Tag Archives: Punk

Terminal Consumption: The Best Punk on Bandcamp, February 2017

Terminal Consumption

A narrow staircase descends two stories below 16th & Mission Streets in San Francisco. Behind an airtight door is a room that was once a small, subterranean meat-locker. That’s where, in 2009, post-punk trio Rank/Xerox recorded their side of a split tape with Grass Widow, who also rehearsed in the former freezer. The result of the recording session, a first for the just-formed band, still sounds like a violent underground convulsion.

The five songs lash and throb, with rigid grooves and cutting lyrical shards about crushing anxiety and dispassionate cruelty. Those songs now appear alongside tracks from the group’s self-titled 2009 EP on the cassette compilation, Mass Transit, which was released on the same day in January as M.Y.T.H., the group’s first new record since an eponymous full-length in 2011.

Continue reading

The Shape of Punk That Was: Dave Hofer’s DuPage County Hardcore Archives

Oroku Saki

In the mid-to-late ’90s, while Chicago was the musical center of attention, suburban scum dogs were also raising a racket in a variety of venues outside the city. Within the “Chicagoland sprawl,” these “venues” were things like storage spaces, unfinished basements, vacated houses, sports complexes, and small record stores. They were micro-scenes bustling with life, and DuPage County, in particular, was producing bands at an alarming rate. There was straight edge hardcore (Last In Line, Strength in Numbers), unhinged powerviolence (Landmine, Kungfu Rick) and a veritable smorgasbord of different types of metal.

The fertile ground of the ’97-’98 era also sowed the seeds for future, more prominent musical acts. “1997 and ’98 was the ‘first wave’ of bands that eventually led to bands like Weekend Nachos, Spitalfield, and Rise Against,” says Dave Hofer, more commonly known to friends as “Hoffa,” who drummed in many of these bands and was a ubiquitous figure in the suburban DuPage scene. “Looking back, it was nowhere near the ‘first wave’ of suburban punk bands, because there was quite an active suburban scene before us, but there was zero [social] connection outside of the records.”

Hofer goes on: “We were from the same area as bands like Ivy League, Gauge and Silence [members of which later went on to form the lauded Chicago hardcore band MK-Ultra], but those bands were all five or more years older, so it’s not like our scene was born from theirs or anything. You can see a much more direct connection between bands who were active in the late ’90s and the present day than you can bands from the early to mid ’90s and today, probably because of the Internet.”

This was not the cultivated, po-faced, poised, working-class punk and hardcore Chicago was known for, but rather a sort of Gremlins-esque blossoming of a group of wise-ass kids prone to heckling everyone (in a good-natured manner) at shows, forming bands based on the Jerry Springer Show (aptly and creatively named “Springer”), and writing death metal tributes to their high school band conductors (Gravemasters’ “Gary”). Chicago acted as a hub to see touring bands, but for those living and creating in the suburbs, there wasn’t an aspiration to be a “Chicago HC band”™.

Continue reading

Back from the Grave: Altar de Fey on Deathrock’s Origin and Legacy

Alter de Fey

Alter de Fey, 1985 by Renee Haden Pouvreau

Echoes in the Corridor, the new LP from Altar de Fey, exudes all of the extravagant darkness and drama of deathrock from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Its lyrics and imagery are stocked with vampires, wraiths, and demons. But if Echoes in the Corridor sounds authentic, it’s because Altar de Fey were there from the genre’s start.

Deathrock originated in California, blending West Coast punk with UK post-punk influences like Bauhaus and Joy Division—bands who reveled in the melancholic excess of death and decay. That baseline aesthetic was spiked with elements lifted from ’50s Hollywood and B-movies, along with a touch of glamour and camp. Gory and blasphemous imagery—crucifixes, blood, bats—raised the level of theatrics. Deathrock’s spooky, squalling vocals, pounding drums, and maniacal, punk-influenced guitars were the perfect match for its visuals, an attractive aesthetic for angsty young adults.

Altar de Fey formed in San Francisco in early 1983, combining the aggression of their punk roots with guitarist Kent Cates’ melodic and moody approach. The group released a handful of tracks before disbanding two years later. Despite their short run, their legacy lingered, largely due to the rediscovery by young goths of their distinct and jarring deathrock look: backcombed knots of birds nest hair, deathly pallors, and ripped fishnet tights that clung to them like spiderwebs. Images of Cates with guitar in hand, black-lined eyes, and carved-out cheekbones, caused a frenzy of reblogging amongst scene aficionados, eventually summoning the band back from the grave.

Continue reading

Call of the Void Pursue Heaviness by Any Device

cotv_ageless-600

Call of the Void aren’t exactly a by-the-books grindcore outfit. Though their sound is rife with blast beats, nihilism, and chaotic fury, there are unbelievably heavy sludge riffs, thunderous crust-metal polyrhythms, and bit of the brash aggression of ‘80s hardcore mixed in too.

Founding member Patrick Albert attributes their sound to the fertile scene of extreme bands located in the Denver/Boulder region that have inspired him to draw from several different subgenre wells. Like-minded members of Call of the Void’s cohort—Primitive Man, Blood Incantation, and Vermin Womb—have never colored fully inside the genre lines, interested more in the pursuit of heaviness and intensity by any device necessary. Call of the Void’s newest EP, AYFKM (produced by go-to metal engineer Dave Otero),  continues to polish the sound they developed on their previous releases,  Dragged Down a Dead End Path and Ageless.

We spoke to them about all the elements that came together on AYFKM, including their punk influences, and keeping the flame burning without burning out.

You mention punk rock quite a bit, is that an influence?

There’s a part in this stoner rock documentary called Such Hawks, Such Hounds where they talk about being old punk dudes that just slowed down punk songs and then became a doom band. That really resonated with me. It really is all just the same music just played at different tunings and different speeds. A lot of people call us grindcore, but none of us really listen to grindcore music whatsoever. We have blast beats but that’s about it.

Punk riffs are the best riffs; timeless classic music. We wanted to do all versions of that. The first song [on AYFKM], “Get in the Van,” is obviously an homage to Henry Rollins. The whole concept of that song is that I wanted to take a sludge riff at the beginning, so a little homage to Carnivore and Sleep’s Dopesmoker and then use it again as the chorus just played faster. That’s pretty much what we do: we like the sludge and then we play it at punk speeds.

Continue reading

Album of the Day: Soggy Creep, “Shallow Drownings”

If you have ever owned a gas station jacket or several pairs of Dickies at one time—and they were not for a work uniform—or if you have memories of eating the world’s worst vegan food because it was all that was available (mashed-together chickpeas and Vegenaise in a hot dog bun, anyone?); if your bedroom at your parents’ house was covered in CD longbox faces and flyers, if you wrote pretentious letters to your distro friends on your grandparents’ typewriter and included a Polaroid of yourself in a club bathroom and some Sanrio stickers (were we pen pals, perhaps?)—or if you didn’t get to experience this strange and tender time in American independent rock culture but find it appealing—you’ll be as charmed by this posthumous EP by Olympia’s Soggy Creep as I was. It sounds like my teen years in the best way possible: all the nostalgia, none of the actual pain.

The Olympia, Washington-Washington D.C. ’90s punk/indie rock connection had existed through the ’80s, but was cemented by Bikini Kill’s summer in the nation’s capital; coincidentally, the show mentioned in the linked Washington Post piece was also the very first punk show I ever attended (purely because I thought the flyer looked cool, not because I knew anything about any of the bands playing). From there, it grew; bands developed fruitful relationships with one another, and these two insular, peculiar outposts of independent culture grew their names and their draw in the national scene, which was considerably bigger than either city’s square footage. The sounds that developed between the two cities (and their suburbs) over the ’80s and ’90s—Hoover and Karp, Unrest and Beat Happening, Hose.Got.Cable and Lync—shifted and darkened as the sounds of the underground were snatched up by a mainstream that was hungry for the next Nirvana.

It’s this era and circuit to which Soggy Creep so lovingly pay homage, without sounding exactly like any of their predecessors—they’re a little grungy, a little shambly, a little whiny, a little churny. There are the faster ones (“Forgotten Skin,” “Eradicated Man”) and the slower ones (“Shallow Drownings”), but the whole thing never strays too far from the kind of mid-tempo shuffle appropriate for a crowd with their arms crossed and their heads nodding. While their previous EPs worshipped more directly at the altar of Greg Sage, this one has an array of patron saints—we can only hope that the band will, as they suggest on their page, potentially reconvene to explore this dusty territory a bit more. Most of the ’90s-indebted bands getting press these days owe more to Pavement than they do Universal Order of Armageddon; this is a welcome stylistic change to these old ears.

—Jes Skolnik