Sunday, December 9, 2018


Music kind of makes my world go 'round.  So I like to list the stuff that got me most excited and inspired.  Generally, I tend to put all my favorite stuff in one lump, but this year I definitely had some favorites over others, so it's ranked.  It was tough because this really has been an excellent year for stuff that I'm into.  One thing remains consistent though- I like guitar-based music.  So there's that.  The section with my favorite shows I saw is just in chronological order.  So yeah, feel free to compare thins with your own list, discuss, and if there's things on here you haven't heard this year I highly encourage you to give it a listen and see what you think.



TILE, “Come On Home Stranger”
I started getting excited about this record in the fall of 2017.  It didn’t come out until somewhere in August of this year.  That’s a lot of waiting.  But it sure paid off.  Ever since they released their last full length a few years back I have been anxiously awaiting new stuff from Tile and they delivered in a big way.  It’s everything I want in a heavy record- huge dumb riffs, the type of distortion and feedback that sounds like a garbage truck being sucked into a jet plane’s intake, vocals that are shouted with total disdain for any pleasantries the locals of their hometown of Allentown, PA may extend to their neighbors, and pushing that sound so that it teeters on the edge of catchy songs with great songwriting and the endless chasm of unlistenable noise.  It’s a perfect balancing act.  Honestly, they just kill it.  So damned heavy and so damned good.


TURNSTILE, “Time and Space”
There’s a good reason for all the hype this band has behind them- it’s totally deserved.  They write incredibly catchy and fun hardcore without being corny that has just as much energy and excitement as early Bad Brains and wears its influence like a badge of honor.  They’re also the wildest live band going.  Listen to this record once and you will have energy for days.


HOT SNAKES, “Jericho Sirens”
When a band can take about 14 years off and then come back and kick the shit out of everyone else, like they spent that entire time honing their skills, it’s a beautiful thing.  Even more, Hot Snakes may have made their best album.  That’s completely subjective.  I’m still considering if this is their overall best record.  It’s definitely at least number two in their discography for me.  It’s all things off-the-rails, aggressive, fun, and completely knowledgeable of the fact that each member of this band is a total master of their craft.


RED HARE, “Little Acts Of Destruction”

This was most definitely one of my most anticipated records for this year and it did not disappoint.  There’s something about bands that make great music, but due to time and distance they’re pretty limited to playing out only every once in awhile, or making a record once every few years, that really keeps me excited about any sort of news they have.  And it keeps me on my toes because I know Red Hare is one of those bands that are always going to deliver.  Every single time.  In fact, basically any member of this band could do something and I know it’s going to be quality.  They blend that DC/Dischord punk/melodic post-hardcore with a jagged edge only seasoned pros (or architects of that style) can create.  An excellent record from start to finish.


WRONG, “Feel Great”

The album where Wrong has totally come into their own.  To be clear, I have had absolutely no issue with this band pulling a Helmet worship thing because they do it incredibly well.  However, they have traded some of the riffy grooves for speedy technicality and it’s made this band a little more their own thing.  It’s still a parade of riffs, crazy solos, stop-start rhythms, and barked vocals.  They’re just getting better and better at it.


JAYE JAYLE, “No Trail”
I was a little hesitant on my man Evan’s new-ish band when he started fumbling around with solo type stuff a few years back under the name Jaye Jayle.  But within those few years the project found some life and direction and now they’re a fully-staffed touring machine playing an amalgamation of really weird stuff.  Well, it’s more like stuff I don’t typically find myself listening to, but I’m really feeling this newest record, which melds all these elements of neo-folk, Krautrock, dusty desert trance-sessions, and other stuff that might be more at home on Thrill Jockey or Drag City.  Whatever it is, it got me hooked and I think this is an excellent surprise of a record.

Oh hi, we’re a new band from Texas and we’re about to fucking destroy you.  Yeah this just really popped up out of nowhere and completely blew me away.  I previously made a comparison that this band sounded like the offspring of Unwound and Unsane, and it’s really true.  I mean, I don’t know why no one else went for that combo in the past, but this trio nails it- super dirty and heavy aggression, mixed with fuzzy production, vocals through a bashed-up microphone, and more strangely melodic sounds…  like some filthy-ass early 90’s emo band with great songwriting chops.  This is probably the most exciting new band to me right now.


Once I moved out to Portland I had the chance to see a number of local bands do their thing and within a couple of months of living here Marriage and Cancer released their debut full length, and I have to say, I’ve never heard a band quite like them.  Easily the loudest damn band in town and with a jangly, weird, heavy, and strange sound all their own they found a way to make the wild sounds of bands like Drive Like Jehu sound downright creepy, discomforting, and melancholy.  It’s quite a feat and as odd as that may sound it still rocks my socks off.


My dudes from Rochester kinda started this thing a couple years back and it didn’t get much traction because they were all adults who were busy as fuck with life.  And then they altered the lineup a little bit and are still busy as fuck adults.  But they manage to get a bit more done and have nailed their sound, which is a total DC/Rev Summer/Give/Swiz amalgamation of righteous hooks, rocking riffs, barked anthemic vocals, and spittin’ in yr coffee attitude.  Achilles/How We Are/Like Wolves homies tearing it up with six perfect songs.


