Monday, December 21, 2015


Before getting into the stuff that everyone cares about (records/music) I’d like to touch upon some of the best stuff of the year in terms of the stuff outside music.  My wife and I were very adamant about moving out of Syracuse this year and for a few reasons we decided not to.  And they were due to good things.  At my day job a position came up that I had been after for a couple years and it finally came my way, and that was the prime reason for staying put.  My wife also did a little activist-related jail time that actually was a positive because of all the negative attention it brought to the place that brought action against her (in short, foie gras is evil and is probably on it’s way out as a thing that exists in the U.S.).  As a result of her jail time she also got a kick-ass job and is now doing activism full time and getting paid for it.  How inspiring is that?
I also got to put out 4 incredible records this year by bands that totally rule and are great people to know both on a musical level and as friends.  Bleak bring inspiration to this town as a band that works and tours harder than most anyone I know.  They are unstoppable.  Ex-Breathers bring a breath of fresh air to hardcore and introduce all sorts of wonderful influences people may have forgotten about, and do so in an exciting and energetic way.  Grizzlor may try their hardest to expound upon the miserable aspects of life, but I see right through it because I can’t help but smile at how awesome their riffs are.  And Dialysis  well, it’s my own band.  But we made a record that I’m really proud of simply because of a bunch of crazy ideas we had were executed exactly how we envisioned them and how the art and packaging came together that I was able to oversee every step of the way.
And I have more plans for 2016 that I’m excited about.
And there was loss this year as well.  It’s not positive, but it must be acknowledged.  To Chris Jennings, who battled numerous health issues his entire life, struggled with trying to maintain himself through it all, and got 46 years out of this life… it was honestly more than I expected.  So he will go down as a fighter in my book.
And to my dear cat Firecracker who was claimed by cancer.  She was a loving animal companion for the entirety of her 14 years on this earth in my home.  It’s a hard loss, but I always tried to give her the best life I could.

OK, NOW THE RECORDS (in no particular order):

This band clearly gives a lot of love to The Melvins.  But The Melvins give a lot of love to Kiss, which a lot of people don’t put together.  It’s as if Godstopper picked up on that connection and punched a glammy, singing hole right through their concrete wall-thick sludge metal leanings to deliver their best material to date.  The only crime here is that this album was released only digitally.  Don’t let that keep you from allowing Godstopper to smash your skull in with love, baby. (self-released)

KRILL, “A Distant Fist Unclenching”
In comparison to past stuff Krill moved light years ahead in terms of songwriting and a very nice recording with this album, toured some, and then promptly broke up in the fall.  Take three guys, playing with minimal gear, and making some of the best damn racket that shares equal amounts quirky indie rock and voluminous amounts of ‘where the heck did that come from’ musical dexterity and you get this incredible record.  I guess if they had to break up this is a great way to go out.  (Exploding In Sound)

COLISEUM, “Anxiety’s Kiss”
Each new Coliseum album that comes out these days tends to be a grower for me.  I’m a little apprehensive about whatever new approach they take (and they are a consistently evolving band that still manages to retain the spirit that makes them who they are in a wonderful way).  They took a huge leap into less bluntly aggressive and more post-punk territory with “House With a Curse” and after some time I found it to be my favorite album of theirs.  “Sister Faith” never quite caught on with me as much as I’d hoped.  And this one here…  well, I thought I’d be left hanging for awhile.  But man, it caught me right away.  It’s nothing short of stellar.  The first two songs alone are a couple of the most anthemic tunes the band has ever penned.  The addition of minor, textural synths to their love of things Dischord and Killing Joke just completes the post-punk pile.  The rage is still there, it’s just translated into something a bit more thoughtful and I love that about this band.  (Deathwish Inc)

CLOAKROOM, “Further Out”
All slow, no go.  Morrisey on downers on the vocals (I dislike Morrisey but love this dudes vocals), sub-sub-sub level tar-thick tones through the bass, and plenty of spacey static and crisp melodies on the guitar.  Call it shoegaze, or whatever, I don’t care.  There’s definitely elements of that but a super heavy bottom end that drags all these awesome songs through the muck.  I just wish there were more songs on this thing because the ten or so they dish out aren’t enough.  (Run For Cover)

Some people have stated that this album is only so-so because it’s essentially exactly like their first LP.  To that I ask, “and what’s so bad about that?”  The first Metz LP was fucking awesome.  There are minor differences here- a little more use of vocals to add a hook, a bit sharper production, establishing a riff a bit more and riding it out (“Kicking a Can Of Worms” and “Spit You Out”).  But their fierce three-chord hyperactive mania, mixed with some serious early Nirvana worship, is in full effect on songs like “The Swimmer” and “Wait In Line”.  (Sub Pop)

How this Chicago group had devastating loss (guitarist Matt Arluck succumbed to cancer several years ago) and came back as a trio to make the strongest (and most different) record of their existence is truly a wonderful thing.  Their past material was cool, but most of it never stuck with me too much.  Every song on this record is a winner.  It’s an amazing mix of QotSA’s sense of melody and some of Cave-In’s less metal, yet still jackhammering, riffs thrown together with a truly rocking spirit.  (Magic Bullet)

BEAUTY PILL, “Describes Things As They Are”
A late entry to the field this year, but I found it incredibly surprising that this DC collective came out of hibernation to not only re-issue their breakout EP “Cigarette Girl From the Future” (originally released on Dischord in 2003), but also release a new LP.  A large part of this break had to do with main collaborator Chad Clark dedicating a great deal of time to production/engineering work, and a life-threatening heart condition that slowed the man down for a few years.  But ever since his and multi-instrumentalist Devin Ocampo’s work with Smart Went Crazy way back when I’ve been obsessed with every project they work on.  Beauty Pill came back strong, having recorded this album over the course of quite a long while in a museum (more or less) open to public scrutiny and adding numerous contributors and various instrumentation to their already exciting sound.  Chad Clark’s gently smug voice and wry, devilishly-detailed lyrics accompany a good deal of electronics, lots of studio effects/dissection, synth, stringed instruments, regularly-occurring soft female vocals, and somehow it all comes off as an incredible post-punk record.  Heck, they even do a glitch-riddled Lungfish cover on it too.  (Butterscotch Records)

