Thursday, December 12, 2013

Best of 2013

So if you've been following this page for a while, you may notice a lack of reviews of HC records (sorry), but I assume you've noticed a lot of art and label related posts. To say I've focused my efforts elsewhere is fair, but I do miss talking HC. What I did here is do more in depth reviews of each release, since I never reviewed most of them before. I felt like this year had a ton of good LPs, while I don't think I got a lot of memorable zines (so they were omitted). It seems like a lot of labels are focusing on reissues, as they know their back catalog will sell better in a limited color, rather than taking a chance on a new HC band. It's really a shame, because I feel like newer bands are getting overlooked. HARDCORE STILL RULES!

Best 7"s of 2013:
1. The Flex- Scum On The Run
I love The Flex, I re-released their demo in the US, and I think this new 7" is even better. Adding Tom from Sectarian Violence and Violent Reaction on drums really helped tighten them up a ton. Their style of NYHC meets Boston, meets UK HC approach is so good. The recording is nice and dirty too. I can't wait for them to come to the US next spring w/ Violent Reaction. Seeing videos online of these guys playing, they get better and better.
2. Violent Future- s/t
LOVED Violent Future's demo, and this new 7" is great. You only get 4 songs (as opposed to the 6 on the demo), but they're all legit stompers. They take a very UK82/oi influence and play off that mid paced drumming with some powerful songs. Even the cover art is great. That brown cover w/ black and red ink looks so cool. I know they recorded another record recently, so I'm hoping that will also rule.
3. Altered Boys- s/t 2
So Altered Boys rule, I did a tape for them this year and did the layout on this record's cover. They recorded both 7"s at the same time, but I feel like this record's songs were their best. Rather than kicking the record off with a slower song with an intro, it kicks in with the fastest/ shortest song on the record. These guys are my favorite local band in a while, and I'm glad to have a no BS HC band (with an affinity for pink )locally. The band is on a sort of hiatus, but hopefully they can squeeze out another record before calling it a day.
4. Spine/ The Repos
Split 7"s are one of my least favorite format for HC (before CDs). 99.9% of them are throw away songs, rushed for a tour, don't make any sense, one band is good and the other is terrible. Luckily this record has none of those trappings. This is awesome, and easily Spine's best shit, and The Repos' best material since reforming as The Ropes a few years ago. I remember someone describing The Repos once as Youth of Today if they were psychopaths (I'd take that is a compliment), and I can probably say the same for Spine. There's definitely some youth crew background in both bands, but definitely mixed with a lot more diverse HC stylings. This is honestly my favorite split since the Talk Is Poison/ Deathreat split 7" over 10 years ago.
5. Future Binds- s/t
Some teenagers from North Carolina churned out this fucking killer 5 song record (it was recorded as a demo originally).  Heavily influenced by bands like Out Cold and Wasted Time, you have some fast early 80's influenced HC, but with complex riffs. This is great, I saw 3/4 of their old band Pure Scum last year, and even at like 15 years old, those dudes could shred. Adding Ace from Abuse on guitar ups the average age slightly, but their high school punk band is better than most adult HC bands.

Best LPs of 2013:
1. Violent Reaction- City Streets
Fuck yes, the Violent Reaction LP is even better than I hoped it would be. I loved their 7" and demo, but damn the LP steps it up a notch. I can hear a lot more of the UK82/Oi influence, though retaining the fast Poison Idea like HC meets Side By Side mosh sound there. There's some guest appearances on here from some Boston notables as well, which really expresses the unity and collaborative nature of HC in general. Sappy junk aside, this record is ridiculously good, and if you don't like it, I don't like you.
2. Culo- My Life Sucks, and I Could Care Less
Fucking Culo. Antics aside, these guys know how to write a HC song. I think a lot of people were skeptical if their fast HC assault would translate well into an LP. Welp, here it is, and you were wrong. There's still their usual sound, but mixed within is some mid paced songs with a tambourine like a Ramones song, if the Ramones were freaks who did a lot of drugs and lived in the mid-west. I feel like the diverse mix of style really keep this LP interesting, despite that gramatical error in the title.
3. Hounds Of Hate- s/t
Hounds of Hate really stepped it up from their 7", perfectly capturing that New Breed comp NYHC sound. Most NYHC influenced bands just sound like 25 Ta Life or bad era MAdball, but these guys blend Cro-Mags and Outburst perfectly. Definitely some hard mosh parts, and some fast parts to balance it out. Overall a great LP, hoping to see them some more next year.
4. Night Birds- Born To Die In Suburbia
Night Birds are Jersey's premiere punk band at the moment, and with good reason. With a new lineup, NB doesn't miss a beat, with their early 80's Dead Kennedys meets Agent Orange sound. The songs on here have a bit more punch than the previous LP, and I love it. I like how both sides of the LP start with instrumentals, something that in a CD format would be maybe weird, but totally works when you flip the record over. Expect Night Birds to do some more touring in 2014, as they took a few months break for the singer to be a dad (Congrats Bri!).
5. Magic Circle- s/t
Not really a hardcore band, but containing a HC lineup. Members of bands like Mind Eraser, Rival Mob, No Tolerance, Mental, and a ton more. Some Boston dudes with a love for Sabbath and NWOBHM. Their approach to metal is much better than most (maybe all) in the "stoner" category. This is seriously so good, but seemed to take over a year to get released. If this wasn't just a side project, I could see them being huge, and opening up for big tours.

