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)