Judge


New York Crew EP

©1989 Revelation
1. Fed Up!
2. In My Way
3. I've Lost…
4. New York Crew
5. Warriors

Anyone for some Positive Mean Edge Hardcore? While hailing from the same area and scene as those loveable Gorilla Biscuits (New York), Judge came into their own with a thunderous sound that seemed...well, just plain bitter, really, especially for a positive youth type group, all not doing drugs and such. But regardless of fat lead singer Mike Judge's (uninterestingly, not the same guy who did Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill) scolding of all things "druggie loser", Judge is undoubtedly one lean, clean, heavy late 80s hardcore-making machine. For some reason, I remember not initially liking this band at all. Yessiree, that was my party line at all the cocktail parties: "Hardcore? Yes, of course! But not that late 80s dross...the only band I like from that period was Gorilla Biscuits. Oh, and yes, I will have one of those little hors d'oeuvre sandwiches, thank you very much."

But sure enough, a year or so later, I found Judge's retrospective full discography CD at Manifest for 6 bucks, and figured "eh, why not?". I put in on, and to my surprise, Judge was actually pretty good! Well, most of Judge was good, anyway. Oh alright, so most of Judge wasn't really that great. But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself here. After all, this is only the review of their first EP. Which brings me to my question of the day.

Why is Mike Judge such an angry, angry young man? Is it because he feels "fed up" about people who are always, as he says it himself, "In my way"? Or perhaps it's because he feels that he personally has lost moral footing. I know if I had, I would've said "I've lost". And if that were really the case, then I'd turn to my "New York Crew" for support, because me and them, we are like "warriors" of positive youth, crusading out to destroy anyone who enjoys marijuana or feeling good about themselves at all (which we would proceed to do by covering a Blitz song).

In any case, whatever seems to be irking Mr. Judge, I must say that the anger sure seemed to help he and fellow bandmate Porcell make one scorching EP in New York Crew.

Five songs strong and short as a stump, Judge starts this EP with maximum speed and heaviness, and doesn't let up in either respect until...well, the slow mosh parts in the middle of each song. But as formulaic as these songs may be, not a single one fails to get the hardcore blood up and kick truckloads of ass. At this point in time, Judge was just a two man band (Mike Judge on drums and vocals, Porcell on guitar and electric clarinet), but with both being fairly strong musicians and having a talent for being able to write affecting music in an extremely aggressive vein, no energy is lost in the sameness, and the results are amazing. Although Mike delivers very gruff vocals with none of the melodic sensibilities of like-minded buddies Gorilla Biscuits, the music retains its power all the way through this EP, and those vicious guitar hooks will even work their way right into your head if you let them. A short, but brilliant slab of late 80s hardcore might.

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 07/2009

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Bringin' It Down

Judge - Bringin' It Down ©1989 Revelation
1. Take Me Away
2. Bringin' It Down
3. Hold Me Back
4. Give It Up
5. The Storm
6. Hear Me
7. Like You
8. I've Lost…
9. Where It Went

Bringin' It Down is Judge's one and only LP. By now, the band was, er, actually a band, though the inclusion of two more guys in Judge didn't exactly do much to change the group's sound or music at all, other than to perhaps slow them down a bit.

Frankly, this album really isn't nearly as good as their debut EP. The production isn't as sharp (though more effects laden...condensed sounding vocals? Fade outs? Reverbed drums? Do I have any idea what I'm talking about?), but still clean enough, even with those rough n' tough distorted guitars and all. The problem with this album is the fact that none of the tunes (riffwise or shoutwise) are nearly as memorable as those on New York Crew, and worst of all, they've expanded the mosh sections in pretty much all of their songs to uncomfortably long lengths, sometimes even forgoing the whole "ass kicking" fast part of the song in favor of plodding ponderousness. No wonder I was so turned off by this band the first time I heard them; it must've been my hardcore punk ears rejecting all these icky slo-jams! That said, there is still certainly enough speed on here to keep you from completely falling asleep, but some of those middle parts can be a chore to sit through. And a humorless trudge of a chore at that.

One thing I will say to be fair, though, is that this brand of hardcore is far less in line with the kind of hardcore I know and love, so I may just like it less because it has more in common (only slightly though) with the so called "current day" sort of Straight Edge hardcore than it does with what I like, namely hardcore punk. So if you are one of those meaty xSxEx types that could probably beat the hell out of me any day of the week, then there's a good chance you may just love this album! It's often slow, heavy, and really, really serious, but just not all that much fun to listen to. So if you are a fan of music that isn't fun (but not unfun like The Swans are unfun), then hop aboard! The painfully serious trudger train is bound for your heart and mind! Wheeee!

Can I be totally honest for a moment? More honest than polite? Really, I can't defend this album very well because the more I think about it, the less I like it. How dare Judge deliver me such a wonderfully vicious collection of crushing hardcore with their first EP, and then follow it up with this cumbersome, mediocre rubbish of a sophomore effort! It has been said that two heads are better than one. Apparently, in Judges' case, however, four heads are not better than two. Go figure.

