Friday, April 24, 2015

TRANSLATE #8 AVAILABLE TO ORDER!


It's been long enough. The new issue is 40 pages of interviews and comics. Growing up DIY, learning the in's and outs, and talking to other people about it. Featured are Psychic Teens, Ex-Breathers, Cayetana, comics illustrators Liz Suburbia ("Sacred Heart") and Shaky Kane ("The Bulletproof Coffin"). Comics include starting a rap group when I was 12, how I learned to self-publish, the life-long letter trade, Dial 'P' For Promoter, and more. Screenprinted cover courtesy of the Black Arts Studio.

GET IT HERE:  http://hexrecords.bigcartel.com/product/translate-zine-8

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HERE'S SOME PAGES FROM THE NEW TRANSLATE ZINE

In anticipation for the whole shabang being completed within the next week I'd like to offer up three pages from the zine.  This is one of the comics from the zine about starting a rap group when I was 12 or 13....  so approximately 1989 or 1990.
The zine will go back and forth from comics and interviews.  More to be revealed throughout the next week while the covers get screenprinted!  Oooooh, mystery!


Sunday, April 5, 2015

HEX RECORDS TO RELEASE BLEAK LP, ALSO... TOUR.

   
         Syracuse’s Bleak will be releasing their debut full length this summer on Hex Records.  The members, all mainstays of the hardcore/ metal/ punk scene in town, have been crushing eardrums in various other bands before coming together to form Bleak two years ago.  Since that time they have released a couple demos, splits, and an EP while touring consistently throughout the East Coast and Midwest.
            They will record their album this month at Watchmen Studios in Buffalo, NY with Doug White at the helm and bringing their sound- a violent mixture of sludge, metal, and hardcore that recalls elements from Eyehategod, Crowbar, Neurosis, and Disembodied- to it’s next logical step.
            The record will be out this summer and will be followed by a split with fellow Syracuse grind unit Dialysis, also to be released on Hex Records.  To promote the record Bleak will head out on their first national tour (dates below).


For more news and other regular updates go to:

BLEAK 2015 full US tour
5/8- Syracuse, NY @ Westcott Community Center w/ Dialysis, Blurring, Ultramantis Black
6/19 Utica, NY- The Dev Lounge
6/20 Boston, MA- The Middle East
6/21 Lansdale, PA- with Sovereign
6/22 Pittsburgh, PA- Mr. Robotto Project
6/23 Harrisonburg, VA- The Gold Pony
6/24 Chapel Hill, NC- The Cave
6/25 HELP!
6/26 Jacksonville, FL- Shantytown Pub
6/27 Gainesville, FL- TBA
6/28 Baton Rouge, LA- Hound Dogs
6/30 HELP!
7/1 Austin, TX- Holy Mountain
7/2 Austin, TX- Lost Well
7/3 San Antonio, TX- NESTA
7/4 HELP!
7/5 HELP!
7/7 Pacific Beach- San Diego, CA- Soda Bar
7/8 Fullerton, CA- Programme Skate and Sound
7/9 Anaheim, CA- World Famous Doll Hut
7/10 Los Angeles, CA- TBA
7/11 Berkley, CA- 924 Gilman
7/12 HELP!
7/13 Ashland, OR- Club 66
7/14 HELP!
7/15 Portland, OR- High Water Mark
7/16 Seattle, WA- TBA
7/17 Boise, ID- TBA
7/18 Laramie, WY- Baby Hospice
7/19 Denver, CO- Bar Bar
7/21 Omaha, NE- The Hideout
7/22 HELP!
7/23 Chicago, IL- Quenchers
7/24 Cincinnati, OH- Tacocracy
7/25 TBA
7/26 TBA


More bands on the road:

