Time for some more demos. Picked these up at the gig the bands played. Itís ok seeing a band, but you need a little time with the music donít you. You know, a little quality time. Just you and the tape or CD. So what am I going to be settling down with this time? First up isOut For The Count. Pretty impressed with them at the gig I must say. Definite Sick of it All tendencies in there I thought. And this is the demo. 9 tracks for £3.50, so itís more than a fair bargain, though the running time is under 22 minutes. First impression is slightly disappointing in that the production isnít quite as beefy as the live sound, and for me it wouldíve helped. Sorry, I know I shouldnít have said beefy when reviewing a sXe band. Tricky to write about, cos I was going to say that for me it just felt that the bass and guitar ought to be a bit more meaty in their sound. But that would be wrong to use that term. But you know what I mean. A little more ooomph (Iím allowed to use ooomph arenít I?). The vocals arenít quite as raw as they were live either, but in a way thatís a good thing. Thereís more clarity to things, and you can figure out what itís on about. Looking at the lyrics helps with that as well. Standout track is Father, basically for me because I knew at the gig that there was a song that reminded me of the Cowboy Killers and I forgot to mention it in the review, despite making a mental note to myself to do so. But first time I listened, I recognised and well, Iíve just written it. Cool song, the vocals and the kind of melody / chant thatís going on is what reminds me of the CKs. Remember though, theyíre more punk and Dead Kennedys influenced, so maybe thereís another small nod for you in a different direction. And at the moment Iím still trying to spot that big SOIA connection that I couldíve sworn was massive at the gig. Ah, maybe my ears do deceive me once more. This is more old school, not too much of a metallic feel to it. Anyway, Constraint starts things off and is over in under 30 seconds. Lyrically as with many bands of this ilk, thereís that questioning of some injustices that go on in the world and seeking to take a positive stance such as on Walking Contradiction. The track OutForTheCount appears to be a rallying cry against the violence that sometimes occurs at HC gigs, and they use the phrase meat heads in it, so maybe I can get away with those couple of comments from earlier. Yeah, a good demo, slightly disappointing in that it wasnít quite as good as I was hoping for on the basis of the gig I saw. But well worth checking out and keeping an eye on.
£3.50 sorts you out with a copy. Flat 5, 420 Woodborough Road, Nottingham, NG3 5GW.
Though there are alternatives. You can get the demo from their website at www.tamuskett.freeserve.co.uk. Alternatively they claim on the website, that you can send a blank tape and SAE and theyíll tape the demo for you - so thereís NO excuses this time.
Next weíve got theCircle Again tape from the same gig. And itís somewhat annoying and frustrating. The cover is replete with XXX. The old straight edge thing which is getting annoying. It just feels like a fashion accessory, which is more demeaning as a result to those that truly are and understand what itís about.
From a musical point of view itís annoying. Itís nothing groundbreaking, but the annoyance is that which surfaces for me in much punk and hardcore. The guitar buzzes away, a bit monotone, and sounding like itís just playing one or maybe two chords. I may be wrong, given my own musical playing ineptitude. But itís annoying because the bass especially on the likes of Democracy and Education is pretty good. All over the place and playing some nice lines. Like so many bands of this ilk. The music generally tends to sound dull and generic, yet the bass is everywhere. If only the rest of the band would follow the same instinct the bass does. Maybe itís just the nature of the instrument. But even with a band like the Dead Kennedys, where guitarist East Bay Ray was good, the bass of Klaus Fluoride led everything. Thatís what makes it annoying - this style of the music has the ability to be much more expansive and interesting than it is, but it restricts itself. And sometimes it feels that it does it on purpose, because otherwise itís not "real" or "hardcore". Much like the XXX thing, it feels constrictive and a scene thing.
Though Iím dumb and canít make out the lyrics, it sounds again like many of the typical hardcore ethics. Which getís a little boring as well. There are many good intentions, and given this band hail from Northern Ireland where people have been brought up around more trouble than Iíve ever experienced and therefore have no right whatsoever to criticise, it just feels hollow again. The same tales to be patted on the back about, but afraid to take the step outside of the scene. Which is such a shame, because they could possibly do something interesting. Thatís the annoyance. It may seem Iím being unfair and harsh, and Iím not necessarily trying to single out Circle Again, itís just this all feels like it could achieve much more than it does if only it wasnít so concerned about its appearance and standing. But of course, I could be missing the point as well.
Circle Again, 19 Crumlin Gardens, Belfast, N Ireland.