Reviews

MRR #31 • December 1985

99 Cents 99¢ cassette

A stinging instrumental attack provides the distinction to this brisk tape of thrashy tunes. While this band definitely need work in the area of writing distinctive HC, they seem best at the quasi-NEOS approach of songs like “Scared Single.” Maybe this is a good direction for this abrasive outfit.

Absence of Malice Awakening EP

There’s good, solid thrash on this six-tracker, but ABSENCE OF MALICE add nothing particularly original or inventive to the proceedings. You know what to expect: fast tempos, atonal guitar rifting, occasional lead breaks (and some good lyrics expressing youth alienation). OK.

Angst Lite Life LP

ANGST aim for a “roots pop” approach, incorporating elements of punk, country, blues, and power-pop into a clutch of highly accessible ditties. Some songs are slow, but this band’s forte is in faster, intricately arranged tunes like “It’s All a Lie” and “Butler Grace,” which demonstrate a subdued, yet punky energy. Fans of the NEATS and EMBARRASSMENT should enjoy this.

Asta Kask Med Is I Magen 12″

Yet another outstanding release from this Swedish band. With their tight musicianship, super instrumental hooks, rough lead vocals, and up-tempo sing-along choruses, they remind me of classic punk outfits from the late ’70s like STIFF LITTLE FINGERS. ASTA KASK wouldn’t know how to write a bad song, so don’t ignore this 12”.

Bedboys L’Indifferenza Uccide EP

A politically conscious band that breaks new ground for Italian HC. The music is reminiscent of early CRASS, and at times ANTI-SECT comes to mind. Accompanying the music is a fold-out cover covered from top to bottom with lyrics and editorials. Powerful, intelligent, graphic, and thought-provoking.

Brave New World Initiation 12″

The six songs on this EP represent a solid try at edgy, riff-laden post-punk with both tension and energy. BRAVE NEW WORLD do sacrifice catchiness for atmosphere, but those who enjoyed the instrumental sharpness of earlier SIOUXSIE material may find passing interest in this effort.

VOA / Butt Acne Voice of Authority / Butt-Core split cassette

VOA kick out 17 songs that at times come off as simplistic and, in certain degrees, immature—musically. But you cannot ignore the promise of this band, as they expand into different influences resulting in several catchy tunes. BUTT ACNE on the other hand are yet another noise-joke band and nothing else needs be said.

Cobra Stand the Pressure LP

Catchy sing-along choruses backed by clean, simple thrash, topped off by clever hooks. At times, close in comparison to certain types of English pop-oriented Oi. In fact, this band has a song titled “Oi Tonight.” Not earth-shattering, but still worth looking into. Enjoyable. Flexi included.

Conflict The Battle Continues 7″

One of England’s most powerful bands release two new songs very much in the true CONFLICT tradition. Shouting loud guitars, and pounding…all backed by excellent production. My only complaint is that no lyrics are included; from a band that in the past has had so much to say, this is something of a let-down.

Disrupters Alive in the Electric Chair 12″

While the DISRUPTERS’ brand of mid/fast-tempo punk is not very original or very accomplished, there’s a charm and belief that comes across to make the listening experience not be a waste of time. Good production helps, too.

Distemper Up Against the Wall cassette

Interesting. At times, this band’s sound doesn’t quite seem to gel, but then within their simplicity lies a vast amount of musical innovation and complexity. Combine this with extremely intelligent political lyrics and a desire to take chances while keeping an edge, and you’ve got the beginnings of something. Watch for growth here.

Doggy Style Side by Side LP

This goofy SoCal band presents twelve rockin’ tunes, four previously released and eight brand new ones, which prove the strength that this band has to communicate a message, have lots of fun, and get away with being as goofy as possible. Music ranges from speed thrash to funk to bomping rock’n’roll, and the songs for the most part have catchy riffs and sing-alongs that stick in your head.

End Result Rambo Church cassette

Male and female vocals combine with some hard-driving punk/thrash and intense political lyrics. Besides their varied originals, there are a few covers (CRASS, BEATLES, DICKS, etc.) on this live recording. Sound quality is decent and energy is high. Good.

Faith No More We Care a Lot LP

Take the necessary ingredients to produce hard-hitting raps in the vein of RUN DMC, add slow, flowing keyboards, and you will have a good idea of what this band has struck upon. The title track is by far the standout, and I see no reason why the remaining tunes wouldn’t become popular with a lot of the underground dance clubs.

