Wednesday, March 29, 2017

PSYCHIC TEENS RELEASE "HEX"!

Yeah, it's not just a clever ode to the badass putting this thing out.



Written during a flurry of creativity immediately following the completion of their last LP, PSYCHIC TEENS return with HEX: a five song EP that showcases their unique blend of post-punk, goth, shoegaze, and noise rock. With HEX, PSYCHIC TEENS set to capture the sensory overload of their live show -- colossal guitars and ear-piercing volume --and combine it with the gloomy mood they have brought on their previous three LPs. 

"There is an overreaching theme of overcoming despair and disillusionment ," Larry (Ragone, Guitar/Vocals) says of HEX. "Everyone copes with it in some way or another whether its due to the fucked political climate, personal relationships, an existential crisis, or whatever. You can either deal with it head on or just try to escape and try to ignore it." 

Sonically speaking, Psychic Teens deliberately created two very distinct sides to HEX; choosing to place three abrasive noise rock songs together at the start of the record and two of their more sparse melodic songs at the end. "I think HEX Is a good representation of the PSYCHIC TEENS through the six years we've been together. There are moments of overblown screeching guitar as well as some of the more melodic song-structured pieces from that would at home on our last LP." 

The album was recorded in October of 2016 by Joe Smiley at Red Planet in Clifton Heights PA and mastered for vinyl and CD by James Plotkin (Mondo, Horseback). 

Wanna hear a new song from the record?  Check it out over at Invisible Oranges

Wanna go and buy the record?  YES, YOU DO!  SO DO THAT HERE.

If you live outside the U.S. and want that fucker best bet is to order HERE for a good deal.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

IT'S 2017 AND THERE'S FINALLY SOME NEW REVIEWS

I'll admit, I've been laying low, planning and scheming so far this year, so I haven't really put any time towards even thinking of writing record reviews.  Actually, there hasn't really been all that much new music so far this year that has blown my hair back.  But now that winter is drawing to a close and people are actually coming out of hiding and doing things I'm starting to catch wind of some exceptional stuff making it's way into the world.  So yeah, here's some stuff to investigate.  Make it so.

FALL SILENT, “Cart Return” 7”
Reno’s Fall Silent are a band that have sort of been lost within the cracks of hardcore-metal history, even though their contribution to metallic hardcore is massive.  Bands such as Every Time I Die and Ed Gein owe a large debt to their fine-tuned thrash metallic assault.  Their second full length, “Superstructure” is one of the heaviest records ever, replete with all sorts of interesting technical twists and turns, huge plodding layers of heaviness, that were able to blast and groove all at once with vocalist Levi Watson’s screaming socio-political lyrics backing it all up.  After that they simplified their sound a little, opting for speed and a little less technicality.  And then, they vanished.  It’s been something like 15 years and all of a sudden the band just ups and decides to record a new 4 song 7”.  So naturally, I’m curious.  The lead-off track is straight up what one might expect (who is familiar anyway) from Fall Silent- super fast thrashy parts, followed by a technical groove and chunky riffing, and those Rorschach-styled vocals.  The first song on the B-side is in a similar vein.  But the other two tracks on here are more of the “Drunken Violence” style of keeping things a little simpler riff-wise and just going for quickness.  It’s certainly a worthwhile effort from this group who may have let their instruments collect dust over the last decade.  But will people take notice?  (Revelation)

FUCK YOU PAY ME, “Dumbed Down”
The band with easily the best name in hardcore returns for 10 more songs (well, one is a cover) of absolutely zero bullshit, fast and ruthless punk fury.  And they do it all in under 18 minutes.  There is really not much that needs to be said about this.  If you get off to hardcore that’s really fast and really fucking angry, with lyrics that are snarky and to the point, then you will enjoy this.  Otherwise, go shit in your hat.  The title track is my favorite (with a line like ‘if you got that PMA then stay the fuck away from me’ gives an indication of where they’re coming from), but, I gotta say, “Douche Chills” might take a close second.  Despite the apparent lack of any empathy whatsoever, there are a few topical songs that clearly hit close to home for the band- “Dark Side Of the Spoon” deals with friends and acquaintances lost to hard drugs and “Steubenville City Limits” is a rally against suburban jocks that get a free pass on rape, as long as they know the right people.  If you don’t have a chip on your shoulder about something after listening to this you probably don’t go outdoors much.  (Tankcrimes)

