Friday, January 30, 2009
I figured I waited long enough (truth be told, I've just been going through the Winter doldrums of not wanting to do ANYTHING). But hey, the word must be spoken and the real truth be told... in the form of critical appraisal of items that fall into my mail slot that are not bills. Enjoy.
ACCIDENTE, “Exotic Payday”
Accidente is probably what it sounds like to be drunk on cheap booze, kinda sick from eating too many tacos, and still under the delusion that it would be a good idea to steal lawn ornaments from your boss’ house and huck them at stranger’s windows... in the Bronx, all at the tender age of 35, clearly a time when you ought to know better. This band is the sound of turning a boring Wednesday afternoon into a Saturday night at some fucked up basement rager. On more than a few occasions the band recalls the sound of the Jesus Lizard not only in vocalist Peter Makowski’s wild howls and manic slurring, but in the noodly bass slithering and recreational wild guitar riffs. It’s the kind of music that you could hear in a biker bar inhabited by comic book nerds. It’s a collision of opposing worlds that love their music heavy and wild, weird and unhinged, but riot worthy in every respect. It’s not the greatest thing I ever heard, but it certainly surprised me a few times. Song titles such as “Crackhore” and “Sexy Space Bitches” kind of made me think twice, but I attempted to forget about that part and focus on the rocking songs instead. Thanks. (Exigent Records, www.exigentrecords.com)
BLACKENED, “This Means War”
Does this really need to be done? Is it necessary to endure another band that relies on bland mosh breakdowns, mid-paced metal riffing, maybe some Biohazard grooving, and the ugliest band logo I’ve seen in 2008 and 2009 (I’ve seen this CD in my review pile for weeks now) combined? On one hand, there’s nothing wrong with Blackened. These Connecticut music vets (they’re a new band, but the members have served time in dozens of bands over the years) write music how they know, or as we might hear it- NYHC meets metalcore, and everything seems to fall into place musically. No tricks, no gimmicks. On the other hand I had my fill of this stuff about 10 years ago. Nothing changed, or I should say, ‘advanced’. It’s the same old thing. And it really does nothing for me at all. One song title implies everything that I dislike about the genre- “Kill the Weak”. Another title describes exactly my feelings about this record- “Enough Already”. (Think Fast Records, www.thinkfastrecords.com)
CITY OF SHIPS, “Live Free Or Don’t Tour” LP
I thought this was going to be a single from Hall and Oates or something, what with the gradient color scheme on the cover. And then it became some sort of samurai with a pyramid for a head. The neon green/black vinyl didn’t help much either. But once the music is on don’t figure on hearing anything 80’s about this whatsoever except for maybe the decade in which the members of this band were born. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what style of music this band is playing, and that’s usually a good thing. It shifts throughout the record and I guess that ought to be obvious since this is two EPs slapped together on one LP and clearly shows how the band has progressed thus far. Side A has a crustier, sludgier feel to it, as meaty riffs drag through mud only to fall off a cliff screaming all the way down. Yet layered on top of it are frequent forays into guitar effect-lovin’ shoegazin’ melodic passges that pull the songs up from the muck and into more ambient realms. The B-side seems to explore this element even more and , unfortunately, doesn’t keep my attention as well. Still it’s a neat change of pace for bands that tend to be either/or with these major elements, and they usually go together about as good as peanut butter on jelly. What with the cover art and all I think this band could add the proverbial ‘bread’ by bringing a bitchin’ laser light show to the whole thing. Seriously, think about it. (Forcefield Records, www.forcefieldrecords.com)
DIAGONALS, “Valley Of the Cyclops”
There’s so many things this band is reminding me of and none of it seems to accurately portray this band as what they really are. The first song sounds like it could have been Blur in 1992, what with the jangly guitar pop and retro feel to it. After that the keyboards are really put to use and lay a rather gloomy foundation for more bluesy rock that has all the same stylings as The Murder City Devils, but with much less piss, vinegar, and alcoholism. Yes, as varied as these reference points are it really does no justice to what Diagonals are really doing. At times I hear a slacker garage band. Other times they appear cool and calculated. And it seems in a lot of songs they’re really into lighting joints. Somehow it all seems to work into a cohesive whole that’s their own thing. This might not be on repeat for me, but it certainly is a refreshing listen of an interesting band that have their own thing going on. Accompanying this CD was a mini-comic called “I Could Be Happy” by Michael Berryhill, whose art bears a ever-so-slight resemblance to Charles Burns if he weren’t so smooth with his linework. The story is really short and really odd, and I’m not exactly sure how it ties into the record. But it’s a package so go with it. Consider it an oddball bonus to an already weird record. (Monofonus Press, www.monofonuspress.com)
