Wednesday, June 27, 2018


I no longer have clever titles for these posts, my apologies.  Anyway, it's summer, what the heck are you doing reading this stuff?  Unless, of course, you're doing this outdoors, in which case, carry on.  Behold- some gross, ugly punk; some reading material in printed form; some thoughtfully-crafted thinking person's music.  It's all here really.  What more do you want?

Totally manic grindcore out of Iowa, which makes sense because if I lived in a flat, and vapid wasteland like Iowa I’d probably be compelled to play music this harsh as well given the wrecked mental state I’d clearly be in due to my surroundings.  With this release you get a good mix of standard fare blasting, but things move like a tornado, often a blurred and chaotic mess in the best way possible.  Other times less traditional aspects come into play, akin to their recent tour mates in Cloud Rat and their experiments with epic atmospherics and occasional sludgy breakdowns.  And other times there’s some bizarre Deadguy/Rorschach-styled noisecore leads mixed in with the whirlwind of sound.  It’s kind of messy, and there’s often a lot going on.  However, Closet Witch seem to be closing in on getting their thing, whatever that may be exactly, honed to perfection.  They haven’t been at it for too long, but they’re quickly getting real good.  (Halo Of Flies)

GUNK, vol. 1
Professional illustrator Curt Merlo takes a brief respite from his day job to throw together a small zine of his weirdo art and short comic stories that are heavily influenced by Charles Burns and 50’s comic book ads.  So, of course, I’m into it.  I dig the grainy print style of the zine and the limited use of color.  It definitely gives the whole thing a 60’s chapbook feel.  It’s rather short though and having a little extra content would be great.  But hey, I’ll take what I can get. Get slimed in the weird world of Gunk.  (Saboteur Press)

And out of left field comes the debut full length from Buffalo’s Healer!  They have been tearing up faces for a few years now around the Northeast and, to date, they basically just have a 7” to their credit.  However, that is totally made up for with 22 rippers in all of about 25 minutes on this record.  If you hadn’t figured out already, Healer play short and fast.  Their music is a mix of powerviolence, some Negative Approach-styled hardcore, a few slow and sludgy parts, and raspy, guttural, nasty as a Rochester garbage plate that’s been left out in the sun for a couple days vocals.  Thus far, this album has been released digitally, yet I am assured it will also be released on a physical format.  I’m looking forward to that so I can read the lyrics to such eloquently titled tracks such as “Hammer Time”, “River Phoenix”, “Hairclub For Men”, and “Potato Salad”.  I know it sounds a little silly, but I’m pretty sure there’s some weighty topics behind those titles.  Get wrecked, Healer are no joke.  (Healer)

L.M.I., “IV”
There’s so much going on here that makes this a bit confusing.  And I don’t mean too much going on like some shitty tech-death wanna-be early 00’s metalcore band.  It’s like, in my own mind, collisions of influences that don’t make sense, but still, overall, sound sort of cool.  So there’s a NYHC sort of vibe to a lot of the songwriting in that you got some kind of groove-oriented, but punk-leaning, hardcore that brings to mind more modern NYHC bands.  And then there’s also a heavy post-hardcore style going on that some of the Long Island bands from the 90’s brought.  So far that doesn’t seem too out of the realm of possibility.  But then you get this weird tone to the guitars and all of a sudden a chaotic element, like early Drowningman comes into play and I start to think that none of this makes sense and I’m OK with it.  People under the age of 30 probably won’t know what to do with that description and they probably hear something totally different.  But you know, that’s what I hear, so deal with it.  This EP tosses out five more rippers for scratching your head while moshing.  The weirdest part- they’re not even from NYC or Long Island…  they’re from PENNSYLVANIA.  What the fuck universe do I live in? (self-released)

SELF DEFENSE FAMILY, “Have You Considered Punk Music”
This is a hilarious title considering this is such a soft record.  Even the title track meanders with some Americana-style twang and, if I had to take a guess, the band did not consider punk music when it was being composed (or maybe they did, and their answer was, ‘let’s not make ‘punk’ music’).  Honestly, my favorite material from this rotating cast of musicians was when they were at their Lungfish-worshipping apex.  The music was melodic, introspective, and still had a bit of heft to it.  Since then they have gotten way more mellow.  Hell, Patrick doesn’t even sound like a yelping dog anymore (that’s not a critique, I was cool with it), trading hoarse yelling for almost whispered thoughts on all the usual abstractions and point-blank ‘this is my life’ type lyrics he is known for.  So as much as the music doesn’t quite do it for me as much these days I very much respect what they do for always pushing in different directions, even if those directions are as gentle as playing wind chimes with feathers.  And I feel like I’m totally trashing this record, but it’s quite good in fact.  You just have to go into it knowing this is an ever-evolving band and while they may play very reserved and sparse music lately it’s not without a strong impact.  There’s a quiet tension, plaintive melodies where lyrical twists fall like bricks even though they are delicately spoken, and an underlying current of experimentation that is always willing to try something new and seeing if it sticks, and making it all sound natural.  Not a bad effort if you ask me.  (Run ForCover)

