Howdy, and welcome back to another week of No Heroes in New England, where we dig through BandCamp to find the best underground punk the East Coast has to offer. Hardcore is the name of the game here, whether it’s brutal and crushing, a throwback to the 1980s, metalcore, or anything in between. Every week we present three bands who have had (relatively) recent material, but who haven’t signed to a record label or haven’t gotten the attention they deserve.
(To view last week’s article, click here.)
Starting off this week is Boston’s Psychic Weight, a band that I’m honestly having a hard time trying to accurately portray in words. I guess it’s a blend of classic Circle Jerks sounds (i.e. Wild in the Streets- and Group Sex-era Jerks) with more of the hardcore sounds of today like Great American Ghost. The singer keeps his vocals away from growling, but he still has that awesome punk flair going on. There are times in the band’s self-titled EP (all I could find by them so far) that have little mathcore-y moments, like in “Garbage Head,” where the instrumentation sounds like it goes through some sort of punk seizure and changes tempo (and possibly time signature, though I’m not entirely sure). The guitar also reminds me a lot of the higher-register power chords that I’m used to hearing bands like Converge play, albeit with a lot less noise and/or feedback involved.
I don’t usually talk about lyrics, but while listening to this EP, I happened to check out the lyrics tab, and was actually impressed by what I read. “Persona Non Grata” actually has some of the most mature punk lyrics I’ve seen from a band, talking about simply living your life and doing things not for the fame or fortune involved, but for its own sake (“Finally closed that book and I’ll write a new chapter / No one will read it but that doesn’t matter.”), but doesn’t skimp on the cynicism and nihilism inherent in punk (“There’s no prize, no finish line / No matter how you live you will die / So stop living a lie”). And that’s just one song; other tracks like “Garbage Head” start off wacky (referencing the Muppet Babies out of all things) but using that same bit to make a point about intelligent thought in the modern era.
If you’re a diehard fan of what the first wave of hardcore punks did in the ‘80s, but want something with a little bit of modern flair to it, definitely check out Psychic Weight.
Neither this band nor Psychic Weight have seemed to put out any new material of late, but I found both so arresting (in different ways) that I needed to highlight it in some way.
If you thought Psychic Weight still held a bit of a torch for the classic hardcore sounds, then you’ll believe that Nervous Condition lives the punk aesthetic. This is some rough, rough shit here; music that is basically kissing cousins with noisegrind, created to for the singular cause of sewing chaos and starting mosh pits.
Hardcore punk as a whole is an aggressive genre—that much should be platitudinous by now—but there always seems to be different levels and paths of aggression that bands play to and follow on. A band like Minor Threat, for example, is angry as hell, but still keeps a bit of self-control around (for the most part), while Converge uses their anger as a paintbrush, creating a sonic canvas of ire. Nervous Condition, on the other hand, is simply apoplectic. It’s loud and noisy and angrier than Kratos having a case of ‘roid rage and so full of energy that you could run the entire city of Boston on these tunes.
With this amount of rage, though, songwriting can suffer. Although I find the band really catchy and fun to listen to, pretty much every song sounds the same, and the vocals, while fucking awesome, almost always follow the same meter.
But, with punk, you sort of get what you ask for. If you want volcanic anger and noise wrapped in a nice hardcore package, Nervous Condition is worth listening to.
Too often we forget that New England is more than just Boston. Although Boston is the de facto hardcore capital of the area, and where a good amount of music comes from, there are also some kickass bands that hail from different parts of New England. Corrective Measure, in this case, are from Maine, which is a little of a surprise, considering the urban rawness that this band has. (To be fair, they come from Bangor, which is a city.)
I personally think that Nervous Condition is the angrier band, but Corrective Measure could give them a run for their money, what with their insane speed and the fucking incredible vocals of Braden Sinclair.
Honestly, the vocals make this band. The instrumentation is very solid, don’t get me wrong—you’d be hard pressed to find a better set of musicians like this playing hardcore punk—but Braden Sinclair gives that base a huge leap forward, and adds a definite signature style to the band. He’s angry, with a yell that almost sounds like he’s growling (or at least giving himself laryngitis) but a controlled, precise attack, able to clearly yell lyrics at an incredible pace.
As of this writing, the band only really has one legitimate release to its name (because the other two releases are demos and promo material)—a self-titled seven-inch EP—but it’s incredibly solid material, and now that the band has signed (I believe) to Atomic Action Records, there’s a good chance of their discography growing abundantly.
Hardcore is a loaded word these days—it could easily refer to a band like Converge, or a slower band like Hatebreed, or even a classic 80s punk band like Bad Brains—but Corrective Measure almost seem to justify that. Although they play a style like that of those old hardcore punk bands, you can really only describe their sound with one word: hardcore.