Monday, March 20, 2017
Friday, April 21st- Buffalo, NY @ Dreamland w/ Healer
Saturday, April 22nd- Cleveland, OH @ Foundary
Sunday, April 23rd- Detroit, MI @ New Dodge Lounge
Monday, April 24th- nowhere as of now. Pittsburgh hopefully. Please help make that happen someone
Tuesday, April 25th- Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar w/ Blurring, Coming Down
Monday, January 2, 2017
For those who couldn't make it out to Syracuse over the weekend (which is most of planet Earth) due to shitty weather, inebriation, laziness, or location I've done you all the favor of recording some stuff from most of the bands that ended up playing. So behold, the magic of an iPhone and the internet. I never claimed to be a film expert so this will have to do. Plus, Matt Jamie filmed the Dialysis stuff because I can't play and film myself at the same time, that would just be stupid.
BLOOD SUN CIRCLE
BLOOD SUN CIRCLE
Monday, December 19, 2016
Ed Gein just released a double 7". We've been sitting on this one for awhile and thought it best to unleash a little pre-Christmas gift for you all, keeping it all secret-like. The fine folks at Clrvynt have been gracious enough to host a new song with a link to the Hex store where you can actually purchase the record right now (it's out and finished), as well as a little bit about Hex Fest. CHECK IT OUT!!!! http://clrvynt.com/ed-gein-tarrare-premiere/
Monday, December 12, 2016
A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, “We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service”
This is a right time, right place sort of record for 2016 for so many reasons. It came out right after a lot of people felt disheartened by the state of the nation, and Tribe rolls in with songs that are both fiery and positive to bring people back up. It comes upon the untimely death of founding member Phife’s untimely passing and it offers him a beautiful eulogy. It brings me back to my personal peak interest in hip-hop all those years ago when nothing else in the world sounded quite like this and sparked my imagination, while pushing the genre forward at the same time. Put simply, Tribe came roaring back in a wonderful way and at just the right time too.
The rest in no particular order:
Two of the most influential people in ‘noise rock’ circles get together to make a record. It sounds exactly what you would think Today Is the Day and Unsane together would sound like. UXO record + my ears= musical wet dream.
NULL, “Sleepwalking Days”
Brooding. That’s the best way to describe this group from Birmingham, Alabama. Sturdy repetition like Lungfish; simplistic, yet darkly heavy tones akin to True Widow; haunting vocals like… whoever. Null have a sound I adore that may move slowly, but it’s the heaviest mellow record- or mellowest heavy record- I checked out all year.
This was easily my most anticipated record to come out this year It’s close though. The band that does an early 90’s Helmet impression better than Helmet comes out swinging after a lone EP that introduced their sound. Pieces of “Strap It On”, “Meantime” and “Aftertaste” all show up here in equal measure, and I have no issue with that. Apparently, neither does the band as they are well aware that someone had to take Helmet’s mantle since they don’t seem to be up to the task anymore.
It has more to do with the production values that come off a little less metal than their last outing and more in line with 80’s Black Flag recordings. Child Bite are one of the most unique punk bands going with their total SST guitar skronk worship, Jesus Lizard style bass, Voivod otherworldliness, and Jello Biafra-meets-Neil Fallon vocal delivery. It’s a heck of a strange combo, but I friggin’ love it.
PSYCHIC TEENS, “Nerve”
I guess this year was good for that (if anything). I’d been following this band for a couple years now already and am always blown away by the weird mish-mash of styles they cobble together to make a very cohesive whole. However, compared to previous records this is a little more stripped down overall. There’s not as much massive guitar feedback/wall of sound going on (minus the huge closing track “Everything”, quite possibly my favorite song of the year), as the band flexes their post-punk/gothy side a bit more. The record was a big undertaking- from the expansive M.C. Escher-esque artwork, to the dual singles that accompanied the LP- it’s a great package from an exceptionally interesting band.
OK, last ‘highly anticipated’ record, I swear. I’d been a big fan of vocalist/bassist Meaghan O’Neill Pennie from her utterly ferocious scream in Punch. There was so much fury in that voice. So when I heard her 7” debut with this band it was cool to hear her try some variations in range and style, not to mention the more direct punk feel of this new group. The 7” kind of hinted at what was to come. This record goes all out though- songs with a more rock-y/post-hardcore feel, some more fast and aggressive, plenty of interesting leads and riffs, and atop it all O’Neill Pennies vocals that have quite a dramatic range more than ever, going between Bikini Kill-style bratty shouts to the familiar throat-shredding scream, to somewhat spoken and delicate crooning. It’s an excellent debut.
