Wednesday, December 21, 2011


That's right. It's my own damn list. Feel free to post yours below. It's rather comprehensive, but it was a pretty eventful year, so deal with it. Next year will obviously have a 'doomsday' theme... what will annihilate us in 2012? Aztec mystics? Republicans? Zorp/Reasonablists? Massive corporations? Only time will tell. Place yr bets.

FAVORITE RECORDS (in no order):

CUTMAN, "Universal Laws"- Dude rock, as played by dudes with fully functional brain stems. I do not expect anyone under the age of 27 to really enjoy this since it nitpicks from a variety of early 90's heavy rock such as Helmet, Jesus Lizard, Clutch, and post-hardcore-meets-mainstream type bands. But they do it so damn well! Intelligent songwriting, incredible guitar and bass tones, and one of the coolest record layouts I've seen in a long time. (Underground Communiqué)

RESTORATIONS, s/t- Sometimes when a new band's former band makes a big impression on you it's hard for the new band to do the same. But the Philly dudes in Restorations really hit the nail on the head here. They know exactly what they're doing and the result is a record taking all sorts of things- post-hardcore riffing, folksy introspection, hints of Americana, and big anthems, and rolling them into a cohesive whole. (Tiny Engines)

HELMS ALEE, "Weatherhead"- These are the loudest riffs you'll hear all year. This is the sound of The Melvins, KARP, Unwound, and Sonic Youth butting heads and spewing forth this most excellent collection of massive riffs, off-timed weirdness, subtle melody, and the bear-like howl of guitarist Ben Verellen alongside the soft croon of bassist Dana James. (Hydrahead)

CREEPOID, "Horse Heaven"- Best surprise I had all year. This isn't my typical platter, but something about this record just slays me. There's a spooky vibe, mixed with plaintive melodies, loud-quiet-loud stoner riffs, and beautiful soothing vocals. Hearing them sing, "It's gonna kill you all" in such a way that really makes one not fear death at all is kind of downright awesome. (Ian Records)

LIKE WOLVES, s/t- Kicked it into the next level. I used to be so-so about their music, and way into their live set. Now I'm all about both. They cut the fat out of the songwriting, and distilled it down to raw punk power, recalling the bad ass rock of Hot Snakes and some of the post-hardcore riffing of At the Drive In. (Hex)

OAK & BONE, s/t- "Hello, Oak & Bone? This is Riffs. You won." Psychedelics, sludge metal, weed, and raging crusty hardcore combined to lay down a smoke-filled haze that will turn your face to dust and melt your bones into your feet. Get destroyed. (Hex)

PRAYERS FOR ATHEISTS, "New Hymns For An Old War"- I'm not terribly concerned that most people find music like this to be out-of-date (or, when done poorly, or for radio rock intentions, nothing short of nauseating). Jared Paul and crew have made some of the most inspirational music my ears have heard all year. Take the dissident protest rhymes of Rage Against the Machine, stack it up against the punk power of The Clash and Propaghandi, and spit it out at an apathetic world. "Guns Up" might be the protest theme of the year, while "Keep Left" is for those struggles you share with those closest to you. (self-released/ Strange Famous)

THE MEN, "Leave Home"- I used to think they were far too noisy. Their previous records had that recorded in a trash can quality that doesn't exactly appeal to me. But here they broke out, still pressing forth with lots of noise, but refined in a such a way that makes everything stand out. You can hear all the really cool melodies alongside their ferocious roar all their own. (Sacred Bones)

FUCKED UP, "David Comes To Life"- It feels like all the progression this group has made over their last two full lengths has come to fruition on this double LP. I don't care if the whole thing is one big, complicated story. The A-side of this is unfuckwithable. Probably 5 of the best back-to-back songs I've heard all year. The rest of the record ain't bad either. (Matador)

ENGINEER, "Crooked Voices"- Every Engineer record takes a few listens to fully sink in, and that makes a good band. This one took at least 6 or 7 listens before I really got it. So that makes it a great record. If this is the last thing they do it will be a great way to go out. Knowing them, they'll probably hide in the shadows for another 4 years and then drop something even better. (Black Market Activities)

HONORABLE MENTIONS: JESUS LIZARD, "Club" (Since it's a live record of a reunion tour, does it count? Either way, still middle-aged men putting on a better show than most bands in their prime), TRAP THEM, "Darker Handcraft" (a fully realized bludgeoning to the face from beginning to end, non-stop riff fest), NIGHT OWLS, "Rapture" EP (swan song for this Syracuse group, all-around super catchy, but aggressive, punk/rock jams), YOUNG WIDOWS, "In and Out Of Youth and Lightness" (Enthralled by their progression, and all the great sounds they always conjure up, but doesn't supply quite the kick I was hoping for)

BEST SHOWS OF 2011 (in no order):

1.) ANOTHER BREATH final show(s) weekend, 8.26.11-8.28.11 with Achilles, Oak & Bone, Engineer, Soul Control, Victims, Whiskey, Mayflower, Night Owls, and more in Syracuse and Fulton, NY: A really fun way for a really great band to go out. A total weekend rager.

2.) GAINESVILLE FEST 2011, Gainesville, FL, 10.28.11-10.30.11: tons and tons of bands, great weather, fun people, good times, exhausting weekend. The only reason to really miss Halloween at home.

3.) GREAT FALLS & ENGINEER, 8.9.11, Syracuse: So all of about 20 people were there, but to hear Engineers new full length the whole way through live was inspiring. And to see the Seattle dudes in Great Falls just destroy the place (as it is rare to see these dudes at all) was an extra-special treat.

4.) PRAYERS FOR ATHEISTS, 5.26.11, Syracuse: Sometimes you like a band so much that other people really don't get, and you wish there was a show where people really 'get it' and all go nuts and have fun? This was that show. Maybe 50 people there, but every last person was having fun, dancing, going off, singing along, and having a blast. Plus, drinking smoothies and watching "Dune" late at night with Jared was pretty fun too.

5.) OAK & BONE/ LIKE WOLVES record release show, 7.24.11, Syracuse: It's nice when you have great faith in a couple bands, feel really confident about their new records, and then over 100 people show up in a small venue to share that as well and go totally bonkers for all the bands playing.

BEST OTHER STUFF (in order):
1.) Getting engaged: it only took 6 years
2.) Seattle vacation in April: most relaxed time in my favorite region of the country with great people
3.) Involvement with the Occupy movement: Finally, a populist movement that draws from the experience and energy of many different sub-sections of the activist community under one umbrella to really work for change in desperate times
4.) Flyerstorm: My first art show, a history of Syracuse flyer art from the last 20 years. The crew involved were the best ever to work with and the whole thing went off really great
5.) Great garden harvest this year: If we planted it, it grew. And we ate well. Up the compost soil.

1.) Getting my wallet stolen in Alexandria Bay, the safest, whitest place in the Northeast on the 4th of July
2.) R.I.P. Chocolate. Our poor, young foster cat got sick and died within a couple of days, right in our arms. He was a good little fella.
3.) Having an ulcer most all of the Winter and giving up coffee because of it (see Translate #6)
4.) My car suddenly died out on me at only 90,000 miles when the timing chain snapped and destroyed my engine.
5.) Delta Airlines canceling my flight to NYC (connecting to Seattle) and upon my return as well as a week later. Bastards.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Read on all ye who enter here. I figured I'd throw in some reviews of some stuff that arrived at my doorstep before getting on to an end of the year list thing (which I'll do in another week or so). Behold these offerings, and take heed to what I have to say about them.

The last thing this fella released was some pretty weird stories/comics and this is no different. You get some fairly entertaining tales of his family moving to Alaska via school bus when he was a kid, to the story of a dog's day as seen through the eyes of the dog, to a spiritual Buddhist retreat to relieve stress. On the more bizarre end of things we get a brief how-to on taking a proper shit (squat, don't sit). Honestly, the strangest part of this zine is the artwork. It's like pre-adolescent kids drawings mixed with sociopathic prison dweller. I'm not sure what to make of it all. (Microcosm)

This particular issue of this conspiracy-theory themed zine focuses its lens this time on Lee Harvey Oswald and the utterly confusing litany of events that led him to being pegged as the guy who pulled the trigger on Kennedy. This zine has always tackled compelling topics that are not easily explained, but it has consistently failed to do so in a way that doesn't further confuse the issue. I can appreciate shedding light on things that others try to bury, but hey, at least do it in a way that compels one to look further into it instead of confusing readers to the point where they wish it got buried forever. This zine makes Oswald look like either a flip-flopping idiot, or a complete schizophrenic who changes his mind like the wind blows. On one end he has a master plan, on the other he bumbles his way through all sorts of wild adventures seeking attention, eventually stumbling into the business end of Jack Ruby's pistol. And in the background it appears there is a watchful government ready to set him up as the patsy who takes the attention off of however many different shady organizations who really pulled the trigger on JFK. Is that what the author was going for? That's what I read anyway. Confusing? Yes. But the whole ordeal from beginning to end no matter what version you read is pretty damn confusing. (Microcosm)