GRIZZLOR/ GODSTOPPER split 7”
OK, I’m obviously super partial to both these bands since I released material from each.  So, ya know, the fact they have teamed up for a 7” makes my groin area just a little bit moist.  Is that too much information?  Well, try to visualize it while you’re at it.  That thought might be just as ugly as the filthy, riff-laden noise rock of Grizzlor.  Or, if you’re some sort of pervert, it might be just as sweet as the soothing sounds of Godstopper that ultimately crash down on you like the weight of age (aging moist groins at that).  No, really, I can keep going here.  Anyway, Grizzlor, with a handful of singles already under their belts toss out a couple more of their weird grooving noise rock with those wretched, reverb-y ‘man in a tinfoil hat yelling about reptoids’ vocals, and quick to-the-point sludge riffs.  Godstopper return with pop songs disguised as Disembodied.  Down-tuned monster riffs and Queen-level choruses on the first song.  The second song, “Cellophane”, could be a deep cut from an early 80’s Genesis record (and I mean that in a good way) as it weirdly meanders through a creepy-quiet sung bit, bereft of distortion save for all of about five seconds.  My description does it little justice.  To know the band’s M.O. you gotta understand they just like catchy and clever hooks and often bury that love under piles of distortion.  But sometimes they just bare all and let that love show minus heavy guitars.  A great, if not a little weird, pairing.  (Corpse Flower)

HAWKS, “No Cash Value”
I feel like this long-running Atlanta band never quite got their just due.  Maybe it’s because they have a very bland name?  I don’t really know how much they toured.  This is their final LP and in their time they were quite prolific, releasing 5 LPs and several 7” records.  My own interest in them involves tracking down their various releases (some of which were only released on European labels) and having an incomplete collection of their material.  So I might be off with their progression, but on this last LP it feels the most restrained of their releases.  Earlier material was awash in tons of feedback, plenty of drunken howling and growling, and a total love of Jesus Lizard’s rock-your-fucking-face-off mentality.  “No Cash Value” reins in the feedback a bit, has learned to pace their drinking, but still loves the Jesus Lizard.  And the singer still sounds like he’s reciting his death wish from underneath a barstool.  So there’s that.  “Wash and repeat”.  (Learning Curve Records)

MUMS, “Land Of Giants”
OK, I’ll admit, this actually was released in October of last year and I’m just getting obsessed with it now.  So it’s not exactly new, but I really wanted to gush about this a little bit so deal.  This is a UK trio that has dropped some kind of sonic bomb in the form of incredibly fuzzed-out muddy riffing in the vein of Floor (for the dual down-tuned guitar attack, no bass), KARP (for the thunder and sense of absurdity), and fellow UK noiseniks Todd (in the nihilistic over-the-top sludge and feedback).  So ya know, it’s right up my alley.  Still, they manage to toss in some of these ultra-quiet restrained parts to the mountains of heavy to make for some very accentuated dynamics.  It certainly adds a bit more variety to the music than their last outing (under the moniker Aeroplane Flies High), an EP, that had cleaner production, catchier Torche-inspired riffing, and moved along at a pretty steady pace.  A noteworthy release, for sure.  But this is just kind of next level good.  I like that it’s mixed up a bit more, it sounds a littler slimier, more fuzzy and crazy, but somehow manages to be quite catchy, no matter how much they might slow it down.  It’s generally kind of tough to keep up with international bands and generate interest on this side of the pond, but I’d strongly suggest giving this band a try if you dig your sludgy noise rock with lots of catchiness and weirdness.  (Super Star Destroyer)

OAK, “It’s Your Mess As Much As Mine”
Not to be confused with the metallic drone-sludge band that released stuff with A389 Records, this band opts instead for hardcore dudes trying to get a bit noisey and weird, but ultimately end up sounding more hardcore than Botch-y, if you get my drift.  There’s a large dose of that sort of Indecision style of keeping the music simple, heavy, yet meaningful.  However, the second half of this record (it’s only 5 songs) tries some different things and veers off into some more interesting territory, particularly on “Elsewhere”, probably the best offering here.  If you dig your hardcore just a bit off the beaten path, as well as emotionally cathartic this would be a decent record to check out.  (State Of Mind)

