Sunday, January 31, 2016


The new year is upon us and one miserable month already has passed.  Yes, January is the time to hibernate, plan, and hope for the Winter to coast on by in hopes of a long and pleasant Spring.  Well, we shall see if that occurs.
So going into this new year I decided that to go with the regular reviews of new stuff I want to add a random review of something from the past.  I am a big fan of stuff that was mostly overlooked in it's time of release and there are definitely some gems out there.  So I figured I'd toss something in there.  Expect that as a regular on going thing from here on out.
In this month's reviews it's a pretty mixed bag of music, film, and comics...  a nice slice of variety to start off 2016.  Read on and get shwifty.

ANb strike back with a….  three song…  what, micro 7”?  What, this must be like two minutes long right?  Oh, it’s over 20 minutes in length?  Are they trolling us into listening to the longest blast beat in history?  Wait, it’s a sludge metal record…  with very serious lyrical content?  Is this the right band?  So yeah, the long-running maniacal grind unit is trying something different- a series of EPs, each featuring one of ANb’s three vocalists, and a different style of extremity.  This first one features vocalist Katherine Katz and the difficult subject of her mother’s battles with mental illness before her untimely passing.  The music is completely informed by the likes of Sleep, Melvins, Crowbar, and Eyehategod.  And yes, the drum machine is still laying down the beats.  It’s not a bad turn, and shows that Scott Hull can pretty much write whatever kind of music he wants whether it be thrashfully blasting off between regular ANb stuff or with Pig Destroyer, or slowing it down to a snail’s pace with this recording.  Regular ANb fans might be on the fence, most fans of really heavy stuff will be pleased, bong resin clinging like moss to their toothy smiles.  (Relapse)

I went into this knowing only a couple things:  this band hails from Chicago and features Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) on vocals.  I was really impressed when I saw him do a solo set last year, so I was a bit curious to see what he could lend to this band.  Like other music Lamont has been involved in it’s treading some interesting territory.  These songs sprawl out like apocalyptic landscapes, delivering repetitious bombasts of dark codas and taking more than a few cues from the likes of Swans.  It is heavy and mean-sounding, but there’s a lot of different instrumentation going on here, and Lamont is mostly singing/hollering and not screaming.  So take that as you will.  It makes for a cool listen if you’re feeling on some end times type shit.  (Relapse)

“COLOR OF NOISE” documentary
This is something I never thought would really happen, but I’m really glad it did.  The story of Amphetamine Reptile Records, the bands, and art associated with it is finally in a very thorough documentary form.  Certain bands and aesthetics from this label were extremely influential on my taste in music and my approach to design.  Amphetamine Reptile Records (or AmRep as most people refer to them) began in the 80’s as a DIY label that focused on raw, mean, visceral rock n’ roll.  A big chunk of punk and hardcore figured into their formation, but they drew from the uglier side of things.  Sure, none of the drugs and alcohol was of interest to me (and it unfortunately claimed the lives of several great musicians from various bands on this label), but their stiff middle finger and refusal to play nice/be politically correct was (and is) a firm stance that makes the label so exciting.  They launched the careers of the Cows, the God Bullies, Today Is the Day, Hammerhead, Tar, Boss Hog, and some little band called Helmet.  They picked up Unsane at the perfect moment, and have collaborated for decades with the Melvins on a host of projects.  Many of these bands are interviewed regarding the scene of the time and how the label pushed them.  A few of the artists closely associated with the label such as Derek Hess, Shepard Fairey, Coop, and the incredible Frank Kozik are interviewed at length as the posters and cover art they created was just as important to the label as the music.  And of course, the main guy behind the operation, Tom Hazelmeyer is reluctantly grilled.  The man seems to want no glory for himself, he just wants to make stuff and see things happen.  And that, in itself, is glorious.  Just make it happen.  Despite a massive health scare that put him in a month long coma several years ago Hazelmeyer bounced back to make more records, open a restaurant, open an art gallery, constantly create his own art, and shoot lots of guns.  By all accounts this stuff should not appeal to me- I don’t drink, I don’t eat meat, and I don’t do drugs… all of which seem to be hallmarks of the AmRep culture (for better or for worse), but everything else about it is so potent.  It is the embodiment of everything mean and dangerous about rock (or punk for that matter).  Take a dive into a bit of history with this wonderful film about a cast of fucked up weirdoes.  (Robellion Films)

DEVIL HIS DUE, “2016 A.D.”
I know metalcore is a dirty word that typically implies the shoddiest of over-produced, fabricated suburban anger backed by dumb breakdowns that have been so overdone they have completely lost any semblance of substance.  I know.  I’ve lived through all of it.  So when I say a metalcore record is good you must understand that I am correct in the most authoritative sort of way.  Now, granted, there is a conflict of interest because I am in a band with one of the members of this group.  But, I am not in a band with the member who wrote all these riffs.  So it’s fair game to say this shit smokes.  Those familiar with Syracuse hardcore lineage will know the name Danny Johnson.  He is the throat-shredded-by-broken-glass vocalist who fronted Blood Runs Black, God Below, and Last Season.  He does all the vocals here.  That means it already sounds incredibly harsh.  The music is super heavy, tons of double bass, and non-stop in its’ filthiness.  It bears a strong resemblance to Last Season, but locals can debate for themselves.  It has a genuine hatred behind it, and it’s definitely worth checking out.  Fans of Crowbar, Ringworm, the Blinding Light, and Overcast take note.  (Devil His Due)

