Sunday, January 31, 2016

NEW REVIEWS FOR 2016!

The new year is upon us and one miserable month already has passed.  Yes, January is the time to hibernate, plan, and hope for the Winter to coast on by in hopes of a long and pleasant Spring.  Well, we shall see if that occurs.
So going into this new year I decided that to go with the regular reviews of new stuff I want to add a random review of something from the past.  I am a big fan of stuff that was mostly overlooked in it's time of release and there are definitely some gems out there.  So I figured I'd toss something in there.  Expect that as a regular on going thing from here on out.
In this month's reviews it's a pretty mixed bag of music, film, and comics...  a nice slice of variety to start off 2016.  Read on and get shwifty.

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AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED, “Arc” EP
ANb strike back with a….  three song…  what, micro 7”?  What, this must be like two minutes long right?  Oh, it’s over 20 minutes in length?  Are they trolling us into listening to the longest blast beat in history?  Wait, it’s a sludge metal record…  with very serious lyrical content?  Is this the right band?  So yeah, the long-running maniacal grind unit is trying something different- a series of EPs, each featuring one of ANb’s three vocalists, and a different style of extremity.  This first one features vocalist Katherine Katz and the difficult subject of her mother’s battles with mental illness before her untimely passing.  The music is completely informed by the likes of Sleep, Melvins, Crowbar, and Eyehategod.  And yes, the drum machine is still laying down the beats.  It’s not a bad turn, and shows that Scott Hull can pretty much write whatever kind of music he wants whether it be thrashfully blasting off between regular ANb stuff or with Pig Destroyer, or slowing it down to a snail’s pace with this recording.  Regular ANb fans might be on the fence, most fans of really heavy stuff will be pleased, bong resin clinging like moss to their toothy smiles.  (Relapse)

BLOODIEST, s/t
I went into this knowing only a couple things:  this band hails from Chicago and features Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) on vocals.  I was really impressed when I saw him do a solo set last year, so I was a bit curious to see what he could lend to this band.  Like other music Lamont has been involved in it’s treading some interesting territory.  These songs sprawl out like apocalyptic landscapes, delivering repetitious bombasts of dark codas and taking more than a few cues from the likes of Swans.  It is heavy and mean-sounding, but there’s a lot of different instrumentation going on here, and Lamont is mostly singing/hollering and not screaming.  So take that as you will.  It makes for a cool listen if you’re feeling on some end times type shit.  (Relapse)

“COLOR OF NOISE” documentary
This is something I never thought would really happen, but I’m really glad it did.  The story of Amphetamine Reptile Records, the bands, and art associated with it is finally in a very thorough documentary form.  Certain bands and aesthetics from this label were extremely influential on my taste in music and my approach to design.  Amphetamine Reptile Records (or AmRep as most people refer to them) began in the 80’s as a DIY label that focused on raw, mean, visceral rock n’ roll.  A big chunk of punk and hardcore figured into their formation, but they drew from the uglier side of things.  Sure, none of the drugs and alcohol was of interest to me (and it unfortunately claimed the lives of several great musicians from various bands on this label), but their stiff middle finger and refusal to play nice/be politically correct was (and is) a firm stance that makes the label so exciting.  They launched the careers of the Cows, the God Bullies, Today Is the Day, Hammerhead, Tar, Boss Hog, and some little band called Helmet.  They picked up Unsane at the perfect moment, and have collaborated for decades with the Melvins on a host of projects.  Many of these bands are interviewed regarding the scene of the time and how the label pushed them.  A few of the artists closely associated with the label such as Derek Hess, Shepard Fairey, Coop, and the incredible Frank Kozik are interviewed at length as the posters and cover art they created was just as important to the label as the music.  And of course, the main guy behind the operation, Tom Hazelmeyer is reluctantly grilled.  The man seems to want no glory for himself, he just wants to make stuff and see things happen.  And that, in itself, is glorious.  Just make it happen.  Despite a massive health scare that put him in a month long coma several years ago Hazelmeyer bounced back to make more records, open a restaurant, open an art gallery, constantly create his own art, and shoot lots of guns.  By all accounts this stuff should not appeal to me- I don’t drink, I don’t eat meat, and I don’t do drugs… all of which seem to be hallmarks of the AmRep culture (for better or for worse), but everything else about it is so potent.  It is the embodiment of everything mean and dangerous about rock (or punk for that matter).  Take a dive into a bit of history with this wonderful film about a cast of fucked up weirdoes.  (Robellion Films)

DEVIL HIS DUE, “2016 A.D.”
I know metalcore is a dirty word that typically implies the shoddiest of over-produced, fabricated suburban anger backed by dumb breakdowns that have been so overdone they have completely lost any semblance of substance.  I know.  I’ve lived through all of it.  So when I say a metalcore record is good you must understand that I am correct in the most authoritative sort of way.  Now, granted, there is a conflict of interest because I am in a band with one of the members of this group.  But, I am not in a band with the member who wrote all these riffs.  So it’s fair game to say this shit smokes.  Those familiar with Syracuse hardcore lineage will know the name Danny Johnson.  He is the throat-shredded-by-broken-glass vocalist who fronted Blood Runs Black, God Below, and Last Season.  He does all the vocals here.  That means it already sounds incredibly harsh.  The music is super heavy, tons of double bass, and non-stop in its’ filthiness.  It bears a strong resemblance to Last Season, but locals can debate for themselves.  It has a genuine hatred behind it, and it’s definitely worth checking out.  Fans of Crowbar, Ringworm, the Blinding Light, and Overcast take note.  (Devil His Due)

FUCKING INVINCIBLE, “I Hate Myself and Want You To Die” 7”
Enter more hatred and general misanthropy from Providence’s most destructive band.  Their LP from last year was pretty good, but the sound on it was purposefully a little too trashy sounding in my opinion.  I’m glad they have struck a good balance on this new record between coming off as raw and violent but polished enough to know how well they can deliver that audio hacksaw.  Plus, this band was made to release 7”s…  an LP is too much thought.  Cram 8 songs in 7 minutes onto 7 inches, stuff it down your throat, pull the pin, and wait for it to detonate.  While Providence has consistently churned out some excellent bands (some of the members of which play in this band) I think FI is my favorite one to see live and this slab of powerviolence hardcore gets that live sound down nicely.  (Atomic Action)

