Sunday, September 19, 2021


Dang, all this stuff I expected to check out over the summer is turning into a plethora of things I'll be spinning throughout the fall.  Yes, we all know, everything on earth is delayed...  especially in the music world.  But hey, here we are, let's enjoy it as it comes our way.  Here's a particular load of stuff that I have been both expecting, and some stuff that just showed up on my radar unexpectedly, which is always pretty kick ass.


FILTH IS ETERNAL, “Love Is a Lie, Filth Is Eternal”

Filth Is Eternal is the Seattle band formerly known as Fucked and Bound.  Same band, different name. Apparently, they were having a lot of trouble getting booked on shows because their original moniker wasn’t a terribly inviting thing to see on flyers, storefront windows, censor-friendly social media algorithms, and kids birthday parties were right out.  So they changed it.  I guess they just don’t have the clout of Fucked Up huh?  Well, be that as it may, I thought this band had all but threw in the towel because the last I heard anything from them (and very loudly at that) they were wrecking my face on New Years Eve 2019/2020 with a scathing live set.  What else was I gonna do on the eve of the apocalypse?  So, as everyone knows, stuff happened last year and I guess these cats kept busy writing more riffs and thinking of a new name.  They also happened to record a new album and it’s just coming out now-ish.  But due to that name change they sort of fell off my radar.  However I’m really glad I saw their picture online and they looked familiar and then the light bulb over my head went off, and I put it all together.  Yes, they are still writing raging hardcore punk that’s heavy on the skuzzy riffage, while vocalist Lisa Mungo follows you around the pit so she can yell in your face and deny your hi-five (but maybe chug your beer).  Trap Them but less Entombed?  Couch Slut but less noise rock?  Perhaps an ugly and sinister combination of the two to make a hardcore wrecking machine?  I think so. (QuietPanic)


FOTOCRIME, “Heart Of Crime”

I will openly admit that I listen to the music of Fotocrime because of who it is made by.  Otherwise, I seldom ever dabble with music that could be described as anything between krautrock or new wave synth music.  It remains a large gap in my musical knowledge.  But I have been a long time fan of basically anything Ryan Patterson devotes himself to creatively and seeing his progression as an artist over the last 20 plus years between bands like National Acrobat, Black Cross, Coliseum, and now Fotocrime those changes are rarely minor dalliances in new sounds; they’re often great leaps into the unknown.  So on this, the third Fotocrime full length he is, for the first time, taking the reins on everything about the writing, performing, and recording of all aspects of the record.  In the past guest players would often round out the lineup of the band, frequently collaborators whom I also greatly admire.  And on this there’s the occasional guest vocal, or minor guitar part from several different musical friends.  But overall it’s Patterson at the helm for, like 95% of it.  Again, my descriptive vocabulary for what’s going on here is hardly expert level, but I feel like the material on “Heart Of Crime” errs a little more minimal than it was on “South Of Heaven”, the last Fotocrime record, which I greatly enjoyed.  There’s a bit more motorik repetition on some tracks (the opening title track comes to mind), 90’s industrial (“Industry Pig”), sparse, dusty almost Americana on “Learn To Love the Lash”, and dark pop on tracks like “Crystal Caves” and “Electric CafĂ©”.  It’s all done with variations on just what one can do with a drum machine while making the effort to let the listener know it’s indeed not a human playing those beats. Add to it Patterson’s cold baritone vocals, his glimmering guitar melodies, and an abundance of different synths and you got “Heart Of Crime”, a worthy addition to the musical journey our man is on. (Profound Lore)


LUNG, “Come Clean Right Now”

Some of this sounds exactly as you’d imagine a duo of a drummer and vocalist/cellist making music together, and on some of this record they manage to make a cello sound like a chainsaw and pouring concrete mixed together. Yes, you can add distortion effects to an electric cello and it’s pretty wild.  This is what Cincinnati-based Lung has been at for a few years now and it’s a unique take on parts rock music/punk/classical/ weirdo/noise rock…  uh, basically doing their own thing.  It’s pretty hard to classify but the combination of cellist/vocalist Kate Wakefield and drummer Daisy Caplan shift between math-y noise rock on the title track, morose/epic choruses on “Wave”, and more straightforward heavy rock sounds on “Sun God”.  All of this is propelled by Wakefield’s almost operatic vocals that make this duo sound very much like a full band with multiple elements going on to create a very one-of-a-kind sound. (self-released)


METZ, “Live At the Opera House”

I’m a sucker for basically anything that Metz tosses out at us.  The Canadian trio has such a solid grip on insanely energetic noise rock/punk that a ‘live’ record would likely accompany a definition of ‘lightning in a bottle’.  However, this live record was captured via a live stream from last year when absolutely no one was attending any live concerts.  So, this comes off more like a live studio recording more than anything.  I mean, if you’ve never been to a Metz show you need to do so.  It’s fucking wild.  They hurl themselves about, sweating on everything and everyone, yet still play absolutely perfect…  or at least with all the feedback and buzzing one would expect from a band that prides themselves on their racket.  And the audience is generally equally as energetic and to be able to capture that live is the essence of a real live record.  Sure, on “Live At the Opera House” you get to catch the band do extended takes on “A Boat To Drown In” and “Wet Blanket” that are fun for gear nerds and pedal enthusiasts to dissect.  But there is no sound between songs, no audience spillover, no witty stage banter, no off-notes or mistakes (which can be fun to hear on a live record, though Metz are so dialed in to one another as musicians you probably will never hear a mistake from them); it’s sterile in that regard.  I tuned in to this live stream when it originally broadcast and as far as live streams go it was exceptionally well done with great sound and a professional quality to the filming.  The band basically plays through the entirety of their most excellent “Atlas Vending” album and then throws in a couple older tracks at the end and that’s it.  If you like to listen to how adept these fellows are at playing together this is fine.  For those of us who like a bit of chaos in a live recording this ain’t the jam for you. (Sub Pop)