The first proper full legit full length from this Syracuse band that only took a good year of intense OCD-style scrutinizing over every minute detail of the mix before being unleashed on the public. It works in their favor though I guess because this sounds great. How can I properly describe this band without sounding too ordinary? Upbeat rock music puts it out there in broad strokes. A bit more specific would break things down into a range of influences that seems to include everything from King Crimson to Cheap Trick, to XTC, and about every J. Robbins band to ever exist filtered into intelligent and well-thought out songs. The only exception being "Gus", a track found later on that has a decidedly heavier rock feel akin to Far or Texas Is the Reason (and bringing it closer to home a nod to Syracuse's former mainstays This Afternoon). It's actually my favorite song on here, though quite a bit different than what you get on the rest of the recording. Nevertheless, a great first official effort (self-released)

FRODUS, "Soundlab 1" 7"
I know this has already been out for a bit, but I was really into Frodus when they were originally around so I felt it worthwhile to write something up about this reunion 7". It really remains true to the Frodus people knew best- the spazzy and uncontrolled-sounding punk band from DC. Commonalities abound to groups such as Nation Of Ulysses, but perhaps with a tightness that gives the illusion of unhinged chaos, but in fact, has their spasms down to a science. This is far more in tune (and could basically be unreleased tracks from) their most well-known record, "FCI" as opposed to the more refined and introspective "We Washed Our Weapons..." swan song. Two songs, both pretty blasting make this 7" worth picking up. (Lovitt)

JESUS LIZARD, THE, "Club" 2x12"
I realize I probably reviewed the DVD version of this show captured on the bands reunion tour from 2009 and likely verbally jacked off to it. Well, this LP is no different. Two 12" slabs of wax documenting the same show as the DVD, but with better audio quality I suppose (my TV speakers suck). Finding the band just as tight, coiled, and springing forth with raw energy as they were in their heyday these old farts bring it like no other. This is why they are easily one of my favorite bands ever. Whether it's David Yows between-song off-color humor, or his desperate howls/shrieks/blathering in the songs, or David Wm. Sims surreptitious bass rumbling, Duane Denisons sinewy guitar work, or the polyrhythmic drumming of Mac McNeilly there is no stopping this band as they barrel through about 20 songs. Basically, their whole catalog is represented with a few songs from each record and I couldn't be happier. If you're at all curious about how a live band ought to bring it get this and see how a group can take 10 years off and come back just as hard as ever. (Chunklet)

I'm at the point where any record that bears the Eulogy Records logo on it is an instant turn off because I know it will more than likely be total garbage. Victory may have them beat for now, but this label tends to draw some real bottom-of-the-barrel crap and shits it out usually in the form of terrible beatdown mosh nonsense. So it was really weird to see they took a left turn and released this record from a band that takes about as many cues from later-era Hot Water Music as they possibly can. I guess that's not such a bad thing, but then again, it's already been done... so what's the point? The silly song titles don't really save it from being above mediocre. Musically it's decent, nothing to write home about (though I guess worthy to write a review about). And maybe the label is doing itself a service by releasing something palatable for once. (Eulogy)

Here we go- two punk bands that can play catchy pop-punk inspired hardcore and actually have a weighty set of balls in their collective trousers! Prevenge are the better of the two I think, and a bit more catchy in their approach. Both groups have a raw dirtiness to them, but know how to dish it out in spades. I can back these bands and this record. Comes in a fancy package complete with a big booklet with some wild artwork inside. Well done! (Pavonos Records)

Points to the author for having fronted Behead the Prophet No Lord Shall Live, and for being a funny-ass dude. But while this claims to be a cookbook it basically only qualifies as a short zine. Additionally, 'cookbook' is sort of a misnomer seeing as this is for raw recipes and no actual 'cooking' ought to be taking place. Amirite? Still, I do not adhere to the raw regimen in my vegan diet, but I'm down to check what's out there and I have to hand it to Josh- he's come up with some really strange recipes, combining a lot of things I would never think to put together in new and interesting ways. Most of these recipes involve coconut so I will never in 1,000 years try them. But others give me ideas on how to tweak them my own way and put a spin on regular things I make. In that respect, as a conduit for further creativity, this succeeds. And if you're into the raw diet thing this zine will probably give you some ideas as well. (Microcosm)

THOU, "To the Chaos Wizard Youth" 10"
Can this band do no wrong? If you dig having your hearing ruptured by slow, agonizing and ungodly heavy music Thou is the place to be. Apparently, this was recorded at the same time as their most recent outing "The Archer and the Owle", but this takes a much heavier, more dirgey approach, complete with lots of noisy feedback, guitar strings flapping around from how low they are tuned, and a B-side that has the band playing at their most upbeat I've heard since "Tyrant" (which is still just a shade below 'mid-tempo'). They are this decades Ire, for lack of a better comparison, but in a class all their own. I feel like I'm being crushed under the weight of life every time I hear this stuff. Truly awesome. (Howling Mine)

WILD, THE, "A Collection"
I'm at odds as to what to think about this. OK, here's the basic description of band: jangly campfire rock with lots of harmonica, a stack of Woody Guthrie recordings, and a desire for social change. Fair enough. Typically, when it's a decidedly punk band doing this I really hate it because bands of that ilk are usually not very good at all, really smelly, and have that 'spare some change/good vibes' Plan-It-X thing that really irritates me for no particularly good reason. But when bands of this sort do not really associate with punk, and are talented I tend to think they are quite good, though not anything that I would find myself listening to. So my issue is this- I think that The Wild do most certainly consider themselves 'punk' and are also quite good at what they do. It seems a discrepancy that should not exist in reality. So I'm left to feel as though I back what they do, they do what they do well, they have a catchy way of providing social commentary, but it is a style I do not really care for. (Asian Man)

The Wild.. well, see above. Harmonica punk. Run Forever are more or less a rock band who happen to enjoy punk music from time to time. These are bands I think I appreciate more from looking at all the political literature they leave on their merch table as opposed to the actual music they play. And it's true. I saw this group at Fest for a bit and had a nice discussion with one of them about the vegan lit and Occupy Wall Street pamphlets they had at their table, as well as DIY run spaces and was completely disinterested in the music they played. Good intentions nonetheless. This particular split comes with a nice little zine that both bands created and has quite a bit about the importance of DIY spaces, and all ages venues. (Solidarity Recordings)

Saturday, November 26, 2011


OK, so I just set up a sale on the Hex site. 20% off your whole order with the code BIGSALE. Goes for 2 weeks. Get yourself something special. US customers only (I just can't afford to ship you foreigners stuff this cheap). Spread the word.
Also, orders over $30 get some free gifts as well!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


After much reflection, unwinding, photos scoured through, and piles of records listened to I have my annual Fest weekend wrap-up here for your reading pleasure. It's a long one. Enjoy.

THURSDAY 10.27.11
Flight to Jacksonville is at 6PM. Anxiety is butchering me in fear that Delta will cancel on me again (see Translate #6 for details on that mess), It's also sleeting outside. NYC flights next to my gate are already delayed. Surprisingly, they come through without a hitch and I roll into Atlanta before catching a connection to Jacksonville.
We touched down in Jax at midnight and I read, napped, and stared into the void which is this airport until about 5AM when Soul Control rolled up and got me.

FRIDAY 10.28.11
We got into Gainesville at about 7AM and I took a power nap at the hotel until about 9:30AM when I had to get over to the Holiday Inn to set up my table. The Kiss Of Death dudes forgot to bring my LPs that I shipped them. Shit. All I had were 7"s, zines, and CDs that I brought on my flight. This makes things slightly more complicated.
The line this year was crazy. Last year it felt like everything got wrapped up by around 4PM and all attendees had their tickets, and still some time to party before bands began. I bailed at 4:30 so I could eat before watching bands and there was still a line going down the stairs, outside, and down the block. It probably kept up til at least 6PM. Wild.
Beasts Of No Nation was the first of many bands that I ventured to see this evening. This is the band fronted by the singer/guitarist from Trial By Fire, as well as my man Kevin from Majority Rule who I hadn't seen in ages. They sounded just like Trial By Fire and it was good. Plenty of great between-song banter as well.
I tried to run over to the Double Down in time to catch Regents, but sadly missed them by mere seconds. I picked up a record to make up for it. Ex-Frodus, Sleepytime Trio, and Engine Down dudes? Yes please.
I decided to make my annual pilgrimage (AKA, down the street) to the Wayward Council to take stock of their cheap used stuff and found both Monorchid full lengths for $5 each. This year, they did not mock my purchases. Could their callous crusty exterior perhaps be chipping away into warm acceptance perhaps?
Next, Tigers Jaw. Hype band. They pretty much live up to it though. I waltzed in to 8 Seconds and they were jamming on a slow, plodding, and extremely epic, heartfelt sad song. It knocked me down, though the rest of the set I saw was more upbeat and poppy.
Bailed a little early to run back over to the Lab and see Cutman. They are a local G'ville band that never seems to leave town and I miss them every year at Fest. I shall not be denied this year, even if I can stay for only a few songs. And I'm glad I did. Heavy rock that will fuck you blind. Aluminum neck guitars are the shit and sound loud as fuck. Well done. Also, one of the better LPs I've picked up this year. Old Helmet, Jesus Lizard, and old Clutch fans will rejoice.

