Friday, December 21, 2012


RECORDS (in no order):

TITLE FIGHT, “Floral Green”
Never would I imagine that as a 35 year old man I’d fall head over heels for a band that typically attracts an under 20 year old crowd for the most part…  especially a band that started off as very generic pop punk.  But somehow these young dudes were able to perfectly channel everything rad about 90s punk and alternative rock and play it as if they were there to experience it.  I’m hearing a lot of Superchunk and Seaweed, some Nirvana, a touch of Quicksand, and a couple Hum B-sides all competing for space on this near-perfect record.  “Secret Society” is not only one of the coolest videos I’d seen in ages, but easily my song of the year. 

UNSANE, “Wreck”
Without fail Unsane will always deliver the goods.  By far the most consistently great band to tread the heavy music waters these dudes just get more grizzled and mean with age, and after over 20 years together they still have a lot of anger management issues that are resolved via some of the loudest and dirtiest music to emerge from the NYC gutters.  Some may say all their records sound the same.  That may be true…  but it’s a helluva a great record!  Just listen to the slow, drawn-out tension of “Stuck”, or the wailing thumping of “No Chance”.  Even with the great Vinnie Signorelli sidelined for most of their touring this year they still managed to beat heads silly across the US and abroad.

So if you don’t like this band that’s one thing.  But no one can deny how wild and out of control their live shows get.  Easily one of the best live bands on the planet.  This new record makes you feel that vibe through mostly short, blasting songs.  The cover shows riot cops busting in on some heads and that’s what the record feels like, a riot from start to finish (well, except maybe the more cock-rock-ish “Revival Mode”….  which ended up being one of my favorite songs on the record).  They even threw on some bonus tracks, which if you didn’t get that version than you’re just plain dumb because, again, some of the best songs they’ve done in years.  Wild dudes with brains going crazy.  I love it.

BURNING LOVE, ‘Rotten Thing To Say”
Just like Hannibal from the A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together.  That’s the feeling I get when listening to Toronto’s Burning Love on their second proper LP.  Their first record hinted at great things, but didn’t have all the elements properly in place.  Now it feels like they have everything where they want it and they are displaying it in all it’s ass-kicking power on this righteous follow up.  From Ashes Rise meets Turbonegro?  Non-stop hardcore ass-kicking all over the place here, every song a ripper.

GYPSY, “Giants Despair”
More 90’s love going on with this record, though a little more rooted in post-hardcore styles, and a lot of Seaweed.  For a band that rarely plays a show they have a great sense of songwriting, vocal melodies, and togetherness that shines on songs like “Selfish Blues” and “I Know Who You Are”, as well as awesome sing-alongs on “Unconditionally Dependant” and “Count your Blessings”.  The perfect complement to the Tile Fight records mentioned above.

NARROWS, “Painted”
I’ll admit, I do have a soft spot for bands that can take influences that I really enjoyed 15 years ago and insert them into the present.  And with this band that’s no problem, since most of their membership was alive to be a part of those times.  Narrows second LP has been kicking my ass all year and I’m happier for it.  Bold, rocking hardcore giving us thick bottom end like The Jesus Lizard (see  “Face Paint”), spazzy guitar-effected riffing (see, the entire A-side), mammoth sludgy dirges (the incredible “SST”), and even an awesome KARP shout-out (“It’s the Water”) Narrows happily take most everything I really loved about late’90’s noisy hardcore/math rock and apply a fresh gloss over all of it to make a motherfucker of a record.

It’s funny how this name keeps coming up on my list, but when hey were around I was never huge on Seaweed.  I liked them, I just didn’t listen to them much.  They just seem to encompass a highwater mark of great 90’s music that balanced equal parts alternative rock, skate rock, hardcore/punk, and post-hardcore.  I’m also thinking the heavier moments from Farside records as well.  Drug Church do the same thing on the three songs from their debut 7”.  Again, more old dudes who have been around the block, yet continue to make great music.  Of course, front man Pat Kindlon (whom is more known for his vocals in Self Defense Family) shreds his wry wit and cynicism in one of my favorite songs this year “Mohawk” with lines like “Heard you got that job/ Heard you got that truck/ Heard you got off drugs/ Heard I should give a fuck”.

BLACK THROAT WIND, “Between White Worlds”
Why wouldn’t I put a record I released on here?  If I didn’t like it this much I wouldn’t have released it.  People who are too cool to put their own releases on their year end lists can suck it.  Be proud of what you helped create, damnit!  Nevertheless, I can’t think of a local band doing anything near to what these cats are making here.  I can’t even describe it.  Probably because I usually don’t listen to stuff like this.  Either way, beautiful and psychedelic, heavy and roaring, melodic and clever… all things they bring to the table.  I can’t describe it, and I listen to this and wonder what they were thinking when writing this….  aside from ‘let’s smoke some more pot’.

THE EVENS, “The Odds”
A late addition to the list.  Ian McKaye can do no wrong.  Together with his partner Amy Farina (one of the most inventive drummers I’ve ever heard) The Evens can do no wrong.  Both people involved in creating groundbreaking music for over 25 years take a few years off and come back with this album whose songs instantly get lodged in your brain whether it’s from how clever they are, or how catchy…  but often both.

BEST SHOWS OF 2012 (in no order):

Harkonen/ Zozobra/ Whores/ The Atlas Moth- Boston, The Middle East, 6.14.12- Basically this was my bachelor party and each band more awesome and louder than the next.

Kill Yourself Fest/ final Oak & Bone and White Guilt show, Syracuse, Badlands, 6.9.12-  A space that comfortably holds 50 people packed with 100 people, smoke bombs, fireworks, blood (lots of it), sweat, broken walls, broken heads, and complete chaos.  And end to something violent and ugly.

Black God/ Like Wolves/ Oak & Bone, Rochester, Pussy Barrel, 5.24.12-   Three of my favorite bands rocking out in an apartment to about 20 people on a weeknight.  All of them rocking the shit out of the room.  Black God ended up driving back to Louisville the next day.

Rorschach/ Converge/ Indecision, NYC, Le Poisson Rouge, 5.26.12-   In all honesty, I didn’t care about who was playing with them, I was just happy to see Rorschach one last time.  And man, were they good.  While most everyone watched in curiosity, a handful of people (myself included) were raging to their impossibly surreal and thrashing music.