Look, I love Swiz, or basically anything Jason Farrell has lent his guitar playing to and I happen to think Joe Gorelick (Garden Variety, Retisonic) is one of the best drummers of the last 20 years. So get all these cats together and they spit out a 7” after their phenomenal debut in 2013 (finally). It may be only two new songs and a Lungfish cover, but I’ll take what I can get because these dudes don’t have the opportunity to do stuff all that much. Loose and off-the-cuff hardcore punk with an excellent sense of melody and rock swagger, done the way they helped establish as the ‘Dischord style’.
First off, fuck you. I don’t care if people think this band is too pop sounding or whatever. The unbelievable amount of energy they display live comes through on record. The first two songs on here sound like they could be on a Bad Brains record and overall, Turnstile come off with more of a punk vibe now than the moshy hardcore they had been known for. They do a Give cover and it sounds better than the original (sorry Give). I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Best Live Sets:
DRIVE LIKE JEHU, Philly/DC 8.9/8.10
Of course this is going to be the best show(s) I saw all year. I’ve only been waiting 20 years to see them. All these guys can play their asses off so it’s no wonder that both nights I saw Jehu on this run they sounded perfect. John Reiss pulls it all together with his ridiculous guitar sounds, his wild stage banter, and dangling his amplifier off his guitar neck like a shish kabob while he freaks out for “Luau”. Nothing comes close.
What a weird fuckin’ band. There is no earthly reason why I would normally enjoy a band that sounds like outer-space funk, but here we are and it’s been a weird year. I like to think this sounds more like Melt Banana if they played a lot slower, so maybe that’s what I’m feeling. Either way, their set at Big Day In this year was unreal. It was just a big, massive, lurching sound of buzzes, blips, unbelievable drumming/rhythm, and vocalist Kassie Carlson staring down the crowd as she creeped around and spaced out.
Myself, about 30 other old people, and approximately 6 children of said old people gather in the afternoon in NYC’s current favorite heavy music venue to see DC hardcore veterans do their (semi) new thing and still go off harder than bands half their age. The children mosh harder than the adults. Jason Farrell slips on a rug, Shawn Brown waxes comedic with the audience and his bandmates, and Joe Gorelick beats the living hell out of his drums. They do not one, but four, Swiz songs as a bonus. Life is complete, I drive five hours back home.
Taking a chance driving anywhere in the Northeast is dicey at the end of February, so my plans of seeing one of the few UXO live dates was met with hesitation until about 4 days before the actual show when it was a balmy 60 degrees. Weather gods smiled upon me, they knew I should probably make the 4 hour drive to see the team up of Spencer and Austin as they sonically pummeled a tiny venue. And boy did they. Both men know how to make guitars sound like a war and control a mic like it owes them money, so needless to say, UXO met all my expectations and then some. Also, Philly rules, so any chance to go there is golden.
PILE @ The Haunt, Ithaca 4.30.16
Ithaca is a scant 50 minutes (on a good day) from where I live and is a great little town to hang around in. They have also been bringing their A game lately and bringing in a lot of awesome bands that usually skip over this general region. So since the only other time I’ve seen Pile it was on a recommendation before hearing any of their music. So now that I am very familiar with all their stuff seeing them play it out was pretty excellent. They manage to weave odd melodies and dynamics in such a way that attempts to unravel their songs is an exercise in futility, yet it all comes across as catchy and exciting.
MULTICULT, BLOOD SUN CIRCLE, PSYCHIC TEENS, SOUND DISCARD, GUN CANDY @ WCC 5.13.16
So yeah, I booked this one. But look at this dang lineup. Every band was stellar and a bunch of people showed up to see it all so that makes me happy. Blood Sun played pretty much just new stuff that absolutely slays. Gun Candy made their Syracuse debut with a ferocious punk sound that no one could see coming. Sound Discard played their first show and sounded wonderful. Psychic Teens were, of course, loud, weird, brooding, and eclectic. Multicult manages to present one of the best tones amongst all it’s members and still be louder than whatever else is out there.
