Various Artists Hot Shit Attitude: The Outburst Covers Record

Various Artists Hot Shit Attitude: The Outburst Covers Record
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Manhattan in the '80s was not the shining tourist destination many know it as today. Those who did not conform to Reaganomics and participate in the rat race of New York City found solace in CBGB, a world away from the norms of NYC. First wave hardcore groups Murphy's Law and Agnostic Front birthed a second wave of bands: Raw Deal, Leeway and Astoria's own Outburst. Mixing punk and thrash metal, Outburst created a signature sound and during their short lifespan.
 
They never released a proper LP, but their demos, and 1989's Miles to Go seven-inch, hold up to this day, with their influence being heard throughout contemporary acts. By the early '90s, the band had broken up, but they later reunited for 2012's Black N' Blue Bowl festival in New York City, and have since made several appearances, including a Brooklyn set in 2017 that even received a stagediving co-sign from Frank Ocean.
 
In May 2018, coinciding with a headlining gig at Lee's Palace in Toronto, Texas thrashers Power Trip performed a live session in Toronto at the House of Strombo. Nine minutes in, the group covered Outburst's "When Things Go Wrong," a Heritage Moment for any Canadian hardcore music fan. The clip has since amassed over 500,000 views online, and the cover is born again as the opener and first single for Hot Shit Attitude. Their version captures the magic of both bands — allowing Power Trip to make the rendition their own, and tickling the imagination of what Outburst could have been.
 
Higher Power have a subtler Outburst influence in their mixture of melodic radio rock and hardcore punk. Their take on "Misunderstood" may be as heavy as listeners will ever hear them. It is quite refreshing to hear the UK band commit to a hard-edged cut with such great payoff.
 
Wild Side appear on Hot Shit Attitude three times, for a playful version of piano-based "SGI," followed by "Mission Impossible" and later, the infamous Outburst intro. Guitarist Emmett Morris spices their efforts up with shining solo licks, and truthfully, vocalist Brandon McFarlane is one of the only current frontmen with the speed and stamina to perfectly execute Brian Donohue's shouty presence. Power Trip had an infamous run of covering Outburst's intro in Toronto at their 2015 Not Dead Yet appearance (several times in the same set), but Wild Side provide their rendition in a cleanly produced context and is a ton of fun for any lover of a mosh riff or a shredding guitar solo.
 
Later on, Stand Off use Outburst's love of speed and feedback to their advantage on their offering of "Learn to Care," also sounding like a near-dead ringer for Breakdown's '87 Demo.
 
While Hot Sh!t Attitude is a mostly positive and tasteful tribute to legendary New York hardcore, appearances from Krimewatch, Mizery and Big Boss raise eyebrows. In the case of Krimewatch, it is the right song given to the wrong band. Their guitar work on "Think for Yourself" feels too loose, and the vocals sound unkempt and mismanaged, which says something, given the DIY aesthetic surrounding this whole outing. It may sound right up some listeners' alley, but this contrasts drastically alongside the strong studio-perfected contributions to this compilation.
 
Mizery have not been heard from since 2016's pleasing Absolute Light LP, and provide a paper-thin version of "The Hard Way" for HSI. "Busting my ass with nothing to show for it," vocalist Jose Gonzalez wails, losing the guitar and drums in a king-sized bed of reverb.
 
Despite fantastically gripping vocal work, Big Boss similarly lose sight instrumentally about halfway through "Controlled."
 
Outburst likely never predicted their contributions to NYHC to live beyond the floor of CBGB. Thirty years removed from their infancy, Outburst still matter, and are appropriately celebrated by their contemporaries with Hot Shit Attitude. (Blackout!)