Wednesday, December 13, 2017

JUST A FEW MORE REVIEWS BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR

I was considering just writing up my end of the year list, but a few things came my way that I really wanted to write something up about before that, and then a few more things, and well...  here we are, with a pile of records that have some real black and white theme going on for the most part.  Anyway, in the mad dash of everyone's holiday bullshit please consider not purchasing gifts for other people, be greedy, and get some of these items listed here for yourself.

BUG, “Calamitas”
There is such a thing as Austrian noise rock and apparently Bug has been doing it for 20 years.  And this is apparently their 8th record.  So how about that, huh?  I have approximately zippo to go on if this holds up to any of their previous stuff, so I’ll just get to it and dissect this as best I can.  Alright, so this group apparently wrote this record as a concept based around an Italian prime minister and all sorts of other tangentially related stuff.  I can’t make out what they’re saying, but the vocals are slurred and growling, like they’re at one speed and the music is another, kind of Harvey Milk-ish.  Musically it’s all over the map.  There’s wide swaths of Unsane-style meaty rock, more experimental and weird pedal-heavy parts reminiscent of USA Nails, some epic math-y sections recalling Breather Resist at their best, and even some areas that dabble in black metal-s speedy onslaught.  Like I said, it’s a mixed bag, sometimes within the same song.  It’s a bit of a detriment because it causes the band to lose a sense of consistency.  However, the overall result is generally enjoyable because it’s a lot of neat things coming together that don’t always meet up.  (InterstellarRecords)

EFFECTS, THE, “Eyes To the Light”
Devin Ocampo is one of the most recognizable musicians to emerge from the ever-vibrant DC scene in the last 20 years.  From his start with art-rock masterminds Smart Went Crazy (where he played more second fiddle) to branching out more on his own with Faraquet and then Medications his distinctive wide-ranging vocals and peculiar style of math-y, complex yet insanely melodic and catchy guitar work is instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever paid any sort of attention to any of his bands.  Now, with The Effects he sets off on another project on their first official full length (they have released a series of EPs so far) and it follows suit with much of the other work Ocampo is known for.  If there is any noticeable difference I’d say that with the Effects the drumming tends to be a bit more reigned in and straightforward, giving the guitars a lot of space to take center stage.  In previous outfits his leads were often competing with the other instruments, which were just as intricate, complex, bewildering and jaw-dropping.  Additionally, The Effects feels slightly more like a traditional rock band in places, where an occasional big rock part meets bits and pieces of XTC or early 80’s Genesis worship, butted up against the signature style of the main fellow I’ve spent most of this review verbally jocking.  So yeah, if you’re still a fan of what Dischord continues to release (and why wouldn’t you be?) this is definitely one of the better records released by them in the last few years.  (Dischord)

KINDLING, “Hush”
Eastern Massachusetts Kindling has been pretty damn consistent throughout their discography, which is pretty sizeable when compared with how long they have been a band.  Anyway, their formula is a good one:  giant distortion and ethereal vocals with a punk beat.  My Bloody Valentine, as filtered through countless basement shows, and always on 11.  They even have a consistent design aesthetic flowing through all their record artwork.  I really liked it all.  So on “Hush”, their newest LP, things are a bit different and it’s been a bit hard for me to digest.  I mean, yeah, they’re still using huge distortion and the vocals are as atmospheric and dreamy as ever.  But it’s a different (more boring) looking record.  They have expanded their songwriting palette, which definitely shows some growth on their part by including bits of synth, mellotron, and even sitar.  The recording is more polished and professional sounding and again, I’m a bit on the fence there because I really enjoyed the massive fuzz on their previous output.  But after a number of listens this is finally growing on me and I can sit back and enjoy it as a whole for what the band has accomplished in terms of growth.  (6131)