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 07/2009

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Chung King Can Suck It

Judge - Chung King Can Suck It ©1989 Revelation
1. Take Me Away
2. Bringin' It Down
3. Hold Me Back
4. Give It Up
5. The Storm
6. Hear Me
7. Like You
8. I've Lost
9. Holding On
10. No Apologies

This was actually the first attempt at what would become the Bringin' It Down album. It was so hideously recorded at the Chung King studios that the group (wisely) decided to scrap the whole thing in favor of rerecording the entire album somewhere else. Just so that their record company (Revelation) wouldn't lose a complete load of money off of the whole debacle, they decided to release this album in limited quantities. Although the original version is highly sought after and legendarily difficult to come across, thanks to the band's nifty complete discography cd, the whole world can now easily enjoy the awful-sounding abortion of an album that is Chung King Can Suck It LP!

Basically, this album has the exact same track listing of as Bringin' It Down, except there are two songs switched out here that aren't on the officially released version of Bringin' It Down. Not that this makes much of a difference, since the production (or as the band describes it, the fact that there was no production) makes each of these songs so painful to listen to that it really isn't worth the effort put forth to hear these other tracks or the ones you already know and think are okay. So, if you need proof that production truly can be the difference between an album sounding passable or completely unlistenable, well, here's your chance to find it. Whether or not it's worth sitting through this terribly recorded romp of mediocre hardcore to find that proof is an entirely different issue altogether, although I'd advise anyone but the most devoted hardcore historians and masochists to stay away.

In the interest of being somewhat specific, I'll say the following about the production: a) The drum sound (especially on the snare) is so piercing that a headache shouldn't only be expected, but welcomed, because that pain is certainly more pleasant than hearing the equivalent of being shot in the head with every beat. b) The vocals are as gruff as ever, but the backing vocals are really, really weak sounding. Sort of like The Donnas' backing vocals, actually...but with goofy young men, rather than goofy young women doing the singing. And d) The guitars sound totally disconnected from everything else going on in the music.

Given that the songwriting was never really that wonderful to begin with and that the vast majority of these songs already exist in far more listenable incarnations anyway, there really isn't any particularly good reason why anybody would want to listen to this crummy album.

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 07/2009

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There Will Be Quiet... EP

Judge - There Will Be Quiet... EP ©1990 Revelation
1. Forget This Time
2. The Storm II
3. When The Levee Breaks

You know, I think I finally figured out what Judge was going for with the whole slow-but-not-quite-metal trudging riffage! Stoner metal! *knee-slap*

No, but in all seriousness, this is a tiny EP (just three songs long) and sadly, two-thirds of it are not exactly what I'd call "goodtime listening". "Forget This Time" is a tough and confident sounding uptempo rocker, but the other two songs serve as further lessons in tiresome midtempo trudgery. Except this time, there aren't even diminished fast parts in the songs; instead, the band chooses to forego them altogether in favor of slow, heavy, distorted hard rock. The pointless and ham fisted rendition of Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks" fails to move me too, and it is also the longest (and thus the hardest) to sit through. Hell, Mike Judge doesn't even sound energetically mean or tough anymore! He just sort of sounds like he's going through the motions, which, to be fair, probably wasn't the case. But for all it sounds like here, he certainly might as well have been. Luckily, you probably won't see this EP for sale in any store other than on the good ol' internet anyway. Even so, avoid it. The money could better be spent on a multitude of more worthy discs anyhow.

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 07/2009

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What It Meant: The Complete Discography

Judge - What It Meant: The Complete Discography ©2005 Revelation
1. Fed Up!
2. In My Way
3. I've Lost…
4. New York Crew
5. Warriors
6. Take Me Away
7. Bringin' It Down
8. Hold Me Back
9. Give It Up
10. The Storm
11. Hear Me
12. Like You
13. I've Lost…
14. Where It Went
15. Forget This Time
16. The Storm II
17. When The Levee Breaks
18. Take Me Away
19. Bringin' It Down
20. Hold Me Back
21. Give It Up
22. The Storm
23. Hear Me
24. Like You
25. I've Lost…
26. Holding On
27. No Apologies
28. Just Like You

This is a retrospective compilation that contains everything you just about read above, plus a decently recorded single song demo called "Just Like You" that is a nice little romp through midpaced introspective anger. That makes for one positively (er, negatively?) killer EP of late 80s tough-guy hardcore, a passable if ultimately mediocre full-length album, a terribly recorded version of the same album, a godawful EP, and a worthy enough single extra song, all on one affordable CD. So should you buy it? If you have any interest in this band, you might as well…after all, once you have it, you'll never need to buy anything else by the group. And the CD is made to look like a little vinyl record! Really now, how adorable is that?

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 07/2009

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