Black Throat Wind record release show, Syracuse, The Lost Horizon, 6.29.12-  It’s awesome when everything comes together the way it ought to.  The band had been getting more and more people to their shows, most everyone had heard the record at this point, and here a shit ton of people showed up, everyone sang along, and I’d never heard them sound bigger than this.

Sick Of It All, Rev showcase, NYC, Webster Hall, 10.13.12-  I wasn’t going to go to this based on the cost.  But I hadn’t seen Sick Of It All in nearly 10 years and I was already in NYC.  I could do without the Chain Of Strength reunion, I only wanted to see SOIA.  And holy shit, do SOIA still deliver.  Their whole set was pre- ’92 material (with some classics from “Scratch the Surface” and “Built To Last” thrown in) and I felt like a little kid again going nuts with the rest of the people in the room.  Never a let down.

Into Another, St. Vitus Bar, NYC 10.13.12/10.14.12-  I put two dates on there because they were supposed to play at 11 PM on the 13th, but didn’t start until 12:30 AM on the 14th.  That was the only bad part.  But otherwise, the first time seeing one of the more interesting bands from the 90’s in over 17 years was nothing short of amazing for me.  The energy of the packed-to-the-gills crowd of 200 people in the small room as they sang along to every word of every song was invigorating.  And these guys played as if they never stopped playing, and sounding way better than a lot of bands who never did stop playing for the last 20 years. 

Restorations, Ithaca, Greenstar Space, 3.5.12
Restorations put out a hell of a record last year and I’d seen them once while it was out and was really hoping they would come upstate and spread the word to people here.  So they did, and everyone was blown away by how powerful and soulful their performance was in this tiny little spot in Ithaca.  Big sounds, powerful voices, energetic performance…  I was left wishing they’d played two sets in row.

BEST STUFF OF 2012 (in order):

1.     Getting married

2.     Moving into a killer new house with way less people

3.     Going full time at my job and actually having some money for a change

4.     Starting up an awesome face-shredding new band and having fun

Monday, December 10, 2012


Yo!  So this will probably be my last batch of reviews for the year, aside from an end-of-year favorites list type thing.  Going into the new year I'm not sure if I'll continue to do reviews like this.  I'm frankly getting a bit tired of it...  even though I greatly enjoy listening to new music all the time.  I'm thinking of doing a bit more reflective stuff, like old show flyers and write up's on fun, old wild shit, as well as current travels/shows (which I have been doing).  We shall see.
In the meantime I'd like to think there was some pretty excellent music released this year, especially in the last month or two.  So here ya go.

BASEMENT, “Colormekindness”
There’s been this group of bands that have released post-hardcore/90’s rock styled records this year and have totally nailed it.  A lot of bands go for that vibe, but don’t quite get it.  But records from Title Fight, Gypsy, and Basement sound as if they all were yanked out of the time stream where they all were about to open for Seaweed in 1994 and ended up here.  And for a guy in his mid-30’s, and lived through that time (and that era consequently producing some of the most influential music upon my young, impressionable mind), this stuff is pretty great.  It’s been a good year for music for me.  Basement hail from the UK, put out a record before this that didn’t quite sound like “Colomekindness”, and this is also their swansong as I believe they split up upon it’s release.  Well, it’s a heckuva way to go out.  Many of these song focus heavily on layered melodies, some pop-punk leanings, as well as a taste of classic Sunny Day Real Estate (as shown most clearly on my favorite song of the record, “Covet”).  It’s a nice surprise to hear another band that is culling their influences from an era of music most groups can’t get an adequate grasp on, and showing them all how it’s done.  (Run For Cover)

This book takes many, many, many (that’s a lot of ‘manys’) interviews with all sorts of people who have grown up punk and taken what they’ve learned from being interested in that term and applied it to things they do currently.  For instance, the owners/operators of 1984 Printing Press, or the founder of AK Press publishing- they took things they picked up on being involved in punk and applied to how they run their business now.  There’s a guy who got into vegan straight edge through the hardcore scene and now runs a company that installs biofuel systems in cars.  Then you have Will Meek, who runs his own psychology practice; Brea Grant, a television actress who grew up going to punk shows.  I’d say there are way too many people interviewed here who reside within the writing/publishing spectrum of things and it’s a bit unnecessary to get a number of similar stories out of them.  Also, some of these interviews tend to go on quite long (Richard the roadie more or less details every nuance of his punk upbringing down to what he had for dinner two days ago) and could use some serious editing.  Like, why do separate interviews for both owners of a printing press, or interview AK Press twice?  I get the intention of this book:  people get into punk, they take those ideas beyond mere spectator of a show, or fanzine writer, or dude in a band and make an impact upon society with something interesting.  It’s a good premise and a number of these interviews certainly are interesting to read through, but some of it goes on a bit long and gets a bit redundant.  (Cantankerous Titles)

I’m pretty stoked on what this band is bringing because they bring it in such as ferocious manner.  Between lots of amps and cabs they blast through several songs in a few minutes.  Fast, pissed as anything with snotty/screechy vocals and done in a way that makes this very young band deliver their craft in a way that suggests a much more seasoned band.  Immediate comparisons could be made to Punch (really fast, two-step breakdown, screeched/screamed female vocals) but Cerce has their foot ever-so-slightly in a metallic realm, or to Code Orange Kids (same level of off-the-wall pissed/vicious rage), but Cerce actually writes a song with parts that reasonably go into one another.  So that might give some idea of where they are at.  I’m a little bummed there was no lyric sheet with this record, and that the recording doesn’t quite do justice to how massive they sound live.  But other than that this is a quality release and I hope to see more rage from them in the near future.  (Solidarity/It’s a Trap)