As far as straightforward hardcore zines go…  um…  I’m surprised they still exist?  Get transported back to 1998 and check out this slick rag that is about 50% photos (full disclosure, I contributed a number of pictures to this) and the rest interviews.  Within those interviews you will find the always-amazing Greg Bennick going on about his insanely productive life and one incredible story about traveling to the Inside Out reunion shows in 1991, which pretty much is worth the price of the zine alone.  Ray from Taken/100 Words Or Less offers some interesting insight on growing up in SoCal and a couple rather basic interviews with fairly new bands Cutting Through and Big Cheese. In addition, a crazy story about some adventurous kids in Utah going cave diving and dying (I actually heard this story from Greg Bennick a few years ago), and some on-the-road shoplifting (hello, ‘youth’ my old friend).  Maybe 20 years ago I’d be a little nonplused by this since 10 zines a week came out like this in this style.  But since it is a rarity these days I was pleasantly entertained and informed by this.  Not too shabby.

TONGUE PARTY, “Looking For a Painful Death”
I don’t know how this band gets their tone but it’s so ridiculously gnarly that listening to it is like trying to walk through a wall made of slimy bees.  Yeah, that’s my analogy for the day.  Also, this band is named ‘Tongue Party’.  Let all this grossness seep into you and then you might be ready for the new full length from these Midwest garbage dwellers.  Lots of fuzzy, beefy, ugly riffs abound here, which stop and start on a dime while blasting between unbridled noise rock Valhalla and revved up speedy hardcore-thrash.  They did a split not too long ago with USA Nails (another amazing band that I’d just like plug as a sidebar) and that was my first introduction, and they kind of stole the show.  This record just comes full force tenfold from that and I’m pleased as punch that they sound as weird and ugly as they do. This record contains a song called “I Can Shit Anywhere”.  I respect their commitment to form.  Well done.  (Learning Curve Records)

YOB, “Our Raw Heart”
Yob has been an institution in Oregon, and in the doom/sludge scene, for over 20 years.  I had no clue they had been around that long.  I also had no idea this was their eighth album.  I’ve hardly listened to any of their other albums, but checking out this behemoth of a record (and believe me, it’s a task at 73 minutes, I had to break it up into two days of listening to get through it all) is a varied affair.  There is crushing heaviness, and slow atmospheric passages filled with melody and sung vocals.  But just as those parts come and go the doom that I’m sure long time listeners love is ever-present.  My understanding is that this is a sort of different record for Yob and, to me, that difference is song to song.  Some of it almost feels like different recording sessions even.  “The Screen” is easily one of the meanest and heaviest songs I’m sure I’ll hear all year.  And then the title track (which closes out the record on a mighty note) is big and lush and full of huge melodies as vast and scenic as the Columbia River gorge of the members home state.  I’m not sure what to make of it all as there’s a great variety throughout the record, and while it lacks a bit of consistency throughout, it certainly showcases what Yob is capable of on many levels.  (Relapse)  

Monday, May 28, 2018


NULL, from Birmingham, AL, will be releasing their second LP entitled “Act Of Love” this summer on Hex Records.
Prior to the record coming out they will embark on a short tour with Young Widows.
Go see them on the following dates:

June 12 - Asheville @ Mothlight**
June 13 - Pittsburgh @ Howlers**
June 15 - Brooklyn @ Saint Vitus
June 16 - DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel
June 17 - Richmond @ Strange Matter
June 18 - Carrboro @ Cat’s Craddle
June 19 - Atlanta @ The Earl
June 20 - Birmingham @ The Nick
June 21 - Louisville @ Zanzabar

** = Null only 
 You can hear some of NULL’s previous recordings here:

More info to come soon.....

Saturday, May 26, 2018


Emerging from the shadows (or just busy playing in most of the members other awesome band, Coming Down) the hunks in LIKE WOLVES will come out from the rocks they reside under to play a show in Rochester in July.  More info can be obtained here:
To celebrate this occasion you can grab their self-titled LP for $8 this week in the webby-store.  Get crackin':

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Um, so 2018 has been awesome so far.  So much good music has come out already and it's not even halfway through the year.  I realize I had previously mentioned I was planning on slowing down the review stuff, but honestly there's a lot I want to write about and I think this might be the biggest batch this year so far.
But just writing up review stuff is not all that I aim to use this space for.  I assure you, within the next couple weeks there will be some awesome label news.  So just letting you all know to stay tuned.
In the meantime, check the stuff out here and get mesmerized at all the cool music happening now.

