August 19, 2012

Hunting Party - Sub Rosa with Whispered Pacts 7" (Hesitation Wound records)

I'm probably already late to the party when it comes to this band (the hunting party in this case), as their demo already came out last year and I can't believe I have been sleeping on it! I had heard their name going around, but it wasn't until their debut 7" dropped on my doormat earlier this week that I actually got to hear them. And I have been hooked since. Therefore, despite the ridiculously hot weather today, I felt the need to stay inside for a little while at least and spent some words on this really cool EP.

Like Synthetic ID, Hunting Party is a fairly new band from the San Francisco Bay Area that features (ex-)members of several other noteworthy hardcore bands from the past couple of years (i.e. Nightstick Justice (again), Ecoli, Migraine, Desolation, Vaccuum, and others). Being from the West Coast, it's interesting to see that musically they ended up sounding like a band that would have had no problem fitting in at an ABC No Rio gig in New York about 20 years ago. That period in the early- to mid-90ies in which bands on the East Coast of the U.S., were giving hardcore a much needed punk (i.e. DIY, non-jock, non-crossover) kick in the ass. Think Born Against, Rorschach, Citizen's Arrest and that 'Nothing's Quiet on the Eastern Front' compilation Lp. One of the things the feel of this record specifically reminded me of somehow was the great (and unfortunately all but forgotten) Eucharist Lp on Mountain records, except that it's more distorted and blown-out musically.

Despite these historical reference points, one of the coolest things about this EP to me, is that it doesn't feel like this band set out to sound like any particular other band or style per se. It sounds like they just ended up with this sound as a result of mixing all these different influences with genuine anger and energy. What I'm trying to say is: it doesn't sound contrived. They're not trying to follow a certain blueprint or something. I could have easily named tons of other reference points that came to mind while listening to this: Balance of Terror, The Swarm, Econochrist, Sacred Shock or the way the vocals on the first track reminded me a little of the Nerve Agents. And still, it doesn't sound exactly like any of the aforementioned bands. It just sounds like what it is: fucking angry, energetic, no frills, no bullshit hardcore punk. And of that, I can never get enough.

To close this off: I read somewhere that for their next 7", Hunting Party is teaming up with Iron Lung records, and that makes total sense as this band will apeal to the same people that also love stuff like Herds, White Wards, Walls and Artimus Pyle. I'm going to leave you with this cool live clip of Hunting Party playing live in May of this year. Be sure to check out this band!     


August 14, 2012

Synthetic ID - White Walls 7" (Satellite Visions/Cut The Cord That... records)

I was immediately intrigued by the very sober artwork on this release. The black and white image on the cover, at first glance, looked somewhat like a giant barcode. Closer inspection made me suspect that in fact it might be a manipulated image of the side of a skyscraper or an office building; quite possibly the Twin Towers on 9/11. In which case the little black dots at the bottom of the image might just be people falling from the windows, but I admit: this is purely my personal interpretation of the image and is therefore all highly speculative. Ergo: the image remains a mystery.

Let's try to shed some light on the music then: Synthetic ID is a fairly new band from the San Francisco region. They debuted with a three song tape last year, and this 7" is the vinyl version of that tape. Apparently Synthetic ID features (ex-)members of several different bands from the Bay Area, of which Nightstick Justice and Deadfall are best known to me. But whereas those bands went for relatively straight-forward, fast, 80-ies inspired hardcore, Synthetic ID walks a different path. Looks like these guys traded in their Negative Approach and Infest records for copies of 'Pink Flag' for some post-punk inspiration. Nothing wrong with that of course, especially as they shun from sounding 'retro' in any way. Being from the Bay Area, I can imagine these guys sharing a lot of bills with fellow locals Rank/Xerox. Other comparisons that came to mind were Autistic Youth or a less-melodic Observers, especially on the last song on this EP: 'Throwaway'.

Lyrically, the songs on side A are the most interesting in my opinion. They deal mostly with the singer's feelings of anxiety about being stuck and wanting to escape from a sterile existence:

"Oh my world, so orderly.
Boxed in white walls, so neat.
They think that my instincts have died.
But behind the facade a beast resides."
- from 'White Walls'


"I'm of an anxious mind when I can't move.
A faceless face in the multitude.
Confined within these stark confines.
With nothing but this unease of mind."
- from 'Between the Lines'

These sentiments fit the music well, as you can literally almost feel the singer's pent-up restlessness in his monotonous, shouted way of singing and in the angularity of the songs.

All in all, this 7" lasts only a few minutes, but in those few minutes, Synthetic ID have managed to make quite an impression on me with these three songs. I'm very curious to see where they'll go next and am looking forward to hearing more!         