Final Conflict Final Conflict cassette

Aaaarrgggh! New hot madness strikes with this ferocious demo. New hot young band from the LA area who scorch out the speed and extreme rawness in the vein of ICONOCLAST and early FINAL WARNING. Intense lyrics with a boisterous shouter, backed by thrashing metallic grinds melting into overdrive. This grabs for the blast.

Hard-Ons Surfin’ on My Face EP

Drawing influences from ’60s punk, early Aussie punk, and early proto-punk (DMZ, RAMONES), this band manages to rock out pretty good. They have a slightly more up-to-date sound than many “neo” bands, but lyrically they’re still in the past.

Hickoids We’re in It for the Corn LP

Living up to their true potential, the HICKOIDS blaze a true path between the mud-caked rodeo music of the South and the craziness of cousins marrying. There’s a true strangeness here that rivals the best of early MEAT PUPPETS, and like the MP’s, they can smoke on their instruments. Besides, how many bands really look good with cowshit on their boots?

Knucklehead Knucklehead I LP

Distorted guitar supplies the background rhythms to a hearty bunch of medium-paced melodic thrashers. In some ways, it reminds me of a new version of late-’70s English punk played extremely raw, minus the poppy riffs and choruses. Songs do start slipping into the “sounding the same” syndrome but overall a good effort.

Lack of Knowledge Sirens Are Back LP

The emphasis on clever arranging reminded me of late MAGAZINE, but the musical adeptness isn’t nearly as strong on this debut LP. In fact, the songwriting is largely monochromatic and uninteresting, despite a good feeling for the personal/political lyrics. Maybe next time.

Laughin’ Nose Never Trust Women EP

The Japanese version of the TOY DOLLS? This band puts forth four long, repetitious pop-punk fun songs. Almost too cute and too fun, the songs just seem to go on forever and really lack that extra punch. The exception is “No More War”—which is harsher and stronger (and also the only serious song here).

Lazy Cowgirls Lazy Cowgirls LP

I was prepared not to like this, based on the “corporate” feel to this so-called indie record. But the music speaks for itself. If you’re into that early punk sound heavy on pop, then you’ll like this. It’s got a RAMONES-ish approach, though a bit more melodic musically and smoother vocally. Killer rave version of the ELEVATORS’ “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” not unlike DMZ here.

Life After Death Worse Than You / Like a Soldier 7″

Cool band from North Carolina and they’re gonna be on an English comp of SYD BARRETT cover bands. Trouble is that their maniacal, wild sound gets pushed back on this release in favor of a more droning DREAM SYNDICATE feel. But the sound is still cool and they sound like a real contender.

Lyres Someone Who’ll Treat You Right Now 12″

A three-song job that’s just OK, lacking any real wallop or magic. LYRES supply minimal rockin’ ’60s pop, and in the past have come up with real gems. None here, though; maybe they “gave it up now.”

Mad Daddys Music for Men 12″

Total CRAMPS rip-off here, but these guys (from lyrics to cover art) are really into their “macho” BS. (Interestingly, this record is marketed by Jem Records, who applies the same mentality toward indie labels these days.) Fun music, lame men.

Nick Toczek Nick Toczek’s Ulterior Motives: The Tape cassette

Highly political prose and poetry make this offering a pleasant surprise. No music here, just committed, clever, and anarchic words infused with a punk idealism. A breath of fresh air. Buy it.

Noise for the Needy First Cuts 12″

A nifty garage pop record that reveals more than a little imagination and excellent lyrics. Most of it is subdued and perhaps even subtle—check out the irresistible riff/bass run in “Just a Game”—but a song like “What Was the Point” shows that they can rock out more if the urge strikes them. “An End” is pretty disposable, yet this band has something.

NRK Live cassette

Eleven songs recorded live at the band’s last show in August ’84. Reminds me a bit of SHATTERED FAITH and other early LA punk bands. An occasional spaz-out input of speed thrash, but quickly fades into average, raw, and melodic songs. Lacking that extra kick of originality. Good production.

Otto’s Chemical Lounge Spillover LP

Sadly, there’s talk about this psycho-delic garage band breaking up. If that’s so, at least they’ve left behind a killer 7” and a nice, full-bodied album of frenzied HENDRIX riffing, bluesy vocals, and staunch, tight rhythms. Not as crazy as their single, but still worthy.

Painkillers 17 Cuts of Pain cassette

Highly politicized and non-cliché lyrics are driven home by slightly funk-tinged punk. Their sound reminds me a bit of the PROLETARIAT with less melody and more of continuous medium-fast-paced rhythm (driving bass really stands out). Committed, and a band to watch for.