The duo of Bob Gorham (Blood Sun Circle, Engineer) and Jon Davis (Difficult, Night Owls, Another Breath) have worked together on a variety of projects, including Broken Spirit, that have often involved going off to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, getting tanked, and writing lonesome campfire songs that have the weight of 100 suns.  They probably also wrestle bears and survive off of eating coyotes who might get brave and wander within 200 yards of these guys, but that’s just speculation.  Who knows what really goes on out there in the woods.  So going into their latest collaboration I thought it might just be more of that, but under a different moniker.  However, while this music sounds sparse and lonesome most of the time it has a far more cinematic, movie score quality to it.  I don’t listen to heck of a lot of soundtracks, but if I had to make any sort of comparison it would be similar to the music that went a long with “There Will Be Blood”.  That’s the best I got.  Overall it’s quiet and disarming, the hint of something sinister going on deep underneath, and primarily instrumental, save for one track where they are shouting like some combination of a chain gang’s work song and an ancient ritual being conducted in a cave.  It’s weird and it’s pretty cool.  It’s certainly a departure from the music these guys usually create with their other bands.  (Drops Of Us)

They released a demo a little while ago, got kind of quiet, and now have come back swinging with this excellent new EP of songs heavily informed by rocking punk in the style of Swiz, Seaweed, Give, with hints of post-punk melody akin to Echo and the Bunnymen or other late 80’s DC hardcore.  Rochester’s Coming Down is basically most of hometown stalwarts Like Wolves, but with vocalist Rory Van Grol (Achilles, Soul Control, Standfast, How We Are) handling the mic.  It makes for a good mix of excellent people making some exceptional music.  I can’t describe how much joy I feel knowing that long time friends and creative types continue to make great music in different permutations, it keeps this whole thing going round and round.  All six songs on this are quite wonderful, but I think my favorite track might be “Exhausted”, as it combines some great catchy riffs with a perfect amount of aggression and good sing-alongs- “Trying to understand, your point of view!”  And check out that great cover art- it looks like something that would have come out on Cruz Records or Sub Pop in 1991 meets Keith Haring subway tag. (Sore Ear Collective)

GLOOP, “The Tourist” CD
Gloop consists of members of Rhin, another band championed via review on this site, and they pine a similar territory, albeit with a little less distortion and less thick riffs.  Both bands love the noise rock cesspool of filthy rock, however Gloop aim a bit more in a Hot Snakes meets early Nirvana fashion, but weirder and faster.  I’m perfectly OK with this and welcome their wild clatter.  Eight songs fly right by and wrap up quicker than you can rip the sleeves off a flannel shirt.  A good soundtrack for the next time you have a hissy fit.  (GrimoireRecords)

GONER, “goner.” EP
From out of the blue comes this new Syracuse band that immediately sounds like they have their business together and are ready to straight up murder you.  I’m getting a fairly strong Cult Leader vibe here, except with way more blast beats.  So get in that frame of mind of very metallic hardcore with lots of noisy, off-kilter parts and furious blasting.  It’s a pretty damn good introduction that ought to melt your skin right off of your skull.  The track arrangement really makes you think there’s only three songs given “Momentary Clarity”s rather epic ending and then, oh shit, here’s another song!  Add some subtle noise parts as segues and other violent tendencies and you got yourself a heck of a demo.  (self-released)

HEADS, “Collider”
I feel like between this German groups first LP and this new one a big change happened, but maybe I’m wrong.  I feel like their older stuff may have been more upbeat and playing it a bit loose and somewhat rowdy.  However, “Collider” is more serious, a weighty tome rife with huge sounds and calculated execution.  Imagine the slow, deliberate lurch and morose heaviness of Young Widows on their “In and Out Of Youth and Lightness” LP mixed with the bright, shimmering post-hardcore rock of Shiner/The Life and Times.  It’s less chaotic than I thought it might be, but it’s a welcome listen for sure.  I’m really enjoying it, in particular the lead single “Urges”, the almost industrial guitar grating of “Mannequin”, and the unexpected (but very welcome) bluesy textures added by a saxophone at the close of the epic swell in the final track “Youth”.  I really enjoy what this band brings to the table.  It takes some patience for each song to unravel and build, but the payoff is worth it.  (Corpse Flower Records)

THE HIRS COLLECTIVE, “Friends, Lovers, Favorites”
I didn’t know too much about this band for a long time.  I’d heard their name thrown around a bit and knew they were well-known within the trans/punk/DIY community, but I had no idea what they sounded like.  I really was unprepared for how fucking vicious this sounds.  Although this record abounds with numerous guests (hence ‘collective’) it seems the bulk of the songs are performed by the vocalist, drummer, and a guitarist with a fuckton of amps and cabs belting out 30 second blasts of grind, powerviolence, and monstrous metallic breakdowns.  In that sense it’s sort of low-hanging fruit to lose your damn mind to.  On another level, I’m personally not used to bands identifying as trans to have an interest in creating music this pissed off.  The closest I’ve experienced is G.L.O.S.S. and they did not trifle with these sorts of metallic barrages against sanity.  This is straight up revenge sort of music, taking that feeling of disempowerment, insecurity, oppression, and helplessness and turning it all into blistering rage.  So yeah, not only does this record have about 20 new songs, it also includes the “You Can’t Kill Us” EP, and- savor this because I will likely never utter these words again- some remixes that are not half bad.  They actually come off as cool experiments that completely transform the song instead of just shuffle around bits and pieces with a techno backdrop.  So kudos on that.  Also, this is one fancy-ass looking record.  It’s worth your time (since it takes all of about 25 minutes to digest all 35 or so songs here.  (Get Better Records/ SRA Records)

