I picked this up at Seattle’s Sonic Boom records yesterday without having even listened to it. My trusty iPhone wasn’t able to really provide much info about Attent!on on the web, but the description on the reverse seemed compelling enough to warrant the purchase: “Hearts of Stone is the first manifestation of multinational noise from ATTENT!ON, a constellation of musicians from Poland, Norway, Denmark, and West Germany, from bands such as Pissed Boys, LULL and Angor Wat.” It seems odd today to see a reference to “West” Germany. For our younger readers, yes, there actually used to be two different Germanys – East and West. In fact, this album dates from 1988 – just a year before the Berlin Wall came down and the country was reunited. I remember reading about the wall coming in USA Today as a college freshman in Pittsburgh and being shocked at how seemingly quickly that whole situation unfolded.
But enough political history. As I mentioned, I couldn’t find much info on Attent!on online. Discogs lists only two releases – this 1988 EP/mini-album, and a 7″ single that came out in 1991. Hearts of Stone is a 45 rpm 12″, but packed with 10 tracks. Of course, it’s punk, so the songs are pretty short. There is a folded poster-type insert (but apparently I’m missing the promo sheet and stickers…. damn!), which includes all the lyrics – most of which are in English, and I suppose makes sense given the multinational character of the band. There are also some random blurbs about the lyrics, the meaning of hardcore, and life in general, and these are in English, German, Polish, and possibly Norwegian. In fact, these guys actually get kind of deep with some of these notes. “If you really care for a friend or a lover, stop robbing yourself of dignity by stealing theirs. If you really love others, their freedom ought to be the most important thing to you.” Deep thoughts brought to you by your friends from Attent!on.
So what about the music? It’s certainly punk, maybe a bit psych as well. The songs are not political, but more commentaries on the nature of the hardcore scene (If you buy their records / I think you’re ignorant / And to me it’s pretty racist / To sing ‘Speak English or Die’) and about the need to treat others with respect and create a better world (We all got beliefs / Through them we grow strong / Let’s create a better world / Let’s enjoy the life we’ve got). They’re actually pretty insightful in these relatively short songs, and it’s nice to see their message is positive (and the music is pretty good too). It has a sort of straight-edge vibe to it, though I don’t think the music is fast enough that anyone would consider it hardcore.
It looks like Hearts of Stone only came out on vinyl, and based on what I’ve seen online almost all of the copies for sale are located in Germany. This makes sense given the make up of the band, but will certainly make it harder to track down a copy here in the US if you’re interested. I’m sure there’s a story about how this copy ended up in a record store in Seattle… but I’ll never really know how it got there. Hopefully it will have a good home in my collection for a while.