THE HELM West Coast tour
May 15th- Seattle WA @ Black Lodge
May 16th- Richland WA @ Ray's Golden Lion
May 17th- Spokane WA @ TBA
May 18th- Boise ID @ The Shredder
May 19th- Salt Lake City UT @ Music Room
May 20th- Las Vegas NV @ Womb Room
May 21st- Tijuana MX @ You Revolution
May 22nd- Oakland @ 1234 Go! records
May 23rd- Portland OR @ The Know
May 24th- Seattle WA @ Neumos
May 30th- Vancouver BC @ TBA

DIALYSIS live actions
May 8th- Syracuse @ Westcott Community Center w/ Bleak, Ultramantis Black, Blurring
May 17th- Buffalo, NY @ Sugar City
May 29th- Albany, NY
May 30th- PA/NJ
May 31st- Philly, PA @ Kung-Fu Necktie


HERE SOME OTHER STUFF TOO:

Dialysis will be recording new material in June for another 7” and the split with Bleak.  They will also be playing shows throughout the summer in addition to the listed Spring shows.  Their current 7”, “Ludicrous Speed”, can still be purchased at the Hex webstore, along with funny/dumb t-shirts

The new issue of Translate zine (issue #8!) is finished and currently in production (i.e.- being copied and screenprinted).  And order link should be up within 2 weeks so be on the lookout.  40 pages of comics and interviews with bands are cartoonists alike.  I’m pretty damn proud of it.  It looks cool and so far has turned out great.

There is more stuff to come this year.  I don’t want to give anything away that isn’t 100% locked down, but things look positive for a few more records in 2015 that I am very excited about being a part of.  So many people talk as if there is nothing new that is good, and are stuck in their ‘glory days’ of times gone past.  That, to me, simply implies that they are lazy and fail to investigate new music.  That has always been the excitement of being involved in this stuff- exploring the unexplored for music, art, and culture.  Just like when I was younger I still have to search for these things, the things of value that make me excited about punk.  And believe me, there are plenty of things to get excited about.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

TORCHE/ NOTHING/ WRONG SHOW REVIEW




TORCHE/ NOTHING/ WRONG- Mohawk Place, Buffalo, 3.23.15
First off, I’m stoked to see that the legendary Mohawk Place in Buffalo is open for business again.  They were out of commission for a year or two there, but are back to booking quality shows once again.  It’s a great spot to see a show where you expect a couple hundred people.  If it gets to capacity it can be a bit of a tight fit, and there’s literally nothing of interest whatsoever surrounding it in Buffalo’s oft-desolate downtown.  Minor gripes aside, it’s one of my favorite places to see bands in my old stomping grounds of Western New York.
I was in a big hurry to get up in town seeing as I worked until 5 and doors were at 7 and it was a two hour drive from Syracuse.  There was no way in hell I was going to miss Wrong.  They are easily my favorite new band to emerge in quite some time and I wanted to see how they played live, to see if it equaled the crushing power displayed on their EP.  My team and I got in and simply assumed they would start bands no later than 8 or 8:30.  Yet for some reason the sound guy didn’t do jack shit until almost 9PM.  And then he had to switch out a bunch of non-functioning cables.  One would think that is something to check off the ‘to-do’ list before the bands even show up- make sure your shit works.  This may sound like the crankypants whining of an old codger, but keep in mind it was a Monday, everyone I rolled up with just worked a full day and we all had to go back to work again the next morning, and had a two hour drive back home.  So yeah, get on with the fucking show.
So finally Wrong get on the stage.  They open with “Call It”, the heaviest, dirg-iest song on the “Stop Giving” record and it all sounds monstrous.  Not one neck in the whole joint would go home un-sore tonight.  Not only did the band play flawlessly, but viciously, loudly, dirty, and hard as a wrecking ball through a brick tower.  They had a touring lineup going, with the two main songwriters on guitar, Rick from Torche filling in on drums, and a bassist who had all the energy of an ’88 Youth Of Today show decked out in heavy metal garb.  I’m wondering if the real lineup of the band has this much energy and fun?  To top it off, most of the material they played was from a nearly-finished full length due out some time later this year.  If what they played is any indication of what’s to come I think I already know what my favorite record of the year will be.  Early Helmet fans rejoice, as this is clearly the second coming in the most legit way possible.

