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  • New record reviews: Poison Idea, Lapeste, Bronx and 12 more

    14 oct. 2006, 4h20m

    BENT OUTTA SHAPE - Stray Dog Town (Recess Records) I picked this CD up after having seen the positive press they had received in Razorcake (who's opinion I think highly of) but I'm not nearly as impressed with this four piece from New York. The sound to me is very rootsy even bordering on country-ish a lot of the time. Kind of like a more garagey punk rock BODEANS, slowed down GAUNT or possibly REPLACEMENTS. That is probably the place that they lose me since I don't care for much country music at all other than NINE POUND HAMMER which I'm sure many would argue is NOT country but very country-fried punk. I also got a slight florida-by-way-of Gainesville feel similar to bands like GUNMOLL or AGAINST ME at times. Without much more for reference I'll just add that there was nothing overly unusual about the music or vocals that bugged me and if you are a fan of the more rootsy flavored rock or punk most likely you would dig these guys. News flash after checking for web contacts is that this band has ended as of 2006 as well (RIP) www.myspace.com/bentouttashape

    BLACK MARKET BABY - Coulda... Shoulda... Woulda The Black Market Baby Collection (Dr. Strange Records) Another one of the many great old school bands that Doc Strange seems to be so good at digging up, compiling and re-releasing to us all so if we missed them back in the day, we get another chance now. These guys are a part of the early Washington D.C. & 9:30 club scenes and it's easy to see how they wouldn't be included with the Dischord and early hardcore scenes because musically they have little in common with those bands. Instead these guys play straight ahead dirty rock'n'roll that is way more punk-edged on their earliest material. To my ears BMB have more in common with streetpunk and Oi bands of the UK like THE BUSINESS, THE RUTS, SHAM 69, CHELSEA or the UK SUBS that also were punk in attitude while playing musically more of their own take on the R'n'B and pubrock they had grown up hearing. All this being said the music here holds it's own with the aforementioned contemporaries and considering the complementary liner notes by GOVERNMENT ISSUE's John Stabb, my guess is that this is a welcome release to a lot of folks who were around back in their heyday. Stabb even compares BMB to being D.C.'s answer to the HEARTBREAKERS with their tough guy persona's and ways of getting a show/crowd all stirred up and from the pounding mid-paced, anthemic sing-a-longs I hear on this 26 track collection, I think that his comparison is probably right on. Check their myspace page here: www.myspace.com/bmb1980

    BRONX - S/T (Island Records) This has to be one of the most awaited full-lengths of 2006 and the band decides to not mess much with the formula that made their White Drugs debut (also self-titled) such a dark horse hit over the last couple years. That record was a ripping blast of pent up rock-rage that pretty much took the rock of bands like THE BLACK HALOS, BACKYARD BABIES or BLACK CAT MUSIC and delivered it hot and fast the way of hardcore bands like SLAPSHOT or BLACK FLAG! I also heard a big comparison to some other more recent east coast bands that were from the hardcore crowd but played rock'n'roll namely THE BARS, SUICIDE FILE and AMERICAN NIGHTMARE/GIVE UP THE GHOST. Anyhow, this time out the band just sounds more focused with slowed down tempos and more grooves in the songs. This makes me think of bands like QOTSA, MURDER CITY DEVILS or THE PEEPSHOWS from sweden (circa Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die). The singer is screaming a bit less and crooning a bit more and the songs have just loosened up and allowed more space in. I can't say yet that I like this record more than the first one but there are songs that I love on it like the one-two punch of Shitty Future and History's Stranglers but I also love the down & dirty rock groove of songs like Transsexual Blackout and Around The Horn. The record is still sinking in for me and if early marks are any indication it will likely end up in my top ten for 2006. http://www.thebronxxx.com/