There’s no information on this record whatsoever.  No band names, no release info, no song titles, no credits, not even anything on the center labels of the actual record.  It’s just Thou on one side and HIRS on the other doing a bunch of Nirvana covers.  And, naturally, doing them well.  At this point Thou have done kind of a lot of covers and I’m almost surprised that they haven’t repeated themselves on this collection.  But you get the best out of both bands and if you have enjoyed this stuff in the past there’s no reason not to enjoy it now.  While there is no information anywhere on this record the cover art does allude to what’s in store, kind of (a heart-shaped box?).  I’m going to guess not many of these were made and they’re probably going to be rather difficult to find?  (Get Better Records)

QUICKSAND, “Triptych Continuum”
Record Store Day, in the last few years, is usually a rather dull affair with diminishing returns.  However, the idea of Quicksand dropping a 12” of B-sides from their most recent LP as a RSD release is reason enough to deal with the crowds. Fortunately, this year I found a store with no dumb lines and more than enough copies to go around.  Opening track “Multiverse” is a great addition to the new stuff and would have fit nicely on “Interiors”.  It’s got a great main riff and a great melodic chorus, like any good Quicksand song.  Then you get a quick little interlude, and the last track “Spoken Through Clouds”.  That song I can see why they left off the LP, because while it’s mostly enjoyable it sort of lacks a cohesive structure and then just sort of ends abruptly.  Bonus fun:  the B-side of this 12” is etched with a cool design.  Quicksand completists take note.  (Epitaph)

RED HARE, “Little Acts Of Destruction”
I’ve been waiting for this.  Ever since this group released their first LP my immediate reaction was, ‘when do I get more?’  As I grow older I become more enamored with musicians and bands that are older than I am who can continually conjure creativity in an exhilarating and refreshing way, and not phoning it in, because I hope to also be able to be at least a tenth as creative in my own way when I reach their age.  The people in Red Hare do just that.  Jason Farrell is seemingly an endless wellspring of incredible riffs and melodies.  Drummer Joe Gorelick compliments his playing perfectly, maybe a little less gonzo/off-the-rails than he was on the first LP, but equally as powerful and inventive.  Vocalist Shawn Brown continues to have commanding presence and I feel many of these songs contain some of the strongest, most poignant and well thought-out lyrics he has written.  Bassist Dave Eight completes the Swiz/Sweetbelly Freakdown triad, which most of Red Hare is culled from, with his lean delivery.  All these characters have spent a long time playing together and are completely tuned into one another to create a very distinctive style that combines the best of Revolution Summer-era DC hardcore, and the more rock n’ roll upbeat energy of 90’s Dischord bands.  But comparisons are mostly useless because eventually references primarily lead back to the band members.  No one plays quite like Jason Farrell.  No one sings like Shawn Brown.  It’s been a few years since “Nites Of Midnite”, which only gave listeners 8 songs.  This is a solid 14 tracks, none of which feel dull, or just shoehorning in to make for a longer record.  It all feels vital and welcome, from the aggressive thrust of “Edit the Family” to the bass-driven drive of “Foley Artist”, the stop-start stutter rapid delivery of the title track, to the super catchy feel-good nostalgia trip of “Take a Walk”.  Red Hare really nailed it once again and I couldn’t be happier.  (Dischord/Hellfire)

YOUNG WIDOWS, “Decayed:  10 Years Of Cities, Wounds, Lightness, and Pain”
Just to be clear, this is not a new Young Widows LP in the direct sense (however, just putting this out there to the band- PLEASE MAKE A NEW LP).  It’s a collection of all their singles, B-sides, and assorted ephemera they have released in their existence as a band that did not make it onto any of their official full lengths.  Since I fucking love this band I already have pretty much all of this stuff.  The songs from the five various split 7”s they did are all on here, as well as a couple stand-alone singles and comp appearances make it on to the record.  Finally, there are several songs that never made it onto anything else, so with that you get around 4 never-released-elsewhere songs.  That should probably be worth the price of admission alone if the very excellent cover art doesn’t get you first.  Again, while I have most of this material on other formats already I would still recommend this to fans of the band because some of these B-sides are very strong material for the band.  “Long Live the New Weight” might be one of my personal favorites from the band, as it is the most brooding, mysterious, and interesting songs the band has done.  I’m surprised it never went onto an official full length.  Also, the original recording of “Swamped and Agitated” is quite wonderful as well, since once again, it is one of the best songs the band ever wrote and what’s better than one version of a great song (it’s ‘two’, that’s the answer).  So, yes, this is for completist nerds.  But I think it’s also great to pick up if you’re a casual fan of the group as well.  (Temporary Residence) 