OPEN CITY,  s/t
A couple years back Dan Yemin (of Paint It Black, Lifetime, etc) had mentioned to me that he was working on a new project that he described as sounding like Torches To Rome.  Always a good thing.  He mentioned the pieces weren’t all in place yet, but it was getting there.  So, if this is the same project, it appears that it took a bit of a turn because it doesn’t really sound like any Mike/Sarah Kirsch project.  It sounds like a band that Dan Yemin plays guitar for.  Which he does.  The guy has a fairly distinct style to his playing that certainly gives nods to 80’s/early 90’s Dischord melodic hardcore, catchy punk, and shades of early emo.  Along for the ride is Chris Wilson, who drummed for Ted Leo for years, Andy Nelson (also of Paint It Black) and Rachel Rubino (of Bridge and Tunnel) handling vocals.  When I first heard about this band I thought maybe Yemin was on vocals and I secretly hoped Rubino was on guitar because she might be one of the shreddin’-est guitarists I’ve ever seen.  But her strained and gruff vocals do the job nicely here.  Musically, it is along the lines of what I might expect from all these people making music together.  The overall feel has a bit more of the melodic bent that was present on “Paradise” (Paint It Black’s second LP) that, again, evokes shades of Dischord luminaries (distinctly, the Swiz-like momentum of “Brother, I’m Getting Nowhere”, and the J. Robbins style of playing on “Sofa Drugs”).  However, it’s the almost-midway point on the noticeably slower “Black Veils” in which Rubino really shows that she has some serious pipes, and lays the emotion on thick.  Heck, it even kind of sounds like it could have been on a Bridge and Tunnel album.  I know its kind of an easy out to compare this music to the members other outfits, but the combination of all those parts makes for something truly special and this is one heck of a debut.  (self-released)

PISSED JEANS, “Why Love Now?”
Pissed Jeans has obviously carved their niche within the punk/noise rock scene over the course of four LPs.  Finally, on their fifth outing something feels different.  They’re trying some other weird shit, messing around with song structures and production values that are not quite what one might expect from the suburban Philly grown-up’s who throw around guitars and convulse on stage on the weekends.  I can’t really nail what feels out of place about this record as compared to others.  Songs like “Ignorecam” are right up there with the best of the band’s canon of ‘take one lumbering riff and repeat ad nauseum’, and “Waiting On My Horrible Warning” lines right up with awkward and excellent opening songs where a first time listener might have second thoughts about what they’ve gotten themselves into.  But maybe it’s that Pissed Jeans is in better control of their chaos these days.  Whereas in the past they wrote great songs that were completely unhinged at every angle (despite all being good musicians), tracks such as “Love Without Emotion”, “The Bar Is Low” (which, if you haven’t seen the video for yet stop reading this and check that immediately), and “It’s Your Knees” are of the fast/heavy sort, but executed with slick precision (as much as a band that is often filed under ‘noise rock’ can get away with).  Perhaps it’s the lyrics?  Past efforts have managed to describe the mundane details of adult life that were chock full of deadpan humor, the intentionality of which was ambiguous.  On this record I can’t really tell most of the time if vocalist Matt Korvette is attempting to be serious?  Maybe?  Regardless of all this, my first listen of the record was a bit on the reserved side of appreciation.  After a couple more spins now I’m enjoying it almost as much as their past efforts.  (Sub Pop)

Monday, March 20, 2017

DIALYSIS SPRING TOUR!

The dastardly trio (treacherous trio? tubular trio?) in DIALYSIS are hitting the road for as long as their jobs and wives will allow them to act like idiots on stages in America this Spring.  See the above flyer for laughs, see the below info for dates and places.  This is in anticipation of their full length LP, which will (maybe) be out when they hit the road.  I guess you will just have to come to the shows to find out if they have it or not!

Friday, April 21st- Buffalo, NY @ Dreamland w/ Healer
Saturday, April 22nd- Cleveland, OH @ Foundary
Sunday, April 23rd- Detroit, MI @ New Dodge Lounge
Monday, April 24th- nowhere as of now.  Pittsburgh hopefully.  Please help make that happen someone
Tuesday, April 25th- Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar w/ Blurring, Coming Down

Monday, January 2, 2017

HERE'S A BUNCH OF VIDEO FROM HEX FEST!

For those who couldn't make it out to Syracuse over the weekend (which is most of planet Earth) due to shitty weather, inebriation, laziness, or location I've done you all the favor of recording some stuff from most of the bands that ended up playing.  So behold, the magic of an iPhone and the internet.  I never claimed to be a film expert so this will have to do.  Plus, Matt Jamie filmed the Dialysis stuff because I can't play and film myself at the same time, that would just be stupid.