Could I power walk fast enough to get back to Double Down and see a minute of Magrudergrind? Yes I can. And in the space of a few seconds I could probably see about 4 songs. By this point the club was getting pretty packed and it was kind of hard to see so I didn't actually watch that much but I know it got wild.
Over to The Atlantic to see Senders. They are another local band that have yet to get as far North as I am so it is imperative I check them here. The Atlantic is one of the best mid-sized venues, so I'm always happy to see bands play here. Having heard an advance stream of the new Senders LP was a treat, and hearing these songs live was pretty great. The bass tone alone was enough to level a city block while the guitars both shimmered and pulverized- Torche style stoner pop tuned up an octave with a touch of Hum to go with it. Solid.
So why didn't I go see Kid Dynamite? Well, I saw them a few times when they were originally around so I didn't feel obligated to attend tonight, even though I was interested. The understandable cancellation of Lifetime still stung nonetheless. Plus, I'm not a huge fan of the Florida Theater because it's big, ugly sweaty, crowded, smokey, and the sound can suck depending on where you're standing. So I took the advice of a stranger and stuck around after Senders to watch Creepoid.
Their name alone was intriguing enough, and they ended up sounding like their namesake- eerie, weird, creepy, spooky, with sooth, harmonized vocals and a grungy stoner rock backbone. Right up my alley. Very impressive. Nice surprise.

Back to the Double Down to try and see Touche Amore. They're always pretty good, but at this point fatigue was starting to set in so I opted to listen to them from out on the clubs patio.
I did, however, step back into the club to catch the only 'mystery band' I'd see all weekend- the Sleepytime Trio reunion. I never saw them while they were around and their recordings don't exactly do them justice because goddamn did they kill it, as if someone had lit their asses on fire. Total, all-out chaos that was equal parts screamo spazz and Jehu worship.
Afterwards I took some time to actually chill out and chit-chat with some old friends from Louisville and DC, biding my time before Coliseum took the stage.
Here's a great thing about Fest: bands that normally don't have a big crowd will suddenly play to everyone nationwide who likes them, thus the opportunity for the type of crowd response you wish they always got suddenly ends up happening. And Coliseum got what I thought they deserved. And therefore, I got to stagedive a bunch. But in my years of coming to this thing I'd always feared getting doused with beer, and amazingly, it's never happened. That is, until the Coliseum stage dive where I had almost an entire cup poured on me. I guess I deserved it for landing on a bunch of people's heads.
Leaving Coliseum to try and see some of Hot Water Music I somehow got caught up in an Occupy Gainesville march and walked with them for a few blocks, lending my voice to the chants. Gotta support whenever, wherever possible I suppose. Though I have to wonder how long these folks would last in the bitter cold Northeast!

Anyways, the last time I saw Hot Water Music must have been at least 10 years ago, but I wasn't expecting too much since everything after "No Division" just doesn't really do it for me and I'm sure they would be playing plenty of stuff from those later records. I showed up and some other dudes were playing HWM songs. Was this a joke? Did I get to the wrong set? No, it was already the encore and the Bouncing Souls played/covered a few more HWM songs. Well, that's that then.
I was on the verge of passing out from exhaustion, but I felt obligated to go next door and catch a bit of the boys in Polar Bear Club do their thing. As always, their energy is beyond compare and they bring such a good vibe and attitude to what they do... but I was beat and needed food. So after about 4 songs it was time to break out.
My gang headed over to a CVS to grab some snacks at about 10 minutes to 2AM and the place turned into a bum rush right as I got in line at the cashier. You see, they stop selling beer at 2AM here and apparently, people had partying to do. The best part was the lady ahead of me moving incredibly slow while the boozehounds further back were anxiously counting the seconds. We decided to make the situation worse by building the tension with exclamations of, "C'mon, these people need their beer!", and so forth. It's as if the slow lady up front was engaging in a passive firestorm. Take note sxe warriors- this could potentially be a new tactic in the war against partying: Make 'em wait!

SATURDAY, 10.29.11
Started the day on a mellow note with a drive into town and wandering down to Karma Kream, which is probably the nicest spot in town to get food, in my opinion. They make their own vegan ice cream, brew a great cup of joe, and serve a killer tofurkey reuben. Plus, they're all really nice and helpful there. Thumbs way up.
After the grub I ventured across the street to The Lab to see Fellow Project. There are folks from Bridge and Tunnel and On the Might Of Princes in this group and it kind of sounds exactly like you'd expect based on that. It's a tried and true Long Island emo sort of sound that I found pleasing to the ear.
OK, now time for punk. Got myself over to 8 Seconds for Armalite. Never seen 'em, probably never will again. But I like their record so it was probably a good idea to see this very, very part time 'band' do their thing. Plus, all these dudes are quite the comedians individually so I was expecting some clever back and forth. They were sloppy, fun, and brought a great Dag Nasty/Dillinger 4 sort of vibe that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I had some time to kill so I checked out this pool hall where an impromptu record store had been set up and I found some gems. I'll just say, this is the last place I would have ever expected to find a Path Of Resistance LP. But there it was in this most un-edge of places. I was singing "die motherfuckers, we never want you back!" intermittently throughout the rest of the day.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum I watched a few minutes of RVIVR purely out of curiosity to see what all the hubbub was about. Meh... it's mostly well done melodic punk. Maybe they're too preachy at their regular shows, but they seemed reserved here what with all the bouncers, crowd surfing, and so forth. Pretty 'safe space' huh?
I got to watch Steve-O play with Off With Their Heads. He really seemed to be having a lot of fun.
Next- Soul Control at The Lab. This is, I think, my favorite venue this year. You can get about 100-150 people in there. The stage is about 6" off the floor, and the vibe is great. Plus, it was the perfect size for every band that played it. So, since SC sort of got the shaft in terms of slot/venue last year, they got a pretty perfect fit on things this year. They sounded awesome and people really dug it and packed the room nicely. I'm sure they were stoked.
Bridge and Tunnel is always a good time. They are so passionate about what they do and they totally killed it once again this year over at 8 Seconds.
The rest of the 'mystery bands' slated to play at smaller venues really weren't my cup of tea, so instead I chose to get some $2 tempeh tacos at Flacos. Aside from the long-ass wait, it was totally worth the $4 I spent total.
From here there was enough time to get into the Theater to get the perfect spot for which to watch Paint It Black. Last year I was way in back so it was hard to discern exactly what was going on. So when they got on, everything was perfect and I was fist-pumping along to the jams, surrounded by like-minded Philly people fist-pumping even more. They opened the set with "Atticus Finch" for fucks sake, how's that for going for a riot right from the get-go?! Easily one of the best sets all weekend.
Afterwards I rolled out to see The Bomb. I like Naked Raygun and never saw them, and I admire Jeff Pezzeti's vocals quite a bit so this group will have to do. Aside from having the dullest name ever they brought it well and were quite energetic, though the vocals were a bit quiet. What was up with that dudes double-sided pants? He looked like an extra from a 1990 3rd Bass video or something. Thumbs up to the music, gasface for dress style.
Another local Gainesville band that will never come up my way was over at the Atlantic- Averkiou. I figured I ought to see it because I really dig their My Bloody Valentine dreamy rock style. But I gotta say, not only was the atmosphere in the Atlantic so thick with cigarette smoke at this point that I was nearly choking on it, but the band also did not appear to be having fun while playing. They played flawlessly, but they were not terribly exciting to watch. And to think, I missed Amateur Party for this who were no doubt ripping it up over at 1982. Oh well.

So, to lift the spirits I was compelled (as I always am) to see Lemuria. And, of course, they were great. I don't think I'd ever seen them jump around so much. And while last year provided many more stage dives (from me mostly), this year's barrier prevented that from occurring, and much of the energy was relegated to the stage.
Next, I quite literally ran to the back of the Theater and cool-guy'd it to the stage to see most of Ted Leo's set. I yelled out for "Biomusicology" and he said it was axe'd from the set. No! But it was made up for when, at the end, they pulled out "Stove By a Whale", which I figured they never played out anymore since it's such an atypical Pharmacists-type song, and damn heavy too. But it was great and I sang along to every word. What a great way to close out the night.
I skipped out on Against Me because I don't really like them. Sue me.
Late night root beers and bad TV followed. Do I know how to party or what?

SUNDAY 10.30.11
A thought occurred to me today, and it's not meant to be sexist, or chauvinistic, or pervy. It's more of a social psychology, or anthropological study, I don't know. Either way, during Fest about 5000 people descend on Gainesville from all over the world and wander the streets for an extended weekend. And in wandering these streets I notice there are countless attractive women. So I wonder, are these people always this attractive? Or is it a collective mindset of knowing they will be in a different place and attempting to look their best, or their coolest, or whatever? Do they normally look like shlubs back home because they have no one to impress there? I'd say the same question could be posed to guys, but it seems like every dude here forgot to shower for a few days, and forgot to shave for even more. But it appears as if most of the women here actually took the time to consider their appearance before leaving their hotels. So I'm not really sure what the deal is with this because, as a guy, I do not put much thought into my appearance most times. Is it wrong that I take notice of this? I spent about half my time over the weekend walking back and forth down these streets so I see a lot of people. I might add, somewhat off-topic, that in the typically male-dominated world of punk music I've never seen so many women playing in bands as I did this weekend. Up the ratio/punx.