OURSELVES 7”
This Michigan group comes out the gate with a very nice looking record that comes on all sorts of colorful vinyl and a block-stamped cardstock cover.  And a pin!  Woo!  Thoughtful packaging aside, musically this falls into a style that younger kids would probably hear and just think ‘dude rock’.  Us older dorks will recognize this as solid post-hardcore rock aiming for the likes of Cast Iron Hike, but a little less show-y…  so more like Cutman…  if that means anything to anyone.  So what do we learn?  Young kids:  “dude rock”.  Old farts: “dude rock…  but c’mon man, you can hear the post-hardcore leanings and subtle references to mid-era Wreck-Age Records bands!”  Four songs on the vinyl, an extra two tracks on the download.  (Dropping Bombs)

SUPER UNISON 7”
I picked this up based on a couple things:  their name references a Drive Like Jehu song and Meghan O’Neill from Punch is on vocals (and bass) and I have always been a fan of her particularly harsh screaming.  Well, this doesn’t really sound like Jehu, and the vocals lean more towards a sort of bratty Riot Grrl style.  It still makes for a good listen and a strong introduction for this new band.  Lyrically there’s a bit more room for O’Neill to deliver a complete thought, rather than the blast-o-matic epiphanies common in her previous outfit, even though Super Unison’s songs still only clock in at about 2 minutes apiece.  Make no mistake, this is still fast, punk, and ripping, and it’s a good introduction.  But each song does tend to work with a very similar structure and I’m sure with some time they will vary it up a bit.  Closing track “On Repeat” is the strongest of the bunch and has an anxious sense of urgency delivered by the powerful vocals and great guitar lead riding through the song.  (self-released)


UPTIGHT #5, by Jordan Crane
This ongoing, very irregular, series by one of my favorite illustrators comes back after what must be at least a year-long absence with a 100+ page issue featuring 5 different stories.  I’m used to a lot of Jordan Crane’s stuff being somewhat sad, melancholy, yet plaintive in a way…  which contrasts very sharply with his mastery of vibrant colors and cartoon-ish style of line.  The cover alone on this is worth the price of admission.  The first two parts are continuations of stories from previous issues- one a bit on a man who lost his wife in a car accident and his slow personal decent through a series of flashbacks, the second a troubled couple who lost their child and making failed attempts to get their life back after the loss.  From there things venture into a bit more quixotic territory via a hazy and confusing murder mystery, a bizarre and gory space mining operation that goes horribly wrong, and a radio tower that gets washed out to sea and the man who gets drowned, saved by an octopus mermaid, and then stranded.  Crane often leaves the reader with loose ends on purpose, often with minimal text, and more often than not, feeling a bit depressed.  But it’s done in such an interesting way through the vivid art that I’ll always come back for more.  (Fantagraphics)

UXO, s/t LP
Upon hearing that Chris Spencer (Unsane) and Steve Austin (Today Is the Day) were teaming up to form a band my noggin nearly exploded from the undoubtedly colossal amount of fucking amazing that would swell within my brain.  Here we got the front men/guitarists of two of the more influential bands that have informed my musical tastes.  I mean, the vicious negativity pairing these two together ought to produce is enough to overpower the happiness of…  I dunno, a really happy place...  let’s say Hawaii, or Switzerland if every town was Disneyworld.  I am pleased to announce that this pretty much sounds exactly like what you would think of putting Unsane and Today Is the Day together.  Austin and Spencer split vocal duties and you can pretty much tell which one of them wrote which riffs because they totally fall in line with either older TITD style material or any Unsane material.  There is a general sense of powering through rough times here, the brooding heaviness (mixed with a tasteful amount of noise textures here and there) enunciates the pain, and the rest is an endeavor that fans of either members’ bands will surely enjoy.  The bad part- this thing is being touted as a full length and it barely scrapes past being an EP.  At seven songs of average length I was definitely hoping for more material even though what I’m getting is pretty great.  (Reptilian Records)

WRUX demo
Here we got a demo from a new Buffalo/Syracuse hybrid band that cranks out 9 songs in 10 minutes.  One song is two minutes and most of them are under a minute.  Expect blasting powerviolence consisting of drums, vocals, and one gnarly sounding bass driving it all.  The bass is nice and filthy sounding so it gets a pretty ‘full’ sound despite there being no guitar.  I will say, though, that it feels like Jessica’s vocals are a bit loud in the overall mix, but on the whole, this thing sounds pretty good.  Fun for mashing the shit out of one another in a dank basement somewhere in a crappy neighborhood.  (self-released)

Bonus Round:

TRALUMA, “Seven Days Awake”
This Chicago indie band did their thing in the late 90’s and was on the ever-reliable Caulfield Records label (Giants Chair, Boys Life, Christie Front Drive), which should give an indication of their sound.  More than likely lumped in with the ‘emo’ crowd I always felt this had more going on with it than the sad, broken-hearted bed-wetters and pop hooks disguised as earnest punk that ‘emo’ had been bastardized into.  Traluma took cues from early Fugazi with their tasteful bass work, jangling and riffy guitar leads, and occasional sing-along vocals.  Additionally, some attention was paid to bands like Drive Like Jehu with some angular hooks and interesting guitar melodies.  But the whole thing had a sort of subtle delivery that occasionally made really energetic tracks like “Barn Burner”, “Klondike Revolution”, and “Low Like a Snake” a bit out of character from what one would expect.  It didn’t quite sound like anything else out there, even though there were a number of bands on a similar page as them.  They made a few 7”s and this lone LP, and then called it a day.  I had the chance to book them on one occasion and while it wasn’t anything life-altering to witness, I still highly enjoy this album some 18 years after it’s release.  I believe one of the members of this band died not too long after they split, and a couple others went on to another pretty good band called Haymarket Riot. (listen here)

Friday, January 22, 2016

PLENTY OF TOUR DATES!

Let's make things clear- Winter fuckin' sucks.  But some bands brave the dreary weather to play out, some taking to the snowy roads while others do the smart thing and head in a Southernly direction to avoid the misery of the Northeast.
That being said, some bands on the label are heading out on the road within the next couple months.
Here's what's going down:
GRIZZLOR are doing a couple shows with UXO (the project bands featuring members of Unsane and Today Is the Day...  yeah, this is real, holy shit), and then heading out to play Berserker Fest in Detroit with Voivod and a bunch of other cool bands.  Check the info here:
Boston:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1551288468517983/

Philly:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1047731291937049/

Berserker Fest:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1716042081965073/

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BLEAK will, of course, be back on the road as well, going all over the damn place, as is their nature.  Check all the dates for these hosers as they rarely stick around home for very long.

