Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best of 2011

I have been contemplating this post for quite some time now, and a finite answer still eludes me. While 2011 was a great, great, year for music, it seems to me that there few front runners for albums that were utterly fantastic. Albums that captivate your attention from front to back, the ones that are all killer, no filler. Ones that stay with you for if not the better part of the year, then years to come. I've been looking at other blogs lists, trying to see if there is anything I have missed and I found myself questioning why certain albums were even on such lists. People just seemed to put their faith in mediocrity, but that's fine, it's all opinions here. And I am sure people will think the same of mine. Such is life. Moving on.

Best 5 records of the year, in no particular order:
1. A.A. Bondy - Believers
2. Brain F≠ - Sleep Rough
3. Condominium - Warm Home
4. True Widow - As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth
5. William Elliott Whitmore - Field Songs
There you have it. The 5 records that I think are perfect from front to back. Bondy and Whitmore have ceased to disappoint me, churning out near perfect records every time. Brain F
≠ wrote one of the catchiest and urgent punk records of the year. Where as Condominium punished our ears with their long awaited lp, a truly talented band. And True Widow blew me away with their blend of Shoegaze and Stoner Metal, loud, heavy, and utterly beautiful music.







Honorable Mentions: Owen - Ghost Town, David Bazan - Strange Negotiations, Omegas - Blasts of Luancy, The Men - Leave Home, Scapegoat - S/T, Pygmy Lush - Old Friends, Bonnie Prince Billy - Wolfroy Goes to Town, Weekend Nachos - Worthless, Vacant State - Fill the Void, Tenement - Napalm Dream

Best 7in/Eps of 2011 (no particular order):
1. End of a Year Self Defense Family - Everything the put out in 2011
2. Career Suicide - Cherry Beach
3. The Ropes - S/T
4. Culo - Toxic Vision
5. I can't remember, opps.
Aside from the fact that I forgot what else to throw in this category, overall I would say that I picked up a good handful of great 7in that came out this year, but this is the cream of the crop. EoaY continue to confuse with name/personal/philosophy changes, but they continue to put out incredible music. And a lot of it. Cherry Beach could be counted as a reissue, but it has two new songs on it so I say otherwise. The Repos/Ropes are back a with a bang, only slightly weirder. And Culo, a band I kind of think is annoying, blew me away with Toxic Vision.

Some bands that released damn good demos from 2011:
Bald pig, Beautiful Mother, Last Chaos, Broken Prayer

Best reissues of 2011:
Lucero - That Much Further West, Sebadoh - Bakesale, Citizens Arrest - A Light in the Darkness

Records that I am sure are really great, and could at least be honorable mentions, but I really haven't spent all that time with them because I am lazy. Or they could just suck, but need to at least be notated:
Shoppers - Silver Year, any Thou record that came out this year, Blut Aus Nord - 777 Sect(s), J. Mascis - Several Shades of Why

Best reunion of the of one of the greatest bands in the world, who will continue to amaze the masses:
Guided by Voices, duh. Oh, and Archers of Loaf.

Best album of 2012, because I am so awesome that I can see into the future:
The Boston Strangler - Primitve. Duh.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Boston Strangler - Primitive (2012?)



I am hopefully going to do one more normal post before I hit up a year's end list, so be prepared. In the meantime, lets do some time traveling to the future. Primitive, I think, comes out 2012, which is a shame because it would be one hell of a way to top off 2011. I am somewhat at a loss of what to say about this album. Really, I just want to let you know that you would be utterly stupid not listen to this record, and then an utter fool to not understand it's greatness.

Primitive comes at a crucial moment for the genre of hardcore in the present. Hardcore can be pretty lackluster, and sometimes the stretches of mediocrity can last too long. I am not saying that contemporary hardcore has no redeeming qualities, there are so many great bands doing great things right now. However, the quality over quantity speaks differently, out of how many bands that play something remotely close to hardcore are good, especially the more "top 40" bands that get notoriety. And so we have The Boston Strangler to remind us that hardcore can be thrilling, that it can separate the substance from the loads of crap.

This album is perfect, front to back. That's my album description. Suck it.

Tracks:
  1. Primitive
  2. Overdose
  3. First Offense
  4. Locked Inside
  5. Boston Strangler
  6. Gonna Make You Pay
  7. Disconnect Me
  8. Overcrowded
  9. Violence Addicts
  10. Waste of Time
  11. Burglar Breakout

Make like a tree, and get outta here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Never Healed - S/T (2008)



Realistically, I should be building my personal website, but I am the king of procrastination. And, I realized that are more important matters to attend to. That being, uploading one the best hardcore lp's of the past decade. I'll admit that I felt somewhat abused, rather taken advantage of, when I realized I had not shoved the excellence of Never Healed's S/T record down your throats. Shame on me.

Now, we have already covered the fact that I am a fanboy of a certain family tree of hardcore punk bands stemming from the Northern Cali region. This is not new news. Never Healed, though, were special, a veritable, and underrated, supergroup. A blistering 5 piece whose members had done time in Look Back and Laugh, Yaphet Kotto, Lights Out among many others. Take the influence of those former bands, that being hard as nails hardcore punk, turn it up to 11. Yeah, that awesome.

In all serious, the music is fantastic. Sure, they maybe reinventing the wheel, but the style in which they accomplish that is quite unique. It was heavy, and not in the loud or 90's metalcore way, but in the "whoa, that riff just total dropped an anvil on that old lady" way. Their blend of hardcore was evil sounding, the song "We Are Ruins" is a 42 second lesson in making a hardcore song as hard as a box of nails. So, take this already evil instrumental sound, and then place Casey's vocals over it and you are really taken to a dark place. To say Casey had a unique vocal style, especially in Never Healed, would not be an understatement. Where as most bands of this age were shouting over their band, Casey's vocals took a page from the black metal book. Visceral, shrill screaming about the world ending and the human race being a disease. Pure contempt without sounding trite or redundant, not something many bands can achieve these days. Plus, though I never had the chance to see them, it looks like they threw one hell of a live show (I've attached a video from their first show below, that's right, first show). Enjoy if this is your thing.

Tracks:
  1. Forever Never Ends
  2. Ruins
  3. Lonely Crawls
  4. Wind and Smoke
  5. Waits to Destroy
  6. Where the Crosses Grow
  7. We Are Ruins
  8. Far We Fall

We are death, we are disease.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

A.A. Bondy - Believers (2011)



Now didn't I tell you some sad sack music would be following up my first post back? It wouldn't be a return to form if I didn't post something more along the lines of slow indie rock with folk leanings. I don't intend to mislead, Believers is not a dismal record made by someone with a beard. Nor is it dismal, or outright depressing. But it is a contemplative record, one to sit with as it's sounds wash over you.

Believers is Bondy's third record, one that displays full artistic maturity. American Hearts was a lesson in Americana, soothing folk music derivative of Dylan, Guthrie and others like them. His second record When the Devil's Loose, showed experimentation, still with folk leanings but with songs like "A Slow Parade" and "False River" becoming songs that showcase the electric guitar as they meander their way into your ears. Believers takes that sound he dabbled in and goes head on. The best way to describe this album is to listen with headphones of a sort and literally let the songs and their tones wash over you like waves.