Anyways, Sunday is always the slow day but things seemed active early on and I started it with some triple chocolate ice cream from Karma. Treat yourself!
Over at 1982 I went to see a band called Weatherbox. I never heard them, but they're named after a Mission Of Burma song, so they have that going for them. Well, they were ridiculously tight, and they lived up to the name with loud, mathy rock that was certainly inventive. But the vocals felt a little weird to me, like sort of too mainstream-y radio rock or something.
Most of the excitement was over at the Atlantic today and I hung around there quite a bit to see the likes of Weak Teeth, The Catalyst, and Pygmy Lush. The only real conflict today (and they were more than ever this year!) was Punch versus Restorations. But I figured I could see 10 minutes of Punch and that would be at least half their set before leaving. Well, it was worth every second as they totally upped the ante from last year (dressing up at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and April O'Neil) by coming out as Ghostbusters, while the singer donned a full Slimer costume, throwing ectoplasm into the crowd. And, of course, the whole place turned into a riot zone. Fucking crazy.
Meanwhile, Restorations got an incredible reaction to a packed house at Looseys Pub. Goddamn, they sounded huge. What a great response to a (sort of) new band, who put out one hell of an amazing record this year. So happy for them.
So late that night (OK, midnight) the Soul Control dudes were headed back to Providence and I had no other means of getting my ass back up to Jacksonville by the next morning for my flight, so I opted to roll out with them once again. I got to the airport at 2AM for a flight almost 10 hours later. And that airport is no treat to spend the night in. Sleep comes to those who wait and I waited a long time and didn't really sleep.

I guess it wasn't the wildest of Fest weekends for me. No after shows this year for me (I actually don't think there were too many this year), or late night partying. As they say, punks not dead, it just goes to bed at a more reasonable hour, even if that's still not until 3 or 4 AM. But G'ville is truly always a great place to visit, where every local business seems to be run by cool people, totally support the Fest, punks run wild and the cops don't freak out. Where a bunch of drunks can put together three days of fun and keep things ridiculously organized. Where you can see an ambulance playing the Halloween theme music from its siren instead of... well... a siren (this really happened and it was beyond weird). Fest is good times regardless of what kind of music you like. Another thing I did not take stock of was whether or not anyone took me seriously all weekend based on the fact that I had a stupid moustache. Self-awareness overload. I felt compelled to explain myself whenever possible. If I talked to you, please bear in mind I don't usually look like this.

Friday, November 11, 2011


So, some people rack up how many beers they shotgunned, or how late into the night they spent partying when they go to Fest. I'm a nerd and I don't drink, so my priorities (aside from seeing bands) is getting my hands on some records while I'm down in Florida. I know I'm always going to find something good and I came away with the following stash this year. I'll feature more in-depth reviews of some of these later down the line (as well as a full-on Fest weekend review), but for now....

WEATHERBOX, "Follow the Rattle Of the Afghan Guitar" EP
Checked this band out based upon their name alone (a reference to Mission Of Burma). The similarities are mild, but in that same frame of mind I guess. Live they were really loud, really tight, and real good. The record is a little weak in the recording. Weird/annoying vocals, even weirder lyrics that I couldn't quite follow. The music is good- well thought out math rock with some mainstream tendencies. Not quite worth $10 for an LP, but worth $5 for the CD.

CREEPOID, "Yellow Life Giver" 7" and "Horse Heaven" LP
Best band I'd never heard of surprise this year. Live they were really weird, eerie, stoner-ish, and still kind of ethereal and poppy. Very True Widow-ish. I was quite impressed. The records have a bit more of a folksy side, melodic vocals, but still a bit of that heaviness that I was digging. The LP is the better of the two.

DAMNATION AD, "Misericordia" 10"
My CD copy went missing years ago so getting this on vinyl (marble grey at that!) was a bonus. These songs are ridiculously heavy from this 90's DC wrecking machine. The guitar screech that opens the record is one of the best sounds ever recorded I think. It's not "No More Dreams..." but it's pretty close. Some dude was selling this for $8 and I know no one else would have an interest in it. To hear Damnation AD is to be crushed under the weight of life itself.

SENDERS, "Lucidity/Lividity" LP
I discovered this band after last year's Fest and promptly ordered their 7", which was quite good. Hearing a stream of this LP before this year's Fest I knew I had to catch them this year. Live they had the heaviness of Neurosis, mixed with the spacey melody of Hum, and the vocal bellow of Torche. The opening track on here is easily up there as one of the best openers of the year. The rest of the LP is pretty good, but doesn't quite have the same kick. Still, worth your duckets.

Up to this point I've only had this record on cassette format and at $10 in a dude's used bin I figured I ought to get this or forever pose as a proud Syracuse edgeman. The irony that this most edge of records was being sold in a bar in the epicenter of the weekend's drunkest town in America speaks volumes. I'm surprised that everything in a 100 foot radius of this album didn't go up in flames once it entered city limits. Yes, it has that power. I'm pretty sure a crustie dissolved into dust as I walked past him with this record in hand. It's like opening the Ark Of the Covenant. "Die motherfuckers, we never want you back."

Somehow lumped in the crop of current noisy punk bands associated with Youth Attack, Vinyl Rites, and so on Pollution offer something a bit different. I've had these songs for awhile now (as well as most of their recorded material), but no physical copy. So, time to rectify that on what I feel is their strongest stuff. This is the thickest record I've ever owned. It weighs like 12 pounds. The music is about the closest thing you'll find to a legit Deadguy heir apparent in 2011, with a good dose of Rorschach thrown in there as well... but a bit more raw. Love it.

THE MONORCHID, "Who Put Out the Fire" and "Let Them Eat..."
My annual visit to Wayward Council draws forth yet another purchase that is out of character for the typically crusty den of records and radicalism in the heart of G'ville. This time it was a pair of CDs that set me back five bucks apiece, and well worth it- the long departed DC spazzy punk of the one and only Monorchid. The pairing of Chris Thompson and Andy Coronodo began with Circus Lupus, continued with this, and moved on to Skull Kontrol. All three bands I'm a big fan of, all have a sort of refined Nation Of Ulysses feel with vocals of the bratty/smarty pants variety and a well-tuned skill of creating sinewy and snarky spazz punk nuggets of weirdness. "Who Put Out..." has a better recording, with its thick and deep bass tones while "Let Them Eat..." has an overall more memorable cache of songs. Both essential for 90's DC/Dischord enthusiasts (even though neither record 'officially' came out on Dischord)... ya know, people like me.

BRIDGE AND TUNNEL, "Rebuilding Year" LP
I have a soft spot for these New Yorkers, even though I do not typically find myself listening to bands of this sort. Yet they have always ripped it up live, play like their lives depended on it, and have something of importance to say within their songs. The new LP has an overall better recording, but a little quieter overall. Some of the songs have a heavier post-hardcore feel ("Outgrowing Pains" and "Drill Sergeant" come to mind), while "Gridlocked" may be one of their more straight-forward songs. Otherwise, expect what you've come to love- melodic back-and-forth male-female vocals, lots of noodling guitar leads, and a post-hardcore sort of backbone. Bummed I didn't get the bonus hardcore covers 7". Holla if you have one and want to part with it.

SOUL CONTROL, "Get Out Now" 7"
Peace out groovy post-hardcore stuff, hello Tad. Fast, heavy riff fest should be the title for this new 7" instead. It's almost like listening to a different band. Hooray for consistent re-invention. Just like Public Enemy says, 'the B-side wins', I'll take the second half of this record over the first in terms of quality jams.

SDF (AKA End Of a Year) drop a new slow jam written as if they had Elvis Costello, Squeeze, and Fugazi all sharing influential head space in its creation. It's quite wonderful, but the recording is pretty subpar. They also offer a really weird spoken word track that is kind of interesting. Fires sound like a lost track from the "Don't Forget To Breathe" compilation from years ago. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Dudes from Frodus, Sleepytime Trio, and Engine Down start a new band that sounds like dudes from Frodus, Sleepytime Trio, and Engine Down starting a band together. It's really exactly what you'd imagine. Pretty good spazz-tastic and somewhat technical Northern Virginia/DC punk. You know the style. I missed their set by mere seconds this year. Pissed.

CUTMAN, "Universal Laws" 12"
Finally, a full length from this Florida band (who never seem to travel anywhere outside their own state)... who sound nothing like they come from there. This is big burly mountain man rock of a Clutch-meets-Helmet variety sort of heaviness and I love it. They get that sound that can only be achieved with fancy aluminum neck guitars so it sounds loud as heck. Awesome hand cut silkscreened record covers to boot. Looks and sounds awesome.

BIG EYES, "Hard Life" 12"
A little underwhelming. Every single song seems to be about a boy who done her wrong, or disliking people in general. Garage rock with a Pat Benetar kick from this ex-Cheeky three piece that is catchy as all get out, but still kicking your face in the dirt. Pretty darn good, but it gets a little redundant after awhile.

MISSION OF BURMA, "Forget" 12"
Found an original pressing of this long-lost gem on red vinyl. I thought it was $5, but it was actually $15. It was still worth it. A collection of songs released after the group disbanded (before regrouping) that were never on any official records from this Boston post-punk foursome. Mostly bereft of their trademark mysterious tape loops, but the rest of what you know about Burma is in full effect, particularly their more abrasive side. A few of these songs ended up being re-recorded much later for "OnOffOn". Raw, loud, brash, awesome. Get into this band now if you never have you turds.

COLISEUM, "Parasites" 12" EP
Artwork by Rick Fork is enough reason to buy this, if anything, just to frame it on the wall. But listening to it doesn't hurt either. Louisville rockers continue their aggressive post-punk path with some odds and sods (one weird track and a re-recording of "Give Up and Drive"), as well as a handful of jammers you'd expect, post "House With a Curse" Coliseum style. Always a hell of a ride with these dudes. Love it.