Fri., 1/29- Syracuse, NY @ Warehouse
Sat., 1/30- Dayton, OH @ Hank's Pub
Sun., 1/31- Indianapolis, IN @ Sexx Mansion
Mon., 2/1- Louisville, KY @ Highlands Taproom
Tues., 2/2- Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
Wed., 2/3- Charlotte, NC @ The Milestone
Thurs., 2/4- Verona, VA @ Art & Soul Tattoo
Fri., 2/5- Norfolk, VA @ Norfolk Taproom
Sat., 2/6- Richmond, VA @ McCormacks
Sun., 2/7- Washington, DC @ The Pinch
Fri., 2/12- Buffalo, NY @ Hoyt House
Sat., 2/13- Rochester, NY @ Monty's Krown
Fri., 2/19- Pittsburgh, PA @ Black Forge Coffee House
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DIALYSIS will be doing some sporadic Winter dates, followed by a short Spring tour- part of which will be with the most awesome Empty Vessels- that is currently being assembled.  Lend a hand if you are down to clown.

2/13- Rochester, NY @ Monty's w/ Blurring, Bleak
2/18- Albany, NY @ Fuze Box w/ Poison Idea, Child Bite
3/5- Syracuse, NY @ Warehouse w/ Borrowed Time, Waste Case
3/27- Binghamton, NY @ Greasy Manor w/ Fucking Invincible

SPRING TOUR:
Thurs., 4/14- Philly, PA @ TBA (HELP)
Fri., 4/15- Western MA w/ Empty Vessels
Sat., 4/16- Ithaca, NY @ Chanticlear Loft w/ Empty Vessels, Old Bones
Sun., 4/17- Syracuse, NY @ Spark w/ Empty Vessels
Mon., 4/18- NJ (HELP)
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Finally, EX-BREATHERS have a few sporadic dates this Winter, mostly down in their neck of the woods (I get it, stay where it's nice and sunny huh?).  Go check them out if you're a Florida native.  Or, be smart, get the heck out of whatever miserable ice cave you live in, and make a trip to Florida anyway and catch them while you're there re-examining your geographic life choices.
01/30 w/ Jitters, Night Witch, and Echo Base @ TV Land
02/12 in Gainesville w/ Frameworks, Post Teens, and Heat Rash @ Nowhere
02/26 w/ Career, Repo Man, and Success Story @ TV Land
03/21 w/ Gnarwhal and Palm @ Wolf's Den

Monday, December 21, 2015

THE END OF THE YEAR LIST

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Before getting into the stuff that everyone cares about (records/music) I’d like to touch upon some of the best stuff of the year in terms of the stuff outside music.  My wife and I were very adamant about moving out of Syracuse this year and for a few reasons we decided not to.  And they were due to good things.  At my day job a position came up that I had been after for a couple years and it finally came my way, and that was the prime reason for staying put.  My wife also did a little activist-related jail time that actually was a positive because of all the negative attention it brought to the place that brought action against her (in short, foie gras is evil and is probably on it’s way out as a thing that exists in the U.S.).  As a result of her jail time she also got a kick-ass job and is now doing activism full time and getting paid for it.  How inspiring is that?
I also got to put out 4 incredible records this year by bands that totally rule and are great people to know both on a musical level and as friends.  Bleak bring inspiration to this town as a band that works and tours harder than most anyone I know.  They are unstoppable.  Ex-Breathers bring a breath of fresh air to hardcore and introduce all sorts of wonderful influences people may have forgotten about, and do so in an exciting and energetic way.  Grizzlor may try their hardest to expound upon the miserable aspects of life, but I see right through it because I can’t help but smile at how awesome their riffs are.  And Dialysis  well, it’s my own band.  But we made a record that I’m really proud of simply because of a bunch of crazy ideas we had were executed exactly how we envisioned them and how the art and packaging came together that I was able to oversee every step of the way.
And I have more plans for 2016 that I’m excited about.
And there was loss this year as well.  It’s not positive, but it must be acknowledged.  To Chris Jennings, who battled numerous health issues his entire life, struggled with trying to maintain himself through it all, and got 46 years out of this life… it was honestly more than I expected.  So he will go down as a fighter in my book.
And to my dear cat Firecracker who was claimed by cancer.  She was a loving animal companion for the entirety of her 14 years on this earth in my home.  It’s a hard loss, but I always tried to give her the best life I could.

OK, NOW THE RECORDS (in no particular order):


GODSTOPPER, “Lie Down”
This band clearly gives a lot of love to The Melvins.  But The Melvins give a lot of love to Kiss, which a lot of people don’t put together.  It’s as if Godstopper picked up on that connection and punched a glammy, singing hole right through their concrete wall-thick sludge metal leanings to deliver their best material to date.  The only crime here is that this album was released only digitally.  Don’t let that keep you from allowing Godstopper to smash your skull in with love, baby. (self-released)

KRILL, “A Distant Fist Unclenching”
In comparison to past stuff Krill moved light years ahead in terms of songwriting and a very nice recording with this album, toured some, and then promptly broke up in the fall.  Take three guys, playing with minimal gear, and making some of the best damn racket that shares equal amounts quirky indie rock and voluminous amounts of ‘where the heck did that come from’ musical dexterity and you get this incredible record.  I guess if they had to break up this is a great way to go out.  (Exploding In Sound)

COLISEUM, “Anxiety’s Kiss”
Each new Coliseum album that comes out these days tends to be a grower for me.  I’m a little apprehensive about whatever new approach they take (and they are a consistently evolving band that still manages to retain the spirit that makes them who they are in a wonderful way).  They took a huge leap into less bluntly aggressive and more post-punk territory with “House With a Curse” and after some time I found it to be my favorite album of theirs.  “Sister Faith” never quite caught on with me as much as I’d hoped.  And this one here…  well, I thought I’d be left hanging for awhile.  But man, it caught me right away.  It’s nothing short of stellar.  The first two songs alone are a couple of the most anthemic tunes the band has ever penned.  The addition of minor, textural synths to their love of things Dischord and Killing Joke just completes the post-punk pile.  The rage is still there, it’s just translated into something a bit more thoughtful and I love that about this band.  (Deathwish Inc)


CLOAKROOM, “Further Out”
All slow, no go.  Morrisey on downers on the vocals (I dislike Morrisey but love this dudes vocals), sub-sub-sub level tar-thick tones through the bass, and plenty of spacey static and crisp melodies on the guitar.  Call it shoegaze, or whatever, I don’t care.  There’s definitely elements of that but a super heavy bottom end that drags all these awesome songs through the muck.  I just wish there were more songs on this thing because the ten or so they dish out aren’t enough.  (Run For Cover)