“LIARTOWN The First Four Years”, by Sean Tejaratchi
Anyone who knows me knows I dabble in design and have been making flyers for punk shows for over 20 years.  And people often ask, ‘where do you come up with this stuff?’ and my answer has more often than not been ‘Craphound’.  It’s an 8-volume zine dumping ground of every odd assortment of weird and obscure clip art one could hope to find to fill all those graphic design holes you never knew existed.  It’s essentially my design bible.  Well, the man behind it all is one Sean Tejaratchi, and for the last four years he has been the man behind a site called Liartown USA, which is his digital dumping ground for all the bizarre ideas floating around in his head that he makes reality…  sorta.  He focuses his design on creating fake advertisement for billboards, 70’s chapbooks, TV shows that never happened, magazine covers, business cards, products, catalogs, you name it, and he makes it look believable.  And all that stuff has been collected into one gigantic book filled with literally thousands of hare-brained ideas and fake stuff.  Need a calendar of Shitty Lighthouses?  He made it.  Billboards for “Pillows:  Houston’s First Pansexual Fuckspace”.  Done.  Book covers for Hardy Boys mysteries that never actually happened, including (but not limited to), “The Hardy Boys Lose Their Shit”.  Theres several.  Multiple pages of fake dialogue Ice-T ‘said’ on “Law and Order”?  It’s there and I currently can’t breathe because I’m laughing too hard.  I can’t comprehend why this guy spends a massive amount of time designing things long since forgotten, thrown away, or never useful in real life to make his fake stuff look incredibly believable, but I’m incredibly happy that he did.  (Feral House)

OPEN CITY, “City Of Ash” 7”
I believe the two songs that make up this 7” are culled from the same recording session as this Philly group’s stellar debut full length from earlier this year.  However, I can see why they were left off the LP.  They don’t quite fit with the overall character and feel of that record.  These two tracks are a bit longer (I use that in a loose sense of the word) and slower (again, ‘loose’) than the rest of their material.  The title track fits more with the LP with its catchy melodies and overall upbeat feel.  “A Condition Worth a Mention” is the second track and it is way slower, way harsher, and definitely out of character with everything else this band has done.  There is a 7” version of these tracks, but it’s pretty pricey.  However, it’s Open City and they rule, so my suggestion is go to the bandcamp and plop down a few bucks to keep up with what is going on with this group.  (Open City)

SECT, “No Cure For Death”
I’m not even sure if I can classify this as a hardcore record.  On the vegan straight edge old man’s supergroup round two (and, I might add, a pretty quick follow-up to their debut last year) they go even deeper into grind, powerviolence, and death metal displays of HM-2 worship, a la Entombed, Trap Them, Dismember, All Pigs Must Die, and groups of that ilk.  I’m totally OK with that.  Additionally, I’m not sure if you can classify this as a ‘full length’ either because the entire record is over in all of about 17 minutes.  There is some part groove and a lot of parts blast beats, where most songs struggle to hit the minute-and-a-half mark.  But within those short blasts the band manages to cram in a whole lot to think about including missives on voting with your dollar (so to speak), our current political state of affairs, and the dreary state of ‘what the fuck sort of dystopian future am I living in’ paranoia happening like every waking moment.  If you know the deal with this band you know what you’re going to get.  If you don’t I suggest holding off judgment of hardcore dudes over 35 as being old and tired because these fuckers will blow your hair back.  (Southern Lord)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

TRANSMISSIONS FROM THE WEST COAST- NOVEMBER REVIEWS

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BRAIDEDVEINS, “What Did You Do To Survive?” 7”
Here comes a new offering from this Detroit crew, off the heels of an LP from last year.  Their style of rhythmic and angular post-hardcore puts them in league with bands like local notables Bear Vs Shark, as well as groups such as Q and Not U and At the Drive-In to a lesser extent.  However, there is a rough, burly edge to their sound as well that brings to mind lesser known outfits like Cutman or Pigs.  It’s a good mix of noodly technical spazz out stuff without going overboard and heavy-handed post-hardcore, rife with creativity and introspection.  I enjoy it.  The seven inch has three songs, as well as a digital-only cover of the Nine Inch Nails/David Bowie song “I’m Afraid Of Americans”.  (Dropping Bombs)