    CROSS EXAMINATION - The Hung Jury (Organized Crime) I should be having Byrnes or Phil who know these guys or their style of metal/thrash better than I do a guest review here but since this is my section I guess I need to suck it up. To my ears this is some blasting balls-to-the-wall metal played at a spastic fast pace with predominantly screamed vocals. Song topics range from the goofy about partying and food (Party Squad Unite & The Foodening $3.49 Mark of the Feast) to commentary about violence in the pit (Mortal Kombat) to the more fantasy inspired (P.A.C.P.). The fourteen tracks on this release include 7 originals + 2 covers by S.O.D. and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and for a bonus the bands 2004 demo. A lot of thrash for your buck that I think is also referred to as "Crossover Thrash" but what do labels mean anyway, if it rocks it rocks, and this definitely rocks. Awesome packaging as well that includes an enhanced windows movie of various band hijinks plus live show video that is really great too. Leave it to the kids to take an old genre and breath some new life into it. Devil signs and Fuckin' A's all around ! www.myspace.com/crossexamination or http://www.geocities.com/cross_exam/

    FEAR - Live. . . For The Record (Hall Of Records) An excellent live set from these early LA punks, contemporaries of BLACK FLAG, DEAD KENNDEDYS, & THE ANGRY SAMOANS that was recorded at an LA radio station in '86. All the meathead lyrics and offensive humor is here along with a very tight performance by Ving, Philo Cramer, Spit Stix & I guess Derf (although he is not listed in the credits). According to the liner notes penned by Ving, this release has both songs that fans of FEAR all know like More Beer, Fuck Christmas & Beef Bologna and others that were never recorded. This fact would make this a definite pick for fans of the band to find some songs they've never heard on the records. If your unfamiliar with FEAR you need to be prepared that these guys basically considered it their mission to offend any and all within an earshot and therefore be it women, gays or whomever there was probably gonna be cracks and jokes made during a FEAR set. Another thing that I like about FEAR is Ving's vocals (kind of an opera meets yelling) and delivery which sound very unique by todays standards. As mentioned before the band is locked-down tight at this point in their history which makes this worth hearing because the sound is comparable to their studio material. If you've never heard FEAR your probably better off starting with "The Record" or "More Beer" but for fans this is one that is worth tracking down. This page has a decent bio: http://www.answers.com/topic/fear-4 and the records song list is here: http://www.amazon.com/Live-Record-Fear/dp/B00005KCHP

    HEAD ON COLLISION - Arise From The Wreckage (self-released) Like the title of this CDEp the members of HOC did that very thing after forming from the ashes of some past St. Louis area bands like VERY METAL and FULL FLEDGE LEDGE. This time out they chose to rock a style of metal that was common to all the guys and forego the blasting MOTORHEAD style punk/hardcore of VERY METAL or melodic punk of FULL FLEDGE LEDGE. For those who are fans of thrash/metal like SLAYER, EXODUS, KREATOR, TANKARD or very early METALLICA (Mustaine era) you're in for a big treat. Pat and the guys go straight for the throat on this 5 song Ep with awesome ripping leads, gruff evil vocals and excellent drumming by one of St. Louis top skin bashers. Now after I've got ya all excited I have to burst the bubble and confess that as of a few months back this incarnation of the group has parted ways but as far as I know Pat has soldiered on and has assembled another group of guys to continue the metal assualt and eventually be hitting the road to bring the metal to your town. Check out HOC's myspace page for more info: http://www.myspace.com/headoncollisionmetal

    IGNITE - Our Darkest Days (Abacus) This band seems to be one of those that people feel strongly about, you love them or you hate them. I happen to fall into the former category and if you like fast, razor sharp melodic hardcore ala GOOD RIDDANCE, THE MOVIELIFE, BAD RELIGION, GORILLA BISCUITS or DAG NASTY then you'll probably dig this record. Most people that don't like IGNITE tend to not like singer Zoli Teglas' vocals. He is a fantastic singer with an incredible range who as performed in musical productions outside of the band. His voice therefore does sound unique over this style of hardcore but I think of it as something positive that helps separate IGNITE from the pack of bands playing this style. The last album these guys had out was 2005's A Place Called Home and after a few years worth of indifference from a major label (TVT) they found a home on Abacus and have delivered an album that was worth the wait for this fan. Blasting fast tempos and soaring socially aware vocals are delivered faithfully in a hardcore style (ie. the band doesn't experiment much with the style). For those of us that are fans Our Darkest Days leads to my brighter ones. http://www2.igniteband.com/

