“BAREFOOT AND IN THE KITCHEN”, by Ashley Rowe
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)
“MARK TWAIN WAS RIGHT”, by Dan P. Moore
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)