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)

Monday, June 20, 2011


* cue Poltergeist music.... no, wait... cue, AWESOMENESS! But yeah, the face-melting sounds here will conjure images from said creepy film. Feast your peepers at what rolled in today:

Orders ought to start shipping before the end of the week.
If you're still dumb and haven't picked these records up go HERE

Friday, June 10, 2011


So, take a look at what showed up today:

Just waiting on the actual vinyl to show up and then we will start sending out orders.

And if you didn't get them yet my only question to you is, 'what's your problem?'


Monday, June 6, 2011


So it has been awhile since you all saw of these huh?
Well, sorry if it took awhile, but I've had this little pre-order thing going on for a couple records I'm releasing. maybe you heard about it? Or saw about 500 facebook posts in regards to it? No matter, it's not a big deal (no, really, it is).
And then I got a bit sidetracked when I took off for Maine for a couple days and saw this band:

That's Mission Of Burma playing a pretty small place and they were great. I like them a lot. So yeah, now that that stuff is out of the way, here's some reviews for you.

DAMAGES, “Unrequited” 7”
When a band is described as ‘90’s Touch and Go style’ there is a good chance I will probably be into it. But to see that said band is releasing a record on the exceptionally posi youth crew React label I must admit that I’m a bit confused. No matter really. This group released a great initial 7”, “Scars”, basically on their own and has now followed it up with another two-song slab of wax continuing that same sound. And yes, it’s true that there is a degree of what many would identify as noise rock of the AmRep and Touch and Go variety. That basically equates to a really up front and thick bass sound with the guitars a bit more in the background playing some frantic and feedback-encrusted riffing, while hoarse and strained vocals carry over it all. Somehow, it all stays pretty catchy and rocks quite thoroughly. I think I liked the songs a bit more from “Scars”, but the quality and recording of this new 7” is a bit better. Heck, I’d say just get both and let this band do some damage of it’s own on your eardrums. See what I did there? (React)

This really takes nerdy record collection shit to a whole new level for me. I’m not quite sure why I splurged on this book (it’s rather pricey for what it is, but then again, there is a level of handmade craftsmanship to this that a lot of work obviously went into constructing), but it’s cool to look at nonetheless. This book collects pictures of records made, mostly, in the early-to-mid nineties, by extremely crafty do-it-yourself’ers. There is some current stuff in there as well. These are the records that came packaged in silkscreened manilla envelopes, sewn patchwork sleeves, rubber stamped center labels, saddle-stitched insert booklets, and so forth. Many may not know this, but these DIY experiments in handcrafted packaging were commonplace in the 90’s and made for some very interesting records that also happened to deliver in terms of quality of band as well. Photos accompany explanations of everything from the initial Crudos releases to the Indian Summer chipboard covers, up to the screened plastic sleeves on Breather Resist’s “Full Of Tongues” 7”, and basically every weird record that Bloodlink (Chokehold, Impetus Inter, Frail, Groundwork) and Gravity (Angelhair, UOA, Unwound, Huggy Bear) ever released. Not only is it cool to see what people could do with their art, but also provides a link to some incredible music being made by some very creative and crafty people then and now. Some of these records showcased were certainly inspirations for some of the records I’ve put out over the years in terms of packaging. (Mark Batty Publisher)

I should be able to write this review as quickly as this 13 song LP flies by. At barely 8 minutes per side this project band out of Buffalo, NY steamrolls through minute-long ragers of vitriolic hardcore. All these dues play in a multitude of bands around the Buffalo area, so it’s pointless to say who’s in what, especially since this was recorded some time ago and I think they may have only played a few songs. So this is basically a limited run posthumous release in a way. They did go all out though with a cool hand-painted chipboard package that has a neat silkscreen design over it. While the B-side (as well as the A-side’s “Instrumental” closer) offer a bit more in the way of hooks and melody coupled with the chaos to help this group stand out a bit more it’s the vocals that supply distinction... mostly because you’ll either love or hate them. Part Youth Of Today growls, part crow-cawing scream it’s a mixed bag. I’m not sure if I care for it, but they certainly do fit the wild nature of these short and fast songs. (Art Of the Underground/ Peterwalkee Records/ Warm Bath)

NOT SORRY, “Our Choices” 7”
The second seven inch from the Northwest Wyld Punx contingent. I’m not going to lie- there isn’t a whole lot that separates Not Sorry from tons of other youth crew/’88-inspired bands, and I am not the man to point out the subtle nuances between this band and others similar in sound of this style of hardcore. Still, I do enjoy what Not Sorry do, and they do it well. They play really fast and they actually have something relevant to say in their lyrics. Placing a strong emphasis on consumerism/over-consumption and it’s effects on the world and those living upon it this is a message I can applaud. With a style that can sometimes feel incredibly watered down it’s good to know bands like Not Sorry have something worthwhile to contribute... even if they do print ‘BUST!’ in their lyric sheet! Review bust! (React)