SHAME, “Songs Of Praise”
A bunch of this list is loaded towards early in the year and this young English group’s debut is among the crop released right after 2018 got started.  Barely old enough to drink (on this side of the pond anyway) this non-stop touring machine blends incredibly catchy post-punk with snarly/smarmy aggression that has the lads in all the pubs smashing pints and doing other funny British adjectives that we don’t say over here.  Far and away one of the wildest live bands I was lucky enough to see twice this year.


GOUGE AWAY, “Burnt Sugar”

I generally keep things to a top 10, but this one just had to sneak in there.  The progression of this band’s sound is nothing short of mind-blowing and is becoming this fully-realized awesome thing.  I totally love when a band can go from being a hardcore-punk band to sounding like something significantly different while still being aggressive and still being hardcore/punk as fuck.  Gouge Away are one of those rare breeds of bands.  They’ve definitely adopted some great Jesus Lizard/Superchunk vibes to their grungy, wild hardcore and I’m loving it.


2.19.18- Shame and Dreamdecay at Doug Fir Lounge.  The young English punk band on their first US tour going completely apeshit and impressing the hell out of the 50 or so people who showed up on a weeknight.

4.10.18- Finally, after twenty-some-odd years, getting to see The Breeders.  They may have played a huge place like the Crystal Ballroom, but they made it feel super cozy and intimate.

5.16.18- I hadn’t seen Hot Snakes since 2001 or 2002, so seeing them completely tear up the Wonder Ballroom was incredibly exciting.  John Reis kept leaning into the audience, making them kiss his guitar on multiple occasions.

6.23.18- I’ve never seen Will Haven and I have thoroughly enjoyed their records for over 20 years.  They played a perfect set at the Star Theater of all the songs I’d want to hear and they had tons of energy.

7.8.18- There’s a lot of ‘I haven’t seen this band in forever’ in this list and Neurosis is another one that I have not seen since the beginning of this century I think.  But they were every bit as crushing and entrancing as ever when they leveled the Roseland over the summer.

8.11.18- I ventured up to Seattle for the Sub Pop 30th anniversary and saw the always entertaining Pissed Jeans (with Dreamdecay) do what they do so wonderfully at the Crocodile.

9.28.18-9.29.18- Two nights of The Jesus Lizard (Seattle and Portland) being just as rowdy and unhinged as ever.  A timeless band that cannot be topped, and pulling out some deep cuts, along with all the stuff you’d expect from the Chicago legends.

10.27.18- Report Suspicious Activity set specifically at Fest in Gainesville, FL.  Not only was it good to be back in a town I enjoy, but to see this gathering of old punk vets/pros work their magic in front of a small crowd was a rare and beautiful thing.

 11.14.18- Drug Church and Gouge Away at Black Water.  A perfect pairing of two of the hardcore scene’s more exciting bands who go together wonderfully playing a tiny punk bar.  Excellent sets from each.

Sunday, December 2, 2018


Just in time to close out 2018, or bring in 2019 (however you want to view it), an unusual offering will spew forth from Hex Records.
This project pairs up Seattle’s mightiest noise-metal merchants in Great Falls with Montreal’s long-running powerhouse combo The Great Sabatini for a 12” of exclusive material in one of the most unique presentations the bands (and this label) have undertaken to date.
Each band offers up two new tracks, each recorded during the sessions for their recent full lengths (both bands just released excellent new LPs), but saved for this occasion.  Additionally, there is a collaborative track between each bands ‘sides’.
The records are housed in letterpressed covers, designed and created by Great Falls guitarist/vocalist Demian Johnson.  The records themselves lave a laser-etched B-side with a design created by Sabatini guitarist Sean Arsenian.  All the records come on colored vinyl with a locked-groove during the interlude track that requires the listener to ‘switch’ sides to play the next track (unless they want to hear the interlude forever).  Is it over the top, weird, and potentially frustrating?  Totally.  But these bands would have it no other way because they are each a challenging, yet rewarding, listening experience.
The LP is now up for pre-order.  Bring in this New Year with weird heaviness.


Sunday, November 18, 2018


I'm pretty sure I've already made that post title gag before.  I don't care.  If bands can recycle riffs I can recycle jokes.  That all being said, this will probably be the last batch of reviews for year because next month will be the big year end favorites list that a grand total of three people will likely care about.  Additionally, it will be a little crazy next month as I gear up for a big 2019 with plenty of stuff planned since it will be Hex Records big 20th anniversary!  But more on that later.
So here we have a bunch of new stuff that has been entertaining me lately.  And I never really make a big deal about stuff like this, but more than half the records reviewed here prominently feature woman in the bands, and I think that's cool as most of the stuff that typically appeals to me falls squarely in heavy older dude rock/heavy stuff.  So I appreciate having some variety in my heavy music.  It's not like I planned this, it just sort of worked out that way with the stuff I reviewed this month.  And now you can check it out for yourself.