CONVERGE, “All That We Love We Leave Behind”
I’m pretty late to the game on this one because who, this year, has not actually heard this record?  Converge is sort of a no-brainer because most everyone interested in  heavy/punk music knows who they are and knows what they’re getting, even though the band is pretty good at making a killer record every single time.  But I’m not one of those people who worship at the alter, or freak out over what weird vinyl variant (or how many) I can pre-order.  Though I certainly do like Converge and respect the fact that they always release something respectable, put a lot of time and effort into every detail, put on a really good show, and run their band on a great DIY model and still play to sold out rooms all over the world.  Kudos to them for being a band that consistently makes music the majority of people would cower in fear from, yet by all accounts would be considered quite successful.  That all being said, I enjoy this record. I still have no idea how people actually sing along to Jacob’s unhinged yelping, but that’s besides the point.  I’m particularly swayed by the ultra-heavy steamroller of “Shame In the Way” (which could have been an out take from Cave-In’s, “Until your Heart Stops”), equally as I am by the blasting speed of “Tresspasses”, or the ass-kicking death rock vibe of “Vicious Muse”.  There are plenty more songs on here, all with their own vibe.  Some are wilder, faster, or moodier, but those three are my favorites I think.  I think my only real gripe with this release is that it seems most of their records will have one song that, in the span of less than 2 minutes, will have an incredibly fast first half followed by some insanely heavy breakdown, a la “Axe To Fall” or “Concubine”, or even “Forsaken”.  Not quite present here.  But hey, who am I to complain?  This is a great release for them.  I dig it.  (Epitaph/Deathwish)

EVENS, THE, “The Odds”
It has been quite a long time since Ian McKaye and Amy Farina have churned out a record from their collective project known as the Evens.  Part of that may have had to do with starting a family and raising a youngster, but that’s just a guess.  Still, the wait has been worth it as the duo once again presents an albums worth of stripped down songs that, while only employing a baritone guitar, drums, and both their voices, gives the listener so much to proverbially chew on.  The time has been put into their craft in such an interesting manner that I just want to dissect each song, lyric, and sound on this record.  When two people have such an extraordinary (and quality) catalog of music under both their belts the minutia of how they create new things together is fascinating to behold.  Amy not only has a soulful, and slightly sinister, voice, but is one of the more creative drummers I’ve witnessed.  Her off-time patterns that fall out of place and then lock into step once the vocals kick in to find the rhythm is incredibly clever, just as much as the straightforward thump that drives “This Other Thing” is direct and driving in it’s approach.  McKaye once again employs the range of his baritone guitar to get low bass tones, as well as the melody of guitar and uses both to find wonderful harmonies that work well with both their voices.  His lyrical ponderings on such songs as “Let’s Get Well” are wonderfully written (actually, I’m not sure who writes the lyrics- I imagine it’s collaborative- but since he sings this one I’ll attribute it to him), and put together well.  While many might feel some skepticism when listening to The Evens simply because it does not ‘rock’ as hard as the members previous outfits they are sadly mistaken.  This has just as much weight and depth as anything they have done in the past.  And it certainly makes me think, and inspires me to be just as creative in my own endeavors.  Any creative type should hope to have this many ideas and inspiration after 30 years of making music.  (Dischord)

PIG DESTROYER, “Book Burner”
Man, you wait five years and then Pig Destroyer fucks your shit up with another LP aiming to ruin your day.  Relentless is an apt term for their delivery, like all their material.  Most songs come at you so fast and then rip you apart in the space of under two minutes.  I love it.  Some friends had critiques of this record saying it doesn’t rage as much as their previous records.  So after getting my face replaced with lava once I got through this record I put on a couple of the old ones for comparisons.  Indeed, there are subtle differences.  New drummer Adam Jarvis (of Misery Index) has a tighter and more technical style than previous blast beat magician Brian Harvey, whose style was still technical, but a little more loose- adding to the unhinged grindcore/violence that Pig Destroyer were so awesome at.  Jarvis still lays down some great stuff and this record still does slay.  The opening track, “The American’s Head”, the title track, and “The Diplomat” all do a fine job of opening with salvos of blasting grind, followed by sharp attacks of surprise breakdowns and JR Hayes wretched screams amongst it all.  Another quality record from a heckuva band.  (Relapse)

WHY THE WIRES, “All These Dead Astronauts”
Ithaca’s Why the Wires unleash their third LP in about as many years.  For a bunch of dads who make this band a very part time thing they sure are prolific.  This record only continues what they have been doing and improves upon the quality.  They are clearly a somewhat less technical Sweep the Leg Johnny, though I fear that description does not help most hoping for an easy description.  Well, think guys who really like stuff like Hot Snakes and other rocking garage punk, but can’t help themselves to putting in some gnarly math rock parts, and various additional instrumentation such as saxophone and accordion to many of the songs.  This comes in a nice gatefold cover and heavy vinyl.  How do they afford to do stuff like this when they rarely play out?  The passion is in the project I suppose, and if you ever get a chance to see them play it’s definitely in the performance as well.  (Rorschach Records)

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I'm not really fond of this whole black Friday shit or anything, but while everyone else is running around, gouging each others eyes out over cheap deals, I'm sitting around at home keeping my sanity.  Still, it makes me a bit bored, so I may as well promote some mailordering.  Give me something to do culture!  So this weekend get a 20% discount on your whole order using the code 'WEEKEND' at checkout.  As always, the store is HERE.

In the words of The Tick, "Brace yourself Arthur while corporate America tries to sell us it's wretched things!"

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Why do I continue to allow myself to do these things?  They always go the same way.  But I guess it's how I get my adventure on.  And going through with it on my own keeps the pressure off, because if I were to bring anyone else they would just suffer, and curse me for my ridiculous lack of formal planning.  But regardless of the insanity of my plans it always makes for a good story later on.

I hopped a bus to NYC on Friday morning.  I sat next to this young lady who was a recent college graduate and clearly having trouble in the employment field of her choice (art history is never an easy market to land a career gig in).  She was clearly struggling with a cold of some kind, yet couldn't wait for the bus to make a pit stop so she could smoke.  I'm not so sure a cigarette is a good remedy for bronchitis though.  She was a nice enough person, and the conversation made the time go by quick... until we got caught in Friday afternoon traffic for a good half an hour while an accident was cleared out of the Holland Tunnel.  Once we made it into the tunnel it was so smoggy that I had visions of everyone dying from the fumes if we had been stuck in the tunnel during this accident.