I’ve seen 108 a lot over the years. They never fail to be anything short of incredible. They have one of the most engaging and intense live presences of any hardcore band around. And on this day they played two sets. One was just “Songs Of Separation” and “Holy Name”. The other was “Threefold Misery” and everything after. Both sets were equally as cathartic and exhausting. Not bad for a bunch of guys in their 40’s. Their music is still untouchable.
- It may seem a bit trite, but I think the art and packaging of a record are a big deal. And I’d like to give a big nod to a couple of bands in my own backyard for coming up with some of the most clever packaging of the year.
- First off, Rochester’s GREEN DREAMS released their full length on their own. It’s a CD that comes in a 7”-sized package that folds out into a fucking diorama complete with cut out figures of the band members you can set up. Musically, it sounds like L7 meets fuzzy garage rock, so that’s a bonus too.
- Syracuse’s own OHNE KA AND THE BURNING RIVER didn’t go and just release their second full length. They wrote a fucking book, complete with professional illustrations to go with it. That’s ambitious. I guess they needed all those words because their music is instrumental. And if you like stuff like Explosions In the Sky and Mogwai, mixed with a healthy dose of stoner metal worship you’d probably enjoy them. So you get a book to accompany a CD. Pretty good deal huh?
Saturday, November 26, 2016
One last bunch of reviews to get out of the way before I throw up some end of the year list thing. I kept it (relatively) short this time around because that Tribe review took up so much space, deservedly.
Enjoy these in whichever form that takes, get something out of the webstore, or bandcamp, as I'm donating to various charities depending on what you purchase, and then make it yr business to be in Syracuse Dec. 30th and 31st for the Hex Fest shindig!
Enjoy these in whichever form that takes, get something out of the webstore, or bandcamp, as I'm donating to various charities depending on what you purchase, and then make it yr business to be in Syracuse Dec. 30th and 31st for the Hex Fest shindig!
A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, “We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service”
In early November the nation was thrown into a weird and uncertain place due to the election. Myself and most people I know were befuddled by the results and frankly, terrified and unhappy. And then, a few days later, A Tribe Called Quest releases their first album in 18 years and suddenly this dark world got a lot brighter.
It’s a bittersweet release though as it comes on the heels of founding member Phife Dawg’s untimely death. And hearing him lay down his trademark verses early on in the record makes it all that much more difficult because this is by far one of the best things the group has ever done and it would have been beautiful to see him be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. It’s not some half-hearted reunion record where members are trying to relive some sense of nostalgia from their crappy adult lives. It’s the sound of newfound energy, of people who never stopped being creative. They just chose to pursue those endeavors individually for a long time rather than collectively and, as Phife puts it, “the nucleus is here now”. Yes, they definitely are.
I had read some press about this record and the process behind it and consistently Q-Tip discusses how they wanted to “keep the thread, but push it forward”, meaning they aimed to keep the spirit and the style of Quest from the past, but not re-hash old material. They wanted to do something new. And they have succeeded greatly in my humble opinion. Admittedly, I am not one to have a good sense of what is, or isn’t, good hip-hop these days. Much of it has been uninteresting to me for 20 years now. It’s not on my radar so if critics want to consider me stuck in the past in regards to this record they are probably right. But something tells me I’m of the popular opinion that this is some truly forward-moving stuff.
The samples and instrumentation are in line with what you might expect from Quest, piling layers on top of one another without it sounding too busy or overcrowded. It all fits together just right. “We the People” is the standout single, and shows ATCQ going in a more subtle, yet political direction than in the past (which is actually a theme throughout the record). Of course, there are tracks here that could fit well on older releases such as “Black Spasmodic”, “The Donald”, “Ego”, and “Conrad Tokyo” (possibly my favorite track overall?), while some other songs take some very interesting turns like the Elton John/ piano samples in “Solid Wall Of Sound” and the killer sex jam “Enough!”, which sounds like a companion piece to Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”.
Oh, and can we talk about Jarobi? Holy shit. Barely a peep on “People’s Instinctive Travels”, leaves the group for a couple decades, comes back and has some of the hardest verses on the whole record! Who knew he could rap? He gets the gold star on this one. Cameos by a host of other people fill out the record, including Busta Rhymes all over the place and a handful of others who clearly were influenced by Tribe and are now doing their own thing like Talib Kweli, Kanye, Andre 3000, and Kendrick Lamar.
