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H ... is for Hardcore

Review Archive:
Various Artists

The Half-Empties Full Bore
Full throttle punk rock that keeps the head bobbing from the first ten seconds of "Repeat Offender" on through the 24 minutes that follow. The lack of variation and melody on the aptly named Full Bore is forgivable, seeing how the Half-Empties write the kind of face value political lyrics that are as endearing as they are cliche. Songs topics include, and here they come: capitalism is bad, work sucks, pollution, apathy, and homelessness. All complete with lyric sheet spelling mistakes. Keeping a straight face is difficult four or five songs in, but fans of speedy, rough sounding punk will dig one of Arizona's punk scene staples. The hooks in "The Recycler" are as good as any No Empathy song. Out of Step Records JS

Half Japanese Hello
Jad Fair and his band create a goofy cacophony of squeaks, nursery rhymes gone wrong, horror folk, and mindfucker high end noise jams. A blessed mess of weirdness, newbies to Fair and crew will probably run with tails between their legs like wounded dogs. Longtime fans or those looking to expand the mental vortex will be very pleased. Love 'em or hate 'em, Half Japanese get credit for doing something radically different. Alternative Tentacles JS

The Handshake Murders Bury the Effigy
If The Handshake Murders was a title of a John Grisham novel, it would assuredly be about a young lawyer working for a firm of psychotic lawyers with a dark past. When the young lawyer discovers he is being tied to the grisly murder of the only partner who was kind to him, he has no alternative but to take matters into his own hands. Where it goes from there I'll leave to Grisham. That would be one exciting book, though. If John Grisham, who was a lawyer, were to sue The Handshake Murders, the musicians, it would be on the grounds that as they have tried to blend death-metal vocals into discordant emo/punk, there is cause for punitive damages. The Handshake Murders, he would say, won't even give us death metal they way we would like it. By simply giving their songs no melody and an unintelligible singer they feel they have achieved great death-metal heights. Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, we all know that growling and minor chords alone do not make good death metal. I ask you to vote your conscience. I rest my case. Tree of Woe RG

Happy Campers Self-Titled 12" EP
This 12" delivers six tracks of melodic punk with a nice punch behind it. The music is well played with hooks and tempo-changes a-plenty with a production that is good without being overproduced like a lot of the more mainstream melodic punk acts. The lyrics seem to be of a personal nature and at times sort of reach the cheese region, but that's OK because the music has a way of capturing your attention. This band is far more rockin' and edgy than most of the melodic stuff that gets recognition these days. AVD Records BD

The Hextalls Call It a Career
Geez, and I expected more from a band that has an infatuation with a washed-up Philadelphia Flyers goalie. This Kamloops, BC pop punk band are trying way too hard to be offensive -- their anti-breastfeeding anthem is just plain wrong -- while homogenizing their sound to the nth degree. Almost identical in sound to another BC Shredder signing, The McRackens (where are those eggheads now?), the Hextalls are stoopid to the max. Fans of pop punk might enjoy Call It a Career, but the feeling will fade very fast. Like cheap bubble-gum, this loses its flavor almost immediately. Shredder Records JS 4.15.2003

Himsa Groundbreaking Ceremony
This is soooo Dead Guy. Vocals like Morning Again. Hectic, crazy, metal. We mostly like it, but there are so many parts that sound like so many different bands -- we could have swore track two was a Strife cover ... we even had to check -- that we just don't know what to think. Seriously, is this a collaboration between Disembodied, Slayer, Megadeath, Trent Reznor and the above mentioned? It seems Himsa has combined all current metal chiches into the ten varied tracks. We're buying it though. Revelation Records MH/AH

