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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

True Widow - As High as the Highest Heavens and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth (2011)

One hell of a title, huh? I have a feeling this band jokes around often. Sure, could there be some great meaning in the naming of the record? Absolutely. However, as a band, long album titles are usually never taken seriously, due to the complications in promoting such a long title. Also, they call themselves a "stonegaze" band. Made up genres should never be taken seriously, such as the wonders of "crunkcore". What will people think of next? Intelligent or not, "stonegaze" does sufficiently describe this band, though most people think True Widow hearken back to the genre of "slowcore". All this genre talk is making me nauseous. Just know this, True Widow sound like a louder version of Low, or as a coworker told me, "pretty sludge".

By now most of you will not want to check this band out, which is fine. But you would be doing yourselves a disservice in passing up a great record. Do you really think I would post something I didn't think was wonderfully brilliant? As High As... is a long record of sprawling guitars and clean vocal melodies. That is what I enjoy about this band, that they are able to translate normally abrasive sludgey riffs into something with more melody. What is even weirder is that you can kind of tell that they band is from Texas. I am a firm believer of a person's landscape affecting their art, and it shines through in this case. Texas can be a pretty desolate, sprawling place, which shines through in the music. The songs meander through a grim place, slowly coming around time and again for air. The opening track "Jackyl" bears the weight of this feeling, as the opening chord hits you like a ton of bricks. I also really enjoy the pace of "NH", a ponderously slow jam that turns to be incredible catchy. This is also followed by the single the band is pushing, "Skull Eyes", another catchy tune that displays the pretty side of the band, in which the pretty is dragged through molasses. I would also like to point out the song "Interlude", which acts as it's title suggests, but reveals much more. The song breaks up any monotony through the obvious acoustic guitar work, but the atmosphere brings a whole different element. Sparse static is in the forefront of the song, almost as though it were recorded on the plateau of some mountain in Texas. Really beautiful stuff here.

Whether True Widow has a knack for pulling your strings or not, there is something beautiful in this record. How it brings you to the lowest depths of a sparse Texas well, only to glimpsed at by sunlight around every corner is exciting. It is this slow, heavy, and melodic dynamic that makes this band special, cut out from the rest. Give it a try, and proceed to buy the beautiful 180g double LP. I did.

  1. Jackyl
  2. Blooden Horse
  3. NH
  4. Skull Eyes
  5. Wither
  6. Boaz
  7. Night Witches
  8. Interlude
  9. Doomser
(You would almost think they were a Euro Doom band with song titles such as those...)

Tow me a line.

The track "Aka" off of their first album, True Widow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No Statik - We All Die In The End (2011)

I picked up this little gem today from the local record store to hopefully break up the monotony of my day. No Statik caught my attention due to it's stunning roster of bands whose sound is relevant to my interests. People who have done time in Look Back and Laugh, Talk is Poison, Artimus Pyle, and Scholastic Deth are who make up this group. Enticing, right? And I am sure you can imagine what this band sounds like, too? Straight, fast, hardcore punk with loads of influence taken from crust and Japanese bands. This is the type of band that makes me want to grow out some dreads, write an MRR column, and discuss the Utopian ideals of an anarchist society. Where trash can be free, my urban vegan garden can grow where ever, and my anarchist bookstore/coffeeshop/recordstore/whatevereleseitiscrustpunksdo can flourish. Smells great, huh?

We All Die in the End really is a great record, though. Side A is made up of 6 songs that are furiously aggressive, with incredible guitar work. I can't fathom playing some of this, just fast. Fast, fast, fast. Probably why I am not a guitarist. Lyrics are about a doomed world, typical of crust bands. Religious people have the Rapture, crust punks have the ongoing apocalypse. The end of the world scenario that they think we are already embracing, living in it, man. So deep. The B side of the LP is where things get really interesting. An instrumental track in which the first so many minutes are the band doing what they do best, but without vocals. Then the punk fades, and in it's place is an ambient, electronic drone. The best part is, it pulsates with the same rhythm as the music, which makes an appearance at the end. It was really nice to hear some variety, and a great way to end a record.

So, while you are downloading this great record, I am going to work on growing my dreads, denying myself some showers, and finally get around to putting those bullet casings that I have neglected into my belt.


  1. When We Wake
  2. The Corpse We Will Become
  3. Recurrent Cycles
  4. Surrogate
  5. Deadly Repercussions
  6. Ambivalent
  7. We All Die in the End
Clarified, distilled, recomposed.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Blank Stare - White Hell (2006)

There isn't going to be some special introductory paragraph exploring the relative topics to this entry. Opting instead to focus on one of the most important contemporary hardcore punk bands for me. Blank Stare, from Massachusetts. A band that seemed to go under the radar for years, before their ultimate demise in 2009. Blank Stare were special. Not only were their live shows revered among the flock mediocrity within hardcore, but their music was vastly superior, as well. They were as fast as Tear It Up, as dirgy as later era Black Flag, and payed homage to other overlooked 80's hardcore bands like Crucifix. Their first couple records displayed their ferocious speed, but it was this 7in and the LP (along with a collection of random songs) that showed the meandering beast they were progressing towards. Still fast, but taking the time to slow things down via gritty nodes of repetition.