Once in the city I immediately headed down to Union Square and found Irving Plaza after taking a few wrong turns (I don't have a GPS or smart phone, and I did not bring a map.  Where would the adventure be in that?).  Since I had nothing going on the rest of the evening I decided to plop down the $40 for the Rev show that night.  It really was too much money, but I hadn't seen Sick Of It All in nearly 10 years.  Everytime they have played remotely close to me in that time something has always come up and I really had no excuse to miss them this time, aside from the cost of the ticket.

Met up with an old friend for dinner before the show.  In all my years of going to NYC I've never eaten at Angelicas Kitchen and it's one of the old school vegetarian spots in town.  Well, it was bland.  And too expensive for blandness.  I guess staying away from there all these years was a good idea.

Made my way over to the Rev show. Popeye from Farside was doing solo acoustic covers of Farside songs.  I guess that's the closest I'll get these days to hearing anything off of "Rigged".  What I saw was OK I guess.  I really enjoyed that band when they were a band.  In retrospect they played super commercial rock songs, but at the time it came out it just sounded like good skate rock to me.  And when you're 16 that sort of thing sticks with you.
Damnation AD played next.  I've seen them here and there over the years as they play out a sort of never-ending reunion thing, playing a couple shows a year, and always doing the same 5 songs.  Regardless, they're 5 really fucking good songs, so I'm OK with it.  And they certainly did help sway me into justifying the ticket price, except that they only played two songs.  That's it.  Someone was late and their set was cut short.  Really?  That's it?  As much as I love Damnation ("No More Dreams" is definitely in my top 10 records of all time) they are a band of diminishing returns each time I see them.
Mouthpiece were next.  For older dudes they still have a lot of energy, but they're just kind of dull to me.  At least they can still claim to be a straight edge band.

Which leads me to Chain Of Strength, who played after that.  I never really got into this band.  In fact, most of the late 80s/early 90s SoCal hardcore kind of went under my radar- NFAA, 411, Headfirst, Chain, etc- I missed the boat on all of them.  So I have to say that they were really energetic for a bunch of dudes who made a band based around straight edge, even though probably none of them are anymore (cough- Strife- cough)...  but boy could they swing some merch.  Numerous shirts and hoodies and stupid 'chain X crew' watches for $35 a pop.  Really?  I don't get that youth crew reunion merch whoring bullshit.  It's just a t-shirt factory with some music to go along with it.  Nonsense.  Now I'll be the first to admit that I get psyched on a lot of reunions, seeing as a lot of bands I enjoyed when I was younger are doing some shows here and there again.  But I appreciate the reunions more when the bands do it because they have fun and like the music (or do it for a good cause), not when they're just seeing how many hoodie designs they can come up with.  The Chain Of Strength thing just seemed like a sham.

Aside from all that, Sick Of It All came out and proceeded to show everyone (except the idiots who decided to leave early) why they are still, 25 years later, the best hardcore band on the planet.  No one does it better.  Seriously, when I'm in my late 40s I'll be psyched if I have half the energy the Koller brothers bring each time they play.  It's unbelievable how good they still are.  plus, this set (with the exception of "Built To Last", "Step Down", "Us Vs. Them", and "Scratch the Surface") was all pre- '92 stuff.  Basically, just about everything from the 7", "Blood, Sweat, and No Tears", and some "Just Look Around" material.  Hearing songs like "We Stand Alone", "Injustice System", and "World Full Of Hate" live after so many years of not seeing them in all their intensity was nothing short of exhilarating.  Nothing like multiple stage dives and sing-alongs with one of the best bands around to make for a great night.  The $40 was indeed a bit much, and if they had pulled out "What's Going On" and "No Cure" it would have been completely justified.  as it stands though, it was still pretty fucking great.
I left feeling both exhausted and energized and sauntered back to Brooklyn where I stayed with a couple friends.

In the AM I wandered off with my friends to a coffee place and got some tea.  It was pricey, but good.  They went to work in Manhatten, I stuck around Brooklyn for the rest of the day.  Made my way over to Dunwell Donuts and grabbed myself a blueberry and a maple frosted sugary-as-fuck breakfast perfection.
It was brisk, but sunny day, and to me that makes for good walking around the city.  Checked out Desert Island Comics.  Indie comics are still my favorites these days, but there seems to be too much emphasis in this arena in making them look as if a six year old with violent tendencies drew them.  I don't get this trend.  I did, though, find an issue of Mome with an Al Columbia section I hadn't yet seen and paid $4 for it.  Score.  Plenty of wandering followed, through McCarren Park, McGolrick Park, up and down Bedford Ave., checking out Earwax and Academy Records.  I think the only thing that kept me from dropping $50 or $60 at Academy was knowing that I'd have to carry all that stuff around with me the rest of the night and my legs were already sore from walking, and my backpack aching on my shoulders.  Next time though...
That night an extraordinarily long walk up to St. Vitus followed and I finally got there around 10 PM.  Why does this show not start until 11PM?  Fuck.  I decided to go to the smaller Into Another show instead of the Rev show tomorrow night because I work on Sundays and I couldn't afford dropping another $40 for another show.  But $20 for Into Another at a small venue?  That I'm OK with.  Soon I saw the band start setting up, which was a good sign, and at 11 they let people into the room where the show was.  I couldn't help but notice that everything except the cymbals and snare had been set up.  Who doesn't finish that last bit before playing?  Why keep us waiting?  Oh yeah, I forgot...  Drew is also in Bold and they were playing the Rev show in Manhattan tonight.  Jeez, yet another reason why Bold sucks.  11:30 and the drummer shows up.  Good, we can start!  He sets up, and then...  nothing.  They finally started at 12:30.  What the fuck?  Apparently, they were waiting for guest list people from the Rev show to get there.  These same douches get to see them tomorrow night too, why wait for them?!  People were anxious/pissed.  I definitely feel like I would have been ore into the set if I didn't have to wait so long for it to start.  But, they opened with "Drowning", "Mutate Me", "Running Into Walls", and "Poison Fingers" and that's a pretty good way to start.  They sounded perfect.  Everyone was raging.  It was hot and gross.  But it was great.  A little heavy on "Seemless" stuff for my taste, and I would have been more stoked to hear more "Ignaurus" material, but they did offer up "The Other" and "I'll Be Damned" from the "Creepy Eepy".  So it evened out.
A lot of people don't get Into Another and I totally understand it.  They came around at a time when hardcore sounded chuggy, metallic, and violent.  They played music that was progressive, weird, a bit psychedelic, and with vocals out of a fantasy metal band..  yet still heavy.  It was such a strange thing to see in the time they came around and that was the appeal. It's definitely a time and place thing for sure.  There's no denying how musically talented they are, or that they could get really heavy when they wanted to.  And now that I'm far more musically cultured their sound, to me, is like a slow version of "Quickness"-era Bad Brains.  You can tell Richie Birkenhead looks to HR for vocal inspiration, as opposed to Dio.  It's an easy mistake.  Despite all this their music sounds better than ever to me and they still play it incredibly well.