ARMALITE, "Humungous" 7"
This band still exists? Yes, and I saw them and you didn't. Yemin, Atom (minus package), McKee, and Ziga- all names of Philly dudes who otherwise represent awesome regular bands get together once in a blue moon to lay down some pop punk songs that are really fun. Three new ones on here- goofy artwork, good linear notes, fun music, cool lyrics.

PUNCH, Flexi Your Head zine/flexi 7"
So you have to mail the back cover of the zine to get the flexi. I did that but haven't got the flexi back yet. Regardless, I know it's going to be covers by Punch- one of the rowdiest bands to ever play Fest. The zine is basically the members talking about some of their favorite songs they would like to cover (and probably do on the flexi). Live, they are not to be missed.

I was inclined to check these dudes out as my old buddy Kevin plays bass in this group. And to hear it was another fella from Trial By Fire writing songs together (as well as personnel from Darkest Hour and The Explosion) I figured it would be good. And it is! This band basically sounds like a slightly more metallic Trial By Fire- so that means fast, catchy punk anthems/melodic hardcore with scathing and involved socio-political lyrics.

Each band contributes one rather lengthy song. So is it worth the price of a 12"? Well, when one of the bands (Restorations) puts out one of your favorite LPs of the year, yeah, it's worth it. They follow up that LP with a pretty damn good song- a bit more on the spacey/stoner heavy tip while retaining their gruff melodicism on top of it. Rosetta confirms my belief that I would take seeing them live any day of the week rather than listening to their jammy space rock on record. Live, they're a completely different aggressive monster.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Yup, so these were made. Yup, the cover is pretty weird. But I got to say, the insides came out pretty good... especially for not having drawn a full on comic in about 15 years.
Dig it:
This particular issue comes in the form of a comic book... all drawn and written by yours truly (so if it looks like shit excuse the fact that I haven't made a comic book since high school!). The grim nature of getting sick for an entire Winter and having little aid from medical professionals while still engaging in the typical fanfare of show going, traveling, and 'stagediving as medicine' to bring comfort to these ailing bones. Additionally, an ongoing subtext of a blunt refusal to ever puke... ever. No compromise, even in the face of armageddon. Sadness, humor, punk.
Weird cover with foldout place holder/pages pocket.
28 pages of hand-drawn wackiness

Get it HERE.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


What have we been up to these last few weeks besides getting our impending revolution on? Drawing a zine, of course!
Yes, the new issue of TRANSLATE is almost in the can and the whole thing is illustrated! Not just parts this time. This issue is all comics of a personal nature about getting sick, and then getting better again. I'm quite pleased with it.
So.. as long as I finish up the last few details, I ought to have copies while at The Fest in Gainesville this coming weekend. Yay!
And for those not going, and want a copy, I'll have the ordering link up in the webstore soon enough.
In the meantime, here is an excerpt from this new issue:

Saturday, October 15, 2011


OK, so check it out- life is getting busy on the non-label/blogging/reviews/whatever side of life. Why? Because October always has so much to offer in terms of fun and excitement. I'm trying to coordinate wedding plans, going to Fest in a couple weeks, and knee deep in some truly inspiring social change. So what the heck are you reading this stuff for? Go out and get yr mitts dirty!
And may I add a quick change to the reviews: from time to time I'm going to be adding some live show reviews. you can read a couple right now if you'd like. They're below with the rest of the record stuff.

FUCKED UP/WAAVES live, Buffalo, NY- 10.2.11
So I haven't seen Fucked Up in a good 3 years or so and I'm totally in love with the newest LP. So I figured I could forego my big brother's birthday (Does anyone really care when you turn 37? Perhaps a landmark achievement in the dark ages when it was notable that the black plague hadn't claimed you yet, but nowadays just another number) and go see one of my favorite punk bands tear it up just across the border from their native Canada. As an aside, this show was held in a really large venue. I saw both Public Enemy and Devo both sell this place out. So maybe I'm behind the times but did Fucked Up get exponentially larger since I last saw them? Judging by the eerie emptiness of the room apparently not. A last minute local-ish band opened and were OK. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to sneer at either. California hype band Waaves played next. I guess I ought to see what all the excitement is about. Well, it was cool for about three songs and then got incredibly redundant. Yes, surf rock-meets garage rock-meets punk, got it. They have a lot of bizarro hipster fans who promptly took off (clearly to find the next shitty trend before it happens) right after their set leaving an even emptier room for Fucked Up. By the way, Waaves bassist looks like a chubby Sammy Hager.. which might actually be a current Sammy Hager. I just thought that was worth pointing out as it was the most notable thing about their set.
OK, so Fucked Up get on and proceed to just light the place on fire, regardless of crowd size, blazing right through the entire A-side of "David Comes To Life". I have to admit, screaming along to "Under My Nose" and "The Other Shoe" made this whole awkward trip well worth it... the cruddy weather, the weird setting, the fucking $21 door price. Both those songs have been knocking me on my ass all year. Damien's awesome between song rants about old-school Buffalo punk and making a Mt. Rushmore of Buffalo featuring Doug Flutie and Scott Vogel were pretty hilarious. They knocked a couple out from "Chemistry.." and maybe only one or two songs from "Hidden World", as well as "I Hate Summer" to raucous enthusiasm. Even the older favorite "Baiting the Public" was brought out. They closed things out with "Police", which naturally drew some pretty wild crowd antics. I gotta hand it to them, even in a less than perfect atmosphere Fucked Up really knows how to kick out the jams and put a smile on my face.

This is my first time hearing Libyans and right off the bat I wasn't crazy about it. Yet once they got to the second song I was a little more into it. Three songs here that go by really quick. Their style is a hyperactive punk rock with female vocals and strange bursts of melodic craziness and some rather inspirational politicized lyrics. It kind of reminds me of that rather short-lived Boston band Convulsions, except faster. God Equals Genocide is kind of like genocide on my ears. They're like a way crappier version of Libyans. I'll admit, some parts are a bit catchy, but overall it's like that style of hobo anarcho-punk that involves a broken acoustic guitar, some dude hitting a can for rhythm, a bad vocalist, and a dog somewhere in the mix. And I really can't stand stuff like that. So yeah, take that style, plug it in, and garage it up a bit. I suppose that's kind of a step in quality? But I still don't really care for this. (Shock To the System/Dirt Cult Records)

So apparently Grey Area is a band again and this is their first new material in about 10 years. They sound exactly the same as they did back when too. It's alright, not really my bag, but for dudes who do the really melodic fast punk thing, and actually sing for real they do it well. No half-assing, auto-tuning, radio rock posing as punk, they have it down legit. It's like Token Entry, but a bit more safe. Go Rydell is on the flip and I hope they have a solid mailing address for Dan Yemin because they're going to start having to send him royalty checks for all the Kid Dynamite bits they're ripping from him. Everything about this (even down to the clever song titles) has the KD stamp all over it, just not as good. To some people that will be fine, to me it's a little too close to plagiarism for my tastes. (Black Numbers)

LUTHER, "Siblings and Sevens" LP
I'm not sure why I thought this (because I knew I would be wrong), but the cover of this record is really simple and kind of weird and makes it look like this could be some scathing noise rock terror unit, worthy of inclusion in the ranks of AmRep or Reptilian Records roster. Sadly, this is not the case. I'm also not quite sure why this band has the 't' in their name lowercase, almost crucifix-like? Again, it looks kind of cool, but then when you actually hear the music I honestly wonder if they are a Christian rock band or something because this is pretty middle of the road rock music. You could stretch for a punk background and say they sound a bit like the Replacements, but all in all, it's rock. That's it. No fancy subgenres or anything. The next to last song has an almost Pixies guitar tone to it, which is kind of nice. Other than that I really have nothing else to say about this record. Oh yeah, it's only 7 songs so I'm not quite sure if would be an LP or more of an EP? (Black Numbers)

PUNCH, "How Nothing Lasts" 7"
I'll take what I can out of Punch. They hit the East Coast maybe once a year (and never anywhere close to home anymore)and they're a whole lot of fun to see live. So I'm just imagining how apeshit people are going when they hear the seven new songs they crammed onto this little 7". Amazingly, there are a couple songs on here that nearly break the two minute mark. Yes, a few tracks here bust out near youth crew parts, but who cares when blast beat powerviolence attack-core ninja kicks you in the throat the rest of the time. Lyrically things are still written rather subpar, though the subject matter is always cool and the scathing, screeching vocals fit perfect with the music. They are definitely one of the best parts of this group and make the music that much more fierce. I'm digging the lead off track and the awesome fake stops in "The Chase" the best on this record. Get fast suckas. (Deathwish/ Discos Huelga)

RESIST CONTROL, "Dissipation" 7"
Something is very different between this Buffalo bands demo and this record. They're basically a grindcore band now. When you can squeeze 11 songs onto a seven inch it ought to raise some flags. Thankfully the vocals are decipherable and clearly cut from the hardcore cloth. Meanwhile, the bass drum is compressed as much as humanly possible to have that weak clicky sound and definitely emerging from more of a death metal sort of background. I'm not sure if that's what the band has intended, but to these ears it's kind of a mixed bag. This sort of reminds me of that old Relapse band Benumb. Does that mean anything to you? Probably not. (Shock To the System/ Feral Kid Records)

