Wednesday, August 19, 2009


There's such a cool variety of good records in this batch here. Between some things I picked up and stuff I found in the mailbox it was a pleasant surprise to get cool stuff across the spectrum. So read on all ye faithful and seize these audio jams...

While I can appreciate the approach, and even get into the music a little, this is overall not really doing it for me. Imagine a really slow version of Murder City Devils, or The Animals doing “House Of the Rising Sun” on repeat real slow and creepy-like for an entire record. I mean, if you want to chill, smoke weed, and watch “Blue Velvet” all day this might make for a decent soundtrack. But personally it gets a bit dull for me after awhile. (Perpetual Motion Machine,

CATALYST, THE, “Swallow Your Teeth”
Having no idea that this was even coming out I was stoked to have the new full length from Richmond’s The Catalyst awaiting me in my mailbox. To describe The Catalyst is like tossing old KARP (or I guess just old Melvins) into a blender (note the wretched grimy riffs on “Sterling Is a Hole”) with the spacey melodies and intense delivery of Majority Rule (“40212” definitely steals a riff from “American Feature”), and set the whole thing to non-stop raging party. While these guys beat the shit out of their instruments and make everything sound as if it’s consistently about to fall apart they still write awesome songs with catchy riffs, scathing lyrics, and piledriving heaviness. A filthy bass tone and higher-range screamed vocals permeate the entire thing while an occasional second drummer comes in to further beat the hell out of your speakers (though I could only clearly hear it on one track). The recording does leave something to be desired, sounding only slightly better than their last outing, the totally bitchin’ “Mariana’s Trench”. I feel like this band ought to have a noisemonger like Chris Owens behind the boards to let out the raging band that is only getting a small dose of the sonic justice they deserve. On the live front, if they’re going to do the two drummer thing, best to separate the kits because facing them together only completely cancels out the bass drum and some of the ‘oomph’ is lost. As far as how this sucker looks, it’s essentially the exact same layout as the last record, except with some witches on the cover instead of fish. Whatever the gripes, get this and have you face rocked the fuck off. (Perpetual Motion Machine,

CONSTANTS, “The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension”
This is a whole concept record split into three sections (based on the title) and a total of 12 songs. It’s overtly complex and involved with slow-moving epic songs in the vein of all your favorite metalgaze-type bands, though I’d say with a bit more emphasis on a prog rock feel as well as dabbling with a variety of instruments outside just the traditional guitar, bass, and drums set-up. There’s not too much information to be found here either except one really long record that, personally, I just don’t have the patience or attention span for. It’s not to say it’s not well executed, or well-written. I’m just not feeling it. (The Mylene Sheath,

This is the new project from Eric Richter, who has graced the indie scene with outstanding, and often overlooked, indie bands such as Christie Front Drive and The 101 over the last 15 years or so. Golden City is the newest project, picking up right where The 101 left off. I’d say this strongly follows what was happening with The 101, though a little more developed... and yet a bit more mellow it seems. Where The 101 seemed to almost be going for a kind of mod rock vibe (I’m thinking Chisel or The Jam), mixed with Richter’s trademark slightly (though strangely soothing) nasally vocals and airy guitar work Golden City tones it down ever so slightly. It feels like their a bit more reined in, or perhaps just treading lightly as a new band? This is a good record and if you’ve been a fan of Richter’s stuff in the past it won’t disappoint. But I was hoping for it to be a little more hopping. Very nice cover art by the well-known Daniel Danger makes this pretty much worth the price of admission. (Magic Bullet,

I’m not exactly sure how I can describe this without putting off some people because the people who tend to read this blog are probably music elitists. I know this because I’m a music snob myself. So should it come as a surprise that I’m totally blown away by a rap-rock record? Yeah, I said it. Prayers For Atheists is the punk band fronted by slam poet extrordinaire and Rhymesayers Collective (Sage Francis) shadow walker Jared Paul. Here, Jared’s exceptional vocal delivery concerning public protests, resulting arrests, eventual victories, patriarchy, bike riding, and eco-awareness collide with music that runs from vitriolic one-minute Bad Brains-styled punk dirges (“Tom Delay”) to meaty head-bobbing rockers (“Bike Song”). The obvious comparison is to Rage Against the Machine and it’s safe to say that Prayers For Atheists legitimately holds up both lyrically and musically with that group, as opposed to simply being a cheap imitation made for frat initiation parties. Personally, I can chime in from a historical perspective as I witnessed the marriage of rap and rock in it’s most successful experiments, from Run DMC (“King Of Rock”), to Public Enemy/ Slayer (“She Watch Channel Zero”), Public Enemy/ Anthrax, and up to Rage Against the Machine. Prayers For Atheists gets it. They understand how to make these sorts of connections and they don’t even need a DJ to do it. They approach the style from the basement show perspective and drive a message home that may tread familiar social justice topics, but in such a way that is both clever and poetic at once. These are definitely uplifting victory anthems delivered by a group with a lot of passion. I suggest checking it out for yourself. (Strange Famous Records,