Best demos of 2013:
1. Chain Rank 
Chain Rank made a late entry into the best demos category this year, but I did some shuffling to give them a proper spotlight. Similar to bands like Boston Strangler and Peacebreakers, nodding to the old Boston crew scene, but there's definitely some Out Cold records in their collections. Real fast, no punches pulled HC. Fucking Awesome!  
2. Night Prowler- Psychopath
Night Prowler did a tape a few years ago, and it was a straight up ripper. I feel like it got overshadowed by the Boston Strangler demo, which was released around the same time, but damn was it good. this new tape has way more songs, and takes it to a more Neon Christ/ Youth Korpse/ Deep Wound territory, thought still very much early X-Claim worship. Apparently this is a solo project by a member of Vacant State, which I can definitely see, thought keeping tot he faster side. I ordered this off a label in Canada, and it cost like $11, which is totally worth it.
3. Social Damage- Demo II
Social Damage did a tape last year under the name Blind X Justice, though unfortunately there ended up being a much more popular (thought much worse) band by the same name. The band plays Straight Ahead worshiping fast hardcore, much like bands like Free Spirit, Freedom and Word On the Street, though much better. The tape is really short, but very memorable. Hoping these guys do an EP soon. 
4. Protester
Protester was a tape that I released, but fuck it, it rules. A one person side project that's not too different from No Tolerance and Violent Reaction. Fast, pissed off straight edge hardcore. Always have a soft spot for aggressive sounding edge bands, and this was my jam. I also did the cover art, which I may say is the most hardline edge art since the 90's. Now a full band and working on more shows and tours. Real stoked on these guys.
5. Correction
Correction is a 2 person sXe side project from Sweden, with members of Sectarian Violence and Anchor. Musically lending more favorably to raw punk ala Mob 47. I one time described them as "Anti-Cimex wearing varsity jackets," which will make sense when you hear it. Raw punk with mosh parts, hell yea. Working on a new tape or EP currently.

Honorable Mentions:
Sectarian Violence LP, Sickoids EP, Coke Bust LP, Criminal Damage LP, Barge 7", Green Beret 7", Power Trip LP, Rival Mob LP, Night Birds 7", Gas Rag 7"+ demo, Weekend Nachos LP, Out Cold LP, The Repos (aborted Ropes LP) tape, Stab 7", Broken Prayer LP, Razorheads demo, Lude Boys/ Combat Zone tape, Savageheads demo, Last Words LP, Abuse LP, Negative Degree 7"

Best Reissues:
Abused - Radio Raheem did a great LP reissue of the 7", demo and an unreleased live track on a crazy deluxe LP. Came in a booklet filled with art and photos in a sleeve that's so big, it won't fit in your record box. Essential, one of the NYHC greats.
7 Seconds - Lifeline reissued the first 3 7 Seconds 7"s, and even did a cool boxed set. I love a well done reissue, and they really went all out on this. Recreating the art perfectly, doing some limited colors for the collectors, and even throwing in an insert with a note from Kevin Seconds inside. I like that they didn't just collect these on some LP, but kept them in their original format.
Anti-Cimex Nada Nada reissued the Anti Cimex 7"s packed with random little inserts and notes. These records have been out of print forever, and a collection that is over priced and really ugly. The cover for Raped Ass has to be one of my favorite record covers, even though it was most likely stolen from a newspaper or something.

Anticipated Releases for 2014:
Oblivionation 12" EP + 7", Peacebreakers 7", The Flex LP, Boston Strangler LP, Ugly Parts LP, Correction EP, Battle Ruins LP, Violent Future 7"