Nothing got on next.  I saw this band in their hometown of Philly last Summer and maybe it was the room they played (the ever-awesome First Unitarian), but it wasn’t doing them any favors then because the sound was muddy, muffled, and weird.  Tonight proved different.  I think the band does better in a smaller space such as this because things came out more clear.  At times they crushed it, and at others I wasn’t feeling it.  But that bass tone was incredibly present and at the front at all times, no matter where I was standing.  It definitely added some ‘oomph’ to the band as I enjoy what they do (doped-up stony shoegaze with heavy nods to 90’s alt-rock), but am not really swayed by the overwhelming hype heaped upon them.  They’re good, but not the best.
I never thought I’d wish for Torche to play a shorter set, only because it was getting late and old guys need sleep.  But they didn’t go on until after 11 and didn’t finish until well after midnight.  Even they seemed a little bored by their own performance halfway through.  Having seen them probably a dozen times they tend to open strong, get a little dull in the middle, and then absolutely slay it at the end.  This was no different.  They opened with a pair of incredible cuts from “Meandrathal”, and then broke into a few of the more poppy hits they are known for.  Then came the obligatory bum rush of “In Return” (which, even if they get sick of playing it, they pretty much have to play at every show for the rest of their lives because it’s just that good of a song), followed by what felt like too many songs off the somewhat lacking “Harmonicraft”.  I know a lot of people prefer to see a band with a thick catalog just play the stuff they know from the past, but honestly, I dig the new Torche album so much I just wanted to see them play a ton of stuff off of that.  And they got to it.  And it all sounded great in the live setting.  But as I began to nod off a bit they went and switched guitars and I knew it was all over from there.  “Barrier Hammer”, “March Of the Brown Recluse”, “Undone”, bomb strings galore, eardrums sizzled, chests caved in from the boom.  You know the deal.  No “Tarpit Carnivore”, but hey, “Barrier Hammer” is the new “Tarpit” so get into it. 
We all promptly broke out right after that last note, stopped just in time to get some Mighty Taco (because none of us had eaten for at least 8 hours) right before they closed, and got the fuck out of dodge.  I talked Adam up the entire way back, somehow not delirious from lack of sleep, and got back to Syracuse sometime after 3AM.  And as soon as I walked in my door, and knew I had to be up in 4 hours or so for work, it hit me just how tired I was and I quickly hit the sack, comforted in my ringing ears and stiff neck.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

THE REVIEWS MARCH ON

They march on because of the month.  Get it?  Anyone?  No?  Crickets?  OK, well, be happy this shit-ass season is almost done with and people can actually go outside their cave dwellings and experience life.  As for myself, wrapping up the last details for Translate #8 is happening.  I managed to write up some stuff about records and books as well because what else is there to do when it's sub-zero out than read books and listen to records?  Oh yeah, people often make babies during crap weather too I guess.   Meh, kids...  I'll take cats and music instead.


AFRO NIPS, THE, “Get High”
Two guys, Syracuse, misery, lots of cigarettes, drums and bass.  I know they really like Death From Above 1979 and make no qualms about ripping that sound.  So there’s your basic description.  I would venture, though, that the Afro Nips give less of a fuck and prefer to make their homage more on the noisy side.  So take that as you will because there’s about a dozen tracks here for you to get piss drunk to and wake the neighbors with.  (Aux Records)