In a series of split seven inches with an ongoing theme (the collected covers make up one larger piece) Philadelphia’s Bardus and Baltimore’s Multicult lay down one song each, which doesn’t seem like much, but since both bands are pretty excellent in their own right it’s a worthwhile effort.
Bardus begin things with a slow and sludgy, moody song with a very memorable repeating riff where most of the song sounds like it could have emerged out of the tail end of Breather Resist’s catalog.  However, near the close of the song it breaks down into a more doom-y, screaming-in-a-cave sort of thing.
Multicult offers up an alternate take of one of the better songs on their most recent LP.  As always, their attack is wire-y, jagged, unreasonably tense and nervous and recorded in a perfect, pristine manner so that every single nuance of Jesus Lizard-inspired technicality shines through.  They obviously have a good handle on what they’re doing and they do it well.  (Corpse Flower)

BITE MARKS, “Sucia” 12”
Comprised of folks who have been bouncing around numerous Gainesville area punk bands over the years Bite Marks is the latest in a long line of very diverse groups to emerge.  I saw them live and it was 15 minutes of chaos with a vocalist who spent most of her time writhing and freaking out, which was pretty cool.  The recorded Bite Marks still sounds unhinged and chaotic, but in a way that makes way more sense.  Their songs are short, but stride the line somewhere between the freak-outs of bands like Orchid and the fringe melody of post-punk.  It’s a cool combo and one I suggest looking into.  “Hounds”, the opening track, is the most accessible and fun song on this one-sided EP.  Speaking of which, this record is housed in a screenprinted cover, on a one-sided LP with a screenprinted B-side, and an insert that doesn’t bother with lyrics, but instead offers a ridiculous ‘press release’ documenting the band as existing through (and creating) basically every major underground music benchmark over the last 40 years.  It’s weird, but I like it.  (Belladonna Records)

It’s wild to think that this band, which started out as sort of just a project, and nothing all that serious, is now on their third full length and regularly on tour about half of the year.  And in that time, their obsession with dredging up early 90’s grunge and post-hardcore has really gone about as far as possible.  But they just keep going at it, and it’s a pretty enjoyable ride.  The band has made it clear that this is their ‘sellout’ record, which I’m guessing to mean they made a conscious effort to write more pop-oriented songs on here.  I mean, all their material is catchy.  But they mess around with some acoustic melodies, some accompanying female vocals, and other little add-ons that I suppose push things more into mainstream rock territory.  And it lands about half the time.  But where the band has always excelled is when they’re pining the big riffs, the shouted tales of losers continuing to be losers, and the more aggressive element.  The best example is on side B ripper “Unlicensed Hall Monitor”, which is quickly followed up by a perfect combo of huge, awesome riff and catchy melody on “Foam Pit”.  Closing track “Tillary” is an interesting example of how the group is trying some pop elements and succeeding in a weird sort of way.  It has some sort of 80’s Brit rock-sounding thing going on.  I can’t describe it properly but I enjoy it.  So yeah, whatever they’re going for it’s mostly working but they may try to escape the Seaweed, but the Seaweed won’t escape them!  (Pure Noise)

FAIM, s/t 7”
This Denver area group (with members also residing in Tacoma) is not re-inventing the wheel.  But, as is the case with most fast hardcore bands, it’s not exactly easy to sound very unique.  What Faim (pronounced ‘faahm’) excel in, though, is sounding raw and dirty and harsh enough on these five songs so that one does not really need to be concerned with being the most original group.  They write well-crafted hardcore and play it like their lives depend on it with lyrics that attack the ‘good dude, backed hard, look-the-other-way’ mentality of scene kids turned scumbag.  The cover art should be an indication- an icy highway covered in snow, looking out of the 4-wheeled steel deathtrap where the windshield wiper is probably frozen to the window and who knows what jackass move the motorist next to you is going to pull, causing a 10-car pileup and lots of misery.  That picture is code for the volatile and hostile nature of this band.  It’s also a sight I’m all too familiar with and I do not miss driving in bullshit like that.  But I like listening to Faim.  I’ll take that instead!  (Convulse Records)

GREAT SABATINI, THE, “Goodbye Audio”
Prior to working with this band for an upcoming project I honestly thought they had only been a band for a few years and had a couple LPs.  But no.  They have 4 LPs to their name, 4 other EPs, and have been together for over 10 years.  That’s just insane.  For part time guys living and working out of the Montreal area it’s wild to think they have been at it for this long and churning out stupid heavy noise rock in the vein of everything from early Melvins to tricky heavy metal and bouts of sludge akin to fellow countrymen Shallow North Dakota.  They remain consistently inventive, weird, and incredibly heavy.  And this really does feel like their most ambitious outing to date.  The album is quite front-loaded with all the crazy heavy-sludgy fun stuff.  “Still Life With Maggots” and “You’re Gonna Die (Unsatisfied)” wrangle with knotty, dense slabs of heavy, and throttle the shit out of your stereo.  The back half of the record is slower, more experimental, and kind of just throws everything plus the kitchen sink into the mix to really get out any ideas the band was hoping to exorcise.  Closing track “Hand Of Unmaking” has parts with violin and some really cool organ to go up against the boulder-sized heavy parts.  It’s a lot to take in, but it certainly has its merit.  Fans with shorter attention spans will revel in the first half, while fans of more morose, thinking man’s metal will appreciate the grab bag of creativity on the second section.  All in all, a pretty good representation from a band that’s been slogging it out for along time.  (No List)

