Gorilla Biscuits

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Gorilla Biscuits

Gorilla Biscuits - Gorilla Biscuits ©1988 Revelation Records
1. High Hopes
2. Big Mouth
3. No Reason Why
4. GM2
5. Hold Your Ground
6. Breaking Free
7. Finish What You Started
8. Sitting Around At Home
9. Gorilla Biscuits
10. Short End Of The Stick
11. Hold Your Ground 1 12. GM2 1

"Oh, hey, me from 2005, did you want to say something about Gorilla Biscuits debut album?"

"Yeah! So this is where the Gorilla Circuits started! Rough production, fairly basic hardcore, except there's two guitars and slow parts for you to dance around in a circle during, as opposed to the fast parts when you're supposed to pogoing up and down and not hurting anyone at all. The vocals have group shouted choruses, and the singer's voice cracks like a sweaty adolescent in a bunch on the songs as well, between his sung-shouted vocals about positivity and doing the right thing, and his actual attempts to hit notes. Overall fast, fun, basic, and quickly over. And while none of these tracks actually really stun me per say, all are just so quick and happy, aw, shisse, how couldn't a hardcore sucker like me enjoy 'em, ay Bruce? Just a nice lil' buy, somewhat of an indication of things to come on the LP, minus the production (which varies from decent to somewhat rough and crappy towards the end) and musical proficiency. Not essential, but fun and friendly priced anyway, so why not?"

"Bruce? Who's Bruce? And why are talking like that? ‘Lil'? ‘Gorilla Circuits? What's all that about?"

"I'm being kooky and zany! Haven't you ever heard of Mark Prindle?"

"Well, yeah, but I'm not entirely sure you're really doing the same thing very well that he's –"

"Look, you were so much older than, you're younger than that now."

"Wait, what?"

"Do you have anything YOU want to add, me from 2010? Oooh, that sounds so futuristic, calling you, I mean me, that."

"It does, and yes, I do: While I don't disagree with me that this is still a decently fun album with rough production, I can't really say I like this release as much as I used to. Most of the songs are actually pretty generic hardcore, and the band wasn't very good at arranging their songs in a particularly compelling manner yet. Oh, yeah, and if you got Start Today on CD first then congratulations! You already own the last five songs (and some of the best) on this album. Well coordinated, Revelation!"

"Wowee Zowee, what a bummer! What a great Pavement album!"

"Can you stop with that, with all the nonsensical references?"

"No, not at all. Welcome to 2005!"

"Gah!"

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 04/2010

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Start Today

Gorilla Biscuits - Start Today ©1989 Revelation Records
1. New Direction
2. Stand Still
3. Degradation
4. Good Intentions
5. Forgotten
6. Things We Say
7. Start Today
8. Two Sides
9. First Failure
10. Competition
11. Time Flies
12. Cats And Dogs
13. Sitting Around At Home
14. Gorilla Biscuits

Gorilla Biscuits were one of the leading participants in the second-generation "Youth Crew" period of straight edge hardcore. This was an era marked by step-haircuts, Nike shoes, mid-tempo mosh parts in the middle of almost all the songs, and a weird dichotomous rift regarding the attitudes of bands which saw some getting cheerier and more optimistic than ever (Youth Crew stalwarts Youth Of Today adapted a boy scout pledge to a song, for crying out loud!) while others took mean-faced sobriety zealotry to new, strident lows (Judge). Some would argue that by the time of Youth Crew, hardcore's most interesting and creative days were already in the past (and those people were probably right, as this type of hardcore isn't exactly - okay, isn't remotely - a diverse form of art), but that doesn't mean that it didn't spawn some awfully fun aggressive music along the way. That was, at least, before it finally gave way to the miserable tough-guy militancy of limp metalisized hardcore acts such as Earth Crisis in the early to mid nineties…but that's a WHOLE other story right there…

Back to the topic at hand: a flourish of trumpets, a stuttered chord, a low-bouncing bass lead over a tom-heavy drum section, and then BLAM-O: an immediate thrust into nonstop posi-hardcore catharsis for the next twenty something minutes! On this release, Gorilla Biscuits sound like they have been placed on this earth to make people happy, and if you like speedy, crunchy, brash, uptempo punk music, there's a good chance they'll put a smile on your face too. Taking some obvious cues from Minor Threat (short, tight songs with youthful ranting from a guy who sounds like he has short hair) and blending them with some non-overbearing crossover influence (heavier duel guitar chugging, mosh interludes, and NYHC-style gang shouted vocals), these guys defined the Positive Youth Crew aesthetic perfectly: fast, sweaty songs about avoiding cynicism, putting off procrastination, and empowering the self, transmitted within muscular minute-and-a-half to two-minute blasts. The songs pretty much all follow the same format of verse/chorus (with gang shouts)/verse/chorus/mosh/chorus, but some variety creeps through in the forms of interesting production decisions (tape warps, whistling, and overt melodicism (for great examples of the latter-most characteristic, check out the title track, the killer "Two Sides", and the album opener "New Direction"). More important than diversity for diversity's sake, however, is that every single one of these songs is well-proportioned (read: really, really well written) and contains the perfect amount of punch so as not to come across exhausting nor tedious at any given moment, even with the continual mosh sections in the middle of most of the tunes. The band never succumbs to the all-too-common temptation within second-generation hardcore to dedicate a song to nothing but pseudo-hard rock stomping, yet also throws in enough tempo changes to prevent the album from sinking into an interminable whirlwind of thrashing. Simply put, this is hardcore done right.

The CD version of the album also includes several fun bonus tracks (A Buzzcocks cover! A couple of great additional songs! A bunch of generic hardcore from when the singer sounded like he was fourteen and couldn't control his voice cracking!) and an amusing series of "business disputes" with the band recorded over the phone, all spread across the span of some eighty plus untitled bonus tracks. Fans of hardcore will only stand to gain by picking up this fine album; it holds up not only as the single greatest Youth Crew release, but as an all-around classic of 80s underground punk.

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 04/2010

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