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Detroit, Michigan, United States
I'm a punk rock guru from Detroit. Part skinhead, part crusty, part metalhead, part hardcore kid, part party kid, 100% punk rocker.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

V/A- Maniacs From the Motor City compilation LP review



V/A- Maniacs From the Motor City compilation LP review
This was the last vinyl compilation of local Detroit bands to be released (at least, as far as I’m aware) and it was about 25 years ago that this came out.  The first band, Son of Sam, was fronted by Lacy Shelton, the oldest and longest-running Detroit punk rocker still around.  This was his first band (not to mention this was released on his label, .44 Caliber Records), and the two songs “Watch Me Bleed” and “Tomorrow’s Just Another Day” are low-fi garage-y hardcore punk that moreso serves as background noise/energy for Lacy’s carefully penned, thoughtful lyrics to be spouted with a very unique snot and anger that I’ve not heard any other frontman take on.  Next is Coven 13 with their two tracks “Burial Ground” and “Threshold of the New”, which sound like heavily Samhain-influenced rock- perhaps a punk rock side project of King Diamond in another era.  Devilocks and skulls and deep-singing voices galore here- not bad, definitely a curveball approach to putting together a compilation, and a good one.  One point I’d like to make here, though, is that I can find little about this band online, and given the easy availability of information today, that’s odd.  Regardless, it’s very unique-sounding, though it rings enough of other bands to not be too out there.  Next is Forced Anger’s song “Vultures”, which is a very bass-heavy track that kicks into a very 80s-hardcore fast and raspy punk track with a spitting vocal sound that speaks of urgency and concern.  The band had more oddball tracks that truly set them apart from most of their contemporaries, but this is a very stellar hardcore punk song in and of itself that isn’t at all out of place.  Inside Out follows this, with “High Expectations” and “Live For Today”, two psychedelic ’77-style punk tracks that aren’t fast, but are instrumentally friendly and conscious.  Also, the band is composed of all females, a striking rarity in a highly macho scene of the time (just ask anyone from back then).  Here, the energy of the music is all over, evenly spaced along all the instruments and the vocals, which sound like an American version of Beki Bondage of Vice Squad.  The second track is stronger than the first, with more pizzazz and spark in the music- everything is equally important and distinct among the instruments.  This was the sleeper hit of the record, no doubt.  Spanking Bozo’s “Tell You Something” is the following track, and it is downright strange.  Flipper is the first band to come to mind here, followed by a plethora of no-name garage bands from the 60s that probably played with the Stooges and the MC5, but never got the same recognition.  Not a fan of this one, and I’ve never heard of this band before, either.  A truly odd band, song, and a puzzling selection for this compilation, though I’m sure it fits the bill somehow.
On the flip side of the record, Almighty Lumberjacks of Death are next, with “Working Class Kids” and “Gangland”, which are an Americanized version of Blitz.  Both songs are very simple and good drink-a-long songs that ring true of the sentiment many Detroit kids had at the time.  This band is one of the better-known bands to emerge from Detroit, and it’s not necessarily undeserved- the singer, Jimmy Doom, has an especially different voice for an Oi! band, and despite the simplicity of the music, it’s a necessary piece of Detroit’s punk rock alumni, without a doubt.  “Strike First” and “Rogues” are the next tracks, done by the band Rogues.  This is another heavily Oi! influenced band, though they have more of a standard punk rock vibe, as opposed to a drink-a-long one.  Still striking in its simplicity and its ability to please the inner drunk.  “Dead Motherfucker” is the subsequent song, and it’s by Slaughterhouse, another band I haven’t heard much about (given that I know most of Detroit’s past and present punk bands, this is why I find mystery to be odd).  This is proto-noise punk- heavy with feedback, sludgy pace, and despondent, high-pitched vocals that only seem to have one tone.  The guitar sounds like the Stooges’ feedback sound heard in the beginning of “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, but not even that can clear up the confusion I have with this song and band.  It’s just fuzzy and weird, for the most part.  Sublime Wedge’s “Riding White Alligators” is… somehow weirder than the Crucifucks, not quite as good, and one wonders how this band even got on this compilation- this is pure experimental weirdness.  Not utterly worthless, but I would leave an ‘undetermined’ vote for the worth of this song and band.  It leaves one wondering “What the fuck?” and “Why is this on a punk compilation?”  I’m all for diversity, but this is just fucking weird.  Lastly is S.B.L.C. (short for Screaming Bloody Leper Children) and their two tunes “Fuck” and “Flesh and Blood”.  The first is just straightforward punk rock- short, sweet, and to the point, the stuff the band is largely known for.  The second is not quite as simple, though possessing the same energy as the first track.  Low-fi, Oi! influenced hardcore punk, I suppose.  It has some nice guitar work, and the singer sounds pretty upset in a negative way, so it’s not too bad.
Only one word can truly describe this compilation LP succinctly and correctly, though it is definitely a far cry from the kind of music punk from Detroit is known for churning out:  Eclectic.  Worth your time, and worth looking into more of the history of the bands on this compilation, if you can find it.
-Aunty Social