HAIR PULLER, “Old Friend”
Here comes the first proper full length from this still relatively young local Portland trio and it’s hard as nails.  Combining some of the stoner-ish sludge and uncommon riff arrangements of early Kylesa with chunky metallic hardcore akin to Unbroken, Hair Puller have dished out 10 tracks that make for a pretty good debut.  They are at their strongest when they’re just going for the gut punch, like on the ultra-heavy title track, or the more driving groove of “Chores” (which has an almost old Deftone-ish feel to it).  Those are, in fact, my favorite two tracks on here, even though they dig a little deeper with structure elsewhere on the record.  They’re just both relatively simple songs, but knock you out easy.  The members share vocals, even though they all seem to have a piercing scream that goes well with the low end of the music, and lyrically gets into some heavy topical matter.  While it’s a solid first effort each song has a pretty similar tempo and messing around with that a little bit might make for some added variety down the road.  (Nadine Records)

HUMANITIES, “Unnatural Histories” EP
There are friends of mine who have dubbed certain kinds of bands ‘Hex rock’ despite my protest that it sounds corny.  But, to put it bluntly, they know me all too well.  There’s that sweet spot where the likes of Dischord-style groups such as Jawbox collide with other 90’s heavyweights like Helmet and Quicksand to create angular, noisy, heavy, but still kind of catchy music that I fawn on about whenever a band matching those qualities falls into my lap.  So, this Toronto-based band (featuring members of Godstopper- so full disclosure- I released records for) kind of fits right into that niche of shit that’s going to tickle my fancy.  Apparently, they have a bit of a catalog to go through, but this is the newest thing- a four song EP heavy on the politics as it is those aforementioned musical qualities I enjoy.  The first track has a bit of an electronic-sounding bent to it, reminding me heavily of Cop Shoot Cop (nothing bad there), but it’s sort of the outlier as the other three songs lean hard on that Jawbox/Burning Airlines sense of melody combined with those heavy rhythms and crushing rock of post-hardcore bands such as Prize Country, Sweet Cobra, or Cast Iron Hike.  You know I’m sold on it.  (No List)

REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY, “The Wilderness/ Just ‘Cos You Got the Power” 7”
Listening to this new 7” from RSA does not truly show the band’s full potential.  They write fine songs full of rocking punk energy and heavy political criticism.  But on the rare opportunity one might get to see them live (which I luckily did a few weeks ago) it’s a precision-killing tornado of sound and expertise.  Comprised entirely of guys who are getting up there in years (especially for punks) this collective goes off harder than most bands half their age.  Erik Denno and Darren Zentek, both formally of Kerosene 454- one of my favorite bands ever- do what they each do so well.  Zentek is one of the most talented and creative drummers I’ve ever witnessed.  Denno has a voice that is all his own, teetering from melodic to harsh.  He shares vocal duties with J. Robbins, a totally unique voice of his own, who mans the bass guitar in this band (his well-known guitar playing taking a back seat here).  Vic Bondi, from 80’s Chicago punks Articles Of Faith, rounds out the group on guitar and other vocals, his voice and playing being the most harsh in the group.  Live they are a whirlwind and command the room.  This record has one new song from them (“The Wilderness”- a solid political screed full of melody and power) and a Motorhead cover…  but not quite the style of Motorhead most think of.  It’s kind of a funny choice for this group, but fun nonetheless.  If this group plays within 300 miles of you just go see them because you probably won’t have many opportunities.  (Arctic Rodeo)

It took a number of listens to really to really formulate my thoughts on the new Super Unison record.  Their first LP was a favorite that year and I really loved its immediate, upbeat energy.  But something feels a lot different on their second record “Stella”.  There is a clearly a bit of a different sound due to a change in studio and recording engineer that makes a marked difference.  Many of these songs feel a little more involved, a little heavier, and show a greater appreciation for big Hum-inspired tidal waves of sound.  Both of their full lengths are very good, very enjoyable records for sure.  And even though, in all honesty, they both sound very similar.  Still, there is something underlying this new one that feels considerably different from the first that I cannot put my finger on, and now I can’t discern which one I like better.  That’s really not the worst problem for any band (or fan) to have, is it?  From their most vicious on “Virus”, to their most contemplative on “Comfort” there’s certainly a tone (especially vocally) of personal loss and difficult changes in one’s life.  Maybe that’s the difference I’m hearing- that emotional tone shining through.  Either way, the band nailed it again with a great collection of songs.  (Deathwish)

Monday, October 22, 2018


It's been a long time coming, but by the end of this year a wild split 12" between the Northwest's mightest noisemongers in Great Falls and Montreal's most savage heathens in The Great Sabatini will be a reality.  Hot on the heels of both bands just announcing their own individual new full lengths this will be an awesome companion record to go with them.
This record is going to be a very art-centric release as well, featuring letterpressed covers with art created by Great Falls frontman Demian Johnson and featuring a laser-etched B-side with art from Great Sabatini's own Sean Arsenian.  To top it off, the bands have collaborated on an interlude track in the middle featuring a locked groove, so in order to hear the rest of the songs you actually have to move the needle off the locked groove, and onto the next tracks.
Expect this monster some time before New Years.