METZ, “II”
Some people have stated that this album is only so-so because it’s essentially exactly like their first LP.  To that I ask, “and what’s so bad about that?”  The first Metz LP was fucking awesome.  There are minor differences here- a little more use of vocals to add a hook, a bit sharper production, establishing a riff a bit more and riding it out (“Kicking a Can Of Worms” and “Spit You Out”).  But their fierce three-chord hyperactive mania, mixed with some serious early Nirvana worship, is in full effect on songs like “The Swimmer” and “Wait In Line”.  (Sub Pop)


SWEET COBRA, “Earth”
How this Chicago group had devastating loss (guitarist Matt Arluck succumbed to cancer several years ago) and came back as a trio to make the strongest (and most different) record of their existence is truly a wonderful thing.  Their past material was cool, but most of it never stuck with me too much.  Every song on this record is a winner.  It’s an amazing mix of QotSA’s sense of melody and some of Cave-In’s less metal, yet still jackhammering, riffs thrown together with a truly rocking spirit.  (Magic Bullet)

BEAUTY PILL, “Describes Things As They Are”
A late entry to the field this year, but I found it incredibly surprising that this DC collective came out of hibernation to not only re-issue their breakout EP “Cigarette Girl From the Future” (originally released on Dischord in 2003), but also release a new LP.  A large part of this break had to do with main collaborator Chad Clark dedicating a great deal of time to production/engineering work, and a life-threatening heart condition that slowed the man down for a few years.  But ever since his and multi-instrumentalist Devin Ocampo’s work with Smart Went Crazy way back when I’ve been obsessed with every project they work on.  Beauty Pill came back strong, having recorded this album over the course of quite a long while in a museum (more or less) open to public scrutiny and adding numerous contributors and various instrumentation to their already exciting sound.  Chad Clark’s gently smug voice and wry, devilishly-detailed lyrics accompany a good deal of electronics, lots of studio effects/dissection, synth, stringed instruments, regularly-occurring soft female vocals, and somehow it all comes off as an incredible post-punk record.  Heck, they even do a glitch-riddled Lungfish cover on it too.  (Butterscotch Records)



TORCHE, “Restarter”
I heard a lot of people say they weren’t really into this record.  Well, they have a screw loose.  That’s all I can say.  This is just Torche through and through.  It’s a perfect representation of what they do best, which is write incredibly catchy songs that are ridiculously heavy.  It’s their formula and no one does it better.  Simply stated, Torche put out a really good Torche record.  “Bishop In Arms” and “Loose Men” bring the upbeat, poppy aspect to their sludge.  “No Servants” is the slow burner.  “Annihilation Affair”, “Undone” and “Barrier Hammer” all bring the bomb string (and boy does “Barrier Hammer” ever bring it.  It’s probably the year’s heaviest song by a long shot) to those longing for Torche’s heavier side.  (Relapse)

CHERUBS, “2 Ynfynyty”
I’m not going to pretend like I knew about this band all along and own an original copy of “Heroin Man”.  All I can attest to is that in the early 90’s I was aware that there was a band called Cherubs, and that’s about it.  They were not very well known and split for 20 years.  And now, for whatever reason, they decided to make a new record this year.  It sounds like the result of three guys who did too many drugs, dusted off all their weird amps, and made one of the most awesome noise rock records of 2015.  It’s the combination of tripped-out Manson Family psychedelia, buzzing guitars, high-pitched howling vocals and some of the most raucous bombed-out riffs and sludgy distortion pedals making sounds that are ultra catchy for five seconds before they trip and fall in weird timing, only to come back again for more abuse.  From the bombastic bliss of “Monkey Chow Mein” to the absolutely smashing riffery of “We Buy Gold” I’m displeased with myself for waiting so long before getting this.  (Brutal Panda)

SOME RUNNER-UP’S:

GREAT FALLS, “The Fever Shed” (Init)- I still haven’t got my LP.  I’ve been jamming this since the spring.  Totally fucked up mathy noisecore.
WILD MOTH, “Inhibitor” (Iron Pier)-  Great energetic indie rock.  Basically just an awesome rock record.
BLACKLISTERS, “Adult” (Smalltown America)-  UK lads understand why it’s awesome to mix The Jesus Lizard and Unsane.  Thank you.


SONGS:
“Talia”, by Self Defense Family
Definitely in the top 5 songs the band/collective has ever done…  and they have a shitload of songs.
“Moon Funeral”, by Cloakroom
Heaviest riff with the coolest lyrics all year.  Probably my most listened to song this year.
“Torturer”, by Krill
Basically any song from this LP could qualify but I think this was the catchiest song on the record and introduced me to this group that called it quits too soon in my opinion.
“Blue Rose”, by Sweet Cobra
The punkest song on their new LP that rips by in a brief two minutes while throwing equal doses of rage and melody in a riffy little nugget of awesome.
“We Buy Gold”, by Cherubs
An absolute mess of weird timing and gargantuan riffs thrown like your decrepit grandpa down a flight of stairs or the rhythmic pumping of an oil drilling rig malfunctioning and spewing crude all over the landscape.  You choose.  Deal with it.


RE-ISSUES:

ROLLINS BAND, “Lifetime”-  There’s no added benefit here, no overhaul in the packaging, or big re-mixing.  It’s just totally essential that more people own this record.
JAWBOX, s/t-  Yeah, Dischord rules on the re-issues here because they have always had the best bands.  They took this one back from a major label.  A brilliant final album getting some love again
UNWOUND-  In general.  Those box sets they have been releasing are insane.  And for what you’re getting the price is extremely reasonable.  Holy fuck on toast.


SHOWS:

Coliseum/ Child Bite/ Psychic Teens @ Asbury Lanes, NJ 6.12.15
The last time I was at this place was a few years ago to see Rorschach and it was just as awesome of a venue back then as it was for this show.  Yeah, it’s an old run-down bowling alley on the edge of the beach next to the ocean.  It was blazing hot out this day, but being that close to the ocean, with the breeze, made everything a comfortable cool.  I got to check out the town and pick up some excellent scores at a few record stores.  I got to catch up with my man Ryan from Coliseum over dinner.  I got to witness Child Bite for the first time and see first-hand their bizarre insanity, as well as talk to them a bit regarding old Detroit stuff.  Psychic Teens were a little sloppy, but even on their worst day they are an incredible band that I’d watch anywhere.  And, last but not least, I got to see Coliseum play all their new stuff for the first time and it all sounds so awesome.  They are definitely one of those bands that can break out all new stuff live and I won’t be upset that they didn’t pull out the well-known jams.  Forever forward with enthusiasm with them and despite a small crowd they played incredibly.

