Radio Silence / A Selected Visual History of American Hardcore Music book review

October 19, 2008

Radio Silence/A Selected Visual History of American Hardcore MusicRadio Silence / A Selected Visual History of American Hardcore Music by Nathan Nedorostek and Anthony Pappalardo (MTV Press)

Who would have guessed that hardcore punk would ever have its own coffee table book? Radio Silence is just that and as the title suggests it documents significant moments in the history of the hardcore movement through images. The book is filled with everything from hand written letters between Kevin Seconds and Ian Mackaye, to hand drawn t-shirts and production mechanic designs for records like the Faith/Void split, Gorilla Biscuits' "Start Today," and Dag Nasty's "Can I Say." More than anything else Radio Silence highlights and showcases the efforts that went into creating the aesthetics of punk rock in an age before Photoshop. It documents the forming stages of hardcore in the late 1970's and goes up to the "post hardcore" years of the early 1990's. Each image has its own caption which tell stories about bands like SSD, the Circle Jerks,  the Misfits, Uniform Choice, Youth of Today, Slapshot, Token Entry, Bad Brains, Inside Out, No For An Answer, 7 Seconds, Chain of Strength, Fugazi, Mouthpiece, and Earth Crisis. Also included are an introduction by coauthor, Anthony Pappalardo (Ten Yard Fight/In My Eyes) about the significance of hardcore music, a closing chapter on Minor Threat's records from a graphic designer's perspective, and images of record covers and vintage t- shirts.

Although this book documents history, Papalardo makes it clear in his introduction that it's not about false nostalgia:

It's quickly forgotten by older generations that their salad days are always going to be another generation's check-out time. The critical ears of yesterday's fans forget hardcore is the sum of many parts. What you don't get in those two- minute anthems is the importance of those parts, and what they mean when the engine is humming along. No matter how much you romanticize your 'remember whens' stomachs didn't growl harder in your heyday. Hardcore is living right now and it's just as vital as the first note of 'Pay to Cum' to its audience. Bands are forming and kids are plotting. The world sucks, hearts are being broken, and parents are still as fucked up as their children. America's youth is just as bored and fed up as you were at 15.