Thursday, April 12, 2018


"Back, caught you looking for the same thing, it's a new thing- check out this I bring"  No, it's not a Public Enemy song, it's a handful of some excellent new records springing forth in this most excellent of Springs!  Contained within are some returns from veteran acts, as well as a few new bucks.  I have to constantly check myself to ensure that I do not simply cater to bands from my youth making their unwelcome comebacks, but give a positive nod to the endless sea of new music making the rounds as well.  I am constantly checking out new music so I feel like I'm good.  And I think, all fanboy gushing aside, that some bands that I have enjoyed for the last 15-25 years are still making (or returning to making) worthwhile contributions to music on the whole.  So with that being said, here's what's up:

BREEDERS, THE, “All Nerve”
I have missed out on the other Breeders reunion records that have been released in the last few years for whatever reason.  I have no good excuse for this.  However, this record here is the first to feature the complete lineup from the fan-favorite “Last Splash”, so I was expecting good things.  At first I was thinking it would be an upbeat burst of catchy indie rock with a playful aggressiveness based off the first single “Wait In the Car”, as well as my preconceived notions of what a “Last Splash” lineup would produce.  But “All Nerve” is mostly a breezy and lackadaisical affair, complete with the Deal sisters particular style of songwriting- soothing vocals, strangely melodic riffs that sound like what I imagine smoking a bit too much dope and having a pretty good buzz going from a few too many cans out of the 12 pack feels like.  At first listen was lukewarm to it.  But after a couple more spins it really revealed itself to me as a pretty excellent record.  “Spacewoman” meanders through hazy weekends of the summer, not having a care in the world, sleepy yet full of vigor.  “Walking With a Killer” has all the subtlety and soft melody of a Roy Orbison song, yet the lyrics hint at a sinister tension (and scary subject matter) that transform it into a song you feel guilty for humming along to.  “Blues At the Acropolis” is another excellent Breeders closing track, slow and steady, kind of epic in a not-trying-to-be-epic sort of way.  But there are the upbeat songs too, like the aforementioned “Wait In the Car”, as well as “Archangel’s Thunderbird”, a cover by 70’s Krautrock group Amon Duul.  The original sounds so much like a Breeders song it makes sense for them to do it in their own way, infusing it’s own psychedelic/slacker/grunge bit amongst the reverb-y vocals.  Honestly, I had no idea it was a cover and immediately thought of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump In the Fire” (just look up the “Goodfellas” soundtrack) as a point of reference for the song.  OK, enough obscure sub-referencing.  It’s a Breeders record.  It’s fuggin’ good.  Get it and enjoy a little slice of off-beat heaven.  (4AD)

HOT SNAKES, “Jericho Sirens”
As a creative type of person that I am I am completely envious of people such as John Reis and Rick Froberg, who both seem to be an endless well of ideas, art, and songs that are so plentiful in scope and are always quality.  How many albums did Rocket From the Crypt release?  How influential are those two Jehu records?  How perfectly simple, yet totally rocking, were those three Obits LPs?  Let’s not even mention the plethora of side projects and one-offs Reis has spat out in the last 20 years.  And now, over 10 years since the last Hot Snakes record, comes their fourth long player and it’s some of the best material they have ever done.  I’d say, on the whole, it feels a bit more aggressive than previous output, but that garage punk rock n’ roll they do so well is in full effect and recorded in such a way that adds an extra whallop to the 10 new songs they have blessed us with.  It’s at once kind of dark and mean, and also a fun blitzkrieg of a ride through the respective members brains.  It’s a pretty damn near perfect record from a band that I’m very happy to see active once again.  The only thing missing is the trademark art of Rick Froberg, but I’ll settle for a bitchin’ reflective cover featuring a photo of bassist Gar Wood catching a killer wave.  (Sub Pop)

MONOLITH, “Two Wolves”
While I guarantee that there has got to be at least three other bands currently existing with the name Monolith (their bandcamp address is ‘monolith8’, just FYI), who likely play, as one might expect, glacially slow and heavy sludgy doom I’ll give this one- located in the Ithaca, NY region- points for doing what they do considerably well.  Yes, they cover that Neurosis/Isis style of heavy that has been done so many times by so many bands, and I really thought that whole thing was kind of done with at least 6 or 7 years ago.  But hey (upstate) Monolith carries the torch without concern for who is doing what, where, or with the same name.  They are all exceptional musicians and remind me more of Isis, circa “Mosquito Control”/”Red Sea” more than anything with their relentless crush and bleak, abrasive sledgehammering of sludge.  The band started as the studio project of one of the members, but grew into a full band and this is their first output with all members contributing.  Hats off to them committing to their method of destruction, regardless of trends. (self-released)

This came out a bit ago, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t show it some love.  Once again, the Birmigham, AL posse in Null brings forth that sort of meditative, yet thunderously massive sound they have been chipping away at as it becomes this masterpiece of sonic perfection.  Their side of this split contains a single, seven minute song, “Pedestrian”, that works in their brand of repetitious mantra and accompanying sung vocals.  It continues what the band has been doing so well thus far, and I look forward to anything and everything they do going forth.
The B-side is Nashville’s Husband Stitch, the meaning behind the name being quite uncomfortable and I’ll leave it to you to look up on your own.  They offer two songs, both quite incredible in their own right, yet pretty far removed from their 7” partners.  “Snowflake” reminds me of newer noiseniks like Plaque Marks with a slight garage-y feel.  “Sincere Ignorance” could be a B-side from Jesus Lizard “Down”, with it’s driving bass, hopping drum beat, and sharp guitar jabbings.  Add to it snarky/pissy vocals last seen exiting an L7 record back in 1993, and I mean that as a good thing.  Two different bands, both making exquisite racket.  (WarCrimes Records)

WILL HAVEN, “Muerte”
I have always been a pretty big Will Haven fan.  They have been around for a good 20 years and have turned out a handful of great albums full of Fudge Tunnel-meets-Neurosis, wrapped in a shiny Deftones gloss.  I’m not sure how anyone who has never heard this band may take that, but that’s what I’m picking up with what this band has excelled at for ages.  However, most of their records are kind of same-y to me, with the exception of “Carpe Diem”.  For whatever reason, that one will always stand out to me as the best.  I will listen to it on repeat over and over again and never get sick of it.  It’s a fucking incredible record and it sits in the middle of their catalog, but I keep coming back to it some 18 or so years later.  So on “Muerte”, which the band has hinted at as being perhaps their final endeavor there is one thing that has changed with this group and that is how they have progressively made their songs slower, sludgier, uglier, and taking their time.  Sure, they have pretty much always kept songs at a moderate pace (with a few exceptionally upbeat songs scattered over the years), melding their sludgy tendencies with heavy rhythms and groove.  But that Neurosis ethic has appeared to have more of a hold on their sound these days as the band will make you wait.  They’re taking their time damnit because they can.  They’ve been at this 20 years, they can do whatever they feel like.  So I guess best to go out in their own terms right?  This is not a bad way.  (Minus Head Records)

WRONG, “Feel Great”
To me, one of the most exciting recent bands these days is Wrong.  I mean, they appeal to most things I enjoy in heavy music- insane live energy, clever dynamics, gross amounts of feedback and distortion, and yeah, they absolutely love Helmet.  Some people dislike this band for how closely they resemble Helmet, but I’m all for it because they do it so damn well.  However, for those who are of the ‘dislike’ camp I’d encourage them to give this band’s second long player a try.  The guys in Wrong started out in another band that was extremely technical and those roots are a bit more apparent on “Feel Great” where they are throwing out some intricate changes, stop-on-a-dime transitions, and some unexpected melody to go with their iron slab riffs of musical demolition.  And for us lovers of things 90’s-era, Wrong still hit the spot.  These are clearly musicians who can pretty much play anything they set their minds to, and what it seems they are getting a better handle on (at least in a few songs here) is the best trick that Helmet had in their canon- making very complicated songs sound simple; the easy riff driven by a semi-elusive 5/6 beat, the stop-start timing…  Wrong pulls it off on the menacingly slow title track and then right after that the jump-start melodic (and very cleverly written) catchiness of “Upgrade”.  They’re two totally different songs, but are the best on the entire record.  They also mess around with some studio tricks with the strange two minutes of feedback closing out “Zero Cool”, as well the clanging drum parade opening and closing “Anaerobic”.  It certainly feels that Wrong are stretching their wings a little bit here and coming into their own as well.  They really can do no…  ah shit, caught myself in a cliche’.  (Relapse)

Sunday, April 8, 2018


It's been a quiet Winter around here, and elsewhere....  but things are starting to happen, as is common with Spring!
Some bands we don't hear from all that often are going to be playing shows after a long absence!
First off, the fellas in BLEAK will be playing their first show in over a year as a benefit for a local Syracuse friend.  BLEAK went on hiatus after their guitarist TJ had some seemingly insurmountable health issues.  Good news is he has mostly recovered, which is great news!  So maybe we will see them play out every now and again?  One can only hope.  At least for now we get a show out of them on April 15th in Syracuse.
Check the link for info:

Next, I will be making a visit back to Syracuse at the end of April and while there I'll be doing a show with DIALYSIS!  It will be our first show in 6 months and ought to be chock full of ridiculousness, furious grinding, and all-out hijinks...  or three sad old men farting our way through 'songs'.  You decide on April 29th.  Info below:

Finally, the dudes in PSYCHIC TEENS have not been playing as often as they put some focus into their alter-ego band Ex-Maid (which is pretty dang good if you ask me).  But they will reconvene as the gloomy force of nature known as Psychic Teens when they play this banger of a lineup in Philly on April 29th:

More news on fun things to come.  Also, Portland is great thus far.  I highly recommend visiting if you've never been.

Monday, February 26, 2018


Oh, is it 2018 already?  Oh, it's already nearly March you say?  No kidding.  How about that.  For all three of you who are avid readers of this stuff you will notice I have not added anything since late December.  It's not like I've been one bit lazy (however, I did consider the thought of just not doing reviews anymore).  I have been getting settled in my new home in Portland, OR, getting acquainted with a new job that takes a good deal of time, eating waaaay too much awesome vegan food, seeing an endless stream of awesome bands as they pass through town, and learning how to do letterpressing (if you check the Hex webstore you'll currently see three separate poster projects that I am selling HERE ).  And, as always, working to get the records from the label out to anyone who wants them.  So your boy keeps active, OK?
However, the year is already ripe with great music and it's not even Spring yet.
ALSO, now that I'm, like, a full-on resident out here, I thought it would be apt to feature a couple local bands who just released great new records and get out-of-towners interested in them.
Finally, I'm trying a new feature with these reviews by adding a song from each record reviewed so you can listen and read at the same time!  I know, super futuristic.  Give it a try.

BUGG, s/t
I’m completely aware that it’s a big trend for musicians and bands to recall 90’s music in various forms these days. And since my formative teenage years were spent within that decade, absorbing incredible sounds in my highly impressionable mind that formed a large part of the foundation that makes up my personal musical landscape, I have no problem with current bands doing their best to rehash that era.  Incredibly, many new bands have done a pretty good job of it, and Bugg is one of them.  Seemingly the project of primarily one songwriter Bugg kind of has a sort of Breeders feel (maybe it’s because their logo looks just like theirs), mixed with a sort of simplified and bouncy Dinosaur Jr vibe (minus the soaring guitar solos).  At times it ventures off into some Alternative Nation territory (yes, my age is showing) that was even somewhat embarrassing to listen to when it was new.  However, when Bugg are on the more aggressive side of their game it’s pretty excellent.  (PopWig)

I feel like the collective umbrella of Pygmy Lush extends into about a thousand other bands and projects and making any attempt to try and figure them all out is an exercise in futility.  One such offshoot of that group is Governess, which has a sort of middle-of-the-road upbeat indie feel for the most part.  It’s nothing that blows my hair back, but does at times have parts that remind me of the more mid-tempo bits of Pygmy Lush, as well as a little of Creepoid too.  There’s a touch of ethereal soothing haze to their sound, which is often broken up by the more straightforward parts.  I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to describe this further because it lacks distinction to set it apart.  It neither offends or inspires, it just kind of is what it is.  The ultra-plain simplistic cover art doesn’t help.  It’s music you could listen to if you want, ya know?  (Radical Empathy/ One Percent Press)

In their relatively short time as a band Iron Reagan has had quite a prolific output, and to be completely honest, this is the first time I’ve really given them a thorough listen.  And to be 110% honest, I’m hard pressed to really see a big difference between this and Municipal Waste.  OK, so the Waste has more ripping guitar solos and IR tends to be a little more on the ‘keep it fast and simple, stupid’ end of hardcore.  But where an unbridled love for thrash runs through each members DNA it’s difficult to get away from that which ultimately defines them as people.  Not like that’s a bad thing.  IR do what they do well and you’re already circle-pitting like a maniac and not even reading. Five songs on their side and…  quit shoving asshole, I just came to watch, OK?  Gatecreeper are (gets punched in the face), ow…  fuck…  a more traditional death metal band that (gets foot stomped on, beer poured on my back), also seems to be getting the masses riled up lately…  SHIT! With a sound that is nothing new, but done with the idea of paying homage to the greats and (smelly unwashed hair gets whipped in my face)…  gross… and implores the crowd to mosh, and…  fuck, does anyone in this place own a t-shirt that isn’t black?!  OK, I’m moving to the back. Three rippers on their end to complete this split. (Relapse)

They have kind of an odd name, but the goods delivered by this Portland-area band on their first full length are nothing short of gold.  Imagine the raspy vocals of Nirvana at their most somber set against some fever dream mash up of The Jesus Lizard, Unwound, and Drive Like Jehu in some strange kind of bummer mode.  I’m definitely hooked.  Getting an exact read on this band is difficult though as their songwriting process flows in a pretty strange sort of way.  There’s an occasional hook (the bass shot that opens this whole record is pretty memorable), but songs feel like they’re built more around peculiar guitar stabs, the hoarse nature of the vocals, and ebb and flow between aggressive and strange.  It’s a record that is immediately satisfying upon first listen, but you don’t know why really.  It’s going to take a few more listens at least to really unwrap how good this record is.  It’s also the band’s debut and one of the more interesting listens I’m sure I’ll be revisiting a lot this year.  (Self-Sabotage Records)