In all seriousness, I couldn’t be happier. This is an incredible moment. From someone who got into this group when they first started as a young teen, and holding their records as some of my favorite pieces of music ever since then it’s a great thing to see this happen. And we all need it now. We need that ray of sunshine that creativity, positivity, and a powerful sense of determination lives on. Quest has done it, above and beyond expectation. (Epic)
ARKLESS, s/t 12”
These Brits debut with a record of chill, un-distorted emo the likes of which could harken back to Amber Inn, Still Life, Braid, or early Promise Ring. Like, imagine a record full of “My Firetower Flame” and you get an idea. Vocals have that sort of off-key, serious/spoken quality and the music moves at a steady pace while keeping it emotional with no big loud parts that some of the referenced bands threw in here and there. This remains relatively calm throughout I guess. It’s pretty and melodic. (Ruined Smile)
Buffalo has always had it’s own particular brand of meaty, metallic hardcore that only comes from being in the heart of the rust belt. It’s the sound of thousands of laid off factory workers, cold-ass winters, and lots of knuckleheads who constantly have a grudge against… something. Disrepair sounds like that. This quick two song demo tunes really low, plays pretty fast, and doesn’t make the breakdowns predictably obvious. They just churn it out. I detect a hint of melody that closes out the second song, adding a little unique style to the chunky riffing. Not too bad. (Disrepair)
HELL MARY, 12”
Yes, yes, yes. OK, all you weird pinheads out there who enjoy ripping fast and ridiculously aggressive hardcore, but just aren’t swayed by what’s being peddled for the most part- this is for you. Not only is this one heck of a cool looking record (clear vinyl with crazy screen printed B side), but it sounds pretty great too. Hell Mary unfortunately have to deal with being from New Jersey and all the awful driving and lack of places to actually turn around that come with it. But they do draw from a rich musical landscape that has produced oh so many wonderful bands over the years, and maybe they’ll end up joining those ranks if they keep up what they’re doing here. A good place to start for this group would be the speedy and chaotic violence that Converge are oh so god at churning out. Add to that a good dose of the topical and emotional bent, coupled with the churning heaviness, of 108. That’s really the best I can come up with. I mean, that really ought to be enough to sway you right there. If not I guess we just don’t really need to know each other anymore and we’re all friends here right? Do what’s right. Check this out. (Dropping Bombs)
MALLWALKERS, “Dial ‘M’ For…”
This very part-time Buffalo collective has released a second (to my knowledge) LP full of a mish-mash of various influences that somehow work together pretty well into their own unique stew. Consisting of about 9 people Mallwalkers gather sporadically, creating manifestos of danceable, social upheaval full of repetitive chords, blaring horns, multiple vocalists, and shaking asses. Pull a bit of MC5’s explosive rebellion rock, add a taste of Fugazi’s use of odd chords and twangs that peck at their steady rhythm, and give a full-on high five to current rabble rousers Downtown Boys in regards to that horn blaring and ‘we’re here to fuck your system up’ protesting in the streets goodness, and you get an idea of what Mallwalkers are presenting. There’s a feeling of that DC/Dischord ‘we’re nerdy white punks, but we can get funky too’ thing happening, along with a distinctly Western New York rust belt vibe that isn’t Tuffalo hardcore (you have to kind of be from around here to know exactly what I mean), but it is punk and it’s angry, and I’m OK with all of it. So get your feel on if this description does anything for you. (Peterwalkee Records)
ORDINARY LIVES s/t 7”
It’s a not-unlikely collection of people creating an unlikely sound. So take a couple guys from Off Minor, Saetia, and Bridge & Tunnel and you would probably think it’s going to be thoughtful, complex, and, at times chaotic, emo/screamo stuff, right? Nope. And if that horrifying thought is firmly dismissed allow me to inform you that this is way better, at least to a guy like me. Instead think riffy/stoner post-hardcore, which is awesome. OK, sure it harkens to a sort of late 90’s vibe (Syracuse people- think Farthest Man) and I am fine with that. You know what this really sounds like, a lot? Cutman. Ya know, Gainesville, Kiss Of Death Records? No? Fine, fuck off. Go listen to Farthest Man, Cutman, watch some Chico and the Man, and then go listen to this, and feel satisfied. Start a push pit and wear flannel. Get off my lawn. Released by 37 different labels. (Square Of Opposition/ Tor Johnson/ State Of Mind)
RED FANG, “Only Ghosts”
I haven’t listened to this band is quite a long time. I see they are still playing burly beard-man rock, but the songs on this album, for the most part, seem to cater a little more to the average rock fan. Simply put, it’s overall not as heavy as previous outings from what I remember. They still manage to keep things fairly creative though, and I’d rather listen to this than radio rock any day of the week. And much like past efforts Red Fang spare no quarter when it comes to creating beautiful cover art for their releases- this one a simple trance-inducing wave pattern, which seems to go against the rumbling riff rock ever-present throughout the album. I guess if Clutch has been veering a bit too bluesy for you, but Mastodon is still somewhat extreme (OK, maybe not current Mastodon), Red Fang might be a good mid-ground to explore. (Relapse)