There are moments where the structured song bears a resemblance of the Americana roots where he came from, like "Drmz" and "Surfer King". But for the most part, Bondy is letting the noise carry him through his songs. The ambiance of "Skull and Bones" will leave you with a very haunting feeling. "Highways/Fevers", the middle point of the record, slowly builds tension for the release of "Drmz", the next track. The record may take more of an invested listening to fully understand it, but once that is achieved, it becomes a very rewarding listen. Like all of A.A Bondy's work, one can't say Believers is his best, all his records hold their own merits of greatness. However, the mature sound he as grown into is extremely exciting and only points to more great music in the future.

Tracks:
  1. The Heart is Willing
  2. Down in the Fire (Lost Sea)
  3. Skull & Bones
  4. 123 Dupuy Street
  5. Surfer King
  6. Highway/Fevers
  7. Drmz
  8. The Twist
  9. Rte. 28/Believers
  10. Scenes from a Circus

Out of motion, into the sea.

Gauze - Equalizing Distort (1986)



Where has the time gone? It's been half a year since the last update, and boy does time fly. It is time to resuscitate the ole' blog. Time to wear off the shackles of the soothing sounds of classic rock that haunts my mind at work. Time to scoff once more at people's high opinions about their music. Time to, once more, lock my opinions about music back up in my ivory tower. So, are you prepared for more posts about me being a fanboy of certain musicians? Or the wonderful sounds of cult hardcore punk? Or just bad music? Then let's take this journey together.

I need to get my bearings straight in my first post, and the best way to do that is post some classic hardcore punk. Friends who slowly shake their heads at the noise that will be emitting from their speakers need not fear, some slow sad sack music is coming right up to always balance my eclectic blog. First things first, Japanese hardcore, and the almighty Gauze to be specific.

Now I have noticed that an individual into hardcore ages, evolves, in a very distinct way. Granted, this formula doesn't work with everyone, otherwise mosh hardcore would be the way of the buffalo, as they say. But I have noticed it when it comes to people that are into classic hardcore and punk. As one ages, the classics just don't become enough anymore, sure the contemporary sounds can help, but you will always want more. You find yourself down a path to the cult, the sounds of the elite, the taste grows weirder and darker. In this spectrum comes Japanese hardcore, the definitive answer when it comes to cult hardcore punk.

It's relative to many people of many genres. Fans of hardcore turn to cult hardcore, punk and noise, fans of metalcore turn to the Neurosis brand of music (more commonly referred to as "beard metal"). And last, fans of pop punk, well..... they unfortunately still love pop punk, it's just played by older people.

Gauze is one of my favorites of the Japanese brand of hardcore. Fast, abrasive and distinctly classic sounding. Fugu, the vocalist, sounds like he is snarling, foaming at the mouth when singing. The music is a whirlwind of all the influence of USHC at the time and Discharge, only taken to a slightly weirder place. The repetition of the music is key, it beats it's way into your head and the choruses of a song like "Pressing On" don't leave. Distort my friends, distort.

Tracks:
  1. Pressing On
  2. Crash the Pose
  3. Thrash Thrash Thrash
  4. 勝手にさらせ
  5. Fact and Criminal
  6. パッパッパ
  7. Absinth Trip
  8. Distort Japan
  9. 言いなり

Distort.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Braid - Closer to Closed (2011)


Yet another brand new release that I believe needs to be heard. Here we get a thorough lesson in the integrity of the bands of yore reuniting, especially when deciding to release new music. Now for most bands, you can usually deduce the meaning behind reuniting. The capitalization off of nostalgia being one of the main reasons. A cult or classic sound becomes popular to hear again, and thus, the originators of the sound spring back from the dead to steal your money. Sometimes, it's nice to see one of your favorite bands of high school rough it up, but for the most part, it can be embarrassing for all parties involved. Especially with the 90's emo/indie genre. Who wants to see a bunch of very grown men sing about their confused feelings when they went through puberty?

Now when Braid all of a sudden announced they were getting back to together, nonetheless recording new music, I was excited at first. I love the band, and think that many of their records and 7inches still hold up to this day. But, I also began to think, "Newly recorded music? Oh man, this is going to be a trainwreck". Well I am more than pleasantly surprised with this 7in of material that brought the band back together.

These four songs are well past the line of trite nostalgia. Closer to Closed more so seems like four good friends reconvening to deliver the same great music that brought them together in the first place. The opening song, "The Right Time", is the star of the record, with Chris Broach taking reigns of the song. He isn't as angsty as he used to sound, but matured into a wonderful singing voice that I am sure will complement Bob Nanna's swoon. "Universe or Worse" also contains a classic element of that 90's genre, a prolonged closing bridge with the drums being the center piece as the song slowly fades away. I can't tell you how many bands in the current emo revival have tried to pull these elements off and fail miserably, and here is a band that hasn't played together in years showing everyone how it is done right.

My only complaint is that there weren't any songs with both Broach and Nanna singing. That was one of the dynamics I loved about Braid, the duo vocalists. But I am sure Braid will stick around to release more great music, and that one woe will be put to rest. Enjoy.

Tracks:
  1. The Right Time
  2. Do Over
  3. You Are the Reason
  4. Universe or Worse
It could never be this good again.

Friday, July 8, 2011

William Elliott Whitmore - Field Songs (2011)


I was somewhat hesitant to post this on the blog, but ultimately, Whitmore's music needs to be heard. A few years ago he released an album, Animals in the Dark, that was the first record to be recorded outside of his trilogy of records that dealt with the feelings of loss and death (Ashes to Dust, Hymns for the Hopeless, Song of the Blackbird). Animals was a maturing of Whitmore's already classic style, incorporating all sorts of instruments along with some very political lyrics. The album was highly praised, and the success received form it was with great reason.

Field Songs is almost a going back to form record, not necessarily rediscovering his roots (he's never lost his footing in that respect), more so a minimal take on his brand of Americana. The record is all conceived around the idea of being one with the land around you, specifically in regards to farming. The political leanings of Animals finds it's way in the record, with a few shots towards factory farming, but songs are mostly about fully embracing yourself with the Earth. To lose one's self in the flow of nature. The album also includes many nature-like interludes, with the sounds of birds chirping and the wind blowing while the songs wind down or start up.

Those who enjoyed the fire and brimstone of Animals in the Dark, shouldn't be wary of Field Songs, Whitmore definitely has more rebellious inclinations that will manifest themselves in later records. However, especially with his growing career, one shouldn't forget what Whitmore is teaching us with Field Songs, taking moments in time to remember where we come from. Please do yourself a favor, if you even remotely enjoy this man's art, go see him when he comes to your town and show him your support.

Tracks:
  1. Bury Your Burdens in the Ground
  2. Field Song
  3. Don't Need It
  4. Everything Gets Gone
  5. Let's Do Something Impossible
  6. Get There From Here
  7. We'll Carry On
  8. Not Feeling Any Pain
We will be the freest of the free.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Last Days of Cursed (2009)

Featured today is a short documentary about the last moments of the band Cursed. This was during their fatal 2008 European tour in which everything ended up being stolen from the band and thus, dismantling the band entirely. Colohan described as a "bullet to the head". It really is a travesty that such an intelligent and punishing band was subject to so much bad luck. These series of videos sheds some light on the band's last days through an interview and a series of live recordings spanning their whole career. Cursed was, and still is, a very important band to me and this is something that must be shared to people who felt the same way.

