Sunday, December 28, 2008


So here we are, at the end of another year, and another round of lists from those close to the Hex inner circle (that being me). It's not a very large group of folks that I asked, but it's small because they are important. That's right. Like V.I.P. important ya know? Everyone else... peons. That's why you're reading this and taking notes.
Just kidding.
Enjoy th
e entertainment value within and feel free to post your own lists as comments!
Oh, and two other quick things:
First, if you order anything... and I mean ANYTHING from the store between now and January 1st you get a free 7" of my choosing (it's gonna be either the Hex 7" comp., the Inkling "Bad Apple Theory/My Advice" 7", the No Idols 7" (on Grave Mistake Records), or the National
Acrobat "It's Nothing Personal" 7"). So do it.
ly, at the end of this week I'm making an official announcement about a couple records I'm releasing in the Summer. Most regular readers will already know what it is, but I may as well make it 'official', ya know?
OK, here's the lists, and funny pictures to go with:

RORY VAN GROL- Soul Control/ Achilles/ holding down Providence, RI

- Central America Tour - I never thought that I would ever do something like this and my mind was blown. So amazing.
- “Toll The
Hounds”, by Steven Erickson
- Young Widows, “Old Wounds”
- My iMac
- Ian Mackaye Question and Answer.
- Helms Alee , “Night Terror”
- The Mountain Goats, “Heretic Pride/ The Black Pear” split
- The Mo
untain Goats Live
- “The D
iving Bell” and “The Butterfly”, by Jean-Dominique Bauby
- “The R
oad”, by Cormac McCarthy

TONY TORNABENE- Night Owls/ welder/ full-time Dad

Top 10 most amazing things about parenthood:
10. Sle
ep. Yeah right, whats that?
9. Hey
dad when I'm done eating I'm just gonna throw the rest of this shit on the floor.
8. Kee
ping your shirt clean for, oh, maybe 5 minutes.
7. Boogers.
6. Your h
ouse looking like Beirut by 5pm.
5. Jesus fuckin christ what is that smell? Oh thats the cheese cubes that have been under the couch for 2 weeks.
4. I'm gonna push my brother off the couch now. Ok daddy?
3. Screa
ming so high pitched that the dog wants to start wooping some 2 year old ass.
2. Takin
g a nice long wizz on the dining room floor.
and the #
1 most amazing thing about parenthood....drum roll....
“Hey Tony can you come here, Aidan just took a huge steaming shit in the bath tub.”

JONAH LIVINGSTON- Ramming Speed/ Backstabbers Inc./ Teenage Disco Bloodbath Records/ thrash-a-hol Thundercat

Not really in any order:
1. Disfear
, “Live the Storm”
2. Playing MLB The Show '06 in 2008
3. Burrito metal (Baroness, Torche, et al)
4. Battle
master dudes (for keeping true metal alive & nerdy)
5. Crucial Babes (this isn't a band or anything, just like.. you know.. the genre of babe)
6. “We A
re The Road Crew”, by Motorhead (for being truer then ever)
7. American fests that don't suck (Dude Fest, The Fest, This Is For You Fest)
8. Soul
Control and Die Young playing in my home/practice space/office
9. Beer

10. Twin Donuts, Allston MA (and the 4 am breakfast sandwich crue)
11. You, for being a sweet heart

RYAN HEX- supreme overlord/executive offices/inventor of pre-music/ Mistletoe

Top stuff of ‘08 (in no order)
1.) Saw, and interviewed, Devo... (finally) over the summer. Waited a good 20 years for that one
2.) The Fest in Gainesville... what a rad weekend!
3.) Helms Alee, “Night Terror” (Hydrahead)
4.) Young Widows, “Old Wounds” (Temporary Residence)
5.) Suicid
e Note, “Empty Rooms” (Hawthorne Street)
6.) Lemu
ria, “Get Better” (Asian Man)
7.) Playing Enemy, “My Life As the Villain” (Hex)
8.) Rock
et From the Crypt, “R.I.P.” (Vagrant)... greatest rock n’ roll band ever
9.) Night Owls, demo
10.) West Coast trip with my lady in March/April

WESTON CZERKIES- Oak and Bone/lower-level resident/ “Wesley”

TOP 10
1. MARATHON (the ancient PC game, not the band or race. no disrespect.)
2. Coffee
3. Cult Ritual - all 3 EPs
4. O&B finally recording
5. Not working
6. “Miller's Crossing”
8. China Road's vegetarian beef w/ scallions
9. YYYs
, “Is Is” EP
10. No Connection, “Second To None” 7" (that's right, I went there. so what?)

BEN VERELLEN- Helms Alee/ maker of amps/ a gentle bear with a mighty roar

1. The Brave Patrons and Supporters of Verellen Amplifiers
2. Maxwell's Equations
3. John Spalding (RIP)
4. Dungen
5. Bruno Fuzz Wau Wau
6. Torche, “Meanderthal”
7. 'Club Wago' for hanging on to life
8. Victori
a Clipper
9. Earth, “The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull”
10. Jimi Hendrix, “Axis Bold As Love”

BOB SWIFT- The Helm/ track coach extrodinaire/ pizza wolf

1. Ingraham Rams Cross Country 2008
2. The Helm US Tour 2008/Writing the new album
3. John
25 moving to Seattle. More rad folks should try it.
4. Giant (
or whatever their new name is). Awesome dudes.
5. Hex Records, and that despicable bastard who runs it.
6. Finally seeing The Breeders live
7. Cursed,
“III: Architects of Troubled Sleep”
8. Portishead, “Third”
9. “The Dark Knight”
10. Earth, “The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull”
10. One Day as a Lion, s/t

Sunday, December 21, 2008


So here we are again in what will probably be the last batch of reviews you'll see in 2008... which is a good segue for the annual top 10 lists that I'm currently gathering from label-affiliated folks. And that will be next week, or before the year ends anyway. So here's the goods:

ARCHITECT, “Ghost Of the Saltwater Machines”
It’s hard for me to be objective with Architect’s newest record, because... well... I never heard everything from their last full-length. I know, I have no excuse. I’m from Syracuse and so are they, and I’ve seen them enough times to know the songs. Still, what comes out live is often a bit different than what you hear on record. With that said it should be noted that if you liked Architect before you will most certainly be a big fan of this record as well. I know lyrically some of the more political leanings that at times read like conspiracy theories are replaced with more personal themes on this outing. Sure, songs like “Traitor”, “Camelot In Smithereens”, and “Death and Taxes” damn the establishment for even existing, but then you have songs like “Lamplighter” that are made for hardcore-pride sing-alongs (set to a metal soundtrack). Other things remain consistent with Architect- a love for metallic hardcore mixed with massive walls of sound that show a love for post-hardcore strains like Deftones, Far, and even Sunny Day Real Estate. Another staple of Architect’s bag of tricks, and one that sometimes works in their favor and sometimes against them, are long and drawn out feedback tirades punctuated usually with repeated sloganeering. The music often starts with incredible riffing and then the songs slowly break down into pieces of their former selves as things fall apart while the vocals continue, strained and tortured. Like I said, sometimes it’s great (like the end of “Lamplighter”- “Fuck tomorrow/ Live for today/ I’d rather burn out/ Than fade away”) and sometimes it’s a bit too much to take (such as in “Traitor” where it feels like almost the entire song is one big demonstration in the entropy of a song, collapsing on itself over and over again before finally devolving into torrents of feedback and noise). Otherwise, the band is in top form delivering grooving, crushing riffs, one after another throughout the first half of the record. Particularly fun is the staccato chunky riff in the opening track (which also makes an appearance again in the opening salvo of “Death and Taxes”) that sounds like the gears of one of those giant tank robots from the beginning of Terminator rolling over piles of human skulls. I think truly the only moment on the record I don’t like is the ‘you just don’t get how tough it is to be in a touring band’ rants in “Dog and Pony Show” where not being an understanding part of the punk scene is equated with some George Bush bullshit rhetoric of “if you’re not with us you’re against us” (that’s really in the lyrics). I’m just not following that one. Besides that get this for a lesson in being a completely crushing and heavy hardcore band that usually has something really rad to say. (Black Market Activities,