TORCHE, “Restarter”
I heard a lot of people say they weren’t really into this record.  Well, they have a screw loose.  That’s all I can say.  This is just Torche through and through.  It’s a perfect representation of what they do best, which is write incredibly catchy songs that are ridiculously heavy.  It’s their formula and no one does it better.  Simply stated, Torche put out a really good Torche record.  “Bishop In Arms” and “Loose Men” bring the upbeat, poppy aspect to their sludge.  “No Servants” is the slow burner.  “Annihilation Affair”, “Undone” and “Barrier Hammer” all bring the bomb string (and boy does “Barrier Hammer” ever bring it.  It’s probably the year’s heaviest song by a long shot) to those longing for Torche’s heavier side.  (Relapse)

CHERUBS, “2 Ynfynyty”
I’m not going to pretend like I knew about this band all along and own an original copy of “Heroin Man”.  All I can attest to is that in the early 90’s I was aware that there was a band called Cherubs, and that’s about it.  They were not very well known and split for 20 years.  And now, for whatever reason, they decided to make a new record this year.  It sounds like the result of three guys who did too many drugs, dusted off all their weird amps, and made one of the most awesome noise rock records of 2015.  It’s the combination of tripped-out Manson Family psychedelia, buzzing guitars, high-pitched howling vocals and some of the most raucous bombed-out riffs and sludgy distortion pedals making sounds that are ultra catchy for five seconds before they trip and fall in weird timing, only to come back again for more abuse.  From the bombastic bliss of “Monkey Chow Mein” to the absolutely smashing riffery of “We Buy Gold” I’m displeased with myself for waiting so long before getting this.  (Brutal Panda)


GREAT FALLS, “The Fever Shed” (Init)- I still haven’t got my LP.  I’ve been jamming this since the spring.  Totally fucked up mathy noisecore.
WILD MOTH, “Inhibitor” (Iron Pier)-  Great energetic indie rock.  Basically just an awesome rock record.
BLACKLISTERS, “Adult” (Smalltown America)-  UK lads understand why it’s awesome to mix The Jesus Lizard and Unsane.  Thank you.

“Talia”, by Self Defense Family
Definitely in the top 5 songs the band/collective has ever done…  and they have a shitload of songs.
“Moon Funeral”, by Cloakroom
Heaviest riff with the coolest lyrics all year.  Probably my most listened to song this year.
“Torturer”, by Krill
Basically any song from this LP could qualify but I think this was the catchiest song on the record and introduced me to this group that called it quits too soon in my opinion.
“Blue Rose”, by Sweet Cobra
The punkest song on their new LP that rips by in a brief two minutes while throwing equal doses of rage and melody in a riffy little nugget of awesome.
“We Buy Gold”, by Cherubs
An absolute mess of weird timing and gargantuan riffs thrown like your decrepit grandpa down a flight of stairs or the rhythmic pumping of an oil drilling rig malfunctioning and spewing crude all over the landscape.  You choose.  Deal with it.


ROLLINS BAND, “Lifetime”-  There’s no added benefit here, no overhaul in the packaging, or big re-mixing.  It’s just totally essential that more people own this record.
JAWBOX, s/t-  Yeah, Dischord rules on the re-issues here because they have always had the best bands.  They took this one back from a major label.  A brilliant final album getting some love again
UNWOUND-  In general.  Those box sets they have been releasing are insane.  And for what you’re getting the price is extremely reasonable.  Holy fuck on toast.


Coliseum/ Child Bite/ Psychic Teens @ Asbury Lanes, NJ 6.12.15
The last time I was at this place was a few years ago to see Rorschach and it was just as awesome of a venue back then as it was for this show.  Yeah, it’s an old run-down bowling alley on the edge of the beach next to the ocean.  It was blazing hot out this day, but being that close to the ocean, with the breeze, made everything a comfortable cool.  I got to check out the town and pick up some excellent scores at a few record stores.  I got to catch up with my man Ryan from Coliseum over dinner.  I got to witness Child Bite for the first time and see first-hand their bizarre insanity, as well as talk to them a bit regarding old Detroit stuff.  Psychic Teens were a little sloppy, but even on their worst day they are an incredible band that I’d watch anywhere.  And, last but not least, I got to see Coliseum play all their new stuff for the first time and it all sounds so awesome.  They are definitely one of those bands that can break out all new stuff live and I won’t be upset that they didn’t pull out the well-known jams.  Forever forward with enthusiasm with them and despite a small crowd they played incredibly.

 Empty Vessels
One Fest Ithaca @ The Haunt 7.25.15
So my band played this show, and it was by far one of my favorite sets we ever played.  There were a bunch of people, a ton of great bands, a lot of friends, and the sound at The Haunt is always great.  We got to pal around with our friends in Bleak, Twin Lords, and Fucking Invincible, who all put on awesome sets.  Got to finally see Full Of Hell and they brought some serious intensity.  And the standout band for me was Empty Vessels, who made more racket playing on the floor as just a duo than most of the bands combined, on stage, mic’ed.  It was a great surprise to go along with a great day with friends both old and new.

Torche/ Nothing/ Wrong @Mohawk Place, Buffalo 3.23.15
This is one of my favorite venues in the region.  Mohawk is pretty small, pretty punk, but always gets great shows.  I was beyond excited to see Wrong after playing their EP non-stop for months.  They definitely did not disappoint on my first time seeing them.  The heaviness was beyond compare and I think everyone walked away that night surprised at how good the opening band was.  Nothing was up next and they brought the hype with them.  They did put out a good record though, so seeing them deliver the goods live was fun.  I know others appreciated it more than I did, but it was a nice in-between to Wrong and Torche.  And speaking of which, I hadn’t seen Torche in a couple years so catching up with their musical bombast was nice.  They picked out the best stuff from the new record and killed it.  They played for a really long time, but I sort of got lost in it and didn’t quite notice til it was all over, so I suppose that makes for a good set.