CHILD BITE/ STNNG split 12”
If I’m not mistaken I’m guessing this is the first Child Bite material with their new lineup because the playing on these two new songs sounds quite a bit different than their last two records.  It’s like the weird Jesus Lizard tendencies have been upped (especially on the “Nub”-influenced slide guitar of “The Will To Disappear”), and the more thrashy metal aspects have been dialed back.  I hardly mind.  Basically anything this band does is gold to me.  They have such a unique style that borrows heavily from several disparate sources to combine into quite their own thing, no matter who is in the band.  I could say the same for STNNG, who I have never heard, but who have been around for quite awhile now.  They are also an odd band, but have a catchier indie rock appeal to them.  I’m not sure why they inserted Joy Division lyrics in the middle of one of their songs here, but hey, it was a pretty good song so why not right?  They offer up three songs that lean on the slightly aggressive, but an overall more pleasant listen, for the tame listener.  I should make note of the obvious ridiculous packaging for this thing where they did a several layer screen print on the B-side and pressed the record on colored vinyl and it looks awesome.  This is not the first time Child Bite has done this and I’m glad they keep doing it.  (Forge Again Records)

IRON MONKEY, “9-13”
I’ll admit to never having bothered to listen to Iron Monkey in the past.  Maybe it was because their previous records album artwork was so awful looking.  Without hearing them I got the gist that their brand of aggressive music fell somewhere in the sludgy and chaotic realms of Eyehategod, Buzzov*en, and Cavity.  So this arrives in my inbox and I figure it’s about time to give them a listen.  It definitely sounds a lot like the aforementioned bands and that’s just fine by me.  I’ve heard a lot of criticism of this new album and I’m not sure why.  I understand the whole ‘shitting on the legacy of the deceased frontman by continuing the band’ thing and people get kind of emotional about it.  But I compared this record to “Our Problem” and, aside from a somewhat slicker production and a little quicker tempos on some of the songs, I’d say this fits in pretty well with the Iron Monkey canon.  But what do I know?  I’m a novice with this band.  All I know is I hit play on this thing and got beat up by some monster riffs, tortured screeching vocals, and lots of bad vibes.  So what’s not to like? (Relapse)


TED LEO, “The Hanged Man”
Ted Leo is one of the greatest songwriters of my generation.  He’s the Billy Bragg for people between the ages of 25-40.  And he hasn’t made a record on his own (not counting The Both, his collaboration with Aimee Mann) in quite awhile.  But here we are, and here it is, and it’s some of his most varied and compelling music of his whole career.  Abandoning the ‘and The Pharmacists’ tag in favor of just releasing this as a solo record it’s far from that.  It’s just that Leo wrote all the songs and played most of the instruments.  However, a number of guests (including current and former Pharmacists) contribute to the record too.  Ted Leo’s knack of drawing from his mod punk influences is on display, as always, but there’s a greater reach into less ‘punk’ sources (maybe ones just on the outer fringes of) like XTC and Joe Jackson to counter his adoration of the Buzzcocks and Cocksparrer.  It’s power pop at its finest and most creative.  Ted Leo always has an incredible lyricism to his songs and manages to make complicated words and phrases into the catchiest of tunes.  It took a little for this to grow on me because it is a departure, in some ways, from his older work.  “Run To the City” works in the well-honed Pharmacists framework until a ripping saxophone lead torn straight from some Clarence Clemons/Bruce Springsteen high-fiving 80’s session takes over.  It’s one of the most fun songs on the record and one of my favorites.  However, “Nazarene” is the complete opposite.  It’s a slow burner where the first half of the song is just Ted Leo singing over a simple piano coda before a sludgy bass section dominates the rest of the piece.  There’s variety like this all over the record and it all works together very well, when in some instances, it shouldn’t.  And like most of Ted Leo’s output there is a strong political commentary, often wrapped up in tales of personal interactions, and the socialist ‘were-in-this-together’ sort of vibe I enjoy immensely.  But in reading interviews with him there was a great deal of sorrow in writing some of these songs, some extreme hardships he dealt with, and it is reflected in songs like “Lonsdale Avenue” and “Let’s Stay On the Moon” (try to hold back tears listening to it, it’s tough).  Repeated listens (and seeing this stuff live) has really made a huge impression upon me and because of that I’m finding this to be one of my favorite releases this year.  Ted Leo truly is a master of his craft.  I encourage everyone reading this to give it a shot whether you’re a long-time fan, or have never heard of the guy.  (self-released)