SOKIA PISTE, "Oire" 7"
This band is from Finland. I don't know what their name means, and I also have no clue what their lyrics are about because it's all in Finnish. That being said, the music sounds pretty killer. It's raw and dirty punk hardcore, with a pretty unique tone to the guitars. For some reason I'm reminded of really old Nirvana stuff when it comes to the way this was recorded and the tones they get. Musically, it's a bit more fierce with vocals that range from screamed to kind of singing. Three jams to kick you in the face. (Peterwalkee Records)

THOU, live- Syracuse, 10.4.11
Louisiana's Thou are one of the more intriguing sludge bands I've heard in the last year or two. Generally, I'm quite hit or miss with bands of this nature because they can simply drone/feedback forever and it can get boring. Thou definitely write slow songs, often recalling the dirty nastiness of groups like Eyehategod. but I finally figured out who they remind me of the most and that is Canada's long lost doom merchants Ire. I fucking loved Ire near the end. Long involved sludgy doom that had some important shit to say in their songs, wrapped around well thought-out riffs and throat-ripping vocals... as well as frequent Nirvana covers... played really slow. Thou are a lot like that and I was stoked to see them come to my town and play on a Tuesday night to a good crowd in a tiny room. Local vegan warriors Hunger Pains opened and filthied up the room (and nearly set off fire alarms with some fireworks thrown into the crowd). Black Throat Wind came next. Since downsizing to a single drummer the material they've written- long, involved, melodic, jammy, but still something all their own- has been pretty good. The older songs, that were written with a second drummer, don't sound as powerful as they did and I think they need to flesh them out a bit more or drop them altogether. I'd rather they kept them, personally. I like those songs. Finally, Thou came on and immediately knocked me the fuck over with how low and heavy their tones are. Seismic shifts in the floorboards gave way from gigantic riffs. Most of the songs they played were from splits and other hard-to-find records (and not their full lengths), minus "They Stretch Out Their Hands"- with its insanely awesome Crowbar type riff carrying the first section of the song- from their debut "Peasant". Whatever the case, it was all awesome, and all heavy. Sadly, no Nirvana covers though.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


A friend had recently mentioned that this blog hasn't had much new stuff to offer on it aside from record reviews and I suppose he is correct. Yet, seeing as this exists to supply info about the label and associated projects I don't typically make it a point editorialize on here. Perhaps I ought to more often? Or would that just further a 'cranky old man' status I'm guilty of having?

If it's label news you want I do not have much to offer as of right now. Most of the label bands are keeping it quiet lately with occasional shows here and there. Next to no orders are coming in because everyone seems to see fit to steal whatever I release with no regard to the large sums of money I apparently like to simply set on fire might be another news item I suppose. I probably cannot afford to keep doing this much longer based upon this 'finance recording for band so everyone can simply steal it from you' model so... yeah, that's what you get.

Perhaps it makes no difference because people are going to make music regardless of whether there are labels around to release it or not. And if artists are tenacious enough they will figure out a way to get it out to people and manage to sustain themselves regardless of who is/isn't footing the bill. So yeah, labels can be pretty pointless in some regards.

But on the other hand there is quite a thrill in discovering music, especially when made by friends, that knocks your socks off, and having the means to push it out there for more people to discover. Finding meaning and inspiration in the songs, how they were recorded, the minutia of the gear used, tones achieved, words spoken, and how it is all crafted makes it worthwhile. Creating art to go with it, and putting it all together as a physical document of something I find to be important will never get tiring for me. But it's that disconnect between what I think is important, what I think everyone else ought to find important, and what the majority of people actually give a shit about are very different things. And most people feel that plopping down $10 for music they only half enjoy on a physical format they do not understand would be better spent in a movie theater on a Friday night.

How can I argue with that? I mean, I can easily argue that, but it really just boils down to personal opinion. And my opinion is that most movies suck and if I could finally find a copy of Quicksand, "Slip" on vinyl I'd take that over most any movie any day of the week. And that's just me.

So with that it appears that the masses have spoken. They want everything for free. But guess what- you can't have it for free because the things I do and the groups that have recorded music for me to release on their behalf has tremendous value. It's worth something and I refuse to belittle that work because some jerk off with a shitty little blog (and probably more popular than this one) decides that they're entitled to give away anything and everything without so much as asking permission, or a polite request. And that's where I know I'm going to lose because people are going to do it anyway. They're all still turds in my mind. So I will probably do a few more releases I fully believe in, and by the time they're finished there will be six people left on Earth who remember what a 'record' is.

In the meantime I'd say that if you claim that music saved your life, or is your life, or is of great importance to you than walk the fucking walk and give some goddamn respect back to it- go see the bands that appreciate your support, put a few bucks into struggling artists pockets by picking up a record or whatever. Love is a two way street.

And if you do care to support what I do than pick up something I've put a lot of love into. You can get my records from these places: Deathwish, RevHQ, Robotic Empire, In Vinyl we Trust, Vinyl Junkie, No Idea, Ebullition, MVD/See Of Sound, and, of course, direct.

Jumping back to the subject of love, and segueing into the personal, I'll be getting married next year to the love of my life. Amongst the general disaster that was my summer there were a couple of gems of light in the grimey filth that surrounded them. The first was a great garden harvest that kept my belly healthy and full. The other was getting engaged. So it's official and I'm pretty excited about what lies ahead. On the downside, I did have my wallet stolen, my car unexpectedly shit out, and one of my foster cats suddenly and tragically died. but the positives were like 12 Bane records rolled into one. Gotta have that PMA right?

And for the immediate future I want to start a band again. Of course, the vocalist position is a mindless vacancy where deciding 'what to sound like' is basically out my hands completely, seeing as I have next to no musical talent to back it up. Still, if you love Jehu, Deadguy, Jesus Lizard, and KARP and somehow still manage to be vegan straightedge and over the age of 25 (all 3 of you... myself included) get in touch because it gets harder and harder to want to attempt this shit with other humans and actually feel OK about life.
Fnally, Halloween weekend-ish I will once again be soaking up rays at the Fest in Gainesville. Be there or be a turd. I'll be hawking wares. Get at me and get something. I'll be the only person there not drinking, but still having fun.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

IT'S A FIRE..... sale!

It's time to do another sale here at Hex HQ (AKA, my attic). Call it a Labor Day sale, I don't care. I call it, 'get some records on the cheap'.

Here's the deal:
1.) Go to the webstore (
2.) Buy some stuff
3.) At checkout enter code 'GETBENT'
4.) Get 10% off your entire order, plus free shit with every order
5.) Repeat.

We'll have this happening for the next week (expires on 9/12).

*And go see the final NIGHT OWLS shows (9/4- Syracuse, 9/9- Ithaca, NY, 9/10- NYC)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

REVIEWS FOR AUGUST (a little late, but hey...)

Computer problems, car problems, life problems, you name it, it's been a wild last couple months. And some good stuff too. Nevertheless, it has not left much time to do this stuff. So let me finally get it out of the way and present some toilet-laptop reading material.

AMPERE, "Like Shadows"
I put this on to check it out and before I could formulate any real thoughts about it the whole thing was over... even though there's 15 songs on here. I'm pretty sure the record was over within 12 minutes. A couple more listens and it still does nothing for me. I never got Ampere and I still don't. I mean, in one sense, yeah, I get it. Ultra spastic, hectic, Ebullition/early Level Plane/Witching Hour styled screamy hardcore. But not a lick of it makes any musical sense whatsoever. People go absolutely apeshit over this band when they play and flock to their merch table to pick up whatever scrap of music they can get their paws on. That makes no sense to me. The lyrics are pretty good and come in a neat little booklet, but everything else here is a foreign language to me. What they stand for in terms of how they carry themselves as a band is great. But this band cannot write a song. (No Idea Records)

ENGINEER, "Crooked Voices"
It only took a year and a half to get this out but it was worth the wait. When Engineer first started playing some of these songs out live I must admit to being slightly confused by the difference in sound. And just like any good record those songs took awhile to sink in and do their thing. but once I began getting the gist of this new material I was quite happy with how things came out. Engineer has always been known for creating songs that build up, take you down different paths before hitting their mark, and being well-written. But they also have had no qualms about beating the piss out of you for a solid half hour straight with sonic onslaughts. "Crooked Voices" aims to continue that beating, but with some sort of mediation upon why you're getting the piss beat out of you. A good dose of clean guitar, piano, and slide guitar regularly show up on this album and it's refreshing to see Engineer try some new things. Sure, the style of songwriting remains the same. It's just the way they dish it out that has some new twists and for that I'm exceptionally stoked on this record. "Shape Shifting", "Scavenger", and "The Starving Artist" are probably my favorite tracks on the whole thing. Get it and get floored. (Black Market Activities)

HALF HEARTED HERO, "Running Water" 12"
The best thing going for this EP is the wonderful package it came in. For something that is just an EP it looks really special, definitely a lot of care, hands-on crafting, and attention to detail make the record look top notch. The music, on the other hand, is just not anything I'd ever listen to and enjoy. I can sometimes get into bands that play really fast melodic hardcore, which this group does well. The techy melodic flourishes and noodling get on my nerves, but I know that really gets some people off. The nail in the coffin is the ultra-clean (auto-tuned?) pop vocals on top of it all. The guy could be singing about stringing up vivisectors by their ballsacks in the town square and I'd still feel miserable just listening to vocals like these. Again, some people hear stuff like this and fall in love. I just get annoyed and turn it off. (Animal Style Records)

