Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Man, does Winter suck a big fat one or what? I try to make this the time of year where I buckle down and work on stuff that will keep me stuck in front of a computer or turntable all day because I sure as shit am not really motivated to venture outdoors, and I can't afford to travel away to somewhere warm all that often. So with that, I've done what I've always done- I listen to records and talk shit about them. Here's a handful I recently had some brainfarts of relevance concerning...

When you open up the cover of this EP it looks like the inside of an Engineer record- dudes playing in front of walls of amps and cabinets. And so I thought, ‘maybe this band is really damn heavy?’ And then I listened to it and it’s really no different than your average gruff and rocking, pop-punk inspired rock band. Comparisons to No Idea and Kiss Of Death bands are fairly noticeable, but it seems a slightly more straight ahead rock approach is more apparent. Not too shabby, but nothing crazy. (Get This Right Records)

GAZA, “He Is Never Coming Back”
After their first full length, “I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die”, came out of nowhere and promptly knocked everyone within hearing range on their collective asses, Gaza finally strike back with another sucker punch to Christianity, “He Is Never Coming Back”. It seems that some inner-band turmoil has held up the process somewhat, and many of us converted fans have been waiting with baited breath for this thing to drop. And thankfully, it does hold up quite well. For a band that involves so much chaos within their sound this new record mirrors their last outing in many respects. As much as it is based upon screeching Botch-styled noisy riffing, off-timed drum blasting, thick and clunky breakdowns, it also dives into gigantic almost My Bloody Valentine-inspired guitar swells that give way to oceans of lush droning. That’s some crazy shit they got going here. Something about this feels ever-so-slightly more streamlined, but just a little bit. Vocalist Jon Parkin alternates between crazed shouting, high-pitched screeches, and guttural death metal bellows, and frankly there’s so very, very few vocalists I can stand that alternate in such a range of styles and do so in a way that works well. So, in summation, if you were previously a fan of Gaza you will not be disappointed. If you’ve never heard of them and you enjoy crazy, noisy metal do yourself a favor and check this out. (Black Market)

One might be confused looking at the demo from Michigan’s Great Reversals and listening to the actual music. The hand-assembled package, complete with sewn-on pouch containing a lyric sheet, makes it look as if sweater vest-wearing emotional crybabies were about to lay the poetry on thick. But the music sounds like something out of the New Age Records catalog circa 1994 mixed with a healthy dose of Bane and one blatant Achilles rip-off part. For the most part this is mid-tempo hardcore heavy on a mid-90’s sound, but unique enough to warrant a few flips of the tape for repeated listens. (

LIPONA, ‘Pigeonholed” CDEP
Consistent with more modern punk bands like Rise Against and Wilhelm Scream you get Lipona, who hail from Florida. I personally don’t care much for bands of this style as it sounds kind of bland to me. But I know there are legions of people out there who do like this stuff. Their ethics seem to be in the right place, not only in lyrical content but in how they release their music (this CD was self-released and originally was up online for free download). So clearly they’re in this for the love of it first and foremost. But again, it’s not my style. The singers vocals bear a striking resemblance to Aaron Scott (Attica Attica, Marathon) and that’s never a bad thing. (

Not only has this NYC group been together for a great deal of time but it also seems as if they have been breaking up for just as long. It feels like they made the announcement of their impending split eons ago, and yet still played shows and recorded this final full length before playing some more shows and I think now... finally... they have laid the band to rest? That’s my guess. I could be wrong. Either way, this last batch of songs are good ones. It’s what listeners have come to expect from them- proficient musicianship that displays talent, but maintains a level of catchiness that balances things out. Musically it’s a fairly straight-ahead rock record with alternating male/female vocals and a stylistic nod to mid-late 90’s Dischord style bands, in particular the J. Robbins and Jason Farrell brand of clever and melodic punk rock. I’m personally a bigger fan of their earlier stuff, like “Private Property”, that just felt more fun. This feels more professional, which isn’t a dig on the band as they have clearly progressed as songwriters, I just prefer the older stuff. What did kind of annoy me about this record though is the band’s parting shots in the linear notes, where each member contributes their thoughts on the history of the band. It feels so full of animosity- attempting to play the music industry game and get signed with no luck, upset that punk and hardcore tend to be music for white males, not being pretty enough for rock stardom... whatever the gripes are I feel like it would be better to leave your final published thoughts about your band as good ones? Felt defeated by trying to play the music biz game? What did you expect? It crushes 99.9% of anyone who makes a go of it, regardless of race or gender. What’s new? Claims of too many straight white guys in the punk scene? Maybe the music just appeals more to us? It’s not like there’s a hidden agenda to push out anyone different. Regardless, it’s just annoying to read stuff like this in band’s final record where they seemed to go on at length about things that shouldn’t matter in the long run when putting forth, as a whole, a final document of 9 years culmination of the music they make. (Nakatomi Plaza Records, no contact info)