PLAQUE MARKS, “Anxiety Driven Nervous Worship”
This collaboration of Philly miscreants draws from some guys who are well-versed in playing this kind of music, and a couple others you might think wouldn’t be game for it based on the kinds of bands they’re known for.  But either way, some people from Fight Amp, Creepoid, A Life Once Lost, Ecstatic Vision, and the Powder Room got together and wrote a handful of straight-up noise rock jams and threw them onto an LP/EP.  They are drawing straight from the noise rock playbook so it’s nothing earth shattering, or groundbreaking.  It doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.  But it is satisfying.  “Oregon Chem-Trail” sounds like Cows, “Chow” with more glass-gargling vocals while “Urban Blighters” takes a passing semblance to bands like Glazed Baby.  The title track takes up the entire B-side of this EP and is essentially a spiraling mess of ultra-fuzzy slide guitar over acid-drenched sludgy wooziness that sounds like going to town in the woodshop with a table saw while drunk as a skunk and high on fumes at 3AM for 8 minutes.  Take that as you will.  Aside from a somewhat lackluster recording and a desire for more songs this is a pretty good start for a bunch of guys who just wanted to make some racket and go on tour.  Mission accomplished.  (Learning Curve Records)

QUICKSAND, “Interiors”
Yeah, how do I review the new record from my favorite band ever- their first in 22 years- and not hold it to incredibly unrealistic expectations?  C’mon.  It’s a fool’s errand.  I have entered into this new Quicksand material with a few notes to self:  I am not the same person I was when I was 15 and having my mind blown as an impressionable, identity-seeking teenager hearing this band for the first time.  The members of this band are certainly not the same people there were 22 years ago (I would certainly hope that they have grown as songwriters and as people with different things going on in their life).  Take this record for whatever it’s throwing at the listener and not as some cash-in nostalgia trip. 
            So, with those ‘notes to self’ in mind I have to say this is an overall good listen.  There is a chemistry that happens when the members of this band collaborate together that cannot be replicated.  I certainly wonder what would have happened had Tom Capone been involved in the writing process, as he certainly brings his own style to the table.  Or how would this sound if they had recorded with Wharton Tiers or Don Fury like they had in the past instead of Will Yip? There is a noticeable bit of gloom missing from this album, compared to previous records, and it sounds brighter and more crisp.  My feelings about some of Quicksand’s older music was that it was for the bad times in life, rising above it all despite surrounding negativity and that always came across in the way the music was recorded and the vibe they put out.  On this new album Walter and company still pine the depths of interpersonal conflict, working out rough spots in life, but seeming to have an overall more introspective vision regarding it all.  I suppose that happens more as one gets older.  Certain songs have a consistent Quicksand feel that long time fans will enjoy (like most of the A-side), some songs dabble more in shoegaze-y parts that the band probably wanted to do more of in their initial run but never got around to, and some songs feel like stuff that Walter would be using for more current projects or Rival Schools stuff (like a lot of the B-side).
            As a Quicksand super fan who has been along for the ride since around 1993 I’m happy to see that these guys can get together, write enjoyable music, play it live and genuinely look as if they are having the time of their lives while doing it and not just going through the motions of a reunion cash grab.  It’s real.  The title track, “Under the Screw”, and “Illuminant” are probably the strongest tracks here that resemble the Quicksand everyone knows and loves.  And there’s some stuff that you know is them, is pretty great, but takes things in a direction more consistent with what each of the members have been up to musically in the last 10 plus years.  And that’s perfectly OK.  Don’t be some grumpy old fart complaining that this isn’t “Slip” part two because that’s just stupid.  With any luck, some younger people will take notice, get into it, and go backwards from here, and take away something positive from this.  (Epitaph)


