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Smogtown "Domesticviolenceland" CD on Disaster Records
By Ryan August
Smogtown have to be one of the most talked about bands playing the punk circuit today. There seems to be a strong undercurrent of traditional punk vibes flowing out of Southern California for the past few years, and Smogtown is making their name heard with the best of them. Unlike most of the hype that flows through the underground music circles, Smogtown built their reputation on the strength of their songwriting abilities, the previous release of a fantastic album, and a few solid EP outings instead of the usual bullshit marketing ploys and gimmicks that seem to be in constant rotation in the music journalism sector.
"Domesticviolenceland" lays the "old school" punk aesthetics on thick. It's full of biting guitar tracks, rock solid drumming, and sneering vocal blasts. With a line up that includes Chavez on vocals, Guitardo on guitar, Chip on bass, and Tim on the drums, Smogtown pummels you with incredible retro-styled punk mayhem. If I had to make a modern day comparison, I'd put Smogtown somewhere between The Stitches and the US Bombs, with a heavy dose of punk 'n roll thrown in for good measure. Of course, I could also throw around some of the famous names from the past like the Pagans, the Pistols, or the Dead Boys, but Smogtown can hold up on their own without the prerequisite reference points.
Besides the incredible punk onslaught, I have to also give credit to Smogtown for constructing some serious lyrical bombs against suburban apathy. Take, for instance, the opening cut, "Domesticviolenceland":
This new development
We'll pack the robots in
Rows of printed houses
Is the goal for them
There is no clear line
To set or define
Where suburban sprawl ends
And another begins
I'll make my stand
Against this scam
Or for a more defined cut at suburban culture and how it perpetuates itself, "Moms and Dads":
As a young man thought you'd make a stand
Against the parents that supposedly screwed you
But you were way too young to understand
Where your rebellion would lead you also
Don't think you need these people or their advice
There life before wasn't nothing like yours
You wish you could seperate from them
But chances are they'll grow up like you
The cycle continues...
Needless to say, this is a killer punk record. The kind of album you'll be slapping on the turntable or popping in the cd player for years to come. It also comes with a nice set of liner notes including a complete lyric sheet, which seems to be a dying trend these days. Smogtown are a band to be reckoned with. Now, if we could just get them to go on a full US tour...
Smogtown: Domesticviolenceland on Disaster Records.
Layla, Id like you to meet my weird friends. I made them myself.
Smogtown is back with a vengeance, not that they went anywhere in the first place. Domesticviolenceland is the second full release from the Fuhrers of the New Wave, and its full of more retro-punk for the future. Its good, very good. It doesnt quite grab your attention the way the opening seconds of Fuhrers does, but its still damn good. Im not sure if thats due to the production or the songs themselves. Regardless, Smogtown remains the band to watch if youre a fan of original punk rock, and by "original" I'm also talking about uniqueness. These guys are definitely west coast. Id put them in the same league as NYCs defunct Degeneration in terms of overall vibe, but not necessarily sound. Smogtown is definitely more punk while Degeneration leans more towards NYC rock.
Domesticviolenceland is continues Smogtowns tradition of catchy hooks and a unique songwriting perspective. "Dance Asshole" and "Neutron Blonde" are some of the tracks that stand out. Continuing their bizarre obsession with fascism is the amusing "Straigth Off Adolf". A tune like "Sneaking Out" is an enigmatic gem that reminds me that I cant seem to reconcile the average age of the band with some of the content. Whether or not they are intentionally pandering to a younger audience becomes a moot point since older punks can crank these songs without feeling self-conscious. Chalk that up to an honest sounding delivery and the overall burliness of the bands sound and appearance. Smogtowns lyrics and vocal delivery is what sets it apart from the hoards of Johnny Rotten-come-latelys and Decendents-lite bands that pass for contemporary punk rock these days. If you can relate to or laugh at Repo Man, than Smogtown is for you.