PRAYERS FOR ATHEISTS, “New Hymns For An Old War”
Here is a band that tours a lot, regularly plays to minimal crowds, survives (somehow) off of nothing, creates music that is not exactly the most popular thing going these days, and sings songs of political protest that often times is yelled at the most blank and apathetic text-messaging-while-standing-in-the-front-row entitled brats. And yet I have never seen a band with more positivity and genuine belief in what they do and what they stand for. It’s straight up awesome and inspirational. And it’s a good thing these songs on their full length are pretty damn good too because it makes me all the more psyched to write about it. For those not in the know, PFA started with national slam poet champ Jared Paul coming up with raspy and gravely verses expounding on social justice causes, environmentalism, and more set to the tune of rock music that mixed three-chord punk and some of the more rhythmic ideas of Rage Against the Machine and released on indie hip-hop label Strange Famous (Sage Francis, etc). Yes, most would call it rap rock, and that term is blasphemy to many. But the execution of the vocal delivery was so well-written, and the music incredibly catchy that any silly genre title just didn’t quite measure up. So that was the first EP. Now the band has self-released a full length, and has shifted gears (mostly) to really catchy anthemic punk songs. The lyrical prose is still just as strong as ever, but the band seems to have found it’s niche, whether it’s in the amazing face-ripping barn burner anthem “Guns Up”, or the could-have-been-a-Minor Threat B-side “Bouncers and Cops”, to the slower and more melodic “May 1st, 1886” there is a bit of variety on the record. Most of these songs have a very fun vibe, like “Keep Left” or the hometown rally cry of “Hope City Sky”, which I think is great. If you’re going to make serious music about serious subjects at least broach it with a sense of positivity and in such a way that is fresh. PFA have done an awesome job of both and this is why this is going to be one of my favorite things to listen to all year. (Prayers For Atheists)

REJOUISSANCE, "Scrudding Wounds" EP
Rather than going the physical release route Syracuse/Brooklyn group Rejouissance decided to showcase their three latest songs via digital-only “format”. It’s a good testing ground as they have re-tooled their style once again and this is the first batch of stuff they came up with in this formation. But it does make me wish I weren’t listening to this on a computer, and instead full blast on a turntable because these are some solid jams. Having started as a mostly acoustic project, they added a couple members and upp’ed the rock. Now they have added a third guitarist to the lineup and moved further into a heavy rock vibe. Yet the additional personnel hasn’t transformed the band into some steamroller of heavy metal destruction. They retain their gravely grizzled rock sound, noodley intricate melodies, and a bit of post-hardcore stop-start rhythms. It’s just laid on more thick now. And I like that. The strongest track of the bunch is “Stutterer”, a colossus of stop-start chugs interspersed with a serpentine melody winding through it. here’s hoping this lineup produces some more songs of this quality. (Rejouissance)

As simple as it may be to lump any instrumental band that plays rather long songs and has an affinity for metal into the NeurIsis glut of bands (that has seemingly dropped off- thankfully- since Isis called it a day). but the debut from Syracuse’s Time Under Earth is not so easy to classify into those simple parameters. They do share similar qualities- heavy and well thought-out long songs, various samples and limited- yet tasteful- use of synths. But they definitely have their own thing going on. Maybe it’s in the way this was recorded, which aims more for an analog kind of warmth, and not some over-processed musical clubbing to the skull. Also, various subgenres creep in and out, almost unnoticed, as they weave themselves into the songs. I like that they are a heavy band, but make it all sound even and not over-the-top in any way. Metalheads can enjoy, middle-of-the-road rock fans can rejoice, prog fans can take notes and analyze. Of the three songs, though, I like the third one best because, well, it is the heaviest of them all. (Time Under Earth)

YOUNG WIDOWS, “In and Out Of Youth and Lightness”
A lot of people appreciate their favorite bands growing with each release, but not too much because then they change too much. The resulting feelings of confusion and abandonment are common. Young Widows are one of those bands that never takes baby steps with their development from release to release, they grow by leaps and bounds. And somehow I’m definitely OK with that. It hasn’t always resulted in brilliance. I think between the end of Breather Resist and “Settle Down City” they were still figuring things out. Then “Old Wounds” came out and blew me the fuck away and solidified Young Widows as their own band- an unstoppable juggernaut of hefty rhythm and smart, angular guitar work. And now we have “In and Out...”, which once again shows the band taking a big leap into new territory. I’ll admit, it’s taken some time to grow on me. It’s overall a very slow, dark, and (at times) rather minimalist record. But between the jangly, effects-heavy guitar work of Evan Patterson, his dry crooning drawl, bassist Nick Thineman’s two-ton bass (quite possibly the best tone in underground rock), and drummer Jeremy McMonigle’s deft understanding of making the simple sound complex you know it is still Young Widows. This time around they put a lot of focus on a simple riff and building a whole song around it. Call it the Lungfish school of riffing, but YW have their sights on something a bit different- building vocal melodies, or the entire mood of a song around a simple beat and beat the shit out of it. “Lean On the Ghost” and “In and Out Of Lightness” pull this off wonderfully, while single “Future Heart” is the sole really upbeat track more or less. I will say I enjoy the meaty pounding of their last LP more, but “In and Out..” hits me pretty good in a different way. Give it some time, it will grow on you too. (Temporary Residence)