ACHILLES


BLOOD SUN CIRCLE


PSYCHIC TEENS


DIALYSIS


BLEAK


ED GEIN

Monday, December 19, 2016

SURPRISE! ED GEIN RELEASES A DOUBLE 7" TODAY!

SURPRISE!! Ed Gein just released a double 7".  We've been sitting on this one for awhile and thought it best to unleash a little pre-Christmas gift for you all, keeping it all secret-like. The fine folks at Clrvynt have been gracious enough to host a new song with a link to the Hex store where you can actually purchase the record right now (it's out and finished), as well as a little bit about Hex Fest. CHECK IT OUT!!!! http://clrvynt.com/ed-gein-tarrare-premiere/

Monday, December 12, 2016

IT'S THE YEAR END LIST!



Man, what a year.  In so, so many ways this year was unfathomably awful.  However, I have a hard time feeling really bad about it.  I saw and heard a lot of great stuff.  I traveled a bunch.  I put out some records and played a bunch of shows.  How can I be upset about that?  And while the rest of the world may seem like it's going to hell if I, or anyone else for that matter, spends 24 hours a day focused on all the bad then it's really easy to forget that there is good present.  So I'm going to talk a bit about the good.


A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, “We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service”
This is a right time, right place sort of record for 2016 for so many reasons.  It came out right after a lot of people felt disheartened by the state of the nation, and Tribe rolls in with songs that are both fiery and positive to bring people back up.  It comes upon the untimely death of founding member Phife’s untimely passing and it offers him a beautiful eulogy.  It brings me back to my personal peak interest in hip-hop all those years ago when nothing else in the world sounded quite like this and sparked my imagination, while pushing the genre forward at the same time.  Put simply, Tribe came roaring back in a wonderful way and at just the right time too.

The rest in no particular order:



UXO, s/t
Two of the most influential people in ‘noise rock’ circles get together to make a record.  It sounds exactly what you would think Today Is the Day and Unsane together would sound like.  UXO record + my ears= musical wet dream.

NULL, “Sleepwalking Days”
Brooding.  That’s the best way to describe this group from Birmingham, Alabama.  Sturdy repetition like Lungfish; simplistic, yet darkly heavy tones akin to True Widow; haunting vocals like… whoever.  Null have a sound I adore that may move slowly, but it’s the heaviest mellow record- or mellowest heavy record- I checked out all year.

WRONG, s/t
This was easily my most anticipated record to come out this year   It’s close though.  The band that does an early 90’s Helmet impression better than Helmet comes out swinging after a lone EP that introduced their sound.  Pieces of “Strap It On”, “Meantime” and “Aftertaste” all show up here in equal measure, and I have no issue with that.  Apparently, neither does the band as they are well aware that someone had to take Helmet’s mantle since they don’t seem to be up to the task anymore.

CHILD BITE, “Negative Noise”
Another highly anticipated record for me and this one delivers, though not precisely in the way I thought.  It has more to do with the production values that come off a little less metal than their last outing and more in line with 80’s Black Flag recordings.  Child Bite are one of the most unique punk bands going with their total SST guitar skronk worship, Jesus Lizard style bass, Voivod otherworldliness, and Jello Biafra-meets-Neil Fallon vocal delivery.  It’s a heck of a strange combo, but I friggin’ love it.




PSYCHIC TEENS, “Nerve”
I feel like this list is mostly ‘highly anticipated records’ that ended up paying off.  I guess this year was good for that (if anything).  I’d been following this band for a couple years now already and am always blown away by the weird mish-mash of styles they cobble together to make a very cohesive whole.  However, compared to previous records this is a little more stripped down overall.  There’s not as much massive guitar feedback/wall of sound going on (minus the huge closing track “Everything”, quite possibly my favorite song of the year), as the band flexes their post-punk/gothy side a bit more.  The record was a big undertaking- from the expansive M.C. Escher-esque artwork, to the dual singles that accompanied the LP- it’s a great package from an exceptionally interesting band.

SUPER UNISON, “Auto”
OK, last ‘highly anticipated’ record, I swear.  I’d been a big fan of vocalist/bassist Meaghan O’Neill Pennie from her utterly ferocious scream in Punch.  There was so much fury in that voice.  So when I heard her 7” debut with this band it was cool to hear her try some variations in range and style, not to mention the more direct punk feel of this new group.  The 7” kind of hinted at what was to come.  This record goes all out though- songs with a more rock-y/post-hardcore feel, some more fast and aggressive, plenty of interesting leads and riffs, and atop it all O’Neill Pennies vocals that have quite a dramatic range more than ever, going between Bikini Kill-style bratty shouts to the familiar throat-shredding scream, to somewhat spoken and delicate crooning.  It’s an excellent debut.