You are hard pressed to find a more rowdy three-piece band in the live setting than Whores, not to mention one with a ridiculously dialed-in mammoth tone. It’s insane how incredibly heavy and loud their sound is. It’s awesome. You’re also going to have a heck of a tough time googling their name and not coming up with results that probably don’t mesh with what you’re looking for (or maybe you are, I won’t judge). However, much like their previous two EPs this first full length doesn’t completely hit at all times. I understand it’s good to break things up a little bit- a part that’s just bass and vocals here, a quick reprieve that is just guitar- but Whores totally excel when they’re just going full throttle, one smashing riff after another and truckloads of feedback. Opening track “Playing Poor” does a fine job of this. And as they roll right into the next track, “Baby Teeth”, you get the impression it’s going to go the same way as it lumbers along with a dumptruck-heavy slower rhythmic jackhammering. But the verse, with just the drums and vocals, kind of throws it off for me. I just want these dudes to smash all their guitar pedals at once (they’re going to need a lot of feet for that) and pound one ridiculous riff after another into my skull while worshipping at the alter of AmRep. By and large they deliver. To me, though, the impact is lost just a little when they go into parts not involving everything going all at once. For some bands it’s great, for Whores I’d say space is not the place. Smash everything. (eOne)
When I was just getting into punk and hardcore music it was primarily through skateboarding. So publications like Thrasher and mailorder catalogs like Sessions informed me quite a bit about what was out there musically that was in line with skateboarding culture. At the time Revelation was one of the bigger punk rock record labels (still is!), but when I got into punk music they were beginning to take a turn away from the youth crew style that they are most infamously known for. Of course, what was happening was that a lot of the musicians they had been working with in the past that had all those infamous bands were growing up a little and starting new bands that tried new things aside from just NYHC, and that led to groups like Burn, Supertouch, and Into Another to take hardcore music in bizarre new directions. Well, this was all new to me. So whatever Revelation was putting out around ’93-’95 was really appealing to me because there was so much variety! One of the bands that, in a way, sprung out of this new style (except on the West Coast) was Farside.
To a young person hearing Farside, and especially this record, for the first time they might mistake it for mainstream radio rock. Admittedly, it does have that feel. However, when it was released they were a really engaging and exciting band to me. They possessed a lot of the melodic, upbeat style of Fat Wreck bands like Strung Out or Face To Face. However, they were also incredibly great musicians that were not afraid to take a post-hardcore bent and write songs that might stretch 5 minutes to go with their quick tempos and thoughtful lyrics. I know some may disagree, but when I think of Farside I think ‘skate rock’.
I truly adore this record, and the emotional weight it carries amongst the energetic tempos. “Kill Me” kind of comes off as the fastest, most aggressive song before it breaks into a sung chorus of “I’ll just wait/ Here in broken arms”, while “Silver Anniversary” is much slower and somber, but equally as poignant as it deals with (as far as I have gathered over the years) divorce.
A big part of how well this record comes across is vocalist/guitarist Michael “Popeye” Vogelsang’s gruff but heartfelt vocals. He sings in a way that hardcore bands of the day might have scoffed at for not completely shredding his throat. But the emotion is sincere and true. When he gets at dealing with procrastination in “Wait For Monday”, stating that “I keep on lowering my expectations!” or going on about moping around and being alone on “Audience” before a big melodic breakdown it’s like getting punched in the chest. I get those same feelings listening to this record 20+ years later. (Revelation)
Friday, November 18, 2016
ions of their sale to go to. So every time you purchase an Ed Gein record Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York Action Fund will get $2. For each Bleak record/CD sold $2 goes to Casey's Place (respite care for teens with disabilities). Each Dialysis record sold will have $2 go to CNY Cat Coalition. And I'll personally sell you a short stack of LPs so a piece can go to the ACLU Nationwide. This goes for digital bandcamp sales but you'll find more items in the webstore. More details on each of these charities in the comments with links. Please spread this far and wide! Get something for the holiday (for someone else, or yourself, I won't judge) and give a little something back! http://hexrecords.bigcartel.com/products
* Look for the items with 'CHARITY!' in the product listing for ways to give!