 Empty Vessels
One Fest Ithaca @ The Haunt 7.25.15
So my band played this show, and it was by far one of my favorite sets we ever played.  There were a bunch of people, a ton of great bands, a lot of friends, and the sound at The Haunt is always great.  We got to pal around with our friends in Bleak, Twin Lords, and Fucking Invincible, who all put on awesome sets.  Got to finally see Full Of Hell and they brought some serious intensity.  And the standout band for me was Empty Vessels, who made more racket playing on the floor as just a duo than most of the bands combined, on stage, mic’ed.  It was a great surprise to go along with a great day with friends both old and new.

Torche/ Nothing/ Wrong @Mohawk Place, Buffalo 3.23.15
This is one of my favorite venues in the region.  Mohawk is pretty small, pretty punk, but always gets great shows.  I was beyond excited to see Wrong after playing their EP non-stop for months.  They definitely did not disappoint on my first time seeing them.  The heaviness was beyond compare and I think everyone walked away that night surprised at how good the opening band was.  Nothing was up next and they brought the hype with them.  They did put out a good record though, so seeing them deliver the goods live was fun.  I know others appreciated it more than I did, but it was a nice in-between to Wrong and Torche.  And speaking of which, I hadn’t seen Torche in a couple years so catching up with their musical bombast was nice.  They picked out the best stuff from the new record and killed it.  They played for a really long time, but I sort of got lost in it and didn’t quite notice til it was all over, so I suppose that makes for a good set.

Wrong
Roomrunner (final show) at U+N Fest @ Ottobar, Baltimore 10.3.15
So I knew nothing about this band until earlier this year and was instantly hooked, not only because of the wild videos they had made, but by the unfuckwithable music they dished out.  I made every effort to see if they were playing shows or anything, but the band had been mostly dormant for the last year as members had other commitments.  Then I come to find they’re breaking up and this would be their final show (and first show in over 8 months).  I said ‘fuck it’ and got my ass to Baltimore to bear witness.  It proved to be well worth my time as Baltimore is a great town to chill.  Good eats, great record stores (Celebrated Summer, what’s up?), comics, and so on.  The show itself was really cool too.  There is a great deal of variety of bands in town (and regionally) that represented on this bill, as well as a lot of wonderful people that I hadn’t seen in far too long.  Roomrunner came out and played basically everything I could have wanted them to play (minus “Karn”).  They were incredibly loud, tight, and full of energy that would suggest they had been playing in secret during their long absence from the live setting.  And then I drove home and got back around 6AM or something.

Die Choking
Riotous Outburst Fest Day 1 (Die Choking, Empty Vessels, Grizzlor), Providence, RI @ AS220, 9.23.15
It was the middle of the week, five hours from home and as luck would have it my wife gave a lecture in Worcester the day before so we were already in the region.  We made a day out of chilling out in Providence with friends and eating good food.  I had never actually been to a show at AS220 and was very excited to check out this vibrant hub of long-running DIY culture that has excelled in this city.  The show started pretty late, which was a bummer and attendance was sparse.  But the three bands I came to see were a varied mess of aggressive and loud that stacked up to be a killer lineup.  After a couple openers Empty Vessels once again decimated my eardrums with just a couple cabs, a single guitarist and one angry drummer.  All the new stuff they played really seemed to be a great indication of things to come.  This was my first time seeing/meeting Grizzlor after deciding to put out a record for them and their live set was pretty much what I hoped for.  For a dirty, messy band they sure did have their sound dialed in.  It was late when Die Choking started but they played so goddamned fast and aggressively that I was infused with a violent amount of energy by the time that they finished that I used to drive all the way back to Syracuse afterwards through the night.


High On Fire, Lucifer, Pallbearer @ Lost Horizon, Syracuse 8.14.15
Any time I can see high On Fire it’s going to be worth it because they are one of the best metal bands on the planet.  There is no shortage of fury during their set.  Even Matt Pike, looking pretty wrecked (though the fun-manchu stache was basically worth the price of admission) delivered like a man possessed.  They might have played two or three songs I instantly recognized, the rest being either new or off the last couple records that I have a passing familiarity with.  But it didn’t matter.  They just destroyed wholly and completely.  They played “10,000 Years”…  need I say more?  Lucifer was the first band I caught and their Sabbath worship came through wonderfully with some very incredible vocals to carry it.  Pallbearer, according to most people there, were awesome, but I wasn’t feeling it.  It’s High On ire though, that’s what does it.  Total wreckage.

Metz
Metz/ Lightning Bolt @ Mohawk Place, Buffalo…  April?
So I’ve been a big fan of Metz for awhile now and could only imagine how wild they would be live.  Not only were they an incredibly energetic live band but they were insanely loud too, which is a great combination for me.  I had a chance to talk to them afterwards and it turns out one of them was in a band that I had booked in the past, so it was nice playing catch up some 15 years later.  I’d never listened to Lightning Bolt, but I was pretty sure I knew what I was in for and it was exactly as I had expected.  The place was packed and everything else was like some crazy, tripped out freak fest.  It was only the two bands, which was good because it was a weekday and I had to drive back home afterwards, so bonus points for keeping it short and sweet.

Young Widows/ Austerity Program/ Shannon Wright @ Boot & Saddle, Philly 3.15.15
Any trip to Philly is always a good trip.  It’s quite possibly my favorite place to visit in the Northeast due to it’s great record stores, great people, incredible vegan offerings, awesome shows happening pretty much every day, and the fact that basically every other person you see on the street is a punk rocker.  They got it good down there.  This show proved to be even better due to some people I barely ever see showing up and hanging out, and catching up with old friends I see on a regular basis.  Oh, and this was the first time I got to see Young Widows playing stuff off of “Easy Pain” (which was one of my favorite records last year) and they absolutely killed it.  They played a nice long set full of stuff from their last three records and sounded just as good as ever, even with a semi-new gear set-up.  Austerity Program was before them and I had never seen them either, but I have a couple of their records.  As a two-piece with a drum machine they sounded almost exactly like their records (the stage banter was a pretty funny distraction).  Big Black worship at it’s finest.  Shannon Wright played as well and I think my friends were more impressed with her Nick Cave-style of noisy, sleazy swagger than I was, but it was nonetheless a good set.

Friday, December 18, 2015

TOP 10 LISTS FROM THE HEX ILLUMINATI

Before I bore you/ unleash my personal Favorite Stuff of 2015 List I'm gonna let some friends old and new associated with the label take a stab at things.  Get a read on what some people whose music and creativity I really admire were creatively inspired by...  or just stuff they really liked!