RED HARE, “Lexicon Mist” 7”
Look, I love Swiz, or basically anything Jason Farrell has lent his guitar playing to and I happen to think Joe Gorelick (Garden Variety, Retisonic) is one of the best drummers of the last 20 years.  So get all these cats together and they spit out a 7” after their phenomenal debut in 2013 (finally).  It may be only two new songs and a Lungfish cover, but I’ll take what I can get because these dudes don’t have the opportunity to do stuff all that much.  Loose and off-the-cuff hardcore punk with an excellent sense of melody and rock swagger, done the way they helped establish as the ‘Dischord style’.

TURNSTILE, “Move Thru Me”
First off, fuck you.  I don’t care if people think this band is too pop sounding or whatever.  The unbelievable amount of energy they display live comes through on record.  The first two songs on here sound like they could be on a Bad Brains record and overall, Turnstile come off with more of a punk vibe now than the moshy hardcore they had been known for.  They do a Give cover and it sounds better than the original (sorry Give).  I can’t wait to see what comes next.



Best Live Sets:



DRIVE LIKE JEHU, Philly/DC 8.9/8.10
Of course this is going to be the best show(s) I saw all year.  I’ve only been waiting 20 years to see them.  All these guys can play their asses off so it’s no wonder that both nights I saw Jehu on this run they sounded perfect.  John Reiss pulls it all together with his ridiculous guitar sounds, his wild stage banter, and dangling his amplifier off his guitar neck like a shish kabob while he freaks out for “Luau”.  Nothing comes close.

GUERRILLA TOSS, Big Day In, Ithaca 12.3.16
What a weird fuckin’ band.  There is no earthly reason why I would normally enjoy a band that sounds like outer-space funk, but here we are and it’s been a weird year.  I like to think this sounds more like Melt Banana if they played a lot slower, so maybe that’s what I’m feeling.  Either way, their set at Big Day In this year was unreal.  It was just a big, massive, lurching sound of buzzes, blips, unbelievable drumming/rhythm, and vocalist Kassie Carlson staring down the crowd as she creeped around and spaced out.

RED HARE, St. Vitus, NYC
Myself, about 30 other old people, and approximately 6 children of said old people gather in the afternoon in NYC’s current favorite heavy music venue to see DC hardcore veterans do their (semi) new thing and still go off harder than bands half their age.  The children mosh harder than the adults.  Jason Farrell slips on a rug, Shawn Brown waxes comedic with the audience and his bandmates, and Joe Gorelick beats the living hell out of his drums.  They do not one, but four, Swiz songs as a bonus.  Life is complete, I drive five hours back home.

UXO @ KFN, Philly 2.27.16
Taking a chance driving anywhere in the Northeast is dicey at the end of February, so my plans of seeing one of the few UXO live dates was met with hesitation until about 4 days before the actual show when it was a balmy 60 degrees.  Weather gods smiled upon me, they knew I should probably make the 4 hour drive to see the team up of Spencer and Austin as they sonically pummeled a tiny venue.  And boy did they.  Both men know how to make guitars sound like a war and control a mic like it owes them money, so needless to say, UXO met all my expectations and then some.  Also, Philly rules, so any chance to go there is golden.

PILE @ The Haunt, Ithaca 4.30.16
Ithaca is a scant 50 minutes (on a good day) from where I live and is a great little town to hang around in.  They have also been bringing their A game lately and bringing in a lot of awesome bands that usually skip over this general region.  So since the only other time I’ve seen Pile it was on a recommendation before hearing any of their music.  So now that I am very familiar with all their stuff seeing them play it out was pretty excellent.  They manage to weave odd melodies and dynamics in such a way that attempts to unravel their songs is an exercise in futility, yet it all comes across as catchy and exciting.

MULTICULT, BLOOD SUN CIRCLE, PSYCHIC TEENS, SOUND DISCARD, GUN CANDY @ WCC 5.13.16
So yeah, I booked this one.  But look at this dang lineup.  Every band was stellar and a bunch of people showed up to see it all so that makes me happy.  Blood Sun played pretty much just new stuff that absolutely slays.  Gun Candy made their Syracuse debut with a ferocious punk sound that no one could see coming.  Sound Discard played their first show and sounded wonderful.  Psychic Teens were, of course, loud, weird, brooding, and eclectic.  Multicult manages to present one of the best tones amongst all it’s members and still be louder than whatever else is out there.