    LA PESTE - Better Off La Peste (Bacchus Archives/Dionysus Records) One of those discs that I picked up for one song but the whole thing ended up being great. My knowledge of this great boston band (circa 1975-80) pretty much began & ended with the fact that it was their great song "Better Off Dead" that was one of my faves on the now classic "8X12" Ep by socal trash punkers THE STITCHES. THE STITCHES thought enough of the band & song that they led off the now well-known Ep with it. So out of curiosity to hear the original version I thought I'd pick this up and found that although the tempo of THE STITCHES cover was sped up the original version was great too even adding a bit of power at the slower tempo. So the bonus here is that LA PESTE is a great band that get way less attention than they deserve. As fate and history would have it they only recorded officially a couple times and the timing of the rise and fall of the SEX PISTOLS harmed their chances of attracting label attention as it did with other young punk bands of that era. To me LA PESTE's sound is best described as cross between great UK acts like THE ADVERTS with bands of the early east coast punk scene like TELEVISION or MISSION OF BURMA that had a less straight forward rock sound. I also hear a bit of the australian band X in LA PESTE or maybe it's vice versa with the propulsive quirky bass lines and stabbing shards of guitar. So this disc compiles 26 songs including 4 studio tracks from 2 separate sessions plus songs from homemade demo tapes and a live set that also has excellent sound. If you like the older '77 bands that had a more unique sound these guys are worth checking out. Here you can find another review of the disc: http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/2969 and here is an early interview with the band: http://www.smasheasy.com/lapesteint.html A link to a live video is here: http://kinodv.net/movies/moviepages/archive/lapeste_bod.html

    LAG WAGON - Resolve (Fat Wreck Chords) I was glad to hear that LAG WAGON had a new record out and had heard positive things before I ever picked it up. Then they came thru St. Louis with LAWRENCE ARMS on a summer Fat Wreck Tour and I got to relive a bit of my past when they rocked it like the old days at Mississippi Nights. Joey and the Lags held a special place in time for me when I had only shortly been into listening to punk and so their early records like Trashed and Hoss were always blasting in my stereo. If you dig the 'fat" sound and like fast spastic sounding punk ala NOFX or RKL then you won't be disappointed with Resolve. It is a bit of a downer that all of Resolve was written around and while coming to grips with the bands loss of a good friend but I'm glad they were able to focus what had to be some negative feelings into the positive result of a new record. Not just a reunion cash in, Resolve is a great LAG WAGON record. http://www.lagwagon.com/

    LAWRENCE ARMS - Oh Calcutta! (Fat Wreck Chords) This record took me couple listens to really start enjoying since it has a more direct and "live" feel to it than their last one "The Greatest Story Ever Told". I thought that record was a masterpiece and since this one has a rougher sound I was initially a bit disappointed. After a bunch of listens thru now I think I may end up liking "Oh Calcutta!" even better. For those unfamiliar with this Chicago band, they're a poppy mix of JAWBREAKER (vocally) and LEATHERFACE (musically) and some new school emo ala' ALKALINE TRIO at times maybe? One thing I dig is how the members take turns singing lead vocals which adds to the variety they can throw out. It's solid and gritty melodic punk that sings of the highs and lows of life, love and alcohol and does it in a straightforward, no bullshit way. http://www.thelawrencearms.net/

    NEGATIVE APPROACH - Ready To Fight (Reptilian Records) This is a surprising "discovered lost treasures" discs from one the most influential of all hardcore punk bands in USA. No band could rival NA for sheer anger & spite value back in the early 80's and after catching their reunion set at the Touch & Go Records 25th Anniversary Block Party in 2006, I can tell ya they can still dish out the hate even 25 years later. The recordings included here consist of their first demo and the "Tied Down" demo from '81 & '83 respectively and two excellent sounding live sets (even considering the time they were recorded) from Michigan back in '82 & '83. This collection was put together really well with the recordings being laid out chronologically so you can follow the development and progression of the band from '81 thru '83. In addition, the liner notes have all kinds interesting tidbits about how and where the recordings went down and the various line-ups that recorded each of them. If your a NA fan then this is absolutely essential even if you own "Total Recall" and if you just want to hear some of the deepest roots of american hardcore then this is also an excellent place to start. Once again KFTH has the best info page I could find at http://homepages.nyu.edu/~cch223/usa/na_main.html