BURNING LOVE, “Down So Long”/”Medicine Man” 7”
It’s about fucking time.  You don’t get a band much more balls-out rocking than Burning Love.  These three songs (two on the vinyl, an extra on the download) were recorded over a year ago and are finally seeing the light of day after the band took a bit of a hiatus to reassess their bad-assness (I can only assume that’s the reason for the break).  Turbonegro meets Laughing Hyenas, meets a punch in the face.  Riffs for days, leads out the ass, gravel-throated vocals, fast and mean.  The recording is not quite as meaty as “Rotten Thing To Say”, but the songs are just as good as anything on previous releases.  Here’s hoping they get back on the road a bit and release some more music soon to compliment this awesome little record.  (Deathwish)

ETERNAL SLEEP, “Belief In the Truth Of Nothing” 7”
It’s like all the tough parts of Harms Way meeting up with Entombed’s (and Trap Them) guitar tone.  So yeah, it’s pretty heavy.  OK, it’s ridiculously heavy.  I’m a bit tired, though, of vocalists that have one single tone to their voice, which is set to ‘brutal’.  Mix that shit up a bit dawg.  We wanna feel your pain.  Riffs and mosh, mosh and riffs.  It’s good for three songs, enough to have you punching just the right amount of holes in your wall and not too many.  (Harm Reduction)

HOLLOW EARTH, “Silent Graves”
I’m almost positive that the song “World To Come” on this record was lifted straight from some lost session during the making of “Until Your Heart Stops” and dumped onto this album by Michigan’s Hollow Earth.  I’m not slamming it, but it sounds a lot like Cave-In.  The rest of the material on this rests somewhere between melodic hardcore and raging metalcore, without falling too far into the corny aspects of either sub-genre.  You definitely get a few parts that get all quiet and melodic, but the singer still feels the need to scream at the top of his lungs.  And you also get thrashy- moshy- tough stuff as well.  They manage to meld it all together into a stew that, for the most part, works.  I could do without the ultra-serious (and exceptionally long) bit with the pit orchestra (Get it?  Because they’re heavy?  Pit.  OK, forget it), but they definitely do throw in some interesting arrangements that take them a notch above many run of the mill bands.  The live experience is pretty wild so go see them and get crushed.  (Panic)

ICE HOCKEY, “Wavefunction Collapse” 
This reminds me of the late-90’s Makoto Records sound.  It sort of encapsulates everything cool about that label and the varied forms of ‘screamo’ that were offered up at that time (which is all good).  There’s some of that quirky and noodly bits going on (see Quixote), a lot of off the wall hectic parts (refer to Wallside), and a bit more harsh riffing (Thoughts Of Ionesco minus bad street drugs).  Readers will most likely not have a clue about any of this.  That’s why Google was invented.  Look some of that stuff up because it’s great.  Maybe Ice Hockey has some notion of what they’re doing, or what they’re referencing, maybe they’re just making it up as they go along.  Maybe they think this is an LP but it sure feels like an EP to me.  Either way, it’s a pretty good thing they got going on here.  (Texas IsFunny)

JUST THE TIPS, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
So there’s this comic called Sex Criminals, which is bonkers.  It’s about a guy and a gal, who separately discover that when they orgasm it literally stops time for awhile.  They each believe they are the only people in the world who have this power.  Then they meet, get down to business, and realize they are not alone in this power.  So they decide to rob banks using this power of orgasm time-stopping.  Hilarity ensues, of course.  It’s one of the best-written and engaging reads I’ve had recently.  So the guys from that book decided to expand upon that comic with this small book that is basically just sex advice that is totally ridiculous.  Invented positions (look up “brimping”), erotic stories, sex tips, dirty talk (“Yeah, lick it like a stamp going on your angry letter to our socialist president!”), true tales of finding porn, true tales of first times, movie reviews (“The Squirt Locker”), pick-up lines (“Ohh boy, are you Issac Hayes, because I’m talking about shaft!”), and more.  Basically, you need to have this book.  Not because you need sex advice, because it’s so funny you won’t even think about getting laid afterwards.  Or you’ll just laugh every time you have sex afterwards, making your partner think they’re terrible in bed or something.  Way to go guys.  (Image)