108 @ St. Vitus (2 sets) 5.21.16
I’ve seen 108 a lot over the years.  They never fail to be anything short of incredible.  They have one of the most engaging and intense live presences of any hardcore band around.  And on this day they played two sets.  One was just “Songs Of Separation” and “Holy Name”.  The other was “Threefold Misery” and everything after.  Both sets were equally as cathartic and exhausting.  Not bad for a bunch of guys in their 40’s.  Their music is still untouchable.

OTHER STUFF:

-       It may seem a bit trite, but I think the art and packaging of a record are a big deal.  And I’d like to give a big nod to a couple of bands in my own backyard for coming up with some of the most clever packaging of the year. 
-       First off, Rochester’s GREEN DREAMS released their full length on their own.  It’s a CD that comes in a 7”-sized package that folds out into a fucking diorama complete with cut out figures of the band members you can set up.  Musically, it sounds like L7 meets fuzzy garage rock, so that’s a bonus too. 
-       Syracuse’s own OHNE KA AND THE BURNING RIVER didn’t go and just release their second full length.  They wrote a fucking book, complete with professional illustrations to go with it.  That’s ambitious.  I guess they needed all those words because their music is instrumental.  And if you like stuff like Explosions In the Sky and Mogwai, mixed with a healthy dose of stoner metal worship you’d probably enjoy them.  So you get a book to accompany a CD.  Pretty good deal huh?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

LAST ROUND OF REVIEWS FOR THIS YEAR!

One last bunch of reviews to get out of the way before I throw up some end of the year list thing.  I kept it (relatively) short this time around because that Tribe review took up so much space, deservedly.
Enjoy these in whichever form that takes, get something out of the webstore, or bandcamp, as I'm donating to various charities depending on what you purchase, and then make it yr business to be in Syracuse Dec. 30th and 31st for the Hex Fest shindig!
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A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, “We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service”
In early November the nation was thrown into a weird and uncertain place due to the election.  Myself and most people I know were befuddled by the results and frankly, terrified and unhappy.  And then, a few days later, A Tribe Called Quest releases their first album in 18 years and suddenly this dark world got a lot brighter.
            It’s a bittersweet release though as it comes on the heels of founding member Phife Dawg’s untimely death.  And hearing him lay down his trademark verses early on in the record makes it all that much more difficult because this is by far one of the best things the group has ever done and it would have been beautiful to see him be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor.  It’s not some half-hearted reunion record where members are trying to relive some sense of nostalgia from their crappy adult lives.  It’s the sound of newfound energy, of people who never stopped being creative.  They just chose to pursue those endeavors individually for a long time rather than collectively and, as Phife puts it, “the nucleus is here now”.  Yes, they definitely are.
            I had read some press about this record and the process behind it and consistently Q-Tip discusses how they wanted to “keep the thread, but push it forward”, meaning they aimed to keep the spirit and the style of Quest from the past, but not re-hash old material.  They wanted to do something new.  And they have succeeded greatly in my humble opinion.  Admittedly, I am not one to have a good sense of what is, or isn’t, good hip-hop these days.  Much of it has been uninteresting to me for 20 years now.  It’s not on my radar so if critics want to consider me stuck in the past in regards to this record they are probably right.  But something tells me I’m of the popular opinion that this is some truly forward-moving stuff.
            The samples and instrumentation are in line with what you might expect from Quest, piling layers on top of one another without it sounding too busy or overcrowded.  It all fits together just right.  “We the People” is the standout single, and shows ATCQ going in a more subtle, yet political direction than in the past (which is actually a theme throughout the record).  Of course, there are tracks here that could fit well on older releases such as “Black Spasmodic”, “The Donald”, “Ego”, and “Conrad Tokyo” (possibly my favorite track overall?), while some other songs take some very interesting turns like the Elton John/ piano samples in “Solid Wall Of Sound” and the killer sex jam “Enough!”, which sounds like a companion piece to Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”.
            Oh, and can we talk about Jarobi?  Holy shit.  Barely a peep on “People’s Instinctive Travels”, leaves the group for a couple decades, comes back and has some of the hardest verses on the whole record!  Who knew he could rap?  He gets the gold star on this one.  Cameos by a host of other people fill out the record, including Busta Rhymes all over the place and a handful of others who clearly were influenced by Tribe and are now doing their own thing like Talib Kweli, Kanye, Andre 3000, and Kendrick Lamar.
            In all seriousness, I couldn’t be happier.  This is an incredible moment.  From someone who got into this group when they first started as a young teen, and holding their records as some of my favorite pieces of music ever since then it’s a great thing to see this happen.  And we all need it now.  We need that ray of sunshine that creativity, positivity, and a powerful sense of determination lives on.  Quest has done it, above and beyond expectation. (Epic)