The Hokkaido Concern Self-Titled EP
Instrumental bands can be hit or miss, and as far as I can tell, there usually isn't too much gray matter in between. Too bad this release disproves my theory. At times, the band's eclectic sound strikes original chords and has shades of Trans Am and other interesting groups. Unfortunately, other spots are just boring or completely overdone. Restraint can be a good thing, especially with wailing guitars without vocals to moderate them. My friend Nick's recommendation of the band is a perfect example of their mediocrity. Nick thinks The Hokkaido Concern is a wonderful band. Nick also seems to like all jam bands, and thought "Hey Dude, Where's My Car" and "Zoolander" were "totally the coolest and funniest movies ever man!" So, take his recommendation as you will. As far as I'm concerned, the album falls a little short, but it's not a bad start for the Philly four-some. CS

Hopeless Dregs Of Humanity Buildin' Da Muthaphuckin' Revolution! 7"
Hopeless Dregs of Humanity are a poppy political-punk band who bring to mind Propagandhi or I Spy, only a bit rougher and more DIY than the well-known Canadian bands. Although the music is upbeat and solidly played, I just have trouble finding this inspiring. The band urges support for a number of direct action groups who they provide a list of contacts for, but the list seems to run the mundane gamut of Food Not Bombs and Mumia support groups that are not hard to track down anyway. I'm guessing this is one of those "local" bands that amasses a loyal following among the town activist/punk scene, but doesn't hold a lot of appeal for people outside of that scene. They're certainly not terrible by any means, but they're not too memorable either. Ever Reviled Records BD

Hopewell The Curved Glass
Somewhere between art and sex lies a cool cavern of sounds and thought, tempting you like some sea hag lying on the rocks. These three guys and girl wander through cacophony and bliss, kissing your boo-boo and eating you back to life, slowly and methodically. The Russo brothers play in the equally influential outfit Mercury Rev, so this has that general appeal. Essence of the Flaming Lips resounds too. It carves and scrapes with loops and bells to boot. Their drummer, Dalia, is one hot ticket. Ethereal and rockin', noisy but harmonious, Hopewell sends warm icepricks through you and keeps them coming back for more. Visit their site for more info if you don't get what I mean. This is some good stuff and there's nothing like a beautiful percussionist to help make me an instant fan. Tin Drum Recordings MW

Horizon Where the Blind Lead the Blind
Absolutely horrid production values and a very dated straight edge hardcore sound hinders this band's decent messages. Horizon could have easily been released by Conquer the World Records back in the early '90s. And, in this day and age, that is not a compliment. This nine-song album is a mess of thick mud guitars, goofy metal riffing, and chipmunk vocals. Lyrics are political and well spoken, despite the overdone territory they trample, and they get points for putting together a reading list for folks who peruse the CD booklet. Come on though, no one needs to hear second rate Chokehold in 2001. Catalyst Records JS

Hundred Hands Little Eyes
When members of The Appleseed Cast are involved in any kind of project, you can bet your bottom dollar it will turn out amazing. And this EP, entitled Little Eyes, is nothing short of the mark with it's ability to paint a picture of far distant lands and surround the listener in an atmosphere of intriguing guitars and intimate vocals. Aaron Pillar and Christopher Crisci of The Appleseed Cast join forces with producer/drummer Ed Rose and together they created a six-song menu that leaves you hungry for more. The opening track, "A Replay," pours over with heart wrenching lyrics -- "scars on my back. They prove a point. It points to you. And this life. And this world. It's a tidal wave." And as promised by Deep Elm, this won't be the last we hear form this project. In fact, Hundred Hands is expected to be in the studio sometime this year or the beginning of next. So we will sit and wait patiently, biding our time, and hoping that the first listen of their full-length album will leave little for us to desire. But for now the sensuous soundscapes of Little Eyes will do just fine. Deep Elm NH

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Also in Song ...
Song Archive

JS - Jason Schreurs

MW - Mark Whittaker

KG - Kenny George

ZH - Zachary Houle

MH - Melissa Hostetler

RG - Ryan Gowland

CS - Cameron Smith

CR - Chuck Reith

CO - Cory O'Malley

BD - Bruce Duncanson

JR - Jessica Richman

GW - Greg Wilson

DG - Daniel Garret

JT - Jessie Turner

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