USA NAILS/ TONGUE PARTY split 7”
I’ve been all about USA Nails lately, but on this split I think Tongue Party is taking the cake.  Not only do they have a pretty disgusting name, but their music is pretty gross (in a good way) too.  For those heavy into this kind of stuff (like me!) think fellow labelmates Powertakeoff in terms of that heavily-distorted bass and give-no-fucks attitude, but with faster tempos and insane breakdowns.  That bass dominates almost everything while the guitar takes a backseat with some tense, nervous racket.  Two songs, smash everything.  USA Nails comes back with their jittery post-punk and Jesus Lizard-like songwriting.  These Brits have a pretty big catalog and while I don’t feel like this is their strongest stuff I would highly suggest checking out their full lengths for some truly jaw-dropping post-punk noise rock, especially “No Pleasure”.  Learning Curve once again unleashes a quality record.  They got themselves a pretty good track record.  (Learning Curve Records)


V/A, “Shattered, Flattered, and Covered” comp.
In this day and age compilations are a dicey proposition.  People don’t really buy them as physical products.  Like, maybe you can convince some people to plop down a few bucks on bandcamp if it’s a benefit of some sort.  What’s even more difficult to not only organize, but get people to spend hard-earned dough on is a tribute compilation.  But lo and behold this guy got like 30 bands to record Unsane covers and put it out as a double LP/ 2xCD.  That takes some boulder-sized stones and what I can only imagine is a Scanners-blowing up-your-head-level headache.
            The groups on here are split about half from the US and the other half from Europe (or elsewhere).  Well known noise rock bands of North America that you would expect to be on an Unsane tribute comp are present and accounted for, and turn in exceptionally good takes on some of the best songs (Grizzlor doing an awesome version of “Sick”, Multicult putting their spin on “Trench”, Child Bite doing an almost boogie rock version of a more recent track “Don’t”, and KEN Mode transforming “Broke” into…  well, a KEN Mode song).  Also of note are the Beige Eagle Boys doing an awesome, and somewhat humorously sampled take on the mighty “Streetsweeper”, while France’s Sofy Major gets the award for best sample in the middle of their cover of “Backslide”.  The CD has a number of bonus tracks on each disc that you won’t find on the LPs, some of them for good reason, some I wish got on the LP.  Hawks turn in an ultra slow and subdued cover of “Body Bomb”, which is sort of funny because it’s such an incendiary (get it) track otherwise, while Joe 4 attempt a medley of “Ruin”/”Swim” that just doesn’t work at all.  Some groups I’d never heard of make their mark, such as Flying Disk, Suma, and especially Seawhores doing a hell of a take on “Lead”.
            It’s a hell of an undertaking, and while there’s no surprise with the addition of some of these bands, it’s welcome to hear them pay homage to an obvious influence.  Unsane are one of my favorite bands (if that wasn’t totally obvious to anyone who knows me) who know how to write really good mean-spirited and agitated music.  Their influence is probably a reason why so many of the bands covering them I tend to like quite a bit as well.  (Antena Krzyku)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

PRE-HOLIDAY SALE HAPPENING NOW!

Beating that holiday rush! Between now and Thanksgiving go to either the Hex webstore, or the bandcamp, and save 20% on your whole order using the code 'PORTLAND'. Now that I'm settled into my new place I've gotta get rid of some of this stuff and what better way than to sell it to you. So think ahead and get a gift for someone you love, which will likely be gifts for yourself. I won't judge. Go here: http://hexrecords.bigcartel.com/products or here:
https://hexrecords.bandcamp.com/

Thursday, October 19, 2017

CLOSING SHOP FROM 10/24/17-11/6/17 PSA


Just as a head's up I won't be doing any label business between Tuesday Oct. 24th- Monday, Nov. 6th because I'm moving across the dang country, and getting settled in my new home. So if you want to order anything the next couple of days would be the best time. Otherwise you'll have to wait a couple weeks for me to send orders out. Cool? Thanks. http://hexrecords.bigcartel.com/products

Friday, October 6, 2017

REVIEWS FOR OCTOBER!