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Trick or treat fuckers! Here's some treats! OK, most of these reviews are not about anything spooky. I guess you could relate some of the art in Bat Butt zine to things of a Halloween/horror nature, and perhaps the cold, synth-y spazzcore of this month's Bonus Round pick The VSS to some spooky sort of realm. But otherwise there's just a lot of good stuff here, and not much horror business. So get to it. And for the love of Pete, you'd better be reading these in costume!
BAT BUTT zine #3
I had no clue that this was an international zine based out of South Africa! I had simply assumed, by a couple of the artists featured that I enjoyed (and the primary reason for me purchasing this) that is was an American publication. But this art zine features artists from all over the world. And that’s really all it is- just black and white art, with no central theme, by lots and lots of contributors. Mine came with all these cool stickers and prints from some of the artists, so it was well worth it. Of note is the centerfold and stickers by regional artist Ryan Besch/Your Cinema. Also entertaining was Alice Edy’s four-page story “Heavy Things”, as are the numerous mutated contributions from Florian Snyman (including the cover). For those into oddball art/Juxtapoz style, but on amore DIY level this is a pretty cool thing to check out. (Bat Butt)
BRAIN TENTACLES s/t
At this point I think the Relapse catalog is comprised of about 50% projects by both Bruce Lamont and Dave Witte. Both these highly prolific individuals have so many bands between the both of them it was inevitable that they eventually teamed up to give birth to the super bizarre freak that is Brain Tentacles. Rounded out by bassist extraordinaire Aaron Dallison (Keelhaul) this mega-beast sounds like the result of King Crimson getting schwifty with Morphine after huffing glue in a filthy alley. Here you get a whole album of horns (mostly saxophone) melding with drums and bass guitar, and not much in the way of vocals conjuring up a lot of low-end proggy weirdness, yet with enough interesting parts and beefy riffs (can a saxophone create a ‘riff’? In this case, yes) to keep even the simplest 3-chord purist bobbing their head. It’s weird stuff, man. But it’s really great to have some out-f-this-world variety amongst all the heaviness Relapse tends to be known for. This is still real heavy, just in a super odd sort of way and I can roll with that. (Relapse)
BURN, “From the Ashes” 7”
This is the first ‘new’ material that Burn has released since 2001, which was the last time that they did some reunion stuff. Before originally disbanding in the early 90’s Burn had released a lone EP, but had a whole album’s worth of material that made it’s way onto a couple bootlegs that floated around throughout the last couple decades. A few of those songs surfaced as proper recordings between “Last Great Sea” and “Cleanse”, material they released in their brief 2001 reunion. On “From the Ashes” two more of those older songs get proper recordings and you can tell it’s from an older Burn era as they are faster, and more in line with the proto-post-hardcore that they helped invent. The lone brand new song here, “Novelist (Drums Of War)” has a slower, groovier feel, mixed with some more complex riffs and passages indicative of “Cleanse”-era stuff, as well as guitarist/riff architect Gavin Van Vleck’s riffy/noisecore act Die 116 that he was a part of after Burn’s initial run. The youngin’ in me loves the faster, raw hardcore songs. The noisenik in me is intrigued by the chunky, off-kilter heaviness of how they write now. The overall recording on this release leaves something to be desired as it sort of doesn’t feel finished, like they skipped something along the way between mixing and mastering. But I digress. It’s good to see a band like Burn not only writing some creative new music (even if it’s only one song thus far), but still incredibly engaging in the live setting. Hopefully the LP they have planned can respectfully continue their legacy. (Bridge 9)
EVERY TIME I DIE, “Low Teens”