Roomrunner (final show) at U+N Fest @ Ottobar, Baltimore 10.3.15
So I knew nothing about this band until earlier this year and was instantly hooked, not only because of the wild videos they had made, but by the unfuckwithable music they dished out.  I made every effort to see if they were playing shows or anything, but the band had been mostly dormant for the last year as members had other commitments.  Then I come to find they’re breaking up and this would be their final show (and first show in over 8 months).  I said ‘fuck it’ and got my ass to Baltimore to bear witness.  It proved to be well worth my time as Baltimore is a great town to chill.  Good eats, great record stores (Celebrated Summer, what’s up?), comics, and so on.  The show itself was really cool too.  There is a great deal of variety of bands in town (and regionally) that represented on this bill, as well as a lot of wonderful people that I hadn’t seen in far too long.  Roomrunner came out and played basically everything I could have wanted them to play (minus “Karn”).  They were incredibly loud, tight, and full of energy that would suggest they had been playing in secret during their long absence from the live setting.  And then I drove home and got back around 6AM or something.

Die Choking
Riotous Outburst Fest Day 1 (Die Choking, Empty Vessels, Grizzlor), Providence, RI @ AS220, 9.23.15
It was the middle of the week, five hours from home and as luck would have it my wife gave a lecture in Worcester the day before so we were already in the region.  We made a day out of chilling out in Providence with friends and eating good food.  I had never actually been to a show at AS220 and was very excited to check out this vibrant hub of long-running DIY culture that has excelled in this city.  The show started pretty late, which was a bummer and attendance was sparse.  But the three bands I came to see were a varied mess of aggressive and loud that stacked up to be a killer lineup.  After a couple openers Empty Vessels once again decimated my eardrums with just a couple cabs, a single guitarist and one angry drummer.  All the new stuff they played really seemed to be a great indication of things to come.  This was my first time seeing/meeting Grizzlor after deciding to put out a record for them and their live set was pretty much what I hoped for.  For a dirty, messy band they sure did have their sound dialed in.  It was late when Die Choking started but they played so goddamned fast and aggressively that I was infused with a violent amount of energy by the time that they finished that I used to drive all the way back to Syracuse afterwards through the night.

High On Fire, Lucifer, Pallbearer @ Lost Horizon, Syracuse 8.14.15
Any time I can see high On Fire it’s going to be worth it because they are one of the best metal bands on the planet.  There is no shortage of fury during their set.  Even Matt Pike, looking pretty wrecked (though the fun-manchu stache was basically worth the price of admission) delivered like a man possessed.  They might have played two or three songs I instantly recognized, the rest being either new or off the last couple records that I have a passing familiarity with.  But it didn’t matter.  They just destroyed wholly and completely.  They played “10,000 Years”…  need I say more?  Lucifer was the first band I caught and their Sabbath worship came through wonderfully with some very incredible vocals to carry it.  Pallbearer, according to most people there, were awesome, but I wasn’t feeling it.  It’s High On ire though, that’s what does it.  Total wreckage.

Metz/ Lightning Bolt @ Mohawk Place, Buffalo…  April?
So I’ve been a big fan of Metz for awhile now and could only imagine how wild they would be live.  Not only were they an incredibly energetic live band but they were insanely loud too, which is a great combination for me.  I had a chance to talk to them afterwards and it turns out one of them was in a band that I had booked in the past, so it was nice playing catch up some 15 years later.  I’d never listened to Lightning Bolt, but I was pretty sure I knew what I was in for and it was exactly as I had expected.  The place was packed and everything else was like some crazy, tripped out freak fest.  It was only the two bands, which was good because it was a weekday and I had to drive back home afterwards, so bonus points for keeping it short and sweet.

Young Widows/ Austerity Program/ Shannon Wright @ Boot & Saddle, Philly 3.15.15
Any trip to Philly is always a good trip.  It’s quite possibly my favorite place to visit in the Northeast due to it’s great record stores, great people, incredible vegan offerings, awesome shows happening pretty much every day, and the fact that basically every other person you see on the street is a punk rocker.  They got it good down there.  This show proved to be even better due to some people I barely ever see showing up and hanging out, and catching up with old friends I see on a regular basis.  Oh, and this was the first time I got to see Young Widows playing stuff off of “Easy Pain” (which was one of my favorite records last year) and they absolutely killed it.  They played a nice long set full of stuff from their last three records and sounded just as good as ever, even with a semi-new gear set-up.  Austerity Program was before them and I had never seen them either, but I have a couple of their records.  As a two-piece with a drum machine they sounded almost exactly like their records (the stage banter was a pretty funny distraction).  Big Black worship at it’s finest.  Shannon Wright played as well and I think my friends were more impressed with her Nick Cave-style of noisy, sleazy swagger than I was, but it was nonetheless a good set.

Friday, December 18, 2015


Before I bore you/ unleash my personal Favorite Stuff of 2015 List I'm gonna let some friends old and new associated with the label take a stab at things.  Get a read on what some people whose music and creativity I really admire were creatively inspired by...  or just stuff they really liked!

1. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly 
2. Stove - Is Stupider 
3. Mint Mile - In Season & Ripe 
4. Ava Luna - Infinite House 
5. Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside 
6. Swings - Detergent Hymns AND Sugarwater 
7. Jake Tobin - Third and Fourth Thoughts 
8. Palm - Trading Basics 
9. Krill - A Distant Fist Unclenching 
10. xRepentancex - The Sickness of Eden 

That was really hard to compile. this year has has so many incredible records.