Brain F≠- Sleep Rough LP review



Brain F≠- Sleep Rough LP review
Reviewing this album is a huge task- in short, this is the most unique sounding band I have heard in a long time, and this record is the most intoxicating, catchy, flexible set of songs I’ve heard yet from a punk group.  It’s hard to say anything bad about this LP- it’s just about perfect, front to back.  The only complaint I can register is the inability to read/decipher the lyrics to the songs in the insert printed on the record sleeve.  Everything else is… utterly superb- the sound is unique, as in a type of sound not previously used by a preceding band.  Vague influences do resonate, but this is so loosely intertwined that it’s impossible to compare to any established sound.  In fact, I doubt this is a sound able to be successfully replicated.  Regardless, what is this breakthrough sound composed of?  Without a doubt, it is an energetic punk sound, but it falls short of being hardcore, hitting a X-Ray Spex, Buzzcocks, or Ramones-like tempo and fluctuating therein.  The overall sound of the band is a fast-paced garage-influenced punk rock, but not nearly as simple as that.  The songs are filled with multiple parts with different riffs, and still have the essence of a traditional song; it’s weird without being incomprehensibly bizarre.
The vocals… they used dual vocals, though Elise is the main singer and Nick (the guitarist) swishes in as a compliment to her, the low pitch to her rich, higher range singing voice.  The two voices are traditional highs and lows, but it feels like something more- yin and yang.  Nick is the chiming voice of logic, the one telling you to slow down, to stop and think; it’s the gruff sound of unwanted truths, while Elise’s voice is one of intoxication, freedom, elation, the endless curiosity pushing to expand the horizons of the mind.  Her voice is almost angelic, one likely heard upon overdosing on drugs and dying slowly but painlessly- it’s soothing and relaxing, though subconsciously so.  “Sleep Rough” and “Hand’s in the Jar” are the strongest examples of her voice’s features, and “V-2” incorporates dual vocals in the most successful manner.
The guitar is a humming buzz of waves and troughs of distinct clarity and distant cacophony, so to speak.  Sometimes, it is the driving force behind the songs- other times, that force is the drums, which are always in the background, despite being a strong force of the band- not a lacking influence, just not a primary, direct one.  “No More/More” is the song most indicative of a smooth, driving, energetic, minimalistic guitar sound, though the title track is another good candidate for this as well. 
The bass is not quite as moving of an instrument, but it serves as a compliment to the other two.  The catchiness of traditional garage bands is well-noted in “Marathon Tops” and “Connerie”, being hookier and more repetitious in rhythm.  The lyrics written are easily memorable and not far removed from pop music in their generalization of being relatable and their double-layered mix of simplicity and complexity- not ones spent hours dwelling on, but rather singing.
I still feel that not all has been said- I don’t think there’s a way to say everything there is to say about this record; one of the most enjoyable, unique, and fascinating records I have heard to date.
-Aunty Social

