The five songs featured on this one-sided 12-inch were previously released as a seven-inch for a European tour that Poison Planet undertook in 2011. Feeling that the songs required a much more expansive presentation, a decision was taken to work towards a more representative release for the home, American, market (I use the word "market" advisedly as this is clearly not some marketing ploy to gain extra sales and income for the band). As such, the 12-inch version of the Boycott Everything EP was born.
The first aspect of this EP to consider is obviously the music--urgent, frantic, scratchy hardcore that certainly harks back to a variety of hardcore sounds heard across the U.S.A. (and other parts of the world) in the 1980s, although there is a definite East Coast feel to this release. These are short, sharp attacks on the senses that niggle away with a lack of purity of sound. Much in the same way that bands like Void would leave you feeling battered and bruised, Poison Planet has a similar effect, albeit by employing a slightly more accessible musical approach. This is the sound of people who are fed up with being taken for granted, ignored and abused, those who have been threatened, displaced and downtrodden: this is angry music, venting a rage that comes from deep within oneself and which needs to be released, much like a kettle boiling over when the automatic off switch fails to work, in order to fight back or at least make a stand.
Secondly there is the message. This aspect is maybe not so easily discernible directly through listening to the songs themselves, but the lyric sheet certainly points you in the direction from which this band comes from. In addition, the package itself includes more reading material in which views on a variety of issues are discussed. Although these issues might have been seen as being the preserve of the more narrow punk community, in recent years it appears that there has been a groundswell of support for some of the views espoused here. Certainly the Occupy movement is not just the domain of punks and the wider fight against capitalism is a sign that finally more people are willing to stand up and show their disapproval of the actions of the minority.
Finally there is the whole "package" around this release. Included is a large poster and insert with lyrics and other writing from the band, along with name checks for a number of authors/books that are relevant to what Poison Planet is attempting to convey. Add to that one side of the vinyl depicting a pictorial representation of the state of society and this is a well thought out piece of work.
Songs like "Liquor Flesh Trade" are a call to arms to reject the drinking mentality that is prevalent, certainly within the society that I live in. I am not sure whether or not the band members are straight edge, although the cover art includes the statement "XXXX We Can Fight XXXX We Can Win XXXX" around its edges, which implies the possible abstention from partaking in alcohol. Personally, I like alcohol and do utilize it for pleasure, and at times to provide a haze from some of the shit that life brings. I won't apologize for that to anyone, but I respect those coming from a straight edge position and certainly accept the view that by buying into a drink culture, one is providing the profits for big corporations. I'm not proud of contributing to those profits but unfortunately I do enjoy a drink thus providing me with a bit of a dichotomy. Anyway, this song is almost in two parts, with a much thrashier second half, although the first half is not one that can be considered as laid back in any way.
Both the title track and "Border Fences" deliver a venomous condemnation of society, be it the need to stand apart from the corporate world or the insular way that America views the rest of the planet, especially those who came from other lands and helped make the country so great (please note the heavy sarcasm in using that one word). The only track that has me scratching my head is "I Hope You Choke." I get the message, or at least the sentiment, but am not totally convinced as to who specifically it is aimed at. I can think of some targets myself, so it is still a battle cry I can buy into.
The standpoints of this band are the focus of all five songs and the lyrics make for an interesting read. They are succinct and to the point, relatively straightforward but not just thrown together to make the right impression and they are definitely direct from the heart and gut of Poison Planet. The final track, "Tidal Leveling," is a classic example of less being more lyrically:
"Sweeping waves cleanse the slate,
Disaster capitalists grin and wait,
Natures violence displaces all,
Record profits drown pleading calls"
What more do you need, especially when this is backed up by an intensely aggressive piece of music?
When I was a young lad getting into punk, this is the sort of record that I would have sat with for hours, listening, reading and dissecting all that it contained and absorbing the points of view that were put forth and this informed much of how I think today. Also, the poster would have gone straight on the wall. I guess the only difference 30 years down the line is that the poster will remain in the sleeve of the record--otherwise I find this release a refreshing return to the days when a band would put a huge amount of effort into what it put out in order to help articulate certain views. Releases like this one really do provide additional motivation towards trying to be an even more conscientious person and in doing so having some sort of positive effect during my time on this planet, hopefully eradicating some of the poison. This is so much more than just a record.
People who liked this also liked: