So here's something different. No reviews, no interviews, no label news. I just thought it would be fun to put up some band t-shirts (also not label related). I know there are sites dedicated to just old punk t-shirts and stuff, but, ya know, I have a bunch of them and I may as well throw something up about them. Let me be the first to state that I am hardly a fashion-conscious person. I may be one of the least fashion-conscious people ever. I have one pair of jeans that I think 'look good'. I've worn the same outfit for the last 15 or so years pretty much- band t-shirt and jeans. If it's cold out it becomes band t-shirt, jeans, flannel. So ya know, pretty boring. But functional. So anyways, here's a bunch of neat shirts I have:
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Honestly, not too much new stuff has made it's way into my earholes in the last month or so. Call it the Winter doldrums, but not much is exciting me as of late. I know all that will change with the passing of the year, but for right now it's a little bit of this, a bit of that, and mostly older stuff that is always tried a true with me. Blah, blah, blah..... but hey, there is some good stuff out there that's pretty new. Read on mutants.
HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY, “Daughters Of Eve”
Hardcore kids aren’t necessarily born hardcore kids. They generally start with some other genre that leads them into hardcore. The ones musically inclined will start bands that sound like hardcore bands. But eventually they start going back to their roots and incorporating those sounds into their music. At times it produces disastrous results because they can’t quite get the hardcore out of their intended roots-ripping. All the members of How To Disappear Completely have pretty much completely shed any hardcore referencing at this point and full on made a Deftones tribute record (you thought I was going to say Radiohead tribute, weren’t you?). From the guitar tones, to the ethereal, whisper-y vocals, to the slightly-teetering-on-nu-metal vibe it’s pretty much all there. And honestly, it’s a pretty good stab at the style. Strong points- lots of good riffs, nice recording, good use of effects/texture. Weak points- the sung/whispered vocals sound a lot better than the metal/screaming vocals, some of these songs go on way longer than they need to. (self-released)
PIGS, “Gaffe” 10”
Their last full length was awesome, so I’m little bummed that we only get three songs here. Regardless, Pigs put forth three of their best, as well as catchiest (if bottom-feeding noise rock can be ‘catchy’), songs on this slab of vinyl. Unsane bassist Dave Curran takes the lead on vocals and guitar, while studio guru Andrew Schnieder mans the two-ton bass. The result is akin to what the Unsane have been laying down for years now, though I’d say Curran’s scraping bark is more inviting…. like an ex-con giving out poisoned lollipops at a carnival, and the overall feel of the songs is a bit more cheerful, perhaps? I always think of Unsane stuff as being so stressed-out and hateful. Pigs have the same trademark tones and sounds, but do so in a way that is a little more fun. Gotta have some sunshine to go with the darkness, ya know? (Solar Flare)
PLAUGE MASK, “The Frailty Of Human Existence”
I feel like this local band has been crafting their stuff for ages and are now just getting around to a proper release. Chalk it up to adult responsibilities getting in the way of living the band life… damn that nasty business. Anyways, what I feel this band lacks a bit in songwriting dynamic, they more than make up for in some seriously excellent tones. They have an excellent sludgy stoner sound dialed in perfectly, but I feel like some of these tunes could use a bit more depth to them. Riff sniffers will rejoice, as will those who love a neat package. This is, by far, one of the coolest looking packages any band around these parts has come up with. It’s got some fold-over screenprinted deal that opens to reveal a giant bug, and under that a circular cardstock CD holder. And then you get a lyric sheet that’s all stained and burnt around the edges like some old pirate treasure map. Cool. (self-released)
SECRET SMOKER, “Terminal Architecture” 12”
Not great, not bad, but a little tepid for my tastes. Still, if the sounds of bands re-creating hectic indie-emo (think Amber Inn, Native Nod, early 90’s Ebullition style stuff) is your thing than I guess this will hit the spot. I personally have always had a very limited taste for bands of this nature, honing in on a select few that I find pretty entertaining. And to give a positive note I suppose I’d much rather hear a band playing this style of emo than whatever bastardized shit it’s referred to now. Does that go without saying? (Adagio)
SELF DEFENSE FAMILY, “Try Me”
A lot of attention has been paid to the new full length from ever-transforming musical collective Self Defense Family. It’s an interesting concept to dedicate a whole record to, and I appreciate their tenacity for pulling ideas out of left field. Musically, the B-side intrigues me more, at least the first few songs. “Aletta” is my favorite track on the record with it’s shimmering and fractured opening, into its big, expansive feel throughout the majority of the song. “Fear Of Poverty…” harkens closest to older material and remains mostly upbeat. “Weird Fingering” once again shows the bands love for Lungfish (as they tend to do from time to time), and I am not one to complain when a band can do a good homage to the Baltimore legends. But it kind of ends once “Dingo Fence” gets a little too repetitive for my tastes. I know in interviews Pat has stated how much he really likes repetition (to an almost annoying degree) in a song. Sure, that can be cool, but this song goes on for a good 10 minutes. I’ll take the first 3 minutes, thanks. The big repetition thing is also present on side A closer “Apport Birds”, and again, I’m not feeling the “pull of religion” line all that much after the first few times. But I will say the rest of the song nearly gets me teared up when I found out it was about when Pat’s dog died. Hearing the lyrics I framed it in the same way as if I were to lose m wife and how sad and lonely that would make me as well. Total tear-jerker. The interview tracks aren’t really doing it for me, but I get their purpose and I feel like it’s a story I’d rather read in a book than to hear on tape ya know? Regardless, each thing this band does is interesting to be sure. I don’t think it’s my favorite group of songs they’ve put forth, but most of it is pretty damn good. (Deathwish)
Some bands say they like Hum and Failure, but they can’t quite grasp it. Shore manage to do it quite well, and add in a hefty dose of Seaweed on top of it. So right there you have a combination of three awesome 90’s band elements that really fit quite well together. This is only two songs, but it makes for a nice introduction to what I see as a fairly kick ass band. Please continue. (Painter Man Records)
TEEN AGERS, “I Hate It”
A record does not bode well when my first thought when this started is ‘ this sounds like the Goo Goo Dolls covering Blink 182’. Thankfully things got a little better by track three, when there was some neat guitar riffery near the end of the song. Things sort of ebb and flow from there. I’m not going to say that any of this really is what I’m into, but I’ll say this band sounds better the faster they play, and they do that about half the time. The only other time I really found them doing something interesting was during the last song when it goes into a sort of murky post-hardcore section. Kind of a deviation from the rest of the record in a good way. (Anchorless Records)
YAUTJA, “Songs Of Descent”
I’m getting a pretty strong early- Mastodon feel from this. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Think very hectic and over-the-top drumming, knotty riffs collapsing down on you like an avalanche, and wild part changes that go from one destructive ballast to the next before you know it. They keep most of their songs fairly short, and I can always appreciate that. They do a great deal of weird stop-start bits, reminiscent of some of the Melvins weirder moments… also a great thing. (Forcefield Records)
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
This time it's literary (oK, there are some comics too... with words) only. Reading... it's FUN-damental. Even if there are fart jokes.
CYANIDE MILKSHAKE zine
I think discovering the comics of Liz Suburbia has been my favorite art-related thing in the last 6 months. It’s the perfect combination of punk, humor (both lowbrow and highbrow at once), and awesome art. Her style is very flowing, fun, and has an excellent sense of line. Each issue of this zine contains short stories about dogs getting into adventures, an ongoing saga of two punk lovers surviving a zombie apocalypse, humorous rants, sex, and lots of hilarious fake ads. Liz also has some great online-only comics on her site that are worth checking out. But these are most certainly worth your few measly dollars too. Get it. (Czap Books)
DO-IT-YOURSELF GUIDE TO FIGHTING THE BIG MOTHERFUCKIN’ SAD, by Adam Gnade
You know how we all have that aunt, or maybe some person you know from high school that you’re not sure why you’re friends with, on Facebook who consistently post those vague little inspirational affirmations with a picture of a field or something, along with something like “OMG so true!!!” in the caption? This is like an entire book full of those. This guy basically made a bunch of lists, all saying basically the same thing, about how to rise above when depression starts setting in, and remain productive. If it works for the author that’s cool. But if I want a pick-me-up I prefer to go to music I suppose. Interjected throughout the book, though, are various little stories that are about actual experience that I found far more interesting than the lists, and far more substantive as well. (Pioneers Press)
HARD FIFTY FARM #2, by Jessie Duke
OK, I didn’t catch the first one, so the story kind of picks up with a couple getting out of the West Coast and moving to semi-rural Kansas. I sort of like how the story jumps quickly from moving there, jump ahead a ways and she’s pregnant, jump ahead a couple more years and there’s kids and a husband possibly unhappy with how his life has turned out, jump ahead a bit more and a car crashes in front of their house and they help deal with it. The author does a nice job of bringing you up to speed without having to say much, and still putting the reader in the context of her life. Anyways, it’s a quick read. I wasn’t sure, at first, if this was just fiction until I saw some of the photos in the zine and realized it’s pretty autobiographical. (Punch Drunk Press)
HIP-HOP FAMILY TREE, by Ed Piskor
My first exposure to hip-hop was through some compilation LP my Dad brought home from the library sometime around 1983 or 1984 I guess. Hearing this cool music with personalities like MC Ricky D (later known as Slick Rick) and Doug E. Fresh filled my young mind with what music could be. Then around 1988 I became a fervent devotee of “Yo! MTV Raps”, the afternoon show that showcased hip-hop videos and hosted by characters such as Ed Lover, Dr. Dre (the East Coast one), and Fab Five Freddy… who I had no idea were so instrumental in hip-hop’s very early origins. From that point on I was a hip-hop junkie for the next several years. I still hold much of that music as influential and instrumental in my growth. So to see that a comic/graphic novel of the mid-70’s origins of hip-hop has been put together made me very excited. It’s a fantastic depiction of the mood of the era, with DJ’s creating beats and playing them in parks and house parties in the Bronx/Queens areas of NYC. The people who got this all started- DJ Cool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Hollywood, Russell Simmons, Kurtis Blow, and more- all show up and cross paths, battle each other in the parks and clubs. People like Fab Five Freddy, with connections to the graffiti and art scenes, introduced the music to art circles, and then into the punk and new wave scenes. I find it a fascinating chunk of history where so many big things were happening at the same time (graffiti, punk, rap, etc), that would have massive cultural impact upon the world. And to think so many of these players are still at it. This book drops off around 1981 and I believe a second book is in the works. I love the art style in here too, each page looking as if it were torn out of a comic from 1975. A must read/view for people interested in hip-hop history. (Fantagraphics)
JESUS LIZARD BOOK
All you reg mouth-breathers will get the dregs version of this book, but since I was a good boy Santa delivered me the ultra-fancy one that comes with a special 7” record signed by all the band members, as well as some wacky postcard drawn up by David Yow. So suck on that turdlings. Yeah, so if my obsession with this band couldn’t get geekier, they have a coffee table book now, simply entitled ‘Book’ (makes sense for a band that used four-letter words in the title of everything they ever did). It’s a couple hundred pages of various accounts from band members about who they are, how they came to be, as well as dozens of stories from fans, associates, tour buddies, and other band people about the musical juggernaut that was The Jesus Lizard. I personally enjoyed the bits about each album, how it was recorded, and bassist David Sims dissection of each song. I have to say though, I’m a little dismayed that he included no descriptions about the songs on “Down” because he hated that record so much. That, for me, was the introduction the JL, and stands as a record I very much enjoy from them. He also isn’t a big fan of “Liar”, which is my personal favorite in their catalog. But I digress. Hundreds of photos, flyers, a complete listing of every show they played (probably close to 1,000 in total), and other associated details of the band are included. Sure, it gets a little over loaded with stories of how great of a live band they were (that doesn’t even need to be said, it’s undisputed fact), but any story involving basically anything David Yow does is worth the price of the book…. and there’s plenty of those too. (Akashic)
NIGHT WATCH zine
A zine that promises ‘beer, boobs, and barf’ only registers 1 out of 3 in my interest zone. But primarily the makers of this publication focus on art of the strange, B-horror movie, tattoo art, and related strangeness. So it’s kind of an art zine. Juxtapoz of the lowbrow perhaps? Local detail-obsessed, obscurity-hound and tattoo slinger Mike Tommyrot draws up the cover of the latest issue and is interviewed (which tends to be worth the cover price alone as the man is wealth of useless/awesome sub-references), along with showcasing a great deal of his artwork. Other wild and wacky artists contribute pieces to the zine, some are excellent and funny, others not quite my taste. For some real fun, take a look at their tumblr page, lots of wacky shit all over that thing. (Night Watch)
I’m not sure I can accurately convey how ridiculous this zine is. So this guy, Will Laren, draws these sorts of random pictures of people, usually not very glamorously, and writes a bunch of absurd text above them. This goes on page after page. There’s no story, just an immediate situation that gets more ridiculous by the word. A man on a cell phone calling a bug supplier to deliver a million moths to eat the ‘poor people clothes’ off his body because he won the lottery and wants to buy new duds. An old man yelling at a young kid that he don’t know shit about stealing pies cooling on a windowsill because he had been doing it for years, got too greedy, and burned his hands down to stumps stealing molten bars of gold cooling off on the windowsill of Fort Knox. It really makes no sense and that’s the best part, and makes each page, each picture, and each bit of text the funniest shit I’ve read in a long time. (Slurricane)
Monday, January 27, 2014
As previously mentioned, Hex Records will be releasing the debut LP from Syracuse’s BLOOD SUN CIRCLE. The record is now mixed, mastered, and ready to be shipped off to press. Entitled, “Bloodiest/Sunniest” these 8 songs have been crafted and perfected by the band as they whiled away the fall and winter… and you can hear it in their music: stark, bitter, and still massive in scope. Consisting of the three Gorham brothers who made up most of Engineer (Hex Records, Black Market Activities) they used the gear shop they all own as a practice spot after hours to write these songs, and occasionally showcase them to audiences. Once ready, they then went to long time friend, and local audio guru Jason “Jocko” Randall at Moresound Studios to put it all on tape. The record ought to be out in May.
Track listing is as follows:
1.) Evil Hymn
2.) Escape Artist
3.) Blood Of My Blood
5.) Skull Twin
7.) The Grips
8.) The Calling
Hex Records will be releasing the debut 7” from Syracuse, NY grind/punk unit DIALYSIS. Big shocker. The goal of Dialysis is to write short, fast songs really quick. Some times they’re serious, some times they’re funny. Pretty much all of the time they rip though. Whitling down the standard rock band unit to just guitar, drums, and vocals Dialysis waste no time in getting to the point and doing so quickly. 11 songs (10 of which will appear on the record) were recorded in a single day at Moresound Studio with Jason “Jocko” Randall at the helm. The record is appropriately titled “Ludicrous Speed” and features awesome wraparound art from underground comics mastermind Shaky Kane (Bulletproof Coffin, 12 Ways To Die). Track listing is as follows:
1.) Grand Delusions
2.) The Void
3.) Wedge Of Hate, Carton Of Spite
4.) Population Smoker
5.) Sonic Euthanasia
6.) Back To the Stone Age
7.) Scum Defiler
8.) Nosebleed Section
9.) And now… the Beatings
10.) Tough Guys Always Lose
Two songs can be heard online HERE. The record ought to be out in May.
