Sunday, November 26, 2017

TRANSMISSIONS FROM THE WEST COAST- NOVEMBER REVIEWS

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

Saturday, November 18, 2017

PRE-HOLIDAY SALE HAPPENING NOW!

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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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


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

Friday, October 6, 2017

REVIEWS FOR OCTOBER!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

HEX RECORDS MOVING SALE!

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

GRIZZLOR NEW LP UP FOR PRE-ORDER NOW!


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

NEW REVIEWS FOR JULY

I am compulsively going through all my seven inches, of which there is likely about 500, trying to see what I want to siphon off from my life, and in the process I have listened to most of them to assure myself if I want to keep them or not.  Is that obsessive?  Well, somewhere in that mess I managed to listen to and read a bunch of new stuff too.  So here it is.

FOTOCRIME, “Always Hell” 7”
After Coliseum quietly called it a day after over 10 years together Ryan Patterson really wasted no time in organizing a new project where he is essentially the sole songwriter and musician.  However, this is far from a solo lonely guy with a guitar type project.  This follows a steady path that one could see as a logical evolution of what Coliseum was doing towards the end.  Just as each Coliseum record moved slowly in a post-punk type direction this new project, Fotocrime, seems to fully realize it and gives heavy nods to those Killing Joke and goth-y vibes you kind of figured Patterson would eventually roll with anyway.  On this 7” his playing and vocal style are still present (along with stark socio-political lyrics), but a little more use of background textured synth is utilized, along with a drum machine in place of a person.  It presents a different air of presentation and a new direction in terms of production and recording style.  As with nearly everything Patterson has done in the last few years it’s a bit of a grower, but once it gets in my head a bit I tend to really enjoy it.  Apparently the live version of this band is pretty damn exciting, so not only am I happy to see the man still in the game, but also taking a chance on something he is passionate about that might be a tough sell to old school fans.  It’s a good start.  (self-released)

GREEN SLIME, s/t
This duo is comprised of Eric and Blake Ellman, who have played both individually and together in every Buffalo band ever.  Their rap sheet on past bands is nothing short of prolific.  So, naturally, aside from being brothers, they have a pretty instinctual feel for playing together.  This little project of theirs combines a monster dose of thick-as-molasses rock that fits somewhere between the non-shitty Weezer stuff, Torche, and Sugar (or at least the songwriting style of Bob Mould and his various projects).  I’m quite into it because it’s really easy to get into and exceptionally catchy while still keeping it pretty chunky and riffy. (Ruby Disc)

GT/ NULL split live LP
I’ve spoken at length about Null.  On this they have four live songs culled from their already known releases (plus one new song), and they’re almost indistinguishable from the studio recordings.  They play slow, heavy, but melodic (mostly in the vocals) songs that bring to mind bands like True Widow, Floor, and Cloakroom.  However, instead of bass they use synth, but it sounds so deep and heavy you really wouldn’t know the difference.  I’ll pretty much consume whatever this band releases.  GT are, from what I can gather, a regional Alabama band that is kind of bluesy rock, but with a slight punk vibe and a dark swagger.  Think maybe Vincas, but less noise rock, Hot Snakes minus as much personality.  Their tracks are also live, and again, they play real tight and get a good recording so you really can’t tell.  This was a Record Store Day release (meh), but focused more regionally as benefit for a local charity (Girls Rock Birmingham), which is awesome.  It made it more fun tracking this one down.   (Seasick Records)

INTEGRITY, “Howling, For the Nightmare Shall Consume”
At this point I’m going to say that Integrity is kind of Dom Romeo.  He pretty much went from being their #1 fan, to playing in several bands that heavily sounded like Integrity, to being in Integrity.  And he has written a pretty solid Integrity record.  Honestly, I have not kept up with all the various Integrity stuff since “Humanity Is the Devil”.  This record weighs in heavily with more galloping thrash and speed metal type stuff, and a little less on the meat-y breakdowns of old material (save for “I Am the Spell”).  Of course, there are solos everywhere, almost non-stop.  “String Up My Teeth” is a strong departure and will likely throw off long time fans with it’s kooky backing vocals, but hey, after 20 plus years you gotta try something new, right?  The thing that has always kind of bothered me about Integrity though is the adulation thrown at their frontman, as if he is some sort of great visionary.  And instead of being upfront about admitting that, “hey, I’m just the singer” the dude seems to bask in the glory.  He’s the singer.  He’s not writing the music.  The Melniks laid the groundwork and a backing band has worshipped that style ever since.  Dwid basically has to just give the OK to other people writing music that sounds like Integrity.  That’s it.  So if you liked Integrity before you will enjoy this.  Dom Romeo put together a good band that wrote some solid jams for the dude from Integrity to sing on.  (Relapse)