Well after 2AM  and a couple transfers on the subway to Port Authority, and I was still wide awake.  3AM and resting on a bench at a subway stop beneath the Port Authority, waiting for them to open at 5:30 AM.  Somehow it was not as much of a pain in the ass as I imagined.  7AM and I'm on the bus home.  Escape from NYC.  Barely any sleep and I got back an hour late for work so I just went straight there.  These are the stupid plans I make for myself.  But it makes for a good story.

* PS- I took none of these photos or video.  Just putting that out there.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Finally getting around to posting up some new review stuff.  Why?  I don't know.  But I do know that I have even more reviews to follow soon, including some show reviews.  So there.  It's not like I've been sitting around doing nothing though.  Recorded vocals for a new project band, put on a few shows, did a bit of traveling, the usual...  so that all being said, here's a handful of things that were floating my boner in the last month or two.

At this point I’ve seen a whole lot of DIY cook zines (usually turned into books), so it’s not so unique to have another one arrive at my doorstep.  But I’ll take what I can get and see what comes out the other end.  “Barefoot…” doesn’t really differentiate itself from others I’ve seen, and follows a similar course:  goofy little sketches with a punk bent accompany numerous vegan recipes.  There’s no real theme, as the recipes tend to jump around over various breakfasts, lunches, dinners, various nationalities, desserts…  I guess a little bit of everything and never too bland.  So yeah, most everything in here is worth a try.  Though I must admit that I have, over the years, given many of similar recipes a shot in the kitchen so this is not too new to me.  Yet I did learn to make a killer hollandaise sauce for tofu Benedict!  (Microcosm)

FIGGS, THE, “The Day Gravity Stopped” 2xLP
On one hand I applaud a band that has been making music together for around 25 years and is still inspired enough to come up with a double LP worth of material.  On the other hand, there’s a lot of this material that really just doesn’t need to exist. 
The last time I checked in with The Figgs they were doing an 80’s power pop thing that, at it’s best, fell somewhere in-between old Elvis Costello and the Attractions, the Kinks, The Jam, and a bit of Neil & Tim Finn Split Enz/Crowded House love.  And I was perfectly OK with all of that.  On this record you still find a number of songs that carry that style.  And then you get an entire side that sounds like 70’s Peter Frampton bad radio pop…  and a near disco song opening another side.  My parents might have been kicking it to stuff like this when I was conceived.  But in 2012 it’s a boner deflator.  Additionally, I don’t know if The Figgs aim was to give out boners.
All that being said, this would have worked as a short LP.  Kudos to not giving a rats’ ass over what’s expected and doing whatever the heck they feel like.  Bt the results are not favorable to this listener.  (PeterwalkeeRecords)

GAZA, “No Absolutes In Human Suffering”
Gaza is a frightening band.  They have a rabid attack that makes no sense.  Their brand of discordant metal and noise swirls in odd patterns, jumps around from part to part in ways that defy logic.  It’s like a good horror movie- it doesn’t necessarily explain the source of the terror.  It keeps some part of it that doesn’t add up, or make sense, and the mystery of it all is what is scary.  And Gaza can do that with their mind-bending (as well as riff bending) noise metal.  Obviously they have taken many cues from the likes of Coalesce over the years so that might be a start for their sound.  And while this is a damn fine record there’s not a whole lot to differentiate it from their previous two full lengths.  Consistent, yes.  Evolving, not necessarily.  Overall badass, most certainly.  (Black Market Activities)

I’d like to think I’m fairly up on my current, and not so current events.  I like to check the news, read the paper, divulge into wild conspiracy theories, and so forth.  But I honestly had no idea that for a week back in 2001 Cincinnati was embroiled in some intense race riots over excessive (and repeated) abuse from the police there.  I mean, the city was nearly under martial law while thousands protested in the streets, busted into city hall, demanded justice, and basically got all socially aware on the powers that be.  This book documents it all in comic book form, and it’s a good read I gotta say.  History is always way more fun when it’s in comic book form.  It’s a fact.  As far as the actual art goes there’s some learning to be done, but it gets the job done.  The story tends to play out in more of an oral biography, taking the stories and experiences of a wide range of citizens involved in some way or another with what happened.  It’s a good way to tell the story and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  (Microcosm)

SALVATION, “House Of the Beating Hell” 7”
Spooky punk that recalls something like Bauhaus butting skulls with Samhain and a dude screaming in a cave, as opposed to belting it out from the top of a mountain.  To me it sounds like The VSS minus synths, which is pretty cool.  But to most it’s too obscure a reference, so nix that.  A lot of bands on the Youth Attack vibe are into that whole echo-y shitty sound, which I don’t really get.  Thankfully Salvation is tasteful about it and use it to their advantage, and have the chops to back it up.  Four songs in a snazzy package that will give economically minded (read, cheapos) punks something to scoff at.  I admit, I was turned off by the price at first, but it’s a pretty good 7” so, ya know, I got over it.  (Youth Attack)

SICK FIX, “Vexed” LP
After a few years and one 7” it’s high time Baltimore/DC hardcore crew Sick Fix drop a proper LP…  even if it goes by fast enough to qualify as maybe an EP?  Nevertheless, their low-tuned raging hardcore/powerviolence hybrid sure makes for angry music.  And when they play fast it goes by at such a dizzying speed it’s hard to discern what’s actually happening, other than blind rage.  I actually prefer it when they play slow (like the record’s intro) or mid-tempo because they conjure up some great riffs at that speed.  In all, one ought to know what to expect- tune down, play fast, yell like you’re being thrown into scalding lava, get pissed, and repeat.  (A389 Records)