White Hell was their last of three 7 inches before their penultimate full-length. And this record is my preferred among the rest, with the LP close behind. Like I said, the music is fast enough to please any straightforward hardcore fan, but tonally heavy to please any crust punk. Well, I guess that is if any crust punk can be pleased, they always have to be disgruntled about something. Anyway, the tones. This is what sets the later material from the early. Blank Stare made their music have some beef, some real punch to it, and this record displays that sonic power perfectly. The lyrics are something to be reckoned with, as well. This records lyrics were written under then unifying idea of a "White Hell". Topics that take stabs at our countries obsession with the ugly; factory farming, racism, and the deterioration of our society. Substance, real genuine substance. Because where as most bands will write lyrics about hating their lives, leaving their live shows to try to shock the already converted, this band was looking at our lifestyle and culture from a slightly different perspective. In hardcore, if you aren't preaching to the choir, you're trying to alienate yourselves from it through idiocy and shock value. This band strayed from that path, taking on relevant topics of our times. Substance, people. A band like this comes around only so often, so enjoy them while you can.

  1. White Hell
  2. White Corpse
  3. White Race - White Waste
Curtain of flies on this city. A fine mess, just as pretty.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pedro the Lion - It's Hard To Find A Friend (1998)

Pedro the Lion is a name known to most people who stay up to date with independent music, along with it's creator, David Bazan. But what we are going to discuss here are associations, which is what made me neglect Bazan's music for years. Pedro the Lion, to a more or lesser extant, was a Christian band. That right there was a good enough reason for many people to easily stray away from his music. I personally know I disregarded his music because of the associations I had with most independent Christian music. If the pinnacle of such a genre was Cornerstone Fest, an annual Christian music festival in southern IL, I don't want any part of it. I am no overtly outspoken anti-religion fanatic, but I usually don't mesh well with some guy singing about his "lord" and or, "saviour". To each his own. But it was this association that I knowingly placed on Pedro the Lion, far after their demise, that I truly regret. We are going to get one thing straight here, Bazan is one hell of a songwriter and Pedro the Lion was an important band to so many people for a damn good reason.

Musically, most people pinned Pedro the Lion's music to the genre of "Slowcore"; ie, slow, usually depressing, indie rock. Kind of like 90's emo, but without the incessant yelling. Bazan has a wonderful ear for rhythm and melody, which shines through his songwriting. Either upbeat, or long, droning instrumentals are what makes the music, and the emotion conveyed through an electric guitar.

However, it's the lyrics that should be the focus of Bazan's music. Are there lyrics about Bazan's belief in the Christian faith? Yes. But, are they introspective, full of metaphors, or questioning the idea of having faith in something so ambiguous? Yes. Bazan understands the complexities in having faith in religion in the 21st Century, and even in his first album, It's Hard To Find A Friend, his devotion is starting to waver. Take "Secret of the Easy Yoke" for example, a song dedicated to questioning his devotion, having faith in something he can't see, something opaque. The line about "falling on my sword" gets me everytime, to rather metaphorically die than continue on his path is one hell of a way to put it.

It's Hard To Find A Friend is Pedro the Lion at it's best. Perfect music for when you need to hear a sad song, such as "Bad Diary Days", a song his devotion to his wife. Or perfect music for when you are vibin' a good jam, such as "Big Trucks", in which he tells his dad to beat down some dude that may have cut him off in a car or some sort. Give this a listen, if you haven't already, and don't let some label disrupt your notions of what good music. I sure did, but now I know better.

  1. Of Up and Coming Monarchs
  2. The Longer I Lay Here
  3. Big Trucks
  4. Suspect Fled the Scene
  5. Bad Diary Days
  6. The Longest Winter
  7. When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run
  8. Of Minor Prophets and Their Prostitute Wives
  9. The Bells
  10. Secret of the Easy Yoke
  11. The Well
  12. Promise
But if all that's left is duty, I'm falling on my sword.

Much Worse - Absolute Nightmare (2011)

For being eleven posts into the blog, I have yet to post something of this year, or the last, or the one before that. Time to make this experiment relevant of the times. I enjoy aggressive music. Many of my friends and or family that aren't involved in it, don't necessarily understand, but I enjoy the primal aura of abrasive music. Lately, though, I find myself harder to relate to some of the bands within contemporary hardcore punk. The agro, jock sounding hardcore is still as stimulating to me as a dead roach as it was years ago. And most of the current Youth Attack bands just sound redundant to me.

Fear not, I haven't lost my faith in hardcore, and this release proves it. Much Worse is a band hailing from the wonderful land of Minneapolis MN, and this would be their second release. Now the first 7in didn't do much for me, but this record blew me away. Pure, unadulterated Japanese influenced hardcore, and done fucking right. There is even some d-beat/crust influence thrown in for good measure, you know, just in case this record bored you. Now hardcore guitarists pay attention here, because the tone and musicianship is perfect. Which is great because sometimes the vocals can get somewhat monotone on me. "Tarred Lungs" is the perfect example of this, a perfect contemporary hardcore song. It just steam rolls right over you. Tones people, pure sonic blistering music. So if you have found yourself getting somewhat bored with your by the textbook hardcore bands, give this a try.