Varsity/ Bloodpact- split LP review



Varsity/ Bloodpact- split LP review
These two bands were part of what I would call a lull period for punk and to an extent, hardcore- the late 90s to early 00s.  However, in this time, these two bands on this split LP were just a couple of the bands holding down the fort, and they weren’t too bad; they brought in numerous out-of-state bands and got many people in Michigan involved in hardcore.  The most notable part about this time is that it preceded the widespread use of the internet, though e-mail was somewhat regular by then.  This was when word-of-mouth was still the rule and flyers were still in use on a physical format; this sounds insignificant, but following this era, social networking exploded and how we would communicate with one another would be changed forever- last of the Mohicans, so to speak.  That’s what makes this release significant- it was among the last of the DIY pre-internet bands for the Michigan branch.
The two bands’ music is decent, but different- vastly different.  Varsity, the A side of the record, has nine tracks of earnest, youthful, downright cliché and cheesy youth crew.  Truth be told, this is the picture-perfect band to listen to if one wanted to get an idea of youth crew’s best and worst traits- naïve, simple lyrics, gang vocals, quick but not blisteringly fast beats, a mid-song breakdown, and collegiate font logo lettering.  These are honest and heartfelt positive hardcore songs written by high-school punks- for youth crew revival of that era, it’s middle-of-the-pack, par for the course, about what one would expect if Youth of Today had still been in high school and were from a better neighborhood, i.e. a more conservative, suburban one.  Fun to sing along to at times, but can grow old fast.
Side B is Bloodpact, who come with 11 songs of hardcore with a raspy powerviolence influence and a level-headed, slightly left-wing political lean.  I feel like the songs are here, but I absolutely hate the mixing done on this- the drums are WAY too loud, the guitars are hardly distinct from one another, and the vocals are too soft to be heard very well.  A slightly personal grip would be the peculiar names of the song titles, but with the lyrics and explanations listed, it’s not as big of a problem, as those are more important than the title of the song.  The music is not unlike the political hardcore of the time, played on a 45.  Short and simple music with long and complicated meanings behind the songs- another product of the time.  It’s impossible to overlook the mixing job, however- I’d be intrigued to hear the songs remixed and re-mastered.
DIY at its finest- always earnest, usually cheesier than Nachos on a Saturday night, and ultimately a fun package of 90s-era music.  I’m not an avid fan, but merely an interested one.  Definitely a piece for Michigan punk/hardcore collectors and so-called “noobs” to check out for this kind of music.
-Aunty Social

Nails- Unsilent Death 12" review



Nails- Unsilent Death 12” review
I’m a little late to the party on this one, but this record required a review.  This is quite possibly the angriest band I’ve ever heard- powerviolence, grindcore, death metal, punk, hardcore, all rolled into one ball of dough to create one absolutely delicious cookie, baked with chips of anger and hate, the dough crafted from pummeling energy and a short list of other ingredients for a recipe to make “fucking angry”.  Though they are what one could call a ‘hyped’ band, this is one of the rare bands deserving it.  The only appropriate way to listen to this album is after a month off medication, a week alone, and a baseball bat all to one’s self.  This is vandalizing music- property should be destroyed to this record- alternatively, if one can locate a known rapist, child molester, or Nazi skinhead, this also makes for fine music to have at a boot party.  This is what happens when heavy, angry, pissed-off hardcore bands get good production and still sound just as angry, if not moreso, than their lower-echelon contemporaries.  This group deserves whatever praise they can get, even if a douchebag football player you hated in high school discovers these guys and starts rocking their hoodies.  Instinctual music for both simple and complicated people- this record won’t ever let you down.
-Aunty Social

The Rival Mob- Mob Justice promo tape review



The Rival Mob- Mob Justice tape review
After seeing an ungodly amount of hype for this band, I decided to see if it was truly warranted.  The intro did not grab me very well- the bass was kind of inaudible, and there is a dire need for more bass in hardcore, and in general.  The first real track was pretty fucking gnarly- even the very timely breakdown had some good riffs, and the faster punk parts were rough and could be a dead ringer for an SSD or experimental Deep Wound song.  “Boot Party” is a tiresome “don’t talk shit” song, but at least hardcore kids are still into Doc Martens, I suppose.  I like fast, and this song was one long breakdown.  “Be Somebody” returns to what this band seems to do well- fast enough, breaks down enough, and apparently ‘hard’ enough; imagine an east coast, straight edge, less bleak Cold As Life.  “Fake Big” has an important message, but again, it feels like one very long breakdown (i.e. having one tempo for the entire duration of the song), and that’s fucking boring.  “We’re the Boys” is, I believe, a cover of an Oi! song (if it isn’t a cover, you fooled me), and they manage to make Oi! sound somewhat modern- I’ll raise a glass of pop and sing this (yes, pop- you all have it wrong everywhere else).  “Philcore for Philcore” sounds exactly like an NYHC outtake- it seems almost tongue-in-cheek.
Ultimately, this band has some high-echelon hardcore that really rips; then, they have some very humdrum one-tempo songs I don’t care for.  Definitely worth checking out and getting into, but worth the endless hype?  Highly debatable.  Come to our fair city and play a set- that’d be the ultimate tie-breaker.
-Aunty Social