TITLE FIGHT, “Floral Green”
Some bands just go through changes and the fans can’t keep up.  It seems the people who liked Title Fight in the past have gone with them, which surprises me a great deal.  They started out as your typical bad pop-punk with breakdowns shit, the fans of which tend to gravitate towards lowest common denominator music that requires little thinking or engagement, and are turned off when a band decides to try something that requires a bit of thought.
But with each release Title Fight have made big strides towards something more involved and I dig it more with each release.  This is still pretty darn catchy music for the most part, and I feel part of my adoration of this particular release has more to do with the band fully embracing (and having an excellent grasp of) 90’s alternative rock.  There are so many moments of Superchunk’s loose rocking, Sonic Youth’s clever noise play, Nirvana’s ugly beauty, and some straight-up Hum rip-offs.  I fully appreciate it as they do it all so well.  The strongest tracks on here, in my opinion, are “Leaf”, “Sympathy”, “In-Between”, and “Secret Society” might be my favorite song of the year.  (SideOneDummy)

Friday, September 14, 2012


Why have a vinyl sale?  Why the heck not!
This weekend we're doing two for one on LPs!  Buy one LP, get a second one for free of your choosing.
At checkout just note within your order what the other LP is that you want.  Easy-peasy.
Here's the catch- US orders only please.  I can't afford to ship overseas at these prices buddy.
Now go get some stuff:


Saturday, September 1, 2012


We don't do this all that much, but we have some stuff up on E Bay.  There are a few Hex records test presses on there.  But also a handful of other LPs we no longer need around the house.  A few gems in there too, so take a look.



Monday, August 20, 2012


I am now in a new house, all moved in, getting settled, arranging my records just right, already dealing with dumb college student neighbors who pee off their second floor porch and listen to crappy dance music...  yup.  It's already getting real.
Anyway, now that I am a bit settled I can get back to this reviewing stuff.  So here's some records that piqued my interest lately.

Upbeat dude rock as played by dudes with beards.  I can't really put it any other way, and it ought to be as apt description as one can get.  After all, having gone to Gainesville Fest several times now and hearing about 1000 bands that do a very similar sort of style it does tend to blend together.  It's nothing against these locals though because there is a soft spot for bands that do what they love just because they love it and don't really give two shits about what other bands they may sound like.  Nothing deep or philosophical (thought I would be intrigued to know the lyrical plot line for what the song "Jaws 8: Mr. Holland's Opus" was were it actually about that), and a bunch of silly song titles back up the gruff rock being set forth here.  Just some friends hanging out playing rock music with other dudes.  Nothing wrong with that.  (self-released)

BURNING LOVE, "Rotten Thing To Say"
One of the tops of the year, no doubt.  The second full length from the Toronto wrecking machine slays on a more realized level than their last outing, which seemed like they were still getting used to being a band (and also re-recording a lot of their 7" output).  On here, amps sonically get pounded until they spray blood from the speakers and riffs laying down a path for solos to ride the red wave of violence through your face.  Get fuckin' killed with these rippers.  I'm a bit more partial to the B-side overall as it leads off with the bitchinest riff barrage this side of a Motorhead record on "Hateful Comforts".  It is soon followed up with the one-minute -and-change blitzkrieg of "Tremors".  But it's a tough call when you have the very gruesome and detailed exploits of a serial killer on "Karla" from the A-side of this LP, as well as the wonderfully titled "Made Out Of Apes".  Tough call indeed.  I'm going to have to just say this entire thing rules front to back.  Just stop reading and get it now.  (Southern Lord)

This split is in a series that a European label I'm unfamiliar with is doing featuring similar awesome artwork and a bevy of great bands like Thou, Kowloon Walled City, Great Falls, and more are a part of.  So whatever the theme may be is beyond me.  All I know is that these two bands on this record will sonically punch a hole through your skull.  Burning Love toss an alternate take of a song off their most recent full length (which would be a lot better if they gave up an exclusive song) and it's a total ripper.  Fast, aggressive, nods to stuff like Turbonegro's bitchin' rock attitude hanging with Tragedy's mean-ass demeanor.  Fight Amp deliver their own brand of noisy destruction, giving high fives to Tad's ballsy noise rock, and sharing a beer with Black Flag's negative attitude.  Exclusive songs or not, these two bands were meant to team up and that's a good enough reason to seek this out.  Good luck finding it in America though.  (Hell Comes Home)

While a lot of people find Pat Kindlon's vocals in End Of a Year/Self-Defense Family to be either a clever use of dichotomy, or just downright irritating there's no question they fit well with his other band Drug Church.   He posed the question to me about this band, asking if I thought it was more 'fun' or 'art'.  I feel like it's a good mixture of both.  They are clearly not re-inventing the wheel.  In fact, they're stealing riffs left and right from Quicksand and Seaweed and melding the two together into an awesome post-hardcore/skate rock kind of mish-mash.  So that's definitely the 'fun' part, and hardcore dudes approaching (or already there) 30 who still enjoy this style will really love it.  Insofar as 'art' goes I have to say the following- not many bands who are younger and into this style necessarily get it as they were not there to experience it firsthand.  But I'm pretty sure most of these guys were and they do it really fucking awesome.  It's well-written, the lyrics are witty and funny, and the band does not waste your time.  They clearly give a shit about what they're doing, but having enough fun to know that this isn't the second coming.  So take that as you will.  If the cover art doesn't get you the music will.  Highly enjoyable.  (No Sleep)

LADDER DEVILS, "Nowhere Plans"
It pains me to say this, but this record is OK.  In an effort to be completely honest I gotta remove the friend goggles and call this for what it is.  And that would be a firm, "it's decent".  Half of this record was released digitally last year as an EP and those songs remain pretty good.  "Pyramids" has a heavy Young Widows vibe to it and I think is my favorite of the old set.  The A-side is three new songs, and one very effects-heavy experimental kind of song recorded a year later.  So there's a disparity among the entire recording, as well as the sound of a band that hasn't completely come into their own just yet (even though the members have been playing together for years in various incarnations).  The opening track kills and the rest is pretty good.  But for all the neat gear and cool effects pedals I feel that it is lacking something bringing it all together as a cohesive whole.  Maybe with a little time and a proper full length that isn't two EPs slapped together they will really come to fruition.  (Brutal Panda)