So this was a hard one because this year I have bought more new releases than any previous year that I could remember, I could easily list 20 and feel like I am still leaving things out, so when Ryan asked me to do a top ten list I literally had to sit down and argue with myself, but here is what I came up with 
1. Swallow The Sun- Songs From The North 
An amazing 3 disc set of all new material being the best the band has ever done, I like to consider this the "Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness" of doom metal. 
2. Leviathan- Scar Sighted 
The best packaged album I bought all year. Coming in a hardcover box with 10 different tarot cards, one for each track with exclusive artwork on one side, and the lyrics (most of which may as well be a suicide note) on the other. Not to mention this is the darkest material Wrest has written to date. 
3. Crypt Sermon- Out Of The Garden 
This is some of the best traditional doom metal I have heard in years. Fans of Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass and Trouble are going to want to pick this one up immediately. Incredible song writing with a traditional old school sounding recording. 
4. Bleak- We Deserve Our Failures 
One of the heaviest things to ever come out of Syracuse. This sounds exactly like what would happen if Disembodied beat the shit out of Norma Jean until their religious ideals dissolved. I can't wait to hear what they do next. 
5. Enslaved- In Times 
Somehow these guys keep progressing and breaking new ground. Some of the strongest songs they have ever written, and certainly some of the catchiest. 
6. Sleater Kinney- No Cities To Love 
I have always been a huge fan of the early 90's riot grrrl scene, and Sleater Kinney was at the top of that game. Years later they come back with hands down the best album they have ever written. I bought the bonus LP edition with 2 additional songs that are just as good as the 10 on the album. I hope these ladies decide to keep going and not have this album be a one off thing. 
7. Uncle Acid- The Night Creeper 
This sounds like John Lennon joined Black Sabbath and they started a cult in the mountains. Sex, drugs and rock n roll at it's absolute finest. Their most professional sounding recording to boot. 
8. Shape Of Despair- Monotony Fields 
I waited over ten years for this, and fuck was it well worth the wait. Some of the slowest, saddest, most depressing funeral doom ever. While they will never be able to touch the greatness of their second album "Angels Of Distress", this one comes pretty god damn close. 
9. Paradise Lost- The Plague Within 
The best thing they have done since 1994's "Draconian Times". I don't know what lit a fire under their ass to start writing songs like this again, but I hope it never stops. 
10. My Dying Bride- Feel The Misery 
After the disappointing "A Map Of All Our Failures", this is a breath of fresh air. My only gripe is that I wish the songs had been placed in a different order. I know that seems like a strange complaint, but the first 3 songs are great, the middle 3 ok but not their best work, and the last 2 incredible. It's easy to turn the record off and not make it to the end of the record where the great finale is. 

Honorable mentions that almost made it: 
Amorphis- Under The Red Cloud 
Helloween- My God Given Right 
Fuck The Facts- Desire Will Rot

DAVID SETTLE, Ex-Breathers

 This year ruled. A ton of great records came out, but I keep seeing the same ones talked about in year-end lists. So here are ten records I loved that I don’t see written about for whatever reason. One caveat though: no Exploding In Sound Records, just because I could make a whole list of EIS records I loved this year by itself; special shout out to our split-buds Gnarwhal, Woozy, and Stove for all putting our incredible albums though. Annnnyways, in no particular order: 
1.) Ava Luna, "Infinite House"
I don’t understand how this band writes the music they do, and I love them for that. So intricate, but still with so much groove and weirdness. Blew me away live too. 
2.) Molly, "Melba Peach"
One of the few times I listened to something described as “sounding like Husker Du” and actually liked it. Incredibly catchy, overdriven indie from Denmark. Kinda reminds me of Sponge if all of their songs were as good as “Plowed”. 
3.) Tica Douglas, "Joey"
I know nothing about this artist, but this record is beautiful. Great, lush, sad singer-songwriter stuff. 4.) Permanent Makeup, "Taker"
Minimal post-punk from St. Pete, for fans of Minutemen and 100 Flowers. Super clean guitar-tones, but without lacking any intensity. Really cool sound amidst the sea of overly-distorted punk records (not that I don’t love those…) 
5.) Trace, 2015 EPs 
Overly-distorted punk from Tallahassee. Put out two EPs, both together equal about 8 minutes. Noisy, feedback-laden hardcore with very rad vocals. And classic Tallahassee-style, they broke up. 
6.) Ben Varian, "Part of the Y’all"
Intricate, lo-fi dance-pop. Usually not my style, but these songs are so damn catchy and incredibly well written. 
7.) The Superweaks, "Bad Year"
My favorite fuzzed-out Weezer-worship record from this year. The last song is so fucking good. 
8.) Night Witch, "Night Witch"
Debut full-length EP (11 songs in 10 minutes, y’all win). Tallahassee pissed-off political hardcore. They keep getting better with every new song too, wait til the next thing they come out with! 
9.) Spirit Of The Beehive, "You Are Arrived (But You’ve Been Cheated)" 
Texturally intricate indie/shoegaze from Philly. One of my favorite sounding records of the year. They’ve yet to put something bad or boring out. And they projected clips of a deathmatch tournament when I saw them, so that made me love them even more. 
10.) Cende, EP 
Some of my favorite pop-punk songs I’ve heard all year. 8 minutes of perfect chord progressions, very jealous of their songwriting.

JOHN MOHR, Grizzlor

Here's my eleven, in no particular order: 
Cherubs - 2 Ynfynyty 
Ghost - Meliora 
Black Breath - Slaves Beyond Death 
Torche - Restarter 
Gruesome - Savage Land 
Arabrot - You Bunch of Idiots 
Barren Womb - Nique Everything 
The Sword - High Country 
Motherfucker - Confetti 
bbigpigg - Din-Din
Fight Amp- Constantly Off

Saturday, December 5, 2015


If you hadn't seen it on social media yet (which is totally possible because you're looking at a blog instead) I decided to skip black friday nonsense and shoot for later, after the madness has ended and the dust has settled.  So yeah, the remainder of this weekend just about everything in the Hex websore is on sale!
We also cobbled together some neat package deals- like 6 LPs of our choice for $45  HERE
 Or, 3 zines, both old and new, for $6  HERE
Or, both DIALYSIS 7"s for $10 HERE 

We're also selling off some test presses for very reasonable prices.  No EBay bullshit, no haggling, just straight from us to you for a non-negotiable price.

So go get some stuff.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Bleak starts their Winter tour across the states today! Work off them post-Thanksgiving feasting weight gain with some negative music. OR, turn your local music venue into a Wal-Mart Black Friday sale stampede. Both work.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Can I just put it out there that I have been incredibly busy lately?  Like not a minute to spare sort of busy.  Life throws you some lemons from time to time and it's generally right after you get really great news.  Between the end of summer and early fall I was on a roll, things just going great, staying busy in good way, all that shit.  And the whole time I kept wondering, 'ok, when does the bad stuff start because this can't last forever'.  And, of course, now I got some difficulties. But that's the way things go- ebbs and flows, strikes and gutters.  So I'm doing my best to take it all in stride and if there's ever one constant to carry me through the good and the bad it's the music that I am exposed to.  That being said (and before the inevitable 'end of the year' list that will be coming your way probably the end of the year (duh)), here's some stuff that's been carrying me the last month or two.