FUCKING INVINCIBLE, “I Hate Myself and Want You To Die” 7”
Enter more hatred and general misanthropy from Providence’s most destructive band.  Their LP from last year was pretty good, but the sound on it was purposefully a little too trashy sounding in my opinion.  I’m glad they have struck a good balance on this new record between coming off as raw and violent but polished enough to know how well they can deliver that audio hacksaw.  Plus, this band was made to release 7”s…  an LP is too much thought.  Cram 8 songs in 7 minutes onto 7 inches, stuff it down your throat, pull the pin, and wait for it to detonate.  While Providence has consistently churned out some excellent bands (some of the members of which play in this band) I think FI is my favorite one to see live and this slab of powerviolence hardcore gets that live sound down nicely.  (Atomic Action)

This Michigan group comes out the gate with a very nice looking record that comes on all sorts of colorful vinyl and a block-stamped cardstock cover.  And a pin!  Woo!  Thoughtful packaging aside, musically this falls into a style that younger kids would probably hear and just think ‘dude rock’.  Us older dorks will recognize this as solid post-hardcore rock aiming for the likes of Cast Iron Hike, but a little less show-y…  so more like Cutman…  if that means anything to anyone.  So what do we learn?  Young kids:  “dude rock”.  Old farts: “dude rock…  but c’mon man, you can hear the post-hardcore leanings and subtle references to mid-era Wreck-Age Records bands!”  Four songs on the vinyl, an extra two tracks on the download.  (Dropping Bombs)

I picked this up based on a couple things:  their name references a Drive Like Jehu song and Meghan O’Neill from Punch is on vocals (and bass) and I have always been a fan of her particularly harsh screaming.  Well, this doesn’t really sound like Jehu, and the vocals lean more towards a sort of bratty Riot Grrl style.  It still makes for a good listen and a strong introduction for this new band.  Lyrically there’s a bit more room for O’Neill to deliver a complete thought, rather than the blast-o-matic epiphanies common in her previous outfit, even though Super Unison’s songs still only clock in at about 2 minutes apiece.  Make no mistake, this is still fast, punk, and ripping, and it’s a good introduction.  But each song does tend to work with a very similar structure and I’m sure with some time they will vary it up a bit.  Closing track “On Repeat” is the strongest of the bunch and has an anxious sense of urgency delivered by the powerful vocals and great guitar lead riding through the song.  (self-released)

UPTIGHT #5, by Jordan Crane
This ongoing, very irregular, series by one of my favorite illustrators comes back after what must be at least a year-long absence with a 100+ page issue featuring 5 different stories.  I’m used to a lot of Jordan Crane’s stuff being somewhat sad, melancholy, yet plaintive in a way…  which contrasts very sharply with his mastery of vibrant colors and cartoon-ish style of line.  The cover alone on this is worth the price of admission.  The first two parts are continuations of stories from previous issues- one a bit on a man who lost his wife in a car accident and his slow personal decent through a series of flashbacks, the second a troubled couple who lost their child and making failed attempts to get their life back after the loss.  From there things venture into a bit more quixotic territory via a hazy and confusing murder mystery, a bizarre and gory space mining operation that goes horribly wrong, and a radio tower that gets washed out to sea and the man who gets drowned, saved by an octopus mermaid, and then stranded.  Crane often leaves the reader with loose ends on purpose, often with minimal text, and more often than not, feeling a bit depressed.  But it’s done in such an interesting way through the vivid art that I’ll always come back for more.  (Fantagraphics)

UXO, s/t LP
Upon hearing that Chris Spencer (Unsane) and Steve Austin (Today Is the Day) were teaming up to form a band my noggin nearly exploded from the undoubtedly colossal amount of fucking amazing that would swell within my brain.  Here we got the front men/guitarists of two of the more influential bands that have informed my musical tastes.  I mean, the vicious negativity pairing these two together ought to produce is enough to overpower the happiness of…  I dunno, a really happy place...  let’s say Hawaii, or Switzerland if every town was Disneyworld.  I am pleased to announce that this pretty much sounds exactly like what you would think of putting Unsane and Today Is the Day together.  Austin and Spencer split vocal duties and you can pretty much tell which one of them wrote which riffs because they totally fall in line with either older TITD style material or any Unsane material.  There is a general sense of powering through rough times here, the brooding heaviness (mixed with a tasteful amount of noise textures here and there) enunciates the pain, and the rest is an endeavor that fans of either members’ bands will surely enjoy.  The bad part- this thing is being touted as a full length and it barely scrapes past being an EP.  At seven songs of average length I was definitely hoping for more material even though what I’m getting is pretty great.  (Reptilian Records)