OUT OF BODY, “Voiceless”
Feel good record of the year?  It’s quite possible.  I’ve been jamming on this album since probably late last year, awaiting its eventual release into the wild, and it surely delivers.  Out Of Body are the little secret from Austin, TX that isn’t so secret anymore now that they’re on the road a lot more and getting some deserved attention.  Their take on 90’s-era post-hardcore is informed as much by standard bearers like Quicksand and Shift as it is by more alternative-rock champions like Failure, Far, and Smashing Pumpkins.  There’s as much emphasis on groove and riffs as there is on spacey melody and uplifting vocals.  And I know I’m a predictable sort, so since it has the best qualities of the aforementioned groups of reference I’m all over this like your weird aunt getting a tarot reading at a psychic fair.  The only small downside is that all four of the songs that appeared on their demo from last year are also on this and I was hoping for some additional new material.  Still, you get a total of 10 jams to rock your socks off for the rest of this year.  After that they better deliver some new stuff, so help me.  (Coin Toss Records)

POST/BOREDOM, “Casual Friday” demo
Pacific Northwest homies invoke spirits of their regional brethren in the form of Harkonen’s more chunky smashiness and These Arms Are Snakes more caustic/less artsy (less snarky?) moments, with a good dash of all out noise rockin’ drive.  Naturally, there is a good sense of humor going on, what with song titles such as “Chef Goldblum” and “Buttmans Bathole” to keep things in check and the pretty cover painting of the band.  Give ‘em a chance, let them be your friend.  (ConditionsRecords)

RIOT STARES, “Let the Phase Speak” 7”
Here is another band that is taking many cues from 90’s hardcore in a great way.  They totally nail the sound Snapcase was coming out with on “Progression Through Unlearning”, which, at the time, was a great combination of their chunky, pinch-harmonic mosh-y hardcore, and something a little more upbeat and rocking.  To be honest, I’m surprised there aren’t more bands out these days that do stuff like this.  Snapcase was fucking huge when that record dropped.  I guess these South Carolina cats picked up on that in a big way and I suppose they’re getting in on the ground floor of that particular revival niche.  The two new songs on this seven inch progress the style they started with on their debut 7” last year and it’s pretty damn good.  They blow the roof off things with the B-side, which is a cover of Cast Iron Hike’s, “Boxed”, an absolute crusher from an very overlooked band who dropped one amazing record almost 20 years ago and then called it quits.  I’m exceptionally happy to see a new band draw some attention to that and hopefully people will explore more for themselves.  Here’s to more from this new-ish exciting band who obviously have good taste.  (Bitter Melody/ Speedowax)

SCRAPS COMIX,  Paul Rentler
An art zine full of off the wall pop culture mash-up’s with photocopy hell, melting faces, and the arcane.  Paul Rentler has an exciting style where random ephemera from every niche of popular culture collides in strange collages pairing everything from my childhood (and before) to create fantastic new spontaneously combusting monsters.  Bart Simpson’s aura exploding with the original X-Men, a stock image of a 50’s housewife fainting and the equally terrified specter of Slimer rising from her soul while the Hamburgler makes off with a skull, Orko the ghost (floating dwarf wizard?) being exorcised of actual ghosts, Garfield bursting out of Alice in Wonderland’s face petrified like he is boggled by the terror inside, Mayor McCheese rescues a buxom beach babe from snakes while dreaming of Robocop.  It’s a freaky head trip of roughly photocopied madness, cobbled together to form collages that are like all the random reference material of Craphound in a cross-dimensional rift with every back page comic book ad from the last five decades.  Give me more.  (paulrentler.com)