Vicious Circle / Perdition split LP

A domestic release of two Australian powerhouse HC hands. Half of the VICIOUS CIRCLE material appeared on their Aussie 7”, while two of PERDITION’s eight tracks showed up on their 7”. Well worth picking up, this LP can only help further interest and ties between these two continents, and you’ll get some fine sides for your money, as well.

Poison 13 First You Dream… LP

While I could’ve used a full album of this steamy mess, I can settle for seven songs of great Texas thrash guitar music. We’re talking nasty business trash with songs about strange movies, dying young with a smile on your face, and other general bits of inanity. Great bluesy creepiness on “Parchman Farm.” I say check it out. Four stars.

Silver Chalice Evil Birds LP

Here you have Don Bolles of 45 GRAVE, VOX POP, etc. and GEZA X in their new band. SILVER CHALICE put out at least one single in the early days of LA punk, but I don’t think these are the same members. Anyway, pretty bland punk rock with a little sensitive ballad or two thrown in for ballast. Even the normally cool GEXA production can’t save this one…

Southern Culture on the Skids First Album LP

Rockabilly trappings blend with an off-beat raunchiness on S.C.O.T.S.’s debut LP, which shows promise despite its inconsistency. A few klunkers, but bursts like “Bop Bop Bop” and “Atom Age Truckers” show the band’s rockin’ roots to good advantage. The instrumentals here are especially appealing.

Star Club Punk! Punk! Punk! LP

STAR CLUB’s third album is clearly their best yet, boasting rowdy, up-beat ’77 punk not unlike the PROFESSIONALS, but consistently rawer and more powerful. This band cherishes their early punk roots, and numbers like “Radical Real Rock” and “Urban Guerrilla” demonstrate their complete assurance with the genre. An excellent LP.

The Ex Pokkeherrie LP

They’ve done it again. A fascinating LP chock full of goodies: poster, book, and militancy. While they maintain melody, dissonance, moodiness, and a hard edge, they continue to grow and encompass many styles. Before, they’ve reminded me of CRASS; now I’m hearing elements of the FALL and SONIC YOUTH, but hell, the EX have been playing as long if not longer. Their integrity is rock hard and dependable. Godhead!

The Fall This Nation’s Saving Grace LP

As with most extremely prolific bands, the FALL hit and miss with most of their compositions. This is basic middling FALL, with the repetitious arrangements and obscure, taunting vocals that aficionados of the outfit have come to expect. About every other song is pretty good, and nearly everything is very, very predictable.

The Honeymoon Killers Love American Style LP

Gritty post-punk, not altogether unlike the WOUNDZ, but here with a more well-established sense of mania, both musically and vocally. But there are no standout songs, nothing I particularly remember as I write this review, so I guess I didn’t like it.

The Jesus and Mary Chain Just Like Honey 12″

With the signing of JMC to a major comes a predictably toned-down sound. While the title song is cool in its pop way (they’ve discovered Phil Spector?), and “Head” is a fairly noisy tidbit, “Cracked” is way too tuneless and dirgelike, and the second version of the title track is way wimpy. There’s still some edge here, but it’s fading fast.

The Legendary Golden Vampires Gone for Good / Train Kept A-Rollin’ 7″

The second round from this band (and simultaneously a new one from NIRVANA DEVILS…same personnel?) showcases a great pop/’60s punk song on the A-side that maintains its edge, and a nastier but still poppy cover of JOHNNY BURNETTE’s classic, sort of à la FUZZTONES. Good listening.

The Nirvana Devils Secret Agent Girl / May I 7″

Two catchy, finger-snapping ditties make this single a worthy investment for those who might like an amalgam of textured ’60s pop and late-’70s power-pop. The slightly off-tune and off-time female vocals somehow adds to the effect as it did for the MO-DETTES long ago. Recommended.

The Only Alternative As Fate Would Have It LP

Hailing from Alaska yet released on an English label, this band sounds more like it comes from Ireland circa ’77. The music is pop-punk in the Good Vibrations label tradition, with a tinge more of a ’50s rock’n’roll influence. I guess the singer is what bugs me, as he really tries to sing instead of shout it out. Best song: “The Punks Are Divided, Jimmy.”

The Reactions Tomorrow’s Time Today / Blue Beyond 7″

From the opening jangle of “Tomorrow’s…” guitars, it’s clear that this trio has been influenced by the BYRDS. Both songs here have sad, melodic vocals and real cool double-tracked psychedelic guitar, and I like them a lot. These guys might get wimpy in a 24-track studio, but the garage production on this 45 provides an appealingly rough edge.

The Rejected First Offence EP

The term “generic” comes to mind on this one. Mid- to fast-paced hardcore from this Aussie outfit, but the songs are too repetitious (both lyrically and musically) and the guitar sound altogether too thin to sustain much power. “Copper,” of the five tracks, has a nice riff to recommend it; otherwise, I was unaffected.

The Squirt Men and Their Masters LP

This gang from Switzerland has done a damn good job at fooling me with their neat 1980-’82 Los Angeles punk sound. All the songs are sung in English and, believe it or not, there’s a bit of bands like DEAD BOYS, DETOX, BIG BOYS, and early TSOL. Really cool.

Trojne Who Gives A Fuck Anyway? EP

A rockish energy mixes winningly with thrashy song structures on this five-tracker. The song quality is about on par with their varied debut EP, but here exhibits much more consistent power, especially on the steamroller “1984.” A solid record, worthy of your attention.

Turbines Last Dance Before Highway LP

Seems like the TURBINES are a one-way proposition; either you love ’em or hate ’em. Myself, I could listen to their twangy, garbage-can guitar tunes over and over. Kind of like if you drained the sleaze off the CRAMPS.

Unity You Are One EP

Seven intense, gutsy thrash tunes all with a clever uniqueness and strength. Sing-alongs and shouting vocals seem only to add to the power. The lyrics are on the serious “positive” side and stress this message with great sincerity and emotion. I can only hope that these feelings carry true in person. Worth looking into.

V/A Illusions of Beauty cassette

A compilation put together by the people at Bullsheet fanzine, which features 12 bands from around the US. Again, the material coming from previously released demo tapes, etc., also a great sampler of up-and-coming bands. Some of the standouts include V.O.A., VERBAL ASSAULT, KNOCKABOUTS, and NO RESPONSE. Booklet included.

V/A Just an American Band cassette

This comp has something for everyone: thrash, metal, underground pop are all here. Nineteen bands from across the US (hence the title), each kicking out several songs ranging on production and influences.

V/A Moose Nuggets cassette

This Alaskan comp presents some pretty good bands (SKATE DEATH, CLYNG-ONS) and some others (PSYCHEDELIC SKELETONS, BUTT CLITS, LOGAN), but the sound quality of those live recordings is pretty hurting, making this non-mandatory.

V/A 99th Floor flexi EP

A hot neo-’60s flexi that accompanies issue #7 of 99th Floor fanzine. Side A is a total ’60s punk killer with songs by the BROOD and the BOYS FROM NOWHERE (who cover the Jeff Conolly tune of the same name). The flip is definitely not up to that standard, but the TELL-TALE HEARTS’ number is vastly better than their previous vinyl offerings; the PODZ’ live cut is raunchy but poorly recorded.

V/A War Between the States: North & South cassettes

A great sampler of some of the States’ “up and coming” or “already there” bands. 40 bands produce countless numbers of songs and touch on several different musical influences. Two 90-minute cassettes, one with bands originating from the Northern states, and one with bands from down South. Overall, a really good package. Booklet included.

V/A Skate Rock, Vol. 3: Wild Riders Of Boards LP

Die-cut cover in the shape of a skateboard, featuring some classic speedcore renditions with 90% new tracks by C.O.C., SEPTIC DEATH, ACCÜSED, CHRIST ON PARADE, BEYOND POSSESSION, GANG GREEN, SLAM, BONELESS ONES, and NO RULES. Will attract a wide audience with this over-abundant sampler.

V/A Alles Stirbt cassette

An ambitious all-European sampler, with German bands predominating. The tape comes with a booklet, wherein all the lyrics are translated into English for international consumption. Bands include KGB, KINA, WUT, ANTI-HEROES, ASOCIAL, SECOND AUSCHWITZ, HOSTAGES OF AYATOLLAH, SCREAMING DEAD, and more.

V/A Babylon: Bleibt Fahren LP

A great live comp with so much energy and solid attacks. Featuring speedy stuff from LÄRM, PANDEMONIUM, WRETCHED, NEUROOT, BOSKOPS, and aggression from the likes of MDC, BGK, AMEBIX, VARUKERS, and much more. Lots of tunes, nicely recorded, comes with a thick book, and is cheaply priced.

V/A Došao Je Kraj cassette

Twelve Yugoslavian HC outfits prove their stuff on this compilation. All ranges of speed and extremely raw production, with manic thrash (Yugoslav style) add to the character of this tape, although I do feel only International HC fans will really enjoy it.

V/A The Final Solution cassette

Yet another concept compilation. This time the concept is “baldness”! This one features skin/Oi bands from around the world. The majority of the songs are really enjoyable, but then, the majority of the lyrics are not transcribed! One can only hope they don’t fall into the skinhead stereotype. Booklet included.