Link to the first video, with four more parts following.

Edit: If you don't have the patience to watch the whole series, at least watch the last one. It is an 12 minute video solely about the song "Friends in the Music Business" and a performance of said song. The explanation about the song in the interview and the diatribe Colohan says before they play the song are more than worth hearing if you are in a DIY band.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sebadoh - Bakesale (1994)



Let's talk desert island here. No, wait, not desert island. I wand to discuss pure isolation type of stuff. Such as, the rapture has happened and you just happen to be saved amongst the flock and find yourself sitting next to people the likes of Steven Tyler and Axl Rose. Because they are going to be saved, right? Right. So what do you have to keep you sane? Well, I don't know if sane is exactly the right word there, because you are well past the point of return. What small comforts do you have left, but 5 albums. What would you choose?

For me, the answer is always changing, but one thing is for damn sure, Sebadoh's 1994 record, Bakesale, would be there. Many people prefer Bubble and Scrape, or even the barely listenable early recordings Barlow and Co made. Personally, this takes the cake. The breadth of maturity Sebadoh reached when recording this record hits a plateau, that for me, few have been able to reach. A full encompassing sound in which straight influence becomes pure creation. Every single song is delightful. And few songs hit me in the same way that songs like "Mystery Man", "Together or Alone", or "Drama Mine" do. The record is as sublime as it is angsty, as grungy as it is poppy. A damn near perfect statement.

Now, I realize that obviously most people own this record in some form, but it was just recently reissued. Not that I am reliving the record, it is a staple on my ipod and most playlists, but that it was reissued as a deluxe record with a whole albums worth of demos and b-sides, and I personally can't wait to get my hands on it.

Tracks:
  1. License to Confuse
  2. Careful
  3. Magnet's Coil
  4. Not a Friend
  5. Not too Amused
  6. Dreams
  7. Skull
  8. Got It
  9. Shit Soup
  10. Give Up
  11. Rebound
  12. Mystery Man
  13. Temptation Time
  14. Drama Mine
  15. Together or Alone
Very serious note here, Lou blows J out out of the water any day of the week.

Austin Lucas - Collection (2010)



One day I would like to write a thesis on the impact sad songs have on the human psyche. Personally, sad songs resonate with me much more than most other types of a song. We can all relate to someone pouring their soul over a guitar and the tremble in their voice that becomes some sort of emotional reaction. Maybe it's just the human condition. Either way, more sad sack songs are coming your way in the form of Austin Lucas. Whereas the punk gone folk songwriter movement is awash in a sea of mediocrity, Lucas was bred for this genre of music, traditional bluegrass folk. I won't go into detail about what Lucas means to me, just understand Lucas is extremely talented, and shouldn't go unnoticed. This record is a collection of demos that was done before Somebody Loves You, but wasn't unearthed until a year ago. These songs are stripped down to the bones and the imperfections shine through their production. It's these imperfections, especially in his voice, which form that much needed connection between listener and performer. Throw this version of "Go West" on repeat and feel the rumble in his voice.
Tracks:
  1. Go West
  2. Life I've Got
  3. I Know I Know
  4. She Did
  5. Singing Man
  6. Wild Boar
  7. To Daddy
  8. Oakland Skyline
  9. My Momma's Son
  10. Sweeter than the Flowers
  11. Easy Listening
Life is full of dead ends.
(link borrowed)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sweet Cobra - Praise (2003)


Some of the fondest memories of my time in the Chicago Hardcore community was the incredibly diverse, sound-wise, the shows were of the early 2000's. A show you could go to and enjoy several different takes on the theme of aggressive music. In which, one could hear the sounds of a youth crew band, heavy hardcore, classic hardcore punk, and so on. These shows were thrilling to me, especially since it was a time in which I first started really exploring the early local community.

One band that always seemed to stick out to me was Sweet Cobra. I swear I have seen this band play more with youth crew hardcore bands than bands of their own ilk. These guys would get up there and pummel right through a set of blistering, sludgy hardcore. The best part was that they were so loud my ears always hurt in my foolish non-ear plug days of my youth. Seeing them play at the DePaul classrooms was always a treat, the context of the show, as well as the fact that the poorly constructed walls were always heavily reverberating due to the massive wall of sound the band carried with them.

Praise was one of my early introductions to hardcore that wasn't of the current flavor, or any of the classic bands of yore. A record that made a coalescence of sounds via bands like Black Flag, Born Against, and Neurosis. The intensity of the record was heightened when the band dabbled in mid-tempo songs, such as "River of Crimson", which was a cathartic moment of tension built up through the first half of the record. And songs like "Upon Torn Knees" rip right through you, fast and groovy, the band showing their excellence.

Unfortunately, the Chicago Hardcore community took a heavy hit when Mat Arluck, guitarist of Sweet Cobra among other bands, passed away in 2009. The band lives on, though it is hard to watch the band while knowing an integral part is missing, and missed. While the bands later albums haven't resonated as well as Praise, I will always value Sweet Cobra among one of the best local bands from Chicago.
Tracks:
  1. Upon Torn Knees
  2. Ruin
  3. Leviathan
  4. Content with the Tide
  5. Bandicoot
  6. River of Crimson
  7. Hatchet Wound
  8. Mother's Harvest
  9. Fear No Father
Rip Mat Arluck.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

War All the Time - Raw Attack Demo (2004)


Here is an interesting entry, which was brought to my attention by the Terminal Escape blog, run by the bassist of No Statik/Artimus Pyle/I could go on. It peaked my interests when I saw that it was a supergroup of sorts consisting of people from What Happens Next?, Talk is Poison, Look Back and Laugh, Conquest for Death and more. As a connoisseur of all things punk in that family tree, I knew I would at least somewhat enjoy this, and I definitely do. Aside from learning that they only played three shows, and may have another demo, War All the Time seemed to primarily be a LBAL side project. Sure, the music is similar, fast, raw, classic USHC inspired, albeit less chaos than LBAL, but still very similar. So similar, that it a little research proved an even more beneficial when I found a couple live videos of the band. Down below is a video of a song that if you are familiar with LBAL's output, you will find this interesting. It's a shame this band was so short-lived.

Tracks:
  1. Dimonds
  2. Admit It
  3. Global
  4. Yellow Tape
  5. Crude
  6. War
  7. Armageddon
Street Terrorism.

William Elliott Whitmore - The Death Valley Sessions (2003)


Readers beware, this post was stolen from a favorite blog of mine. Legitimate posts huh? Well, being the Whitmore superfan that I am, I had to post this gem. This session was done shortly before his first record, Ashes to Dust, hence most the songs being rather familiar. While living for a brief period in time San Fransisco Whitmore was approached by a friend who wanted him to record some of his sparse folk music on his random plot of land in Death Valley. What became of the session is an introduction to Whitmore's prose, combined with the rustlings and whisperings of the valley. At times the session is as erie as it is cathartic. It is also strange to think of his music outside of the context of Iowa. I have a strong belief that a person's landscape vastly influences their work in whatever medium, and Whitmore is exemplary of this, with his strong association with the Midwest and Iowa. Anyway, go make some moonshine in a tub.

