Monday, April 26, 2010

Record Reviews (late winter/early spring 2010)

Man, I've been buying a lot of records lately. After being unemployed for the better half of 2009, I did some catching up recently and made some distro orders. I've also had the chance to see a lot of bands over the past month since it was spring break recently. I'd also like to comment on how cool it is that bands have finally caught onto cassette demos again, it makes me real glad to have gotten so many tapes recently. I also decided to make note when a record includes a digital download. While I think HC purists may find it dumb, I usually end up looking for a download after I get a record anyway. This way its more convenient and I'll get the mp3s without having to search. It took me a long time to write all of this, but hopefully you find it a good read.


School Jerks- s/t #1 & s/t #2
It seems like almost every band tries to say they sound like Black Flag or the Germs, but few actually sound like them. School Jerks on the other hand nail that sound perfectly. Combining the First Four Years of Black Flag with the sloppiness of the Germs (the singer sounds very similar to Darby), and a pinch of garage rock. Half of School Jerks played in Terminal State, and while there's some similarities, this is more early 80's sounding. The first record has 3 songs, and is more raw; while the second has 4 songs and is slightly better recorded. Both records are killer though, and you need both. Unfortunately when they were supposed to play my area, we got hit with like a foot+ of snow. I made up for it by ordering these 2 from the band, and am glad I did.

The Ladies- s/t
After checking out the Ladies EP on Cowabunga, I really wanted to hear their first record. Luckily Grave Mistake repressed it last year. This record is a bit more raw, but I really like it. Their sound is definitely more on the punk side of garage rock. The songs have this snotty attitude. When I saw them a few years ago, the singer threw a beer in the air during the first song. It hit someone, then the guy next to him picked it up and drank from it. He then threw it, and another guy picked it up and drank from it. I feel like that story pretty much sums up this record.

Logic Problem- No Center
Unfortunately Logic problem broke up after their summer tour (which I wasn't able to see them on), but luckily they released a few records before calling it a day. No Center has 4 songs that are pretty different. There's still the foundation of early 80's mid-west influenced hardcore, but there's a layer of complexity to it. It stays fast, but has a little something extra to keep it unique but doesn't cross into the Youth Attack genre. Good band, RIP.

Mind Eraser- The Prodigal Son Brings Death
I liked Mind Eraser's first LP a lot, but wasn't as into "Glacial Reign." Their next record was a 2 song, which I wanted nothing to do with. When I saw that their new 7" had 10 songs on it, I figured it would be worth checking out. It's definitely much faster, along the lines of the first LP. I think it's good, but nothing is really reaching out and grabbing me. The lyric sheet was all hand written, but I'll be damned if I can read any of it...

Mindset- Time and Pressure
I had seen Mindset a few times and enjoyed them, but thought their 1st EP didn't capture that intensity. This new record however sure does! After a lineup change, and some touring under their belt, Mindset will be the force to be reckoned with in the straight edge scene in 2010. The opening riff reminds me of "Time We'll Remember" by Youth of Today, and they nail the '88 era HC sound. Everything is perfect on here- Great lyrics, solid breakdowns, good recording. If my prediction for a youth crew revival come true, these guys will be leading the charge. Includes a digital download.

Crow- Flock of Beast
First of all, I don't think it even says Crow anywhere on this 7", luckily I recognized the cover photo. Crow are Japanese HC old timers, whose sound reminds me of Judgement. There's no insert, and the lyrics aren't translated. Both songs have the same title, but are different. The A-side is a heavy thrash metal sounding song, with a weird bass groove breakdown. The B-side is similar, and reminds me of some 80's thrash metal like Megadeath or some shit. Pretty cool, but I'd prefer a new LP.

V/A- No Bullshit vol. 4
The No Bullshit comps are usually pretty solid representations of good current bands doing the early 80's sound. The stand out on here is Violent Arrest doing a Ripcord cover, which is cool since 3/4 of the band was in Ripcord. The Born Bad song is good as well, If their new stuff is this good, I'm sure it will be a rager. The songs by Citizens Patrol, Anti You and Insomnio are pretty forgettable though. I would say this is the weakest of the series, but still pretty solid.

Bukkake Boys- 2nd EP
I don't really know much about the Bukkake Boys, so their 2nd record is my first encounter. They play early 80's influenced HC, similar to something that No Way Records would release. They remind me of Citizens Patrol a bit. It's pretty fast, and raw sounding recording, but nothing's really reaching out and grabbing me.