It has been a wild last few months.  I've traveled everywhere, seen tons of shows, done lots of stuff and now that summer is over and fall is kicking in I am moving across the country, so truly, there is no rest for the wicked.  And now that that crazy moving sale I had is over I can leave readers with this- a batch of reviews covering probably the best couple of months this year so far for new music before I bail out.  I tend to be someone who favors spotlighting new bands that I find interesting, rather than pining for the past.  But I have to say, several reunion bands made some pretty excellent music worth talking about.  And, of course, Unsane never broke up, they just went on pause for a few years and have come back to remind you why they own heavy, mean-spirited music.

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BIG HUSH, “Spirit/ Wholes”
People from Pygmy Lush go for broke with a variety of songs that collects two separate EPs onto one record.  The first half evokes heavy-duty shoegaze vibes with wispy male/female vocals, like Swervedriver meets the Breeders.  “Cold Shoulder” sounds like the whole song is going in reverse, and sounds more like an experiment in writing a cool song and trying out bizarre effects pedals.  “Cough”, strangely enough rips the first riff from “Iron Man” and then turns it into a lackadaisical jam that could have been a B-side on “Last Splash”.  Opener “Soft Eyes” is the standout song on the whole record with it’s more upbeat tempo and catchy lead, and it goes right into another very upbeat song (“Pay To Play”) that keeps things moving along.  However, once you move into the second half of the album (or, second EP), “Wholes”, it’s a far more restrained affair, considerably mellower, but almost as enjoyable.  There’s a bit more of a twangy element to it and focused a bit more on the vocal interplay…  almost, dare I say, alt-country (yuck, what a weird-sounding term).  Still, I really like it.  So I definitely think people who like Pygmy Lush will really love this as well, even though it is a bit different than that.  (Robotic Empire)

BURN, “Do Or Die”
I heard that first single from this record and was pretty turned off.  It was not very good.  Luckily, that’s the one clunker on this record.  It’s not that it’s even a terrible song; it just has a few too many parts that don’t work all that well together.  But for those looking for “Shall Be Judged” over and over again look elsewhere.  It’s been over 25 years, if these guys didn’t change somewhat in that time than I’d say they haven’t grown much as humans, which is kind of sad.  Yet what remains the same is the fact that Chaka has the energy of a teenager, Gavin Van Vleck continues to write some of the most forward-thinking hardcore/noise/inventive riffs around, and that new rhythm section is still as tight as anyone the group have had in their ranks in the past.  For those who truly pine for times past I’d say a good half of the record retains some of that faster, strangely melodic, and weirdly aggressive hardcore that the band is known for…  just recorded much better and bigger.  Two old songs have been re-recorded, but they feel really unnecessary since they both sound fine in their original forms.  And then you get a few songs that work in a new and different way, and a couple that don’t work all that well.  All in all, for a band that has, in a way, re-invented themselves two decades later (despite the handful of reunions over the years) they’re pulling it off pretty good I’d say.  Heck, the packaging on this sucker is worth the price alone.  If you end up not enjoying this you can just stare at it for hours with how ridiculously awesome it looks.  (Deathwish)

CLOAKROOM, “Time Well”
I’ve really been looking forward to this one and I have to say I’m pretty pleased.  It’s kind of a grower because it’s lacking some of that instant gratification (which is a relative term considering the rather glacial pace this band’s songs tend to flow) that was present on songs like “Moon Funeral” and “Starchild Skull” from their last LP, “Further Out”.  Still, those tones remain ridiculously awesome and sludgy as all get out while the shoegaze-y melodies throw an atmospheric haze over the whole thing.  Additionally, this record plays around a little more with some otherworldly psychedelic songs that have an almost Pink Floyd-ish aura to them (“Hymnal” and “Sickle Moon Blues”).  The entire first half of the record stays a little closer to what people sort of expect, at this point, from Cloakroom and they do so quite fantastically.  “Big World” and “Concrete Gallery” tend to be the best examples of this and contain some of the slowest, heaviest, riff-iest moments on the entire record.  Plus, unlike “Further Out” where it didn’t quite feel like a full length exactly due to some interludes passing for full songs, “Time Well” is almost a whole hour of music with not a single dud on the whole record.  So, hat’s off to them.  I think I personally may be a little more partial to a couple of my favorite songs from the last LP, but this is certainly a worthwhile follow-up. (Relapse)

