Friday, November 11, 2011
FEST RECORD REVIEWS!
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.
PATH OF RESISTANCE, "Who Dares Wins" LP
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."
POLLUTION, "nasty.DNA" LP
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.
SELF-DEFENSE FAMILY/FIRES split 7"
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.
BEASTS OF NO NATION 7"
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.
ROSETTA/RESTORATIONS split 12" EP
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.