Toxic Reasons

  • Toxic Reasons
  • Independence (Risky) 1982 
  • Kill by Remote Control (Sixth Int'l) 1984 
  • Within These Walls (Treason) 1985 
  • Dedication 1979-1988 (Fun House) 1988 
  • Toxic Reason
  • Bullets for You (Alternative Tentacles) 1986 

Indianapolis, Indiana’s most prominent punks prefer not to be tagged as such — they have more populist aspirations — but can’t help admitting (in Independence‘s “Noise Boys”) that they were “born to be hardcore.” That’s an accurate description, though: watchspring-tight buzzsaw guitar at high speed. For variety, they toss in a mauled remake of “Shapes of Things to Come” (from Wild in the Streets) and the hesitant reggae of “Ghost Town,” the theme of which is not unlike the Specials’ song of the same name, but neither lyrics nor music are as fleshed out.

Kill by Remote Control, with a revised lineup, is great, a cogent punk onslaught with articulate protest lyrics and finely tuned dynamic guitar (Rob Lucjak and Bruce Stuckey) rock. Some of the numbers vamp into a tedious overdrive mode, but most of the record uses its full-tilt electricity in service of well-constructed (if not really melodic) songs.

That isn’t Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs singing on Within These Walls, but it sure sounds like him on “Dreamer.” The loud, carefully crafted guitar rock here has its punky moments — as when the slow and steady “Too Late” abruptly shifts into high gear — but is overall too eclectic for any one genre classification. (“Guns of September” recalls the Clash’s early reggae efforts.) Lucjak and Stuckey remain a white-hot team, especially in service of these more refined (not less energetic) songs with sturdy melodies. An intelligent, all-electric punch that will leave you grinning.

Lucjak then left the quartet and was replaced by Terry Howe. The resulting Bullets for You is little more than political speedcore — poorly recorded, rushed, riff-happy, with shouted/answered vocals — that bears only the faintest resemblance to the formerly winning band. The re-recordings of “Too Late” and “Party’s Over” (from Walls) don’t quite eviscerate the songs, but do show up the inferior surrounding material by contrast.

[Jim Green / Ira Robbins]