Reviews

Boss Tuneage

Diaz Brothers Diaz Brothers CD

Back in the mid/late ’80s in the UK, American bands started to make it over in large numbers. Both the records, but also the bands themselves. And hence a whole new crop of bands started to form, influenced by such touchstones as GOVERNMENT ISSUE’s “You,” the last couple of DAG NASTY records, HÜSKER DÜ, MOVING TARGETS’ “Burning In Water,” SCREAM, and suchlike. Thusly, melodic hardcore was born in those fair Isles. One of the earliest and most fervent exponents of this new genre was a band called HDQ, whose main claim to fame was that they were formed by soon-to-be guitar god Dickie Hammond, who went on to basically rewrite melodic hardcore as the co-guitarist and co-songwriter of LEATHERFACE. When Dickie died far too young (he basically, and tragically, drank himself to death) several years ago, HDQ reformed with a new guitarist, and a new name. This is their debut. Unfortunately to these ears, like the earlier incarnation (and completely unlike LEATHERFACE), it returns to a rather meandering (albeit lushly pleasant) iteration of melodic hardcore that sounds great if that style is your thang, but doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. No great tunes, or driving choruses, and utterly devoid of that anthemic quality that GOVERNMENT ISSUE and DAG NASTY and HÜSKER DÜ (and LEATHERFACE!) brought to the material. So, ah, there you have it, really.

Moving Targets Humbucker LP

“It’s not disappointing” may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but in an era where many aging, or aged, rockers are attempting to get the band back together without understanding that their musical sensibilities and energy have changed dramatically, Ken Chambers doesn’t seem to have changed at all. While 2019’s comeback record Wires sounded very much like Brave Noise, this one is a little more poppy, very much in the Fall/Take This Ride realm. In fact, it’s so similar that you might wonder what the point is, like why did AC/DC put out so many records? (Answer: because people kept buying them.) If none of this makes sense to you, MOVING TARGETS, along with folks like DOUGHBOYS, BIG DRILL CAR, and PEGBOY, were one of direct ancestors of the melodic pop punk that gained widespread fame in the mid-1990s. It’s melodic and catchy but still driving and probably closer to ’80s hardcore than it is to the BUZZCOCKS. Should you start your MOVING TARGETS journey here? Probably not. But if you can’t get enough, have at it.

Natterers Head in Threatening Attitude CD

This is hard-hitting, tight punk with a horror-style surf guitar, not unlike DEAD KENNEDYS and even a pinch of AGENT ORANGE, with the vocals a stone’s throw from a better-honed Kirsten of NAKED AGGRESSION. It seems a little too well-produced for something that’s trying to sound raw, but some people go for that shit. This is undeniably tight, well-oiled, and spastic, even if it’s a few decades too late.

Pandemix In Condemnation LP

Blending perfect amounts of artsy peace-punk weirdness and brutal aggression, Boston’s PANDEMIX deliver a sound that is all at once angry, transgressive, fun, and exciting. This record reminds me why I love punk: it’s got some real out-of-the-box peace-punk moments, dissonant chord combos, irresistible melodic hooks, dark creepy riffs, and fast hardcore parts. The track “Synthetix” juxtaposes full-blast hardcore riffs with a punchy, CRASS-like mid-tempo interlude, while “Column of Light” is a slow and scathing screed, with just vocals and guitar. Pretty much something for everyone. Seriously, do not miss out on this!

V/A Pulsebeat LP

As we witness the decay of the physical parts of punk, like the disappearance of the printed word and the records we used to hold in our hands, one of the earliest casualties was always going to be the compilation LP. These motherfuckers are hard to make good, you know? It’s like going to those goddamn ten band bill shows, where five people watch the band they came to see, and everyone goes outside to smoke during the rest of the night. So when I hear a comp LP in 2019 of bands I’ve never heard of and find it to be completely listenable and varied, I get pretty fucking stoked. Slobbery two-finger metal, tolerable Fat stuff, pop punk, dark synthy post-punk, drooling robo punk, cleaned-up crust, and even some fucking ska metal. I gotta hand it to these fine folks, as this is all over the place and still not fucking terrible. There’s a shit ton of sneer and bile in almost all the vocals, like every singer went to the same laryngitis-inducing singing school. Seventeen tracks, and financed by seven different record labels, which is kinda goofy, but hey, that’s the price you gotta pay to put out records in a time when nobody is buying. Definitely worth checking out.