Reviews

Dov Malzberg

Ottawa The Third Age 12″

This rerelease sure has a musical time stamp. Listeners will find plenty of mid-’90s USHC hallmarks: fast, occasionally breakneck tempos, blastbeats spliced in, and forays into crossover thrash territory here and there. The two vocalists trade high-pitched screams and a hoarse shout respectively. And of course, there are lots of (maybe too many) movie soundbites.

The Wilful Boys World Ward Word Sword LP

The WILFUL BOYS keep things loud, but also like to bring out their songs’ different qualities, be they aggro or poppy, lurching or raging. The vocals are a talky drone just as often as a hardcore snarl. My favorite songs restrain the ‘core just a little and dash in some pop or discordant noise. Sometimes it’s nice to get your angst sideways.

Milk TV Anorak / Bowery Swing 7″

MILK TV channels early ’80s post-punk and it’s coming in loud and clear. I heard a bit of DELTA 5, MERCENÁRIAS, and DEVO in the mix. The songs’ melodies and rhythms sneak up on you in a great way. They can seem awkward or aimless at first, but in no time you’re in the midst of a totally weird, totally danceable number and you realize you’ve been headed there the whole time.

Komplex Viny Pohřeb Všedního Dne EP

Czech Republic’s KOMPLEX VINY often runs up to and hops over the line between crust and metal. You’ll hear buzzsaw chords one moment and a bit of guitar shredding the next. The gruff vocals arrive complete with a gurgle at the back of the throat. The delivery is excellent, but the pro production quality (a common feature in this genre) feels out of place. I prefer my crust a little crustier.

Death Bag Death Bag LP

I think music benefits from a sense of fun, especially when it’s otherwise dark or morbid. Maybe DEATH BAG agrees? Their kinda deathrock, kinda psychobilly style benefits from danceability and larger-than-life vocals. Generally, the record is a goth-y bag of lower register tunes at a steady but driving pace and with a little mangled, weird guitar sprinkled throughout. Pair with your favorite monster flick or thunderstorm.

Kirkby Kiss Ouroboros CD

The sounds on Ouroboros rotate between staccato, rapid-fire guitar and more trad HC/punk rhythms. There are quieter, prettier build-ups which provide an almost screamo tinge. The band packs a lot into each song but keeps things short. That’s a good choice, because even when they’re boundary-pushing, most punk songs petter out after the two-minute mark.

Ford’s Fuzz Inferno Fuzz the Universe! EP

The music here is really driven by the roaring guitar. It sets the pace for the rhythm section rather than vice versa. It’s big, static-y, and yes, “fuzzy.” The band injected a few trad rock’n’roll elements: notes running down the scale and the occasional tamborine. The medieval imagery on this release (and all their others) adds a fun, out of left-field vibe to the music.

Ensor Stench of Morgue, Scent of Parties cassette

Stench of Morgue, Scent of Parties begins with a D-beat number, complete with spartan bass/snare thumping over reverbed vocals. The band quickly departs from that format while staying in the musical neighborhood. Throughout you’ll hear noisy, squealing guitar, a slower, blues-y beat under a fuzzy bass, and piercing single notes. Think of this as a kinda noise (not music) revue. Enjoy!

Canadian Rifle I’m Just Like You EP

CANADIAN RIFLE has long delivered pop punk via chugging guitars, floor toms, and agnst. That’s the sound for a host of bands from the early-to-mid-’00s. This record has the musical markers you’d expect: distorted but tuneful guitar, intentional dissonance, and earnest but irreverent lyrics. I think this record sounds just a touch sharper and leaner than past releases. If you spent your youth spinning the first BENT OUTTA SHAPE EP, or IRON CHIC later on, you might want to pick this up.

Angry Adults Obsessed (With You) EP

This record features six tracks of pop punk with a clean and crisp sound. The emphasis is on the “pop” here. The distortion isn’t loud or harsh enough to overwhelm the rhythm section, a sound I always associate with Epitaph and Fat Wreck records of the ’90s. The vocalist has nasal rasp to compliment all those pretty tunes. A good pick for fans of this genre.

Wirus Pychoza LP

The sound on Psychoza is tuneful and even a little danceable. There’s singing, not screaming, which is always a challenge for punk. But the vocals have enough growl and gurgle to keep the punx (or at least me) happy. The bass has a real sharp, treble-heavy sound which brings to mind KID DYNAMITE or the CHOKING VICTIM LP. The whole record has a great, consistent sound without becoming repetitive.

Side Effect Suicide Tuesday! 12″

SIDE EFFECT plays their punk by the numbers with power chords, great little earworms, and snarled, raspy vocals. All throughout they capably add additional melodies, briefly quiet down and ramp back up again. This record is short and sweet. Its catchy and shambolic style brings to mind the OBSERVERS.

Two Man Advantage DCxPC Live Presents: Two Man Advantage LP

NY’s TWO MAN ADVANTAGE are one the metro area’s longest continually-running punk bands. They have a formula and stick to it: standard-issue hardcore punk with a hockey theme. This LP features songs from NYC and Las Vegas shows. Personally, I don’t like live albums. They seem unnecessary for punk songs, which typically don’t vary much between the recorded and live versions. The mix here is nothing special and the second set is especially poor. TWO MAN’s strengths, honed since the 1990s, are better captured on their studio albums.

Dispo / Telesatan split LP

Both TELESATAN and DISPO feature a lot of feedback, clamor, and fuzz. TELESATAN plays fun, conventional punk defined by a big farty bass sound, cymbal crashes, and screeching guitars. The vocalists scream, yowl and taunt (think BLATZ’s side of Shit Split). Occasionally they slow to a FLIPPER-like crawl. DISPO’s songs continue in this vein. Both bands balance out the noise with catchy riffs and choruses.

Apatia Bóg, Honor, Ojczyzna Faszyzm LP

The music on APATIA’s 1992 debut varies a bit within its HC/punk framework. While the drums beat an even pace, the guitarist plays palm-muted riffs, conventional leads, or dissonant, almost math-rock scales along with the standard three distorted chords. They can also quiet down while the bass and drums lead. The band is innovative while remaining faithful to the genre. Unfortunately, the songs don’t always tie these different sounds together. They can sound like parts of altogether different songs spliced into one. But APATIA on record are an otherwise tight unit, even when their musical ambitions get ahead of them.

D.Y.E. D.Y.E. cassette

D.Y.E begins their cassette with a steady thump of bass and floor toms, accompanied by looming feedback. After that, they plow and plod through the next three songs. These qualities are staples of the ’80s US hardcore repotoire, which the band clearly studied. The demo’s moderate audio quality allows them to show off that attention to detail. The vocals are a touch lower than the guitars and drums, making it sound like the singer is screaming to match their volume. This can invoke a show in a basement, dive bar, or dive bar in a basement.

Radiation Risks Strawberry Quick LP

RADIATION RISKS’ punk rock is usually undistorted and accompanied by keyboards and sax, giving it a garage rock feel. However, they weave in different genres while keeping those trappings. That can risk sounding gimmicky or pastiche, but they make it work, mostly by finding the common musical denominator in all the styles. Occasionally, the genre jamming isn’t so smooth, though—the change from an otherwise straightforward garage track to blatant DISCHARGE riffs was so abrupt it made me laugh in surprise. The vocals are hoarse and scratchy, occasionally producing a LITTLE RICHARD-esque yelp, which sounds quite at home.