Friday, December 6, 2013
I present to you, the annual list. This is what I thought ruled in 2013. Disagree if you like, you're probably wrong.
I can’t think of a band that made such leaps and bounds creatively than this band and still remained thoroughly rocking with their second LP. It’s a highwater mark and I can’t wait to see what comes next. They throw a lot of different styles into their mix and the result is a sound that is completely their own. Are they post-hardcore? Stoner rock? Folksy jam-rock? A bit of all that and making every song sound like an anthem? Yeah, I guess? It’s just Restorations and that’s all that matters. Not only my favorite record this year, but closing track “Adventure Tortoise” is probably my favorite song of the year too. (Sideonedummy)
2.) RED HARE, “Nites Of Midnite”
Swiz strikes again with a new name. In the mid-90’s they reconvened as Sweetbelly Freakdown. Now it’s Red Hare. But I guess it is a new band since wild-armed drummer Joe Gorelick (Garden Variety) is manning the traps instead. Either way, the combination of guitarist Jason Farrells incredible sense of angst and melody colliding together, and Dave Brown’s one-of-a-kind gruff delivery will ALWAYS make for kick ass music. I think we all want to be able to be in our 40s and making music this vital and skate-worthy. (Dischord/Hellfire)
3.) IRON LUNG, “White Glove Test”
The dynamic duo in Iron Lung have once again gone above and beyond. They really sealed it for me with how sharp and menacing a recording they got with “Sexless/No Sex”. Now they’ve gone and made a double album- one with music, one with noise soundscapes, intended to be played together so they sync up to make harsh powerviolence industrial wastelands. It’s quite brilliant if I do say so myself, but I’m too busy smashing my face into a brick wall to the explosive nihilism going on here to get all highbrow about this. (Iron Lung Records)
4.) TILE, “You Had a Friend In Pennsylvania”
Never heard of them? I’m sure you haven’t. This fucker would have placed higher if this band weren’t a bunch of flakey weirdoes. Just think sludgy noise rock of the highest order. Simple face-mashing riffs and caustic venom-spitting vocals… the perfect combo of Pissed Jeans reckless swagger and Floor’s low-tuned onslaught. I’m upset that this band just doesn’t commit to full-on being in your face all the time, but I’m raging to every last song on this monster LP. (Limited Apparel)
5.) DRUG CHURCH, “Paul Walker” + “Party At Dead Mans…” 7”
Fuck it, they released the LP and 7” basically at the same time. It counts and they’re both vital. The 90’s dude in me is all over this like a cheap suit. Why? Because it replicates everything awesome about bands like Seaweed, Quicksand, Farside, and hell, even Fireside and gets vocalist Pat Kindlon’s snarky shit-eating cynicism to cancel out any hint of vocal melody in favor of gravel and glass-swallowing roughness. It makes for a collection of badass songs that I have been jamming over and over again. (No Sleep/Secret Voice)
6.) THE NIGHT MARCHERS, “Allez, Allez”
You think Speedo is gonna front a band, release a record, and I’m NOT going to love it? The guy played in Rocket From the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu for tits sake. He is a golden music warrior. The Night Marchers follow up with their second record after a lengthy hiatus with a much more direct and raucous effort (their first LP, a double LP at that, was a bit lackluster) that has a rougher, meaner recording and a bigger garage rock feel. But at the same time they belt out doozies like the opening 1, 2 punch of “Tropical Depression” and “Loud, Dumb, and Mean” that may as well be an invitation to starting a fight with the downstairs neighbors that always leave their garbage on the lawn. (Swami)
7.) TAXA, “Resurrection Year” 7”
Some people think it’s snide to put forth a record you released on your own label into the top 10. I think those people can cram their modesty right up their all-too-tight asses. Why wouldn’t I put this on here? Obviously I liked it enough to release it, it better be good enough to place on a top 10! And anyway, the band had already recorded the songs, had nowhere to go with them, and I offered. So there ya have it. And I can’t think of a better band carrying the Unwound torch than these Canucks. Bass heavy, brooding, chaotic, beautiful, and a bit haunting. (Hex)