ARKLESS, s/t 12”
These Brits debut with a record of chill, un-distorted emo the likes of which could harken back to Amber Inn, Still Life, Braid, or early Promise Ring.  Like, imagine a record full of “My Firetower Flame” and you get an idea.  Vocals have that sort of off-key, serious/spoken quality and the music moves at a steady pace while keeping it emotional with no big loud parts that some of the referenced bands threw in here and there.  This remains relatively calm throughout I guess.  It’s pretty and melodic.  (Ruined Smile)

DISREPAIR demo
Buffalo has always had it’s own particular brand of meaty, metallic hardcore that only comes from being in the heart of the rust belt.  It’s the sound of thousands of laid off factory workers, cold-ass winters, and lots of knuckleheads who constantly have a grudge against…  something.  Disrepair sounds like that.  This quick two song demo tunes really low, plays pretty fast, and doesn’t make the breakdowns predictably obvious. They just churn it out.  I detect a hint of melody that closes out the second song, adding a little unique style to the chunky riffing.  Not too bad. (Disrepair)

HELL MARY, 12”
Yes, yes, yes.  OK, all you weird pinheads out there who enjoy ripping fast and ridiculously aggressive hardcore, but just aren’t swayed by what’s being peddled for the most part- this is for you.  Not only is this one heck of a cool looking record (clear vinyl with crazy screen printed B side), but it sounds pretty great too.  Hell Mary unfortunately have to deal with being from New Jersey and all the awful driving and lack of places to actually turn around that come with it.  But they do draw from a rich musical landscape that has produced oh so many wonderful bands over the years, and maybe they’ll end up joining those ranks if they keep up what they’re doing here.  A good place to start for this group would be the speedy and chaotic violence that Converge are oh so god at churning out.  Add to that a good dose of the topical and emotional bent, coupled with the churning heaviness, of 108.  That’s really the best I can come up with.  I mean, that really ought to be enough to sway you right there.  If not I guess we just don’t really need to know each other anymore and we’re all friends here right?  Do what’s right.  Check this out.  (Dropping Bombs)

MALLWALKERS, “Dial ‘M’ For…”
This very part-time Buffalo collective has released a second (to my knowledge) LP full of a mish-mash of various influences that somehow work together pretty well into their own unique stew.  Consisting of about 9 people Mallwalkers gather sporadically, creating manifestos of danceable, social upheaval full of repetitive chords, blaring horns, multiple vocalists, and shaking asses.  Pull a bit of MC5’s explosive rebellion rock, add a taste of Fugazi’s use of odd chords and twangs that peck at their steady rhythm, and give a full-on high five to current rabble rousers Downtown Boys in regards to that horn blaring and ‘we’re here to fuck your system up’ protesting in the streets goodness, and you get an idea of what Mallwalkers are presenting.  There’s a feeling of that DC/Dischord ‘we’re nerdy white punks, but we can get funky too’ thing happening, along with a distinctly Western New York rust belt vibe that isn’t Tuffalo hardcore (you have to kind of be from around here to know exactly what I mean), but it is punk and it’s angry, and I’m OK with all of it.  So get your feel on if this description does anything for you.  (Peterwalkee Records)

ORDINARY LIVES s/t 7”
It’s a not-unlikely collection of people creating an unlikely sound.  So take a couple guys from Off Minor, Saetia, and Bridge & Tunnel and you would probably think it’s going to be thoughtful, complex, and, at times chaotic, emo/screamo stuff, right?  Nope.  And if that horrifying thought is firmly dismissed allow me to inform you that this is way better, at least to a guy like me.  Instead think riffy/stoner post-hardcore, which is awesome.  OK, sure it harkens to a sort of late 90’s vibe (Syracuse people- think Farthest Man) and I am fine with that.  You know what this really sounds like, a lot?  Cutman.  Ya know, Gainesville, Kiss Of Death Records?  No?  Fine, fuck off.  Go listen to Farthest Man, Cutman, watch some Chico and the Man, and then go listen to this, and feel satisfied.  Start a push pit and wear flannel.  Get off my lawn.  Released by 37 different labels.  (Square Of Opposition/ Tor Johnson/ State Of Mind)