The newest project from Oscar, who helmed NYC band Nakatomi Plaza for what seemed like eons comes across in a similar fashion, but with some marked differences. You can tell the dude is still strongly influenced by J. Robbins bands like Jawbox and Burning Airlines, insofar as a very direct rocking attitude, but adding some twists and turns that think outside the norm. Also, Oscar's voice seems to have dropped an octave and the dude could seriously start belting out hardcore if he wanted to at this point. But on some levels this kind of just feels like a standard rock record and that sort of dulls the whole affair. Not to say it's bad, it just doesn't move me. There are two covers on here by bands no one has ever heard and the first of the two, "Last Time We Talked" is awesome- very power pop influenced in the best way possible, while the next track, "Pilots" is the strongest song on the album. It has fucktons of energy, post-hardcore raging, and great riffs. I like that one the best. Overall, decent. But I'll tell ya, as a former promoter I'd never want to put this bands name on a flyer... it's just really ridiculous. (self-released)

Ugliest damn band around, and I don't mean old-man balding hardcore style with weird tattoos. I mean this music is just ugly as all get out. As the musical output of vocalist/guitarist Demian Johnston has progressed over the years (Nineironspitfire, Kiss It Goodbye, Playing Enemy) things have just gotten meaner, weirder, and nastier. Paired with longtime Playing Enemy bassist/head-smasher Shane Mehling, a familiar sound comes into play here as well which is discordant and twisted, gnarled and thick off-timed hardcore. Plenty of groups claim stuff like Rorschach and Deadguy as influences, but this is really where the end result shines brightest (or bleakest, however you want to take it). Many of these songs appeared on older recordings whey just had a drum machine, but they now have an actual human behind the traps and he helps flesh out these sludgy and frantic schizoid songs: Opener "Read Silver" and "Untitled Woman" blast through pissed off hardcore as gross and fucked up as it comes. "Hundreds Of Child Soldiers" and "All Clean Necks" drag things out to slow, off-timed spirals of noise disaster and almost tribal dirges, desperate and depressed groaning from guitars. Eight songs total on here and self-released from the band. I suggest checking it out if you really want something mean, noisy, heavy, and ugly. I sure like it a lot. (Dead Accents)

It's hard for me to believe that I really like this band. Typically, music of this variety is impressive insofar as the band's musical talent, but fails to keep my interest. Yet Leylines just, for one reason or another, does it for me. The music is of the noodly-emo variety and culls references from groups such as the technicality of Native or Damiera, the rough melody of Bridge and Tunnel, and the effects trickery of Minus the Bear. It all makes for cool songs that don't go too overboard on their own nerdy indulgences, and appreciates just rocking out every now and again. If anyone heard their demo, basically those songs have been re-recorded with four new ones as well. And it comes in a nice little package as well so do yourself a favor and pick it up. (self-released)

Yes indeed. I was so-so about their EP, but this full length is where it's at. I can tell this is where they were looking to be before and now hit it square between the eyes with this record. Dave and John from Philly's Jena Berlin front this new band that is, in some ways, much more reserved than the post-hardcore JB dished out. But in many other ways it expands on a whole host of other sounds that balance Americana with post-punk and subtle hints of post-hardcore. I know, genre labels abound, but whatever, this just kicks ass. John has a really great, gritty and soulful voice that carries many of these songs. And the playful and bouncy riffing on "Neighborhood Song" gives the rhythm section here a chance to inject some energy in that arena, while "Broken Vacuum" has all members firing with enthusiasm and the sing-along line "Nails to the bone" repeated over and over. All in all, I'm really impressed with how this came out and glad I had the chance to check it out. Please tell me "Sideways House" is a reference to The State skit of the same name. (Tiny Engines)

SEAWEED, "Service Deck"/"The Weight" 7"
Who is/was Seaweed? For those of us into our 30's and not hopped up on goofballs like so many young twerps these days, Seaweed is/was a punk band out of Seattle. They released a bunch of records and then unceremoniously split up about 10 years ago. Over the past 2 or 3 years they have occasionally played some shows, but this is the first new material in many, many moons. So now you see why I use the 'is/was' thing when describing them. So they're sort of a band I guess. Nevertheless, their brand of punk was always pretty cool. It wasn't the strict 3-chord bangers typical of snotty punk. It often infused a sense of melody common to the SoCal sect of Fat Wreck/Epitaph bands, not to mention some of the, dare I say, Seattle sound of the early 90's (cough-grunge-cough). But not in a Soundgarden sort of way or anything. It's just a Northwest vibe, if that means anything at all. So yeah, I like this band and their approach to punk. That brings us to this new 2 song 7" and it's good to know the band basically has not missed a beat. It really does hold up to their previous material, maybe a little cleaner, but overall fits in well with stuff up to, and including, "Spanaway" (which is the last thing I have from them). The packaging is friggin' great too. (No Idea Records)

THOU, "The Archer and the Owle" LP
It seems every time I turn around Thou has released another album. Get prolific much? Plus, everything they do is quality. But a lot of it does sound quite the same. I suppose that's not a bad thing when you really like what they do in the first place. So this, their 12th record this year (probably) you get 5 new crushing sludge epics and another random Nirvana song slowed down to a syrupy pace (and yet instantly recognizable) spanning 40 minutes. To some (myself included) that length of time, divided by number of songs, usually has me ready to fall asleep. But Thou keeps their massive sludge experiments interesting, rocking, and most of all, heavy as Marty McFly's opinion of time travel. It's like Eyehategod with extra brains and just as much spite, and some cool, twisted melody to top it all off. They probably gave this away for free online already anyway, but the vinyl looks pretty cool and I think they even made a run of cassettes for this release if you're into 80's technology. (Robotic Empire)

Saturday, July 9, 2011


So, the most excellent NIGHT OWLS a splitting up. Those outside the Central NY area may not be too familiar with them as they were never the touring sort of band. But they released some killer music (including an EP on Hex Records).
If you want a good description check this review
Nevertheless, members are moving away and doing other sorts of adult things so they are leaving us and are playing a few shows before they go. Here's what they are:

Sat. July 9th- Syracuse
Lost Horizon w/ Bridge Under Fire, Scarlet Ending, Dead Friends, more

Sat. July 23rd- Syracuse
Westcott Community Center w/ Ed Gein, Gods & Queens, Defeatist, Veloz

Sun. August 28th- Syracuse
Badlands w/ Whiskey, Ghost Ship, Highlites

NYC-Philly weekend in Sept. (details forthcoming)

And since they are splitting we thought we'd offer a deal!
From now until the final gig, get their CDEP for $1 (yup, a buck) if you get anything else from the webstore. Buy anything from us and get the Night Owls CD for $1. Nice!
Get it HERE

And in other news, I suppose it would be prudent to mention a couple other raging upstate NY gigs that you ought to check out. Those would be the OAK & BONE and LIKE WOLVES record release shows!

Sunday, July 24th
Westcott Community Center (826 Euclid Ave.), Syracuse, NY
6PM. $7

event page

Friday, July 29th
The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.), Rochester, NY
8PM. price TBA

event page

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I feel like each year is like the Star Trek movies when it comes to good music- every other one is awesome. Last year wasn't so hot. 2009 was awesome. "Wrath Of Khan" was great, "Search For Spock" was meh. And 2011 is proving to be one bad ass year for good music, as far as I'm concerned.
Aside from some stuff I released that I'm very pleased about other bands, both old and new to my ears, are dropping kick ass records that are keeping my ears happy and overwhelmed.
So bear witness to quite a few reviews this time around. I know it's lengthy, but there's a lot of stuff coming at me I need to report on.

This is the perfect kind of punk-hardcore seven inch- 6 songs, all short and fast, and interesting enough so it doesn’t all run together. Consisting of Ryan and Rob from Black Cross (and I suppose Nick too, since he played on the last record) this essentially picks up where they left off. There is that raw feel that was present on the early stuff (when they were Black Widows), as well as a bit more of the jagged melody present on “Severance Pays”. Opener “Fundamental Headwalker” blasts off with an awesome sing-along chorus, while the two strongest tracks come at the end of the B-side: “This Life” (I love when a song tells a good story, partially referencing other bands) and “Reach” (the most off-kilter of the six songs, prominently featuring Nick Thineman’s patented dirty low-end and another excellent sing-along chorus). “I am a hand grenade of love” indeed. Great stuff here. (No Idea)

GODS AND QUEENS, “Untitled III (EP 2)” 7”
Four more songs of Jaime Getz complaining on wax about how life is so tough. “Oh, I play in a band and I get to go to Europe three times a year, but it’s sooooo pointless!” Boo-hoo weiner baby. I kid, of course. Still, the three new songs (and one bitchin’ cover of “Which Way To Go” by the Big Boys) on this 7” are the most straightforward and direct songs this Philly group has offered to date. The bass is way up front and has that super sludgy KARP feel to it while the guitars ease off some of the more shoegaze style present on previous records in favor of a bit more mid-tempo rocking. Lyrically, there’s no mysteries hidden between the lines- jaded recollections of how lives are ruined by playing in a band instead of taking the ‘normal’ life route. I get it. While I’m definitely digging this a lot I think I prefer the previous LPs more. They sound bigger, more desperate, and that giant wall of sound that didn’t quite come through on this, but almost. Still one of my favorite bands currently out there. (Sons Of Vesta)

