Monday, June 29, 2015


* all photos by Enrique Blanco
While I’ve seen the Melvins several times at this point, with varying lineups, I can’t really argue against going out to see them when they play three blocks from your house.  So I set aside my regular exhilarating Friday night of eating snacks, playing with cats, and farting into my office chair to take the stroll down Westcott Street and getting my ears blown off by King Buzzo and company.
I waited outside where I began my night long stalking of Dave Curran, tour manager for Melvins (not all that important) and bass player for Unsane (really fucking important).  I bet he carries around a sealed copy of “Scattered, Smothered, and Covered” LP just to shove in the face’s of grubby fanboys such as myself, and so help me, I should probably take it.
What actually transpired was that I eventually wandered in, looked at all the awesome drawings that Brian Walsby brought on the road (he probably drew half of them during sound check), and the other random wildness of the Melvins merch table, and then patiently waited for the show to begin.
Le Butcherettes kicked things off.  I couldn’t tell if they were more style than substance because the vocalist spoke only in Spanish between songs, and I assume, during as well.  The three members decked out in bright red outfits with vocalist Teri Gender Bender going for a Lydia Dietz marriage scene get up that must have made playing guitar (when not playing keyboard) quite the difficult task.  Her stage antics struck a bizarre tone that was part robot-on-the-fritz, part early Karen O. spectacle.  Some of it felt a bit forced, and weird for weird’s sake.  Musically, however, they began strong with fairly straightforward riffy rock that centered on bass and drums, and monster mash keyboards.  I guess, overall, they were sort of a mixed bag.

The Melvins didn’t take long to get rolling.  Every time I have seen them they have always been quick to just get up and start doing their thing right after the opening act.  Heck, sometimes the opening act was in the band and there was no change over (back when the Big Business duo were playing in the band…  are they still unofficially?).  but for the last couple years Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers has been on bass duty and does an adequate job of holding it down.  While I have never been a diehard Melvins fan (I own only three of their records…  for shame, I know) I recognized this set as being fairly similar to what they played when I saw them last year.  But in consulting with my man who took the pictures, who is a diehard Melvins fan, he offered that they did indeed draw from their vast catalog, and mixed it up across all eras of the band (nothing off of “Senile Animal” though).

Opening with the sludgy sledgehammer of “Hag Me” the band took their time warming up the crowd before coasting into some more recent stuff before tossing out a Butthole Surfers cover, and then going into some older material from “Bullhead”, “Stoner Witch”, and even “You’re Blessened”, off of “Bullhead”.  I was exceptionally stoked when they launched into a lengthy cover of “Youth Of America” by The Wipers that spiraled into some chaotic jam before they jumped right into “The Bit”.  They closed out with “Night Goat” followed by, “Fascists Eat Donuts”- a song they did with Teri from Le Butcherettes accompanying.  I had to look this up, as it’s actually a cover from a band called the Pop-O-Pies.  No idea.  But it’s catchy as hell and I’ve been thinking about it since with it’s repeated chorus of “Make those donuts with extra grease/ This batch for the chief of police!”  The band just dragged it out, slower, and slower, as they all sang the chorus again and again, slower and weirder until it just felt like one big weird melting of time.  It’s like the audio equivalent of what I’m assuming bad drugs feel like.

As the show ended I saw Dave Curran behind the soundboard and approached him like a weirdo and said Unsane is one of my favorite bands ever.  We talked a bit about Pigs, and he had no visible copy of that one record I’m missing so I let him live.  Next time.  I’ll find it eventually.

Monday, June 15, 2015



     So just to get it out of the way, before I left for this brief trip I thought to myself, ‘I ought to charge my camera battery’.  But I didn’t.  And ya know what- the damn thing died before I even got to the show.  So instead of live pictures of bands I’m going to put photos of my insane record haul from this show instead.
            Anyways, it was a nice drive down to New Jersey, until I actually got to New Jersey.  They call their roads ‘highways’.  But if you put a traffic light on a road, surrounded by strip malls it ceases to be a highway. It’s just a street at that point.  And for one reason or another, every time I go to Jersey I end up on one of these ‘highways’ for about 20 or 30 miles.  It’s mind numbing.  The actual highways aren’t much better.  Never have I witnessed more insane driving outside of a NYC cab driver on a bender.
            I eventually make it to Asbury Park and actually have some time to explore, instead of my last visit a few years back where I wandered the boardwalk before seeing Rorschach at the Lanes and then taking a train back that night.  Cookman Ave. seemed to be the happening spot.  I checked out the GroovyGraveyard, which is rife with eclectic randomness- a bunch of assorted records, comics, toys, etc.  In other words, a little slice of heaven for me.  I found a Monorchid gatefold LP there for five bucks.  I then headed across the street to Holdfast Records.  It was a very new looking, very tidy, clean, and professional shop.  As I’m flipping through records Joe from Psychic Teens wanders in, and I’m almost wondering how this record-fiending fella wasn’t already here.  We look at records and I convince him to buy a Most Secret Method LP because it’s five bucks and it rules.  I find a Kurt LP, Seven Storey Mountain LP, and David Byrne LP all for the total sum of about $16.  Joe and I head back to Groovy Graveyard because I tell him it rules and we discover the owner runs a noise rock forum I post on and so we chat about all that good stuff.

