powerful cocktail of sounds that still make this guy want to pump his fist and tap out the drum rolls on his desk. Relapse had a hell of a 2007 and Live The Storm is a great way to start up 2008.
Paint It Black
In the lead up 2005’s Paradise, Dan Yemin constantly stressed in interviews how it would sound so different than the first album, that it will blow impressionable young minds. Don’t get me wrong, I love Paradise, but outside of one or two small details it was a pretty standard hardcore album. Once the Yemin press train gathered steam for New Lexicon and the same promises were made, you can imagine I was skeptical. Well fuck me sideways, Yemin was telling the truth this time because it actually does sound different. And you know what; I still like it, just not as much.
For starters, there are the intermittent noise bits by Oktopus placed strategically throughout the record; that’s the most obvious new addition to the PiB pallet. To be honest I can’t really muster up an opinion on these either way. It really makes no difference to me if they’re there or not, which I know for a fact wasn’t their intention. I guess you can chalk that up as a failure on their part.
They also weren’t bullshitting us on the musical front either. New Lexicon is still at heart a traditional hardcore album, but the songwriting has taken some surprising left turns. “The Beekeeper” could be a new song from the revitalized Gang of Four lineup with its looping bass line and off time guitar slashes. “Dead Precedents” manages to have about sixteen different tempo changes in spite of the fact that it’s only 45 seconds long. “Past Tense, Future Perfect” shows that the time spent back in Lifetime has crept into Yemin’s PiB songwriting style, as this song literally sounds like an outtake from their 2007 reunion album, albeit with hoarser vocals. Jeff Pezatti of Naked Raygun fame pops up on the anthemic closing track to lend his signature “woahs,” something that I don’t think Yemin could pull off on his own. As for the more traditionally PiB sounding tunes, “Four Deadly Venoms” is by far the best, simultaneously making my brain work and wanting to make me break out in a circle pit around my kitchen table.
Even though it is a solid album, it’s ultimately not as memorable as Paradise or CVA. The day it arrived in the mail I spent four straight hours in the photo lab doing prints with New Lexicon on repeat; in the couple weeks since, I’ve pulled it out maybe three times. Pick it up if you’re already a fan, if not start off with the aforementioned albums.
The Hate, The Hollow
Halo of Flies Records
For every couple dozen really shitty bands that want to be your friend on myspace, one absolute gem breaks through the clutter.
The Hate, The Hollow is Protestant’s second proper full length on top of a couple of splits, 7”s, demos, and live radio sets, and so far it’s their strongest material. While still suitably epic, this nine song collection tops out at 32 minutes; only two are over five minutes and some songs barely even top the two minute mark, a previously unthinkable milestone for Protestant.
Blast beats are minimal on The Hate, The Hollow, replaced by a sound more in tune with the drawn out, crusty sound that’s so popular with the kids today. The occasional drone section still sneaks its way in but it’s been toned down a bit in favor of a more consistent tone and speed. I’d say my favorite track on the album is the closing song “Asleep.” It encompasses all the best elements of the band: hoarse screaming, doom and gloom lyrics, insane bursts of speed and a crushing three minute long breakdown at the end.
I feel that the cover art for this record needs its own little section. It is an elephant goring a panther with its horns while being attacked by a tiger on top of a mountain of blood. The thing screams “Frame me!” I want a life size print of this hanging on my wall ASAP. Dead serious, not joking at all, I want it. The vinyl is also pretty frame worthy, with splatters of pink and black mixing together for twelve beautiful inches of eye candy.RIYL: Fall of Efrafa, Tragedy, Black Sabbath, Napalm Death.
Drug Lords of the Avenue
At this point the Swingin’ Utters seem to exist more as a concept than an actual band. Their last new studio material of any kind was released in early 2003 and since then the band has splintered off into a more than half a dozen side projects. I’m not joking; we have the Filthy Thieving Bastards, Re-Volts, Dead To Me, Viva Hate, Me First and the Gimme Gimmies, The Lustkillers, and now the Drug Lords of the Avenue.
Drug Lords of the Avenue is the new project of vocalist Johnny Bonnel, named after a song on a Filthy Thieving Bastards LP (which he also sang on and is re-recorded here), and the first time he has formed a band without primary song writing partner Darius Koski. After a couple of listens it’s readily apparent that Koski’s input is missing. Within the last decade or so the Swingin’ Utters (and the Bastards as well) managed to make fairly diverse sounding records with a couple of different styles incorporated. Not all of the diversions were successful but they were at least trying something new.
The main reference point for this album is, predictably enough, a Swingin’ Utters record from before they hit their prime, the debut LP The Streets of San Francisco. That album was 19 songs of almost all mid tempo, oi! styled rock and roll with one or two stylistic detours. Sing Songs is 13 songs of mostly mid tempo, oi! styled rock and roll without the detours. It’s not to say that the songs aren’t enjoyable but they do have a tendency to blur together in the context of a full album. Off the top of my head and without the CD case in front of me I can think of exactly three song titles.
The strongest two tracks on the album are ones that I was already familiar with before the package arrived. “Drug Lords of the Avenue” was originally recorded by the folk rock side project Filthy Thieving Bastards and is given an amped up treatment here. It’s a classic Bonnel/Koski composition, and the fact that it shines above the rest of the songs speaks volumes about their writing partnership. The other stand out track is a cover of The Replacements song “Favorite Thing;” my love of The ‘Mats is no secret, and “Favorite Thing” is definitely one of my all time favorite songs of theirs so I heartily enjoyed hearing a modern punk rock twist on the song.
The guys in the band decided to take the DIY route with this CD and release the album themselves. As of right now the only way to get this record is to order it directly from the band via their myspace page or get it at a show. If you’ve missed hearing Johnny Bonnel singing with an honest to god punk rock band then I can think of worse ways to spend your money. Just don’t expect it to be up to snuff with his past work. (http://www.myspace.com/druglordsoftheavenue)
Reason To Believe
How bad are things over at Epitaph Records when you have one of your flagship acts jumping ship to work with Rupert Murdoch? I mean really, think about that for a second. Rupert Murdoch! Behind Bad Religion, Pennywise was the absolute face of Epitaph for the last twenty odd years now. I guess the bad haircuts and tight pants have finally taken over for good. Congrats Mr. Brett, you’ve finally managed to do the impossible; alienate a band that so badly wanted to be you it sometimes hurt.
Would the new home revitalize Pennywise though? It’s no secret that they’ve been in a decade long slump. 2001 saw the ‘Wise hit complete rock bottom with the completely atrocious Land of the Free and they’ve been clawing their way back ever since. 1995’s About Time was the first punk rock record I ever bought, so there’s a definite sentimental streak that can’t be underestimated. I’m pretty happy to say that Reason To Believe is a really good record based solely on the tunes, not sentimentality.
The foundation of Pennywise’s sound has always been blindingly fast, super melodic
With every new Pennywise record, there are moments that are no doubt going to “remind” you of other songs; it’s the foundation of all the cheap jokes you see online. Within a limited structure you’re going to run into some redundant parts, it’s a given. With Reason To Believe, the general call back is to 1997’s
Reason To Believe is without a doubt the best record that Pennywise has released in over ten years. The album should start showing up in traditional brick and mortar stores on CD and LP formats within the next couple days with a few bonus racks. Barring some sort of financial crises that steals my last twelve dollars away from me, I’ll probably be buying the vinyl version. That’s my definitive statement on this. I’m willing to pay for something that was given to me for free already.
Short Sharp Shock
Short Sharp Shock
Right now, crossover thrash is right in the middle of an unprecedented renaissance. Not since the halcyon days of 1988 have there been so many galloping, palm muted E-strings played. Much of the credit for this resurgence belongs to Municipal Waste and their particular brand of party thrash. The only problem with being the biggest fish in the pond is that too many bands have been copping not only the Waste’s sound, but their attitude as well. Short Sharp Shock (SSS for short) is not a band of followers. Maybe it’s because of the geographical distance (they hail from
Musically SSS draws equally from the brevity of “Dealing With It” era D.R.I., the technical skills of “Kill ‘Em All” era Metallica, and the choruses of the early British Oi! scene. I spent literally two weeks trying to figure out who the singer Foxy sounds like; I can now say without a doubt that it’s Mickey Fitz from football hooligans The Business. The majority of the album blurs by at Paul Revere tempos; few of the songs top the two minute mark. Strangely enough though my favorite two tracks on the album are a couple of the slower ones, “”Warhorse” and “New Dogs.” Of course by slow I mean slow in thrash terms, so it’s probably still upbeat to most people. It’s pretty obvious that these guys know how to play their instruments, but show enough restraint to never let themselves veer too far into G3 Tour/guitar masturbation mode. The only complete ‘swing and a miss’ moment comes in the form of the closing song “Black Night White Light,” which drags on for six interminable minutes.
This album was initially released in October 2006 but has recently been re-issued on legendary metal label Earache Records. Short Sharp Shock is definitely a band you’re going to want to keep your eyes on in the future. When most of the Johnny-Thrash-Lately bands have dropped the denim and leather for the next fad, these guys will still be chugging brews, arguing the merits of “State of
The first two Forgotten LPs were the soundtrack to many a night of teenage terror. Keep The Corpses Quiet and Veni Vidi Vici almost constantly blared out of the crappy speakers of my dad’s ‘92 Pontiac Bonneville as I learned to drive. Then they signed to BYO, put out a kind of mediocre record (2002’s Control Me), had some lineup changes, and then seemed to fall completely off the face of the earth. But with this new self-titled record, the band manage to mix most of the best elements of their previous LPs.