NARROWS/ RETOX split 7”
So this is Retox?  I guess I’m not too surprised.  It’s weird and noodly, but harsh and eclectic.  It has some of that same bizarre lunacy that The Locust dealt out in spades, but somewhat more organized.  Vocalist Justin Pearson does his best to carry the torch that Sonny Kay left behind after Year Future, but it’s just not as good.  And they cover The Cure, which I will now deduct several points for (I actually have no point system, I just think The Cure sucks).  Up yr game Retox, it ain’t NBA yet.  Narrows will always get a nod of approval because they just know what to do.  I’d say this is on par with other seven inch material they’ve had in the past, which is basically me saying that it’s good but not great.  This band excels with their LPs, both in terms of writing and production.  This sounds a little weak in the recording department (i.e. ‘not as loud’) but gets their basic point across with a couple quick bangers that continue their ripping mathy hardcore attack.  Not quite on their A game, but getting by decently.  (ThreeOne G)

PILE, “You’re Better Than This”
So I know it’s not exactly the same ball park, but how can I heap praise on the new Pile LP when the new Krill record basically destroys everything else this year so far?  So both bands share the same record label, and both bands have a really awesome take on quirky indie rock that basically defies easy categorization.  It’s simply that both bands released records at almost the same time and I was looking forward to each and the other bands won out.  This is not to say that Pile haven’t delivered a good record here.  It takes a long time to sink in.  I’ve listened to it about 50 times and some of it is still sinking in with me.  They continue to create strange songs that have weird beginnings and ends, odd choices for riff arrangements, loud-quiet dynamics that come out of nowhere, and vocals that croon and scream in a way that remains completely their own.  A bunch of the album moves slow and takes numerous twists and turns in the course of each song, so it can be hard to wrap your head around.  I prefer Pile when they’re more abrasive and fast, like on record opener, “The World Is Your Motel” and side B rager “#2 Hit Single”.  They also keep a bit of humor about them (intentional or not) by starting the second side with an abrasive title like “Fuck the Police” and it being the most chill, playing-banjo-on-your- front-porch-in-summer instrumental you’ll come across.  So yeah, a great outing, but you’ll spend a long time getting a feel for the thing as a whole.  (Exploding In Sound)

VITAL TIMES, "Delta" EP
I’m not sure if the band plans on a physical release for this, but either way, Syracuse pop-punkers Vital Times have returned with 8 new songs (one clocking in at 8 seconds) that have a good recording, and a solid sound.  I’ve never been a fan of ‘whoh-oh-oh’ singing vocals in pop-punk, but I’ll give them credit for balancing it out with a faster, more aggressive approach to pop-punk that has more in common with hardcore than radio rock.  So kudos to not taking the common modern approach to a genre that already treads on thin ice with me.  Speaking of thin ice, they title a song simply “Syracuse”, which is about- surprise- shitty weather.  Just in case listeners not from here weren’t aware of our Arctic disposition.  (self-released)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

THE FIRST REVIEWS OF 2015!

Hey 2015, it's been a minute.  Let's catch up.  So what have you been doing since the New Year?  Freezing your tucas off?  Yeah, me too.  I've been kinda busy working on a new zine and getting my proverbial house in order, gearing up for a bunch of stuff this year.  But check this out 2015- you're less than three months old and already there's some great fucking music that has come out.  I know, right?!  Things are off to a good start.  OK, so a couple of these things are holdovers from late last year, but so what.  Listen, just sit back, relax, and enjoy what this young year has already given us all.