    NONE MORE BLACK - This Is Satire (Fat Wreck) With the exception of a couple of more up-tempo moments I kind feel like this is NMB's sophomore slump record. With the voice of KID DYNAMITE, I have followed Jason for a couple records mainly on the love I had for his past band but can't dig the more straight rock direction he and his band mates are heading in. I can't say I hate it either, and definitely don't hate "rock", it just seems kinda soft and only half-formed at times, almost like the songs weren't developed enough before they recorded them. I guess to me he has fallen prey to the curse of being in such an incredible first band then having armchair critics like me dis his subsequent music endeavors. Alright here are the positives: this record is catchy and has really solid production. There. . . I tried! http://www.nmbmusic.net/

    POISON IDEA - Latest Will And Testament (Farewell Records) This record has ended up becoming a eulogy for Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts who passed away from health problems at 47 on January 31st, 2006. All I can say is this "comeback" record doesn't sound like it's produced by a dying guy, more like a group of guys ready to strike you down in battle. An over the top return to the drive-it-down-your-throat ripping hardcore of their earlier records, this release would have been a rebirth for POISON IDEA which probably would have spurred their return to the glory and recognition they never really got back in their day. The last record they had released prior to this was all the way back in 1993 with the fantastic "We Must Burn". They probably could "give a shit" but this record is so perfect to me as a last statement for Jerry A. and Pig to release together being the only two core members appearing here (the other slots are filled in by younger friends in the Portland area/scene). "Latest Will. . ." like the band itself leaves no room for middle ground with ten tracks of blasting hardcore that to my ears sounds like it could be spliced into their back catalog between '86s Kings Of Punk and '87s War All The Time and no one would be the wiser. I can't figure out why in the hell this was released on a foreign label unless the band wanted it this way; if not it's definitely an example of some american labels caught sleeping that will be kicking themselves now. If you're a fan of hardcore punk and you don't get this record you are making a big mistake. It's not a cash in and it's not a rehash, it's essential american hardcore that can stand up and fist fight it out with anyone out there currently. Have fun raisin' hell in heaven Pig! (RIP). Best page I could find about P.I. is the awesome KFTH page http://homepages.nyu.edu/~cch223/usa/poisonidea_main.html

    RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS - To The Confusion Of Our Enemies (Volcom) This is my first taste of a GAMBLERS record despite all the praise I had heard from friends whose opinions I really respect. I remember them rocking me pretty well at last years Warped Tour when they and the VALIENT THORR dudes did back to back sets but I was getting kinda loose from a few $7 draft beers at that point. I can't say they have a particularly distinct sound; pretty straight forward poppunk-n-roll with loud guitars, big harmonies and tight playing but this record is solid all the way thru. After a few listens I think it's that familiarity that I like about them, reminding me at different times of a lot of bands I love. Comparisons range between NEW BOMB TURKS, FACE TO FACE, ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT, GAUNT, and others that are influences to parts of their sound rather than a copy of their sound. I guess I have to sum up the review by saying I will be seeking out their other records to check out. Hopefully that says it all. http://www.theriverboatgamblers.com/

    RISE AGAINST - The Suffering & The Witness (Geffen) This record doesn't stray from the path they'd been on for their previous three records which was leading straight to the top of the melodic hardcore genre. Their sound has fully evolved into a powerful amalgamation of their forefathers ie. DAG NASTY, GOOD RIDDANCE, BAD RELIGION but they definitely play around with dynamics of the songs more along the lines of THURSDAY I guess. Most of this seems to be due to the flexible voice of singer Tim McIlrath. He shifts between the slow singing parts and screamed choruses with ease and sounds strong the entire time. The rest of the band is great too with a sound so tight you be hard pressed to wedge a dime into it. I keep fighting the urge to make a crack about how great a lot of bands I know could sound with the budget these guys probably had on this record but their records on Fat Wreck before the last couple were great as well. Favorite songs of mine are "Injection", "Survive", "Prayer of The Refugee" and "Behind Closed Doors" but it's hard to pick favorites on a record this awesome. http://www.riseagainst.com/