Note: After a little research sparked by this session, it seems there are several sessions out there Whitmore has done throughout his troubadour tenure. If, and when, I find some more, I shall let you know.

Tracks:
  1. Introduction
  2. Instrumental
  3. Does Me No Good
  4. Pine Box
  5. Lord Only Knows
  6. Old Lady Duet
  7. From the Cell Door to the Gallows
  8. Diggin' My Grave
  9. Lift My Jug
  10. Old Lady Duet 2
  11. Our Paths Will Cross Again
  12. Instrumental 2
My road to Hell is surely paved.
(Link borrowed from Heavybootsmusic.tumblr)

Dillinger Four - Vs. God


File under: classics. Here is something to tide you folks over while I get a couple legitimate posts up this evening/tomorrow morning. And what a perfect time to post your favorite Northern land punks? Summer air, veritable walls of humidity, and my favorite, traveler punks. D4 just recently played Chaos in Tejas, and I must say that out of that whole stacked line up I would have extremely excited to see this band again.

Tracks:
  1. Who Didn't Kill Bambi?
  2. Get Your Study Hall Outta My Recess
  3. Maximum Piss & Vinegar
  4. Last Communion
  5. Suckers Intl. Has Gone Public
  6. Total Fucking Gone Song
  7. Music is None of My Business
  8. Define 'Learning Disorder'
  9. Let Them Eat Thomas Paine
  10. Shiny Things is Good
  11. J. Harris
  12. Q: How Many Punks Does it Take to Screw in a Lightbulb?
  13. Wreck the Fantastic Planet
The devil, ouch.
(link borrowed. I was in a hurry)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ben Nichols - Last Pale Light in the West (2009)


I apologize for the lack of updates, but alas, I am back and have several posts planned. So now that that is out of the way, lets get on to the good stuff. Lucero has always held a special place as a band for me. Their sound is incredibly versatile, taking southern alt-country and tweaking it through punk rock. What becomes of this is a dichotomy of sound, songs of hope, redemption, loss, and heartbreak. They have a penchant for writing some of the saddest songs this side of the Mississippi, and their meditation on loss is what makes me connect with them. It is sometimes as though, when listening to a song like "When You Decided to Leave", it conjures up the lowest depths of loss in you, and the pain of the song is instantly transferable to one's self. Their last record certainly wasn't their greatest, but it still had some great tracks on it. And they are still up there as one of the best live bands I have ever seen, always willing to give it their all, as you could see from their recent Krazy Fest set.

Ben Nichols, the man behind Lucero, released a solo record back in 2009 entitled, Last Pale Light in the West, a narrative album culling from Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. A record of what Nichol's is known for, sad and redemptive songs, but this time told through a dismal and gritty tale. Nichol's isn't breaking a new ground, musically, here, but the record is more about his penmanship than deviating from a sound. It's his chance to show us he is one amazing lyricist and writer.

Tracks:
  1. The Last Pale Light in the West
  2. The Kid
  3. Davy Brown
  4. Chambers
  5. Tobin
  6. Toadvine
  7. The Judge
We are the last of the true.

*BONUS* I was perusing Ben Nichols on youtube when I came across this track, recorded in Janurary of this year. The uploader doesn't seem to know whether it is a Lucero song or a solo song, but one thing is for sure, Nichol's still hasn't lost it. More sad songs, please.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I'M ON VACATION

In the great North friends, so in the meantime enjoy this.

Monday, May 23, 2011

End of a Year - Split with Three Fifteen


What can I say folks, I have been a busy bee this past week. Hence the lack of updates. I will also being going on a Northern Expedition of sorts this weekend, so I am hoping I can jam a few more updates in before I part ways. Onwards and Upwards.

I am not going to lie here, this past weekend I tried to stay up to date with the ongoings of Krazy Fest 2k11. A diverse lineup with many bands I would have enjoyed seeing, coupled with the shenanigans of the infamous aftershows. But the one band I would have loved to see more than any other would have been the End of a Year Self Defense Family. Or Self Defense Family as they are going by these days. Their set, in which the whole weekend was streamed through the Alt. Press website, was wonderful. Per usual, the band stuck to the new material, two (maybe three) songs off of You Are Beneath Me, one track off of the Deathwish 7in, and the rest was brand spanking new joints. The new songs played have a slower pace, akin to some of the later era sounds of the band, but still on par with intensity. And it seems that the only gripe people ever have with this band is that they seem to refuse to play anything old, whatsoever. This only makes me wish that I payed more attention to them years ago when I first caught them at a local hardcore band's record release in Chicago. They blew me away then, and the blow me away now.

This split is from that era when I first saw the band, right before (or as) Sincerely on Revelation came out. Three tracks that, for me, stand out from the band's vast and impressive catalog. These three songs are heavy, not only in production, but as if they put a dark twist to their early DC Revelation Summer sound. End of a Year was an already well-oiled machine at this point, so it only makes sense that this is where their first experimentations, though minute, are heard. "Beleaders" sounds somewhat completely different, sonically, from the later version found on Sincerely. This record intrigues me, as well, due to the band promoting their next material as "heavy music". There was a wonderful metaphor involving Nuerosis and Lungfish, and I can only assume the music will be wonderful. Not the heavy like this split and their older DC sound, but heavy in the way of reinventing a band each and every step of the way. Self Defense Family really are the leaders in innovation within underground music.

Tracks:
  1. Beleaders
  2. Girls
  3. Choppers
All that's left is drugs or God.

Note: I am completely ignoring the Three Fifteen side, it's been sometime since I have listened to it, but I remember the feeling of indifference.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vinyl Distractions: V/A - Punx Don't Drink


I never want the blog to become a catalyst for self-promotion. Should it be a confluence of my own conspicuous thoughts on music and culture? Of course, but that is the only thing I should be promoting, my own pretension. Inevitably, something I have had a hand in will make it to this blog. The blog is about music, and if I just so happen to have conspired in the subject of a post, then so be it. This volume of "Vinyl Distractions" happens to be of this case. Deal with it.

Punx Don't Drink huh? Sounds like a bunch of prepubescent, straight edge, dollar-bin garbage. Now some of that may or may not be true, but please don't judge this record by it's layout. This compilation contains, indeed, four straight edge hardcore bands, with Boiling Over being the one that I was in. This also happens to be the first piece of wax that is quite literally my own, something I directly contributed to, which makes it a very special part of the feature. Test presses are always sought after, and when this record was handed to me it was like my heart was warmed with straight edge goodness. I had finally done it, I finally had a test press of my, somewhat, own record. It was a culmination of life experiences, a popping of my test press cherry. Also, we were blessed to have shared this record with three great bands, a compilation of excellence in fast contemporary hardcore. Truly, a great record to have had a hand in.

I believe this record is still in print, maybe on it's second press, and had definitely been making the rounds for a few years now. Check your local record store of the Third Party Records website to procure this piece of wax.