Plenty of dusty old has-beens get mad about this band.  Oh well, they can stay in their basements pining for the days when they could execute a stagedive without throwing their back out.  The rest of us will be going bananas for new Turnstile stuff regardless of whatever they decide to throw into their musical mix.  For them it’s all about the energy and momentum and everyone is invited to the party, even those with tender backs. The first half of “Glow On” is straight bangers- lots of groove, lots of speed, ridiculously fun breakdowns, and a good deal of added percussion whether it sounds organic (“Blackout”), or out of a Casio keyboard beat sampler (“Holiday”).  With the exception of the ultra breezy, pop-saturated “Underwater Boi” the band save their bold steps forward mostly on the second half of the album, particularly the almost acoustic “Alien Love Call” and quick in-and-out segue of “No Surprise”.  But for those claiming the band is so far removed from being a hardcore band I’d argue that just because the production on this sounds massive and there’s a bunch of pop effects scattered about take a listen to most of these songs.  They hit exactly as you would want a hardcore band to sound- fast part, catchy riff, crazy breakdowns…  that’s all it is.  And they’re really fucking good at it.  My only complaint is that at 15 tracks they may have tried to add a little too much and maybe a couple of those side B tracks where they’re stretching their musical wings to an almost hokey degree (“Dance Off”?) could have been dropped just to keep the momentum going non-stop.  Oh, and the other complaint being I wish they dropped this earlier in the summer so it could full on be the reigning champ for summer jams.  This is a total summer raging record. Listen and have fun. (Roadrunner)


ZAHN, s/t

Here’s a fun little project I stumbled across that is a side band for members of Heads.  Zahn seems a pretty logical extension of that band with their intense appreciation of all things tone, repetition, heaviness, and giving the music plenty of space to breathe.  However, Zahn is totally instrumental.  On this record the first half is more upbeat, moving along at a pretty quick clip with lots of repetitive riffs and some heavier, noisy moments.  Mid-record track “Gyhum” changes things by laying down a synthesized beat over basically just noise and samples before the second half of the album kicks in with a slower pace more in line with what you would find on a Heads record.  I think I like the second half better though as it gives off hints of Pelican, or Young Widows, though a bit more sparse at times.  “Aykroyd” introduces a low-end baritone style sax to add heft to the main riff and makes me think of fellow sax-heavy riff machine Brain Tentacles, while closer “Staub” is a lengthy and morose dive into a somber, yet spacey, meditation on taut riff economics.  But hey, these cats are German so they probably scientifically engineered these songs to be tested in a controlled setting before letting them loose for maximum efficiency. (Crazysane Records)


ZULU, “My People… Hold On/ Our Time Will Come” 12”

I’ll be the first to admit there’s a bit of a cognitive disconnect with some of what is hyped up and my age.  I’m clearly in the ‘old man yells at cloud’ stage of life (utterly ancient if you want to carbon date me in hardcore years), but at the very least I can usually understand why something is popular with people even if it doesn’t directly speak to me.  With LA’s Zulu bursting on to the scene they are juxtaposing hardcore’s extreme present with a focus on black culture and black music.  They weave their metallic hardcore and blast beats with long samples of soul, hip-hop, and black liberation speeches into minute-long whirlwind head trips.  Immediate comparisons to East Coast contemporaries Soul Glo are to be expected as both groups meld their vision of hardcore (SG with a more ‘screamo’-leaning sound) with hip-hop and black power though Zulu lean more into the quick transitions of metallic beatdown a la Jesus Piece (frontman Aaron Heard even makes a vocal guest appearance on “Now They Are Through With Me”) and blasting powerviolence of groups like Weekend Nachos.  It’s a wild combination.  But I have to say it’s not all that much of a stretch for me to grasp as there was a time when hip-hop and hardcore crossed paths frequently in the late 80’s and early 90’s- stylistically they were very different, but each sound came from the streets and unified people who were taking a chance with new musical ideas.  You can find old NYHC matinees featuring KRS-One playing along side Sick Of It All.  I once saw Quicksand open for Tribe Called Quest.  It was brilliant.  So to see bands co-mingling these sounds for a new era is refreshing and exciting and Zulu do a pretty good job of it.  Plus (even though it’s totally sold out) take a look at this record- a collection of two EPs freshly combined onto wax- it looks amazing.  (Flatspot Records)

Sunday, August 22, 2021


 Last year I chatted it up with Irene (vocals) and John (guitar) from ALPHA HOPPER for the most recent issue of TRANSLATE zine.  We discussed lots of legal hypotheticals, drunk bike riding, and Star Trek, amongst other things.  This is the unedited version of that interview.  Their record "Alpha Hex Index" is a whopper of weirdo punk, but super fun and catchy.  Since they couldn't play any shows in the last year or so to promote it consider the show they have coming up in Buffalo on 8/27 as their official record release show! 


Irene, as an immigration lawyer, are you able to represent people in areas of the law that are not what you specialize in?  For instance, if you were to be approached by someone accused of embezzlement would you be able to represent them?


I:  Ryan, are you asking me this for real life reasons?


No!  Just follow where I’m going with this.


I:  When you’re a lawyer, or allowed to practice law, you can give someone advice and go to court.  But you can do that for whatever you want, or have to do.  So I can do any kind of law, but the trick is to know it because each practice is so specialized and specific.  Asking if I can do embezzlement law I’d have to study the whole field and practice it.  So I could, but it would probably have to be my specialty.


J:  Is there any time you would want to go to court for embezzlement?


I:  I don’t know, maybe for fun! Every legal field has it’s exciting parts right?  Maybe the embezzlers are multi-million dollar corporations who…  I don’t know. 

But, yeah, one part of doing the law is you specialize in doing what you’re really good at and what you’re learning about. So that’s why most lawyers tend to stick to one thing.


So your advice would probably be, ‘I could represent you, but you would be better off going to these people’.  So that leads me to John- is there any time where you might find yourself requiring legal resources?


J:  (laughs) This is really funny because I’m actually very thankful that Irene does immigration law because my wife is from Brazil and we got married and she had to apply for a green card, and all that stuff.  When that came up I thought, ‘I know just who to call.  We’re going to get this right the first time’.

I don’t have any legal expertise, but if anything the law should be avoided at all costs.  I have a rule that you shouldn’t sweat unless it’s for sex, rock n’ roll, or running from the cops (laughs).  So the law is not for me.  But in this case we needed to do it.  So my wife and I called Irene so she could help us fill out these forms and do things the right way, because there’s nothing scarier than a border- all the customs and shit.  That’s like a whole other set of law because when you cross over, say, to Canada, they can just pull you over and reject you.  You can have all the proper paperwork and they can still fuck with you.  They can call you liar, it’s completely up to the border guard’s discretion.  It’s crazy to me, the idea of borders, and ‘you shouldn’t be in this country’.


