Destruction Upon Us
According to punk rock in England in the early '80s, the world was about to face the Apocalypse. Prodded by the collapse of punk's chart popularity and the rise of arch-conservative Margaret Thatcher, tons of groups ditched the pop leanings of Sham 69 and the Clash and got darker, meaner and faster -- kind of a parallel to America's Reagan-era hardcore. That apocalypse never did come to pass in the '80s; in fact, it seems more imminent now than it did during the age of "Video Killed the Radio Star."
Of course, today's reality of terrorist attacks and holy wars don't make the music of the Misplaced any less of a total throwback. Although the group hails from Aurora circa the 21st century, its debut disc, Destruction Upon Us, would have fit inconspicuously in a new-release rack next to British punk classics like One WaySystem's All Systems Go or Broken Bones' Dem Bones (the Misplaced's guitarist even appears to have swiped his stage name from Broken Bones/Discharge guitarist Bones). But while some of its songs verge on plagiaristic -- "Conformist" echoes GBH's "Necrophilia," and "Granted" could pass for the Exploited's "Dead Cities" -- Destruction is a vicious, pounding reminder of why this sound was so vital in the first place. Riffs scrape nerves and hooks sink into skin as singer Amy Shumaker hurls her guts into the black void of oblivion, her voice as scabrously anthemic as that of Vice Squad's Beki Bondage. On "One Day," the album's definitive track, Shumaker races through a shopping list of catastrophes and bloodshed before chanting almost gleefully, "Armageddon! Destruction!" And with the way the world's going right now, it looks like the Misplaced, rather than being twenty years too late, is right on time. -- Jason Heller
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Colfax Satisfaction (self-released)
Booting P-Nuckle's vocalist in 2000 with no replacement on the horizon forced founding member and guitarist Chris LaPlante to step up as the band's new frontman. Typically a move with a dubious success rate, it has since proven sage, and LaPlante has grown more and more comfortable in the role. Smooth but never sassy, the group's new disc, Colfax Satisfaction, belies its actual street-styled grittiness; instead of calling to mind the 'Fax's trademarked sleazy underbelly, Satisfaction is what you might hear if the street ran past the Bahama Breeze in Lone Tree. The majority of the platter's licks call to mind gently lapping waves on a beach of white sand, while the rhythms carry each song along under a warming sun. When the pace picks up, as on "Black Bag," the album shows some bounce in its step, but nothing dangerous or edgy enough to rouse you from the lull inherent in P-Nuckle's clean-cut funk. Still, a whiff of potential whets the appetite for future explorations into more flavor and crunch. -- Catalina Soltero