These guys are brilliant. If youre new to them, Id recommend Fuhrers of the New Wave first, or Domesticviolenceland if its in stock. Smogtown came through my town and I missed the show. Ive had a hard time sleeping since then. Go get your USRDA of high energy antagonism. Go buy Smogtown. Dont be a dick.
Smogtown at Disaster Records
Official Smogtown Web Site
Smogtown: Fuhrers of the New Wave Disaster Records - 2000
Fear meets the Undertones. Fuhrers of the New Wave is one of those albums that hits hard. Like a sack of hippies hitting the river, Smogtown delivers the goods. You hit play, recognize the "Repo Man" sample, and you know you're in the right place. "I am the Cancer" kicks off the album with bang. Aside from being a kick ass song, it might also be a tip of the ole hat to those godfathers of the anti-Beach Boys, the Surf Punks. "Standard Youth Dilemma" keeps the juggernaut rolling with a tale that any suburban punk can remember or relate to... the shows, the scene, the antics, angst, and lack of transportation. It's all summed up in a perfect package that's only 112 seconds long. It hasn't been this succint since the Angry Samoans laid down their 28 second masterpiece also known as "You Stupid Jerk". "Payola or Die" is a happy little dittie about kidnapping Casey Casem's kids in an effort to combat lack of air play. "Static Ecstatic" is paranoia is schizophrenia is paranoia is the crazy guy on the corner of your street for everyone whose ever heard voices. Ask me if I feel dumb listening to "Teen Age" at 35years old? Nope. It's an all ages aural assualt that trancends mere mid life crisis. "Judy's a Model" may remind you of another famous Judy, but this one's a bit more in depth. The whole album is full of killer songs. I don't know what the hell "Bodie 601" is about, but it's beautiful. it's referenced in other songs as well. Maybe it's a local thing, or maybe I'm out of touch. "The Replay" is an intense pinball innuendo that the Who should appreciate as a worthy successor. "Fuhrers of the New Wave" wraps up the album in a self referential way that manages to be clever and humorous at the same time without rendering the song unslitenable outside of the context of the cd.
Who are they? I have no clue. Chavez, Tim McVeigh, Chip Beef, and Guitardo. Guitardo, that slays me. Tim McVeigh, that's balls. Produced by Duane Peters though, and let's take a minute to discuss that. I think the the U.S. Bombs are boring. That's not to say that they don't have the energy, they do. I've seen them live on tv at the end of some unknown show, for about 20 seconds. The credits rolled and the announcer thanked the U.S. Bombs, and I was blown away. The point is, the Bombs don't transfer well to vinyl (er, uhm, plastic and aluminum), they're just too generic. Fortunately, none of this has rubbed off on Smogtown. There are some moments that are less brilliant than the rest. At first listen, "Freeway Driving" approaches the monotony of the real experience, which may be the point. "Harbor Blvd. Nights" and "Ode to Street Violence" are a couple more that you may like better than I do. Even so, these weak spots can't tarnish the brilliance of the rest of the cd. These guys got a bum rap in Thrasher. "Fuhrers of the New Wave" may be remind of another era if you're old enough. If not, it's bound to be one of those albums that has the power of persuasion for those young enough not to be exposed to the powers punk rock. Godamn this album is good. Good enough to replace my bootleg with legit copy. On top of that, I had to order it since I couldn't find it any of my local stores, and I checked 'em all. That's good. Smogtown has an ep and some split singles that I intend to check out. I suggest you do the same.
Pray for the next Smogtown CD. The retro punk of the future depends on it.
Online Action: Disaster Records www.alive-technology.com/Disaster.html
Snail Mail: Disaster Records P.O.B. 7112 Burbank Ca 91510
(REVIEW BY RUTLEDGE)
When our blackest nightmares have become reality. When fear, rage, and anxiety have trampled our collective spirit. When incorrigible hatred has manifested itself as unfathomable violence. When yesterdays pollution, decay, and social malaise seem like milk and cookies compared to todays burning hell. When hopes, dreams, and beauty have been overwhelmed by a senseless devastation that seems like too much to take.