Look for pre-order info, new music, and all that jazz very soon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


It's that pretty much best time of the year.  It's not gross hot.  It's not freezing cold.  There's pretty colors abound, and Halloween is just around the corner.  I'm going to be traveling later on this month so I'm jumping the gun a bit and posting up reviews a little sooner than I had expected.  Plus, from here on out the rest of the year is going to be quite busy.  I got another record coming out to announce soon that you ought to see around X-Mas time and I'm getting prepared for 2019 where Hex Records will be turning 20 FREAKIN' YEARS OLD.  So yeah, expect a lot of announcements about that milestone pretty soon.
In the meantime, read up on this newest batch of stuff that is all over the map sonically.  It's the best way to expand yr interests.

I reviewed this duo’s last project, which was not all that long ago, and I described it as ‘soundtrack music’.  Well, the pair of Bob Gorham (Blood Sun Circle/Engineer), and Jon Davis (Difficult/Night Owls) return with four more songs that I am now going to classify as ‘documentary music’.  Like, this is what you hear when you sit down to watch a documentary and things start off with random scenes of small town life, or a farm, or woods, and after a few minutes some guys voice says something like, “I spent 35 years of my life growing potatoes in Spit Fart, Idaho.  My dad raised potatoes, my aunt and uncle raised potatoes, my grandpa did too.”  This is that music.  Although, admittedly, some of the second half of this EP sounds a bit more stark, so it’s the part in the documentary where it starts raining and someone is heard discussing how the bank came to claim their potato farm or whatever.  Or, some slow motion footage of the aftermath of a tornado and text on the screen describes how George W. Bush obviously failed to send in FEMA in a timely manner.  So yeah, you never wonder where all that documentary music comes from because it’s so background and just sets a mood, but these should be the guys making it all.  Someone call up Werner Herzog or Eugene Jarecki ( I IMDB’ed this) and get these guys a contract.  (Drops Of Us)

BUILDING ON FIRE, “Fire Extinguisher 2000-2004” CD
Building On Fire were a Rochester-based band featuring people who went on to found Achilles and plenty more.  They are one of my favorite bands from the early 2000’s who are painfully overlooked, and yes, I released their lone full length.  However, the band did a lot of stuff that didn’t get a wide release (or any at all) and this collection covers a bunch of that including their self-released debut 7”, a song from a split 7” they did, live tracks, alternate and demo takes of a few songs and an entire EP they recorded after splitting up.  Most of this collection was initially released in a fucking metal case, like the guys cut and folded metal into a CD-sized case and made about 10 copies.  So it’s nice to actually have this for real, even though a metal case is way cooler.  But let’s get to the band- they really were ahead of the game and took a lot of chances.  They were equal parts heavily influenced by Converge insofar as the metallic nature of a lot of their material, as they were by Fugazi in terms of consistently pushing the envelope of ideas.  They always had so many plans for different records, oddball recording techniques, samples, and artwork.  They were a consistently active and creative machine for their relatively brief tenure.  I think their stuff is great and some of this final material that never really saw the light of day is some of their tightest and vicious material they had (one of the songs is even a Guilt cover!  Remember Guilt? No?  That’s OK).  A couple asshole critiques on this thing- BOF were a very visually creative band and put a lot of time and effort into their artwork and this collection has extremely scant artwork to go with it.  Secondly, the write-up on the inside of the disc makes some incorrect claims as to members’ post-BOF outings.  Just sayin’.  But I strongly encourage anyone whose interest this has piqued to explore what they did in their time.  Plus, this thing is cheap.  So give it a shot.  (Classic Core)

CANDY, “Good To Feel”
This band shares a name with my mother-in-law, and like her, I am mildly frightened because she’s one tough cookie.  Candy really is nothing to trifle with.  However, I enjoy a band that definitely plays hardcore, but doesn’t subscribe to many of the expected tropes that go along with it.  Not only on the outside, with their shitty 80’s gore-metal style cover art, but their music is truly vicious and rightfully threatening.  It leans on the metallic side of hardcore, and also adds some blast beats, and one very out-of-place closing track incorporating fuzzy indie rock enveloped in static.  Imagine Trash Talk at their peak and most unhinged, tuned down a step or two, and that’s what Candy feels like to me.  It’s not a bad place to be in.  It’s the sound of a burning mattress being thrown into the pit instead of just the rigor morale of predictable two-stepping and finger pointing.  (Triple B Records)