CLOAKROOM, “Further Out”
I know it’s only January but we already got us a strong contender for year end top 10 list stuff right here.  I’m hearing all sorts of wild shit on this Midwestern trio’s debut full length.  It’s as if a band has finally captured the exact sound of KARP’s lumbering over-the-top bass sludge (one of the all-time best bass tones), turned it into an anchor for melancholy dirges as opposed to rowdy demolition derby jams, and paired it with guitars that quiver and dispatch eerie feedback, like some near-extinct bird howling as it flies from a collapsing glacier.  Bring Morrissey down to 12 rpm and you get somber, yet melodious vocals (isn’t that what Morrissey is supposed to be anyway?  OK, well, this is like an octave lower) waxing poetic about swinging rusty blades through the night in service to Satan.  It’s such a weird, but wonderful mix and I’m hooked on it.  The transition into “Moon Funeral” is one of the heaviest moments on here, as is the upbeat and catchy (but still monstrously dense) “Starchild Skull”.  If I have to gripe, and I will dagblamit, making this a double LP is sort of over-indulgent as one song is just an almost acoustic version of “Moon Funeral”, while the D-side is just the interlude “Sylph” looped for about 15 minutes.  They could have cut those out and had a single, near-perfect LP.  Or, hell, add the B-side “Dream Warden” from the “Lossed Over” 7” (that song appears on here as well) instead of a repeat.  Or, shit, why not just write three more amazing songs before recording a double LP so they could properly fill 2 LPs worth of music.  Basically, I’m saying I want to hear more.  Much more.  (RunFor Cover)

DRUG CHURCH, “Swell”
I’ll admit, I picked this up because it looks awesome.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like this band’s music.  Diligent readers will recall their last LP was one of my favorites of the year.  But this 12” EP comes on this one-sided record that’s clear with a hazy neon green center and this crazy silkscreened back of a pig in a clown suit.  It looks fuckin’ sick.  Even the sandy shit that gets on the records (Pirates Press I presume?) fucking up my record needle making the sound all shitty does not deter me from enjoying the finished product.  As far as the music goes it’s really not a departure from their last record, which means it’s good- super riffy post-hardcore in the best way possible.  Quicksand with a bit more punk vibe?  Seaweed with breakdowns?  There’s some cross-pollination going on.  I have to admit, though, I’m not as swayed by Pat’s lyrics as I was last time.  There was a great sense of biting humor and cynicism present on “Paul Walker” that is somewhat lacking here.  “But Does It Work” has some underlying political themes, but comes across well and not heavy-handed, and I can dig on that.  As a continuation of what they’re already damn good at, and maybe some more depth in the melodies (pushed to the fore by the excellent engineering of J. Robbins), I’d say this is another worthy addition to the Drug Church discography.  (No Sleep)

GODSTOPPER, “Children Are Our Future” EP
I’ve been late to the game with this Canadian band, as they have several releases under their belt and I just came across them a few months ago.  As I was diving into their older catalog this thing was already hot out of the oven.  This is the most current material from the band, which stays true to form with the rest of their brilliant music.  Both steeped in lurching abrasiveness, as well as off-kilter singing Godstopper are an odd animal.  I’m reminded of the short-lived Northern brethren in Mare, who were adept at combining massively heavy riffs with an almost angel-like seraphim wail.  Godstopper are like the ugly cousin who still plays in the mud.  It’s got a fantastic quality to the heaviness that seethes, takes some odd stylistic turns, sings and grunts, and isn’t so caught up in it’s own unique nature that it can’t thrash around a bit and get rowdy as well.  To date this is only online.  Who’s going to be the lucky chap to empty their wallets and press this on to vinyl?  Hmmm?!  (Godstopper)

