I Didn’t Do A Top Ten List Because… – Column

I Didn’t Do A Top Ten List Because:

by Scott Hefflon

  • 1) It sounded like a long, grueling process to skim a year’s worth of magazines trying to separate the timeless from the filler.
  • 2) I thought other staffers would enjoy affirming something and get close enough to the whole picture so my 2 cents wouldn’t be necessary.
  • 3) I left it to the last minute, as with all assignments.

But upon seeing the slant of the faves (not that their picks are invalid, I just wanted a broader scope), I decided to be the one to name-drop the good bands in the dime-a-dozen genres. Namely punk (and all its sub-classifications), metal (with its many offshoots), and unsigned Boston bands. Then I fixed myself a very large drink.


  • 1) Punk: Both new school and old school punk have hard-bound textbooks of Ps and Qs. While it’s repeatedly arguable whether new OLD SCHOOL PUNK is actually contributing anything aside from more (and the fact that they can tour ’cause they’re under 40), there’ve been a bunch of decent bands. Besides Rancid, there’re way too many to mention and I usually prefer my battered vinyl originals and 4th generation dubbed tapes to the crystal-clear sound of new bands playing old styles anyway. NEW SCHOOL PUNK seems to mean you can sing a melody, know what harmonies are, and don’t necessarily dress like a “Welcome to London” postcard. The obvious favorites would be NOFX, Guttermouth, the Vandals, The Queers, and the return of the Descendents. Duh. New new school punk is more of a regional thing, and one person’s faves might be seen as trite pop/rock sell-out bullshit derived from the greats. While Lag Wagon, No Doubt, Klover, and Nerf Herder all tickle various parts of my fancy, each alone doesn’t have the impact or staying power to be considered great.
  • 2) Metal: As with punk, if you developed an affiliation with a certain style (i.e. sub-genre) at an impressionable age, chances are your faves are still your faves despite the fact that they’ve never gone anywhere new with it. Bands cranking out records that sound just like everything else they’ve ever done can either be considered filler or sticking to the roots. The rules of metal are even stricter than those of punk, and over a decade of squabbling in Hit Parader and RIP (R.I.P., I always wanted to say that) has shown me the “Mötley Crüe or Ratt?” issue still lingers, and Dokken is allowed to release a new album. Wasn’t solo Vince Neil enough? Anyway, here are some favorites spanning the heavy genre that released innovative new releases: Sepultura, Slayer, Crisis, Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, At The Gates, Moonspell, and White Zombie. Pantera/Down plod along their own course, but they inspired dozens of mediocre bands to shuffle that backwoods shuffle, and I just don’t care. Good powermetal is almost a oxymoron, but Manowar, Nevermore, Overkill, and a few others don’t suck. (Was that the sound of my credibility dropping?)
  • 3) Unsigned Boston bands: I dislike doing this because “Why didn’t you mention us?” whining is a free call. (Yet another anti-local band essay saved for another time, another place, and if all goes well, another magazine.) Spanning the genres, exceptional Boston bands are Splashdown, Bentmen (live), Showcase Showdown, Women of Sodom (live), The Cretins, Upper Crust, and pretty much anything on CherryDisc (Tree, Otis, Quintaine Americana, etc). That’s not a suck up, that’s the way I see it.
  • 4) Other: Local H has better lyrics and more heartfelt presentation than any, uh, indie rock band I know of. While most is radio-ready drivel to me, this two-man-band is spectacular. (While rhyming “copacetic” with words/phrases like “pathetic,” and “just don’t get it” was ingenious and rivaled last year’s “Mayonnaise and Malaise,” it became a “hip” word used by the same losers who cliché rather than create, and corrupt profundity with overuse.) Also, I’d like to give three cheers (or better yet, one sampled cheers looping over 150+ BPMs) to Happy Hardcore. This “new thing” has the potential of blending the pelvic thrust of techno, the umph of metal, the tongue-in-cheek humor of punk, the well-researched assimilation of recorded material of the DJ, and the crystalline sound of a great producer. While the style’s fresh and new and still getting glutted with half-assed interpretations, Happy Hardcore may provide an alternative to the white-bread-washed alterna/mainstream.