SHAME, “Songs Of Praise”
Man, people in England are just miserable, aren’t they?  Years ago, when I visited there everyone was so damn polite.  I imagine they’re just hiding all their gloominess under a cordial veneer.  London’s Shame are one such band of cheery-looking young lads who are just full of spite.  They blend the brightest and catchiest aspects of excellent post-punk and doses of Brit-pop and add snarky, shouted vocals on top of it to make for a hell of an excellent debut record.  At times repetitive and catchy like Gang Of 4, at times bluesy, sleazy, and sinister like The Fall, and at other times just wildly catchy and anthemic in the way that The Clash were able to conjure.  It’s kind of a nice mix of all those elements, which makes for music that doesn’t take a college degree to get into, but is also simply a product of great songwriting and a healthy dose of angst.  Also, if you happen to get the opportunity to see them live you must do it, as it’s one of the wildest times you will experience.  (Dead Oceans)

TURNSTILE, “Time and Space”
There’s a real conundrum at work here because Turnstile are a band associated with being really huge amongst a much younger crowd.  And there is that saying about ‘never trust anyone over 30’.  Well, I’m 40 years old and I fully endorse the shit out of this band.  So either this band has jumped the shark because old farts like me are all over this, or I’m just apparently hip to what’s cool these days.  Where is the truth?!  All that aside, there is no denying the massive amount of energy this band has, and how wild they can get live.  Everyone can agree on that.  Not everyone is pleased with the stylistic shift they have undergone from Madball clones to something else.  That couldn’t be more obvious on “Time and Space”, where they are making every attempt to keep that catchy and raw, live energy, but try out all sorts of other things.  The album starts off with “Real Thing”, an excellent opener if I’ve ever heard one that works around a grooving post-hardcore rhythm and ends up as a solid anthem.  Most of the other songs go fast, yet still somehow retain that groove.  I’ve started comparing this group to a modern day Bad Brains and I fully stand by it (even the re-recording of “Come Back For More” adds the sort of cowbell thing in the same fashion as “Pay To Cum”).  But you will hear them adding elements like a piano part in “High Pressure” that Andrew W.K. would be proud of, some mid-90’s breakdown and vocals on “Can’t Get Away” that sound like they were culled straight from some lost Snapcase record, and some more melodic vocals taking center stage in “Moon” (also featuring back ups by Sheer Mag’s Tina Halladay).  Don’t get too flustered though, those seeking the slow heavy parts will find them scattered at various points on the record without feeling like they were shoehorned in just to appease long time admirers.  To me, this is one of the most exciting bands flying the hardcore banner.  It’s fun, there is boundless energy, and they keep it fresh.  I say good on them, I wish them the best.  Now, leave me be so I can go back to yelling at kids to stay off my lawn.  (Roadrunner)

UNWELCOME GUESTS, “Anything You Want”
Buffalo stalwarts who have been a local fixture for a number of years now release their latest LP, again full of made-for-Gainesville Fest rockers, heavy on the grown-up rock, with some slight nods to punk and The Replacements.  I wasn’t aware that they were still a band, but then again I’m not too in the loop of local Buffalo indie bands.  There’s nothing totally mind-blowing going on here, but these are rock lifers playing earnest music and there’s no shame in that.  This comes with a very nice insert/poster, as in, some quality control went into making this.  (Dirt CultRecords)

While I am a fan of Windhand I feel like they’re writing the same song over and over.  I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way because it’s a good song, but sometimes a little variety goes a long way.  This opening track on their side of this split is strongly reminiscent of the opening on their debut full length, which was amazing.  Their next LP sort of missed the mark though in my opinion, so it’s nice to see them getting their groove back on this split, even if it does sound a little too close to their debut.  Nonetheless, expect quality doomy sludge with more than a hint of Sabbath and Electric Wizard and excellent, soaring vocals.  Satan’s Satyrs (who share members with Electric Wizard) are more upbeat on their side of this split with straight up 70’s biker rock, though I’ll say the recording doesn’t quite lend itself to that sleazy analog feel that goes well with the sort of evil rock n’ roll their aiming for.  A little work to nail it down is in order.  I’ll take this split for the Windhand side.  (Relapse)

Local Portland trio Year Of the Coyote unveils their first full length and it is rife with an uncompromising onslaught of non-stop grinding heaviness.  My first thought was that it has qualities similar to Coalesce’s “Give Them Rope” in that it never gives you a chance to catch your breath, it’s just relentless and suffocating in it’s audio density.  However, a couple more listens and it definitely recalls my hometown brethren in Engineer, in particular their early material.  The vocals have that consistent guttural scream and the avalanche of riffs that the defunct Syracuse wrecking crew were known for are front and center here, whether this band is aware of that or not.  Nevertheless, in a town that sort of typifies that laid-back Northwest attitude there is a band fully attempting to significantly harsh your mellow and I’m alright with that.  (self-released)