FINAL FIGHT, “Half Head, Full Shred”
Final Fight seem to be your average modern hardcore band full of spirit, a reasonable degree of ethics, and a sound pulling together variants of Boston hardcore, SoCal punk, and a little melody from both coasts. This is their second full length and I’m not exactly sure why they have taken the route that they have, releasing it on a significantly smaller label (fans of “Arrested Development” will appreciate it) whereas their last record was on Deathwish. Who’s to say? All I know is it seems peculiar that one would go from the hardcore promised land to... well, I don’t know, somewhere that’s probably got a nice view but isn’t the promised land. I suppose that’s all just minor semantics, though it might be the same route Trash Talk took by self-releasing a full length after they got their name out on an established label. Perhaps that’s what’s going on here as well. Regardless, “Half Head, Full Shred” may imply that thrashing abounds but between the actual music and the kinda artsy-fartsy cover it’s anything but. For lovers of melodic hardcore it will satisfy, even though I found the overall mix to be a little thin. (Gobias Industries, www.myspace.com/finalfight)
LIKE WOLVES new demo
If there’s hope for the Rochester hardcore scene right now it’s these dudes. Unfortunately, the scene is in a pretty dismal state currently due to police cracking down on anything that might resemble the combination of music and fun. It’s like some bad mixture of “Footloose” meets “Robocop” and personally, it bums me out. So out of the stale wreckage of anti-fun comes Like Wolves, who have already self-released a seven inch and now strike back with this three song blazer that seems to hone their sound a bit more. They’re playing by the code of the more recent Louisville style- big amps, loud as fuck, and loose. Previous to this I enjoyed the band, but found their songs a bit hard to follow, sort in the same way that early Lords stuff was all over the place. With these new songs they’re still all over that loud and loose punk-hardcore style but with a little more refinement bringing to mind Black Cross more than anything. Without a doubt one of the more entertaining bands to see in upstate New York... if only the fuzz would give ‘em a chance. (http://www.myspace.com/likewolves666)
MOUTHPIECE, “Can’t Kill What’s Inside”
New Jersey’s Mouthpiece were one of the early bands that I was exposed to when I first got into hardcore. By this time the band was in their prime and everyone seemed to be familiar with their stuff. In my attempts to get a hold of whatever passed as hardcore at the time to feed my insatiable hunger for this music Mouthpiece’s “What Was Said” record found it’s way onto one of many dubbed tapes that friends would cram as much music as possible onto so we could fully immerse ourselves in this crazy subculture. While at the same time I was exposed to Gorilla Biscuits and Minor Threat, I knew they were older bands and the current bands that I was fond of played slower metal-influenced hardcore. So Mouthpiece were sort of a weird band for the early 90’s (at least to me) because they played fast youth crew styled hardcore. There seemed to be sort of a love-hate relationship with them around my town because I’d see people wear their shirts, but also affectionately refer to them as ‘Mouthpiss’. Plus, you couldn’t windmill or spin kick to their music... it was too fast. They were alright I guess, and I really liked that “To the Side” song from the Anti-Matter compilation. Still, it wouldn’t be until I got this discography of everything they ever did (plus a bunch of live songs as a bonus) that I’d be able to really decipher that Mouthpiece had a considerable amount of well thought out melody to their music, bringing to mind stuff like Turning Point and The Faith as opposed to just a one-dimensional in-your-face crewcut black and white, meat and potatoes hardcore sound. I guess for the period in which they existed they held onto a sound that was quickly being replaced with post-hardcore and mosh-metal stuff, thus somewhat leaving them to fend for themselves. In that respect this is rather commendable. On the other hand, I’ve never been a huge fan of the youth crew style although I will say I’m glad that I’ve finally picked up on the fact that Mouthpiece wasn’t simply a cookie-cutter copy of Revelation ‘88 hardcore, but instead had a bit more to offer. A very through discography with a complete show listing, 25 songs, tons of pictures, and more. (Revelation, www.revelationrecords.com)
OUTCLASSED, “This Could Coincidence, But I Swear I Saw the Street Lights Dance” 12” EP/CD