  1. Saturation
  2. Tarred Lungs
  3. Absolute Nightmare
  4. Dilapidated
  5. Can't Bullshit a Bullshitter
You can't swindle another swindler.

Tragedy - Can We Call This Life?

Originally, I was going to post another Vinyl Distraction, however, I can't find the digital camera anywhere. So, to make up for it, I may make three normal music posts tonight. I know, this is one hell of a life that I lead. Rebecca Black would just be so disappointed that I am not out partying. Fun. Such is life.

Now my tastes in hardcore have always leaned towards the more abrasive, and disjointed sounds. Such as many crust/crust punk influenced bands. This is also going to be the first, in a long line of posts, about the family tree of bands stemming from His Hero Is Gone. My favorites of these bands always fluctuate, it seems nearly improbable that these guys can be in so many great bands. Mediocrity does not rule here. Nothing less than greatness is achieved by these guys. Almost like the Chicago Bulls of hardcore punk. I also will most likely do a focus feature on family tree bands, the ones in which everything a certain person(s) touches turns to pure musical bliss. But back to Tragedy.

Can We Call This Life? is the second release from now legendary Portland punks, Tragedy, and the most revered among fans, as well. These three songs display that the band turned into a well oiled machine, from their self-titled debut preceding it. The first LP showed to the world that Tragedy was more than willing to shed the sludge of His Hero Is Gone for a D-Beat sound, but it still found its way into the music. Like the shadow of Michael Jordan over every basketball player ever (sports.). With this EP, that slight hint of influence is gone, in replace are three songs of straight blistering crusty d-beat. Dare I say, epic? "The Ending Fight" is what takes the cake here, one of the best hardcore punk songs of the modern age. Not only does the intro pound you into a crusty garbage dump, but the bridge, oh the bridge. Burdette's lyrics about his vision of a Utopian society meld together perfectly over the buzz of the bridge. As he says, this is war.

You should already know about this band, but if you don't this is the perfect starting point.

  1. The Ending Fight
  2. The Waiting
  3. Life
The end of the ruling classes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - Live at the Middle East (2006)

It was only a matter of time before I post something by my good ole' pal Ted Leo. And what better chance to post some of his material right after a post about Billy Bragg. Ted Leo is one of my favorite artists, ever, in the whole world. He is everything I have ever wanted out of a musician. Dynamic, soulful, angry when needed, full of passion, introspective, and downright funny when he gets the chance. Did you ever see that Human Giant skit, the one where Aziz pretends to be a music mogul? It only shows Leo can act just like the rest of 'em. Anyway, Leo is the hardest working man in independent music, the superman of indie rock. Who else would whip up an EP in response to the horribly managed Minnesota Republican National Convention back in 2008, aptly titled Rapid Response? Ted did, because he is superman, with a guitar.

Now this is a bootleg recording of a live show he did back in 2006, a year after Shake the Streets came out. I don't know many other details about the show than what's given to me. Therefore, I don't know if an amazing setlist was done for any specific, special reason, or just for the hell of it. Either way, if you are a fan of his work, then this is for you. Songs from all of his earlier albums are included here, along with the first couple of the songs being done in solo fashion. That is one of my favorite aspects of Ted Leo, his songs are just as moving with him and his electric guitar than when they are done full band. And he includes his cover of "Dirty Old Town" by the Pogues. The set is also concluded with the fuzzed out jam of "Stove By a Whale", dragging the ending on in true superman fashion.

But is the bootleg astounding due to his Pogues cover? Or playing an early rendition of "Sons of Cain"? Or even fan favorites, such as "Me and Mia" and "Timorous Me"? No. The secret to this bootleg is a cover he does in the beginning of his set/closing of Drew O'Doherety's set (the opening act/off and on Leo co-conspirator). O'Doherety starts playing the opening riffs, and immediately, the crowd is heard giggling. And when the first lines are belted out, "I get up in the evening, and I ain't got nothing to say", in which Drew laughs right after, the crowd starts to understand what they are witnessing. The Boss' most beautifully crafted song, "Dancing in the Dark". And it's after the first chorus that Leo joins Drew, bursting in to the second verse, as though he were The Boss himself. Hell, they even end the song with the trademark "Hey baby" yells. Incredible. I honestly listen to this song once a day, and just goes to show that The Boss penned the greatest song ever made. Ever.

  1. Dancing in the Dark with Drew O'Doherety (Bruce Springsteen Cover)
  2. To Whom We Were Born (Lungfish Cover)
  3. The Sword in the Stone
  4. Bleeding Powers
  5. The High Party
  6. Dirty Old Town (The Pogues Cover)
  7. Timorous Me
  8. Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?
  9. Little Dawn
  10. Sons of Cain
  11. Some Beginner's Mind
  12. Me & Mia
  13. Hearts of Oak
  14. The One Who Got Us Out
  15. Counting Down the Hours
  16. Biomusicology
  17. Stove By a Whale
Man, I ain't get nowhere just living in a dump like this.