V/A No Visible Scars EP

An all-Scottish sampler, starring OI POLLOI, LAST RITES, DISTEMPER, and the CONDEMNED. There’s a decidedly Oi-ish feel to this punk and skin band comp, with OI POLLOI taking the honors with “Boot Down the Door,” a killer track. Otherwise nothing startling.

V/A Now Is the Time to Act cassette

A well thought out and executed compilation that features not only politically conscious bands, music, and lyrics but also editorials, essays, pamphlets, contact lists, and much more! The music’s on two 90-minute tapes and features 35 groups from 14 countries. The profits go towards Greenpeace and Rape Crisis. I hope more comps lean toward this direction in the future. Recommended!

V/A Pinch and Ouch! LP

A regional compilation from Kyushu Island in the south of Japan, this baby features two or three tracks each from six bands: GAI, GEDON, GESS, NO-CUT, AGGRESSIVE DOGS, and KURO. Most all is in a hard-driving original punk style, sounding really good and straightforward. Fine musicianship and production are hallmarks in Japan, and this one is no letdown. Hot.

V/A The Vikings Are Coming LP

This Swedish compilation showcases a variety of newer bands, some rather promising. BEDRÖVLERZ and CRUDE SS whip away at their three songs each, while BIZARR demonstrates a pop-punk sensibility worth noting. Five other bands put in workmanlike efforts on this variable, but largely entertaining LP.

V/A Questionable: The Compilation LP

Four bands contribute three tracks each on this comp, which is variable, but respectably workmanlike. BUNCHAFUCKINGOOFS are the only HC band represented, and provide some good satiric numbers, while LIVING PROOF shows vast improvement over their LP in a basic, rockish vein. ANIMAL STAGS specialize in mid-tempo goofoid rock, and MADHOUSE are forgettable. A 35/65 affair.

V/A 77 KK LP

This one slipped by us somehow, so here’s the review, albeit late. One side is devoted to American bands (DOA, 76% UNCERTAIN, WHITE CROSS, etc.) in first-rate tracks mostly on other records already. The flip however, is all-French (TROTSKIDS, COLLABOS, and WARRIOR KIDS turn in especially good pop-punk efforts) and all unreleased. A very good comp; if the duplication doesn’t bother you, give it a listen.

V/A S.N.I.S.H. cassette

Another comp that will satisfy the tastes of all international HC fans and could possibly create some. Bands from eight countries, all of whom represent a unique sound. There are the “one-two-crash-bang “ bands and the melodic, sing-along ones. Definitely something for everybody and worth looking into. Booklet included.

V/A Vilda Vanor LP

This Swedish sampler dips into a variety of pop genres, from nifty pop-punk (KOTTGROTTORNA, TREDJE KONET, SPION 13), highly questionable new wave (WUTABOUT, FLYGANDE NUNNAN), and just plain rock (WHOOPS!, SCANDAL BEAUTIES). The songs vary considerably in quality, but some promising bands are represented, too.

Wallmen Eel Vibes From the Voodoo Kitten cassette

While largely “out there” experimental music (there is actually a lot of music here), they at times produce some pretty gripping stuff in a psychedelic MOTHERS-type of way. For the adventurous.

What Now Small Record With Four Songs EP

Surprisingly hard-edged pop-punk (at least on three of the tunes). While the pop elements are pronounced, the driving beat and Lou Giordano production really rocks it out while maintaining the subtleties.

X I’ll Kill You / Break the Darkness 7″

Neither the US or Aussie band, this Japanese combo has decent and somewhat complicated rock/metal meets punk structures, but their falsetto singing really drives me up a wall. For metallers only.

Yard Trauma Must’ve Been Something I Took Last Night LP

Their second LP shows growth and diversity as well as a bit of taming. This type of ’60s-influenced psych kicks ass anyway, but since 90% of these songs are originals, YARD TRAUMA have managed to scan the decades and prove timeless and talented. Not as rowdy on this record as live, but not to be missed either way.

Zerstörte Jugend Spastic Nightmare 12″

Forceful, straight-ahead power driven with a tight, well-matched variety of harmonics and rhythms. Medium-paced for speed and melodic in charisma. Rages in similarities to TOXIC REASONS. Different than their first release.

Zynthslakt Hit Med Stålarna EP

This 7” represents the tracks ZYNTHSLAKT released on two split EPs with N.O.S. and the PAST, and the material here is gritty, catchy, and highly original. A rockin’ punk style is evident on all six songs, though I was particularly drawn to the vocal choruses on “Es Ist Krieg.” A good one.