ANC staff members Sam Sinister and Whiskey got together one day over drinks to listen to some Cleveland punk bands' digital releases on Bandcamp. These reviews are the result.
Party Plates - s/t 7" (2014)
Sam: Okay, so I guess these guys are kind of angry about something. Is this crust? The recording quality reminds me of old black metal, but I think it might be crust or d-beat. It's not unlistenable, at least not for me, but I don't think I'm in the mood for it at the moment. And trust me, this is music I would have to be in the mood for. Dichordant, quasi-metal guitar riffs and hoarse, unintelligable vocals. It's just monosyllabic sounds.
Are these words? There's also a lot of snare drum. The best part is the part right after the intro to the third track, before the singer starts barking again like a yippy little dog whenever the mailmail shows up.
This all sounds really negative, but honestly I like it. Or, at least, something about it. If it didn't seem like these guys thought they were an awesome band, I'd like it even more.
Whiskey: kidnapping quatro: robotic drums, sloppy guitar solos, & proto screaming vocals. needs to come with a lyrics sheet - totally unintelligible (is that kind of the point?), wow, you’re so pissed.
disforeplay: again, i need the lyrics. do punk/hardcore bands ever have lyrics when the singer is actually screaming? doesn’t his voice hurt after a while? there has to be vocal classes for screamers, right? more sloppy guitars but that obviously doesn’t matter since the rhythm is fairly tight. ah & now we get to the sludgy outro & “discord” false ending.
intro/galloping ghost: chugchugchugchugchugchugchugch
the one thing i will give these guys credit for is that they obviously don’t take themselves too seriously. super serious hardcore punk bands lately have often have their heads up their asses in regards to their “talent & vision.” the discorded vocals, overdone snare, & choppy guitar riffs definitely lead one to invest in the name: party plates.
Perverts Again - All Over Again (4-track EP, 2014)
Sam: Decent snotty mid-tempo punk rock, SST-style. What's with the flanged, demonic vocals, though? At first I thought it was a gimmick for the opening track, but it's in every song! Overkill, guys! I like the lo-fi approach to the recording, though, and the simplistic guitar/bass/pounding drums formula never fails, at least not for me.
I will say one thing: If these guys never heard of Nirvana I'd be really fucking surprised. Whether or not that's a selling point is entirely up to you, but it reminds me of high school kids who formed bands back when I was, you know, in high school.
Replay value: Not much. Originality: Not much. Listenablity: Sure, why not. The good news is that these guys seem to have a good sense of humor: With song titles like "Bald Spot Boys" and "Outhouse Countdown", you'd have to. They also have "Charged" plastered across the top left corner of their logo, so bonus points for the referential irreverent stuff.
Whiskey: Outhouse Countdown: very simple, straightforward punk groove & lyrics, very silly & campy, the use of the actual countdown is clever. i admit i snickered at some of the lyrics. “brute in the bathroom” chorus is fun & could definitely be screamed while drunk at a show. so far, i’m liking this much more than Party Plates if only for the camp factor & lyrics that are actually understandable.
You’re Not Taking Me to Prom: this song is definitely making me wonder what these guys are like live. the stage show would ideally be pretty outlandish & possibly with a dash of crossdressing & stage humping. (fingers crossed!) drums are incredibly solid & head-nod worthy while the strings are tight. i’m just now noticing the underwater effect on the singr’s voice & it’s giving me a Jabberjaw meets the creature from the black lagoon vibe.
Bald Spot Boy: the same vocal effect is on the singer’s voice that’s definitely intentional & Jabberjaw-ish. so far i’m not blown away by this track because it’s very safe & typical of newer punk bands but it is a decent song with good arrangement. the drummer holds the line down & the guitarist hasn’t overstayed his welcome.
Hunt and Gather: my fear is confirmed: they’ve overdone the underwater effect on the singer’s voice. *yawn* the final track is a dud, limp & lifeless like a lost lamprey. i was pretty into this EP at the beginning but the schtick has worn thin by track 4. still, an okay song.
i do dig the vibe these guys were going for: surf rock meets punk meets garage with overlays of vocal tweaking but it does get tiresome after a few tracks. maybe i will revisit this & come to a different conclusion but for now, it’s an okay effort.
Cruelster - Potatoe Boys LP (2014)
Sam: Old school! Instantly reminds me of Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and Government Issue.
Lots of downstrokes on the guitar, in a Greg Ginn/Johnny Ramone style, and all songs clock in at around a minute or less. Tons of yelling, in a way that doesn't sound contrived. Just pure energy and aggression. Minus any of the metal influences and tough guy posturing typical of most modern hardcore—this is just good ol' fashioned '80s style punk. Mostly mid-tempo fare (for hardcore, at least), with a few double-time circle pit numbers thrown in for good measure.
Not a bad effort; no sir, not by a long shot. A+
Whiskey: i’m not going to bother doing the song titles because they’re less than 90 seconds long.
the recording is what strikes me off the bat; incredibly lo-fi, gritty, & sounds like shit but that’s kind of the charm here. although the vocals are very loud, the lyrics are still comprehensive. high energy & frantic.
the tired trope of using movie quotes is overdone by track 3. but by track 4, i’m back on board for more fist swinging & energy expulsion through the intense guitar churning, tight drums, & call to arms oi inspired lyrics.
these guys are definitely not everyone’s cup of tea but there’s definitely a passion for yesteryear’s punk rock formula: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Ultra Ultra - Swag Ultra (2011)
Sam: No wave/heavy indie rock stuff. The opening track, "Culture Vultures" is decent: angry, snotty, occasionally off-time vocals and heavy, fuzzed-out guitars with a bit of dissonance here and there.
Track 2, "The T.I.V.", whatever that means, has a bit of hardcore/post-hardcore and emo influences (the latter is especially pronounced, unfortunately). Really not my thing.
The third and final offering, "Chimera (Reprise)", starts out sounding sort of like a bad attempt at garage punk, but quickly goes back to being an awful emo/shoegaze hybrid, this time complete with time signature changes and an answering machine message at the end that was aparrently supposed to be funny, but I couldn't tell what it was even saying, so the joke was lost on me.
I wouldn't recommend this release to my worst enemy.
Whiskey: this seems like the most post punk entry that we’ve sampled so far & it’s going down smoothly so far in track one. there’s definitely a mewithoutyou/tiger’s jaw/glassjaw influence here or at least a band i would have seen on warped tour in the late 90s, early 00s.
there are some chunks to gulp through (typical lyrics, predictable riffs, an overall yawn fest to be honest) but it’s incredibly easy to digest. the biggest saving grace is in the tightness of the bass & polished recording.
this band definitely has similar influences of what i grew up enjoying but doesn’t have much edge to their music. i have to admit that i enjoy it if only for the nostalgia factor (much like a warm yoohoo) but it is unremarkable.