BATTLES, “La Di Da Di”
I have been in awe of John Stanier’s drumming since I was a wee teen, when he was killing it in Helmet.  I knew Battles was a big departure, and I kind of had an idea of what they did, but it wasn’t until “Gloss Drop” had been out for some time that I actually explored it for myself.  And holy shit, that record is balls out wild.  I asked myself why I would be so drawn to this music, which relied heavily on electronics and synths to create a danceable stew of loops, blips, and all sorts of other sounds that pedal nerds lose their shit over.  And it occurred to me that, in a way, Battles is sort of like Tortoise for this generation (even though Tortoise is are still kicking it quite hard).  In, again, my strange deviation from my usual listening habits, I have also been digging Tortoise for a good 20 years.  So, yeah, Battles returns on this double LP with more wild electronics, building up bit upon textured/effect-driven bit until this giant mosaic comes into view and explodes forth in wild array of percussion, synth, guitar and bass that more often than not, does not sound like a guitar or bass.  Stanier’s drumming pulls everything into a ‘rock’ direction, but remains solid, anchoring all the wild shit the other two members of this group want to play with.  The whole thing is instrumental.  I’d say this doesn’t experiment as much as “Gloss Drop”, what with its various guest vocalists and ridiculously catchy oddities, but this one is growing on me nicely.  It remains a bit more consistent overall, which doesn’t add up to being as adventurous.  But it’s still going to take me months to deconstruct exactly what they are doing here, and that’s cool too.  (Warp)

It’s kind of hard to nail down what Chron Turbine are exactly, and that’s fine because easily –identifiable bands can often be boring.  This one song here deviates pretty strongly from their debut LP from a year or so ago.  It’s basically one cool riff repeated for a few minutes, instrumental, with various leads coasting on top of it.  It’s kinda mean and dirty, but has a garage-y sense of fun going on over it.  So take that as you will.  I kind of like their vocals though, so the absence of them on this song was a minor let down.  Violent Bullshit are basically exactly what you think they would be.  If you’re going to give your band that name you’d better be willing to drink piss out of a jar while purposefully playing a song out of tune and encouraging the audience to spit at you.  Their song on this split is all anti-authority punk rock n’ roll.  There is no need for further explanation.  Comes in a weird silkscreened sorta-Void rip-off cover.  (Peterwalkee)

DEPARTMENT, “Aporia” 7”
In the ‘things I forgot to review over the summer’…  uh…  department (pun really not intended) this 7” from Syracuse’s own Department flourishes like the complicated rock n’ roll flower that it is.  For starters I ought to point out that I play in a band with one of these guys, so, ya know, conflict of interest and yadda yadda.  Either way, things begin on this record sounding a lot like Braid in their heyday and that’s just fine by me.  It’s really energetic and high-end noodly rock with exceptionally sung vocals.  But I feel with the two songs on this (an extra two tracks on the download) they go a little unnecessarily long and lose a good chunk of that momentum as it gets a bit self-involved with displaying just how complex the musicians here can play.  If you’re a fan of technicality than this will probably rock yr socks.  My somewhat short attention span has a little trouble keeping up but I will say some parts are really great while others didn’t do it for me.  I really like the semi-homemade feel of the record artwork though.  It looks real sharp.  (LRS Records)

Here it is.  Why this is only available digitally is beyond me.  Toronto’s best-kept secret unleashes their new full length and it furthers the pop-sludge direction they have slowly been hinting at with each new record.  Older material veered on a lot of slow and stompy riffing, while vocalist and guitarist Mike Simpson offered up some very well-sung vocals to differentiate it from the slew of other sludge rock bands out there. This new material keeps that low-tuned dirge, but pushes the hooks further.  They instantly seep into your brain and keep you humming.  Think Melvins with more uplifting anthems, some of the feel-good sludge of Torche, or even a more accessible band like Jawbox tuned exceptionally low.   “Save It” opens up with the big anthem, a perfect opener, while “Long Night” starts with ‘ooohs’ sung over a chunky riff that would be out of place on a Kiss record played at 16 rpms.  “Piss On Gardens” is a faster, more relentless stalker of a song, probably the most overtly aggressive song on the recording.  “Remiss” begins with a pretty melodic guitar riff and a quiet sung vocal pine before slow, molten sludge takes over the song, crushing anything left standing.  The record closes with “Magpie”, another upbeat rocking anthem that was probably the obvious choice for a closing track as it climaxes into a wild soaring lead that fades out with the song.  If this band played in standard tuning they’d probably be packing arenas.  But seeing as their choice of musical delivery rests heavily on distortion and low-tuning we get to keep them for our own little secret, perfect band.  Check this at all costs (or no costs because it’s pay what you want on their bandcamp).  (Godstopper)

MEATWOUND, “Addio” 12”
I picked this up for a couple reasons, all rather superficial.  First off, this has some ex-Combatwoundedvetern members and anything related to them generally means really awesome artwork is part of the deal.  I’d say it’s fairly successful.  Not Earth-shattering awesome, but pretty cool.  Next, this was described as heavy noise rock.  That always piques my interest and I’d say that’s right on the money.  This is indeed very lumbering, very dirty, very sludgy noise rock.  It’s Coalesce in a blender minus most of the wild time changes and the dense sludginess of Kiss It Goodbye minus the frantic insanity.  Lyrically, there are some heavy themes, which don’t always go hand-in-hand with the whole noise rock thing.  But I’m happy to see this band addressing some interesting stuff in a fairly poetic way.  If there is a complaint to be made it might be that some of these songs go on a little long as they don’t always seem to have a solid direction and seem like they keep going, searching for that direction, but not quite finding it.  It’s a work in progress.  Or maybe it’s a band that just thought about maybe laying down some gross-as-fuck noise sludge, saying ‘fuck it’ and pressing record.  Either way, you could do a lot worse.  (MagicBullet)