Now, Smogtowns ominous sonic thunder seems more relevant than ever. Its battering blast rings painfully true at this very moment-----when were reminded that bleak visions are not the sick delusions of hard-hearted maniacs but rather an honest reading of a world thats flat-out FUCKED. If the bands near-apocalyptic take on modern civilization seems disturbing, isnt that because this entire WORLD is disturbing? As we breathe the foul air, step inside, and glance at the carnage on the tube, isnt it hard to just smile and say that everything is ALL RIGHT? No news is good news, but bad news is the rule of the day.
Like last years scorching punk-noir firecracker FUHRERS OF THE NEW WAVE, the brand new DOMESTICVIOLENCELAND is a foreboding aural assault that makes a mockery of 99.9 % of the flimsy feces that passes for punk rock in the 21st Century. Dark, vicious, and desperate, the men of Smog march forth into the abyss and blast their almighty noise. We can take the formula itself----loud, fast, angry punk---as a given. Any dumb fuck can scream over top a couple of savage power chords. Big deal, right? But what sets Smogtown apart is that it OOZES the madness and the paranoid, chilling tenor of the times. Are you ready for an unbearable dose of reality? This is NEW MILLENNIUM PUNK ROCK, dude! And this shit isnt just MUSIC, man! What IS it then? Its a bomb thats set on obliterating the infection thats eating our foul planet alive. Its a monster born to kill. Its a nervous gut set to a frantic beat. Its the sound of despair.
Those of you cats in the know have surely been tuned into the Smogtown disease for a few years now. DOMESTICVIOLENCELAND, which turns out anthems-of-furious-desolation like Dead Actors, Middle Class High, Neutron Blonde, and the brutal title track, clearly demonstrates how undeniably INFECTIOUS negative vibes can truly be. Originally lauded for its mastery of the classic OC beach-punk vibe, this snarling crew has clearly outgrown the TSOL/Adolescents/Social D. comparisons and emerged as perhaps THE p-rock group of the early 00s. Hell, can you think of ANOTHER band that hits THIS hard and tells it like it is and makes you believe that maybe---just maybe---theres a hell of a lot of kick left in the seemingly-dying beast known as punk rock? Fuck! To call this "punk rock" barely seems to CUT it now that the term has practically lost its meaning. Instead call it a nuclear dildo up the rectum of rotting society. Call it a symphony of catastrophe. Call it the soundtrack of collapse. BOOM!
Smogtown is the REAL DEAL! Swallow the bitter pill with extreme caution.
This is not a pleasant world.
"Fear meets the Undertones. Fuhrers of the New Wave is one of those albums that hits hard. Like a sack of hippies hitting the river, Smogtown delivers the goods." Read the review of Führers of the New Wave on the Aural Fixation site
"Smogtown are the most sonically crazed crew of loud'n'lively louts to ever put the punk in the rock! They savagely unleash an A-bomb's roar of California beachpunk chaos furiously raging with snotty '77-style lawlessness... it's disruptive, unrelenting, hostile, angry, combative, and merciless!" -- Roger Moser, Jr. / Razorcake
Just when I thought that I could finally write Southern California punk rock off as yet another stagnant, once-vital music form effectively destroyed by the tag team wrecking crew efforts of the media and follow-fashion monkeys hell-bent on all sounding exactly the same, along comes SMOGTOWN's "Führers Of The New Wave" CD to throw a wrench in all my self-righteous posturing. Coming off as the snotty children of the Gears, the Cheifs and the Klan, Smogtown blaze forth on this new disc with the crunch and mid-tempo fury that once made O.C./Beach/L.A. hardcore the best music in the world, and blast a huge hole in the insipid shitpile of poseurs bands that awkardly stand under the tattered remains of the punk rock banner. (...) Do yourself a favor and ignore that weak-assed, watered down swill being played by Blinking wannabes and mullet-headed former heavy metal heroes. This is the crème of the crème, kiddies, the best thing to come out of Southern Cal not only in the last year, but also in the last 20 fuckin' years. This is it, man. The Messiahs have been sighted in Suburban Surf City (...). Playtime is over, kids. Smogtown have snatched the flag back from the false prophets who have led you astray and have fired the first volley in the holy war to return punk rock to its rightful status as the bane of all "normal" people, jocks, preps and parents. You better pick up your weapon of choice and dig into your trenches, 'cause shit's gonna get ugly from here on in. They're on Disaster.
