FOSTER CARE Bad Vibe City LP
The name alone conjures images of screaming brats, covered-up systematic abuse, and future employees of the state penitentiary.
The music itself crashes your party, steals your beer, then steals your girlfriend, kicks a hole in the wall, and then careens back out into the night, once again on the endless search for more kicks. This is their idea of fun, and fuck you if you ain’t ready for it.
Seeing Foster Care play is not a passive experience. A flurry of flying elbows, toxic sweat, broken gear, and bug-eyed intensity forces you to make a decision: Dive head-first into the chaos, or slink back into the corner; safe, dry, bored. Every Foster Care show is an eviction party, and their bodies are the soon-to-be-abandoned houses (no temples here). Anything goes, short of setting them on fire (actually, that’s probably OK too). Fittingly, Foster Care makes you feel like a kid again, hopped up on sugar (or the adult-equivalent), with no responsibilities and no worries.
Harnessing the speed of early 80s hardcore, the snot of prime Killed By Death punk, and the grit and grime of their New York City environs, Foster Care are channeling all of their pent-up neuroses and aggressions into first-rate scum anthems. Their debut LP, Bad Vibe City, is an aptly-titled journey through the underbelly of “The Greatest City in the World.” You may need a shower afterwards (sample lyric: “sucking on a hobo’s cock”), but you’ll be humming these tunes as you scrape the filth off of your body.
But this is no one-note “rager” of a record. On the surface, the 5 AM lament of “Don’t Make Me” could be mistaken for the kind of sappy pop-punk ditty that lesser bands have made a career out of; but there’s real emotion as singer Chris Teenager tells us how she not only stole his heart, but also took off “with my money.” Hey, this is New York City, and love don’t come cheap. Even on fuck-you sing-alongs like “Don’t Want To/Don’t Need To” the melodies come fast and furious. And don’t mistake these miscreants for dummies: the lurching swing of “Death on The Installment Plan” references infamous nihilist French novelist Louis-Ferdinand Celine.
Half of Foster Care are NYC-born and -bred. The other half (also half of the excellent Ex Humans) came crawling out of the South, hungry for the kind of oblivion and transcendence only the Naked City can provide.
Echoes of New York’s glorious punk past can be heard in these grooves. The swagger of the Dead Boys, the putrid stench of The Mad, the ferocity of Heart Attack, and the staring-down-the-barrel-of-a-gun intensity of the Testors (drummer Josh Martin, formerly of Carbonas and BeatBeatBeat, is the lead guitarist in Testors mainman Sonny Vincent’s current band) runs through the veins of the young guns that make up Foster Care.
Buy the record, go see them play, lock up the booze, keep your girlfriends at a safe distance, and get ready to party. Foster Care is coming, and, judging by the maniacal gleam in their eyes, they mean business.
CALL OF THE WILD 7"
While you were in school studying the three Rs (readin’ ritin’ ‘rithmetic), the three born rockers in Call of the Wild were boning up on the three Ms (Motorhead Metallica Misfits).
Call of the Wild (COTW) are living, fire-breathing proof that Brooklyn NY is not just a playground for animal-collecting, beard-pruning, soft-chin-stroking hypesters. There are, in fact, real, red-blooded rockers amidst the sea of gauzy Garagebands, and COTW might just be the bloodiest of them all. They have a solid pedigree; skin-pounder Allison was in notable psych-rock unit Awesome Color; axe-wielder/main shouter Johnny was in AC off-shoot, Used to Be Women, while youngblood Max was in Nashville upstarts, Turbo Fruits.
On their debut 7-inch, Call of the Wild break loose with two meaty cuts of in-your-face ferocity. “The Call” opens with a blistering guitar riff, then divebombs into NWOBHM stomp, making time for alternately vicious and ominous vocals, and of course, a ripping solo. Filtering that kind of nasty hard rock through a Midwestern basement punk sensibility, COTW recalls underrated shitkickers like The Dogs (of “Slash Your Face” fame) and even a tougher take on the Suicide Commandos (whose own “Call of the Wild” may be an inspiration). “Tightrope” brings the groove, a horny ass-shaker that begs to be fingered on a jukebox’s controls. Hey, it’s a sweaty Friday night at your local watering hole. Loosen the tie. Pull the stick outta yer ass. Call of the Wild is howling from the hills. Answer them.
Pampers. I would forgive you if you were grossed out by that name. I would understand if you quickly flipped passed one of their 45s at the record store. Bug-eyed demon smile cackling at you with a wink and a snarl. But don’t be afraid. Snatch it up. Back at your home, where you are safe, put it on the turntable. You will shit yourself with glee as the waves of psyched-out garage punk pummel you into submission. Sometimes getting smacked in the face is refreshing; necessary.
Early Pampers material could have been somewhat accurately described as “Spits doing lines with Thee OhSees,” but these days the band has carved out its own identity. They seem to fit on any show, always providing a loud, messy blare, but focused; serious fun. The kind of band you just surrender to, and dance like a fool, beer flying every which way. Mongo vox, cranked Vox, primitive yet precise drumming, a cloud of warped sonics swirling above the rock n’ roll thud; Pampers delivers.
And that is the case on their new single (numero dos for the band). The A-side features “Guts,” a bad trip you can dance to, and “Rat Hole,” a short n’ sinister lil’ ditty that recalls prime Urinals. On the flip is the more melodic “Lies,” a cavernous rock n’ roll song that will get trapped in your head, pacing back n’ forth. It doesn’t make sense, but Pampers gets under your skin. A rash that you welcome, it feels good to scratch.