BEHEAD THE LAMB, “Messiahlation” CDEP
Now this one is easy. After a bunch of records (as you will see below) that mix up genre’s and so forth, Poughkipsee, NY’s Behead the Lamb don’t bother with fucking around in other styles. They are a death metal band. That’s it. Hell, this record is called “Messiahlation”... do you really need to read any further? I don’t think so. It’s meat and potatoes death metal... er, maybe I should say ‘your basic blood and guts death metal’. How about that? It’s nothing that I’m going to toss on repeat, but then again, I don’t listen to death metal. If you do though there’s nothing wrong with this. (Trip Machine Laboratories,

CUTMAN, “Big Deal/ No Trick Pony” CDEP
I had been intermittently enjoying this CD for a few weeks and it was finally set in the ‘to review’ pile under my desk. And then something terrible happened. My cats kicked this CD into a pile of shit they deposited on the floor under my desk. So this is how they repay me? These cats, who I raised from being only a few weeks old? Cats, who I bottle fed because they would have died otherwise. The same ones who I faithfully feed, change litter for, and care for on a daily basis... this is what I get? This really cool-looking CD by a pretty good band that comes in this fancy-shmancy cardstock package that was so kindly given to me by the good folks at Team Science Records is now smattered with cat turds. Thanks you fucking orphaned bastards... guess who’s not getting a fucking treat later on.
Oh yeah, you probably want to know something about this band? Well, on this EP that collects two separate seven inches they have a sound that recalls early Clutch with a more post-hardcore leaning and vocals that teeter on the verge of biker bro-dom. Yet it totally kicks ass... like if you’re over 30 and remember Stompbox you’d probably fall head over heels for this one too. I can totally dig it. Except the turds. (Team Science,, Kiss Of Death,

DIESTO, “Isle Of Marauder”
Thankfully, this record is not about an island where thuggish New York hardcore tough guys work out and mosh... get it? Actually, who knows what it’s about, all I know is how it sounds. And from the moment I popped this in my immediate thoughts were ‘Unsane’. From the filthy distortion, grimy tones, and the shouted vocals that sound like they were recorded with a broken mic I was hearing nothing but Unsane, circa “Total Destruction”-era coming through the speakers. So that means that things started out great. From there though it just slowed down a lot, so that every song seemed a lot longer, thus making it into a bit of a different beast. I definitely like it even if it felt a bit too long at times they definitely make good use of taking those shredding sounds of New York’s noisiest and giving it a different spin. By the time they get to the final track, “Black Water”, things start out with clean guitars playing some melodic riffs before the crushing sets in. Those cleaner, more classic-sounding guitars emerge again here and there throughout the song, before closing out with a repeating dirgy riff out of the “Scattered, Smothered...” play book. But wait! What’s with the Sabbath leads coming out here? Geez, this song is really long. It may one of the only times where 11 minutes of music of this style is welcome and tossing in a few different influence just to, I don’t know, get it out of the way.. and making it all sound good in the process. Of course, that’s just the last song. The rest of it is a sludgy affair, a nice surprise for this jaded dude. (Exigent Records,

DISSOLVE, “Cavemen Of the Future”
Christ, it only took 10 years for this record to come out. 10 years! This is officially the “Chinese Democracy” of downstate metal. For those unfamiliar, let me give a bit of a backstory. Dissolve are from Poughkipsee, NY and have been around forever. They used to play here pretty often in the late 90’s and it seemed like this might have been the only town outside of the capital region where they could get a gig. I think most people were afraid of them, the band didn’t know who to call for shows, and they looked like a rouges gallery of sleazy metalhead subgenres, the likes of which most likely made it their day job to either spit in your burger, rent you porno, or ‘fix’ your muffler... who knows. Maybe it was because they were a weird band and still are. Either way, they had a couple records out back then no one really knew about, and then they got signed to a label that threw a lot of money at them and then promptly went under before they could release the record. Dissolve took that money, recorded “Cavemen Of the Future” and then it simply sat around. In the meantime I’m pretty sure the band split up for a few years. Finally, a few months ago resurrected label Trip Machine picked up the pieces and released this monster. So Dissolve celebrated by going on tour with Overcast. Not a bad turn of events if you ask me. So finally we have this record, recorded at the turn of the millennium and it sounds like Dissolve pretty much always has... except with a fancy recording. So what is that sound? It’s hard to say because they really are in a league of their own in terms of weirdness. It’s heavy as all get out, focusing on a lot of sludgy metal crunch, yet with a mix of psychedelic paranoia, and a Voivod-ish slant on bizarre out-of-this-world angular riffs... except slower. So maybe that puts them a little bit on the Meshuggah end of things as far as odd guitar parts? Regardless, all this heavy weirdness is punctuated by vocalist Paul Thorstons vicious screams that break into fits of spoken word hysteria in almost every song, going on about violence and destruction, yet in a way that is so over the top that often comes off as sort of tongue-in-cheek. It’s a pretty interesting listen and brings me back to younger days when this stuff used to fuel my destructive fantasies. The only real gripe here is that there are 13 tracks here and each one is filled with quite a bit, so it makes the entire experience a little overwhelming to take it. I mean, I know after 10 years these guys probably have a lot they want to get out... but they could have cut a couple tracks out of here. (Trip Machine Laboratories,

EDIE SEDGWICK, “Things Are Getting Sinister and Sinisterer” 12”
Years ago I got so used to Dischord releasing nothing but quality bands that it was pretty much a given that whenever they put something out it was guaranteed gold. So when they decided to put out a record for a band called El Guapo I was curious what they were all about. They were going on tour with the label’s new hot shit band Q And Not U and I was beyond stoked to see them. So when El Guapo came on to do their thing all I could think was, ‘Is this a joke?’ Me and my friends were convinced that the people at Dischord had decided to play a joke on the public and release a record for this atrocious band. In retrospect I think I just didn’t get it. In all honesty, that first El Guapo record really isn’t very good. The second one was kind of neat though, and I finally started to understand what it was they were trying to do. Well, I’m pretty sure that band is done and the primary member of that band, Justin Moyer, has gone on to do other projects, like the minimalist proto-punk band Antelope, and now this, his solo alter-ego project Edie Sedgwick. He employs a lot of the same tricks from his other outfits- the absurdly simple yet clever repetitions of Antelope, the blippy synth-pop deconstruction of El Guapo, and the same love-it-or-hate-it vocals he’s been stuck with throughout everything he has done. Edie Sedgwick has a more overt political feel though and Moyer puts some ideas across that lyrically are odd in prose, but come to interesting conclusions that I can appreciate. The record begins with more of a dance feel, but slowly moves into territory that has some pop and rock vibes later on, bringing to mind more Antelope stuff. If you know nothing about the guy than trying to give an idea of what you’re in for is difficult. It’s like if Kraftwerk decided to get a party started, loosened up a little, but still couldn’t quite shake the fact that they’re all nerds and came across funky... but really awkward. Suburban white-privilage activist kid dance music? In some really weird way I can totally get down with this. (Dischord,

GIRL LOVES DISTORTION, “Earth Belongs On Exhibit”
This is another album that jumps into a lot of different territories throughout the course of the record and it makes it rather hard to pin down exactly what DC’s Girl Loves Distortion is going for. They start out with a sort of garage rock feel with jangly guitars and soothing vocals, but soon that mode is shifted towards a bit more rhythm-oriented dance feel reminiscent of older Q And Not U material. From there things continue to move more in this sort of alt-rock dance feel and it definitely begins to lose focus. By 2/3 of the way through I’m sort of bored by it all and I’m just not picking up what the band is laying down. Some of the ideas are good- a rather melancholy mix of alternating male and female vocals, a bit of synth here and there, dabbling in various genres- but I just don’t really feel like the execution is really working out right now. (Etxe Records,

OK, since both these records came out on the same label and are both really brief I get to review them both together.
Jumper Cable....I don’t get it? So, let me get this.... the intro and outro of this EP are sections of Sleep’s “Dragonaut” and sandwiched between it all are seven short fast punk songs with funny titles, yet apparently about semi-serious stuff? And the whole thing adds up to around nine minutes and change. I guess I’d be impressed if these songs were really good, but they’re sorta just bland middle of the road hardcore that just happen to not be too long.
Stay Sharp, on the other hand, recognize that they are a middle-of-the-raod hardcore band and seem like they’re trying to do something cool to make up for it. They have a neat-looking little CD here and go a more melodic route, yet still managing to keep the aggression present. There’s a strong Kid Dynamite vibe to the music, yet with a bit more melody and a lot of youth crew styled vocals. Clocking in at under six minutes I’m not sure why they didn’t just do a 7” instead? Either way, it’s the better of the two records here. (Monkey Wrench Records, 2491 Stoney Garden Rd., Kintersville, PA 18930)