NOISEM, “Blossoming Decay”
I’ll admit, my knowledge of metal is fairly limited.  There are plenty of bands that I like that lean on metal, or pay homage to it.  But I don’t typically find myself fully committing to music that is wholeheartedly METAL.  Noisem are very much metal.  They play incredibly fast.  Thrash and grind elements enter strongly into their sound, as well as classic death metal.  They whip out ridiculous solos quicker than the Waco Kid can draw on you, and they’re really young too (which means none of the members will probably get the reference I just made in that last sentence).  Regardless, there’s an urgency that I really enjoy about them and it led me to picking this record up.  Actually, it was the incredibly awesome package this came in (crazy die-cut cover held together by string) to be honest…  and the fact that I caught a listen of their previous record on a road trip.  So, ya know, it wasn’t just by chance.  Sometimes I think young bands act as if they’re re-inventing the wheel when they’re just doing a very poor imitation of it, or they’re just completely ignorant of tired-ass shit that has already been done to death.  And sometimes a band like Noisem comes around that completely pays respect to what came before and just pushes it to an awesome new extreme.  So yeah, thumbs up for legit brutalizing metal played at warp speed.  (A389 Recordings)

PIGS, “Wronger”
I imagine this band might be sick of all the Unsane comparisons they get, but when one of your members is in Unsane, and the bass player records most of Unsane’s material…  well, that writing style may seep in a bit.  And that’s totally OK.  And let’s be clear- Pigs are their own band.  Dave Curran trades in his bass to play guitar in this group and some of the songs that he lays down for this group are a bit more upbeat and fun…  in a very dirty, filthy sort of way.  “Wronger”, on the whole, feels a little more nuanced than their debut LP, “You Ruin Everything”, which was grimey and mean all the way through.  On this record they throw a banjo in on one song, play around with some interesting melodies here and there, and rope Julie Christmas into singing a track (which sounds like they pulled her out of a dumpster after chain-smoking fiberglass-laced cigars… it’s pretty rough in a great way).  The grit is ever-present, but it’s easy to see that this band has some other ideas they want to toy around with as well which serve them well.  (Solar Flare)

Continuing their trend of putting less songs on each record they do Spraypaint return with their second LP in one year, this time with 8 songs (“Punters On the Barge”, released in the Spring had 10 tracks).  To be fair, a few of these songs are considerably longer than most Spraypaint songs, which tend to often be in the 2 minute range.  Three of the tracks stretch between 4 and 6 minutes, so I guess that counts for something.  Also strange is that this material was recorded in 2014, but not released until just now while “Punters…” was recorded in early 2015 and released just a few short months later.  Nerdy fact-dropping aside, the band continue to try new things, adding bass to a couple songs here (they operate as a two guitars and drums trio), creepy synth on a couple more, and one track that is an exercise in headphone-geared soundscapes intended to put the listener at complete unease.  While they show up with some new tricks Spraypaint is all nervous anxiety and frayed nerves displayed with heavy reverb guitars, herky-jerky beats, and dulled vocals describing all aspects of hick/white trash life.  If Spraypaint were the soundtrack to a horror film the script would begin as follows, “Somewhere an axe murderer lies in wait behind a remote Texas 7-11”.  Take that as you will.  (Monofonous Press)

It’s been a few years since we checked in with Sweet Cobra.  After the death of their other guitarist Matt Arluck it was uncertain if this Chicago group would continue to lay down their brand of riffy stoner-rock fury.  But they have soldiered on and come up with something very evolved from their often heavy approach.  And it might be the best thing they have done to date.  While I found the heaviness of previous Sweet Cobra outings to my liking there was always something missing that typically led to many of their songs not sticking in my memory.  On “Earth” the band have consciously added much more in the way of crooned/sung vocals paired with effect-driven harmonies that bear a strong resemblance to Queens of the Stone Age (particularly on “Jealous Of Drugs” and “Complaints”), or the rambling heavy rock of “Perfect Pitch Black”-era Cave-In (see “Blue Rose” or “Future Ghosts” for reference).  And in some spots they deviate heavily from past work (“Repo” wouldn’t be out of place as a B-side from the first Interpol LP).  To me it’s a great showing from a long-running band that has always taken their time with producing output.  And they had some serious life events in the last few years to contribute to the task of creating this seriously awesome record.  (Magic Bullet)

WHY+THE+WIRES, “Flame Failures”
An Ithaca group that will never quit as far as I can tell.  They have released 4 LPs in almost as many years, most of which were on their own.  They don’t tour, and rarely play outside their own town.  Yet this group of mostly dads, in their hidden corner of upstate NY, manages to continually crank out thoughtful and interesting indie/punk rock.  Their hybrid of mid-to-late 90’s styled post-hardcore rock leans heavy on the Chicago/Champaign scene of the era, as I remember it, and bands such as Sweep the Leg Johnny, Braid, and Dianogah figure into their sound, while like-minded bands such as (early) Karate and even a bit of Drive Like Jehu show up as well.  The most notable aspect of Why+the+Wires sound comes from the use of saxophone or accordion in almost every song, done so in a tasteful way that adds a lot of texture to the music.  It sounds a little weird to read, but it works really well in the music.  It’s also a nice looking record, so if that doesn’t finally tip you in the direction of checking it out I’m not sure what will.  (JetsamFlotsam Records/ One Percent Press)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


I figured I'd throw some updates your way to give a sense of what's going on around here, besides being excited for Halloween.
So a handful of records have come out recently, and more to come!

The BLEAK lp has been out for a couple months now and the band has been non-stop in their efforts to play everywhere they possibly can in this country.  This has meant some change in personnel due to their heavy touring schedule, but the core members remain and push the beast ever-forward. 
This has included a run of shows down to Arizona and back with Call of the Void.
The band is gearing up for another national tour (as in the whole country) beginning right after Thanksgiving and coming back for Christmas.  That's another whole month of Bleak ripping across the country in what I can only hope will be more reliable transportation.  All those dates will be announced soon as they're wrapping up the final details of that tour.
If you've somehow been living under a rock you can check the record (and buy it) HERE.

DIALYSIS unleashed "Abastab" upon the world and so far it's been fun.  They are playing out when they are able, so in the meantime listen to the record like 12,000 times because you can seriously get through it all that many times in a day.  Plus, read the comic that comes with it.
If you wanna listen to the thing (or buy it), go HERE.