HELMS ALEE, “Weatherhead”
One of my favorite current bands returns on their second full length even weirder than they were on the excellent (and somewhat overlooked) “Night Terror”. Plus, this one is just loaded with a lot of tracks. It will certainly take the listener a few spins to really navigate all the twists and turns Helms Alee take on this record. But each and every one of them is rewarding- the creeping melodic strangeness that recalls the best moments of Unwounds “Leaves Turn Inside You” to the face-crushing heaviness of tracks like “Pretty As Pie” and the closer riff killing in “Mad Mouth”, even to the more up-tempo rocking in “Speed Sk8r”. Once again, both the mountain man roar of guitarist Ben Verellen, mingled with the soft coo of bassist Dana and drummer Hozji makes the vocal delivery yet another cool aspect of this amazing band. But between the weird melodies, the gigantic riffs, off-time rhythms, and far-from-direct approach I can see how the layperson might not be immediately drawn to this. Of course, that’s part of why I dig this group so much. Please, do yourself a favor and get this immediately. (Hydrahead)

LIGHTS AT SEA, “Palace Walls”
This band is about 5 years late to the game on the whole instrumental Isis-Tides thing, and I’m not sure if they were aware of the 10,000 other bands that also tried this style and failed miserably at it (and who also, like any musical fad, were gone after about 6 months). It’s just one of those things where about 5 bands did it really well and the rest were just really boring. And I gotta be honest- this band is just boring. (Barrett Records)

OK, the LKN stuff is just so awful I just can’t find the words to describe it. It basically sounds like a person brainstorming song ideas, or free jamming with a tape recorder. Yuck. And you get six songs of it.
Knife the Symphony gets three songs on the B-side of awesome heavy rock. There is a strong late 90’s Dischord/Touch and Go vibe to their style and a good deal of post-hardcore so you know I am down. The first song is more direct and just beats you around with thick bass plodding, lots of yelling, and jangling guitars. The second song is pretty long with a mid-tempo thing happening that busts into this extended chill part with a prominent Young Widows-style bass tone bringing the whole thing back into focus. They close out their side with a cover of fIREHOSE’s, “On Your Knees”, all stop-start bass riffing, followed by a Sonic Youth styled wall of guitar noise. Get this one for the B-side, forget the A-side. (Phratry Records)

Things start off with pretty blasting spastic noisecore, the likes of which bring to mind early majority Rule or Page 99. It’s a good way to get things rolling. But eventually it sort of moves into kind of redundant late 90’s style metalcore. I’m not sure how that switch happened, and if this were 12 years ago I’d probably think this was the greatest thing since skateboards got double tails. In some parts I’m quite impressed and dig this band’s style- even recalling moments of Euro noisemongers like Breach and Lack. But the more metallic elements feel somewhat dated and tacky. Keep it noisy and messy, it suits this band better. (Phratry Records)

MEN, THE, “...Leave Home”
Friends and enemies alike rave on and on about this band, and how they’re the next big thing out of NYC. So I checked out their last record and thought it kind of sucked. I gave them a second chance with a 7” they recently released because it had a cover of Devo’s “Gates Of Steel” (my favorite Devo song) and they did a pretty rowdy, loose and noisy version of it. But I still wasn’t quite sold. Their recordings are way too into that really terrible, don’t-give-a-shit garbage can style that has some air of ‘listen to how punk and noisy we sound’, but really just sounds like shit that so many bands seem to think is really cool lately. I don’t get it. So it wasn’t until I finally saw them, and saw how much they actually have their shit together in the live setting, and was totally blown away. And thankfully, this record definitely does justice to sounding loud, abrasive, and noisy, but having the right amount of clarity so that you can tell what’s happening in all the noise and see how awesome this band really is. The Men mix up equal parts gigantic walls of guitar shoegaze type melodic noise, rawkus garage punk, and full on rocking to make for one hell of a great record. Opener, “If You Leave...” opens things with big riffs and a bit of slide guitar that falls into a massive melodic, atmospheric singing bit. Next is “Lotus” and a re-recording of “Think” that both rock the fuck out your speakers. They experiment with some doom and dungeon style evil on “L.A.D.O.C.H.” which I can basically skip. The B-side has the best track on the record, and probably the most concise idea of what this band does (aside from occasional tracks that go on pretty long), “Bataille”, and it’s a great rocking song as well. Another weird experiment, the drum-machine propelled “Night Landing” closes things out and could be a Trans Am out take if I didn’t know better. Either way, it’s good to see the sound this band has been working on finally realized in the best way possible on this LP. Damn good stuff. (Sacred Bones)

The idea of this record intrigued me a lot more than the actual execution. This is a Swedish band that has been around for a bit and got Dan Higgs to do all the vocals on this new record. And if you know anything about Dan Higgs.. well, it’s always something interesting. A friend whose musical opinion I trust brought their name up and I asked what it sounded like and he said it was like a more rocked-out, garage-y Lungfish... which is definitely interesting to me. So I picked it up. So yeah, it is pretty rocking, very garage rock, very psych rock, and Dan Higgs is definitely singing on here. But he doesn’t sound as animated as his more well known work with Lungfish. In fact, much of the time on this record he just doesn’t sound all that interested and it sort of brings the vibe of the whole record down. I guess it’s alright, but I think I was expecting quite a bit more. (Thrill Jockey)

Two Michigan area bands (that also share members) activate their power rings and join forces to celebrate 90’s style hardcore in two different ways. Great Reversals has a very Bane-meets-’94 style New Age Records thing happening. It’s kind of slower, chunky hardcore, but with some twists and turns too to keep it interesting. They address life and religion in a thought-out and philosophical way that merits some reading. TCIW gets the B-side and goes for more of that late 90s screamo thing of longer songs still heavy on the hardcore, but quite a bit of melodic noodling. Actually, there’s no real way I can describe this band without it sounding cheesy. But I’ll just say they do a bastardized style the right way and do it well, giving some hope to the sub genre thankfully! They also packaged this thing up really nice, so check it out if you get the chance. (self-released)

TRAP THEM, “Darker Handcraft”
Hot damn. This is probably the best thing Trap Them has done to date. I really dug their debut LP quite a bit. I thought “Seance Prime” relied a bit too heavily on the mid-tempo Entombed worship and not enough on speed. “Seizures...” was really good and has some great tracks on it, but also a few forgettable ones as well. But every song on here is a ripper. No doubt about it. Armed with an inhuman speed freak (and not in the drug sense as I think it may be a naturally occurring substance in his bloodstream) for a drummer plenty of these tracks just fly right by, totally unrelenting with their heavy Converge-meets-Entombed sort of grind-crust-metal-punk hybrid. It’s fucking great. Not too long ago I saw Trap Them on tour with Converge and the lineup was fucking awesome. And it’s tough to say, but Trap Them were the best band of the night. They just had everything on perfectly, one song into the next, blasting the shit out of anyone and anything in their path. And that’s how this record sounds. Totally unrelentless and pulverizing in every sense of the word. (Prosthetic)

I have to say, I was very skeptical to read this. in fact, I almost didn’t want to. It was part because this book has a rather silly title, and the author (in my many years of having known him) can be quite over-the-top about whatever he throws himself into to the point where it’s overwhelming just to hear him talk about it. But once I started in on this I realized this is every humorous thing Dave has ever postulated, every bad sci-fi reference, every corny hardcore-related pun, and a plot so crazy that the only solid reference point I would recommend when reading this is to think of any purposefully bad 80’s horror flick and apply it to the situation in this book. Which leads me to what this book is about. The setting: Portland, Oregon. The scenario: the FDA has approved ‘stress-free meat’, which is a chemical injected into factory farm animals to dull the pain centers of their brains so they don’t find discomfort in the terrible conditions they are forced to endure. Our main characters, living in the progressive, but hipster-infested, portland have just decided to go vegan, right before this ‘stress-free’ meat hits the mass market. yet once it hits anyone who eats meat/dairy begins turning into a brainless, rotting zombie and the only people left are the vegans. From there the Earth Crisis references spew forth as justice is served with the splattering of zombies heads, all the while every activist sub-genre is not only brought up, but also with a fair amount of fun-poking, ridicule, and so forth. Freegans are not safe. They too become zombies. Honestly, by the end I thought this book was hilarious. Take it with a grain of salt, remember your bad horror flicks, and listen to hardcore. It will be a fun read I assure you. (Deadite Press)

WHY THE WIRES, “Telegraph Flats”
Already dropping a second LP, Ithaca’s Why the Wires continue on their path of exceptional indie weirdness, meets punk urgency... with saxophone and accordion. I can’t help but compare this band, at times, to the late, great Sweep the Leg Johnny. Yes, both bands have math rock tendencies (Sweep had it in spades actually) and great textural use of saxophone. But the vocals for both groups are really similar as well- slightly raspy, somber yet commanding, soulful yet a bit cold. I can’t say I’m too into the accordion when it’s brought into play. It’s just not my thing. But these songs go from hectic and upbeat rockers, to melancholy and relaxed. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but it works pretty well and is, if anything, an interesting listen. (Habit Forming/ Angry Mom)