Sidenote: If you are familiar with local Chicago Hardcore Hooligans, you will recognize the greatness in choosing that picture as the cover. Real funny stuff.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ten Grand - This is the Way to Rule (2003)


Ten Grand was brought back to my attention after recently conversing about them with some friends. It was like a light bulb went off in my head, "oh yeah, I have to post that album on my blog". And so, here we have it, Ten Grand's last full length album, This is the Way to Rule. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to see the band live, though they toured relentlessly. Just a year or so shy of when I would have been exposed to them. Which, despite a friend's telling of their sloppiness live, is rather unfortunate due to the singer's tragic death in 2003. Now we only have the stories of their machine-like touring ethic and their sarcastic music to live by.

So, remember late 90's hardcore/screamo, made infamous via Ebullition records? For some people, it was the golden years. For others, it spawned countless numbers of mediocre bands resulting in the modern day mainstream screamo with all of it's prepubescent scenester glory, and the current wave of underground screamo. In other words, those others of us want to entirely forget the genre ever existed. Hide your Yaphet Kotto and Still Life records friends, some kid with flashy, bright clothing is going to take a shit all over them. Anyway, Ten Grand played that wonderful version of hardcore, albeit a little more crazed, frantic, and wonderfully sarcastic. It seriously is the finest take on the genre. Long live Ten Grand.

Tracks:
  1. Hands Off the Merch
  2. Wedding Song for Steve and Angie
  3. R E S P E C T Me
  4. Let's Wreck the Van
  5. I Will Seriously Pay You to Shut Up
  6. Scary Movie 4
  7. Get Out of My Dojo
  8. This isn't Heaven, This Sucks
  9. Fuck You Guyses Team
  10. Now You Got What I Got
Look up why they are called Ten Grand

Kriegshög - S/T (2010)


Dismal weather calls for more dismal music. This time we take a trip to Japan. I don't quite know what it is about Japan's music scene. It's bands are usually shrouded in mystery, and it's music is usually anything but a take on a traditional genre. Kriegshög continue the with Japan's discourse on the Discharge influence and turn it on it's head, citing Swedish, little U.S., and more Japan confusion amongst their sound. This band is essentially extremely abrasive, raw, and all-powerful.

S/T, or War on Peace as it is also called, is the band's magnum opus, their penultimate idea of what hardcore should sound like. It also happens to be the band's last release with a small number of releases under their belt. It figures that a foreign band would release one of the most perfect albums of the last decade and then decide to 86' the band, which only mystisizes the band even more for us State-side folk. I'm feeling lazy today so just know that this record is an onslaught of sonic power. That's it.

If you want to find out more information on them, MRR did an interview in their latest issue and it sheds some light on the band. Those of you lucky enough to go to Chaos in Tejas, enjoy their only and last state-side show ever.

Tracks:
  1. Nightmare (Intro)
  2. Heathen (Code Z)
  3. Just Because
  4. Temptation
  5. Zuou
  6. Evolution?
  7. Mutation
  8. Purpose
  9. Burn
  10. Fear the Justice
  11. Human
  12. Tokyo
  13. Life is...
New Wave of Brutality and Hardcore Massacre

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Neurosis - Through Silver in Blood (1996)


I have been in the mood for heavy music lately. Said mood is slightly foreign for this particular changing of seasons, with most people opting for poppy, upbeat music. But let us become serious, there is never a bad time to listen to Neurosis. Heavy music for the heavier things in life.

Tracks:
  1. Through Silver in Blood
  2. Rehumanize
  3. Eye
  4. Purify
  5. Locust Star
  6. Strength of Fates
  7. Become the Ocean
  8. Aeon
  9. Enclosure in Flame
That which is above, is as that which is below.

V/A - Iron Lung Mixtape Vol 1 (2011)


Man, that guy from Iron Lung is one talented individual. This guy has drummed in a baker's dozen amount of bands, and has lately released some really great music underneath his band's label. He recently did a mixtape that is already sold out, full of great bands from all over the globe. With the reinvention of the tape cassette as a medium, it only makes sense the mixtape would reemerge. I know what some of you folks are thinking about, "Guy, it never left. My avant-garde noise band with a sound that hearkens back to early 90's post-(name your genre) has been releasing our eclectic tapes of mixes since before it was cool. So lo-fi, man". Either way, I could give a crap about some ultra-obscure tape some dork made in his bedroom. The only thing I really enjoy out of these is when they expose me to new bands, and or, have new songs from bands I enjoy on it. Much like this one from Iron Lung, 20 songs of good hardcore in different varieties, indie stuff, and even some garbage stuff.

So what exactly does this tape contain, you ask? For the expectedly high quality part, some great songs by Mind Eraser, Walls, and Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Some of the real winners were bands I have either not listened to, or never heard of, such as Society Nurse, Solutions, and White Wards. However, I am not too thrilled on Total Control's song, or the last two tracks that just to be filler/jokes/things that just didn't interest me. The best part, is the Black Flag cover brought to you by Cold Sweat, which to my knowledge, was never released. Overall, the key here is variety, it's the spice of life.

Tracks:
  1. Mentally Challenged - Demon Idea
  2. Slices - Bottom of the Barrel
  3. Solutions - Human Meat
  4. Iron Lung - Spent
  5. Cold Sweat - I've Heard It All Before
  6. Self Com - 8am
  7. Total Control - S.I.B.
  8. Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Rush to Relax
  9. Walls - Blinding Light of Truth
  10. Pig Heart Transplant - Mental Jobs
  11. Vaccuum - Driven
  12. White Wards - Acceptance
  13. Society Nurse - Locked In
  14. Big Crux - Protocore
  15. Kim Phuc - Something's Dead
  16. Running for Cover - You Are the Victim
  17. Opt Out - The Expose
  18. Mind Eraser - Phonophobia
  19. Master Chaos - Enlightenment
  20. Studio Geordie - Museum Dub
Who has a tape player these days anyway? Seriously?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Southeast Engine - Canary (2011)


Ah yes, the changing of the seasons. When my elated neighbors are all walking about, perusing all the nooks and crannies of our city, and lastly, riding their really cool looking bikes with little to no regard for safety. Such is the cost of being cool. But I have my own way of subtle revenge on their manpri's and cool lookin' hair-dos (or don'ts for that matter), dog shit. That's right, we are dog sitting quite a good looking Airdale Terrier and I may or may not, have forgotten to grab a bag to pick up dog poop with. So take that hapless trendsetters of the modern age. When you walk out your door to your well neglected yard, don't be surprised to find a well placed pile of doggy do-do awaiting your foot.

Moving on. Here is an album by a band I recently found out about, but by no means have been around for a small amount of time. This is a more popular, or you could even say hip, take on some good old fashion folk/Americana full band music. Probably something a place like Pitchfork would love. But it is pretty decent stuff. The "cool" factor doesn't rely so much in the music, as the context for such a feat. The album tells a story of the Great Depression via location, Athens, Ohio, where the band happens to be from. Thus there is a great juxtaposition between the telling of an old tale, and the context of our current economic growth (or lack there of).

Yup.