I recall reviewing this group’s first EP and was afraid of what I would come across because their name reeked of some terrible pseudo-metalcore garbage. It was anything but, and I found myself enjoying it thoroughly. Now they drop their first full length and once again I find myself in fear because there is a giant millipede adorning the cover. It’s gross. I want to throw up acid on it and make it disappear from existence. Insects with more than 6 legs creep me the fuck out, sometimes to the point of abject horror... why does this band keep fucking with me? Once again, what goes on betwixt the 1s and 0s on the plastic is worlds better than the grossness on the cover. It’s good solid post-hardcore rock giving nods to the early days of Cursive, as well as the mid-90’s Dischord scene, accentuating the entire affair with some female vocal accompaniment. The first half of the record is all driving, energetic, and punchy. Once “Blindfold” hits though, things slow down, move into more introspective territory, and give the listener some respite before kicking back into first gear for the second half of the record. A good full-length all in all. (Phratry Records,

LOOM, “Angler” EP
Imagine the ultra-noodley catchy math-rock of a band such as Damiera, but with a violin player accompanying the entire ordeal. Some may feel that this makes for too many cooks in the kitchen and I think I can feel that statement. After all, when you’re a rock band pushing the envelope for complicated timing and melodies, adding one more element to the equation to add their own spice to a song may be a bit too much. I think, for the most part, it works out alright with Loom. There are moments where I feel it may be unnecessary to have a violinist, or even to make a rock song so full of different parts and changes... though I’m typically going to feel that way any way about any band that attempts music this involved. On the other hand, it’s executed exceptionally well and has a pretty driving feel throughout. I’m thinking that maybe it’s better that this is just an EP because if I were to get 8 or 9 songs of this it might start running together. The five songs here are just enough to keep it a challenging listen and at the same time relatively enjoyable as well. (Exigent Records,

LUCKY PINEAPPLE, “The Bubble Has Burst In Sky City”
What a weird record! Things start off with sounds reminiscent of old Tortoise, but more upbeat, complete with mellotron and horns. And then things change more as the record progresses. All sorts of genres make their way into the mostly instrumental music. It moves from indie rock and into... fuck, I don’t know. I listen to punk music mostly. This is stuff you play at a Hawaiian party, or some Latin festival, or going clogging. Honestly, I think this band can represent any nation or culture if they set their minds to it. It’s rather enjoyable. It’s like world music made for indie rock dudes. I can respect that ya know? Best part about this is some friend of this band won a free day of recording at Steve Albini’s studio in a poker game and donated the time to this band. That makes for a pretty good story. Like, “Hi Steve Albini. We know you’re in Shellac and stuff, but we’re looking for more of a rhumba sound here... can you make that happen?” (Noise Pollution,

PILOT THIS PLANE DOWN, “Glory Of the World”
This record has a few things going for it. First off, the artwork on this is great. Second, there is a sick breakdown that ends the track “Rise”. Finally, the song “Conquest” starts out pretty awesome for the first minute. And that’s about it. Everything else I just didn’t really have the patience for. Isis clones have grown into this gigantic mass that has gone beyond stale and become a heaping load of moldy bagels overflowing out of a smelly dumpster that even the crustiest of dumpster divers would give a disapproving stink eye to. At least Pilot This Plane Down has a very apparent mission with this full-length It is clearly a concept record detailing the rise of civilization from simple cultivators of the land into monstrous empire-builders and world destroyers that eventually leads to our own demise. Each song is preceded by an ambient track (thus the coupling of songs together). But it’s the sort of go-nowhere drone of the ambient tracks, as well as the unnecessary dragging on of each of the heavier songs well past the five minute mark that kills it for me. Sorry, I’ve had enough of stuff like this, even if the ideas behind it are noble. (Exigent Records,

REVIVER, “Versificator”
The guy on the cover looks like he’s screaming in contrived agony about being photoshoped into oblivion. Poor guy. Thankfully, Reviver come off way better than this cover alludes to. See, in 2008 (or 2009 more like it) being a hardcore band, and I mean like a real deal straight-up no frills hardcore band, is a tough thing to pull off and sound original, let alone passionate about it. In this respect Reviver certainly earn the right to bear their moniker. Yes, they have a current sound, and that isn’t a bad thing by any means. They’re not being confined to three chords, fast parts, and gang sing-alongs. There is room for some cool changes in the music (like the first three songs rolling into one another- the post-hardcore chugging deconstruction in “Bukowski” sandwiched between two fast and furious ragers), flailing rhythmic pounding in “Hollywood”, even some singing parts that have a lot more in common with Ignite than they do with studio pitchshifted bullshit that passes for hardcore. Everything else is for the most part fast and furious hardcore full of passion. I think the only thing that bummed me out was whoever did the guest vocals on the last song... eeehhhhhh.... not so good. Anyway, it’s not that often that I get into a straight up modern-sounding hardcore band, but Reviver has certainly caught my attention. Thankfully they have something good to say. Keep it up. (Exigent Records,

The way this CD moves from one style to another throughout the course of the record is really sort of bewildering. They kick off the first few songs with a filthy hardcore rock feel, much like something the Doomriders would come up with. But then it moves into post-hardcore territory with a lot of longer, slower songs filled with effects reminiscent of, dare I say, the Deftones or something of that nature... yet still retaining a bit of a dirty feel and vocals that stick with a gruff and gravely tone. Regardless of a transition that bizarre in nature I gotta say I was pretty into what this band was doing regardless of style. It sounds heavy and mean, and with a good dose of tinkering around with new ideas. I dig it. Also, “Big Trouble In Little China” samples are always a plus. (Exigent Records,

For lack of a better thought-out description this kind of feels like a more reserved Sleater-Kinney mixed with some circus music. If that is an immediate turn off than you can stop reading. If you interest is piqued than this is the part where I earn free records and get into detail. Venus Trap hail from Louisville and carry on a tradition in that town that extends back to the late 70’s of punk bands that dared tread a different path. While most younger people know Louisville for loud and abrasive dirty hardcore it seems the majority of bands from there have always played a style of punk that takes chances, toys with melody in exciting ways, and overall does things apart from the norm. Venus Trap are one such group. It’s not to say this is the most groundbreaking thing I’ve ever heard because it’s not and at times I got a little bored. Yet I like the way they double up the vocals, making them almost the primary instruments. Both these ladies really know how to sing and coordinate their parts very well. Musically it’s relatively low-fi punk/indie that includes a fair share of organ as well to the mix. Again, it’s not something that blows my hair back, but it’s a good way to go if you want something different. (Noise Pollution,

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Tim Leo, graphic artist god and guitarist from The Minor Times is now 30 years old. Welcome to the club, you've officially joined the senior citizens of hardcore. If you know this man, wish him a happy birthday.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I think that might be one of the only occasions a Hex release sells out- when I only make 100 of them! But in reality, the Mistletoe CDEP is not totally sold out. It's just all the copies Hex Records has are gone. The band still has some left over from tour.
So you can still get copies from them, more than likely only at live shows so here's what they got coming up:
12/12/08- Syracuse@ Funk n' Waffles w/ Andrea Doria, Stonelord
1/1/09- Syracuse @ Westcott C.C. w/ Another Breath, Sick Fix, Poison Planet, No People, etc.
and perhaps a mid-January weekend w/ Buffalo's Patrons Of Sweet

Also, I'm guessing people might be wondering what's up with all those other records I have coming out. I think the way it's gonna work is some stuff slated for later might come out sooner, but expect 2009 to be a busy one for the label no matter. Here's a few updates: Oak and Bone is ready to record their debut 7" and ought to be heading into Wayne Manor Studio before year's end. The Night Owls are basically finished writing and have broken in new bassist Rachel Bass. Yet given the members commitments to school and parenthood might keep them from getting recording done until possibly Spring? Just a guess. Helms Alee are wrapping up a tour with Minus the Bear right now and I think once they are back they will start laying the groundwork for their 7". End Of a Year, bless their big fat hearts, have about a million records coming out, write songs like their life depended on it, and are on the straightaway to getting theirs finished. I have faith in the timely manner in which they accomplish these feats given the extraordinary output they commit to. Lemuria just finished up a long tour with Gordon Gano's Army and according to them will be shacking up for the winter to write 7" songs. Finally, The Helm have a good chunk of songs written for the next full length and are looking to record in the Spring so they can have the record out in time for Summer. So that's that. As always, news on any of this stuff will be up as soon as it comes my way.
In the meantime, don't let holiday craziness get to you. I find it best to hibernate, eat good food, and watch movies and avoid the malls at all costs.
Oh yeah, and get something here. Times are hard ya know?