Did either of you find any obstacles when pursuing the green card process, or was it fairly easy?


J:  The only part that was difficult was that we were going back and forth with visiting each other- Sao Paulo to Buffalo, back and forth.  And one of the last times we did this before getting married is we landed in Canada, and drove into the US because it was cheaper to fly to Toronto and Buffalo is only two hours away.  We got stopped at the border and they wouldn’t let her in.  They were saying, ‘we think you’re lying to us, we think she already lives here’, which was very stressful.  And she wasn’t living here at the time, she was just visiting.  We were thinking, ‘we should get married and get this taken care of so it never happens again’.  But yeah, they wouldn’t let her in and she got stuck in Canada for a couple weeks.  Luckily, I knew someone in St. Catherines (Ontario, near the Buffalo border- ed.) and they let her stay with them for a couple weeks.


So Irene when you were assisting in that process did you find there to be a lot of hurdles, or was it fairly easy to help John with this?


I:  Not really.  Sometimes immigration is just paperwork- you fill out the forms, tons of forms, and you gather the evidence- which is whatever you need to prove whatever you’re trying to do, like I’m petitioning for my spouse and here’s the evidence that we’re married.  The hardest part is always getting everything you need together, like ‘give me the last five years of your work history, all of your education, all the places you lived, all your family.  It can take a really long time.  I mean, I can’t remember what I ate yesterday, ya know? 

But John and Carol were perfect clients.  They were on top of it.  I got to sit back and relax.  On my end it was pretty easy.


Have you had situations that were extremely difficult?  Were there situations where clients were given a really hard time?


I:  Kind of all the time.  We’re super lucky in Buffalo, and this is not the case everywhere.  In Buffalo we have pretty fair immigration judges.  Most of the cases I do are asylum cases.  And they really consider everything fairly and equally.  So we’re super lucky because when you make an argument you know it’s being heard.  When you submit evidence you know they’re considering it.  They’re actually weighing in instead of just saying ‘no’.  So that part of it is really good locally.

But the bigger problem is really the whole immigration system.  Over the last four years everything has been getting harder, and harder, and harder. There’s minutia that has been requested of clients that, unless you hire an attorney, you’re not going to know how to fill out that form.  Some people requesting asylum will be rejected because they might have missed checking off a box, or not answering a question that isn’t applicable to them.  Like, instead of answering ‘none’ or whatever it’s just not answered and out of 200 whatever questions they miss this one and their whole thing gets thrown out.

My boss said it perfectly- you don’t need a huge overhaul of the whole system to make it hard, you do these  little things that make impossible for any person to do anything and  that’s how you fuck them over.


It’s like a death by a thousand cuts sort of thing.


I:  Perfect.  I’m going to start using that one now (laughs).  It’s not like this one thing, it’s just little by little, step by step, getting harder.  I feel like I spend half my time at work figuring out how this law changed so my client can get through it.  It’s extremely annoying and it’s embarrassing how the government has treated asylum seekers at the border.


Let’s jump back to not the real life situation you had to deal with, John, but if there were a fictional legal issue you found yourself in, what do you think it could be?


J:  I’m pretty good at staying out of trouble these days.  You get a little older and you get a little tired of getting yourself into trouble! I’ve been known in the past to have a couple soda pops.  Luckily, I don’t have any history of driving drunk.  But doing anything else, like riding a bicycle drunk, I’ve done.  And you can get in trouble for that!  So I’ve definitely ridden my bicycle home drunk because I’ve definitely crashed a couple times.  No permanent injuries, but you get a couple soda pops in you and, ya know.  But I’m surprisingly well-behaved.  Irene, what would I get myself in trouble with?


I:  John is a  responsible young man now.


J:  I get away with everything.


He did just incriminate himself over riding while drunk.


J:  Yeah, they’re going to come get me now.


Would you feel comfortable representing him if he were caught riding while drunk?


I: (laughs)  I shouldn’t represent people if know them.  But yes, I would.  Actually, John would do a fine job representing himself.  He can talk his way out of it.


Is that the strategy?


I:  John, didn’t you have some issue with going through jury duty?


J:  I got called for jury duty.  I went and got called in, and then got selected for the smaller group where they interview you.  So I got in the room while they’re trying to pick the people who are going to be on the jury.  So the gentleman on trial was up on a drug charge, selling drugs or whatever.  So the attorneys each get to talk to the potential jurors to see who they want on the jury. 

So they call the first person up, some suburban white lady, and she just says, ‘my uncle is a cop so I just believe that everything a cop says is true’.  And the attorney tries to make an argument for the guy and she just says, ‘I just believe cops so I believe he’s guilty automatically’.  And you can see the judge rolling his eyes, like she’s saying this just to get out of being on jury duty.

The next guy gets up and just says, ‘I’m racist, that guy is African-American, and I’m racist’ because he’s also just trying to get out of jury duty.

And then they call me up and I’m thinking, ‘this is stupid, I’m just going to tell the truth’  So they ask me if there’s any reason I can’t serve.  They ask if I’ve ever been a part of the jury process.  So I let them know that one time I was a witness at a trial.  So I let them know that one time a friend was at a guy’s house and he freaked out because he took too many mushrooms so I was called to come pick him up and when I got there it turned out to be a drug dealer’s house and the police showed up, the guy got into a fight with cops.  I never got into any trouble, but I witnessed it.  So the lawyers asked why I was there and I explained it.  They asked if that situation applied to what I was being asked to be a juror for and I told them that I thought all drugs should be legal and that I didn’t think that guy should be there at all because he’s probably got his own issues.  So then the lawyer asked me, ‘so you’ve bought drugs before?’  And I said, ‘oh yeah, absolutely!’  And they asked me if I still buy drugs and I said, ‘oh, from him?  No, not from him.’

At that point the whole courtroom started laughing and the judge had to hammer his gavel.  And the prosecutor was like, ‘well, I’m going to get rid of this guy right off the bat’.  So I got out of there basically by saying that I do drugs.


(laughs)  That’s a good way to get out of jury duty.


J:  Yeah, they kicked me right out.


Well, in terms of more legal drugs, you’re a bartender.  Has that informed your music at all, seeing as it’s a social atmosphere, or you may be surrounded by music at a bar, or musicians?


I:  John only works at fancy bars.