August 12, 2012

1981 - Cycle b/w Symptom 7" (Profiteer records)

I picked up 1981's first 7" at the tail end of 2010  after reading a very positive review of it in MRR. To say I was not disappointed would be a giant understatement. That 7" has since been (and still remains) a frequent visitor to my recordplayer.  

Whereas that first MRR review mentioned The Ex, Minutemen and The Jam as references to the band's sound (and I can see how all of those would come to mind), 1981 draws most of its musical and stylistic influences from the melodic end of early/mid 80-ies U.K. anarcho-punk (think Chumbawamba, Zounds, The Mob, Rubella Ballet, etc.) In that sense, these Finns are contemporaries to North-American bands drawing on the same influences, such as Surrender, Arctic Flowers, Bellicose Minds, Vivid Sekt and Spectres (whom I have written about before).

Since hearing that first 7", I have made sure to track down a copy of their demo tape, as well as of all their subsequent releases (another 7" ('Decay') and a split EP with the aforementioned (and equally excellent) Surrender from the Bay Area). I'm guessing that all of their releases should still be relatively easy to find. And believe me, you need to hear these songs! For those of you not interested in vinyl or tapes, they have all been recently compiled on CD-r by French label Plus Ques Des Mots under the title: 'The Only Government is Yourself (2009-2011)' It's definitely nice to have all these songs compiled in one place, but what makes this partial discography really worthwile is the silkscreened artwork, which looks really nice, and the included booklet containing the band's lyrics, as well as an interview with the band in both English as well as French. Definately worth your money, especially considering the fact that the label is selling these for 2 euros apiece.
What the CD-r doesn't include is the band's most recent output: a new two song 7". The songs are entitled 'Cycle' and 'Symptom'. Musically there are no surprises here, as these songs fit in nicely with 1981's previous releases: catchy, almost poppy anarcho-punk with dual male and female vocals. I already mentioned the bands that 1981's sound reminds me of, but on this 7", they sound even more like 'Nevermind the Ballots'-era Chumbawamba than on their previous releases. Especially one break in the song 'Cycle' could be taken straight out of the song 'Revolution' from the first Chumbawamba 7".

As said, there's nothing unexpected here and these are two very solid 1981 songs, that keep popping into my head constantly. That said, I find myself a bit puzzled as to why I still feel a little bit unsatisfied by this release. Maybe I was expecting too much. On some level I was hoping for 1981 to have pushed themselves a bit further with this new material in terms of creativity. And by that I don't mean in any way that they should give up writing catchy, heartfelt punk song in favor of some more 'mature' sounds or something. Heaven forbird... But after listening to this record, I am a bit left thinking that I have heard these two songs before and that it sounds a little too familiair, if you know what I mean. Still, this is waaaaaaayy better than 99% of stuff out there and you seriously need to check out this band if you haven't yet.    

August 9, 2012

Poliskitzo - Dulce Del Systema 7" (Todo Destruido records)

What you have here is one of the best 7"-es to have come out in the past couple of months. That's my humble opinion at least. This EP is the four song vinyl debut of L.A.'s Poliskitzo. Hailing from the City of Angels, this band is part of the local 'raw ponx' scene there, which produced some really cool bands in the past couple of years (on that note: expect to see a review of the recent Rayox X Lp up here soon as well).

Musically, Poliskitzo are somewhat less 'raw' then the scene they're from would suggest. Don't get me wrong, their sound can by no means be called polished. But what you'll find underneath the grit are some extremely catchy and well crafted melodic tunes drawing more from late 70ies/early 80ies punk (especially Spanish punk from that era), then it does from the hardcore bands of that age.

It's always easy to start throwing around names, but with the Eskorbuto shirt one of the bandmembers is wearing on the cover of this 7", it's almost impossible not to make that particular reference. They do seem an obvious influence while listening to this EP, but I can also see members of Poliskitzo as having spend plenty of time listening to their copies of 'No te Muevas!' or the La Uvi 7". Other (more recent) bands that came to mind while listening to this were Los Monjo (especially because of the driving bass) and Ruleta Rusa (and their predecessor: Peligro Social). Fans of any of the aforementioned bands will no doubt like this as well.

However, simply comparing them to what other bands are doing or have done in the past, does not convey adequately my enthusiasm for this release. So in case I haven't made my point yet, let me say it again: this is really, really good!!! Maybe it's because they already put out two (!) demos before committing any of their songs to vinyl, but on their first 7" they already sound like they have created a sound that is truelly their own and that they're very comfortable playing. Can't wait for more!

Not convinced? Listen for yourselves...

