Although some of these tracks have been available previously, including on the seminal compilation Flex Your Head, this newly re-mastered early 1980s harDCore is a flagrant gem of youth-driven über fury. For scraped, ratty-sounding but intelligent vocals, a defoliated and dizzying blend of musical crunch and brief melody, check out “Suburban Wasteland”, their East Coast version of the Circle Jerks’ bitingly satirical “Beverly Hills”. Much of this aggressive aggregation clocks in under two minutes and competes with brethren bands Void and Faith for finely-etched, breathless anomie that attacks war, shitty DJs, and materialism. They even take the Troggs “Wild Thing” for a beat-on-the-brat ride.
Dag with Shawn Brown
By the mid-1980s, hardcore seemed to stall into pared-down, same-samey style or became mired in rock’n'roll ambitions, like TSOL and Black Flag. Then Dag Nasty, a Washington D.C smorgasbord featuring Bostonian straight-edge crooner Dave Smalley on vocals, shot from the genre gate with dizzying, melodic, emo-ish intensity that reignited a generation. Original singer Shawn Brown, caught in these well-produced demos before he jettisoned, offers blistering, bellowing, and incendiary vocal versions of the soon-to-be cherished tunes. Critics argue Smalley added too much sheen, so these tracks capture Dag Nasty sans lube and oil, in its grittier glory.
The Stormy Petrel
Grizzled veterans of UK punk return with a tour-de-force highlighting acute lyricism, adamant pop-on-the-sleeve tendencies, and layered barrages of well-crafted noise—think Motorhead-meets-emo. Singer Frankie Stubbs’ wit and wordplay resemble Michael Stipe’s own non-linear prowess with rough, rancorous edges. The Stormy Petrel is a spirited, introspective, and superbly crafted addition to their thinking-man’s repertoire that sifts through history and philosophy (see Salvador Allende, “God is Dead”). ‘Tis the season to enjoy enigmatic lines like “A donkey is for life, not just for Christmas” as Stubbs waxes poetic, I suppose, about work ethic, longevity, stubbornness, and dependability.
Boycott Stabb Complete Session
Sure, Dr. Strange released a G.I. discography containing this piece of pitch-perfect nimble speed-punk, but Dischord offers both the original album as is, plus a series of previously unmixed and rare tracks left in obscurity. Singer John Stabb refused to play the punk rock game. Known to wear lengthy tube socks or 1970’s thrift store ware, his sardonic vocals and quick wit (partially borrowed from fave bands like the Damned) are in splendid bursting haiku form here. With bracing guitar from wall-of-sound Tom Lyle, the 1983 band line-up eviscerates annoyingly happy people, fashionistas, religious rip-offs, and useless new wavers, all woven into lightning-break songs defining hardcore as an alternative to jock-anthems for the buzzed hair crews.
New Normal Catastrophe
(Alternative Tentacles; US: 5 Sep 2010; UK: 18 Oct 2010)
Articles of Faith
New Normal Catastrophe
In the early 1980s, Chicago brimmed with buzzing street sounds of the Effigies, anthemic punk with fistfuls of melody like Naked Raygun, and the nimble, hyper-kinetic three-guitar maelstrom of Articles of Faith. Dizzyingly fast, literate, and political, they produced albums that eventually evoked poetic symbolism rather than leftist diatribes. This new EP from the reformed band that debuted at Riot Fest this past fall is tellingly titanic. Songs like “Brother John” and “Hammer Song” are resplendent—still soaked in singer Bondi’s gnarly vocals, drummer Virus’ spaghetti-arm beats, and an overall righteous renegade quality that bridges prison work chants to Sly Stone sentiments.