John A. Duerk

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“Simply being straight edge doesn’t make you better than anyone else, especially if you embrace and perpetuate a lot of the fucked-up aspects of mainstream culture.” –Eva Hall, p. 28 Gabriel Kuhn has done it again.  Nearly a decade after his initial effort to capture the political elements associated with straight edge, he offers us another well-conceived title, X: Straight Edge and Radical Sobriety, published by PM Press.  Without question, it is… Read More

Good Riddance is a band that matured without abandoning their sound, consciousness, or intensity.  That’s really hard to do in music – especially punk.  As many of us age, a separation between our past and present develops that some rationalize as simply part of an inevitable growth process.  Too often, devolution is masked as evolution.  Not for this band.  Their latest effort, Thoughts and Prayers (2019), is as solid as anything they… Read More

Honestly, I can’t remember the first time I ever heard The Exploited.  Late teens?  Since then, they’ve been one of my favorite old school punk bands along with others acts like Chaos U.K. and G.B.H. The combination of politics, anger, and hooks in their music has long appealed to me, especially when you grow up in vapid suburb that could never satisfy your interests.  Now, you won’t find a profound manifesto on… Read More

Even in the punk scene, thoughtful idealism can be really hard to come by.  The day I found Dissent’s self-titled LP (1988) at Toad Hall in Rockford, Illinois, I discovered a great record that originated in one of the most unexpected of places.  Without question, I connect with the band’s leftist political consciousness and I appreciate anyone who has the courage to champion a cause.  So, what caught my attention as I… Read More

Four years.  That’s how long I’ve been in Houston.  I have to be honest, this place never made the list of cities that I wanted to live in when I considered leaving the Midwest.  Most of the people I meet here are from somewhere else and everyone who’s from somewhere else moved here for a job opportunity.  Now, Houston is rather large by way of geography and population.  I have a Houston… Read More

When I listen to Ignite’s A War Against You (2016), I can’t figure out if it’s an arena rock-influenced melodic hardcore record or a melodic hardcore-influenced arena rock record.  In my opinion, many of the guitar leads and chord progressions, combined with the vocals and slick production, make it sound like more of the latter.  Hardcore purists may deride them for continuing down a path that began on A Place Called Home… Read More

If you enjoy H2O’s Nothing to Prove (2008) as much as I do, then Use Your Voice (2015) will be a solid companion album worthy of adding to your music collection.  It has plenty of catchy guitar riffs and intense, rapid fire drumming across the eleven tracks for those of us who dig melodic hardcore.  To me, Toby Morse has the right voice because he can both scream and sing.  As for… Read More