METZ, “Strange Peace”
Heck yeah, Metz.  I’d like to think they have matured in a sense, or tried some new things on this record.  Aside from it not being named “III”, that’s not really the case.  It’s just another pile of amazing, total hearing-devastating, non-stop crazy noise rock gems.  They rolled with Albini to record this one and most would say he’s a master at capturing a band’s live sound.  Well, this record sounds fucking amazing, huge, and dirgy, like there’s some studio magic going on.  But I’m guessing that this is just what all these songs sound exactly like live.  There’s still plenty of weird guitar effects (the opening riff on “Drained Lake” being a good example), catchy garage rock on speed (lead single “Cellophane”), some strange interlude-like creepy melodic songs (like “Sink” and “Caterpillar”), and absolute rippers (“Dig a Hole”, “Mr. Plague”).  I think my favorite song here, though, is the mid-way point “Lost In the Blank City”- it’s relatively slow, massive heave and gigantic riffs just lure you right in for 4 and a half minutes of bliss.  Metz have just really nailed it.  Not only are they one of the most electrifying live bands in the world right now but they manage to pull the grungy aesthetic of Nirvana, the strange inventiveness of Drive Like Jehu, a metric ton of nervous tension/anxiety, and a wild catchiness that goes unmatched.  (Sub Pop)

MODERN PSYCHICS, "Paid Vacation Time" demo
After the split of Albany’s weirdo crunchy post-hardcore band Throat Culture a couple of the members have re-emerged as Modern Psychics, who have a decidedly far less hardcore sound to them.  However, there are tidbits of their writing style present, such as vocalist Seth Eggleston’s raspy shout.  But the music takes a turn for faster beats and catchier riffs.  The band certainly pines for some Wipers-style garage punk, yet I think they lean a little dirtier, slightly heavier.  Regardless, it’s a fun debut and I feel like they’re onto something cool with this so hopefully they keep it up. (Modern Psychics)

THOUGHTS OF IONESCO, “Skar Cymbals”
Reunions abound everywhere.  I tend to be interested when bands that were absolutely crushing, but severely underrated in their time come back years later when no one outside of their immediate hometown remember them because they really have nothing to prove by making a return.  There’s really no pressure.  Thoughts Of Ionesco are one of those bands.  Hailing from Detroit they released a handful of records between the late 90’s and early ought’s before totally imploding from their own insanity.  I saw them once and it was one of the most visceral and threatening things ever, how these three individuals could so outright hate the world and themselves while still ripping some weird, ugly melding of hardcore, noise rock, prog and jazz improvisations…  like if “Hard Volume”-era Rollins Band did cheap drugs and worshipped both Miles Davis and Dazzling Killmen.  It hurts to listen to, like in a good way.  And then you wonder how the fuck they pulled off that drum fill and Voivod-esque fret run while screaming like someone’s shoving forks in their eyes.  So yeah, a dozen years or so pass and they just up and decide to record a few more songs and play a single show.  That’s the way to do it.  And I gotta say, the three tracks on the A-side of this slab do a pretty good job of reminding you all why Ionesco was nothing to fuck with.  This material fits in perfectly with anything from “And Then There Was Motion” to “For Detroit, From Addiction”.  The B-side, on the other hand, is the band getting weirder than ever.  It’s a single 13 minute track that is kind of broken into 4 parts that range from an improv jam, to a sort of spaghetti Western sort of dusty, bluesy thing, to shoehorning a re-recording of “… And None Were Human” (arguably their most well-known song) randomly in there, and back to some strange noise experiment.  I don’t really get why that was done in that way, or why they re-recorded that one song, but it’s not my place to attempt to understand.  All I know is this is a seriously weird and violent, yet astoundingly talented band that deserves your attention.  (Corpse Flower)

