Friday, June 25, 2010

Disorder vs. Mushroom Attack

It’s time for The Evil Eye to host our version of the World Cup or whatever all the international soccer fans have been watching lately. Not like we’ve been paying attention anyway, because this one is much more important in our household. Our version is called the World Bag and only consists of two teams—England (via Norway) vs. Holland—dueling over the right to call themselves the Masters of the Glueniverse. The winner of this important battle for glue-huffer supremacy will receive a lifetime supply of Evo-Stik. With that in mind, surely you will find yourself glued (no pun intended) to your stereo speakers to hear the final result. Let’s get a look at our contestants, shall we?

Armed with blown-out amps and gallons of homebrew cider, Disorder made quite the impression upon budding punk minds in their segment on the
UK/DK documentary. This record was nearly ten years removed from classic Disorder records like the Perdition 12-inch, and probably isn’t held in as high of regard. However, I’ve always enjoyed this one much more than, say, the split LP with Kafka Prosess. It sounds like it was recorded on a hot summer night. You can almost smell the stench of stale cider escaping from their pores and feel the sweat on their brows. “Good Luck” might not be the finest moment on this record, but it is a song that those of us in danger of losing our federal unemployment extensions could probably relate to. If you like Japanese chaos punk bands like Confuse and Gloom, there’s no way Disorder can be denied. Anyone who says otherwise has no idea what they’re talking about. Chances are those people either haven’t heard them, or they’re too snobby and uptight to associate themselves with legit punk rockers. After all, Disorder (along with fellow Bristol punkers Chaos UK) created the musical blueprint that the Japanese crasher crustys emulate to this day.

After two name changes, Mushroom Attack formed out of the ashes of Extreme Noise Error in 1989. These Dutch squatters have the distinction of being the band that pre-dated Fleas & Lice, who were a favorite of mine nearly fifteen years ago. Mushroom Attack is a bit tighter and more serious in their musical approach, but you can still hear plenty of seeds being planted for their next band. Some of you might chuckle at lyrics like “we don’t want your fascist system,” but that’s not just mere hyperbole. When Euro bands write lyrics about political resistance, squatting, fighting Nazis, or blowing up cop cars, they do so from a perspective of reality. There’s a very good chance that they REALLY do all of those things. Most American punk bands simply examine the fantasy scenario of such lyrical topics, since so few of them actually live that kind of life legitimately. Not that there’s anything wrong with fantasizing, but there is something to be said for putting your beliefs on the line in ways that could result in a lengthy prison sentence or death.

So, who wins the coveted title of Masters of the Glueniverse and the all-important lifetime supply of Evo-Stik? Frankly, we at The Evil Eye are not entirely sure. I’d like to say Disorder, since they’ve been a longtime favorite of mine since my days as a cider-swilling teenage punker. But Mushroom Attack doses the listener with a most potent potpourri of drug-addled anarcho punk that manages to keep itself together a bit better than Disorder does. Clearly, our two combatants have battled to a stalemate. It is now up to you, the judges, to make a difficult decision as to who the true winner really is. Click here and cast your vote.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Incorrect Thoughts

No, not the English Subhumans, although they did come through the Bay Area on tour last weekend and inspired this post by doing so. I’ve never exactly been a big fan of the Brits, which once compelled some drunken shitpunk at Gilman to proclaim that I “wasn’t punk” for holding that opinion. Fine by me. If that’s what it takes to be considered “punk as fuck,” then count me out. Chances are that dude hung up his leather jacket a long time ago and didn’t even bother to attend either of last week’s shows anyway.

However, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Canadian Subhumans, even years before I actually got to hear them. After all, they wrote one of the all-time quintessential punk anthems, simply titled “Fuck You.” From what I can tell, the Subhumans never really got their just due. They resided in the shadow of fellow countrymen DOA, who worked harder and had a more incendiary sound. Hardcore took over and emphasized blistering speed over power and songwriting craft, leaving a lot of bands out in the cold. You could say that the Subhumans were one of those bands, since they played slower than your average hardcore band and utilized a more melodic approach. If anything, the Subhumans are better known for their bassist Gerry Useless making headlines in 1983 for being arrested as part of a militant environmentalist group called Direct Action. Known in the mainstream media as the Squamish Five, the group was responsible for bombing a Litton Industries plant, which assembled guidance systems for American nuclear cruise missiles. Gerry himself was convicted of stolen weapons charges and conspiracy to rob a Brinks armored truck, serving five years in jail.

Incorrect Thoughts came out in 1980 on Friends Records, who also released several DOA records. It was repressed five years later by CD Presents, who have quite the shady reputation in the San Francisco punk scene. This record is just one example of that reputation. The songs were re-mixed and placed in a different order. Other songs that weren’t on the original record were added. Even the cover artwork was different. None of this was done with the band’s permission, nor were they ever paid any royalties. After the Subhumans reunited in 2005, Alternative Tentacles did a reissue CD called Death Was Too Kind, which compiled their early seven-inches and 12-inch. Incorrect Thoughts was next on the list, but CD Presents claimed ownership of the record, thus blocking it from a proper re-release. Rather than spend their time and money fighting it in a courtroom, the Subhumans opted to re-record the album instead.

CD Presents owner David Ferguson (the same guy who founded the Institute for Unpopular Culture) will get what’s coming to him someday, at least if any of the bands he’s screwed around with have anything to say about it. Get what’s coming to you here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Expand the Nonsense

If there’s any band that deserves to be remembered as one of the best hardcore bands of the 1990s, it doesn’t get much better than Logical Nonsense. Unlike so many hardcore bands over the past thirty-ish years, these Santa Fe psychos knew that speed plus power equaled pure devastation. Never was that more apparent than on their final release, Expand the Hive, pressed by none other than Alternative Tentacles in 1997.

Most hardcore bands tend to write their best and most extreme material when they’re just starting out. After they’ve been at it for a good while, the approach usually becomes more watered down as they slowly begin to run out of ideas. Or maybe they see a potential for acceptance amongst larger audiences whose taste in music isn’t as edgy. Not so for Logical Nonsense. Although there are moments that hint at their future hardcore brutality, the early Logical Nonsense records clearly emulate the melodic pop punk sound coming out of the East Bay in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. In fact, one or two of their songs even had ska parts—including the “hup hup hup, pick it up, pick it up” singing that never fails to be annoying. I imagine that part of the reason they eventually dumped that shit was in response to Green Day and Rancid hitting the mainstream in the mid ‘90s. Once they did that, Logical Nonsense recorded their best material. It must have been quite a shock to the systems of those who were expecting more quasi-Jawbreaker riffs. I know I was blown away when I finally flipped the record over to their side of the split LP with Grimple back in the day.

Expand the Hive
is Logical Nonsense at their very best. This album grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until its conclusion, shaking you like a rag doll the entire time. It explodes out of the stereo speakers with anger at the unjust world that we are forced to live in. Expand the Hive is one of those hardcore records that renews your lease on life, as well as your faith that hardcore punk is the best music around. If you have yet to hear it for yourself, then kill a Nazi and expand your hive here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Demo Alert: Neurotoxicity

A couple weeks ago, I ran into my old friend Jake Skate outside of Gilman. During the conversation, he handed me a demo CD of his band Neurotoxicity. Although I have yet to actually see them live, Neurotoxicity has been up to no good for the past couple of years. This demo is a pretty good take on the dark hardcore sound emanating from these parts circa 1995, with a bit more of the grind/metal element. Give it a spin here or add them on MySpace here.