LUNGFISH, "ACR Sessions 1999"
Here's a band that I wish would drop another record, as well as play some live shows.  But that's pretty much a pipe dream at this point as I'm somewhat sure they're more or less done with.  You never know though.  They are a very strange band.  But I must say, it took me quite awhile to really get Lungfish.  Yes, they make a nice song, and the vocals are really strange, and if you're not listening carefully enough you'd think they made 10 records of the same song over and over again.  But once you take the time you notice how bizarrely beautiful Dan Higgs lyrics and voice can be in a sort of poetic stream-of-conscious HR in slow motion sort of way.  And the way in which the songs have a fascinating repetition that draws you into a trance until it opens up and reveals itself in a carefully thought-out loop.  Every album amazes me in its intricate simplicity and this record, demos culled from 2000's "Necrophones" full length is no exception.  And seeing that "Necrophones" was really my first experience with Lungfish it's the one I listen to least as it was at a time when I didn't really understand them.  And in retrospect, it's one of their more 'rocking' records, right behind "Talking Songs For Walking".  "ACR Sessions" contains half songs that ended up on "Necrophones", including a much wilder and rocking version of "Sex War", and other upbeat songs such as "Shapes In Space" and "Occult Vibrations".  More plaintive instrumentals such as "Eternal Nightfall" and "Infinite Daybreak" make up the other already-released tracks.  But then you get a handful of songs never released.  A couple I guess I can see why, as they are decent, but don't really hold up to the rest of the Lungfish canon.  Others, though, are just as good as anything else they've released, so it was a real treat to get some 'new' material out of this truly interesting and engaging band.  (Dischord)

At this point Mission Of Burma have been around longer, and released way more music, in their second run as a band than they did when they first emerged in '79.  And for a band that was split up for a good 18 years or so before reuniting their output has been consistently good.  but I gotta admit, for as much of a superfan I am of this band this new record feels a bit lacking.  I'd say about half the record is great, especially the second half, with strong tracks like "7s", "ADD In Unison", and "What They Tell Me".  But a few tracks fall a bit flat, which bums me out as this is a group that I've always found to be very influential and creative.  Bob Weston brings some freshness to the group as the only non-original member, and contributes some tasteful trumpet to a couple of songs.  And the Clint Conley penned songs tend to be my favorites here as I appreciate his flair for melody that complements Roger Millers more raucous, eclectic side ("Second Television", "7s").  It's still a decent record overall, but some of it is a bit weak compared to the overwhelming steamroller of awesomeness the rest of their catalog has.  (Fire)

Saturday, July 14, 2012


So after being in the same house for 7 years myself and the wife are moving into some new digs across town.  And that means a whole shitload of stuff to haul over.  But seeing as I'm entering old age my bones just ain't what they used to be and I can't be bothered to be moving so many things that are heavy (like boxes of records).  Essentially, what I'm saying is, instead of moving all that heavy stuff I'd rather sell it to you at a discounted price.
So I've come up with 4 awesome packages of sale stuff.
This will be going on for one week, so now's the time to get a lot of stuff.
Most of these sales are only applicable to US residents though as it's just too damn expensive to be shipping all this stuff out overseas when the prices are this cheap.
Check it:

Hex Records store

Furthermore, DISTROS- now is the time to get in touch about some discounted rates to pick up some stuff.  If you have an interest in carrying some titles I'll be doing some deals for all of you as well.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


So we feel confident enough at this point to put up a pre-order for the BLACK THROAT WIND full length CD.  I suggest you go and get it.  Order it HERE.
This is a limited pressing (out of 200) CDs for Syracuse's BLACK THROAT WIND's debut full length "Between White Worlds".
Comprised of members from Oak & Bone, White Picket Fence, Current, and more they drop an epic long player full of heavy vibes, stoner rock, psychedelia, and pop melodies backed by lush piano. Imagine the Beach Boys smokin' a load of dope, going on slow mo, and getting some distortion pedals. Yeah, I'm releasing this.
Comes in a neat silkscreened arigato pack, as well as a wax-sealed wraparound cover and hand-numbered out of 200. Dig it.

This jammer officially comes out next week, and there's a CD release show happening.  Check the event page for it:

So just to repeat...  order the CD HERE.


Friday, June 15, 2012



Sunday, May 27, 2012

It has been a very busy Spring indeed, as we roll into Summer.  Gotten a lot of traveling so shows all over the Northeast area, seen a lot of great bands (maybe I ought to review a couple of those shows sometime soon?), and there has been a metric buttload of most excellent records coming out and taking all my money.  Oh yeah, and I get married in a few weeks.  So there's that too.  So in the meantime, I'll leave you with some reading material.


I’m not one to typically review a burned CD with a folded paper cover that’s being sold/given away as a preview to a band’s sound while they’re on the road. But I will say that Boston’s Cerce pretty much kicked my ass when they rolled through town not too long ago, and were quite a surprise. First of all, this band is really young and hearing how tight they played, as well as the blunt force of their attack, made them shine beyond their years. It’s a tight combination of the powerviolence of Iron Lung mixed with some of the more gnarly hardcore of Cursed, and the like. Atop it all are the back and forth between a more gruff male voice and a more shouted/screamed wail of the frontwoman. Four quick rippers to give you an idea of how they roll.  (Cerce)

William James is a poet who tends to tour with bands and go off and do his solo thing between loud music. But reading his words and seeing him perform it are two very different things though. When you read what he’s laid out here, which is a collection of his works laid out quite nicely between thick silkscreened patches acting as a cover one can notice the detail of his descriptions, a great deal of thought put into what he’s getting across. It’s intelligent and well thought out. But when you see him do this live it’s pretty much like seeing a hardcore band, minus everyone but the vocalist. He doesn’t really speak so much as he shouts and yells his poems in a gruff tone, befitting a pissed off swirl of guitars and drums to be backing it. So yeah, what seems flowing and descriptive on paper comes off as belligerent and demanding in the live setting. Kind of an interesting juxtaposition. (William James)