P.S. If anyone can hook me up with copies of their demos, it would be greatly appreciated!!
P.S. 2 For copies of this record, get in touch with Todo Destruido Records

August 29, 2010

Speak Loud, Speak Truth

I was away on holiday in France for a few weeks, hence the lack of updates. To make up for it, here's some footage I came across recently on youtube of one of the greatest (and often overlooked) hardcore bands to have come out of Washington DC in the 1980s: Ignition. I strongly recommend everyone who isn't familiar with their music to seek out their 'Complete Services' discography Cd. Also, Dischord records recently did a limited repressing of the band's second Lp, The Orafying Mysticle of... which you can still purchase through the label's webstore. In all fairness, I prefer the first Lp and both 7"-es over this Lp, but their entire output is amazing. Enjoy!

August 6, 2010

Spectres - Last Days Lp (Whisper in Darkness records)

Not having heard anything from British Columbia's Spectres after their two decent 7" EP's on Whisper in Darkness records from a few years ago, I wasn't sure whether this band was still active. With this new release (their first full-length Lp) I'm glad to find that they are indeed still around.

Those first two 7"-es presented Spectres as a band heavily drawing on post-punk/new wave as their main musical influence (especially the much heard and obvious comparissons to Ian Curtis' vocals). Stylistically and lyric-wise, Spectres is more in peace-punk territory. Together with several other bands from Canada and the Western part of the United States (most notably The Estranged, Surrender, Signal Lost, Complications, and recently also Arctic Flowers) Spectres seem to be part of somewhat of a peace-punk revival going on in recent years (though on a very small scale I might add). Fans of the aformentioned bands should definitely check this out as well.

On this new Lp, the two aforementioned influences are again overtly present. As on their EP's, the obvious comparison here is Joy Division, but also The Mob and Crisis serve as pretty good indications of what Spectres sound like. On their myspace page they also list as their influences (amongst others) The Sound, The Cure and Killing Joke: influences which I also definitely hear in their bleak and melodic brand of punk. In fact, I would say Spectres follow the blueprint of the aforementioned genres pretty much to a tee. Does that make 'Last Days' a bad record? Surprisingly: not at all. Though somewhat formulaic, the songs on 'Last Days' do manage to keep my attention throughout the record, and after quite some listens over the past two weeks, they're starting to comfortably nestle themselves in the back of my mind.

Of the 8 songs on this Lp, stand out tracks to me are the anti-war tune 'Our Time' which features dual screamed and sung vocals that add some extra agression to the song. ("we've seen it twice before / soldiers on the front lines won't come home') Also, the last two songs on the record 'Standing East' and 'Nazca' are personal favourites here.

You can download the entire record from the collective blog run by Taken by Surprise records and Sabotage records, of which the latter will be releasing the Lp in Europe, together with New Dark Age records. For those of you who are interested, you can also find the entire new The Estranged Lp on there, which will be released later this year.

Note: the picture of the cover of the record used here, is a picture of the European pressing of the record. My copy on Whisper in Darkness is largely the same, except for the fact that the bandname and title of the record are both set in a different type than on the European version shown here.

August 4, 2010

Talks is Poison - Rage to Infinity 7" (DIY)

People, pay attention! After more than 10 years, here it is: a new 7" by what is probably one of my favourite bands of all times: Talk is Poison.

To me, T.I.P. managed to create some of the best hardcore songs of the late 90ies/early 2000s. They did so by setting up camp in that space between crust and hardcore: the space carved out by bands like Crucifix, Citizens Arrest and Econochrist, and they updated the sound slightly without losing any of their punkness. Their two 7"-es and split EP with (the equally great I must say) Deathreat are absolute classics in my book. I can still listen to 'Control' or 'They Call it Law' and just want to smash everything to pieces. All three records were originaly released on Prank records, and a year or two ago they nicely re-released them as a 12" under the title: 'Condensed Humanity: The Prank EP's' 12". This should be easy to find, and even the originals shouldn't be too hard to track down.

The band has been back together for a little while now, and recently played the Chaos in Texas fest, as well as some show in the Bay Area. Included below are some recent videos of the band playing live. The first one is them playing a place called Knockout this past May and the other three are C.I.T. fest videos. I would have loved to see them live, but financially and time-wise there really wasn't any way for me to make it to Austin to see them play. Hopefully someday T.I.P. will make it over to Europe.

Now, the reformed T.I.P. brings us their first recorded output in the form of this 5 song 7" which was recorded in a single day sometime in March 2010. Fittingly, the first lines of the record are: "It still feels the same after all these years." And by listening to these songs, it does indeed feel like the band hasn't been away. A worthy addition to the T.I.P. catalogue in my opinion, and a record I for sure will be playing a whole lot the coming months.

You can order the 7" through the Bad Skulls webstore, run by the band's bassplayer Brian.

On the 'Do not resuscitate' blog I also came across a download version of it for those of you who can't control their curiosity. Needless to say: this little scene of ours exsists by the grace of people supporting their community, so support DIY bands and labels and buy a copy (!) of the record if you like what you hear.