KRILL, “A Distant Fist Unclenching”
And then sometimes a record just emerges from the ether and lights up your fucking world and you wonder how you got by all these years without it.  I know Krill have been around for a minute, but this is my first experience with an entire record of theirs.  They have a couple other things out but this is the brand newest thing.  I decided to give them a try because it was weird enough that I couldn’t exactly place what they were doing, which ultimately makes it pretty interesting for me too.  What stands out most about this band are the odd vocals.  There’s a sort of nasally twang to them, but it’s more than that.  There’s a hard nod to Brandon Butler of mid-90’s greats Boys Life, but I’m not sure if this band (or readers) will know what that’s about.  Either way, that guy went on to do a more rocking band called The Farewell Bend and his vocals came to the fore a bit more in that group and that’s what I’m hearing with Krill.  And while their music does indeed ‘rock’ they have a bizarre, yet catchy, way of delivering it.  They use all manner of stop-start reverb-y guitars, a bit of off-time signatures, and generally take their time with building up a song.  There’s a hint of maybe The Pixies if they were a little more reserved?  And then they close out the A-side with enormous, shimmering wall of guitar sound, like an explosion of light engulfing us all (“Tiger”).  They bring us back into the fold going into the B-side and then end it all again (on a song called, strangely enough, “It Ends”) with a similar effect and repetitive riff backed by some tastefully used synths.  A gem of a record.  Investigate for yourself.  (Exploding In Sound)

LEMURIA, “Turnstile Comix #3”
Let’s get one thing out of the way- any band that includes a comic book with their record automatically wins.  I don’t know what they win.  Accolades, kudos, nods of approval, gushing praise.  Those are worth winning right?  So artist Mitch Clem has done this with a couple other bands (hence, this being #3), but I didn’t see those so this is a first for me.  Plus, it’s Lemuria and I always adore whatever this band does.  Lemuria singles, in the past, have been hit or miss.  Some are totally classic (“Ozzy”, duh) and others definitely throwaway tracks (anyone remember the Cheap Girls split?  Yeah, neither do I).  This falls into the awesome, memorable, eternally catchy side of the fence.  The two songs on the physical vinyl are both songs that have great vocals, hooks, and just a bit of swaggering rock riffs.  There is a third song on the download (“Courtesy Mercedes”), which is a quick and fun burner.  Very enjoyable.  The comic is over twenty pages of adventure that serves as a document of when the band toured Russia a couple years ago and all the insane experiences that came with it.  Would you ever expect a mob of Nazis to show up at a Lemuria (of all bands) gig and start clobbering everyone in sight, police included?  It happened.  And that’s just one of the crazy parts of this killer comic by an awesome artist about a great band.  It’s a winning situation all around.  (Silver Sprocket)

SICK FEELING, “Suburban Myth”
This is a weird collection of dudes making some weird-ass punk music.  OK, so the drummer of the Mongoloids is here.  And a guy from … And You Will Know Us By the Trail Of the Dead.  But so is fucking Don Devore, the mind-bending wild guitar genius from Ink & Dagger.  So right there you got a few different worlds meeting up.  I’ll admit, I picked this up solely to hear what sort of crazy shit Don Devore was conjuring up these days.  And I’ll assure you, this does sound fucked up.  It’s like all the songs come out of some eerie, dirty underground cavern, then explode into all out noisy punk anthems.  Suddenly, without any sort of warning they just disappear into quiet whispers, odd noises, bits of feedback, before leaping out for the attack once again.  A lot of it is in the production/engineering and I have to applaud them for taking some real wild chances between blasting you in the face with walls of sound and then almost disorienting quiet.  The opening track, “Gave Back” and “Liberal Arts” are the most vicious attacks on the record.  But between the weird intros and sudden drop offs I can’t figure out if this is a band just not sure where they’re going yet, or if they’re mad scientists who know exactly how to fuck with the listener and doing this all intentionally.  Either way, I dig it a lot.  (Collect Records)