Tracks:
  1. Curses of Canaanville
  2. Cold Front Blues
  3. 1933 (Great Depression)
  4. At Least We Have Each Other
  5. Adeline of the Appalachian Mountains
  6. Red Lake Shore
  7. Mountain Child
  8. New Growth
  9. Summer and Her Ferris Wheel
  10. Ruthie
  11. Sourwood Mountain
Avast, Hipsters of Logan Square!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Molina & Johnson - S/T (2009)




I've been slacking. To my loyal readers, you two people know who you are, my sincerest apologies. To make up for it, and to begin posting anew, I have this little modern Americana gem. A collaborative effort between Jason Molina and Will Johnson, aptly titled, Molina and Johnson. Jason Molina is the much beloved leader of the bands Songs:Ohio and Magnolia Electric Co. along with some of his own solo efforts. Will Johnson, on the other hand, heads the overlooked/under appreciated Centro-Matic and the folkier output, South San Gabriel. That is one hell of a super-duo, huh? I thought so, much like that Weakerthans collaborative effort I posted.

I remember the exact day that I bought this album, maybe a year or so ago, and heading back to my friends place, trudging through a rainstorm. We got back, played the few hardcore 7in that we bought, in which the listening went by rather fast, and I decided to put this on. This album enveloped us, as we sat sheltered from the rain. Dreary, atmospheric Americana folk music seemed to hypnotize us, barely noticing any outside distraction until the a-side clicked off. It was almost as though the music was haunting us, washing over us in a wave of warmth from the weather. Secretly Canadian, the label this output was on, describes this album in grandiose terms, using the leverage of the two writer's backgrounds. Prolific roots music. I am not denying this record's greatness, but I think the description would have been more apt had it just said music to get lost with. Lost in a variable of definitions, in your own head, in a book, etc.

The rainy weather we have been having has been perfect for this record, making me stay in my apartment, and getting lost in my own head.

Tracks:
  1. Twenty Cycles to the Ground
  2. All Falls Together
  3. All Gone, All Gone
  4. Almost Let You In
  5. In the Avalon/Little Killer
  6. Don't Take My Night From Me
  7. Each Star Marks a Day
  8. Lenore's Lullaby
  9. The Lilly and the Brakeman
  10. Now, Divide
  11. What You Reckon, What You Breathe
  12. As Long as it will Matter
  13. 34 Blues
  14. Wooden Heart
Leave this place.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Vinyl Distractions: Quicksand - Manic Compression


Call it the beautiful weather we are having, or the maybe the overdose of sugar I have been ingesting, but I think I am over my Sultans epidemic. Am I still bitter? Well of course, but that is to be expected when the promise of a lukewarm spinach pie could have been in my belly. One must not wallow in sorrow for long, and I am moving on to another edition of Vinyl Distractions. Today, we feature Quicksand, a band whose catalog is seeing a rejuvenation of late, and I am featuring their last lp, Manic Compression.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the mysticism of collecting Revelation Records discog #1-22. It has become the unfortunate Holy Grail of hardcore. I say unfortunate because I think there are so many rare and interesting collections to grasp a hold of. That isn't to say I am not of a fan of several of these bands, I own reissues of a handful of the 1-22 collection. But I wouldn't dare go anywhere near an original Bold record or Perfection of Desire, it just isn't good music to me. Seriously, how many of you still listen to Bold's Speak Out? And I'll take Judge over Youth of Today any day of the week, I have never been the biggest fan of youth crew, though. Either way, these twenty-two records of decent hardcore have become revered among the hardcore community.

This crazed fetishism of vinyl records and the constant search for the rarest pressings, thus causing an inflation of modern day vinyl records and prices, I believe stems from this collection of music. A bold statement? Well, so is saying that Bolds music has actual merit. One thing is for sure, you won't see me dropping loads of cash on the first Sick of it All 7inch. The Storm, maybe, but I'll keep my distance from most of the stuff.

Let's talk about Revelations later catalog, which released several hardcore, post-hardcore, and indie gems. Like Quicksand's Manic Compression. Now is this record necessarily rare? Not really, just hard to find. But it holds some weight for me, for I have always loved Quicksand and their play on a genre. I found this record just by chance, several years ago, while flipping through the old Record Breakers used vinyl selection. Looking through this selection was a nightmare, rarely was there anything relevant of the times, and usually in horrible shape if there was. Whilst sifting through the piles, I came across this record, for a mere 7.99! It was that feeling of pure achievement, kind of like the time I bought the ToH zine split 7in between Fucked Up and Think I Care for 2 dollars. And to this day, Manic Compression is one of my favorite finds in my whole collection. I'll take this record over any of Rev 1-22 any day.

Now for a little game, let's play find the sarcasm!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Swervedriver - Mezcal Head (1993)


Let's talk about the idea, or act, of being disappointed. Now the dictionary states that the state of being disappointed is "to defeat the fulfillment of (hopes, plans, etc.)". Synonymous with a feeling of unbridled defeat or even an utter lack of accomplishment. Exciting, right? Everyone goes through this feeling on, for the most part, a day by day basis. It rains, and somewhere, someone, with flawless bangs gets their hair ruined. Hence, disappointment. Or how about a child doesn't exactly get that the square block doesn't fit through the circular opening, and seeing as how said child is 12 years of age, the parent may be disappointed. There is really a myriad of examples, but I wanted to pick my favorites. Well folks, today, I reached that depth, the emotional drain of being disappointed. At My job, we were promised Sultan's Market to be catered for lunch due to what most companies would call an employee appreciation day, or week for my job. Low and behold, said promise was not kept, and around 9 a.m., word had spread like the black plague through a medieval peasant town. My hopes of filling my belly with the finest of falafel snacks was crushed into oblivion, and with it, disappointment set in. Never have I ever felt so betrayed, so lost, so..............wait, I feel as though this is turning into a mediocre hardcore song. I shall stop here by just saying, "Team Member Appreciation Week" my ass. Jerks.

Anyway, here is a record by British Shoegaze/90's Alt-Rock wonders, Swervedriver. Enjoy.

Tracks:
  1. For Seeking Heat
  2. Duel
  3. Blowin' Cool
  4. MM Abduction
  5. Last Train to Satinsville
  6. Harry & Maggie
  7. A Change is Gonna Come
  8. Girl on a Motorbike
  9. Duress
  10. You Find it Everywhere
Zoltar's Soup.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cursed - Blackout at Sunrise


Ever get in one of those moods in which you really just don't want to partake in society? And no, I don't mean like some manic depressive cut my wrists type of way. That is just straight foolish. Life is way too cool for those shenanigans. I am talking about the real deal here. Such as when humanity is too....... What's the word I am looking for? Vile. This feeling of disgust has been following me lately, probably because I have been more vigilant with national and international news, along with daily occurrences. Well, when I get this way, I just want to shut off for a bit. Hit the sleep button. Who doesn't? After a long day of working in a kitchen, providing food for the over privileged and reading about how affairs in Libya, Syria, and myriad of other countries, are worsening, I listen to music. And lately that diversion has taken the form of Cursed.

And what better a band than Cursed. Chris Colohan is man that sure has a distaste for most things in the world, and knows how to voice it. The guy has a bone to pick with, well, just about everything. I dig that. There is always something to be angry about, and always a way to voice that anger. And what better backdrop for his raspy howl than Cursed's music. This ep has the perfect example of their sound, loud, tonaly crushing, evil, fast, and all while being dragged through the mud. "Blackout at Sunrise" is definitely one of my favorite Cursed songs, they mash up everything they enjoy in a hardcore song and let it explode. Taking the tension that starts in the intro all the way up to the end, in a violent cacophony of music. This song alone hits that mood I was explaining. Plus, who doesn't want to hear Colohan yelling at the top of his lungs, "We're going to Hawaii!". I know I love hearing it, hell I giggle on the inside.