When a band gets both Tim Singer (Deadguy, Kiss It Goodbye, No Escape) and the character from Panic At the Disco to do guest vocals on your record you know they draw from a pretty wide palette. Such is the case on the new ETID record, a band that consistently knows how to absolutely wreck your life. So many bands from the time they got their start completely fell off the map, disbanded, or just flat out suck shit now. Many have rightfully/unfortunately carried the tag ‘metalcore’ like the flaccid, tired, shriveled penis that it has become. Yet Every Time I Die has succeeded big time and still sort of held onto that tag. They write some of the most engaging pile driving riffs, with some of the most well-written lyrics one can imagine on every record. They do not disappoint. They are consistently the sound of a raging party and a violent tornado smashed together all the time. They are, by far, one of the best live bands you will ever see. And on “Low Teens” they move the needle yet again in an evolved direction by throwing in some new things and a few curveballs. Like opener “Fear and Trembling” with it’s slow and disjointed riff both hammering at your skull and confusing the listener all at once. “It Remembers” is the most ‘rock’ song on the record, and while I feel it ventures a little too much into bro-rock country I can’t help but enjoy it (I used to feel the same about “Revival Mode” and now it’s one of my favorite songs of theirs). “Awful Lot” plays with Torche-level tuning and city-leveling riffs (as well as one of my favorite vocal breaks on the record- “Acknowledge me you motherfuckers!”). New drummer Daniel Davison lets loose basically any opportunity he gets, which really works well for this group regularly sounding like they’re headed off the rails anyway. This is most noticeable on the ridiculously aggressive “Petal” and “The Coin Has a Say” (with, again, a choice lyric: “I can’t go back to what I was/ Metallica without the drugs”). It’s only on closer “Map Change” where it feels ETID get a little too caught up with being kind of all over the place and the song ends up being a sort of riff salad. However, for the speed freak in you there’s plenty here to draw from in terms of breakneck pummeling like “1977”, “Glitches” and “I Didn’t Want To Join Your Stupid Cult Anyway”. For ungodly heavy music that is well-written and smart, but encourages listeners to get unbelievably stupid you can’t really get any better than ETID. (Epitaph)
GATECREEPER, “Sonoran Depravation”
I am hardly the man to go to if you are seeking a well-rounded opinion on death metal. I have nothing against it. I generally find much of it to be decent (minus gurgle vocals), sometimes impressive. But I don’t spend much time really delving into it. That being said, Gatecreeper plays pretty decent death metal. It hardly raises the bar, but it knows how to make HM-2 style riffs collide with moshy beats and a lot of double-picking between the slow parts to easily spin many a bored, basement dwelling hessian into a furious drywall-punching freak. Basically, they get the job done. Nothing fancy, good name, heavy riffs, lots of metal, and no over thinking it. Sacrifice your out-of-shape gut to the dancefloor Goatlord. (Relapse)
SIGH DOWN ONE, “Memory Is Short Longing”
I’m not sure how this got on to my radar, but I assume it had something to do with getting lost in some internet musical rabbit hole. Before I knew it I had stumbled across this French-Canadian group and I thought it was worth talking about. Anyways, what you get here is an album’s worth of songs that have an equal split between atmospheric shoegaze with accompanying soothing vocals, old Sonic Youth’s clattering noise rock, and some lo-fi punk nihilism. For me, it makes for a wonderful mix that keeps things moving at a good clip with just enough negative vibes to even out the flighty mellow ones. The washy-note-bending may open up a song, but is eventually kicked to the side by more aggressive, distorted guitar abuse, all the while the vocals tend to remain on the soft and airy side of things. Nowhere is this more present than later in the album on “Nothing In Return” which would be a perfect place to start for those just looking for an idea of this group’s sound. (L'Oeil du Tigre Records)
SUPER UNISON, “Auto”
The quick progress of one of the East Bay area’s most exciting new bands, Super Unison, may lead some to believe they might not be ready for a full length album just yet. But this trio works as if they have been playing together for a long time. While each member has musical backgrounds with other bands Super Unison is quite different from the ultra-hyper and aggressive Punch that vocalist/bassist Meaghan O’Neill Pennie emerged from, or the noodly indie/emo style of Snowing that drummer Juntin Renniger cut his teeth in. And while O’Neill Pennie’s vocals are quite a bit different than the ferocious shriek (one of the best, in my opinion!) that she displayed in her previous band she offers a wide range of different styles in this band, going from an almost cooing in the beginning of “Keeper” to that well-worn throat shredding by the first chorus, and into an almost snarky Bratmobile riot grrl vibe in the bridge. In fact, I think it might be my favorite song on the record just because it accurately conveys the most well-rounded representation of the band. That’s not to say the rest of this record doesn’t rip. It’s quite fantastic. I’m thoroughly enjoying their rough and tumble punk blasts, peppered with post-hardcore melodies and occasional haunting guitars (like on the chorus of “You Don’t Tell Me”). Much of the music here, if I were to make a couple comparisons, kind of reminds me of old Superchunk or Garden Variety, but darker and a bit more aggressive on the whole. Anyway, enough hyperbole from me, just get to listening to this. It’s one of the better releases I’ve heard all year and one that I have been very much looking forward to. (Deathwish)
