Review - Spirit of '99: A Hardcore Competiton

Artist: Various artists

"If you want something done, do it yourself" is a familiar expression to Jeff Hogan. After all, he started local d.i.y. records several years ago under that ethic, specializing in punk, ska, hardcore and oi! music because no one else would. Similarly, he booked bands at his original store for all-ages gigs that no one else would bother with.

After Hogan relocated d.i.y. to College Park, the live shows were blocked, so Hogan teamed with local filmmaker Anthony Torres to put the sound and fury of local bands with no place to play onto a CD, "Spirit of '99," released several months ago.

"There are quite a number of hardcore/punk bands in the Central Florida area, but nobody gets to hear them because there are no venues to play," complains Hogan. "There are simply no all-ages places for this kind of music."

As a result, "Spirit of '99" contains tracks from unknowns like über-core Bible of the Self and gentler Pistis. It's ironic, says Hogan, but with no place to play, the bands practice and practice, and "end up being very good." Another strength of the disc is variety (11 bands in all). "If you like hardcore or punk at all, there really is something for everyone on this record," he says.

From the perfected pop-punk of Shyster to the Meatmen-meets-Motorhead sound of Fortitude, from Coriolis' intense "Inmate #37927" to the high-heaviness of Song of Kerman and Kills Competition, the record roars and rages through 19 songs, and a "bonus track" -- the 12-minute QuickTime movie "Hardcore: You Know the Score" by Torres (featuring singer John Pinto) that captures the struggle of being straight-edge in Orlando. The passion/frustration dichotomy that Pinto and Torres express through introspection should strike a familiar chord with anyone trying to work around the apathy that surrounds the flagging hardcore/punk scene.

There's evidence that the "Spirit of '99" is reawakening that scene. Sapphire Supper Club has agreed to book a hardcore show or two. And alternative venues, like church-affiliated The Porch, are opening up.

Hogan plans future compilations. But for now, his team has done their thing, leaving the fate of local hardcore and punk in the hands of supporters.

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