For the guy inside of you with a leather jacket and skinny pants, there are plenty of ’77 style pogo worthy moments, such as “Streets of Despair.” For the speedy hardcore revivalists, the snare hits occasionally race along at hummingbird level BPMs, like the one minute long “We Will Not Be Damned.” And finally for all you straight up rock and rollers who love your anthems from the alleyways to be catchier than chlamydia, you won’t be disappointed with songs like “We Got The Numbers” and “The Collector.” In fact, “We Got The Numbers” could be an alternate universe chart topper with its harmonies, “HEY!” chants, hand claps, slow burning intro and call to arms lyrics.
There are, of course, a couple of downsides to this new effort though. Right off the bat, former guitarist Craig Fairbugh is missing. His blistering leads and occasional vocal bursts helped make Keep The Corpses Quiet one of my favorite albums of the early 2000s. The new guitarist (and former bassist) Johnny Gregurich does an admirable job filling the slot but it’s an obvious downgrade. The only other real complaint with the record is the addition of the lackluster G.B.H. cover “Edge of a Knife.” It’s pretty obvious that the guys in The Forgotten love G.B.H. but I don’t think Gordy could possibly sound more bored. Would’ve been best left on the cutting room floor.
Overall, this isn’t a complete return to form for a band that I had honestly completely forgotten (no pun intended goddamnit) existed, but it is a huge step in the right direction. Street punk as a whole isn’t my thing, but The Forgotten have always been able to carve out their own niche within my listening habits.
Combat Rock Industries/Havoc Records
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty proud of my Swedish heritage. Granted it’s not the biggest ethnic chunk in my makeup, but come on,
Slimming down to a three piece for this album, Victims rage through 16 songs in 26 minutes on Killer. Imagine a melding of the chops of Motorhead with Pick Your King era Poison Idea. It’s a fairly simple formula and a bit of a cop out, but whatever asshole, it’s punk rock. Fortunately they haven’t let go of the trademark “OOOH!” grunts that appear every few songs. It’s such a stupid little thing to get excited about, but every time I hear it I laugh quietly to myself.
The biggest change from their previous work to Killer is on the lyrical front. Though never the most long winded of bands, Victims have never gotten this close to the
Is this the way that we’re going to die?/We’re doomed to live without even try
A second chance and we fall again/Another try and we know the end
Somehow it seems like their grasp of English is getting worse as the years go by. Like I said, it’s awesome. Two songs are sung in their native tongue so I have no idea what they’re about but it’s safe to say they’re probably about doom, gloom, or blood.
Smack dab in the middle is the surprise of the record, an honest to god pop punk song. You heard that right, a 45 second pop punk song on a Victims record, entitled “Holy Shit!” The lyrical simplicity of the rest of the album remains (it’s a scathing ant-Christianity attack in 25 words), but the melody is so sunny and its battle cry chorus of “Fuck you!” is so catchy that I can’t help but smile.
La Vida Es Un Mus Records
If modern science somehow found a way to reproduce the feeling of being trapped in a nightmare and then pressed it onto an LP, this would be that record. Who knows what inspired the guys in Invasion to throw a harsh vocal echo effect throughout the whole thing, but holy shit it ups the creep factor by about a thousand. Add in the fact that the entire thing is sung in Spanish (they are from
The first nine songs of sinister, Raw Power-worshiping hardcore are merely a warm up to the 11 minute long, feedback-drenched finale of “Tiempo.” To keep up with the nightmare metaphor “Tiempo” is the slow burning finale of your dream. By the time it’s over you’re drenched in cold sweat and vow to never sleep again.
Invasion is totally ripping and completely worth tracking down. It works in much the same way as a horror movie; the adrenaline rush is so intense that a lot of people can’t take it, but a true junkie will always come back for more.
III: Tales of the Ancient Age
Tee Pee Records
When most metal or punk rock fans hear the term “Crossover” their mind immediately starts circling around the unholy triple initial axis of D.R.I., S.O.D., or C.O.C. After some stumbling, Annihilation Time has finally achieved their own unique version of crossover. III: Tales of the Ancient Age takes the good time, classic rock vibe of Thin Lizzy and mix it with the intensity of mid-period, long-but-not-too-long-haired Henry Rollins era Black Flag.
Everything takes a back seat on this record to the guitar riffs. Choruses won’t stick in your head, guitar sections will. This leads to the one downside of the record; since all of the songs fall into the upbeat, “killer riff” heavy category, things can blur together a bit. It’s not a huge complaint but the record does get a little repetitive.
Next time a neighbor has a backyard barbecue kegger, bring over a copy of III: Tales of the Ancient Age and relax; your contribution to the party has been taken care of. Tracks like “Just Guzzlin’” and “Germ Freak (I Ain’t No)” guarantee to start some heads banging.