J:  I would  say the biggest way that has influenced my music is that over the years I’ve waited on a bunch of grumpy old people that are just miserable and hate all young people, they don’t like where the world is going, they don’t understand what’s happening now.  They’re just curmudgeonly, old-attitude, and with a lot of hate.  I also get a lot of people who do the, ‘so you’re in a band’ thing.  I just try not to have that conversation.  They’re like, ‘what kind of band are you in?’ and I will sort of agonizingly say, ‘puuunk?’  And they always reply with something like, ‘oh, so like Red hot Chili Peppers?’  And I always just agree, like, yeah, sure, just so I can get out of having a conversation with them.

But then you get people who say things like, ‘I always wanted to do this, but then I didn’t’, or ‘when I was younger I did this thing and if I stuck with it…’  Of course, they’re just miserable people who work their boring-ass day jobs forever.  And now their only personality is going out to eat and get drunk and working a job they don’t like.  And I believe that is quintessential to my whole idea of ‘don’t become that’.  Whenever I find myself hearing a band and thinking ‘I don’t like this, I don’t get it’ I have to remind myself not to be old and jaded.  Or if I ever get like, ‘I’m just going to be lazy today’ I think, ‘no, there is going to be plenty of time to be lazy when you’re old.  Now is the time to do work, go on tour, and do art until my liver explodes, or I crash my bicycle into a bus.’


I:  Is this where we segue very casually (laughs), into how this whole time I’ve been trying to express that my world revolves around watching Star Trek?  I‘ve been trying to find an opening where I could ask, ‘what about Jean-Luc and his legal issues?’


(laughs) Picard has legal issues?  Are you going to spearhead space law?


I:  I’m saying that when we immigrate into space I truly hope that perhaps the profession I’m in right now will change a little bit.


J: Would you make it your job to formally define what is the Prime Directive?


I:  Yeah!  That’s pretty good.


I was going to segue into ‘does your profession inform your lyrics’ and upon my reading of Alpha Hopper lyrics, which I think can usually be open to interpretation, seem to be more about escapism than your job.  Maybe I’m wrong.


I:  No, that’s super accurate.  I don’t really write much about my job because it just feels like other people’s situations are not my story to share.  The stuff that people have to deal with is tough for them so I try not to get those stories to come out in my music.  If I’m going to scream about something I want to scream about fun things.  Maybe it’s not so much the case with our newest record, but I feel like a lot of my songs are sci-fi inspired.  And I think a lot of people, myself included, love sci-fi and I can find fun things to express with that.


I think maybe you have already planted the seed for the next Alpha Hopper record with the Star Trek- Jean Luc-Picard space law thing.


I:  We were brainstorming on ideas on how to promote our record and I thought, ‘what if we act out a scene from Star Trek, but instead of the people from Star Trek it’s us?’  Why don’t we green screen ourselves onto the set.  I think Doug (drummer) will be Picard and I’ll play Deanna Troi because I can pull the hair off.


J:  It can be “Alpha Hopper:  Captured By the Borg”


You already got a title!


I:  Our record can be packaged inside a cube.  Think about it.


ALPHA HOPPER is playing Buffalo on 8/27/21 (the link was in the beginning of this article).  Here's a flyer for it:


Sunday, August 15, 2021


 It's at that point in the summer when I'm more than ready for some rain.  Everyone thinks it just rains all the time out here in the Northwest but it's bone dry all summer.  Yeah, I know, climate change.  It's real and while some sun is nice yr boy enjoys living near the woods, not the Gobi Desert.  But speaking of heat, how about some guaranteed heaters on record right now?  All this new good stuff might be why I'm sweating out here.  Check it out:


Alright, I’m going to attempt to write my way out of confusion here.  This is a 4-way split LP, except there’s more like 5 groups present here.  Between each band an additional performer under the name Clouds Become Oceans supplies relaxing instrumental segues so as to break up the thunderous roar of the groups taking part in this thing.  So it’s more like a 5-way split?  Whatever the case, the bands listed on the front of the record all emerge out of a gnarly metal-esque/HC/sludge stew where seeing them all on the same bill would make total sense, but maybe get a little redundant?  Each band does a great take on essentially the same thing.  If this were like a 15 band compilation I’d probably get real tired of it real quick.  But since it’s four bands it makes it a little easier to separate out the differences in each.  Anthesis seem to be the most metal of the bunch.  They drop a single long and punishing slow dirge filled with anguished screams, a couple “Enemy Of the Sun”-style Neurosis parts, some blasting, and a closing section with lots of sick double bass.  Cell Press is members of Great Sabatini and Architect slugging out riffy sludge and insanely good drumming that comes off like old Melvins and Keelhaul having a petulant asshole of a kid.  You get two tracks from them, the second one “Cell Prescient” being the better/more rocking of the pair.  Greber also offer a couple grimy-ass slabs of feedback-heavy sludge with a bass so deep light fails to escape when in its presence.  Botfly closes things out with a unique sound that is a somewhat more melodic take on all the aforementioned bands.  They’re still decidedly heavy but opt for grungy-90’s heavy as played by metal dudes.  I dig it.  Eastern Canada represent. (AncientTemple Records/ No Funeral Records)


BITTER BRANCHES, “Along Came a Bastard” b/w “Fraudulent” 7”

I was somewhat dismissive about Bitter Branches debut EP last year and I think, in retrospect, that it was difficult for me to grasp Tim Singer doing vocals in any band that did not sound like a 4-alarm fire at an orphanage.  Every band he’s done to date (No Escape, Deadguy, Kiss It Goodbye, Family Man, etc) has been extremely caustic and his perpetual howl where every utterance sounds like someone just hit their last straw over and over again matched the intensity of those bands.  Bitter Branches takes a somewhat different tack.  Musically it’s still aggressive but the players seemed more schooled in Swiz and post-hardcore rocking where if Jason Farrell was on the mic things would sound completely natural.  Having these rocking, but still vicious in a different way, songs fronted by a living embodiment of Travis Bickle takes a little getting used to (especially if you’re familiar with these people’s previous bands), but once it settles in it’s really cool stuff.  These two tracks are a warm up to an LP coming some time later and I just love the cover art homage to the Sub Pop singles series. (Equal Vision Records)