GREAT REVERSALS, “To the Ends Of the Earth” 10”
I’m more into the idea and concept behind this record than the actual music on it. The four songs on this 10” are all about the drummers son and his struggles with autism. For one thing, it’s really uncommon for a hardcore band to address such a topic, which really sets this record apart in terms of lyrics and content. I can relate though, as I have worked with kids and adults with autism for years now. So seeing things in song from a parents perspective is pretty interesting and I thought it was really cool. As far as the music goes it’s done in a way that doesn’t really appeal to me that strongly. Fans of Verse and Have Heart will really dig this as it has a lot of that slower, melodic, kind of 90’s chuggy thing they are known for. That’s not really my bag. But the content is fascinating and the record looks pretty great (4 songs on a fancy 10”), so there’s that going for it. (Great Reversals)

Four pop-punk bands here that all have a very similar sound and style going on. I have to admit that most of this doesn’t appeal to me that much, but I will say that the fun cover art featuring all the bands as Mexican wrestlers strongly appeals to me. So good job on that end. Right off the bat, lifers Grey Area play fast and melodic and the vocals are legit singing. Token Entry gone softer. The Reveling honestly sound like Green Day to me, somewhere between post-success, but not quite bloated megastar way. I’ve never heard the Copyrights before, even though they seem to be hot shit in pop-punk circles, and I gotta say they were the best of the bunch here. They play a lot faster, more rowdy, and also throw in a Sacred Of Chaka cover. Not too bad. Luther still sounds like a pop rock band to me. I’m not quite sure if they consider themselves a punk band, but they just sound like uninspired rock. There ya have it. (Black Numbers)

NARROWS, “Painted”
I don’t want to say there’s a formula for a good noisy math rock/hardcore record, but I’d have to say Narrows nailed it perfectly. But since this is a subgenre that strongly appeals to me I naturally flock to this sound like ants to sugar. It would be the same for anyone who is a connoisseur of youth crew hardcore. Sure, it all sounds the same to the layperson. But that dude with the straight edge varsity jacket can pick apart every sound-alike band out there and see what’s at the top of the heap. I’m the same with stuff like this. Narrows does combine a lot of familiar influences (and coming from the members pedigrees it makes sense that they sound like this- ya know, later-era Unbroken mixing with These Arms Are Snakes experimental flair) that I really dig. Their combination of sludgy, murky bass tones, with riffy guitars and lots of wild effects against a steady backbeat is the sort of thing I always get roped into wholly. I’d have to give the B-side the thumbs up for better half of the record as the first two songs “It’s the Water” and “Face Paint” fly by at a couple minutes a piece of fast, serpentine rockers. Then, the slow, syrupy crawl of closer “SST” wraps things up in a grand fashion. Over top of it all is vocalist Dave Verellen’s distinctive bark. So while the band pine territory that I’m all too familiar with they do so in such a way that is completely satisfying and fresh. (Deathwish)

PIGS, “You Ruin Everything” LP
Unsane bassist Dave Curran picks up the guitar in this band and dishes out more cranky noise rock dirges that don’t stray too far from his primary musical wrecking unit. That same filthy bass tone and straightforward drumming is on display with Pigs, but the songs tend to have an overall more upbeat approach in a sense. While there is still a scummy vibe going on here pigs tend to rock out a little more and aren’t afraid to mess around with some melodic leads and offbeat riffs. Added is a sense of humor with a Lebowski nod on the last track “At Least It’s An Ethos”, and perhaps with the cover art- depicting a bloodied and possibly strung out Ronald McDonald hanging out on a beach. That is, it’s funny if you’re kind of a sicko. While I feel my preference is with Curran’s main band, Pigs does a pretty good job of delivering the goods too. (Solar Flare)

I’d seen this band a couple times and they never stuck with me. My thoughts were basically ‘heavy European hardcore, kinda metal-ish.’ I guess I didn’t pay close enough attention. Or maybe their sound really evolved into something more interesting. Whatever the case, this new full length (which also has some of the most interesting packaging on a record this year) hits a very satisfying spot in terms of heavy music. While they most certainly took a page (more like barrowed the book and never gave it back) from Converge’s style of tones, production, and feedback the songs themselves give a nod more to Cursed’s brand of blazing d-beat riffage, and the noisy metallic chaos of “The Process Of”-era Turmoil (particularly on the opening track “A Hammer and Nails”). And, to me, that’s a fine place to call home when laying down some fast and vitriolic hardcore. Next time they roll through town I’ll be sure to pay closer attention. (Deathwish)

Within these pages you will find no text, not any real jokes for that matter. What you will get is a bunch of drawings and sketches by Ben Sears. You may not know much about this dude right now, but I guarantee you will see a lot more of his stuff in the coming months and years. The guy has such an interesting art style that has already found its way onto a bunch of band t-shirts and record covers (including a Lemuria 7” I released). The zine highlights some more of his esoteric and pop-culture-referencing sketches (actually, that seems to describe a great deal of Ben’s art). I’m a little hind because this zine was released last Winter (I think) and it feels like his style has just gotten way better since then. Check it out if you’re into weird sketches and art stuff.  (

SSWAMPZZ, “Sleeper” cassette
It’s funny to hear influences in much younger bands who may, or may not, be aware that they’re referencing something older. Especially when those nods are to already fairly obscure things to begin with. Syracuse’s curiously named Sswampzz are one such group doing this, adding multiple elements to their chaotic sound to create something wholly their own. While the guitar work points towards jangly indie garage rock, and catchy leads (most noticeably on the standout track “Pools”) the extra riffy bass offers up densely distorted power that harkens to Death From Above 1979 style parts. But it’s the overall loose nature of all these songs where it sounds like a band of well-trained musicians who can play tight when they feel so inclined just spiraling out of control, reminding me of mid-90’s era Gravity Records bands… and I like that. They reel you in with a catchy hook and then delve into chaos when you least expect it. It was quite a surprise to see a band such as this come out of nowhere in this town and bring a whole new bag of tricks to freak people out. (Miscreant)