UNSANE, “Sterilize”
It’s an Unsane record, what do you think I’m going to say?  My love for this band is about as predictable as the guarantee that this will be louder and meaner than just about anything else you hear this year.  Unsane have never relented in their mission to be violent, grimy, and unpleasant to your eardrums.  They may take several years between albums and tours, but they always eventually come back to do more damage and their consistency in delivering quality records never ceases to amaze me.  Now what I say next may sound disparaging, but I mean it in the most sincere way- you could take any of the last four Unsane albums and make a mix and you would swear it was all the same album.  That’s really not a bad thing because every one of the songs on this, and those previous albums, are great.  Unsane kind of write the same song over and over but it’s a really good song, so I have no complaints.  Their earlier material, especially from “Total Destruction” to the landmark “Scattered, Smothered, and Covered”, and onto “Occupational Hazard” showed true evolution of the band where you could hear how they slowly honed in on recording and production techniques to truly capture their sound adequately.  They also played with different tempos more on those records with some glacially slow pummeling songs (“Get Off My Back”), as well as upbeat, faster songs (“Committed”).  But once they got to albums like “Blood Run” they tended to settle into a tempo that has worked for them and a recording style that captured them perfectly and they have rode that wave ever since.  And it’s damn good.  “Sterilize” continues this tradition, particularly on lead single “Aberration”, the slow and violent swing of “Lung”, and the crawling swell-and-crush of closer “Avail”.  Drummer Vinny Signorelli never overcomplicates things, making sure the beat is steady and the bludgeoning is precise.  Dave Curran has a better bass tone than just about anyone and uses it to drag his sludgy riffs through muck and through your dang face.  Chris Spencer is the serrated knife, chopping through the guts with bluesy riffs, stabbing jolts, and gigantic gouges across the songs; his voice a static howl blasting spit and sweat at anyone in the front three rows.  They know what the fuck they’re doing and have been doing it better than anyone for close to 30 years at this point. Unsane never fail to disappoint and that’s why they are the forever undisputed kings of noise rock.  Bow down, so your head doesn’t get blown clean off.  (Southern Lord)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

HEX RECORDS MOVING SALE!

MOVING SALE!!!   At the end of October I will be moving out to the Portland, OR area and before then I need to get rid of a bunch of stuff.  That's where you, dear reader, come in.
Tons of stuff up in the store- LPs for $5-8, CDs 10 for $10, LP package deals, 7" package deals, cheap shirts, some old tapes/cassette lots, selling off a few test presses (someone will get a free one in their order too!), and I even managed to dig up some copies of zines I did back in '95 before Hex even began. Cringe worthy. This is running from 9/20-9/30, so get to it. * most of these deals I can only afford to ship within the U.S. so sorry to internationals.
 http://hexrecords.bigcartel.com/products

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

GRIZZLOR NEW LP UP FOR PRE-ORDER NOW!


New Haven, CT's own weirdo noise rock trio, GRIZZLOR, offer up their brand new and first full-length album, "Destructoid", after releasing a small collection of EPs and splits thus far. The band, having formed in 2014, now venture into the land of full-lengths and are more bummed out and irritated than ever.

In preparation for this gargantuan release they are offering up the first single from this new LP over at New Noise Magazine.  Go check out the song, "Too Many People" over HERE.

Once you've done that you can continue the misanthropic feelings by ordering the new record either through the Hex webstore HERE, or via our bandcamp page.

"Destructoid" is a 29 minute glimpse into the reality that is GRIZZLOR, spewed out through a barrage of sharp angular riffs, aggressively pummeled rhythms and vocals spit through a wall of misanthropic fuzz. Just when you think things can't get any worse, GRIZZLOR returns to remind you that it always can. "Destructoid" is the center point where THE JESUS LIZARD, MELVINS and DRUNKS WITH GUNS meet with finality.

Pressed onto 300 copies, split evenly between the following colors:
150- black
150- clear yellow
State your preference if you like.

* international orders are better off rolling with www.mvdshop.com for better international shipping rates*