            I head to the venue and meet up with people and we eventually head out to a nearby spot called Kayas Kitchen, an all-vegan establishment, and get some food to go.  I gotta say, it’s pretty good.  A little on the pricey side, but quite good.  If you even happen to find yourself in Belmar for some odd reason give ‘em a whirl.  They got quite a variety of good stuff.
            So I get back to the venue (which I ought to add is about 20 degrees cooler due to the ocean breeze coming off the Atlantic some 50 yards away than the sticky heat wave engulfing town some several blocks in the other direction) just in time to eat and then catch a chunk of the set from opener Sex Cross.  It’s dudes from Old Wounds doing goth punk, seemingly desperate to escape their hardcore roots, but not quite there yet.  I’m pretty sure I still spotted some breakdowns.  It was decent overall for hardcore dudes who want to dress up as vamps.  There was certainly a flair for presentation and just a bit of over-doing it.
            PsychicTeens were up next.  They opened with “Lust”, a slow, plodding dirge from “Come”, followed by the new-ish 7” songs, and a couple new ones that I have heard before.  It’s a bit of a weird setting because every other time I’ve seen them it’s a small space and they are super loud.  But Asbury Lanes is a bit bigger of a venue (it’s literally an old bowling alley with a stage in the middle of it) and they didn’t sound quite as deafening as in the past.  Still a great set and it was cool to know that there were probably plenty of people present who had never heard them.
            ChildBite then get up and miraculously create an anti-gravity zone in front of the stage for the duration of their performance because everyone up front seemed to lose control of all bodily functions and it became this uncoordinated mess of swinging arms, flailing legs, stupor-induced stumbling, and general confusion.  Granted, the band is super weird and crazy.  Their frontman was this perfect mix of Neil Fallon and Dan Higgs while the band played some revved-up concoction of noise rock and Dead Kennedys.  It was pretty awesome.  The crowd, on the other hand, was not.  I mean, when you see a bunch of 16 year old kids dancing like they’re swatting at a swarm of bees, or a seizure-prone meth addict you give them some leeway.  “They will understand rhythm some day”, you think to yourself.  But when it’s a bunch of grown adults- one of which happened to jump on stage at one point, grab a beer from the band, and then fall off the stage on his ass and continue to act like a schmuck- it’s just sad and embarrassing.  So yeah, Child Bite- killer.  Audience- buns.
            Coliseum closes things out.  Here is a band that sounds so tight, so locked in with each other, a sound so dialed in that if you close your eyes it’s as if you’re listening to the record.  It’s that crystal clear.  They play lots of new stuff, which was fun to hear, followed by some stuff from the last two records.  It’s different for sure, but you can see where they are moving ahead and I enjoy it quite a bit.
            After the gig I crashed at a place a block away and got up early to take a stroll on the beach before getting some dull breakfast.  I got on the road and headed up to Princeton to explore the Princeton Record Exchange.  I almost gave them all my life savings over all the good stuff I came across.  I went to sell them some records and they offered me next to nothing for them.  I guess when they offer to buy brand new LPs from you for a buck I guess that’s how they can afford to sell a copy of “Scratch the Surface” on vinyl for $10.  It’s good and bad.  I sold them a few things I wanted to get rid of and in turn I picked up a ton of great records on the cheap.

            After spending way too much time in that place I made a mile, which was a lot more slow going than I’d hoped because getting out of this state is horrible.  By the time I hit Pennsyltucky I was cruising on auto-pilot and just winged it back home.  While there is no photographic evidence of my trip a parking ticket, the sand between my toes, the ringing in my ears, and the bag full of vinyl in the back seat is proof enough that it was a drive worth doing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


        We've made slight mention of it before, and we're seriously slacking here, but as an 'official' sort of press release I want to put it out there that I am way beyond stoked that Hex will have the pleasure of releasing the next Ex-Breathers LP! Not only do we get to release this record, but we are teaming up with an incredibly awesome label as well to do so- Exploding In Sound Records It will be awesome.
        Ex-Breathers came together a few years ago in Tallahassee, Florida to play punk without clear definition.  Some of their material verges on off-timed thrash, while at other times the boundary-stretching themes of Fugazi and Mission Of Burma get a heavy nod.  The Minutemen's sense of weird urgency.  Voivod's melding of shredding riffs and bizarre timing.  Through fine tuning they began recording themselves, culminating in their first full-length, the self-released "Collision".  A 7" entitled "EXBX" followed, cramming 12 songs onto a 45 just to see if they could do it.  Hex Records co-released a 4-way compilation featuring 3 songs from Ex-Breathers shortly thereafter last year.
     The band demo'ed their LP a couple months back and I got to hear it, and have played it constantly since. And now they have just finished the actual recording and it will be going off to press soon. Expect this sucker in the early Fall. And between now and then listen to Ex-Breathers stuff here: