Here are two record reviews from our new contributor L’ami. Both bands hail from Buffalo, New York and share a bass player.
After several 7″ and tape releases Brown Sugar released their first 12″ and it’s a mighty fine record in my opinion. “Brown Sugar Sings about Birds and Racism” delivers nine songs. What makes Brown Sugar unique is how flawlessly they incorporate so many ideas and styles into one coherent sound. The band definitely changed over the years. Perhaps I should say ‘grew’, but that sounds so pretentious… There is more tempo changing on this record compared to the band’s early days. Back then it was basically all fast. These days Brown Sugar takes the time to write slower parts in which the band extends their songs by adding jammy parts with guitar solos that border on the psychedelic. One moment you’re listening to a classic guitar solo and the next you’re back to a fast three chord riff again. Fuck, they even make a saxophone solo sound punk as fuck. There’s so much happening at the same time on this Lp and yet there’s not a moment you could argue that it isn’t a hardcore record you’re listening to. It’s hard to pick favourite songs, because they’re all good and make for a coherent full length. If I had to pick a few though I’d list the opening track “Funkland”, which should actually be called “Fuckland” if you read into the lyrics a bit, “Black and White Panther Party”, although I don’t really understand its lyrics, and “I wanna be a Somali Pirate”, because of its funny lyrics.
Those who’ve been paying attention to this band from the start might recognize the song “Blow” from the ‘Deportation’ Ep, but the Lp version is way slower, funkier and zoned out. This makes the line “I don’t like this place no more” the more believable. Returning topics in Eduardo’s lyrics are not understanding and not wanting to be part of the world around him, but he words these sentiments with a lot of wit, which is refreshing. What Brown Sugar did on this record is no small feat. How many bands haven’t left hardcore behind for “creative reasons” only to turn into something absolutely atrocious? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read “faux coinnoisseurs” say that hardcore is a limited genre that can only be stretched to a certain point, a point reached long ago according to many. This record is like a thick load of phlegm straight into those people’s eyes. Who would have thought a hardcore band could be this diverse without losing any urgency, rawness or fun? Few, but Brown Sugar pulled it off.
Brown Sugar - I wanna be a somali pirate (Righ click/Save as)
Brown Sugar - Funk land
Brown Sugar – Black & white panther party
Plates - S/T (Big Neck Records – May 2012)
This Buffalo band released a pretty awesome Ep way back in 2008. Although pretty much ignored at the time, it was a personal favourite of mine – yes, I’m that special. The three songs on that Ep were angry, snotty, mean and nihilistic, but fun in some twisted way as well. Odd yet perfect punk rock basically. After that record things went quiet – except for the “Boner Beach Ep” shtick from Murray Bowles Maximumrocknroll column in April 2010 that probably no one bought but me. This hiatus was due to Plates’ singer’s departure for Korea. During his absence it was unclear (to me) whether Plates’ days were over or if the band would get back together once their frontman returned. It should go without saying that these months were incredibly tough on me, but my sleepless nights turned out not to have been in vain; Plates returned on the scene last year with two new 7”s. The band had already recorded enough material for a full length in 2008, but at the time no label was interested in releasing it. With the band back together however Big Neck Records offered to do their Lp and here it finally is. Plenty of reason to rejoice indeed! This Lp is in line with the band’s previous material.
Lately Plates seems to get labeled as a noise rock band, but that doesn’t make sense. Although slow dragging bass lines and simple pounding drums do form the foundation of all the song on this record, putting Plates next to bands like Killdozer and the Jesus Lizard, or Rollins band like MRR recently did, is just crazy. Those noise rock bands always sounded way too professional to my ears and Plates are anything but. Instead they sound like a bunch of weirdos playing music for the hell of it. I guess the vocals make all the difference. They add a lot of character to the band’s sound. This guy sounds desperate! The ten songs on this Lp are both fun and depressing at the same time, which might sound crazy to you but it makes perfect sense to me. The band serves a Gun Club cover on the B-side, which I thought was kinda cool considering Plates don’t sound anything like the Gun Club. The artwork is pretty non-descript just like their previous releases. I guess they like it that way. My only complaint is that there’s no lyric sheet. I would have loved to read what their singer’s screaming. I’ve got a feeling some of it is pretty funny, but I might be wrong. This is a great punk rock record for those who aren’t afraid to stretch up their notion of the genre a bit.
Plates – Salvation Morning (Right click/Save as)
Plates – Arrows