SPRAYPAINT, “Clean Blood, Regular Acid”
Another one that sort of got away from me.  This has been out since, I believe, the fall?  I didn’t hear about this band until last summer when they played my town and threw me for a loop, bringing their crazy no-wave Texas strangeness with them.  By then they already had out two LPs.  This is their third and the band continues to grow, if only by small steps.  Essentially, if you enjoy their previous stuff this is not much different, although the recordings continue to get better.  Spraypaint offer up their dual vocals with nasally drawl, reverb-ed out guitars (no bass), and Spaghetti Western film score as played by nervous meth heads.  In short, it’s jittery and weird.  But it’s so fucking cool at the same time.  “Do Less Things” is early on in the record and displays a repetitive saunter before it breaks into a frenzied panic.  “Rednecks Everywhere” bursts forth with quick, raw power and blaring anxiety.  “Cory’s Theme” closes out the record with a herky-jerky riff that carries on for several minutes (with some added bass guitar for a change!) like some low-level criminals speeding away through the night after experiencing a David Lynch movie in real life.  And while I make this out to be total weirdo music (which it is), if you listen to the lyrics there is humor contained within reflecting on all manner of trashy denizens, probably lurking in the alleys of the members hometown.  A great addition to an already very unique catalog.  (Monofonus Press)

THARSIS THEY, “Formless/Shapeless” 7”
New-ish label Dropping Bombs once again releases a record with cool artwork and packaging, but I have to admit I’m not really wild about the band making the music.  It’s the sort of early 2000’s metalcore that was a step up from chug-mosh with stolen Slayer riffs, but before the total onslaught of stupid Dillinger Escape Plan wanna-be’s cramming as many parts as they possibly could into one song.  The band knows the value of a spastic and heavy part, but also doesn’t do anything to keep my attention either.  It’s a lot of screaming, a lot of chunky metal, but hasn’t quite found it’s niche yet and isn’t terribly memorable.  Four tracks on seven inches.  Mosh, headbang, forget.  (Dropping Bombs)

TITLE FIGHT, “Hyperview”
Bands that are somewhat popular tend to cause some fire on both sides of the isle when they decide to go and change the way they sound.  Purists turn into crybabies and long for things to just stay the same.  Smartypants who want to appear that they ‘get it’ applaud the change and point fingers at the crybabies.  It’s all kind of stupid and ugly.  I most definitely applaud Title Fight for the leaps and bounds sort of growth they have displayed over their last few records.  I appreciate that they get into a thing, figure out how to do it really well, and then make an album over it.  I thought “Floral Green” was an incredibly good representation of kick-ass Superchunk and Hum worship.  And on this new record…  I guess they’ve really gotten into Slowdive and The Smiths.  There’s a couple really good songs here that keep with that energy I enjoy about the band, but the majority of these songs are kind of boring to me.  Regardless of any changes they have made to their sound they always seemed to keep that sort of youthful energy in their songs.  That is lacking quite a bit here.  But whatever, if they want to make a mopey, phaser pedal-saturated shoegaze-type record that’s their bag, let ‘em go for it (or get it out of their system).  I’m just not really all that psyched on what I hear.  (Anti)

TORCHE, “Restarter”
Death to false sludge pop.  Torche are the one and only.  I’ve always been a bigger fan of their EPs than their full lengths, for no particular reason, it’s just what appealed to me more.  But I think this is the first LP of theirs that I’m 100% down with everything.  I’m sort of reminded of “Songs For Singles” when listening to this as it has a similar approach.  A number of tracks have a sort of slow, steady riffy vibe.  Some other songs are in upbeat, poppy mode (though not one has the sort of guitar acrobatics displayed on previous catchy songs like “UFO” or “Hideaway”).  And then you get the bomb string.  Oh yes, the glorious bomb string.  It is used more liberally on this record and I couldn’t be happier.  “Undone” and “Blasted” give a taste of that great power.  But then you get most of the way through the record and they present “Barrier Hammer”.  “Barrierrrrr HAMMER!!!” Everyone dies.  They get to that break and it’s like the band carpet bombs wherever they are with a never-ending riff.  I actually cranked this incredibly loud in my car HOPING to blow out the speakers.  It would be a fine death.  So yeah, Torche come back strong on this.  Mandatory listening/headbanging.  (Relapse)