Last year Title Tracks debuted with a two song 7” that rocked my world. Two very early Elvis Costello-styled rockers that just nailed it perfectly. So hearing that this initial project (everything was performed by one guy, now there is a whole band backing him) has become a more serious endeavor and dropped a full length my interest is piqued. “It Was Easy” is 11 songs that, well, just don’t have the same kind of energy that that first 7” had. Maybe I should have expected it. The nods to lo-fi pop, the Kinks, and the Beach Boys have been there from the start. I guess it’s just that the stuff that I heard initially was on the more upbeat and energetic side of things. “It Was Easy” flirts with more subdued tempos at times, total retro bubblegum pop styles, and a couple of covers- The Byrds and Bruce Springsteen. The songs from the 7” are re-recorded and I gotta say, “Found Out”, the best one, has the life sucked out of it with some weird 80’s Casio Samba beat replacing a good chunk of the organic sound. I guess the overall vibe of this record isn’t bad. These are good pop songs. I think I was just expecting a bit more fire here considering what I had heard before. (Ernest Jennings Record Co.)

TOUCHE’ AMORE’, “... To the Beat Of a Dead Horse” 12”/CD
There’s a good deal of hype surrounding this band right now and while I feel that, ‘hey, better them than another carbon copy swooshy-haired mallcore band’ I’m also kind of confused as to why a lot of people are into this band. They’re not really catchy. There are no hooky choruses, or breakdowns, or fad-jocking to be seen. They raid the vaults of the Ebullition back catalog almost exclusively in terms of their sound, so I’m left to wonder, ‘do people really like that?’ I saw these cats open up the Undertow reunion last year and wondered what the hell they were doing on the show. But they played quickly, graciously, and then got the fuck out of the way so at least they had some manners. Then I heard this joint- 11 songs in 18 minutes and was pleased at the brevity of these songs. Get in, get out, and don’t overdo it like so many other screamo (and I mean that in the best possible sense of the term) bands tend to. While most songs dive right in with hectic and jangly guitars, scratchy vocals, and hints of brief melody before spazzing out again there’s this underlying sinister vibe to portions of the music that I find really intriguing. This is apparent on the B-side with songs like “Suckerfish” and that slow and mean bass intro to “Always Running Never Looking Back”. While certainly on the side of bands like Ampere, old Lack, and Saetia Touche’ Amore’ manages to honor this style with short songs and not overdo it with anything other than the necessary elements. And that’s a good thing. (6131 records)

This looks like it came out of 1987 Lower East Side New York City. It kind of sounds like it too. I don’t really think I can, or should, elaborate on this record much more than that. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting. For added information this is a project band of sorts with dudes from Black S.S. and Forfeit and stylistically is pretty much what you’d expect to result from a pairing of those two bands. Six songs on seven inches of wax and limited to a pretty small pressing. One thing though- I’ve never been into bands that yell out ‘bust!’ in their songs unless they’re old school rappers. That’s just me though. (Reaper)

WORN IN RED, “The Offing”
Here is a bit of a strange bird for the No Idea camp to be releasing into the wild. Georgia’s Worn In Red make a go with somewhat prog-minded heavier emo type stuff, rooted in a mid-90’s kind of ethic when bands were cool with playing songs that lasted 4 minutes, had numerous swells and breaks, lots of yelling and weird melodies that didn’t always make sense on paper but felt cathartic to play live. I’m feeling a bit of old Planes Mistaken For Stars (Deep Elm era) here, or maybe a little Engine Down with more yelling. It’s pretty good for what it is and I gave it a few spins. It won’t make any year end list, but it did a pretty decent job for what it is. (No Idea)

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