All good things are worth waiting for and having the boys in Blood Sun Circle grace us with one more record, even after they have ceased being a band, is just a little taste of Christmas come early.  Even though these 7 songs were recorded a couple years back they sat dormant as the members gravitated towards other projects and life stuff, but here they finally are now to enjoy.  While those who have paid attention to their activities for years now will no doubt have expectations for anything the Gorham brothers are involved in to be heavy and super loud Blood Sun Circle has always taken a route that relies a bit more on tension and the slow build rather than immediate pummeling. Yet make no mistake, even though these songs may have a lot of parts that aren’t riddled with distortion they are still loud.  They can pierce with uneasy tension without dragging you along for too long (most songs hover near the four minute mark) and then strike in a way that sounds more like a natural progression rather than a sudden shift and it’s only after the song has passed you notice how it has cleaved clean through you.  Plus, for those keeping tabs, you can see how this has lead into some of the members current project Bent Limbs (who dropped an LP earlier this year) in terms of progression of sound into even more morose and quiet tension-filled unease.  Midway point “Pact Of Dogs” is a completely acoustic song (with violin and cello accompaniment) that could be a funeral elegy for a lonesome camping trip in the high desert, while both “Dead Ringer” and “Eyes In the Rye” have the most “aggressive” feel on the record with a sort of chugging riff in both, which is not to say ‘you’re moshing’…  more like ‘you’re in rapt attention’.  We’re grown ups here, let’s impress listeners intellect rather than get them swinging their arms. Once again, vocalist/guitarist Bob Gorham puts together a beautiful design for the record, as he has done for all the groups releases. (Drops Of Us)


BRAIN CAVE, “Log World” 7”

I’m sorry to say I’m a little late to the party with this band.  They released an incredibly wonderful full length in 2020 and I didn’t catch wind of it until the beginning of this year.  It would have easily made my top 5 records of that year had I known of it.  But here’s my chance now to fill you in on Cleveland’s Brain Cave as they have just released this new 4-song 7” that continues their post-hardcore call-to-arms.  Imagine Quicksand with an added layer of sludgy space grunge hammering out both fuzzy anthems (“Promotion To Autopilot”) and outer-space ‘ponder-the-size-of-it-all’ droning heaviness (“Final Miles”) while hiking in a misty forest as the sound of a sasquatch keeps you moving.  Which is cool because I think half these songs are about hiking by your lonesome in the woods anyway.  I’m right there with ya.  Come out to the Pacific Northwest and I’ll show you some foggy trails.  We’ll jam this record the whole time and it will be the perfect soundtrack.  Go grab this and pick up their long player “Stuck In the Mud” while you’re at it.  (Head2Wall Records)


EYECANDY, “The Promontory”

This band sounds like they could be scoring the soundtrack for “Pretty In Pink” if it were directed by Tom Hazelmeyer and the cast of “Repo Man” stopped by to do some cheap drugs.  It’s both forlorn and scuzzy.  It’s the sound of daydreaming about asking your crush to the dance but being absolutely disgusted with yourself at the thought of doing so.  I think a lot of that has to do with the vocals, which have a very ‘I want to scream but all this Xanax is making it tough’ style to them.  Imagine all the cleaner parts of Hammerhead’s “Ethereal Killer”, or Love 666 but more mid-tempo, and you got a start of what’s going on here. However, it’s not all the aforementioned.  Eyecandy seem at their most ambitious on the track “Scrap”, which starts off with boisterous post-hardcore groove as performed with as much racket as possible before moving into an unnerving and Unwound-ish quieter section, and then the whole thing explodes into a big almost symphonic, swirling caterwaul in it’s final minute. (The Ghost Is Clear)


MALLWALKERS, “Do Something Drastic”

In concept and execution a punk band like Mallwalkers should not exist.  Do you know how hard it is to manage 9 grown-ass adult musicians with grown-up lives into a functioning group, let alone playing shows and trying to split a dollar 9 ways?  That might be part of why the Buffalo collective called it quits a couple years back.  However, before splitting they managed to lay down an entire third album….  consisting of 16 tracks.  How?  Good lord.  While that just seems like too much let it be known that most of these songs average out to a couple minutes each (minus the longer opening song).  Musically things shift between bouts of brief three-chord punk bliss (“Get Some More”, “Scram”), suave post-punk deconstruction (“Half Let Down”), and rhythmic dub and added percussion (“Half Let Dub”, “Breaks”).  There’s plenty of horns (it’s NOT ska!), some organ, frequent shifts between guy-girl vocals, and 100% fun, dance-y punk rock n’ roll goodness.  Not to mention it comes in a fantastic package featuring art/layout by Ryan Besch (Your Cinema).  It’s an excellent way to go out.  There’s no reason for anyone to feel short-changed by this band when they give this much parting material of quality, wrapped up in a beautiful package.  Heck, for all I know, they put a bow on top of it too. (OnePercent Press)


QUICKSAND, “Distant Populations”

I’m not crying tears of joy, you’re crying tears of joy.  On the second album of full-on reunited Quicksand material they go back to some more aggressive sounds that were lacking just a bit on “Interiors”.  While that record was a fine return for a band that hadn’t released anything in over 20 years it definitely showed them exploring more of the melodic and space-y sounds that they were known for introducing to hardcore way back in the 90’s.  But critics will say it often leaned too hard into that side of their sound.  I tend to agree but I’m not mad about it.  “Distant Populations” still explores that side but they save it for the B-side for the most part as they play around with drifting sonics on tracks like “The Philosopher” and the interlude “Compacted Reality”.  But let me tell you about the A-side.  Yes, the A-side is heavy on the hits here as the entire first half of this album is so pleasing to the ear, as each player does what they do so well, reminding long time fans (me) why Quicksand are so special.  They evoke both the familiar, as well as taking it to the here and now, which is a hard thing to manage for bands that either reunite, or have been at it for a very long time.  Quicksand find success here and it’s an absolute joy to listen to.  From the lead off track, “Inversion” with it’s catchy sing-along, to the quick paced “Lightning Field” combining some more current aspects of their sound with a breakdown evoking some of the best of their older stuff, while “Katakana” has a serious “Can Opener” vibe to it.  I think old heads will be pleased with this, even though I don’t think of this as a band rehashing the hits, but rather bringing great elements of their past into the framework of the songwriters that they are now. (Epitaph)