CHERUBS, “Short Of Popular”
Ever since Austin, TX noisemongers Cherubs decided to saddle up again in 2015, after a 20 year hiatus, and sporadically damage eardrums worldwide they have dropped an incredible full length, a pretty damn good double 7”, reissued their long out-of-print 1995 benchmark LP “Heroin Man”, and now are re-issuing this collection of odds and ends which was only available on CD until now.  It’s not that Cherubs were ever that popular (hence the title); they carved a tiny niche of some of the gnarliest, fuzzed-out destructive noise rock bliss one will ever hear, but did so in a very limited capacity and their records were lost to the buried dustbins of history for a very long time.  Those that knew remained steadfast fans.  Some, like me, knew the name, and a general idea, but only mystery lay beyond that.  Most just didn’t even know.  I’d say for the uninitiated this might not be the best place to start just because this is collection of B-sides, covers, alternate takes, most of which were recorded in an extremely bare bones fashion (i.e.- pretty shitty recordings).  It’s still quality stuff because Cherubs regular recordings push the needle into the red with fuzz and distortion bleeding over every possible edge, so it’s not a radical difference in sound.  But I will say the remastering on this reissue certainly helps things out.  The new artwork and colorful vinyl definitely makes it an attractive record to pick up as well.  And since I’m already a big fan I’m immediately sold.  But for those who never really heard these guys I’d say start with their awesome come back record “2Ynfynyty” and then work backwards.  This ought to fit in there somewhere once you’re hooked, which you will be.  (Sonic SurgeryRecords

GOUGE AWAY, “Burnt Sugar”
This is just miles beyond their previous material.  I enjoyed what Gouge Away did in the past, but it was all scattershot.  They didn’t have a set style, and it was rather evident.  Still, something about them showed promise, and it wasn’t just because they had a cool name.  I think on “Burnt Sugar” they have finally found their footing and have written a great collection of songs that fully realize the band’s sound.  They have discovered how rad it can be when you incorporate elements of the Jesus Lizard serpentine and rubbery bass with touches of Superchunk’s punk-propelled indie rock, and wrap it in a corn tortilla of legit post-hardcore rhythm.  The steps between their first LP, “Dies”, to the slow-burn 7” “Swallow”/“Sweat”, and to this are not just little learning-to-walk fumblings.  It’s like going from John Candy in “Stripes” to Carl Lewis winning the gold overnight.  I’m quite surprised how quickly this group has gotten their footing and hopefully they retain this lineup and continue to create exceptional music such as this.  (Deathwish)

NIET, “Dangerfield”
Did you know Italian noise rock was a thing?  Well, it is.  And Niet, from Italy no less, plays music of this variety on their new EP that recalls all the ugliness, car-wreck tone, and smashed instruments present on the more upbeat tracks of Hammerhead’s “Into the Vortex” or “Ethereal Killer”.  The band tends to keep the pace on these 5 songs pretty quick so once you got one of them Italian caffe’ ristretto’s zooming through your veins, you’ll feel at one with the high-adrenaline chaos going on here.  It’s a unique niche’ sound they’re going for and they did a pretty good job of achieving it.  (self-released)

This might be the first Restoration record that I’m not super excited for.  Maybe it’s because it’s been such a long time between this and their last release, kind of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ thing.  Or maybe because I’m just not swinging as hard on that vine these days.  Restorations do what they do very well, and they are consistently inventive with their sound while keeping it distinctly ‘them’.  They have toyed around on this new record with different piano/synth sounds that on past recordings they kept relatively straightforward, and they got themselves a couple fancy new guitar pedals too that make for interesting sounds.  But the Restorations most people are familiar with remains- earnest, sorta-middle-age bearded guy rock, heavy on the melody, big on epic parts, and Jon Louden’s well-worn gruff singing.  I think part of what isn’t moving me as much on here is that I always liked how this band could make these indie/emo sing-alongs, but then drop in some total fuzzed-out stoner rock bass bombs that added a ton of character to the songs, and that seems to be lacking on this record. Closing track “Eye” uses straightforward piano with a static-laced beat and a chirping electric hum as a background before breaking into one of those big epic parts I talked about earlier.  This one feels different though as some harmonized air raid siren type of effect takes over, along with big drums and that big bass sound comes in and it’s the type of growth I’d like to see more of from Restorations if they continue down this path.  It’s my favorite track on the album, even if portions of it aren’t doing for me like they used to.  (Tiny Engines)

WINDHAND, “Eternal Return”
I like Windhand, but it feels like they have written the same record three times now.  It’s a pretty cool record, but each record pretty much starts out with the same riff.  “Orchard” is “Two Urns”, is “Halcyon”.  I’d be more upset if that guitar tone wasn’t as awesomely dense, or the vocals weren’t as hauntingly cool.  Like I said, it’s a good song/good album they got going on here, but I’m not sure how much longer they can put it on repeat before people start wondering when they’re going to change things up a bit.  Fans of stuff from Rise Above, or if you like Cathedral slowed down even more, or even Sleep with a bit more energy, and the all-encompassing Sabbath vibe than Windhand will certainly scratch that itch.  (Relapse)

Sunday, October 14, 2018


On the subject of other creative pursuits (which is ultimately how this record label sprang to life) I'll be set up at the Euzine Comics & Zine Fest 2018 this year on Nov. 10th down in Eugene! I'll have the newest Translate zine, as well as other assorted zines, prints, and some records too. So since I know like 2 people in that town maybe tell anyone you happen to know who lives there to make like Dr. Steve Brule and check it out.
For more information about this great event check out their page:
If you are unable to attend, but like zines, and still want to grab a copy of the newest Translate I printed up a few extra copies and you can snag one HERE 

Monday, September 24, 2018


OK, the NULL record is out and I have a moment of free time finally.  Time to gather up some stuff that has been making me think, stuff that cuts a pretty wide swath across the musical landscape.    As we cut to the final quarter of this incredibly quick year I think about the interesting variety of bands that have rolled the dice in this increasingly weird and lawless hellscape that is recorded music.  I attempt to navigate the terrain like some ancient cartographer.  The blue is land, right?