Jimmy Alavarado - Flipside #123 / May 2000
"Führers" is some kinda concept album ... although I wouldn't exactly call Smogtown's music new wave, at least in the current lexicon of things. Back in the so-called day, though, new wave was the "polite" way to say punk rock, to paraphrase the late, great Claude Bessy. The musical contents hammer home a '77-influenced approach, making me think a bit of the Adverts and Vibrators, albeit with a tougher shell. Pogo-happy tempos, jab ' slash guitars and a propulsive rhytmic bash. All that and still sounding modern. The conceptual premise is someone or something named "Bodie 601" has been sent to Surf City to wipe out the "new wave calamity." Something like that. A rebellious force on the run, defiant in the face of oppression. Rattled out by the drug-dealing neighborhood brat, shot full of tradition and, even if the authorities win this round, they'll still have to deal with "teenaged psychos" after the führers are gone. If this is confusing, the title track gives a quick synopsis. A punk rock fable? You can approach it on that level... or you can just bang along to the spirited sounds. - Suburban Voice
"Fuhrers Of The New Wave" is a ferocious old school punk rock explosion that uses Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash & the Sex Pistols as a detonator. The four piece has the requisite snotty attitude, and you can almost detect a British accent in the vocal delivery. The songs are pounded out in short order with an unpolished ferocity and a knack for a great hook (...) This album is high-octane adrenaline rush from start to finish. Tad Hendrickson / CMJ
"Let us teach you/Beat you up with a sound you've heard somewhere before." (...) Punky gonzoid trash straight outta California.
Rob Chapman/ Mojo
Unlike some of the more clichéd genre discs coming out these days, I must admit a liking for Smogtown's anthemfilled, crunchy punk rock that wear some serious (or not) '77 roots on its sleeve. This has funny lyrics that promote teen angst and street fighting, warn of the impending nuclear threat via television, and call for a stand against the moneymaking "Führers" in America's "new wave" of corporate/societal dictatorship. J. Burdyshaw / Backfire
Refreshing like a good shot of smack to the neck. Mitch Soto / Heckler
These guys are awesome! This is straightforward punk rock'n'roll - heavy on the guitars - not wanky, but heavy. Honestly, this record gets better every time I hear it. Very highly recommended.
JAW/ Hit List
DISASTER Records home / ALIVE/TOTAL ENERGY home
Smogtown have been called the "best thing to come out of Southern Cal not only in the last year, but also in the last 20 fuckin' years" (Flipside) and described as "refreshing like a good shot of smack to the neck" (Heckler). After a few months off, the "new wave city butchers" are back in action with a brand new studio album due this coming September. To make the wait shorter, Disaster Records will release a CD single on June 12th with one track from the upcoming full length and 2 additional studio tracks. These 2 new tracks are exclusive to this release and will not be included in the album.