"Past Tense" by EX-BREATHERS came out this week!  Just in time for the band to play a record release show in their hometown this week, followed by a set at The Fest!  They will be doing a special second set there of Fugazi covers as well!  Immediately following that they head out on a Southwest and West Coast tour with Gnarwhal!
Check the dates:
10/29 - Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder (no Gnarhwal)
11/01 - Gainesville, FL @ The Fest (The Atlantic, no Gnarwhal)
11/02 - Nashville, TN @ Stone Fox
11/03 - Bloomington, IN @ Fuck What You Heard House
11/04 - Chicago, IL @ Margaritaville
11/05 - Milwaukee, WI @ High Dive
11/06 - Minneapolis @ Pork Avenue
11/07 - Iowa City, IA @ Trumpet Blossom Cafe
11/08 - Omaha, NE @ O’leaver’s Pub
11/09 - Denver, CO @ Club Scum
11/10 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Diabolical Records
11/11 - Boise, ID @ Android House
11/12 - Portland, OR @ High Water Mark
11/13 - Seattle, WA @ Victory Lounge
11/14 - Bellingham, WA @ Makeshift Project
11/15 - Olympia, WA @ O'Malleys
11/16 - Corvallis, OR @ Interzone
11/17 - Oakland, CA @ Bergeron Books
11/18 - San Francisco, CA @ TBA
11/19 - Santa Barbara, CA @ FUNZONE
11/20 - Indio, CA @ ¡Casa de Alvarez!
11/21 - Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room
11/22 - El Paso, TX @ Warzawa
11/23 - Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves
11/24 - New Orleans, LA @ Sisters In Christ
11/25 - Birmingham, AL @ Firehouse

Get "Past Tense" HERE.

GRIZZLOR's new 7 song 7" "Cycloptic" ought to coming out any day now.  They're playing a handful of shows around it's release, including a hometown record release on Dec. 5th.  Check details here.  While you wait, you can stream the whole dang record (and purchase it) over at our site.
Get "Cycloptic" at this location NOW.

Finally, recording has commenced on the fabled BLEAK/ DIALYSIS split 7".  Bleak has finished their side, sans vocals for one song.  DIALYSIS has one song recorded and will be recording the second one in mid-November.  The it's off to the presses.  I will only say this much- Bleak does two covers.  Dialysis does one cover (that is the same artist as one of the Bleak covers) and one original.  It will sound rad.  Who knows, there could be some added nonsense to the whole affair if you're lucky.  Expect a Winter release for this one.

Now in some personal news, before ending this dumb thing, I sent out a newsletter with most of the orders I received in the last couple months.  Essentially, besides plugging a lot of record stuff, I made mention of moving across the country.  Well, plenty has changed recently that will be keeping me in Syracuse for the foreseeable future.  Basically, my day job just got more exciting and opened up some opportunities for me that I have been working towards for a couple years.  So it's a good thing!  Of course, I shall once again do battle with the forces of Winter and that's no treat.  But I feel the positives outweigh the negatives here, so we'll go with that.

Monday, September 28, 2015


It has been a whirlwind month.  Just non-fucking-stop.  And I mean that in the absolute best way possible.  From getting momentum rolling on the Ex-Breathers LP, Grizzlor 7", and Dialysis 7", to getting some of those records back and packing them up that was just the homefront stuff.  A great deal of travel, including a handful of shows out of town with Dialysis, going to a wedding in DC, checking out the Small Press Expo (also in the DC area) and meeting some artists and creators who I have enormous respect for, and coming back in time for the annual Westcott Street Fair.  Oh, and then taking off again so my wife could give a lecture in Worcester, followed by a visit to Providence to see an awesome show (what's up Grizzlor, Die Choking, and Empty Vessels), and then back on the road with Dialysis before playing an awesome hometown show to cap it all off.  So yeah, there are a few things that caught my ears and eyes and I'm about to tell you about them so dig in....

ANCRESS, “Victoria”
Ancress is a band from the Toronto area that has former members of Villipend, and I believe this is their first offering to the civilized world.  Much like Villipend (who released material through A389 Records among others) this hammers out harsh metallic hardcore that double dog dares you to call it metalcore, lest you enjoy getting slapped across the face with a rusty saw blade.  That being said, there are a few different things happening here and I feel like with a bit more time those influences will become more focused.  As it stands, the band dishes out metallic heaviness with some nods to noisemongers like Page 99 and a slight black metal feel (particularly in some of the vocals).  It’s not a bad start, but doesn’t quite grab a hold of me completely.  (self-released)

ELTINGVILLE CLUB #2, by Evan Dorkin
And thus concludes the final chapter in the Eltingville Club, a series of shorts started back in the 90’s (often in Dork- one of my favorite comics ever), put on pause for many years, and brought back to life a year ago (yeah, there was a year between issue 1 and 2), and now ends on a pitiful note.  And that’s not disrespecting this comic.  It’s a remark on the characters who make up this club.  They are the lowest of the low (arguably aside from Jerry).  You do not root for them.  And when they do bad things, which is often, you cheer when they are hurt.  They represent everything that is wrong with people into comics, movies, gaming, and other sorts of collector culture.  They plot against each other, they argue about the most minute of details, they have no allies, and the world is better off without them.  The first issue re-visits the gang where a cordial meeting results in one of them burning down a comic shop.  In issue #2 we fast forward 10 years and none of them have spoken to each other, but all end up at San Diego Comic Con where they end up getting together, discussing how awesome (i.e.- terrible) their lives are now and then talking shit on each other and everyone else in attendance until they get trampled.  Evan Dorkin’s art, as always is spot on, a great mixture of cartoon-ish, but stunningly detailed.  He’s a guy who knows way too much about comics and puts it on display not only with tons of background detail over the most obscure of  references, but also in the humor, which gravitates between absurdly hilarious and cringe-worthy insulting (I mean, he really makes you hate these characters).  Get this, read it, laugh, enjoy comics, and be the complete opposite of the goobers in this book in your daily life.  (Dark Horse)