Syndrome- s/t
This is Brandon from No Way/GW/DC/MW/etc.. new D-Beat band. Their sound is similar to a more 80's Scandinavian sound. It's pretty punk, but I feel like the crusties will love it. The guitar tone is a bit thin, but it kind of grows on me as the record goes on. Pretty good, but I think I would like this more live.

Burial/ Antimob
I love Burial, but their side only has one track, which was probably a throw away track from the Speed at Night LP (reviewed below). I'd never heard of Antimob before, but after this I don't plan to in the future. Both bands are from Europe, and are trying to emulate the Japanese style. Real weird crappy anime looking cover art too, definitely skip this one.

Thieves- Positive Vibrations
The record kicks off with some weird lazer beam noises, but then charges into some Bad Brains sounding HC. I would say post "Rock For Light" era BB, since it's kind of mid paced with a little bit of groove. Sort of like if Burn or Underdog were more punk sounding. The ad inside the record says Poison Idea, but I don't get that at all. The vocals have a lot of reverb, and aren't as present in the mix. The guitar I also feel got lost as well, but overall it's a big progression from the demo. I think with a bigger production, and maybe a second guitarist they could be onto something.

Duress- Indifference
FUCK, there's really no reason to buy any other record this year, because it won't be better than this! I loved Duress' demo last year, but this 7" blows it out of the water. Duress plays fast as hell HC, which reminds me of the greats like Seige and Deep Wound. Idiots will say it's power-violence, but it's just really fast early 80's influenced HC with short songs. The lyrics are pissed off, and hateful. I know that only 300 were pressed, and I'm sure these are almost gone. Maybe a 2nd press will happen, but I got mine, so it's your problem now.

Fired Up- Doomed To Repeat
Fired Up's first 7" and demo were such a guilty pleasure of mine. It's real by the numbers youth crew, but the songs have these real good hooks and catchy choruses. This was a posthumous release, which is a bummer because this 7" is just as good as their other stuff. The singer looks like a total frat boy on the cover with his baseball hat on, but fuck it this record's good. I feel like I shouldn't like this, but I really do.

Cursed- The Last Session
Cursed was one of those bands that I was aware of, but just never got around to checking out. I was a fan of a lot of the other Chris Colohan bands, so I figured I'd get this. It was recorded live on their last tour, so I figured it'd be kind of a greatest hits with songs from all of their records. The recording is really good, since I guess it was recorded in a radio studio. There's no insert in my copy, and there's no info on the cover, so I really am not sure. Musically it seems more similar to the Swarm, but has it's own sound. Not sure if I'll back track and get their other LPs, but I like this.

Omegas- Sonic Order
I loved the Omegas demo, so I was real excited for this to come out. Their sound is somewhere between the sleazy early 80's sounds of Urban Waste and Chronic Sick, with heavy influence from other NY/NJ bands. The first track "Street Meat" is by far the best. The demo had a lot of standouts, and I feel like this record didn't have that same spark. I think the main problem I have with this is that the bass is way too high in the mix, and covers up the guitar (which I think had a pretty unique sound on the demo). Still a good record that's worth your time. Includes a digital download.

GBNF (Gone But Not Forgotten)- Seattle Crew
I know nothing about this band, but I threw it in my cart when i ordered the new Mindset from React! From what I can tell, this is their demo pressed to a 7". Their sound seems influenced by harder edged late 80's NYHC, and maybe a Brotherhood influence by location. I like that the recording is a lot more raw than most stuff on React, and there's 8 songs on here, so you get your money's worth. Will be looking for a proper release from these guys. Includes a digital download.

Harms Way- No Gods No Masters
It's been some time since I listened to Harms Way. I remembered their sound being influenced by bands like Carcass and Repulsion, but with a more tough guy NY hardcore style. This record has a thinned out lineup, and a more Integrity influenced sound. There's a lot of heavy guitars and double bass drums, so this isn't really my style. The cover art is awesome though. Includes a digital download.

Bankrobber- Vultures
My band played w/ these guys in NJ, and they have a heavy 90's influenced HC sound. The lyrics are socially conscious, and I could easily see these guys on a label like Deathwish after some more touring. It's not really my style, but they do it well.Includes a digital download.