Ok first of all you know these guys are going to fuck shit up because they are on Duane Peter's Disaster Records label along side another bad ass band The Pushers. With serious '77 roots influence Smogtown's "Fuhrers Of The New Wave" promote subjects like corporate moneymaking bullshit, real life of teens, street fighting and TV influence.... all the elements of top of the line punk rock! Another thing that makes this CD so intense is the raw and unpolished sound that Smogtown unleashes. In a world of polished up neo punk, I get sick of hearing all these shitty studio bands trying to sound like Bad Religion or Pennywise. So hearing Smogtown is to my ears as a cool beer is to my mouth, refreshing and addictive! Another element that makes this CD so great is their use of sound effects to help bring out the message of their songs, for example their song "Freeway Driving" has sounds of a car crashing and eating shit with a hint of sirens in the back! Do yourself a favor.... go to your local liquor store, buy that 40oz of love you have been promising yourself and listen to "Fuhrers of The New Wave" by Smogtown!
Want more info about these punks? Go here, you skinny bitch! Oh yeah we interviewed them too so go here and listen to it.
- Scott Harding
Pure punk energy flows from this quartet out of, hmm, lets see, what city is famous for smog? From the get go, Smogtown is a relentless punk party. I truly enjoyed this disc. The sound is clean and furious with vocalist Chavez. With a name like that you know a true artist is at work, delivering energetic lyrics that cover a variety of adolescent angst and Southern Cali aches. Dead Actors is a slap against the Hollywood crowd, Dance Asshole aims the artillery at those dancing idiots who ruin a good pit, and sneaking youth crawling out of windows to cause some night havoc. The band does not take itself too seriously and shows a humorous side with songs like Middle Class High which pleads with President Bush for help with pot prices. The anthem song of the album is Moms and Dads which relates the vicious cycle as young punks become married couples bearing young punks. Social issues are expressed in Straight Off Adolf, a slap at surfers, and Here Comes Those Freaks Again speaks of the static received from the manicured lawn, whining Southern Californian suburbanites.
This is a very entertaining CD that delivers outstanding punk action. Square pegs and metal monkeys need not tune in.
-VC Rating O
For the past week or so, I've been wearing out all of the Smogtown records I own. However, no matter how many times I sit down with this album and a notepad, I just can't think of anything to say about it. This isn't like trying to describe a band who's overly generic; that's easy, and if I only said they were generic that would be putting as much effort into the review as they put into the music. However, Smogtown is very different. They are an incredible band, but I have yet to figure out exactly what makes them incredible.
Domesticviolenceland is packed with twelve tracks of punchy, poppy punk with excellent songwriting, expert playing, and powerful production. The melody from virtually every song is immediately lodged in my brain, and the lyrics are great, being linked thematically by themes relating to life in Southern California, but never descending into dumb lyrics about girls and the beach.
While Smogtown don't really have a gimmick, they also don't play strictly by the numbers three-chord punk. Blazing guitar solos pepper nearly every song, and a tight rhythm section drives the entire album. In addition, the pacing is pleasantly varied, making a highlight of "Sneaking Out," the album's slowest, almost guitar-less track.
In short, Smogtown are just about everything you could possibly want from a fast, old-style punk rock band. They have melody, aggression, tight playing, and great songwriting. If you like the Buzzcocks, the Descendents, the Generators, the Stitches, or any kind of fast, fun, melodic punk rock pick this up, because it's good damn it, and that's all I can tell you.
Check this out if you like:
Descendents I Don't Want to Grow Up
US Bombs The World
Buzzcocks Times Up
Added: December 12th 2001
Related Link: Disaster Records web site
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by Rich Kane and Alison M. Rosen
Duane Peters & the Hunns/Smogtown/Le Shok/Nemirah/Fast Forward at Chain Reaction Friday, Oct. 20
To get to the high-quality stuff, we had to wade through swill, starting with Fast Forwardone guy dressed in a black hood and a black dress who blinded the crowd with an obnoxious light rig as he tweedled on a guitar to a programmed drumbeat while warbling incoherently. The punkers in the room, unsure what to make of the boy, gave him some too-polite applausewhat the hell has happened to the punk movement? Though it barely qualified as performance art, it might constitute a sprayless, environmentally safe method of killing cockroaches. Happily, our pain didnt last long; after 10 minutes, he was through. Short sets are probably why he named his act Fast Forward; wed prefer to think its because you want his shtick to be over as quickly as possible.