RED FANG, “Only Ghosts”
I haven’t listened to this band is quite a long time.  I see they are still playing burly beard-man rock, but the songs on this album, for the most part, seem to cater a little more to the average rock fan.  Simply put, it’s overall not as heavy as previous outings from what I remember.  They still manage to keep things fairly creative though, and I’d rather listen to this than radio rock any day of the week.  And much like past efforts Red Fang spare no quarter when it comes to creating beautiful cover art for their releases- this one a simple trance-inducing wave pattern, which seems to go against the rumbling riff rock ever-present throughout the album.  I guess if Clutch has been veering a bit too bluesy for you, but Mastodon is still somewhat extreme (OK, maybe not current Mastodon), Red Fang might be a good mid-ground to explore.  (Relapse)

WHORES., “Gold”
You are hard pressed to find a more rowdy three-piece band in the live setting than Whores, not to mention one with a ridiculously dialed-in mammoth tone.  It’s insane how incredibly heavy and loud their sound is.  It’s awesome.  You’re also going to have a heck of a tough time googling their name and not coming up with results that probably don’t mesh with what you’re looking for (or maybe you are, I won’t judge).  However, much like their previous two EPs this first full length doesn’t completely hit at all times.  I understand it’s good to break things up a little bit- a part that’s just bass and vocals here, a quick reprieve that is just guitar- but Whores totally excel when they’re just going full throttle, one smashing riff after another and truckloads of feedback.  Opening track “Playing Poor” does a fine job of this.  And as they roll right into the next track, “Baby Teeth”, you get the impression it’s going to go the same way as it lumbers along with a dumptruck-heavy slower rhythmic jackhammering.  But the verse, with just the drums and vocals, kind of throws it off for me.  I just want these dudes to smash all their guitar pedals at once (they’re going to need a lot of feet for that) and pound one ridiculous riff after another into my skull while worshipping at the alter of AmRep.  By and large they deliver.  To me, though, the impact is lost just a little when they go into parts not involving everything going all at once.  For some bands it’s great, for Whores I’d say space is not the place.  Smash everything.  (eOne)

Bonus Round:

FARSIDE, “Rigged”
When I was just getting into punk and hardcore music it was primarily through skateboarding.  So publications like Thrasher and mailorder catalogs like Sessions informed me quite a bit about what was out there musically that was in line with skateboarding culture.  At the time Revelation was one of the bigger punk rock record labels (still is!), but when I got into punk music they were beginning to take a turn away from the youth crew style that they are most infamously known for.  Of course, what was happening was that a lot of the musicians they had been working with in the past that had all those infamous bands were growing up a little and starting new bands that tried new things aside from just NYHC, and that led to groups like Burn, Supertouch, and Into Another to take hardcore music in bizarre new directions.  Well, this was all new to me.  So whatever Revelation was putting out around ’93-’95 was really appealing to me because there was so much variety!  One of the bands that, in a way, sprung out of this new style (except on the West Coast) was Farside.
            To a young person hearing Farside, and especially this record, for the first time they might mistake it for mainstream radio rock.  Admittedly, it does have that feel.  However, when it was released they were a really engaging and exciting band to me.  They possessed a lot of the melodic, upbeat style of Fat Wreck bands like Strung Out or Face To Face.  However, they were also incredibly great musicians that were not afraid to take a post-hardcore bent and write songs that might stretch 5 minutes to go with their quick tempos and thoughtful lyrics.  I know some may disagree, but when I think of Farside I think ‘skate rock’.
            I truly adore this record, and the emotional weight it carries amongst the energetic tempos.  “Kill Me” kind of comes off as the fastest, most aggressive song before it breaks into a sung chorus of “I’ll just wait/ Here in broken arms”, while “Silver Anniversary” is much slower and somber, but equally as poignant as it deals with (as far as I have gathered over the years) divorce.
            A big part of how well this record comes across is vocalist/guitarist Michael “Popeye” Vogelsang’s gruff but heartfelt vocals.  He sings in a way that hardcore bands of the day might have scoffed at for not completely shredding his throat. But the emotion is sincere and true.  When he gets at dealing with procrastination in “Wait For Monday”, stating that “I keep on lowering my expectations!” or going on about moping around and being alone on “Audience” before a big melodic breakdown it’s like getting punched in the chest.  I get those same feelings listening to this record 20+ years later.  (Revelation)