Friday, November 21, 2008


I returned from Florida and worked on stuff. Then I immediately left for tour. Since Monday I've been trying to get these done and catch up with things. So here's the newest reviews. Unless there's some other noteworthy news I'll be posting up year's end best of lists from myself and others associated with the label!

AKIMBO, “Jersey Shores”

If you’re a band that has essentially been churning out the same tune for the last 10 years I can see how trying something new might appeal to you. For Seattle’s Akimbo they’ve been honing their Melvins- KARP-classic rock worship to a fine beer-fueled
point over four full lengths and a few EPs with generally pleasing results. It’s sort of in the AC/DC approach to things- they’ve been making the same record for 25 years now and it works for them. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Akimbo seemed to be on that route as well, up until releasing this record. On “Jersey Shores” they have opted to make a concept record based around an incident in 1916 where an unusually high amount of shark attacks occurred on the Jersey shore in the space of about two weeks. The songs all pretty much flow together and are bound by meandering interludes, or droning heaviness. Honestly, it just sounds like a regular Akimbo record (which is great) where every song is exceptionally longer due to the interludes that weave the songs together (which feels sort of unnecessary to me). It’s an interesting story line to pursue, and the same chugging mountain rock-hardcore is still there in spades (the opening riff of “Rouge” and “Great White Bull” stand out in particular)... you just get all this extra stuff in-between that turns six songs into 45 minutes. As far as an Akimbo release goes it’s all good. As far as the experiment goes I’m rather indifferent to it’s presence. (Neurot,


I’m not sure why I thought this, but I kind of imagined both these bands being a little more on the pop-punk side. Don’t ask why, I just did. The Benard dudes, at one point, were going to help my band out with a show down in Georgia, but then we had to bail and I felt bad because they seemed really cool. Then I saw them in Florida and it was the complete opposite of what I thought they were going to be, which is cool. Plus, their singer looked to be about 12 years old. Either way, the two songs they drop on this split are solid, and tight emotional hardcore that reminds me of mid-to-late 90’s Wreck-Age Records stuff mixed with some early Boy Sets Fire. I’m pretty into it. Worn In Red, on the flip side, aren’t really getting at me. They have one song, and it’s pretty long, and sort of just drags on and on through some early 90’s style emo stuff that could have been on the less hectic end of an Ebullition compilation. Both bands seem to be coming from the right frame of mind in terms of direction and execution, my tastes just happen to fall more into what Benard is doing rather than Worn In Red. (Alaska Records,


There’s something about this band that makes me so ridiculously happy. Maybe it has something to do with each member being a really great person to hang with. Or that how it seemed that no matter where I was during The Fest weekend in Florida I saw at least one of them actively checking out other bands all the time. Or maybe it’s because when they play it’s with such conviction and intensity, and everyone just feels the energy... it’s like a big pow wow of good vibes. I can’t place it. Regardless, it’s things like what I mentioned that made me instantly pick up their first 7” though I was a bit let down by a lackluster recording that just didn’t do their live show justice. So on this full length they certainly get a good recording, but again, I just don’t think there’s any way that this band will be able to capture just how captivating they are live on record. You just have to be there, because listening to Bridge and Tunnel can be a huge difference. They rely on mostly slower tempos with lots and lots of weaving guitar interplay, somewhat morose male/female vocals trade-off’s (the lyrical content generally goes back to a glass half-full attitude in quite the anthemic manner), lots of tremolo and delay effects as well, and kind of progressive song structures. So, to some, it might seem boring. Yet when they play live it’s like getting the biggest rush of inspiration to just rock out, sing along, and feel good about things. There are a few songs on here that have that quality of sounding a little dull on record but come across well live. And then there’s the ones that come across amazing both on record and especially live, like opener “Wartime Souvenirs” and the entire B-side (particularly “Down For My People Like Jim Carroll” and “Grace For These Wayward Hearts”). I don’t want to bash the recording because it is recorded really well. And I definitely recommend getting this record if you’re into a good emo band (yeah I said it) that actually has something worthwhile to say. But live- that’s where you have to see them to really know just how awesome they are. (No Idea,


The first song is great (it’s more of an intro) and so is the last one (not counting the bonus track). Everything sandwiched in-between isn’t doing it for me. Then again, I’ve never been a huge fan of overtly hectic bands like Neil Perry and Ampere. As entertaining as they usually are to see live on record it just seems like they’re lacking any structure to their songs and tend to just play as crazy as they can with as many disjointed parts as they can cram into 45 seconds. Capsule most definitely fit this mold, although they make it worse by adding a couple of really long, slow, and dull noisy songs right in the middle of this. I guess I’m into the first and last track quite a bit because they both tend to break the cycle here with a more direct and heavy approach. I know a lot of people are getting wacky over this band right now, but it’s just not for me. This is another recording that comes in the 12” only format, accompanied by a CD with it and it looks really slick. (Robotic Empire,

CREATURE, “No Love In Hell” CDEP
I’m a little late to the game here because this has been out for a while now, and I’ll admit, I passed it up for a long time because let’s be honest- the artwork on this sucks. It’s really bad. On the other hand, Creature, a side project for a few Syracuse dudes involved in a few other bands here, rocks pretty thoroughly. These guys wanted to start a horror-punk band and they have done it well. They offer up 6 songs that clearly stem from some Misfits love, but musically fall more into 90’s SoCal punk territory- a little Bad Religion, a little older Pennywise, and a bit of hardcore too of course. So forget what it looks like, go with what it sounds like instead... which is good. (Punk Buttons,

CRIME IN STEREO, “Selective Wreckage”

An odds and sods collection from this group who are planning numerous releases within the next year. They basically re-invented themselves for their last full length, which I guess people are pretty split over, and on this collection (which is a lot of out takes from that full length, as well as some material from a never released split from the same time period) you’re apt to find songs that are in that vein. It’s still real melodic punk with a heavy nod towards mainstream acceptance. Shit, a couple of these songs could be Fallout Boy b-sides. The rest of it sort of feels like older Saves the Day (i.e.- bad Lifetime) to me. I’m not really selling this, am I? Well, to some people that might sound like the next best thing to sliced bread. To me it’s not really doing it. (Bridge 9,

CRUEL HAND, “Prying Eyes”

I first watched this band when they played a basement in the suburbs to about five people. Regardless of the somewhat odd setting they still played like they had just each downed a six-pack of energy drinks and were bouncing off the walls. It wasn’t too much longer before they were on tour with Bane and playing to a few hundred kids every night. People seemed to really like them then. I guess it’s pretty entertaining. For some reason I remember them playing a lot faster live than on this record. On here it feels like the band is going way more into a NYHC vibe, which isn’t a bad thing. It simply feels like direct and to the point hardcore rather than something that’s knocking me flat on my ass. And don’t be fooled by the cover. This thing looks like it could be the new Wino side-project, or some Deep Purple B-sides collection or something. Nothing like fucking with people’s expectations huh? (Bridge 9,

DEATHCYCLE, “Prelude To Tyranny”

For one reason or another I had initially thought this band was some crusty thrash band, probably based upon their logo, album artwork, and name. While maybe a little of that creeps into their music this sounds way more like good New York and Long Island hardcore in the style of Sheer Terror and Kill Yr Idols. In fact, I’m wondering if some KYI personnel are in this band? Maybe, maybe not? Regardless, it fucking rips in the best possible way that true NYHC can. Deathcycle have a much more straightforward political persuasion to their lyrics, mostly focusing on current issues like the war, repression of civil liberties, and media/government collusion. Geez, this really sounds a lot like Sheer Terror. Great stuff. I’m sure these guys are a wrecking ball live. (Lifeline Records,