TURNSTILE, “Move Thru Me” 7”
Side A has a Bad Brains “Supertouch”/”Shitfit” 1-2 punch style of crazy fast and aggressively catchy followed by gonzo heavy and mean, and evokes a similar feel to the DC legends. Side B has the title track, which is much more in line with what people are coming to know from Turnstile. That is, it could have been on “Non-Stop Feeling” and no one would know the difference. So yeah, it’s a good song. Then they drop a Give cover, which is weird not only because that song is only a couple years old and that band is still very much active, but Give is a considerably different kind of band than Turnstile. However, both bands are very much doing their own unique thing so I guess there is common ground in that respect. Plus, they probably hang out, so why the fuck not, right? Either way, this is a very excellent 7” from a band that I would never expect to enjoy. But let it be known my guilty pleasure is now very much public. Turnstile is pretty fucking great. There, I said it. Please get out of my way now so I can mosh and sing along like an idiot. (Pop Wig)
THE V.S.S., “21:51” and “Nervous Circuits”
I’m not going to bother with a single album from this band, I’m going with their full discography. They were short-lived and churned out a handful of 7”s (collected as “21:51”) and one full length. Some may recall a few months ago when I reviewed the Angelhair discography. Well, after that group split most of the members came back as The VSS. The approach was still spastic and chaotic, except they were adding elements that were (at the time) lost to the punk scene, that being primarily cold and jagged The result is this manic barrage of otherworldly, dystopian noisecore. It’s very difficult for me to decide which of these records I like better. “21:51” is the sound of the band working out ideas, still a bit clingy with that off-the-wall Angelhair sound, but the meshing of synths and distorted vocals forcing it’s way in for tremendous effect. “The Fist and Fingers” is a lumbering, bouncy chunk of heaviness, punctuated by disorienting doubled-up vocals and spooky feedback, while “I Cut My Teeth” has a bit more of a stop-go punk vibe and Sonny Kay’s outer space vocals that breaks into an almost minimalist synth and guitar bit before exploding into full-on chaos as the whole thing collapses. The collection closes with “Response”- an alien transmission of a far off drum coda that could either be an exit, or an indication of things to come.post-punk riffs and banks of strange, alien synths.
“Nervous Circuits” is the band’s lone full length that came together not too long after the group’s initial spate of singles. It’s a much more bold affair. The recording is far superior and the band is far more confident in their approach. Part of me wishes it sounded as odd and cold as the 7” stuff, but it’s a great undertaking. The compositions are more in line with post-punk offerings like Echo and the Bunnymen, Bauhaus, early Joy Division, but with a deft weight to them indicative of a punk/hardcore band. Even so, after Kay closes the opening track with the sudden howl of “I eat the body and drink the blood” they launch immediately into “In Miniature”, which sounds like the keyboardist mashing one set of keys back and forth until it breaks. There’s a bit more variety on this record- “Sibling Ascending”s post-hardcore march, “Effigy”s ultra-slow piano coda, the upbeat and catchy synth-driven “What Kind Of Ticks?”, and the swinging mania of “Swift Kicks” (one of the best on the record). All of these songs are carried by vocalist/effects operator Sonny Kay, whose unpredictable, manic howl not only is a harrowing complement to the dizzying music, but he remains one of my favorite lyricists weaving stream of conscious associations that come together to paint a weird portrait of things that may or may not be related. I sadly never witnessed this band. They made one East Coast jaunt to my knowledge back in 1996, or ’97 and news moved slow then. If I had known I would have traveled anything short of 400 miles to witness the live spectacle they created. But I guess I’ll have to settle for this stuff here to keep me warm. Over the years both Hydrahead and Sargent House re-issued “Nervous Circuits” in different formats, so it’s not very difficult to track down. (VSS)