WRUX demo
Here we got a demo from a new Buffalo/Syracuse hybrid band that cranks out 9 songs in 10 minutes.  One song is two minutes and most of them are under a minute.  Expect blasting powerviolence consisting of drums, vocals, and one gnarly sounding bass driving it all.  The bass is nice and filthy sounding so it gets a pretty ‘full’ sound despite there being no guitar.  I will say, though, that it feels like Jessica’s vocals are a bit loud in the overall mix, but on the whole, this thing sounds pretty good.  Fun for mashing the shit out of one another in a dank basement somewhere in a crappy neighborhood.  (self-released)

Bonus Round:

TRALUMA, “Seven Days Awake”
This Chicago indie band did their thing in the late 90’s and was on the ever-reliable Caulfield Records label (Giants Chair, Boys Life, Christie Front Drive), which should give an indication of their sound.  More than likely lumped in with the ‘emo’ crowd I always felt this had more going on with it than the sad, broken-hearted bed-wetters and pop hooks disguised as earnest punk that ‘emo’ had been bastardized into.  Traluma took cues from early Fugazi with their tasteful bass work, jangling and riffy guitar leads, and occasional sing-along vocals.  Additionally, some attention was paid to bands like Drive Like Jehu with some angular hooks and interesting guitar melodies.  But the whole thing had a sort of subtle delivery that occasionally made really energetic tracks like “Barn Burner”, “Klondike Revolution”, and “Low Like a Snake” a bit out of character from what one would expect.  It didn’t quite sound like anything else out there, even though there were a number of bands on a similar page as them.  They made a few 7”s and this lone LP, and then called it a day.  I had the chance to book them on one occasion and while it wasn’t anything life-altering to witness, I still highly enjoy this album some 18 years after it’s release.  I believe one of the members of this band died not too long after they split, and a couple others went on to another pretty good band called Haymarket Riot. (listen here)

Friday, January 22, 2016


Let's make things clear- Winter fuckin' sucks.  But some bands brave the dreary weather to play out, some taking to the snowy roads while others do the smart thing and head in a Southernly direction to avoid the misery of the Northeast.
That being said, some bands on the label are heading out on the road within the next couple months.
Here's what's going down:
GRIZZLOR are doing a couple shows with UXO (the project bands featuring members of Unsane and Today Is the Day...  yeah, this is real, holy shit), and then heading out to play Berserker Fest in Detroit with Voivod and a bunch of other cool bands.  Check the info here:


Berserker Fest:

BLEAK will, of course, be back on the road as well, going all over the damn place, as is their nature.  Check all the dates for these hosers as they rarely stick around home for very long.

Fri., 1/29- Syracuse, NY @ Warehouse
Sat., 1/30- Dayton, OH @ Hank's Pub
Sun., 1/31- Indianapolis, IN @ Sexx Mansion
Mon., 2/1- Louisville, KY @ Highlands Taproom
Tues., 2/2- Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
Wed., 2/3- Charlotte, NC @ The Milestone
Thurs., 2/4- Verona, VA @ Art & Soul Tattoo
Fri., 2/5- Norfolk, VA @ Norfolk Taproom
Sat., 2/6- Richmond, VA @ McCormacks
Sun., 2/7- Washington, DC @ The Pinch
Fri., 2/12- Buffalo, NY @ Hoyt House
Sat., 2/13- Rochester, NY @ Monty's Krown
Fri., 2/19- Pittsburgh, PA @ Black Forge Coffee House
DIALYSIS will be doing some sporadic Winter dates, followed by a short Spring tour- part of which will be with the most awesome Empty Vessels- that is currently being assembled.  Lend a hand if you are down to clown.

2/13- Rochester, NY @ Monty's w/ Blurring, Bleak
2/18- Albany, NY @ Fuze Box w/ Poison Idea, Child Bite
3/5- Syracuse, NY @ Warehouse w/ Borrowed Time, Waste Case
3/27- Binghamton, NY @ Greasy Manor w/ Fucking Invincible

Thurs., 4/14- Philly, PA @ TBA (HELP)
Fri., 4/15- Western MA w/ Empty Vessels
Sat., 4/16- Ithaca, NY @ Chanticlear Loft w/ Empty Vessels, Old Bones
Sun., 4/17- Syracuse, NY @ Spark w/ Empty Vessels
Mon., 4/18- NJ (HELP)

Finally, EX-BREATHERS have a few sporadic dates this Winter, mostly down in their neck of the woods (I get it, stay where it's nice and sunny huh?).  Go check them out if you're a Florida native.  Or, be smart, get the heck out of whatever miserable ice cave you live in, and make a trip to Florida anyway and catch them while you're there re-examining your geographic life choices.
01/30 w/ Jitters, Night Witch, and Echo Base @ TV Land
02/12 in Gainesville w/ Frameworks, Post Teens, and Heat Rash @ Nowhere
02/26 w/ Career, Repo Man, and Success Story @ TV Land
03/21 w/ Gnarwhal and Palm @ Wolf's Den