It’s a good thing when a record is really hard to describe, yet you just want to keep listening to it. That’s the case with Gods and Queens, the new project from ex-Lickgoldensky personnel. Actually, it’s pointless to mention the ex-member thing because this sounds nothing like that band, other than being loud. The band actually describe themselves quite well- mentioning an affinity for DC-area bands and psychedelic shoegazer rock all at once and “failed at every attempt” to “blatantly rip them off”. That works pretty good for me. I guess you can see some of the ideas in place for sweet melodies, gigantic post-hardcore droning, and some upbeat (albeit strange) riffing. I really, really like this. There are no lyrics and all of the 7 songs on here are untitled. I suppose you’re supposed to just take this as it is and that certainly does count for a lot for a group simply trying to just rock the shit out of your face in a rather undefinable, yet vaguely familiar sort of way. Bands like Helms Alee and Young Widows make for good reference material, not because they all sound alike, but because each are taking post-hardcore into new territory. I like where it’s going. The format for this is a 12” with a CD included. (Robotic Empire,

LA DISPUTE, “Somewhere At the Bottom Of the River Between Vega and Altair”

Good lord, I really wanted to like this band, but could this singer possibly have his nuts crammed further into his stomach? It sounds like the pimply-faced teenager from the Simpsons after a bottle of NyQuil getting wacky at open mic night night at the local poetry den. After one listen where I was only half paying attention I thought things were going to be alright once I gave it a solid listen, but upon that more attentive spin I couldn’t make through all 13 songs I have to admit. Occasionally the music breaks into some pretty solid heavy rock parts that pull the listener in and remind me a bit of later Refused, though a lot of times the group opts for some bastard mix of dancey rock and noodley emo bits. Whew, this one’s a doosy. I think I’m the wrong guy to hand this to. (No Sleep Records,

MINNOW, “Thirteen Wrongs”

If this had come out in the 80’s it would most certainly have been considered a bitchin’ punk/ hardcore record. And since the members of this band came from that era, it may seem like just that to them. But since it is now closing in on 2009 music like this is considered indie rock. Don’t ask me when it changed over, it just did. That being said I think Minnow is a pretty rad band playing a style that may have been left to the wayside ages ago, the kind of music that makes younger kids scratch their noggins in confusion because they cannot simply categorize it right away. While vocalist Rob Pennington’s (Endpoint, By the Grace Of God, Black Cross) signature yelp is immediately noticeable he channels it in new ways- softer spoken, almost singing at times, and not so immediately in your face. It works well for him. The rest of the band plays with clean-sounding guitars often, evoking something akin to early Sonic Youth, minus all the crazy tunings. Occasionally female vocals enter the picture and are harsh and strained. While this Louisville band’s full length is good it does feel like it carries on a little too long. Each of the 13 songs here are good, but I feel like it would have bowled me over more if they kept it a solid 10... meh, semantics. Overall, pretty cool for those looking for a sound from about 25 years ago refreshed for today. (Noise Pollution,

MISERY INDEX, “Traitors”
Death metal is a tough genre for me to differentiate one band from another. I can spot a few of them, but chances are if I were to be handed a blank CD with various death metal bands on it and asked to guess who they were I’d probably be batting about .100... if that (for those unaware of baseball stats that’s not very good). With that Misery Index does separate themselves from the pack, and it’s primarily in their very overt political stances/ lyrics. Additionally, it feels like Misery Index comes from a punk background, despite all the blast beats and tech metal winding it’s way through this new full length. To this guy, who doesn’t really listen to death metal, it’s not going to stick in my brain. But if I were a death metal dude I’d probably be all over this. (Relapse,


There’s a number of things going on with this band that I guess don’t particularly match up with stereotypes associated with presentation, sound, and background that invariably go together. It’s really not a big issue, but perhaps worth mentioning. At first, seeing a couple of the early 7”s from this band I just assumed they were some spazzy hardcore band since the artwork on their records looked like it could have come from a Combatwoundedvetern LP (similar weird artwork adorns this new record, though completely different artists and it looks really cool). Secondly, this has ex-members of Discount in it so one would naturally think that some bouncy and catchy pop punk was in order. Not exactly so. Finally, throw out those last two things I talked about because Monikers don’t really sound at all like what one would expect based on those things. As far as song structure goes this is similar to the straight-ahead rocking punk of Dillinger 4, though a bit more loose. Some of it feels like Blitz just a bit with how catchy it is as well. The vocals have an almost snotty, strained screech to them as well that feels kind of out of place, but I guess it works. Overall, a decent record that throws a wrench into expectations and results in something all their own (Kiss Of Death Records,

OLEHOLE, “Holemole”

Alright, just to get it out of the way, it’s pronounced ‘O-lay Ho-lay’ and the record is pronounced ‘ho-lay mo-lay’ . Got it? Moving right along, I heard about this group because a friend from Burial Year is playing with them and if you were familiar with that group forget about comparisons. If you weren’t well... you won’t need to know about them in order to understand this. What you get instead is some good post-hardcore rocking. Although that’s fairly general it’s about as accurate as I can get. For the most part it rocks rather mid-tempo, though sometimes really slow (like the heavy plodding throughout “Union Plague”). It’s as if dudes who really connected with mid-90’s post-hardcore on their side of the country (the left coast that is) kept that in mind when writing for this band, and simply added the modern twist of current technology to the recording process. I dig it. I don’t dig it like my life depended on listening to it, but I certainly enjoy it and like where they’re coming from in terms of their sound. (Underground Communique Records,


Yeah, these are death metal bands, how did you guess? With the song titles and descriptions I figure they either like Carcass a lot or they’re joking around. I mean, it’s sort of hard for me not to laugh a little when a band adds, “45 RPMS of malformed hate doused in embalming fluid” to the credits. As far as the bands go, Putrescence is a bit rough around the edges, going with some low-tuned chugging that, for lack of a better description, reminds me a bit of Disembodied except more metal. Their side sounds surprisingly loud for vinyl (even though the drums sound way too low in the mix and the snare is incredibly weak) and the needle was actually skipping a bit. My guess is perhaps some vinyl mastering was left out of the plan? The flip side has I Die Screaming and I gotta say, it’s not my bag. It’s very screechy techy death metal. I just don’t really get into that at all. They’ve got one of those logos that just look like a bunch of sharp twigs jumbled together. The package is pretty nice- some cool sleeve artwork and hazy green vinyl. Time for you death metal dudes to get a turntable. (Eschaton Indistries,

SERIOUS GENIUSES, THE, “You Can Steal the Riffs, But You Can’t Steal the Talent”

This is getting to be a reoccurring scenario, but... there I was, at The Fest... ya know, that thing in Florida. I was waiting to see Amateur Party and I showed up to the venue early. There was this band playing and they weren’t really going off or anything, but they were just killing it. They sounded awesome and I had to find out who they were. I checked my schedule real quick to find out that it was The Serious Geniuses. What kind of name is that? Their closing song had this great riff going throughout it and sounded so fun and upbeat. Afterwards I found the drummer and asked if the song was on their full length or 7”. He said he didn’t remember, but remembered the name of the song, which I thought was strange. I was in money reserve mode because I’m poor, but by the end of the weekend found myself with a few extra bucks and picked up the LP from the Kiss Of Death distro and when I got home I found the CD waiting for me in the mail for review. I know, this is a great story, right? Well, it gets better because I listened to it... on both formats. And it’s still good. And while that one song that caught me when I saw them remains the best on the record (“Mark Attack” just in case you’re wondering) the rest of the record flows in a sort of Superchunk sort of way, except maybe a little less crafty... a little more simple. Either way, it’s a good rock record with some minor indie and punk flourishes out of the Boston area. I’m hooked on the hooks and picking up what they’re laying down. plus, how about that record title? (Kiss Of Death,

TEENAGE COOL KIDS, “Queer Salutations”

An excellent record from start to finish. It’s not quite like this came out of left field because I had a friend recommend them to me, and then when I had the chance to see them I totally pursued it because of the hype built off the recommendation. And I gotta say, when I saw them it was the perfect setting for what they were doing- it was a sleepy and warm Sunday morning (it might have been noon at that point) in someone’s backyard and this band just busted out with something that was both fun and relaxing to hear, yet totally exhilarating at the same time. In order to properly describe this release I’ll have to jump back to the 90’s and use a term that I haven’t thought of in a long time and that would be ‘slacker rock’. Hearing Denton, Texas’ Teenage Cool Kids is like a lo-fi Pixies meeting up with Pavement, even though a few have mentioned that they think they sound a lot like Built To Spill. I wouldn’t really know because I don’t listen to that band. Labels and comparisons aside this is such a good listen from the simple songs, leads and melodies all over the place, and sort of nasally vocals that speak of a spot in that in-between time of still being young at heart, but jaded with the world at large. That time when you’re supposed to be all grown up but you don’t quite know just what the hell you’re going to do with yourself yet. Strangely romantic songs like “Sleeper Hold”, “Awkward Type Of Girl”, and “Reasons Why” straddle the fence between being sweet and ironically cruel. Still, “Write Back Soon” makes hipster hate pretty straight-forward: “Look at you hipster dude/ But I guess that’s what you want/ “Hold my Pabst?”/ Kiss my ass/ Move to Brooklyn or Vermont/ Get tattoos, Nike shoes/ Tell us exactly how you feel in a zine of poetry..” finishing up with the whole lot “embracing devolution”. Very nice. The music is great, the vocals may get some getting used to for some but I love them, and the lyrics are wonderful. What a great band to discover. Glad I took the recommendation. (Protagonist Music,