STUCK, “Content That Makes You Feel Good” EP

This is the new Stuck EP and these are their problems.  Maybe I just didn’t pay attention to the lyrics in their last record, the exceptional “Change Is Bad”, but on “Content That Makes You Feel Good” guitarist/vocalist/recording engineer Greg Obis really lays out modern issues facing our society in a very direct and well-written way amongst their taut and precise post-punk clatter.  They’re very good at making their sound come off as minimalist yet inserting a number of elements which really add a lot of depth, emotion, and catchiness to their overall sound.  And going back to the lyrics, each song builds upon an issue; whether it be the non-stop work cycle, the scam of the gig economy, or the abuse suffered by demonstrators during last summers marches against police violence in Chicago; and it culminates in a ‘the whole system is flawed’ analysis on “White Lie” before concluding with bringing it back to personal accountability to reach out to those we think we may not have anything in common with (but probably more than we think) on “Playpen Of Dissent”.   If it’s laid out that way on purpose I applaud them for constructing the EP like a story of sorts, and if not, well, congratulations anyway.  I think I am especially surprised because this is a band that I think most people appreciate due to their expertise at refining noise rock and post-punk into perfectly distilled rock weirdness that you can hum along to.  It’s not often a band of this style has a lot to say in a way that speaks to all, and additionally doesn’t come off as lecturing or preachy.  An excellent EP all around in terms of subject matter as well as being sonically exciting. (Exploding In Sound)

Thursday, August 5, 2021



GRIZZLOR, Connecticut’s most aggressively annoyed noise rock trio, return with their second LP, “Hammer Of Life”, out this fall on Hex Records and the band’s own Hermit Cave imprint.

After a couple years of down time where the group began breaking in a new drummer and churning out the “Coolness Factor 6” EP the reinvigorated lineup found themselves in a writing flurry, which has resulted in the 11 new tracks on “Hammer Of Life”.

Guitarist/vocalist Vic Dowgiallo once again handled all the recording and mixing duties (via the band’s own Hermit Cave Studios) and arranged for the art and layout for the record.  Hex Records has once again jumped in to handle production and distribution for this assault on humanity.

GRIZZLOR has not strayed from their mission- carpet bomb away the stress of daily living in society with loud, abrasive, and riff-addled noise rock with warped and irritated vocals.  Song titles such as “I Don’t like You”, “Live Negative” and “Death By Wetsaw” ought to give some indication of their modus operandi.

Comparisons to the likes to early Melvins, Drunks With Guns, Weedeater, and Deadguy would not be out of place and are in line with the general vibe of misanthropy, self-isolation, and disappointment with society in general.

“Hammer Of Life” will be available on October 1st, 2021 on digital and CD worldwide.  Vinyl copies will be available shortly thereafter (approx. November 2021).


And as of today you can hear the first single from the record, "Talking To Yourself" over at New Noise Magazine.  Check that out HERE.

Pre-order the CD/digital/LP HERE or HERE!


GRIZZLOR will be doing a handful of shows leading up to the release of “Hammer Of Life”, including a stint heading down to No Coast Festival in Denton, TX, which will serve as the record release show for the record.



OK, next order of business:  PINKO, "You & You" repress...  where is it?  It's coming very soon.  Just like every other record on Earth lately they're all delayed by a myriad of factors.  This is an issue with every pressing plant.  But the latest news from the pressing plant is that they are going to press within another week, so I'm hopeful this thing will quickly get wrapped up and into your mitts.  Planning on shipping the week of 8/16.


There's a few of the special covers left and you can grab that HERE.


Last bit of business:  BANDCAMP DAY IS BACK!   So on Friday, 8/6/2021 Bandcamp will be foregoing their cut of sales so that means it's a good time to grab some things, like pre-ordering the new GRIZZLOR, or any of the other deals we always have going on.  Additionally, we will be selling off another test press, this time ALPHA HOPPER, "Alpha Hex Index".  When I say I put a lot of time into these test presses I'm not kidding around.  This may be the most complex of them all with multiple block print layers, reflective paper, and even a friggin' handmade OBI strip!

Take a look and tune in on Friday!


Sunday, July 18, 2021


 It felt like the first half of this year was kind of slow and then all of a sudden- BOOM_ everything has been happening all at once.  I'm guessing I'm not alone in that feeling am I?  Well, that same notion has occurred to me with musical offerings this year.  At least, for me, only a few things really jumped out at me so far, but now a whole bunch of really cool stuff is making me take a second look and you can read about some of it here.

AMENRA, “De Doorn”

I’ve seen this band twice now and I cannot grasp it to save my life.  When the seemingly unending wave of Neurosis/Isis worship bands started falling from the sky like frogs in a biblical reckoning it got so boring, so quick I was really hoping the end of days was near.  Amenra seemed to spring up around this time as well, some 15 or so years back.  But let’s be completely clear:  there is, and only ever will be, one Neurosis.  Anything else is just an imitator to the throne.  Perhaps the reigning kings are a bit more forgiving because one of the times I saw Amenra was on tour with Neurosis (and I thought, ‘why is a Neurosis clone opening for Neurosis?’) and Neurot Records released several Amenra albums.  But here we are and they have a new record, and I’m still just as unswayed by these 10 minute songs as I was the other times I’ve seen them do this live.  It’s basically intense doom music with extremely quiet spoken parts and then giant heavy, repetitive parts that- while clearly emotional to the band- are about as exciting to me as having a dream about filing my taxes. I’m utterly perplexed as to why this band receives acclaim elsewhere.  To me this has about as much atmosphere as Pluto.  So either I’m shallow and my taste in music sucks, or people who enjoy this are also the same types who drive 30 in a 55 and take 20 minutes at a self-checkout to sort through 5 items. (Relapse)



Ithaca’s Chimes Of Bayonets returns with their second EP in a pretty short amount of time.  While I thought their last record lacked a bit in terms of a recording that captured their sound all that well (or maybe it was just a fairly new band getting their bearings) this one sounds quite full, maybe as a result of just natural growth as a band or maybe having J. Robbins mix your record…  maybe a bit of both?  Either way, these are fellas that have played together for quite some time, having done a handful of records as Why+The+Wires.  But with any new (new-ish?) band, regardless of familiar players it takes time to sort out what you’re aiming for with a different project.  That all being said, these three new tunes are more fully formed and sound straight out of the later 90’s Southern Records catalog- Ui, Atombombpocketknife, Dianogah, even a little bit of Sweep the Leg Johnny; all good stuff combining for somewhat math-y indie with a bit of saxophone for texture.  It works.  (Habitforming Records)



