Wednesday, 4 September 2013

V/A - Welcome to 2013

"For last year's words belong to last year's language 
And next year's words await another voice." - T.S. Eliot

"Punks not dead" - Wattie Buchan



From Not Normal Tapes, a fucking excellent ranging piece of punk curation, pulling together bands from across this shithole rock spinning through a good-as-endless void in an effort to make you believe that 1) you are not a useless insignificant speck on a shithole rock spinning through that yadayadayada 2) PUNX NOT DEAD. Of course me and you and all the other cool kids know punx is not dead because 1) Guitar Wolf are still a band and 2) palpably abstract cultural concepts are not beholden to mortality dummies, but it's nice to have such a convenient collection of some of today's finest punk ragers to throw in the face of people who have, in the old boring way, accidentally conflated their own lifespan and interests with the entire span of human existence. FUCK NOSTALGIA FOREVER.

Like all great comps, Welcome to 2013 is a bunch of bands that I love/like and as well as a bunch of bands I've never checked out that will shortly be bands that I love/like. There are a lot of sweet bands here. Which I review mostly out of order because I'm an arsehole.

Basque country Hondartzako Hondakinak open with the song Nihilismo, a nice catchy punk bit that burns out with a scream and crashes into faster thrashier bloodier punk speed, a sweet fucking fakeout in the best way. This comp represents a bunch of styles, but it skews fairly heavily hardcore. Most bands contribute two songs (a few just one and Adjustment to Society three PV length explosions).

Adjustment to Society, who have, in the finest tradition of great punk bands, already broken up, contribute three brief blasts, brawny female vocals buried in the murk of hardcore-punk. The third song, Hipster, seems to come from a different recording session, as it sounds less shitty. Negative Degree and Bored Straight both come in with a brace apiece of similarly brief direct rants.
Brown Sugar's Another Perfect Song is as short as Negative Degree's shit, but isn't just a straight thrasher like that band's offerings, starting fast, throwing some carnival swirl into the punk, twisting about behind the vocals, dropping into a more mid-tempo kick with a catchy lead guitar line intoning "I KNOW WHAT YOU SMELL LIKE AND I KNOW WHAT YOU TASTE LIKE" ending on some weird-ass caveman "OOH! AAH! OOH! AAH!" chant. Awesome shit.



Good Throb have more of their chill/thrash/chill with Toner Loner but on You Ain't Never they sound a little different, replacing that cutting splenetic with much less prominent bass that sort of squeaky Poly Styrene (or Honey Bane) haughty outrage "You ain't never gonna fuck me in my arse!" it reproaches, bass less prominent here than on the simpler grooves of Toner Loner and the Culture Vulture 7"

I'm not too into Big Crux's take on Nomeansno-style bassdriven punk-funk. That styles hard as shit to pull off without bringing to mind the awful spectre of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and while they mostly manage to avoid that it still goes on a little bit too long and doesn't have either Nomeansno's apoco-surreal adrenaline confidence (though you know that's probably a somewhat unfair criticism considering Nomeansno are TIER ONE UNTOUCHABLE PUNX GENYUSSES) or the shithead wit of a Dead Milkmen number. The song gets better when it gets more relaxed and less funky and more scratchily drawn out towards the end and has something of the oddball threat of Abi Yoyos in it but I'm still not to into it.

That song does collocate kinda nicely in the middle of the album though with Ooze's Da Big Toenail in Da Sky which gets stuck into an aggressively monotonous eejit blues walk for a minute or so before a flailing 1-2-3-4 bursts out of it and tosses the song into a short shot of furious snotty hardcore. That moment fifty-eight seconds into Da Big Toenail in Da Sky just feels like such a cathartic "FUCK IT!" squeal of "Ah shit that's enough slow bloody respite shit!" thrashing out back into the hardcore.

Culo show off two of their most bitten off tracks, in Radiation Mutation and I Don't Wanna Be A Big Shot, hardcore punk attack, less of their catchiness. You know the drill. Self-hate, smash and grab. Great songs.

I saw Mexico's Inservibles (in addition to a couple other of these bands) at Chaos in Tejas and while I like the band, they just seemed to hit at the wrong time of night, when everyone was too knackered from what came before and hadn't yet been invigorated by the prospect of the night's final sets from S.H.I.T. and Sad Boys so I didn't get to into them. Here they're great though, hardcore filtered through evil echoey noise, like a nastier Atoxxxico, snapping little demon vox that needle and pull and at the end of El Dano with the song speeding into its end reverberate out of existence like they're beaming down to some hellplanet. Viva La Muerte burps its way through some fairly chilled yet splatty hardcore, where everything has spiky edges.




NASA Space Universe's twangy hardcore botching is great, Dollar Bill with a rhythm sort of approaching a DK sort of gallop and bounce, but way messier, guitars like electric sparks, dangerous and flickering, unable of settling into any sort of groove, sometimes used for noise and feedback, sometimes squealing uncomfortably over the relentless speed of the bass, obliterated vocals screamed and shot headfirst into a wall.

Aspirina Infantil from Spain's first track Policia is just a spoken word track laid over ominous noise, drums and screams intercutting, kinda weird doing what is basically an intro track on a comp, but it does set up their solid-as hardcore song Ciudad II well and sets them apart from the straighter hardcore efforts which risk getting ignored.

Which is kinda what happens to Porkeria. They don't do too much amazingly musically, but I like their use of shittily strained backing vocals and a good hardcore punk bass part like the simple bit in Domesticados is always a sweet way to break-up a song. Not mindblowing though, and they (as well as Bored Straight and Haute Couture, though again the Haute song is pretty damn good, opening strong and brittle and punchy but not following through perfectly) kind of get lost in the mix on such a long album (forty minutes of barely broken hardcore punch can really fuck you up, speed and fury is hard to sustain over a over twice as long as Circle Jerks' Group Sex)

Standing out in style significantly, Tenement have a great pop-punk jam, a band that could fit in on a way poppier comp than this with the little country licks in the guitar and sweet background vox echoes, but move forward with enough reckles  that something like the glistening fadeout that could read as cheesy if it wasn't engaged it such a constant uneasy struggle with its own degradation, Tenement always maintain just enough sonic fog to keep their in the realm of that shitty little curbgrazed region rock, seeping blood and pus from the infected cuts in their pop songs. This band always feel like they could be pop-rock millionaires if they wanted to, but are way too stubborn arseholes to tidy the dirt from the corner of the room.

Broken Prayer follow that great punk institution of putting what is probably the best Broken Prayer song I've heard thus far on a comp, a bomb amongst bombs. They know that when you come to this sort of game, so many good bands all thrown together, you gotta piss like there's no wall high enough to stop you, killing it like Nicki Minaj guest verse or James Gandolfini drunkenly ripping a movie out from Brad Pitt in Killing Me Softly with total scumbag insouciance. Shivering and stuttering with catchy synthlines and surging background fuzz, and the depressively choked vocals. "I DON'T LIKE ANY OF YOU/I DON'T HAVE TO!" I liked their s/t but this seems like a whole greater beast. Probably my favourite song on this this thing. The danger of such a great track on a comp is that if the song does what it is put together and pulled apart to do, to get you to check in on their other shit, then the other stuff runs the risk of disappointment. Many-a-time have I excitedly purchased an album based on a comp or sampler song only to find the album without the same level of charm and fury that that first song seemed to possess in its dark and needling spaces.


Thee Nodes end the comp. They rule. Listen to them. Fucking yelping weirdos to the core. Garage punk (the THEE should've tipped you off) in the vein of Archie and the Pukes more fuzzed out, simple songs squeezed out fast and seething. I'm tired of writing right now.

Welcome to 2013 could never be something comprehensive, stylistically or geographically, and it's not aiming to be. It's just a stained and water-damaged snapshot of some bands that are making noise at the same time. While it does extend its span across the globe, it'd be pretty cool with slightly less North American bands (I mean Culo fucking rule so hard but does anyone who would be into this shit not know them at this point, maybe their presence is as something of a 'big' name to draw in more people) and some more scenes represented, but the shit here is undeniably tight throughout. The thing of giving bands two songs worked great as it allowed for some odder moments like that Aspirina Infantil song or that Good Throb one which maybe wouldn't fit with their other sort of stuff on their own releases. Broken Prayer, Brown Sugar, Thee Nodes, Honda Honda, Ooze and NASA Space Universe all went in. Everything was angry and nothing sucked. Bands from all about, all raging to preserve a couple ideas, 1) John Peel's maxim about this year being the best year for music is as true as it ever was and 2) up the punx.

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