Nemirahs output was standard screamcorelots of belligerent, diarrhea-of-the-larynx caterwauling played out against ordinary race-car backbeats, the type of thing everyones heard umpteen times from umpteen punk bands. Then someone in the band stepped up and announced their version of what was amiss: "Bear with us, were missing a guitar player." Ohwell, that just explains everything right there, now! Really, we didnt think they wouldve been helped much by another axe; considering the overall blandness of their act, such an addition might have made them even worse. They apparently didnt think too highly of themselves, either: near the end of their set, the singer offered, "We have two more, [and] then the bands you want to see will play." Two songs later, we overheard an amateur critic offer this assessment: "I give them about a negative 7."
We were also disappointed by Le Shok. Perhaps we were set up by their "She Prefers Whips" track on Vegas Records Hey Bro 4 compilation. Wed also heard of their allegedly nasty live reputationshock antics! Random destruction! Total chaos! Virgin sacrifices! Ass play! (Um, maybe not those last two)but none of these entertainments were present on this night, so we endured 20 minutes of rather uninteresting keyboard meanderings and electro-whatzitssorta like new wave on Quaaludespounded out by a bunch of necktied men who looked restrained, as if they wanted to break out but couldnt. Perhaps this was their G-rated show, done to placate the all-ages crowd?
As for Smogtown, they were real charmers/ poseurs, berating the crowd by calling us a "bunch of fuckin idiots" before they even played a note (to which we can now retort, "Guess we must bewed heard that Smogtown actually had talent."). Smogtown were far too ordinary to make any sort of impact ("D-minus," spouted our roving critic friend). And what was with their beret-wearing bassist? He looked almost as geeky as Mick Jones did in the "Rock the Casbah" video.
After this long parade of mediocrity, skatepunk king Duane Peters and his band the Hunns appeared and cleared the air with a blast of pure, untainted 1977-style punkthe kind that has actual, discernable melodies. Duane was sporting a mysterious black ring around one eye, which couldve been a souvenir from a recent brawl or a bad eyeliner accident either one wouldnt have surprised us; the missing front teeth are quite real. Duane Peters & the Hunns crunch had more of a sense-of-purpose appeal than any other band this night, with such fine up-yours statements as their death-to-the-wifebeater-tank-nation anthem "Nuke HB" (our Song of the Year nominee), which rained down like a flurry of H-bombs. Whats more, you could tell Duane really feels this shitthe lad is peeved, and you cannot leave a Hunns show without knowing this. Call Duane a poseur if you want to, but hell eat your face off. (Rich Kane)
SMOGTOWN - Fuhrers Of The New Wave Lp Disaster
Vocalist for the U.S. Bombs, Duane Peters' new label is off to a fine start. Following a 40 some song comp. "Old Scars and Upstarts", he's got a couple of full lengths out by the Pushers and the subject in question, the excellent Smogtown Lp. This record is pure punk rock joy and glory as this new band cranks out thirteen catchy tunes in the spirit of early Adolescents and Descendents with perhaps some Buzzcocks and S.L.F. thrown in. It just keeps getting better with each listen. This should be large. dave aardvark
Smogtown returns with a fully loaded barrage of tracks. Their last album had you fiending for more and this album delivers it. These guys are SoCal's finest beach punk band: old-style guitars blaze, heavy surf-style drums pound you and Chavez tells it like it is. From the opening title track, (one of my faves) they pick up where they left off attacking suburban America once again; this time for it's mass development of tract homes. Other songs paint old pictures of adolescents like Here Comes Those Freaks Again; you know when you and your punk friends would walk down the street and everyone would stop and stare. Think Suburbia. Sneaking Out details when my brother and friends would wake me up in the middle of the night to go skate the Tilt Pool and all the things that we'd encounter in between. And just like all their releases, every song kicks ass. Good album, great band-highly recommended.-Mitch S.heckler magazine.