Southside Stranglers- Too Much TV
The Southside Stranglers boast 3 members of Government Warning, but don't sound like them really. There's a lot more rock influence in here, mixed with some late 70's punk like the Damned. I kinda feel like this is more suited for like a bar rock/punk band, or something on a Punk-O-Rama comp. Not really into it. Includes a digital download.

the Ergs!- Thrash Compacter
This release was years in the making. I remember hearing these songs years ago, but knew that The Ergs had wanted to record more songs for a second side, but didn't and broke up. The majority of these songs were recorded in 2003, and 1 in 2007. The fabled "Trash Compacter" EP was a bunch of short fast song that the Ergs did to sound more like early 80's hardcore. There's a heavy Adrenalin OD sound in here, but is definitely mandatory if you're a fan of the Ergs' early (faster) material. The original session had 2 songs which were omitted due to their cheeziness, but I kinda wish they were included for posterity's sake. I'm sure you can find them online like everything else in this world. I also wish they used older photos of the band from around the time this was recorded, but what can you do? The layout is all high contrast photos, like an 80's hc/punk record. Great record, now someone needs to release the "Digital Endpoints" demo on a one sided LP. Includes a digital download.


Paintbox- Relicts [singles collection]
This collects Paintbox's 7"s and comp tracks onto a convenient LP. If your only experience w/ Paintbox is their most recent LP, this is a whole lot less weird and a way better starting point. I was always a fan of the song "Cry of the Sheep," and the 7" version is much better. Their other records were only released in Japan and hard to get a hold of in America. This is also worth it for their weird track from that Poison Idea tribute comp from a few years back, and the Super Mario breakdown in one of the songs.

Madmen- s/t (demos)
There's a bit of mystery surrounding this record, supposedly it's a boot, but the sound quality is great. If you don't know the story with this, its Jonah Falco's (Career Suicide/Fucked Up) solo project where he plays every instrument. Kinda a weird concept, but if you didn't know that, you wouldn't think there was anything weird about it. This compiles the 2 Madmen demos on one record. I will say I like the first demo (side 1) better. The sound is similar to CS in a more early 80's KBD influence, but without the whiny vocals vocals. This is certainly better than anything Career Suicide or Fucked Up are doing currently, but I really wouldn't go out of my way to get a copy.

Ripcord- Live At Parkhoff Alkmaar Holland 18/09/1988
I have no clue when this came out, but I LOVE Ripcord, so I'll give it a mention. First of all, it's on a awesome clear speckled vinyl. There's also some covers on here with the vocalist of Napalm Death, and Ripcord really are in their prime here. Live albums are generally for the die hards, but damn do they rip on this one. It says in the liner notes that it was recorded towards the end of a tour, and it shows because they're tight as hell. Definitely need this to complete your Ripcord collection.

Systematic Death- Systema 6
I was fortunate enough to catch Systematic Death at one of their reunion shows last year, and they were phenomenal. Usually when a band breaks up, the reunites and releases an LP it's hit or miss. I can assure you that this is definitely a hit. This is seriously up there with their older records like "Final Insider." I guess much like Gauze, they didn't lose their touch. Seriously, hearing is believing, and this is definitely worth your time.

DSB- Useless System Abuse
I was a big fan of DSB's earlier releases, and was bummed that they got denied last year and couldn't tour. After listening to this release though, I'm significantly less bummed. All of the press I saw for this said it was their most intense release since "Wings Continue to Strive..." and that's just a plain lie. This is terrible, I paid $13 for a 5 song LP and a DVD. They should have skipped the DVD, press this at as a 7" and saved everyone $8. Or better yet, just break up, because this is fucking terrible. Sorry you couldn't get into my country illegally for a tour, maybe make the effort to file the proper paperwork next time...

The Rival Mob- Raw Life
FUCK, I really slept on this band. Their sound is similar to some more heavy NYHC bands (think the first Madball 7" or "Cause For Alarm" era AF), but is devoid of metal distortion or double bass drum. The lyrics to "Raw Life" are so great, and are about simplifying your life, cutting out all of the bullshit of modern convenience. The songs are hard and fast, with perfectly placed breakdowns. I normally stay away from stuff on Lockin' Out, but this is the real deal shit. Their new record is going to be great! "Mob Rules All!"

Burial- Speed At Night
Awesome, a new Burial record! It's an EP, but at the size (and price) of an LP. It definitely picks up where the last LP left off, with some dead on Burning Spirits influenced Japanese style HC. They've got the right balance of HC power, with a good balance of metal riff-age. This is really good, as should be expected if you have any of their other records. Unfortunately it's only 6 songs, making it an EP.

Organism- Hope
This is really great, authentic sounding Japanese HC from Japan. It really reminds me of early DSB, or maybe Warhead. Shit's real real good! This came out as a CD a while back, but this is the reissue on vinyl by Hardware Records in Europe. They unfortunately changed the cover art, which sucks because I liked the original art I saw.