This is one of the last groups I would have ever expected to get back together and record new material.  Into Another existed in a strange time.  By all accounts, they should have never been popular with hardcore kids and it remains a mystery to me, to this day, how they were.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved this band, but yeah…  how did they do it?  Between Ritchie Birkenhead’s near-falsetto singing/screaming and the mind-altering talent of the various players in this group standard meat and potatoes hardcore should have put a hood up over a furrowed brow and crossed their collective arms as if to say, ‘not here pal.’  But, just the opposite- they were embraced.  And I say ‘great’.  Picture, if you will- a band that seamlessly melded the sludgy mood of Black Sabbath with the virtuoso fantasy rock of Rush.  Yeah.  In hardcore.  In 1994.  It happened and I was there to bear witness.  And now, 20 years later they decide to give it another go on this five song EP.  I’ll give them credit- they all have their chops firmly in place.  Ritchie still has quite a set of pipes.  Peter Moses continues to be a guitar symphony in and of himself, and new bassist Reid Black aptly fills the void left by Tony Bono.  These songs have a little less instantly catchy flair that was found on “Ignaurus”- most fans vote for the band’s zenith- but they are well-written songs, and after a few listens they sink in .  The artwork is beautiful and works well to the band’s creepy nature.  I feel as if they are a group that has returned in a non-cheesy way.  They fail to be a poor imitation of themselves.  They have simply continued, and done so respectfully.  (Revelation/ Ghost Ship Records)

SACRED HEART,  by Liz Suburbia
After a bunch of self-published comical zines, and an online series that started the first half of this book Liz Suburbia takes those collected online chapters, re-drew/re-kajiggered them, and added what seems like a zillion more pages, and thus spawns this big fat book called Sacred Heart.  It’s great to see her art progress and the tone of the story get a bit more serious while still retaining a quirky fun that only results from years of John Hughes films, the Decline Of western Civilization, and a heavy dose of punk rock livin’.  The story is that there’s a town where all the parents and adults are gone and the kids are trying to go about their lives as if nothing is out of skew (still going to school, still going to dumb jobs, still hanging out on the weekends for shows, or prom, or high school football games).  There are plenty of moments that recall those best of times- piling into your friends car to go see a show, or chilling in your pals basement to watch horror flicks, the typical tropes of being a teen in love with the person just out of your reach and the awkwardness that goes with it.  But then odd stuff happens too- lots of people are getting killed, no one quite knows why, and the kids seem to not react too heavily to it.  Then a big flood comes, takes out a bunch of stuff, and leaves you with a huge cliffhanger of an ending.  It’s a wonderful story, though I guess might benefit from a little more development around building up those cliffhangers as the ending seems to come very quickly and abruptly.  The art is exceptional- all black and white, a combination of Los Bros Hernandez simple punk line art, but more fluid and almost grafitti-esque in ways, as well as very inviting and fun.  It shows a great deal of promise and I can’t wait to see what comes next.  (Fantagraphics)

While I enjoy reading about punk history, and all sorts of different aspects regarding it from a variety of different people’s perspectives it always feels a little weird when someone’s book on the subject reads like their doctoral dissertation.  There is a tipping point when punk-related subjects move from philosophical discussion to…  I dunno…  something else that’s boring.  But the older I get the more attention I guess I have for that, which means I’m probably getting pretty boring.  This here is a whole book dedicated to mostly the inner-workings of basement shows.  The author has interviewed a number of people who had lengthy involvement in booking shows at houses/living in houses that booked shows, their effect on the community around them (both neighbor-related and punk scene-related), the economics of it all, party vs. sober spaces, dealing with cops, and the transition to community/legal spaces.  I can get down with a good chunk of it because there are a lot of good stories about different spaces getting busted up, or evading authorities, sneaky ways in which places kept going, and so forth.  But when it gets bogged down in the politics of it all and constant quotes from various MRR articles and letters (seriously, there has to be tons of other source material to draw from aside from an old stack of Maximum Rock n’ Roll zines the author has sitting in his attic) it feels redundant and unnecessary.  I’ve always felt that punk is a great learning experience from not only just winging it and hoping for the best, but also from great stories that listeners (or in this case, readers) can absorb and make of it what they will.  The parts of this book focusing on the stories are great.  The academia half of it really seems kind of silly when trying to make a case study out of some bands playing in a basement for a bunch of punks.  (Microcosm)

WILD MOTH, “Inhibitor”
I remember listening to this band a year or two ago when they were getting started and they had a really heavy older Sonic Youth vibe in relation to a noisy reckless abandon to their otherwise punk-influenced indie sound.  I thought it was the sound of a band with a loose notion of a song structure, but letting it totally fall apart around them on purpose.  This full length record definitely makes a big effort to have strong song structures and catchy melodies, however noisy they might be.  I’m really digging this as they’ve gone to a more Superchunk style of rock, but still kind of loose and airy, a bit more shegaze-y, for lack of a better word.  I was quite surprised by this given how different I felt their previous material sounded.  Regardless, if you want to check a great upbeat indie band that both has a lot of excitement within their sound, as well as a laid back sort of beauty at the same time this is a good record to roll with.  (IronPier)

WINDHAND, “Grief’s Infernal Flower”
On their second release for Relapse Windhand seem to try and sound exactly like they did on their last effort.  Well, that’s half true.  The production is a bit different and almost sounds a bit cleaner, particularly in the vocals.  I kind of prefer the sound that they got on “Soma” though.  The vocals have a bit more reverb, thus making them sound more spooky, which works in their favor when the vocalist already has a somber, melancholy wail to begin with.  The music was grittier, dirtier, and had an almost sense of attack about it, even though the songs were complete stoner doom Sabbath worship.  Sure, it was nothing new to the trendy doom style going on these days, but I liked it.  “Grief’s Infernal Flower” feels like a band trying to ride on the coattails of “Soma” and not quite grasping it.  It feels like at least three of the songs on this start with the exact same riff (a play on “Soma”s opening song “Orchard”), and a couple more veer off into very long jam territory before coming back with a monster of an ending.  In some ways it works nicely, and in others it feels really redundant.  I’d like to see this band make something special because I felt they really had something good with their last outing, but this one only half gets there.  I have to admit though, the artwork on this record is something beautiful indeed and worth getting a gander at if you get a chance to see it.  (Relapse)

YAUTJA, “Songs Of Lament” EP
This was kind of a surprise follow-up for this band, as I think most people are still reeling from their debut LP released not all that long ago.  On this EP (which I guess you could call it a short LP really) they really don’t push any new boundaries, but instead continue on the killing spree they began with “Songs Of Lament”.  Think early mastodon with a crustier vibe.  So, you know, it’s good.  Weird, twisting chords on top of a crushing bulldozer rhythm section give way to grinding speed and an almost non-stop assault of riffs and heaviness.  Play both albums one after another and it will sound like one big, long, enjoyable ride.  (Forcefield)