JACK VERMILLION, Ex-Breathers
1. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly 
2. Stove - Is Stupider 
3. Mint Mile - In Season & Ripe 
4. Ava Luna - Infinite House 
5. Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside 
6. Swings - Detergent Hymns AND Sugarwater 
7. Jake Tobin - Third and Fourth Thoughts 
8. Palm - Trading Basics 
9. Krill - A Distant Fist Unclenching 
10. xRepentancex - The Sickness of Eden 

That was really hard to compile. this year has has so many incredible records.

JOHN BUKOWSKI, Dialysis
So this was a hard one because this year I have bought more new releases than any previous year that I could remember, I could easily list 20 and feel like I am still leaving things out, so when Ryan asked me to do a top ten list I literally had to sit down and argue with myself, but here is what I came up with 
1. Swallow The Sun- Songs From The North 
An amazing 3 disc set of all new material being the best the band has ever done, I like to consider this the "Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness" of doom metal. 
2. Leviathan- Scar Sighted 
The best packaged album I bought all year. Coming in a hardcover box with 10 different tarot cards, one for each track with exclusive artwork on one side, and the lyrics (most of which may as well be a suicide note) on the other. Not to mention this is the darkest material Wrest has written to date. 
3. Crypt Sermon- Out Of The Garden 
This is some of the best traditional doom metal I have heard in years. Fans of Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass and Trouble are going to want to pick this one up immediately. Incredible song writing with a traditional old school sounding recording. 
4. Bleak- We Deserve Our Failures 
One of the heaviest things to ever come out of Syracuse. This sounds exactly like what would happen if Disembodied beat the shit out of Norma Jean until their religious ideals dissolved. I can't wait to hear what they do next. 
5. Enslaved- In Times 
Somehow these guys keep progressing and breaking new ground. Some of the strongest songs they have ever written, and certainly some of the catchiest. 
6. Sleater Kinney- No Cities To Love 
I have always been a huge fan of the early 90's riot grrrl scene, and Sleater Kinney was at the top of that game. Years later they come back with hands down the best album they have ever written. I bought the bonus LP edition with 2 additional songs that are just as good as the 10 on the album. I hope these ladies decide to keep going and not have this album be a one off thing. 
7. Uncle Acid- The Night Creeper 
This sounds like John Lennon joined Black Sabbath and they started a cult in the mountains. Sex, drugs and rock n roll at it's absolute finest. Their most professional sounding recording to boot. 
8. Shape Of Despair- Monotony Fields 
I waited over ten years for this, and fuck was it well worth the wait. Some of the slowest, saddest, most depressing funeral doom ever. While they will never be able to touch the greatness of their second album "Angels Of Distress", this one comes pretty god damn close. 
9. Paradise Lost- The Plague Within 
The best thing they have done since 1994's "Draconian Times". I don't know what lit a fire under their ass to start writing songs like this again, but I hope it never stops. 
10. My Dying Bride- Feel The Misery 
After the disappointing "A Map Of All Our Failures", this is a breath of fresh air. My only gripe is that I wish the songs had been placed in a different order. I know that seems like a strange complaint, but the first 3 songs are great, the middle 3 ok but not their best work, and the last 2 incredible. It's easy to turn the record off and not make it to the end of the record where the great finale is. 

Honorable mentions that almost made it: 
Amorphis- Under The Red Cloud 
Helloween- My God Given Right 
Fuck The Facts- Desire Will Rot

DAVID SETTLE, Ex-Breathers

 This year ruled. A ton of great records came out, but I keep seeing the same ones talked about in year-end lists. So here are ten records I loved that I don’t see written about for whatever reason. One caveat though: no Exploding In Sound Records, just because I could make a whole list of EIS records I loved this year by itself; special shout out to our split-buds Gnarwhal, Woozy, and Stove for all putting our incredible albums though. Annnnyways, in no particular order: 
1.) Ava Luna, "Infinite House"
I don’t understand how this band writes the music they do, and I love them for that. So intricate, but still with so much groove and weirdness. Blew me away live too. 
2.) Molly, "Melba Peach"
One of the few times I listened to something described as “sounding like Husker Du” and actually liked it. Incredibly catchy, overdriven indie from Denmark. Kinda reminds me of Sponge if all of their songs were as good as “Plowed”. 
3.) Tica Douglas, "Joey"
I know nothing about this artist, but this record is beautiful. Great, lush, sad singer-songwriter stuff. 4.) Permanent Makeup, "Taker"
Minimal post-punk from St. Pete, for fans of Minutemen and 100 Flowers. Super clean guitar-tones, but without lacking any intensity. Really cool sound amidst the sea of overly-distorted punk records (not that I don’t love those…) 
5.) Trace, 2015 EPs 
Overly-distorted punk from Tallahassee. Put out two EPs, both together equal about 8 minutes. Noisy, feedback-laden hardcore with very rad vocals. And classic Tallahassee-style, they broke up. 
6.) Ben Varian, "Part of the Y’all"
Intricate, lo-fi dance-pop. Usually not my style, but these songs are so damn catchy and incredibly well written. 
7.) The Superweaks, "Bad Year"
My favorite fuzzed-out Weezer-worship record from this year. The last song is so fucking good. 
8.) Night Witch, "Night Witch"
Debut full-length EP (11 songs in 10 minutes, y’all win). Tallahassee pissed-off political hardcore. They keep getting better with every new song too, wait til the next thing they come out with! 
9.) Spirit Of The Beehive, "You Are Arrived (But You’ve Been Cheated)" 
Texturally intricate indie/shoegaze from Philly. One of my favorite sounding records of the year. They’ve yet to put something bad or boring out. And they projected clips of a deathmatch tournament when I saw them, so that made me love them even more. 
10.) Cende, EP 
Some of my favorite pop-punk songs I’ve heard all year. 8 minutes of perfect chord progressions, very jealous of their songwriting.

JOHN MOHR, Grizzlor

Here's my eleven, in no particular order: 
Cherubs - 2 Ynfynyty 
Ghost - Meliora 
Black Breath - Slaves Beyond Death 
Torche - Restarter 
Gruesome - Savage Land 
Arabrot - You Bunch of Idiots 
Barren Womb - Nique Everything 
The Sword - High Country 
Motherfucker - Confetti 
bbigpigg - Din-Din
Fight Amp- Constantly Off

Saturday, December 5, 2015

HOLIDAY SALE!