I’m really reminded of hometown ear-rattlers Engineer and Virginia legends Majority Rule when checking out They and the Children. They seem to take many of the heavy influences of those bands and stretch them out to make their own brand of churning and messy hardcore sludge. Bits of the most abrasively droning elements of Neurosis collide with face-peeling crust from His Hero Is Gone and somehow work nicely into a cohesive whole. The eight songs here on this full length will pull you in, punch you in the gut, and hang around just long enough where they don’t quit too early, or bore you with their longevity. Each song seems to take the time it needs to shake your skull and ruin your hearing. Well executed. (Kill Normal Records,


VOD was always an experience. Vocalist Tim Williams always looked like he had gotten beaten up the night before, probably for screwing some other guys lady, showing up at multiple shows I’d seen them at with a black eye. When the band played it was dangerous. It wasn’t so much that they were tough guys or anything, the tough guys showed up for them and clobbered anyone in sight. And it typically didn’t help that the band often called out for blood between songs. All this seems highly against my ideals of hardcore, but I’ll tell you this- VOD wrote some ridiculously heavy and punishing music that still makes me want to do some sort of spin kick windmill upside someone’s face. This DVD splices footage from two reunion shows in 2006 that took place in New York and Worcester, MA. I’m not sure how much post-production went into this, but the sound is unreal and the band is as tight as ever. And that’s the thing- VOD weren’t just playing by-the-number mosh-metal. For the time they existed what they were doing was something really original. They definitely leaned more on the side of metal with quite a bit of technicality while the vocals combined singing and screaming in the best way possible (as well as in key). Kids who hear it now might not think much of it, but for ‘96 and ‘97 it really grabbed people’s attention. The footage here makes it seems as if that never ceased... even though it’s about as Long Island as one can get. In the bonus sections fans are screaming out for the band in the most Long Island trashy dude-bro accents ever. Interviews with the band are of the same mentality, yet a bit more humble about their success. The whole thing is assembled well and the sound is good, so if you’re a fan longing for the old days this ought to help. (Koch Records,

VOETSEK, “Infernal Command”
Thrash vocalists, by and large, need to work on a couple of things. First, cut back on the amount of lyrics you have per song. I know the songs are short and really fast, and that’s a good thing, but every thrash vocalist I hear sounds like they’re mumbling their way through a song like they’re half in the bag, or they have a speech impediment. It’s called rhythm dudes, make it work for you, not against you! Secondly, and this is going to sound mean, but a lot of thrash lyrics are dumb. I know a lot of times the point is to not be too serious, and to be kind of funny. Still, you can only get away with lines like , “Circle pit action/ Let’s keep it counter-clockwise/ Circle pit action, keepin’ it real” for so long before it gets corny. Or just bad. I don’t even want to get into the song about Lemmy from Motorhead’s sexual prowess, it just makes me feel slimy. Anyone who likes thrash should pretty much just focus (and I’m guessing the band focuses on this too) on being really fast, and really tight. Thankfully Voetsek excel at this, and definitely throw in an excessive amount of metal with their thrash. Many solos soar, and numerous breakdowns crunch, and in-between it’s a lot of really fast hardcore. It’s not totally my thing,a nd I’ve heard better, but for thrashers I’m sure they’ll be loving it. (Selfmadegod Records,

Friday, November 7, 2008


On Sunday I'll be taking off for a week to go on tour with my band Mistletoe. If you live in the Northeast come see us. For dates check here:
But before this goes down I wanted to do a quick report on going down to Gainesville for The Fest, which was over Halloween weekend (and my birthday).
I wrote up this big thing on it, but that would take entirely too long to post up here, so I thought I'd do some sort of quick, bullet point-style recap.

Thursday, 10.30.08
- Woke up at 7:30AM, picked up the rental minivan, picked up dudes, and got on the road around 10AM
- Made a stop in Richmond because it's great there. Harrison St. Coffeehouse and Panda Kahn never disappoint
- Listened to Sleep, "Jerusalem" in it's entirety. We decided that if we got lost we'd just have to look for the smoke. Eventually it would lead to the riff-filled land
- Stopped driving around 2AM when I hit South Of the Border (S. Carolina). Night shift took over.
- Dan and Trev R
ock decided to shotgun a Moxie every time we crossed a state line. That's disgusting.
- I woke up in a parking lot in Gainesville

Friday, 10.31.08
- Wandered around downtown Gainesville for a couple hours before registration and found a couple of the venues shows would be at
- Registered right at noon and waited in line about 10 minutes. After looking at some distros I left and the line was already out the door, out another room, down a hallway, down two flights of stairs, through the hotel lobby, and out the door. Good thing I got there early
- Wandered looking for decent coffee and came across a joint called Volta who were super-serious about their coffee. It was pretty good too.
- Found a great little record store called Wayward Council... sweet place.
- Weren't too man
y bands I wanted to see this day (Ringers, Amateur Party, Halo Fauna), so I discovered a couple really good new ones (Serious Geniuses, Brainworms)
- Watched Paint I
t Black play inside a U-Haul truck in a parking lot for about 5 minutes with around 500 other people until the cops came on horseback and shut it down. It was total madness.

Saturday, 11.1.08
- We got up early because some dudes wanted to go to a morning house show. I should have went. It end
ed up being Brainworms, Cult Ritual, Ampere, and Cheeky
- Instead the rest of us went to a nearby coffee place called Coffee Culture. It looked like a convenient store from the outside, but ended up being one of the coolest places around. Plus the girls who worked there were rad.
- We all then went to No Idea Records headquarters for a BBQ/record sale. Seems fun? Not at all. I can't believe there was a line of at least 200 people lined up just to look at records. So dumb. Just because stuff you can
get online is a few bucks cheaper does NOT warrant standing in line for two hours to buy stuff. What is this, the day after Thanksgiving?
- Time for bands. I spent the first portion of the day at a venue called 1982 watching Olehole (kinda Quicksand-ish post hardcore), Prize Country (best, most overlooked band ever), Liquid Limbs (sweet 2-man Torche/prog-ish stuff), Benard (heavy... um... screamo... but good!), Mouthbreather (really tight and heavy rock-hardcore), and Jena Berlin (small crowd, but so into it, including a sweet ceiling walk)
- Went to The Venue to see Coalesce. It was a huge place. I was skeptical because Coalesce has suck
ed the last couple reunions I saw them on. This time was like seeing them back in '95. I feared for my life. It was insane, noisy, heavy, awesome, and put a huge grin on my face. Totally awesome to see them back in killing mode again.
- From here it got wacky because I kept going back and forth to different venues that were pretty good walking distance from one another to see bands I really wanted to see. I won't get into details, but to make it succinct: Suicide Note were incredible, Lemuria played to the biggest crowd I'd ever seen them play to and everyone loved it, same for Bridge and Tunnel (and
they totally shred as well), Sinaloa was good but it was sort of a bad setting for them in my opinion, Young Livers were so tight and got everyone pretty rowdy, what I saw of Able Baker Fox (ex- Casket Lottery and Small Brown Bike) was really good, O'Pioneers were pretty good, and Young Widows played "Old Wounds" from start to finish, note for note, near perfect. Amazing.
- Oh yeah... I was skeptical of the whole Fest a bit because it was sponsored in part by a beer company and I had a bit of an ethical dilema, as well as a fear of drunk assholes getting in my face all weekend. Thankfully, everyone was pretty damn respectable for the most part. Everyone I came across appeared to be in a good mood and was very friendly. Unfortunately, smoking is still allowed indoors at clubs and that drove my sinuses nuts at times.
- Lemuria were staying at the same hotel as us and some time during the night some jerkoff's ran into their room, jumped all over their beds, and then ran off. No one seems to know exactly what transpired, but if anyone has any information leading to these culprits send it to me and we'll see to it they get their comeuppance.