The set up and pace of Godflesh, as played by Slint.  Two dudes and a drum machine going really slow and sort of heavy, but doesn’t quite match the mechanized sludge of the doom and gloom overlords.  Rather they come with a more indie-ish (even with some nods to melody!) take on that monolithic sound.  They dropped an EP last year and one of those songs gets a redo on this 8 song full length, and I feel like that EP had an overall heavier sound than this outing.  It’s neither a good nor a bad thing, but I can’t totally say this is chubbing me up either.  It’s a decent effort of slowcore and, for my own taste, it takes a certain kind of band for me to enjoy an album’s worth of songs that regularly go over the 6 minute mark.  Daughters of St. Crispin ain’t half bad, but it’s not necessarily for me. (Phratry/ Force Publique)



At this point Drug Church is just about maintaining consistency.  Unless their upcoming full length (of which this EP is basically a teaser) starts throwing in bagpipes or a Theremin or something it’s a pretty sure bet the band will continue their solid streak of post-hardcore rock for all to enjoy.  That shouldn’t be read as the band being complacent and getting stale.  They seem to still have plenty of good ideas that come out in the form of fun riffs, cynical/clever lyrics, and an obsession with groups like Seaweed, Chavez, and maybe a more aggressive Culture Abuse.  It all works very well for them and it’s highly enjoyable to listen to.  They may have honed in on better recording techniques, or tapped into melody a bit more (as spotlighted in the Arcwelder cover closing out the EP), but its just dudes who were already good at what they do doing better.  This is only 4 songs (and around 10 minutes) so it may be a stretch to drop LP money on this, but it’s very worthy of throwing a few bucks at and checking out in anticipation of their next full length. (Pure Noise)


EKULU, “Unscrew My Head”

Hardcore often demands redundancy.  It’s a big reason why I like to stretch the boundaries and incorporate other styles into my definition of it because otherwise 5,000 bands that all sound the same gets pretty boring after awhile.  So what do you do when the kids just want to mosh their faces off without carefully considering an interesting timing structure in a song, or incorporating brainy lyrics that don’t exactly lend themselves to a pile-up sing-along, but you want to push the genre?  That’s the trick many hardcore bands fail to accomplish.  You have to be clever with nudging the sound into exciting new realms by pretending you’re doing the same thing as the others, but just doing it better and sneaking in those flourishes where others might not notice (though opening salvo “Becoming/New Life Jam” make it pretty clear this won’t be a typical ride on the mosh train).  Ekulu is really good at that.  On the surface they sound like a New York hardcore band with some metallic leanings.  But you listen to what the drums are doing (like on the title track), or how the guitars throw in leads and solos without being overly indulgent, the vocals having a semi-Integrity quality to them, and then absolutely crushing breakdowns that will turn any logical pondering into total right brain reptile savagery in moments.  Ekulu exists somewhere between other hardcore bands with exceptionally talented players like Rule Them All (sans some of the more melodic tendencies) or Take Offense (minus as much of the Suicidal Tendencies), and filtered through some classic NYHC.  It’s a great debut LP after a couple 7”s that I’m sure a ton of people have been waiting on.  Just try not to lose your shit between the endings of both, “Half Alive” or “Pick Your Fight”.  Bet you can’t. (Cash Only Records)


GLOOP, “Crayon Sun”

This is already the West Virginia bands third record in about as many years and they just get weirder, and somehow more catchy at the same time.  Somewhere in the realm of sassy-chaotic punk (think much of the 31G or Gold Standard Labs catalog), but without the immediate annoyances that come with a categorization of that type, Gloop have something a bit different going on.  If you enjoy contemporaries like Trvss or USA Nails then meet your new baby daddy.  They even bring to mind some 90’s Touch n’ Go vibes via The Monorchid on “Old Man Flower” or “A Hole In the Nest”.  However, they are able to lay down some heavy in a serpentine, tactical sort of way (check like most of the B-side) just as easily as they can wind up and let loose with the spazz stuff (note previously mentioned tracks).  This is their best effort by far and it’s very impressive for those who dig the wilder side of things.  (Grimoire Records)


THE GRASSHOPPER LIES HEAVY, “A Cult That Worships a God Of Death”

Known for being aggressively all over the map in the past, as well as mostly instrumental, San Antonio’s The Grasshopper Lies Heavy returns with a new full length that reins in the variety a bit, but still gives you two sides of their wide palette of sound for a pretty awesome listening experience.  The first half of the record is a sonic pummeling full of burly manthems (yes, I made that word up) that acolytes of Breather Resist will surely give their stamp of approval to.  That’s the half with lots of vocals and plenty of riffs, save for the 3 minute intro that is mostly feedback.  The second half kicks off with the title track, over 8 minutes split into several sections, but worry not!  Between that and the almost-as-long following track “Bullet Curtain” the band is able to keep the attention of the listener throughout as big ‘ol chunky riffs collide with strange melodies back-and-forth that not only shows a skill for writing longer songs, but also not being so self-indulgent that the listener is bored to tears.  It’s a quality skill to have.  So yes, an overall more concise offering from TGLH yet still manages to showcase a range of hostility.  Well done. (Learning Curve Records)


KNUB demo

Break out the 90’s dust bin and look to such long-forgotten dollar rack CDs such as Sugar Tooth, or maybe Stompbox.  How about some Handsome and early STP, or maybe even “Aftertaste”-era Helmet for something a bit more recognizable….  Therein you will find the source material for the debut EP from Baltimore’s Knub.  Four songs so dialed in to early/mid-90s on-the-cusp-of-commercial-grunge that each purchase comes with a pre-ripped flannel shirt, a pair of Doc Martens, and some hair bleach.  If it sounds like I’m being a jerk just know that I’m absolutely giddy about this release.  I’m a sucker for this sort of post-hardcore riff machine that likely requires a fission reactor just to power the RAT pedals dirty-ing up their racket.  It’s probably one of the best demos I’ve heard all year.  A lot of bands give this sound a shot, and a bunch are good but don’t grasp the sound quite accurately.  Knub may have actually time-travelled from the Lollapalooza ’93 side-stage just to bring the past to you, now.  I fully embrace it, as should you, as it barfs its way into the future.  It’s like a cinder block coated in strawberry frosting.  Feel free to take this t-shirt idea:  Eddie Murphy in his SNL grown-up “Buckwheat” character with the caption “I Lub Knub”. (self-released/tapes via The Ghost Is Clear)



