Welcome to Pittsburgh… Don’t Move Here compilation (Cruel Noise Records)
I love Pittsburgh. That’s it, I love Pittsburgh and I appreciate that they’re asking me not to move there and I respect that. One of my favorite times and first time(s) ever going to Pittsburgh was coming into the city from the South and cutting into a mountain, going through a tunnel, and being barfed out into the center of a huge metropolitan city. That feeling was felt like living in a sci-fi movie as if I was docking a ship and walking into a secret moon colony. From that second forward I loved to visit Pittsburgh. My second time in Pittsburgh that stands out was a time I was driving in from the North, as I grow closer to the city, the four-lane highway is, on each side of me, completely empty. This is the middle of the day. I first I thought it was just an odd unique traffic happenstance but then I started to worry. I started to think in ways that a brain does when things are so beyond the norm that you completely think the worst has happened; an airborne toxic event, a mass aeromedical evacuation, did I miss an air defense warning condition alert, did I drive into an active decontamination area of military significant fallout, was I in a blast wave diffraction, a cataclysmic global life removing quirk that I somehow avoided when I stopped for Thai food, an earthquake, a plague. I drove into a parking lot, went inside the nearest store and found all of the store customers and the employees around a tiny black-and-white TV watching the Steelers play. It melted my heart and further increased my love for the city of Pittsburgh. Why did I tell you those two seemingly unrelated stories? Well, it’s because I think that those two stories go hand-in-hand with the theme of this compilation. This compilation is moving, from outer space seemingly, terrifying, and charming. The mix of music and styles from the city is unique and perplexing and certainly fits in line with the complex life we have here in the rust belt/middle west. The desperation that each of these bands have as well as a camaraderie and a uniqueness that really makes me wish that they would let me move to Pittsburgh. Starting off with Heavy Discipline the song “Lockstep” really is a perfect tune to set the pace of this record. Living World is pure brutality and mayhem. Loose Nukes pop in with “Roundhouse“ and it’s a pretty great straight up hard-core song with a nod to New York 80sHC and lyrically focused on the injustices of the justice system. Speed Plans is next with another forceful song. I’m betting that Speed Plans are a band that everybody’s friends with considering the picture on their page of the booklet is a dude just holding a beer. He seems like he’s the life of the party. Peace Talks with Tyna’s vocal delivery is really pushing this song over the top. Rat-Nip and Necro Heads close out side one with two blasts of chaos. Detainees hit us with a snotty hardcore brilliance similar to Career Suicide. Invalid jump in with “Stupid Pills” which is a scathing look at society. De Rodillas come in with powerful tune similar to Peace Talks. No Time is an Oi mid tempo stomper that toss in a little bit of Sheer Terror. Chiller is off the map with an unstable kinetic energy. White Stains with “Let’s Die” plop in for some nihilism in a 77 kind of way. And closing out the LP is S. L. I. P. with “Daddy‘s Little Girl part two“ and it’s a herky-jerky weirdo creepy terrifying song and I love it.
The only setback I have with this is that only 5 of the bands contributed lyrics to their page in the booklet. Whatever, right? Their call but in lieu of me aligning to what they are angry about or position on issue or what have you, I’ll have to make their absence of vocal clarity bend to what I want so I’ll decide to assume that every line I can’t make out must be about eating boo-berry cereal and farting on their bed pillow before they go to sleep…. works for me ¯_(ツ)_/¯ (JD)
Holy crap! Stay off my lawn you little snot-nose kids! I am pretty certain that these guys are dads that are just fucking frustrated with the day today of all the banal globs of garbage that we go through. Their music is refreshing and nuanced hardcore that harkens back to the early days when it was cool to go outside the lanes. “I Don’t Care” starts off with ripping guitars and then the chorus “who are you?, I don’t wanna know” I feel it and agree. I was talking to my pal Will last night and I told him I have enough friends. I don’t really want to meet or make room for new people and somehow Headcheese was able to fit that entire sentiment of that conversation into 52 seconds and capture the tone and emotion perfectly. By the time they get to cut 3, “Po Po”, all bets are off, all guard rails have been removed. It just explodes with an amazing and ridiculous and Animal-esque TM perfect drum intro which feeds right into “you got a dad, and he’s the best, he got you ice cream, when your aced test, he’s wit the Po Po, that’s a no- no”. “12 years of working fucking hard, and the only thanks I get is when I manicure a yard” from the song “Invalid” addressing school and jobs and the lies we’re fed as children and adults wherein if you work hard you’ll “be the best”. Here’s the thing about this that put it a cut above a lot of hard-core and music in general right now. It has an aggression to it that is rooted in the despondent and boring life. The energy of the music is the chaos of the universe and the lyrics are arranged in a way that is self conflict between wanting to do more /be more and also giving in to your life as the arc of time decides where you’re going to be no matter what you thought in the beginning. It’s as though the endless boredom has given way to a biped stumbling from a dried riverbed’s alluvium on its way to harness the dim power of it’s larval pin sized brain funneled into “day in and day out” to feeling that it can be more and bigger but in the end, it is what it is. Seriously, I got this record and I heard it and I loved it so much that I ordered another one for my buddy Derek. I feel like Headcheese would be best buddies with the Thee Elder Gods from Kalamazoo, MI.
First things first, I’m a total jerk. Hands-down, I’m not covering anything, I’m not going to hide behind the pandemic. I’m not going to hide behind the fact that someone nearly stole my identity, I’m not going to hide behind guns shipped in my name across the United States, I’m not going to hide behind any family illness, I’m not going to hide behind moving, I’m not going to hide behind anything. I received this record over a year ago and simply due to my laziness, I have not addressed it in the respectful and proper way that it should’ve been addressed. So, without any further ado, let me tell you about this Groupie Ephemeral LP. For starters the cover has me completely perplexed. I can’t tell if these are dried little mushroom caps, flower petals or over priced healthy beet chips from your local over priced grocer. They are maroon and bruised in color and it’s haunting and compelling at the same time. The record itself (as you can see from the photo) is also maroon. Here’s the juice of it, the music is haunting and unique but familiar. Calling this post-punk, although accurate, does a disservice to all the other things that it’s not and all the other things that it is. This LP has a mid to late 80s 120 minutes feel to me with a little bit of mid era DC crossover stuff like Jawbox. I get a little bit of a feeling that they think of themselves as rockers but in my opinion they are far better than that. They are not dazzling or overpowering with riffs. They just belt it out, earnestly, with passion filled and uniquely poignant lyrics. Groupie starts right in and blamo! gosh, I don’t know who exactly is singing (is it Ashley or Johanna) but regardless, when they get to the lyric “give up on perfection“ it socks ya right in the chest. By the time you get to the song “Industry” they’ve taken on a slight swagger, an almost Patti Smith feel in the cadence and delivery. We’re still on the first side when “Thick as Glue” comes on with a haunting guitar and lyrics that seem to cut to the heart of misguided macho and hipster male worship that comes at young women. It’s partially because I have a young daughter that is continually subjected to this type of junk but also, it’s because Groupie is quick to leave the fashion hero worship garroted in a pile that I like this sing so much. This is certainly worth a listen and who knows, now that shit is getting back to normal, we might get the chance to see them live somewheres. (JD)