Sunday, 11.2.08

-It's strange to wake up in another state on your birthday. but that's what I did today and I didn't even seem to notice it.
- Went to another morning house/ backyard show that Slingshot Dakota and Teenage Cool Kids played. Teenage Cool Kids were fucking great. I highly suggest checking them out. Slingshot covered "Waiting Room"... sweet.
- Went back to Co
ffee Culture. Great place. Just fantastic.
- Went over to the Kickstand (a really sweet venue by the way) to see Teenage Cool Kids again. Excellent stuff.
- Made our way down to Market St. Pub, which looks like a cross between a Bourbon Street saloon and a rave club. It was confusing. I wanted to see Affirmative Action Jackson and kinda wanted to see Hour Of the Wolf.
- AAJ were OK (not as funny as when I'd seen them before). HOTW were one of the best bands I'd ever seen. Before even playing the singer was shouting, "I did a rain dance! I feel great! I did a rain dance! We're gonna kill you!" The bassist played naked, and the next twenty minutes were a blur of total chaos. Other wonderful quotes from the singer (who also smashed his head over and over with the mic and threw a full can of garbage into the audien
ce, which he also drank out of): "You guys are a bunch of anarchies!", "Punk Fest. Hardcore Fest. Beer Fest. Fuck Fest. You're all gonna fuck. You all have diseases!", "We're not serious" (guitarist). "This is fucking serious!" (singer) "Who are you?!" (to bassist). "I don't even know these guys" (bassist). It was excellent.
- Nothing could really top that so seeing Off With Their Heads and The Ergs in the giant, smoke-filled Venue didn't fill me with as much glee as it could have.
- Apparently, one of my cohorts was crowd-surfing during The Ergs and someone tried to steal his shoe so he beat the guy over the head with it and got kicked out. Good for him.
- I attempted to walk really damn far to see Minus the Bear but they weren't letting anyone else in. Sweet walk.
- No interest in seeing Leatherface, so I waited outside 'til my friends came out and we immediately bailed out of Gainesville for a non-stop 18 hour drive back to Syracuse. It was pretty unexciting for the most part getting back, plus my voice was shot at that point so conversation was rather pointless.
- Got a shit ton of great records and made some new pals. Life is good. Fest was rad.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I like to do multiple subjects in my posts. It makes it so I don't have to do this stuff all the time.
Now, I wish those two subjects were in some way related, but aside from travel and shows, they sadly are not.
So here's the skinny: I'll be away from October 30th until November 3rd at The Fest. Just so we're on the same page, I'm not too keen on Florida. So if you're from there, and you're going to The Fest please change my opinion of it on the whole! Hex Records will not be setting up shop, but I'll be there and will most likely have some Hex goodies in my bag if you're interested. Let me know. Maybe we can meet up and I can make a special delivery. Here's who I'm stoked to see: Ringers, Amateur Party, Halo Fauna, Young Widows, Young Livers, Jena Berlin, Lemuria, Ole Hole, Prize Country, Benard, Ruiner, Liquid Limbs, Coalesce, Armalite, Shook Ones, Suicide Note, Paint It Black, Catalyst, Municipal Waste, Die Hoffnung, Bridge and Tunnel, Sinaloa, O'Pioneers, Teenage Cool Kids, Off With Their Heads, The Ergs, Affirmative Action Jackson, and Asshole Parade. It's a big list. I'm gonna do my best to get from place to place to see it all. Let's coordinate schedules, yeah?

Secondly, my band Mistletoe is going on tour shortly thereafter. Come see us if you're in the Northeast. It's pretty much the only time you'll get to get the limited CD we made. If you can't come and want one I still have some here
If you need more specific information about any of the shows send a message and I'll try and clarify for you:
Sunday, November 9th, 3PM- Binghamton, NY @ Binghamton University w/ No Connection and Oak and Bone
Monday, November 10th- I don't know. Help us out.
Tuesday, November 11th, 7PM- Doylestown, PA @ Siren Records(?) w/ Lemuria * WE PLAY FIRST AND THEN HAVE TO GO, SO SHOW UP EARLY!*
Tuesday, November 11th, 7:30PM- New Brunswick, NY house show w/ Black Kites, Torchbearer
Wednesday, November 12th, 6PM- Waturbury, CT @ Shakedown Shop
Thursday, November 13th, 8PM- Brooklyn, NY @ Stolen Sleeves Collective w/ End Of a Year, Defeater
Friday, November 14th- Brooklyn, NY- details forthcoming
Saturday, November 15th, 7PM- Annondale, NY @ Bard College/Root Cellar w/ Rejouissance
Sunday, November 16th, 7PM- Purchase, NY @ Purchase College/ Student Union w/ Rejouissance

Monday, October 20, 2008


I'll be perfectly honest. There wasn't a whole lot this week that really tooted my horn. But not all weeks can be amazing for music. I'd say, for the most part, 2008 has proved to be an excellent year for music. Early October, for me anyway, just wasn't. Eh, it's not like there's even a lot of bad stuff here, just some mediocre stuff. And a couple decent books.
I'll be at the Fest at the end of the month. If you know me, say 'hi', If you're a good band I'll do my best to come see you. I hate Florida, but I like good music.

“BRAINFAG FOREVER,”, by Nate Beaty
Alright, so you’re another dude in his late 20’s (early 30’s?) who is bummed on life and cranky all the time because you can’t keep a steady lady in your life, and when you do something goes wrong with it, and then you escape to the wilderness on some island in the Northwest to try and make sense of it all. But it doesn’t work and thus the cycle of being a cranky, bitter chump continues. What a quandary. Why does this happen? Oh, I have a clue! Maybe it’s because you’re a late 20’s (early 30s?) dude who draws corny cartoons of yourself as a half pig man person going through these cycles and obsessing on relationships you had 10 years ago over and over again, drawing them into cartoons that are made for public viewing. Maybe that’s why you might be having trouble in these areas of your life. Throughout this collection of Brainfag comic zines it’s like I’m reading the same story over and over again. Each time the author goes through more heartbreak you not only get the latest tale of woe, but a repeat on the past woes you read about before. Cool. I’m sure the girls who broke your heart really enjoy being drawn as comics that your friends read. At times this guy really seems to put effort into his art and craft (the cover, title page, a couple later issues), especially in the issue that is mostly just pen and ink drawings of bridges and places around Portland (they’re quite extraordinary in fact). But most of it is ad nauseum complaining that really turns me off. (Microcosm,

DEFEATER, “Travels”
Well, raise my rent... who would know that a band previously known under the ridiculously poor moniker Sluts would be such good dudes? Honestly, under that old terrible name this band wanted to play Syracuse pretty bad and I denied them on name alone. There was no way I was booking a band called Sluts. And I still wouldn’t, even if friggin’ Henry Rollins was their frontman and Neil Peart was playing drums (and that would sound amazing, let me tell you!). Yet with a name change, and a new CD I am finding myself happy to have heard this. There is nothing groundbreaking whatsoever about this band. They simply play melodic hardcore that would sit well alongside Modern Life Is War and Another Breath, most of their songs based around narratives about different people. It’s solid and gets the job done. Individually these dudes are behind the scenes running recording studios, renting vans to touring bands that run on veggie oil, doing eco awareness projects, and so forth. The packaging on this CD is all recycled materials (and it looks really kick-ass too)... maybe these dudes are just sluts to good causes? I dunno. Either way, Defeater is a much better name, yet given the resumes the members have inside and outside of music perhaps that name doesn’t do them justice either? (Top Shelf Records,

DON THE READER, “Humanesque”
There’s a bit of mystery with this band for me. For starters, what the hell is their name supposed to mean? Secondly, they sort of came out of nowhere, advertising the shit out of a free record they were giving away. All I could think was how much money they were sinking into this band already. Now they have this full length out (which I’m guessing is NOT free this time) and I finally get to hear for myself what they’re all about. I was hoping for something pretty exciting, but alas, it’s really not all that wild. It’s the same kind of Botch-esque noodling where they kind of get it, but not really. Taking their cues more from pretenders to the throne like Norma Jean than the real masters this delivers very heavy-handed metalcore, complete with some weird time signatures and tons of warped string bends. Yet here we are in 2008, bands were executing audiences with this style 10 years ago and 10 years later it’s gotten fairly dry. I don’t want to say this record is a complete waste or anything. It has it’s moments. But it’s another case of bands working on their brutal fucked up side without writing a good song. It’s just a lot of heavy parts with no one song that really sticks around in the listeners head. (Deathcote,