Despite the rather excessive amount of packaging colliding with the clear lack of making it interesting or grammatically correct (note the title of this record), I’d say Pittsburgh’s Outclassed should let the music do the talking. I guess I don’t really see the point of making crazy colored vinyl for a one-sided LP in a gatefold package with a CD included, but that’s probably just my frugal nature at work. Regardless, Outclassed take a musical path that aims for spazzy, smash your face with a microphone and then break your guitar on the floor emo. Any time I hear bands like this I’m usually relieved that this is their idea of ‘emo’ and not ‘spending three hours on your hair before playing music that completely sucks shit’ emo. Additionally, it’s not over the top in the way that I feel Ampere is with how fast and discombobulated their quick bursts called songs are, nor does it bog the listener in way too much unnecessary guitar noodling that all too often rears it’s confused little bespeckled head. Instead, Outclassed manage to combine a healthy dose of both these styles, making for a mixture that experiments with intensely wild music and still keeps a loose sense of structured composition- just enough to barely keep it grounded. And it’s always fun when a band is teetering on the edge of over doing it, the tension of completely loosing it always hovering immanently. All five of these songs manage to keep that spazzy intensity going strong and thus making it a pretty good debut. (Forcefield Records, www.forcefieldrecords.com)
OUTRAGE, “Savior” CDEP
At first listen there was really nothing special at all about Outrage, but then again, I wasn’t listening too intently. So I only have myself to blame for not picking up on anything interesting. Upon second listen it wasn’t all that much different, though I did kind of figure out my thoughts on this young band. There’s something kind of mid-90’s in their sound, which I guess I always have a soft spot for since that’s the era I grew up in. Some of the more metallic moments, as well as some of the more interesting leads and melodies brought to mind Harvest. Those spots are mixed with a more traditional hardcore sound akin to older Trial, yet lyrically stick to a sort of miserable ‘the world is a festering shithole’ frame of mind. It’s nothing new, but it brings back something kind of older to me at times and it makes for a well-rounded listen. (Panic Records, www.panicrecords.net)
PATRONS OF SWEET, “Go Whatevers”
There’s some school of no-doubt paranoid-delusional thought that implies that there is a little man/ morlock in the center of the Earth who operates a device which makes the world turn. If this man were to die the world would simply stop spinning and we’d all perish (or move to whichever side the sun was still shining). By that same logic I think that if Vic Lazar ever stopped writing songs (which I think is a scientific impossibility) music would cease to exist. In the 10 plus years I’ve seen this guy performing non-stop in one Buffalo-area band after another, as well as sometimes solo, he’s constantly got a vault full of music that continuously pours out of him like so much water from a natural spring. He’s got his own style, which certainly takes some melodic cues from J. Robbins, that shows up in every project he’s been in and Patrons Of Sweet is no exception. While this CD is fairly new I think they already stopped playing half the songs in lieu of a new batch already written since it’s release. What you’ll find here is great indie rock that leans into a bit of post-hardcore territory, if you’re definition of that includes a healthy dose of Rival Schools and a lot of mid-90’s Dischord Records output. The songs are ridiculously catchy and could easily pass for pop rock if us critic types who know everything ever didn’t spot all the neat little melodic angularities and clever beats, all the while getting bum-rushed by a thick rhythm section. Stuff like this is a no-brainer for smart people into good music, so wise up and stop looking into conspiracy theories. Just appreciate consistent creativity for what it is and check this band out. (Headless Actor Records, www.myspace.com/headlessactorrecords)
TRIPFACE, “Some Part Hope”
Outside of Long Island is there demand for this? I really can’t say. Outside of Long Island did people even know about Tripface? Again, it’s a question for the ages. I know, for myself, Tripface were on Wreck-Age/Exit Records and at the time basically anything that label released I was usually quite into. So that’s how I knew about them and subsequently was able to mosh to them. Tripface made up a piece of the enormous pie that was the mid-90’s Long Island hardcore scene. They were like the gooey sugar-sap betwixt the apple chunks of C.R. and the solidifying foundation crust that was Vision Of Disorder. Of course, they sounded like neither, I was just trying to make some unifying, delicious analogy. Regardless, Tripface wasn’t out outside the norm for bands at the time- hardcore at the base, a little bit of emo metal on top of it and a good deal of moshcore to round it out. They released one decent full length in 1996 and broke up not too long afterwards. What I didn’t know was they had been around since 1993 and had some demo and live material to show for it, as documented here in their much younger and more straightforward hardcore days. There isn’t too much in the way of linear notes, or even a great deal of photo documentation, which would be an added bonus. It’s simply a collection of everything they did and a piece of the Long Island hardcore story. (Motherbox Records, www.motherbox.com)
Friday, January 16, 2009
Their debut 7" will see the light of day around April if all goes as planned. It's all recorded and sounds great... now to get it to press!