CCP- Red Alert (cassette)
This is a real good demo from a new VA sXe band. Similar to modern bands like Coke Bust or Shark Attack (who I assume they got their name from), with maybe a Crippled Youth vibe to the vocals. Definitely a part of the rising sXe scene of bands that are more influenced by angry early 80's bands, more than posi youth crew type stuff. This is a real promising demo, and I can see a real good EP coming from these dudes.

RAZORXFADE (pro-tape)
A new band from the Chicago area similar to Boiling Over or Poison Planet (who's drummer has coincidentally played in). There's a rawness to the recording, similar to a more stripped down version of Blank Stare. The music has a real Boston crew sound (SSD, Jerry's Kids, etc...) to it. The vocals are distorted, and there's a lot of feedback throughout. I feel like the snare drum really dominates the mix since it's got a high pop to it, but overall a very good demo.

Boiling Over- Barriers (pro-tape)
Damnit, Boiling Over records their best stuff yet and decides to break up. If you liked their 7", this is way better. If you didn't like their 7", maybe this will change your mind. The songs are played with more ferocity than before, and the vocals have just the right amount of distortion (think LBAL). Seriously this shit is fierce, fuck you guys for breaking up.

Boilerman (pro-tape)
Boilerman coincidentally features a member of Boiling Over (dude loves to boil shit), but sounds nothing like them. Their sound is more akin to modern pop-punk bands, as opposed to the early Lookout style. If you're into stuff on No Idea or Don Giovanni type labels, you should probably check this out. I get a little bit of a Ringers vibe, in the rough recording quality.

Stressed Out- Dudes Don't Die (pro-tape)
I was expecting this tape to be more metal sounding after having seen Stressed Out somewhat recently. The second the first note hit, I thought the guitars sounded like Slayer- Reign in Blood tone. On their split w/ Rip It Up they had a more early 2000's era thrash sound, but now it looks like they completely changed into a late 80's crossover thrash band. The guitars are definitely metal (I guess that's what happens when "Metal Pete" and "Metal Joe" are in your band), but the song structure is definitely more on the HC side (verse-chorus-verse-chorus-breakdown-etc). I think if they just went straight thrash metal, and ditched any scrap of hardcore they'd be onto something there. I wish there were lyrics included, since a lot of bands like this tend to have terrible lyrics. This is way better than the average Municipal Waste rip-off band though.

Duress- Live (tape)
Duress rules, nuff said. This has a mixture of 7" and demo songs, plus one new song. The set is from a radio station, so it's well recorded, and is over in like 10 minutes. Short and sweet, leave the crowd wanting more. Perfect for a live set, but in tape form I'm left wanting more. Mission accomplished boys (and girl).

Sacred Love (CDr)
This is a new band from MD with some members that also play in Mindset. The songs have a more mid-80's DC sound, mixed with some post-Rock For Light era Bad Brains. The CD starts off kind of fast/mid-paced, then slows down, and picks up again. It's not really my thing, but I would recommend it if you like other modern DC area bands like Police & Thieves or Lion of Judah.

Stripmines- Failsafe (tape)
Now this is the shit right here! I was lucky enough to catch this band's first show. Members of Devour and Thieves playing some heavier d-beat/Japanese influenced HC. Their sound stays way more on the HC side than any sort of crust leanings. The vocals are fierce, and the lyrics are angry and negative (just the way I like it). I wish the recording quality was a little better mixed/recorded, but I think this band will release a killer record when the time comes.

Thieves- demo/live 2009 (tape)
This tapes has their demo on one side, and a live set on the other side. Their sound is rooted in 80's HC; there's some brief fast moments, but overall somewhat mid paced. Maybe a little bit of Heresy is in there too. There's no lyrics, and with songs like "Black President" and "Harry Pothead," I kinda wanna know what's going on. The live material on the B side is pretty poorly recorded, and just kind of sounds like a mess. Maybe if I knew the songs better, something may stand out.

Plague (pro-tape)
Plague has a real southern sound to them. There's a real Corrosion Of Conformity sound, but I imagine every southern band hates being compared to COC. I'll say that they remind me of Slipknot (the 80's Rev band, not the shitty nu metal band). What you get is a hybrid of 80's HC, mixed with some southern rock influence. The vocals almost have a quality similar to Filth. Pretty damn good, I could see someone into Annihilation Time being way into this.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

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