ENERGY, “Invasions Of the Mind”
Awful. Totally bland music with overproduced vocals that could be taken out of this band , cut and pasted into any number of shitty radio pop bands. Actually, it sounds like AFI, and I can’t stand AFI. That’s just me. I guess this is supposed to be hardcore, but to me it just sounds stale. It’s like the name of this band is a double-edged sword. It’s a pretty bland name in one respect, yet if they really lived up to it the name could really help... but they would really have to kick the shit out of the listener without fail. And well, this fails. (Bridge 9,

“FOLLOW FOR NOW”, ‘by Roy Christopher

“Follow for now, power to the people say, make a miracle. D pump the lyrical. Black is back, all in, we’re gonna win, check it out. Yeah y’all c’mon, here we go again!” Instantly those old Public Enemy lyrics came to mind upon seeing the title of this book. And to my great pleasure I discovered that this book was named after those very same words. That’s a good start. So what lies betwixt the pages? Well, this is a collection of various interviews done between 1999 and 2006 for different publications that emphasize people pushing the envelope with music, culture, science, technology, literature, and media. Through these different people there seems to be an attempt to connect a lot of these folks and their ideas with similar undercurrents to a bigger picture. At times I’m not feeling it, and other times it makes total sense. While the author interviews DJ Spooky he shoots off his influences as computer nerds and philosophers who are interviewed elsewhere in the book. Meanwhile, interviewee Brian Coleman discusses his own book about forming a collected history of hip-hop. Shepard Fairey admits to the influence of punk music on his work while Futurama co-creator David X. Cohen shares how half the show’s writers have advanced degrees in science. Some of these people have great ideas and visions for how they interpret culture while others go right over my head. Others just sound like flat-out new age weirdos. About half the time this book works, but the overall pictures is that it is indeed an interesting look on tying together all these differing aspects of society as a whole. In total there are about 45 interviews that range from post-punkers Milemarker, to author Adam Voith, to hip-hop group Dalek, to writer Bruce Sterling, to skateboarder Todd Swank, to actor/writer Sean Gullette, and a whole bunch of other weirdos and kooks. (Well Red Bear,

GIT SOME, “Cosmic Rock”
I never got really all that into Planes Mistaken For Stars. When they began they were dull and by the time they got exciting I slept on it. I guess that makes me a bad person. Git Some is the remnants of PMFS, as well as a couple characters from a little band called Peralta who I happen to know quite a bit about. Peralta were fucking weird and spazzy, minimalist like the Minutemen, but just as gnarly as Black Flag... made for tearing up a curb with your skateboard. I was into that band. So all these gnarled dudes got together and formed Git Some and the name pretty much goes hand-in-hand with music you’d pretty much expect coming from these two forces of punk rock. It’s wild and unruly, filthy and messy, and a bit off-kilter and weird all in one. It doesn’t exactly flow and it feels like the band is still figuring out exactly who they are because you’ll hear styles change from song to song. Though they have that dirty-ass punk rock grime well established already. With time it will mesh and this ain’t a bad start to build off of, it’s just a little unfocused. (1-2-3-4 Go! Records,

Well done! I like when some band I’ve never heard of comes through my stereo and gives me something surprisingly new. OK, ‘new’ might be pushing it because I’m about to drop some reference points that are hardly new. Let me break it down. This is a two-piece band, a guitarist and drummer. Through the magic of awesome gear they get some real low-end tones to make it sound more full. At times things get into sludge-pop mode, a la Torche, but there is something else at work here and it took me a few listens before I could nail it down. See, Liquid Limbs doesn’t just throttle the listener with the lowest possible tuning they can get with sung vocals on top of it. They work in some weird prog-ish melodies, that when mixed with the clean vocals remind me of Yes. Really. Ya, the 70’s arena band Yes? So, yeah, think Torche and Yes tag teaming as a two-man wrecking crew. It works quite well. So when I say this sounds ‘fresh’ it does, even though what it reminds me of is nothing altogether ‘new’. It works for me. I think I dig “We Don’t Get No Sleep” the best, even though the annoying pronunciation of ‘contri-dict-shee-un’ in “Make Peace With War” is a close follow-up (somehow I get the impression that they repeat it over and over on purpose to bore the absurd pronunciation into your head). Good stuff all around. (Sound Study Recordings,

“MOSTLY TRUE”, by Bill Daniels

Just like the title implies I can’t really tell how much of this is true and what is reprinted, or made up. The cover says it’s volume 19, issue 7 and apparently it’s the year 1908. As far as I know I’ve never seen this publication and it definitely seems like more of a book. Am I being really oblivious? I’m sure I am. I really have little understanding of the whole train culture, riding the rails and so forth. But this missive gives a more historical view of it all, mostly through hobo graffiti. I don’t mean the huge murals that real deal artists do on the sides of cars. I mean small tags that hobos and rail yard workers would scribble on every boxcar they could get to dating back to the early 1900’s. Old reports are dug up, newsletters reprinted from the 1930’s regarding different known people who either rode the rails for years and years, or the legends (like ‘Herby’ and ‘Bozo Texino’) who worked in the yards, marking upwards of 300,000 cars in their lifetime with their signature. It seems like the most marginal of interests to pursue- tracking these people down, or their decendents to make a patch of history for it all. But in the end it makes for some good stories. Of course, this book isn’t just a pursuit of mystery railroad graffiti artists. There’s plenty more. Random stories from traveling hobos, lots of photos and art from hobo taggers, all sorts of reprinted and mock advertisements from years past. Again, I’m not sure what to make of it all as it has a rather esoteric quality to it. But it was quirky knowledge to which I admit to have found interesting. (Microcosm,

PAST LIVES, “Strange Symmetry” EP
I could not get into the Blood Brothers. It was just too all over the place, weird, and sassy for me. So when a handful of their members got together to start this band I was most definitely skeptical. Then again, sometimes bands like that will break up, learn from what they did, and do something totally awesome to make up for past mistakes. The debut from Past Lives is batting about .400 for this debut, so that’s not bad. The opening song, “Beyond Gone” and “Reverse the Curse” manage to take some of those weird sounds, and stick to just a few ideas in each song and make the best of them. It works really well. And for once Captain Sassypants on the vocals doesn’t sound like a tool. He uses his annoying voice in the best way possible. The three other songs here seem to still be stuck a little in that sorta Blood Brothers mode of hissyfit spazzouts and sassy dance rock. I can’t really get down with that. But the subtle and pretty builds in the first song, and the repetitious weird rock in the aforementioned “reverse...” really do a great job of showing a bit of restraint while still being very engaging. Hopefully they continue on that path. If so I could see the next thing they release being really good. (Suicide Squeeze,

RUINER, “I Heard These Dudes Are Assholes”
Man, they couldn’t have come up with a more fitting title! What a bunch of dicks! A bag of dicks, if you will. Not really, but that is a funny title. So, is it really necessary at this point to do a discography? After all, Ruiner songs are really short. And aside from the full length they only have an EP and a split 7” (and a demo, but all the demo songs are on the EP). So why bother really? The only extra on here is a demo version of the title song from the full length. The CD doesn’t offer much aside from a number of live pictures, and what seems to be the progressive filthiness that envelopes Steve Smeal’s face over time (cut your hair, hippie!). There’s not even some notes, or history, or anything to show where these dudes have gone. And I’m sure it would be cool to read about, seeing as Ruiner has been on tour non-stop for about the last two years around the world. I heard the LP version of this comes with a much more thorough booklet with scads of photos, so perhaps that might be more worthwhile. (Bridge 9,

SMARTBOMB, “Diamond Heist”
To my knowledge, this band is following up on another full length that came out pretty recently. So I guess they’re productive, if anything. As far as the music goes I really wasn’t expecting a lot early on probably because this is a pretty ugly-looking record. But they kick right in from the get-go with fast, very Kid Dynamite-influenced punk hardcore. For the first few songs it really works well, until about halfway through when it loses steam and a few of the songs really seem to be about nothing all that important or noteworthy. Yet they bring it back up again before the record is through with “Blood and Sand”, possibly the catchiest song on the entire album. It’s not amazing, but it’s not bad either. It seems to do the job alright, albeit a bit dull around the middle. (Think Fast,