Remain Sedate, formerly known as Crisis Actor, may have re-christened themselves as a clear ode to Rorschach, but their music is a few generations removed from the godfathers of chaotic hardcore.  You have Rorschach, which begat Deadguy and Converge, which begat Botch and Coalesce, which gave youngins like Every Time I Die and Norma Jean a twinkle in their eyes, which spawned a million shitty offspring.  So where does Remain Sedate fall in the endless branching of this vast tree?  Well, they’re certainly on the young end, which may make their immediate connection to the originators a bit hard to grasp (no one can control when they’re born), or for their intentions to feel genuine.  Musically I think they have more in common with a group like Turmoil, who certainly loved themselves some Deadguy stuff (and did great things with that influence), but were rooted more firmly in metallic hardcore- emphasis on hardcore- at their base.  Remain Sedate sound like a heavy, metallic-leaning hardcore band who like some chaos in their sound.  It’s a good first full length that may not quite tap into the energy of the OGs, but it does a decent job of carrying the torch in an updated way. (self-released) *this record has not been released yet so attached is music from their previous EP

Tuesday, June 29, 2021


 Yes indeed, shows have returned.  So get your shit together, break out that dusty calendar, and if you're still (for some stupid fucking reason) not vaccinated go do that so you can not be a dick.  Good?  Alright.

Here's a list of a bunch of Hex-related bands and their plans, as much as I can reveal for now.

ALSO, if you keep scrolling, I've added the piece on Gaytheist from Translate zine #10 in which our man Jason Rivera gives his perspective on how he and his band handled things over the last year...  with more than a dash of humor, of course.


8/27- Mohawk Place, Buffalo, NY



7/17- Mysterioso Ranch, Austin, TX w/ Easy Prey, Glassing

10/1-10/3- No Coast Fest, Denton, TX



7/23- Southgate Roller Rink, Seattle, WA

7/24- Kenton Club, Portland, OR ("How Long Have I Been On Fire?" year-later record release!)

8/7- Mississippi Studios, Portland, OR


7/10- Focal, Pawtucket, RI

8/14- Cafe 9, New Haven, CT

9/29- Asheville, NC

9/30- Memphis, TN w/ Pressed, Moon Pussy

10/1- Denton, TX No Coast Fest

10/2- Little Rock, AR

10/3- Nashville, TN


8/19- Nashville, TN @ Exit In w/ Yautja


7/17- Lonesome Rose, San Antonio, TX w/ Grasshopper Lies Heavy


11/5- Salford, UK

11/6- Leeds, UK

11/13- London, UK

Gaytheist are my favorite band in Portland (well, to get real local-specific, they actually reside just over the river in Vancouver, but we’ll let that slide).  Not only do they create great music that is all loud and heavy, and also catchy and fun, but they bring joy.  Despite some of their lyrics weighing in on weighty issues (which is why they’re probably, like, so heavy….  man) it is joyous to listen to them and to see them play live.  They are prone to humor, which is inserted into the songs, but especially in the live between-song banter from frontman Jason Rivera.  So I thought it best to ask him to write a little bit about the world of Gaytheist in 2020 because as much as this year sucked, it’s always good to get a bit of a laugh in here and there.  If you can’t laugh you may as well cry, right?  Does that apply here?

Plus, if I do say so myself, our man is being a little modest.  Yes, the band had some big plans, but they actually pulled off more than is alluded to here with not only releasing their new full length, but also a split 7” and playing two live stream sets (one of which was at a coastal beach house no less).  Who says you can’t be productive in the face of a crippling, worldwide, stress-inducing, panic-driven pandemic?


Gaytheist: 2020

We are the only people in the world having a bad 2020.

(I was trying to think of the lamest thing I could say to open this article. I feel I have succeeded.)

Mr. Hex Records, Ryan Caravan, asked me to write about this year for Gaytheist, the band that I play guitar and sing and write with.

Naturally I said, "fuck no I don't do shit for anyone!" Then he pointed to page 713, clause 34-12A of our recording contract: "You will write one article for Hex before 2020 ends or you will be crushed physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually and spiritually". I was all like whatever. I did it because I wanted to and not because of "contracts" and "threats".

When this year began, unlike everyone else in the world, we had plans.

2019 had started out to be another year-in-pause for Gaytheist. Nick had just teamed up with High On Fire to learn their set and go on tour with them. Half way into the year, HoF and Nick parted ways (this story is explained in the lyrics to "Separate Ways" by Journey, who likely also asked Nick to drum for them) and we were back in action. At the start of summer 2019 we recorded a new album with Stephan Hawkes. Ryan got wind and approached us about releasing the album on Hex Records in early 2020. Yes please!

So 2020 started, and most of you don't know this, but things were about to change...

We ramped up to an April 2020 release date. Spent the start of the year booking like crazy, all kinds of shows across US and Canada. Hex put together record release parties in Portland and Seattle. Plans to shoot two music videos starting in late March. Everything was coming up Gaytheist.

Then, a virus designed only to hurt our careers was developed and released by Donald Trump himself as a desperate measure to keep Gaytheist from getting popular.

IT WORKED. For now.

What was to be a year of triumph was transformed into a year of meh.

The record release parties were replaced with sitting at home in a mask.

The first tour was replaced with sitting on my thumbs at home in a mask.

The Canada shows were converted to sitting on my thumbs with my legs crossed at home in a mask.

Roller skating rink party? Instead I sat on my thumbs, legs crossed, prone, at home in a mask.

Still, we managed to finish a music video with the talented James Rexroad and Jayson Smith. Most of the video was shot before quarantine. The rest was finished afar. My understanding is that Jayson and James spent most of the editing apart from each other, sitting on their thumbs, legs crossed, prone, breathing slowly, at home in masks.

Eventually the opening track, "The Dark Deep", off our Hex Records 2020 release, "How Long Have I Been on Fire?", had a music video. We discussed, as the Spring turned to Summer, of having a video release party of some kind.

Instead, we sat on our thumbs, legs crossed, prone, slowly breathing, in a full panic, at home in masks.

I know none of you can understand, as you were not the personal target of a madman hell bent on destroying our careers with a specially designed virus that only affected Gaytheist.

But you could at least try, you selfish piece of shit.

Thanks for reading!