If you hadn't seen it on social media yet (which is totally possible because you're looking at a blog instead) I decided to skip black friday nonsense and shoot for later, after the madness has ended and the dust has settled.  So yeah, the remainder of this weekend just about everything in the Hex websore is on sale!
We also cobbled together some neat package deals- like 6 LPs of our choice for $45  HERE
 Or, 3 zines, both old and new, for $6  HERE
Or, both DIALYSIS 7"s for $10 HERE 

We're also selling off some test presses for very reasonable prices.  No EBay bullshit, no haggling, just straight from us to you for a non-negotiable price.

So go get some stuff.
http://hexrecords.bigcartel.com/products
http://hexrecords.bigcartel.com/products
http://hexrecords.bigcartel.com/products
http://hexrecords.bigcartel.com/products

Friday, November 27, 2015

BLEAK WINTER TOUR

Bleak starts their Winter tour across the states today! Work off them post-Thanksgiving feasting weight gain with some negative music. OR, turn your local music venue into a Wal-Mart Black Friday sale stampede. Both work.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WHILE I'M NOT BUSY FOR A SECOND...

Can I just put it out there that I have been incredibly busy lately?  Like not a minute to spare sort of busy.  Life throws you some lemons from time to time and it's generally right after you get really great news.  Between the end of summer and early fall I was on a roll, things just going great, staying busy in good way, all that shit.  And the whole time I kept wondering, 'ok, when does the bad stuff start because this can't last forever'.  And, of course, now I got some difficulties. But that's the way things go- ebbs and flows, strikes and gutters.  So I'm doing my best to take it all in stride and if there's ever one constant to carry me through the good and the bad it's the music that I am exposed to.  That being said (and before the inevitable 'end of the year' list that will be coming your way probably the end of the year (duh)), here's some stuff that's been carrying me the last month or two.

BATTLES, “La Di Da Di”
I have been in awe of John Stanier’s drumming since I was a wee teen, when he was killing it in Helmet.  I knew Battles was a big departure, and I kind of had an idea of what they did, but it wasn’t until “Gloss Drop” had been out for some time that I actually explored it for myself.  And holy shit, that record is balls out wild.  I asked myself why I would be so drawn to this music, which relied heavily on electronics and synths to create a danceable stew of loops, blips, and all sorts of other sounds that pedal nerds lose their shit over.  And it occurred to me that, in a way, Battles is sort of like Tortoise for this generation (even though Tortoise is are still kicking it quite hard).  In, again, my strange deviation from my usual listening habits, I have also been digging Tortoise for a good 20 years.  So, yeah, Battles returns on this double LP with more wild electronics, building up bit upon textured/effect-driven bit until this giant mosaic comes into view and explodes forth in wild array of percussion, synth, guitar and bass that more often than not, does not sound like a guitar or bass.  Stanier’s drumming pulls everything into a ‘rock’ direction, but remains solid, anchoring all the wild shit the other two members of this group want to play with.  The whole thing is instrumental.  I’d say this doesn’t experiment as much as “Gloss Drop”, what with its various guest vocalists and ridiculously catchy oddities, but this one is growing on me nicely.  It remains a bit more consistent overall, which doesn’t add up to being as adventurous.  But it’s still going to take me months to deconstruct exactly what they are doing here, and that’s cool too.  (Warp)

CHRON TURBINE/ VIOLENT BULLSHIT split 7”
It’s kind of hard to nail down what Chron Turbine are exactly, and that’s fine because easily –identifiable bands can often be boring.  This one song here deviates pretty strongly from their debut LP from a year or so ago.  It’s basically one cool riff repeated for a few minutes, instrumental, with various leads coasting on top of it.  It’s kinda mean and dirty, but has a garage-y sense of fun going on over it.  So take that as you will.  I kind of like their vocals though, so the absence of them on this song was a minor let down.  Violent Bullshit are basically exactly what you think they would be.  If you’re going to give your band that name you’d better be willing to drink piss out of a jar while purposefully playing a song out of tune and encouraging the audience to spit at you.  Their song on this split is all anti-authority punk rock n’ roll.  There is no need for further explanation.  Comes in a weird silkscreened sorta-Void rip-off cover.  (Peterwalkee)

DEPARTMENT, “Aporia” 7”
In the ‘things I forgot to review over the summer’…  uh…  department (pun really not intended) this 7” from Syracuse’s own Department flourishes like the complicated rock n’ roll flower that it is.  For starters I ought to point out that I play in a band with one of these guys, so, ya know, conflict of interest and yadda yadda.  Either way, things begin on this record sounding a lot like Braid in their heyday and that’s just fine by me.  It’s really energetic and high-end noodly rock with exceptionally sung vocals.  But I feel with the two songs on this (an extra two tracks on the download) they go a little unnecessarily long and lose a good chunk of that momentum as it gets a bit self-involved with displaying just how complex the musicians here can play.  If you’re a fan of technicality than this will probably rock yr socks.  My somewhat short attention span has a little trouble keeping up but I will say some parts are really great while others didn’t do it for me.  I really like the semi-homemade feel of the record artwork though.  It looks real sharp.  (LRS Records)

GODSTOPPER, “Lie Down”
Here it is.  Why this is only available digitally is beyond me.  Toronto’s best-kept secret unleashes their new full length and it furthers the pop-sludge direction they have slowly been hinting at with each new record.  Older material veered on a lot of slow and stompy riffing, while vocalist and guitarist Mike Simpson offered up some very well-sung vocals to differentiate it from the slew of other sludge rock bands out there. This new material keeps that low-tuned dirge, but pushes the hooks further.  They instantly seep into your brain and keep you humming.  Think Melvins with more uplifting anthems, some of the feel-good sludge of Torche, or even a more accessible band like Jawbox tuned exceptionally low.   “Save It” opens up with the big anthem, a perfect opener, while “Long Night” starts with ‘ooohs’ sung over a chunky riff that would be out of place on a Kiss record played at 16 rpms.  “Piss On Gardens” is a faster, more relentless stalker of a song, probably the most overtly aggressive song on the recording.  “Remiss” begins with a pretty melodic guitar riff and a quiet sung vocal pine before slow, molten sludge takes over the song, crushing anything left standing.  The record closes with “Magpie”, another upbeat rocking anthem that was probably the obvious choice for a closing track as it climaxes into a wild soaring lead that fades out with the song.  If this band played in standard tuning they’d probably be packing arenas.  But seeing as their choice of musical delivery rests heavily on distortion and low-tuning we get to keep them for our own little secret, perfect band.  Check this at all costs (or no costs because it’s pay what you want on their bandcamp).  (Godstopper)