8.) FUCKING INVINCIBLE, “Downtown Is Dead” 7”
Next to Iron Lung this is the most pissed off band I’ve heard all year. On their second seven inch they deliver 8 more short bursts of quick and violent hardcore fury and then play them even faster. It’s like Left For Dead incarnate mixed with Japanese hardcore. (Atomic Action)
9.) PSYCHIC TEENS, “Come”
I normally wouldn’t like this as much as I do, but something here just really kicked me in the nuts and I can’t explain why. They got the whole goth-y post-punk Ian Curtis vocals and repetitive thick bass thing going here. But the guitars are some real overdrive wall-of-noise and effects thing somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. It’s a really awesome combo from a freaky band. (SRA)
10.) GREAT FALLS, “Accidents Grotesque”
A sort of late entry into the group, but I know this band has been honing their sound a for a few years now and I think they finally nailed it on their sophomore LP. I mean, the combo of Demian Johnson and Shane Mehling (both of Playing Enemy) will produce somewhat predictable results (ya know, brutally heavy math-y noisecore). Still, 1.) I’m a sucker for that stuff and 2.) they brought it down a notch in complexity into shorter spurts of brain-frying, gaping chest-hole punching heaviness. The LP is closed out on each side with long, Neurosis-like slabs of misery. (Hell Comes Home)
CLUTCH, “Earth Rocker”- I’m not sure if this constitutes ‘guilty pleasure’ listening at this juncture. Clutch draw from a wide swath of cultural subgenres that compose their fan base- skateboarders, mellow beard dudes who like beer, douchey frat bros, old hardcore guys (I guess that’s me), Dads, craft beer enthusiasts, deadhead ‘follow the band’ types, and just plain ‘ol hard rock fans. I really don’t care. I just know they made their hardest hitting record in years and it smokes.
LEMURIA, “The Distance Is So Big”- Impossible not to get these catchy songs stuck in my head. Alex and Sheena put more emphasis on the vocal melodies this time around, get a bit more minimal with the music, and make a heck of a record.
COLISEUM, “Sister Faith”- I was a bit hesitant on this new one. It didn’t have the same punch that ‘House With a Curse” did. But, as predicted, it has grown on me and I definitely appreciate what they’ve done. Digging way more into their post-punk treasure chests to produce some gems.
ALL PIGS MUST DIE, “Nothing Violates This Nature”- Nothing Earth-shattering, just pure raging, hateful heavy metal. They don’t have to re-invent the wheel or anything, they just melt faces better than most.
QUICKSAND @ Cobra Lounge, Chicago 9.15.13- Just Quicksand in a place that held about 150 people. I should probably stop there. At this point I’ve seen Quicksand 8 times between 1994-2013 and this was easily the best time I’d ever seen them.
ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT @ Double Door, Chicago 9.14.13- I hadn’t seen RFTC in over 10 years. They played a fairly small venue, lit the place up for a good hour plus, and had just as much energy as they did in their earlier years. Comedy gold from Speedo, endless riffs all night.
QUICKSAND @ Union Transfer, Philly 1.28.13- I hadn’t seen the band since 1999. The moment they took the stage and opened up with “Omission” I lost my shit and was the energizer bunny until the moment they stopped. My favorite band ever making everything awesome again.
* Oh yeah, and I went to Hawaii this year and that alone beats most of this junk by a mile.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Let's see... should we have a Black Friday sale? Hmmmmm.... nah. Gonna do a GREY WEDNESDAY SALE!!!! YEAH! 30% OFF YOUR ENTIRE ORDER STARTING AT MIDNIGHT, ENDING THE NEXT MIDNIGHT. Boom. Take that early bird shopper drones.
Use code 'GREYISTHENEWBLACK' to get 30% off your entire order.
Use code 'GREYISTHENEWBLACK' to get 30% off your entire order.