Apparently this band played a show to five kids in a basement here a year ago. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t there. Fast forward to Dudefest Indianapolis this year and I see that they’re playing. Since my friends were so excited about them I figured I ought to check them out. Before they even play I see a familiar face in the crowd and realize our old bands had played some shows together on the West Coast, and that he’s also one of the guitarists in Punch. Seeing as I was a huge fan of his old band (the highly underrated Bullets*In) I imagined Punch had to be good. And yes, they were awesome, but in a totally different way than my friends old band had been. Seeing them a few days later in Syracuse (to a much bigger audience than last year) sealed the deal of this band’s radness. I regret sleeping on them last year and this self-titled LP should wake up any sleepers out there as well. While some might be quick to pigeonhole this band into powerviolence and Infest worship there’s more than that going on. Yes, those are obvious reference points, what with blast beats in many songs, most songs staying below the two minute mark, and plenty of slow and sludgy breaks. Mixed within it all are lots of traditional hardcore breakdowns and mid-paced anthems, all made that much more angry by the absolutely throat-shredding screams by vocalist Meaghan (no last names given) that tackle subjects from the perspective of an all vegan straight edge band, though in a usually not-so-obvious way (except on the closing track “Feminists, Don’t Have a Cow” which, big surprise, calls attention to getting feminists to see the correlation between feminism and the dairy industry), as well as the occasional sing-along part (the ironically named “Not So Posi After All”). While this band sounds serious as a heartattack, and vicious as heartburn after a late night binge at HK Chinese Take Out, there appears to still be a good dose of lighthearted fun as well. Some of that may be the simple, yet effective, record cover and bubblegum pink vinyl. Maybe I’m just stoked to see a good hardcore band with respectable ethics not bore me. This is good stuff indeed. (Discos Huelga,

For me, this is a very anticipated release. When they first started out Soul Control was one of the bands bringing back an awesome mid-90’s, sort-of post-hardcore sound that I held very near and dear to my heart. It was a much needed shot in the arm to the youth crew scene- in which they have been somewhat unjustly been lumped into- that could use a dose of substance. Now that they have gone through considerable lineup changes and grown a little more Soul Control feels mostly like the same band they were when they started I guess. While the press release suggests that they have delved deeper into elements farther from hardcore and closer to the noise rock scene I’d have to disagree with this because I’m just not hearing it. What I am hearing is much more of the same songs that I enjoyed when they started, perhaps with a greater love for guitar effects that carry at least three of these songs into one another in the form of brief interludes. To get an idea of what to expect listen to any of the four seven inches they released early this year because all those songs have been re-recorded, along with a few new quick and fast ones, and an excellent outro jam. “Flux” still remains my favorite song, while opener, “Beyond Words” is about as good of a leadoff track as you can get to lay it all out on the table. A good point of reference, I feel, for what Soul Control is doing is to take the best elements of what Wreck-Age Records was doing in the mid-90’s with groups like Mind Over Matter and Stillsuit that pushed boundaries with the melodic and spacey elements of post-hardcore with the hard-hitting basic song structures of fast traditional hardcore. It was definitely it’s own thing and up until Soul Control I’d never heard anything like it. So, in short, I don’t feel as if they’re doing entirely anything new with this new full length and new lineup. But I still really like what I hear quite a bit. (Bridge 9,

TEENAGE COOL KIDS, “Foreign Lands”
After friends had talked this band up all the way down to Gainesville Fest, and then I was thoroughly blown away by their style at a random backyard morning show after a long weekend in Florida, I was waiting with baited breath for this new full length. And I must say, it definitely does not disappoint. While it is so similar to their last amazing full length, “Queer Salutations” it’s almost eerie I’m hardly one to complain. Perhaps the only real difference here is a crisper recording and their technique of having half these songs flow into one another seamlessly. Otherwise it’s the same clean and jangly guitars, occasional dirty bass (most notable on one of my favorite songs here “Calm Me Down”), unfuckwithable melodies that instantly cram themselves deep into your mind to be hummed for the rest of your natural life, incredible breezy and lighthearted back-up’s, and the best indie pop songs you’ll ever hear. Maybe a Pavement for the end of the decade? Built To Spill’s younger cousins? The Beach Boys illegitimate progeny? These dudes are the secret pop band the punk kids can claim as their own... but for how much longer before the rest of the world gets their paws on them? Fuck a Get Up Kids reunion, they always sucked anyway. If you dig indie pop stuff with a punk ethos here’s your jam right here. (Protagonist Music,

TITLE FIGHT, “The Last Thing You Forget”
I played with this band in Pennsylvania a couple years ago and the kids went absolutely batshit crazy for them. My band, on the other hand, stuck out like a sore thumb. I think since that time they must have changed a bit because this certainly does sound like a different band here. This CD collects all their material to date- 4 new songs, their “Kingston” 7”, and their first seven inch. You can definitely see the progression that works favorably for the band. While the older stuff is pretty cheesy, the stuff in the middle pines some saves the Day territory (blech) and the newest material actually sounds pretty decent. In fact, it’s the newest material that sounds the most like a hardcore band messing with catchy punk melodies and so forth, perhaps in a manner more akin to Samiam or something. So yeah, the old stuff is pretty blah while the newer material is definitely more intriguing. (Run For Cover,

Sunday, August 16, 2009


As if this year couldn't get any more hectic Hex Records hit a bump in the highway early in the Summer when our distributor Lumberjack Mordam went tits up. It's not like I couldn't really see the writing on the wall... but well, I wasn't sure what I could do about it all.

Either way, with a bunch of records coming out this year I had to get a plan together. That's when the fine folks at MVD came calling. You may recognize these folks as they deal with a lot of DVD production distribution- they released live DVDs from Bad Brains, Jesus Lizard, and TAD just to name a few... which, right off the bat, shows that they have good taste. They've also gotten pretty into distributing records in the last few years... which is good for me! Along with re-issuing stuff from Flipper and GG Allin they took on the new Devo 12" amongst a variety of other stuff.

So I realize how fascinating the world of distribution must be to all of you reading this, but it's an important part of how my records get out there to people in a wide variety of places, and I want nothing more than for people to see and hear the bands I think are awesome. So, with the help of MVD, I'm hoping to everything back on track and even better for the rest of the year and years to come!

Check back later this week to get some news on official release dates and pre-orders for the next batch of records coming out this Summer/Fall- End Of a Year, Lemuria, The Helm, and Prize Country... and other cool stuff!