So, when the world is feeling ugly and tired, just know that there is at least some crazy Canadian out there that feels the same way, and has his own little remedy to share with you.

Tracks:
  1. Blackout at Sunrise
  2. The Hands will Abide
  3. Hawaii
A brilliant white light fills my mouth and eyes.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vinyl Distractions: Guided By Voices


Guided By Voices - Under the Bushes, Under the Stars (1995)

Almost seemed as though I forgot about this little feature I made, but it makes a very big comeback on this day of celebrating the Zombie Jesus. This record is a more recent purchase for me, one that left me with a shit eating grin long after I left Chicago's Reckless Records. Guided by Voices have one of the biggest cult followings within modern day indie rock. Robert Pollard has become a legend as one of the most prolific songwriters of our time, an unsung hero. Guided by Voices has been his most beloved output, releasing music between 1983 and 2004, and an exuberant number of records released. I, for one, was late on the Guided by Voices bus and started to delve into their discography only a few years ago. But once introduced, I fell in love with their combination of quirky indie rock and an affinity for low brow production. It was true, unadulterated love. Kind of like that scene in Lady and the Tramp, where the two dogs share spaghetti with each other, inevitably kissing. Oh Robert Pollard, how I long to share that moment with you..........

Well, that got weird. Onwards and upwards. At this current moment in my life, Under the Bushes... is by and large, my favorite output by GBV. It is the final album made by their "classic" lineup and features some of my favorite tracks, such as "The Official Ironmen Rally Song", "Bright Paper Werewolves", and "Don't Stop Now". Plus, as if one record full of songs wasn't enough, GBV released this record with an additional ep, 6 bonus tracks, one of them being "Redmen and Their Wives", my all time favorite. So, on one very special day off, I decided to travel down to the Reckless Records on Milwaukee on my bike. With the wind in my hair as I pondered what I was going to find whilst perusing their seemingly endless amount of wax. Now I don't know for sure how rare these early GBV records are, but I know they are worth more in money and sentimental value than what I payed for it. My excitement for the day peaked when I randomly flipped through their section, finding this gem. I knew it was something that I couldn't pass up, because I knew the chances of finding these records are few and far between. And once I gave the cashier my money for this record, and it entered in my collection, My heart was a little more whole.

I a sucker for record artwork, as well. Under the Bushes... features the collage work that Pollard is known for in all his records. The cover almost seems like it is some type of older magazine advertisement, something he probably took inspiration from. The way the red line passes through the circular motif creates a beautiful moment of tension. This along with low intensity and drab colors really works for me. Classic record design from a classic band.

If Guided by Voices are new to you and you wish to hear them, have no fear, one of their albums will find it's way on the blog soon enough.


Back Cover
Gatefold inside


Look at those beauties

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans - The Falcon Lake Incident (2010)


Mentally, I keep having to remind myself to post more of a variety of music on the blog. So far, the punk/hardcore and folk genres are dominating it. I don't necessarily mean to do such a thing, it is what happens to be resonating with me at the current moment that becomes posted. Oh well, these things happen. And now we have another record with folk relations.

There isn't much I know about Jim Bryson, other than this album and that he is a Canadian. I do, however, know a decent amount about one of Canada's finest exports, The Weakerthans. I for one, thoroughly enjoy The Weakerthans indie/folk leanings with wonderfully narrative lyrics, courtesy of John Samson. Sure the last album was just ok in terms of a full length, but Civil Twilight had some real great moments on it, some of the best of their catalog. And with this collaboration and Samson's solo records, it shows that The Weakerthans are not slowing down. The Falcon Lake Incident is a record that combines the subtle indie rock of the The Weakerthans, with some moody folk music, something they are already great at. However, it is Bryson that shines on this record with Samson taking a backing vocal role, and I am also assuming he had a hand it writing a majority of the music because it doesn't sound like a straight Weakerthans record. This record went unnoticed by many people, it seems, and it sure slipped under my radar until a month ago, so please, take notice now.

That seemed like a rambling jumble of literary garbage, not that it ever isn't..... But hey, it is will past my bedtime and my mind is running astray. Suck it.

Tracks:
  1. Raised All Wrong
  2. Metal Girls
  3. Fell Off the Dock
  4. Wild Folk
  5. Constellation
  6. Freeways in the Frontyard
  7. Up All Night
  8. Kissing Cousins
  9. Decidedly
  10. Anything and All
Despite what they say, we're not like birds or even aeroplanes.

Look Back and Laugh - S/T #1 (2006)


Originally, I planned on posting this record much later in my blogs life. However, a dream I had this morning has had LBAL on my mind all day. It may have been the best dream I have ever had, for that matter. Basically, there was this block party/festival going on in my neighborhood that turned out to be very similar to an event like Chaos in Tejas. Look Back and Laugh was scheduled to play this fest of sorts, and, in true festival fashion, secret shows were consipiratized. So, in my dream, Look Back and Laugh reunited on my street, and played the most perfect set ever. While you people were busy having dreams about existentialism, world peace, or puppies, I was basking in true hardcore punk bliss. It was glorious.

To say something about this record, it is perfect. The musicianship in this single record alone is awe inspiring, talent not matched by another band of the genre. There is a reason why they are one of my favorites.

Tracks:
  1. This is the Cost We Absorb
  2. Midwest Train Wreck
  3. Blinders
  4. Hooked
  5. Hawks
  6. Smear Campaign
  7. Run Silent Run Deep
  8. Slogans
  9. Charred Flock
  10. Exhaust Filled Damnation
  11. Blank Compliance
  12. Martyrs
  13. Caste System
  14. Truth and Error
Only slogans will prevail.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Born Against - Battle Hymns for the Race War (1993)


File this one under: Classics you should know by heart. If hardcore had a problem child, it would be Born Against. That kid that was a snotty brat, pushed every button imaginable, and always seemed confrontational. However, trade the unintelligence for straight wit. It's like a deadly weapon, a band that had the ingenuity and combined it with the confrontational aspect and pure aggression of hardcore punk. Like Chokehold, who proceeded them, Born Against took any chance they could to poke the proverbial hive of conformity within hardcore. A band that really stood for something, put their politics where their mouths were.

While Batlle Hymns... may not have my favorite song of theirs on it, "Well Fed Fuck", it is takes the cake as their most cohesive album. A thundering assault of off-kilter hardcore punk that hits very very hard for only being nine songs long. As soon as the open chords of "Muder the Sons of Bitches" hits, it almost hypnotizes me to throw a brick through the window of Wal-Mart and proceed to light that concrete shell of materialism on fire. Cause that's anarchy right? I really hope sarcasm works over the internet.... Anyway, lets talk about some songs, like "Born Against are Fucking Dead". You want confrontation within hardcore? Shock Value? Make a track like this, piss off one of the most important bands in early NYHC history, they threaten you over an answering machine, and then you take that sampled recording and write a song about them, mocking their bravado. Simply perfect. And the last track, "A Whopper of a Tale", is a lesson in dirgy hardcore instrumentals with a sample of Sam McPheeters commenting about a controversial topic via impeccable sarcasm over a popular talk show of the time. I just can't help giggle at it.

