Longtime fans of Rohnert Park hardcore hooligans Ceremony were treated to a heaping dose of transition away from the group’s more destructive roots with their 2012 LP, “Zoo.” Whereas during their formative years the band parlayed the sonic bedlam inherent in waving the flag for NorCal hardcore label Bridge 9, Zoo found the band utilizing frameworks anchored by little more than a single note, or a single chord. The metamorphosis, as you might well imagine, did not go unnoticed by loyal, longtime fans of the group. Luckily for them, the new-noise Ceremony released one of the best contemporary albums of chutzpah-worthy pre-punk rock all year.
As the band toured Europe in early 2012, and eventually returned back to the States following the release of the album, the negative waves that hardcore loyalists attempted to instigate were relegated to mere ripples by anyone who’d bothered to listen to the record. With a new label in seminal indie imprint Matador, and a more mature catalog from which to cull from during their numerous live performances, Ceremony is transcending the limitations of their former incarnation, and instead embracing the whims of their creative synapses.
The symptoms of the shift were first heard on the band’s 2010 LP “Rohnert Park,” where typically ferocious vocalist Russ Farrar began to trade the rough-and-tumble growl of post-adolescent fury for more drone-y verbal maxims. Similarly, the band’s chemistry acclimated to a steadier, repetitive feast of jangly guitar rock—musical bane to the blueprints foisted upon classic HxC collections like Violence Violence. Virtuosic ax- wielder Anthony Anzaldo likewise compromised the breakneck minor-chord cacophony that had come to symbolize the band for driving, hook-less guitar riffs. The symbiosis produces some of the most jarring songs you’ll hear that you’ll still find time to scowl at. Nothing’s been abandoned; no lines drawn in the sand. But Ceremony’s ascent toward more divergent realms is one of the more engaging stories in rock music. RYAN J. PRADO
Ever wondered what it would sound like if the Jesus and Mary Chain had a music baby with three dudes from SF who sound hella British? Now you won’t have to, because that love child is here: Terry Malts are pop fuzz at its best. The music is messy and fun, ready to take the world by storm. Slumberland is home to some great acts—and young up n comers Terry Malts are no exception. LAUREN ROSENTHAL
Redwood City punks Comadre have returned with their fourth full-length album, a self-titled opus that continues their benchmark of aggressive neo-hardcore. Vocalist Juan Gabe still sings like he’s been lit on fire, but the band’s diversified musical palate has matured to include elements of anthemic garage-pop and first-wave punk, while incorporating instrumentation and arrangements befitting post-hardcore art-rockers like Fucked Up. Comadre plays like a spiraling farewell letter to hardcore; but even if that misses the point, it still stands as one of the best albums to emerge from SF’s punk underground so far in 2013. RYAN J. PRADO
Through the progression of its three studio albums, Rohnert Park's Ceremony has evolved from unbridled, no-nonsense bursts of hardcore punk to a more slow-burning and equally devastating aggression. While it's certainly not unusual for punk bands...more at sfbg.com