Considering this is ex-Torche personnel I don’t want to make too many comparisons, but between the harmonic vocals and crushingly heavy jams spewed forth on this debut EP it’s kind of difficult not to find some common ground.  Dead Now does manage to differentiate themselves enough though, with the addition of some prog-meets-groovy areas that will make your Yes-worshipping uncle take a quizzical double take, just as much as the Satan-worshipping co-worker who showed up late (again) leeringly mention that this does, indeed, rock.  Pair this with a band like Brain Tentacles to truly get some weird, heavy rock action.  It’s not landing on some end of the year list, but it’s certainly enjoyable.  (BrutalPanda)

EMMA RUTH RUNDLE, “On Dark Horses”
I’ll admit I’m new to listening to the music of Emma Ruth Rundle, even though I have heard her name a number of times over the last couple of years.  It turns out she is quite prolific and has an almost uncategorizable sound.  Of her several albums this definitely feels the most polished and well-crafted.  I’m not sure if it is the addition of members of Jaye Jayle as her backing band, or just her natural progression as a songwriter, but there is a great big sound happening here that leans on the quiet-loud-quiet aesthetic, but in a way that sounds fresh to me.  While elements of folk, goth, Americana, and sparse- yet melodic- ruminations meander through Rundle’s haunting and soulful voice it’s the giant swells within the choruses that really make this something special.  Hints of Mazzy Star, or Kate Bush, Diamanda Galas, Shannon Wright, or even Laurie Anderson may receive unintentional (or intentional, who knows) nods, but like other great solo performers Emma Ruth Rundle doesn’t really fall into any sort of specific subgenre.  She is who she is.  If you like songs with someone who has a really great voice, big melodies, and a sound as vast as the Grand Canyon this will likely appeal to you.  If you already enjoy stuff from Sargent House that doesn’t quite sound like this, but shares similarities in regards to artistic open-mindedness- say, Helms Alee, Russian Circles, Chelsea Wolfe, or even Jaye Jayle- chances are you will already be willing to make the leap to dive into this as well. I’m certainly glad that I did.  (Sargent House)

LAW BOSS, “Diminishing Returns”
Based on name alone I would expect Law Boss to be a group that deals in exclusively beefy riffs and walls of amps.  Something about sounding ‘boss’ and word association I guess.  It’s not to say this Portland trio don’t deliver, just in a slightly different way than I had thought.  Plus, the recording is a bit on the quiet end so I’m going to assume they make up for it by crushing it live or something.  They actually have an interesting combination of sounds that I’m picking up on- much of which is their uncanny similarity to a Gainesville band called Cutman that were around about 10 years ago, who definitely had a very ‘boss’ sound to them.  That probably means nothing to most, but the resemblance is really quite remarkable.  On a number of songs I’m hearing the more rocking end of mid-90’s Dischord stuff like Bluetip and Jawbox, in broad strokes.  But once they get to “Bite, Chew, Swallow” it’s all Jesus Lizard worship- slow, weird, and serpentine.  So feel this out: beefy post-hardcore with a mix of Dischord rock and a touch of Jesus Lizard.  Is that cool?  Follow-up: is it ok to address these guys as ‘boss’ or ‘chief’?  (self-released)

People are giving this a weird reaction, like it’s not up to snuff.  I don’t know what they’re talking about.  Metal fans are a picky lot.  This is a good release from Pig Destroyer.  I have given it quite a few thorough listens, compared it to their other output, and I think it holds up pretty well.  While their last release, “Book Burner” had a visual aesthetic that I really liked musically it didn’t really take hold as much as I thought it would.  This record is a good return to the semi-unpredictable and manic intensity of “Phantom Limb”-era material.  Some people prefer to go back further, but I’m of the opinion that most all Pig Destroyer material is upper echelon of metal/punk/grind/what-have-you, so older comparisons are kind of pointless (and you’ve read this far, huh?).  That all being said I feel like the variety covers a fair amount of ground without being too overwhelming.  Some songs keep a mid-paced tempo, while others go for the tried-and-true off-the-wall blasting and light speed delivery Pig Destroyer are known for.  “Concrete Beast” meddles with the band’s unabashed love for old Melvins by inserting slow stop-start riffs that stop and start in a lot of weird places while “Mt. Skull” and “The Torture Fields” both unload some of the more murder-spree-worthy breakdowns in the band’s career (though not quite as all-out-war as “Phantom Limb”, which will probably never be topped).  And much like other PD releases the art is top notch and worth plucking down some cash just so you can gaze upon its bizarre horror.  (Relapse)