They also just put up a bit of live material on their page (along with the proposed tour dates) at http://www.myspace.com/oakandbone
OAK AND BONE ON THE ROAD
Jan. 24th- Oswego, NY @ KOC w/ Polar Bear Club, Forfeit, Like Wolves
Feb. 18th- Rochester, NY
Feb. 19th- Allentown, PA
Feb. 20th- Washington, DC
Feb. 21st- ???
Feb. 22nd- Arlington, MA
The dudes from Prize Country are getting to record their next full length. In the meantime, they will (as usual) embark on another tour. This one will mostly be West Coast so go see them if you live on that side of the country.
Singer/guitarist Aaron Blanchard just did an interview (that includes some music too from them and other bands) on the site Evymetal.com
Here are the tour dates:
|Comet Tavern w/ Black Eyes and Neckties and Madraso||Seattle, WA|
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|Dante’s w/ Black Eyes and Neckties||Portland, OR|
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|Ash St. Saloon w/ Sirhan Sirhan & Android Hero||Portland, OR|
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|HQ Basement w/ Swamp Donkey & Sixteen Eighteen||Reno, NV|
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|Burt’s Tiki Lounge w/ Kingdom of Magic||Salt Lake City, UT|
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|Double Down Saloon w/ Kingdom of Magic||Las Vegas, NV|
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|Radio Room w/ Kingdom of Magic||San Diego, CA|
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|The Relax Bar w/ Kingdom of Magic & District of Evolution||Los Angeles, CA|
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|Billy O’s w/ Kingdom of Magic||Venture, CA|
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|Monterey Live w/ Kindgom of Magic & Razorhoof||Monterey, CA|
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|Chinatown Youth Center w/ Kingdom of Magic||Fresno, CA|
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|tba||San Fransisco, CA|
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|Stork Club w/ Kingdom of Magic, Hurry Up Shotgun & Mount Vicious||Oakland, CA|
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|The Kennel Club w/ Kingdom of Magic||Sacramento, CA|
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|The Alibi w/ Kingdom of Magic||Arcata, CA|
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|East End w/ Kingdom of Magic||Portland, OR|
Monday, January 12, 2009
A great little site called Scenepointblank just put up an exhaustive year end set of lists between staff and a whole shitload of interesting band/label type people. It's nice to see the Playing Enemy stuff made it up there a couple times. If you didn't pick it up I don't know what's wrong with you, but you can go right ahead and order it here.
They interviewed yours truly as well regarding ought-8, and you can read it right here.
In other news, Oak and Bone finished recording their 7". There's some last mixing touches to add, as well as mastering. It's gonna be fierce. Night Owls started recording over the weekend and should be finished up before months end if we're lucky. Prize Country will begin recording their next full length in February. Life is good!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Hex Records has quite the busy year planned for 2009. First off, it will mark the 10 year anniversary of the label and will be celebrated with numerous releases, most of which have been discussed here at length in the last couple months.
But just to make it official, let's get things out of the way.
First off, The Helm are returning to the Hex Records roster. They did their first 7” with the label before doing a full length with West Coast mainstay Indecision Records. Having retooled their lineup they are currently laying the groundwork for their sophomore LP which will see the light of day in Summer 2009, bringing their face-smashing crust-sludge hardcore whiplash back to the fore. Go check them here: http://www.myspace.com/thexhelm
Secondly, Portland, Oregon’s non-stop touring machine Prize Country will be doing their next full-length with Hex Records, again slated for release in Summer 2009. This band of road veterans have been criss-crossing the nation back and forth for the last 3 years, dishing out inventive post-hardcore over the course of a full length and a few 7”s and EPs. Some say later-era Snapcase with a lot more Quicksand and Drive Like Jehu? That’s a pretty good start, but far from the final word. Listen for yourself: http://www.myspace.com/prizecountry They will be recording for a full-length LP/CD combination in late-Winter to be released in the summer.
Look for all these releases in 2009, as well as a few other surprises!