Sam Mcpheeters may have been rumored to be a trust fund kid, but I'll take Born Against over Sick of it All any day of the week.

Tracks:
  1. Murder the Sons of Bitches
  2. Mt. Dew
  3. Foot Bound & Hobbled
  4. This Trash Should be Free
  5. Poland
  6. Sendero
  7. Set Your AM Dial
  8. Born Against are Fucking Dead
  9. A Whopper of a Tale
I heard they're just a bunch of spoiled little rich kids anyway.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bloody Gears - End of the Line (2010)


I realized I should have mentioned this in the the Blank Stare post, but it slipped my mind. Remember that familial aspect of bands in the Tragedy post? Well, same applied to Blank Stare. People in that band seem to be in a handful of great bands, all way above the line of mediocrity. Seeing as how I enjoy most of their bands, more will be featured on the blog. Until then, look it up. For now, we have Bloody Gears featuring Ryan Abbott on the drums.

Instead of opting play in another top notch punk band, we find Bloody Gears who are reinventing the gloom punk sound. In other words, total Wipers worship here, but adding the flair of several other bands for a variation on a sound. Like other N.W. punk heroes, The Observers. End of the Line also takes hints from bands like Leatherface, Articles of Faith, and early Husker Du. Gloomy, hopeless punk.

The lyrics take notes from the Wipers, as well. The band hits their stride in an overall feeling of a loss of faith in humanity, and that we are all doomed as a society. Wonderful penmanship, which I feel is hard to come by in a musically great punk band. I can have my cake and eat it, too, you know. The highlight for me is "Dead Language", which has a gritty chord progression that works off of the singers dirt grit voice. Abrasive, but with enough melody to carry the song on.

Bloody Gears also released a demo before this record, which is on the internet tubes somewhere if you enjoy this.

Tracks:
  1. End of the Line
  2. Take a Ride
  3. Dead Language
It's not too late to turn back now.

Knife Fight - Crisis (2007)


I have a playlist of bands and music in my Itunes for things to throw up on the blog. Lots of rare gems, hard to find hits, and music that I think is all around better than yours. Pompous right? This post is going to hold a special place in my heart, Knife Fight's Crisis. Why is this so important to me? Because lately anytime my girlfriend refers to any hardcore and or punk music, she yells at me to put Knife Fight on. Not out of enjoyment, but because she was looking through my ipod one day and put it on based on the name. Then proceeded to laugh when the music started, and my life hasn't been the same since. She's a sweetheart, huh?

Either way, it's a good she won't stop yelling Knife Fight at the top of her lungs, because it reminded me to post this killer record. I don't exactly know why, but it seems this LP went over many listeners heads when it first came out. Probably because it wasn't the SSD/X-Claim worship the band was known for. Throwing away most of the Boston beats for straight Discharge worship, with flares of Poison Idea. I love Discharge because of the straight simplistic approach to hardcore punk music. Every song sounds almost the same, it's great. And now Knife Fight takes that D-beat formula, and filters it through contemporary hardcore. In other words, the riffs are slightly more complicated, and fast. Real fast. And when it got this fast, it got pummelling. Crisis' unrelenting punch is what will make it a true contemporary classic, it never ceases to let up.

What also is crazy, is that one man is behind the graces of Knife Fight. Mr. Westbrook. To know that he is the man responsible for "Lies", makes him inhuman. Just as ferocious as my cat gets when he can't be an outside cat lurking the alleyways of Chicago. The poor little guy would never make it, total wimp. And the drumming. If you are a drummer, or want to start drumming, use this record as your basis for everything perfect in hardcore punk drumming. Take notes people, Discharge seems to be more popular these days and Knife Fight provided the perfect formula for doing it right four years ago.

Tracks:
  1. Held Back
  2. Lies
  3. Live Your Life
  4. Two Face
  5. Acceptance
  6. Fight
  7. Consume
  8. Leech in My Side
  9. Apathy
  10. Crisis
I won't let it consume My life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Woody Guthrie - Dust Bowl Ballads (1940)


One last post to round up the evening, and I'll make it short and sweet. Woody Guthrie is the most important folk songwriter/singer in America, maybe even the world. Very political, socially conscience, smart, sarcastic, and around inspirational. His scope of influence can be seen everywhere, such as in the artists I have previously posted like A.A. Bondy, Will Whitmore, and Billy Bragg. Traditional folk music here, folks. A man whose music was vital to the people going through the times of the 1930's/40's, dealing with the depression among many other things. Also great are the tribute records done by Billy Bragg and Wilco, the Mermaid Avenue records. So, short and sweet. Time to listen to Woody and get in touch with my inner gold miner.

Tracks:
  1. The Great Dust Storm
  2. I Ain't Got No Home in this World Anymore
  3. Talkin' Dust Bowl Blues
  4. Vigilante Man
  5. Dust Can't Kill Me
  6. Pretty Boy Floyd
  7. Dust Pneumonia Blues
  8. Blowin' Down this Road
  9. Tom Joad Part 1
  10. Tom Joad Part 2
  11. Dust Bowl Refugee
  12. Do Re Mi
  13. Dust Bowl Blues
  14. Dusty Old Dust
But it can't kill me, no, it can't kill me.

A.A. Bondy - When the Devil's Loose (2009)



I must really be in a sharing mood, two, maybe three posts in one night? Wild. And here I am thinking I wouldn't be able to stop myself from posting once a day. This time around, I am going to share with you a record that has been a staple of my music catalog since it came out in 2009. A.A. Bondy's When the Devil's Loose, his second full-length. A.A. Bondy plays that beautifully subtle Americana style of folk music. Sparse instrumentals, a sultry voice, and knows his way around working a pen. Many critics cite him as Bob Dylan personified, and I am not sure about that one, that is a weird, lofty statement for critics. An easy way out. I do, however, know he is rather elusive, and is also one the greatest songwriters of our generation. Listen up, because this man is important.

When the Devil's Loose is much more adventurous than his first record American Hearts, which was mostly acoustic guitar. This record employs a myriad of instruments to achieve his sound. Hushed drums, and almost muted guitar sound wonderfully full, to give most of the attention to Bondy's voice. "Mightiest of Guns" is the perfect opener, a sparse solo number, that is a showcase for Bondy's gift of songwriting. Songs like "I Can See the Pines are Dancing" and "The Mercy Wheel" are just 2 of many other reasons why Bondy's craft is meticulously honed. But the real gem for me, is the second track "A Slow Parade". An atmospheric number that will have your foot tapping along with the slow pace. His voice, and quiet electric guitar are spot on, especially when the song seems to explode towards the end, in this haze of guitar soloing. If there is any relevant reason to compare such a man to a living legend, then this would be it, a truly great song.

This record is as close to perfect as one could get. A stroke of true genius. Hopefully he can get something else released rather soon, I know I would love to hear more progression.

Tracks
  1. Mightiest of Guns
  2. A Slow Parade
  3. When the Devil's Loose
  4. To the Morning
  5. Oh the Vampyre
  6. I Can See the Pines are Dancing
  7. False River
  8. On the Moon
  9. The Mercy Wheel
  10. The Coal Hits the Fire
There are ashes were you laid.