REBUILD/REPAIR, “There Is No Place Left For Me Here”
I can only imagine that Edmonton, Alberta is not a hotbed of underground music.  I’m aware of a few musical forces of nature emanating from the middle-of-nowhere Canadian city, but by and large I’m guessing most well-known bands skip it over.  So when there’s not much, make something right?  I’m sure Rebuild/Repair live by this coda and that alone is worth something.  And when they drop some earnest and fast punk-tinged hardcore with some serious Black Flag “Damaged”-era vocals on their latest release one can be happy to know someone is indeed doing something in that town.  But that’s just the first few songs on this record.  After that they sort of lose the trail and veer off into a mid-paced instrumental and a slow, weirdly melodic track that goes on for way too long, a song that has way too much clean vocals and could be a throwaway from a Verse or Have Heart record, and a couple other tracks that go back to their faster style but go on for a bit longer than a fast hardcore song ought to.  My feeling on their style is that I appreciate it from the jump, but the rest of it is not for me and doesn’t quite retain a solid focus throughout. (self-released)

Ed Gein got tired of being Ed Gein, brought in Steve Sindoni (vocalist from Breather Resist and Pusher) and emerged as a 4-piece with a new name.  When the first track of their self-titled, digital-only, record comes on it might be easy to think ‘how is this different from Ed Gein?’, what with it’s instant barrage of blasting.  But much of this release takes a decidedly slower, heavier turn, that certainly does recall some moments of sludgier Breather Resist material from way back and I quite enjoy it.  Focusing more on slower, ugly riffs there seems to be a blend of some mid-90’s hardcore (“The Children Are Full” is like a melding of Snapcase and Unbroken soaked in sheets of gross distortion).  That vibe continues on for a bit until we hit “Jesus In Leather”, which definitely recalls the blast beat/simplistic punk mash of later Ed Gein material.  It’s one of the more raging tunes here that comes across fast and direct.  But for my money I think my favorite track is “The White Coats”.  It’s the most differentiated of the songs on this as it alternates between a slow and creepy melody and an absolutely killer riff that would make Crowbar soil their cargo shorts.  Overall, I’m pretty excited about this effort, but I would be remiss if I didn’t offer a couple minor critiques- the first being that at times the recording of the drums feels a bit muddy and when Jesse is really blasting, or crushing the double-kick it, in turn, makes everything else that is going on sound a bit indiscernible.  Secondly, with a lion’s share of these songs being on the slower side, and barely pausing between some of the songs on the second half of this record it makes them run together a bit.  Perhaps sequencing to alternate between the faster and slower songs would be in order to vary it up a bit.  Otherwise, it’s a hot chunk of gross and massive ugliness from some seasoned vets trying out a new style of doing things that feels somewhat familiar, but different enough that it comes off as fresh and exciting.  (self-released)


I had some preconceived idea of this group falling into a ‘throwback emo’ sort of sound and maybe that was some of their earlier material because they sure as hell are on some other stuff with this record.  Without question, there is definitely a trippy psych vibe happening here, down to the entire recording sounding as if it were played back slightly warped.  And I suppose if you’re dropping acid it probably just enhances the experience.  However, I’d like to clarify that it’s not a Manson family sort of trippy affair where death cults result from listening to this.  It’s a record awash in a dream where the Beatles and Sonic Youth sort of collide and traipse through fields, and I swear to you I do not do drugs.  Maybe give it a little bit of an Unwound, “Leaves Turn Inside You” feeling, but more sunlit.  It’s certainly not my typical fare, but I appreciate the variety, as well as the band’s venture into something unique. (Tiny Engines)

So out of nowhere Tragedy just decides they’re going to up and release a new EP and not tell anyone.  They actually played a show here in Portland several weeks ago, which surprised me because I wasn’t sure if they were even still together.  They announced the show a few weeks ahead of time but didn’t announce they had a new record.  I wanted to go to the show but it conflicted with another show I really wanted to check out so I opted out.  And then the record was already gone, or something.  So the band then did the unthinkable- they put it on bandcamp.  I mean it’s Tragedy after all.  They don’t really engage with the world at large, especially where the internet is concerned.  But, essentially, they do not live in our world.  If you like this band then you live in their world, on their terms.  And the six new songs here prove that despite staying off the grid, so to speak, the band hasn’t missed a beat.  I personally haven’t caught up with any of their records in a number of years (I still haven’t heard “Nerve Damage” or “Darker Days Ahead”), but I’m guessing not much has changed- the songs are fast, they sound harsh as fuck, the D-beats are plentiful, and the guitars are thunderous.  I was surprised to hear some gang vocals on the title track, which might be my favorite here, as it feels uncommon for them.  But yeah, you get the idea- Motorhead meets Discharge levels of speed and intensity, a love of Japanese crust, high contrast black and white images of war and desolation, vocals that will punch you in the face, and slow parts be damned.  “Fury” is definitely an apt title.  (Tragedy Records)