MEATWOUND, “Addio” 12”
I picked this up for a couple reasons, all rather superficial.  First off, this has some ex-Combatwoundedvetern members and anything related to them generally means really awesome artwork is part of the deal.  I’d say it’s fairly successful.  Not Earth-shattering awesome, but pretty cool.  Next, this was described as heavy noise rock.  That always piques my interest and I’d say that’s right on the money.  This is indeed very lumbering, very dirty, very sludgy noise rock.  It’s Coalesce in a blender minus most of the wild time changes and the dense sludginess of Kiss It Goodbye minus the frantic insanity.  Lyrically, there are some heavy themes, which don’t always go hand-in-hand with the whole noise rock thing.  But I’m happy to see this band addressing some interesting stuff in a fairly poetic way.  If there is a complaint to be made it might be that some of these songs go on a little long as they don’t always seem to have a solid direction and seem like they keep going, searching for that direction, but not quite finding it.  It’s a work in progress.  Or maybe it’s a band that just thought about maybe laying down some gross-as-fuck noise sludge, saying ‘fuck it’ and pressing record.  Either way, you could do a lot worse.  (MagicBullet)

NOISEM, “Blossoming Decay”
I’ll admit, my knowledge of metal is fairly limited.  There are plenty of bands that I like that lean on metal, or pay homage to it.  But I don’t typically find myself fully committing to music that is wholeheartedly METAL.  Noisem are very much metal.  They play incredibly fast.  Thrash and grind elements enter strongly into their sound, as well as classic death metal.  They whip out ridiculous solos quicker than the Waco Kid can draw on you, and they’re really young too (which means none of the members will probably get the reference I just made in that last sentence).  Regardless, there’s an urgency that I really enjoy about them and it led me to picking this record up.  Actually, it was the incredibly awesome package this came in (crazy die-cut cover held together by string) to be honest…  and the fact that I caught a listen of their previous record on a road trip.  So, ya know, it wasn’t just by chance.  Sometimes I think young bands act as if they’re re-inventing the wheel when they’re just doing a very poor imitation of it, or they’re just completely ignorant of tired-ass shit that has already been done to death.  And sometimes a band like Noisem comes around that completely pays respect to what came before and just pushes it to an awesome new extreme.  So yeah, thumbs up for legit brutalizing metal played at warp speed.  (A389 Recordings)

PIGS, “Wronger”
I imagine this band might be sick of all the Unsane comparisons they get, but when one of your members is in Unsane, and the bass player records most of Unsane’s material…  well, that writing style may seep in a bit.  And that’s totally OK.  And let’s be clear- Pigs are their own band.  Dave Curran trades in his bass to play guitar in this group and some of the songs that he lays down for this group are a bit more upbeat and fun…  in a very dirty, filthy sort of way.  “Wronger”, on the whole, feels a little more nuanced than their debut LP, “You Ruin Everything”, which was grimey and mean all the way through.  On this record they throw a banjo in on one song, play around with some interesting melodies here and there, and rope Julie Christmas into singing a track (which sounds like they pulled her out of a dumpster after chain-smoking fiberglass-laced cigars… it’s pretty rough in a great way).  The grit is ever-present, but it’s easy to see that this band has some other ideas they want to toy around with as well which serve them well.  (Solar Flare)

SPRAYPAINT, “Dopers”
Continuing their trend of putting less songs on each record they do Spraypaint return with their second LP in one year, this time with 8 songs (“Punters On the Barge”, released in the Spring had 10 tracks).  To be fair, a few of these songs are considerably longer than most Spraypaint songs, which tend to often be in the 2 minute range.  Three of the tracks stretch between 4 and 6 minutes, so I guess that counts for something.  Also strange is that this material was recorded in 2014, but not released until just now while “Punters…” was recorded in early 2015 and released just a few short months later.  Nerdy fact-dropping aside, the band continue to try new things, adding bass to a couple songs here (they operate as a two guitars and drums trio), creepy synth on a couple more, and one track that is an exercise in headphone-geared soundscapes intended to put the listener at complete unease.  While they show up with some new tricks Spraypaint is all nervous anxiety and frayed nerves displayed with heavy reverb guitars, herky-jerky beats, and dulled vocals describing all aspects of hick/white trash life.  If Spraypaint were the soundtrack to a horror film the script would begin as follows, “Somewhere an axe murderer lies in wait behind a remote Texas 7-11”.  Take that as you will.  (Monofonous Press)

SWEET COBRA, “Earth”
It’s been a few years since we checked in with Sweet Cobra.  After the death of their other guitarist Matt Arluck it was uncertain if this Chicago group would continue to lay down their brand of riffy stoner-rock fury.  But they have soldiered on and come up with something very evolved from their often heavy approach.  And it might be the best thing they have done to date.  While I found the heaviness of previous Sweet Cobra outings to my liking there was always something missing that typically led to many of their songs not sticking in my memory.  On “Earth” the band have consciously added much more in the way of crooned/sung vocals paired with effect-driven harmonies that bear a strong resemblance to Queens of the Stone Age (particularly on “Jealous Of Drugs” and “Complaints”), or the rambling heavy rock of “Perfect Pitch Black”-era Cave-In (see “Blue Rose” or “Future Ghosts” for reference).  And in some spots they deviate heavily from past work (“Repo” wouldn’t be out of place as a B-side from the first Interpol LP).  To me it’s a great showing from a long-running band that has always taken their time with producing output.  And they had some serious life events in the last few years to contribute to the task of creating this seriously awesome record.  (Magic Bullet)

WHY+THE+WIRES, “Flame Failures”
An Ithaca group that will never quit as far as I can tell.  They have released 4 LPs in almost as many years, most of which were on their own.  They don’t tour, and rarely play outside their own town.  Yet this group of mostly dads, in their hidden corner of upstate NY, manages to continually crank out thoughtful and interesting indie/punk rock.  Their hybrid of mid-to-late 90’s styled post-hardcore rock leans heavy on the Chicago/Champaign scene of the era, as I remember it, and bands such as Sweep the Leg Johnny, Braid, and Dianogah figure into their sound, while like-minded bands such as (early) Karate and even a bit of Drive Like Jehu show up as well.  The most notable aspect of Why+the+Wires sound comes from the use of saxophone or accordion in almost every song, done so in a tasteful way that adds a lot of texture to the music.  It sounds a little weird to read, but it works really well in the music.  It’s also a nice looking record, so if that doesn’t finally tip you in the direction of checking it out I’m not sure what will.  (JetsamFlotsam Records/ One Percent Press)