Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The end of 2009 brings some really awesome news- first off... ACHILLES shows! Yes, it's rare, but fuck me sideways if it isn't always an amazing event when the dudes decide to (or I should say, have the time to) play a couple shows!
Second bit of awesome news- THE HELM are coming back to the East Coast for a post-X-Mas/ New Years run of East Coast dates. This will be a very special event for these guys as they will be flying out to play some shows and they'll be doing all of it with OAK & BONE. Most of the dates are firmed up (or close to) with just one TBA (so if you live in the Northeast fill it!)
So anyway, check out the shows:


Thurs., 11.19- Syracuse, NY @ Westcott CC w/ Prayers For Atheists, Counterpursuit
Fri., 11.20- Albany, NY @ Chapel House w/ Prayers For Atheists, Mistletoe
Sat., 11.21- Bethleham, PA @ Secret Show Space w/ Prayers For Atheists, Mistletoe
Sat., 12.12- Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon w/ Another Breath, Achilles, Engineer
* tour with THE HELM
Sun., 12.27- New York, NY @ 538 Johnson Ave.
Mon., 12.28- Providence, RI
Tues., 12.29- Boston, MA
Wed., 12.30- TBA
Thurs., 12.31- Rochester, NY
Fri., 1.1.10- Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon Annual New Years Day show w/ Black S.S., etc
Sat., 1.2.10- Philly, PA
Sun., 1.3.10- Baltimore, MD

Sat., 12.12- Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon w/ Another Breath, Oak & Bone, Engineer, This Is Hell
Sun., 12.13- Rochester, NY @ Dubland Underground w/ Rosetta, The Body, Like Wolves

Fri., 11.20- Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon w/ Stay Six, The Hideout

THE HELM- Northeast tour with Oak & Bone
Sun., 12.27- New York, NY @ 538 Johnson Ave.
Mon., 12.28- Providence, RI
Tues., 12.29- Boston, MA
Wed., 12.30- TBA
Thurs., 12.31- Rochester, NY
Fri., 1.1.10- Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon Annual New Years Day show w/ Black S.S., etc
Sat., 1.2.10- Philly, PA
Sun., 1.3.10- Baltimore, MD

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Hey all... so in keeping with my word to get a bit ahead on all this stuff I have a fat stack of reviews here. Actually, it's not that many, just more than normal. So read on brave explorer.

ATOM AGE, “Epidemic” 3” CD
There are three songs on this mini-CD. The whole thing clocks in at just under three minutes and the first minute and a half of the last song is a mid-paced intro while the last 20 seconds of it is a grinding blast of fastcore. That leaves the other two songs at about 30 second each. That’s it. Infest worship that sounds like it was recorded in a garbage can, yet somehow gets a good bass sound with that ridiculously thick fart sound. I can get down with this, but moreso in the live setting. (

“BETWEEN RESISTANCE AND COMMUNITY: A Documentary About Long Island DIY Punk”
Instantly upon watching this documentary something about it felt a bit dated, and once I actually read the linear notes I noticed it was made in 2002. I’m not sure why it’s just coming out now, but my guess is that it is being re-released for a larger, or different, audience. Nevertheless, it’s pretty difficult to encapsulate the entire Long Island punk-hardcore scene in 45 minutes, even if it is just focusing on one particular year. A number of (now defunct) bands are featured and their opinions on what it means to be involved in DIY punk as they go on their first tours, hang out in their hometowns, play house shows, and so on. Additionally, a handful of other contributors to the scene, most notably those who host shows in their homes, offer up their feelings and experiences. In one sense it’s your typical run through one summer full of shows, hanging out, going on tour, and getting an idea of what life is like in one small corner of the Long Island punk scene. In another sense, it’s a little strange to see people who are clearly a lot younger, and thus a bit more naive, speak about a particular local band signing to Revelation and how that somehow constitutes a complete change in ethics, ideals, and seems to be on par with committing war crimes. I also like how whoever made this made some completely false statements about that label and blew them up to be some massive faceless corporate entity. It’s almost laughable in a sense. Tired old debates aside, it’s a fun little romp that probably isn’t too much different than any DIY scene in the country and people’s experiences within it. If only this was a bit longer one would be able to (hopefully) see a lot more of the Long Island scene, which has always turned out a variety of different and awesome bands, and also had it’s fair share of cool venues (anyone remember Free Space?). Lots of live footage to boot. (Cantankerous Titles,

It’s great to know there is a semi-regular local zine that focuses on the local almost exclusively. I feel it’s necessary to promote one’s scene to the rest of the world (or at least anyone willing to listen) to show that there is a distinct flavor to our town. And anyone in any other town should feel the same way. There’s nothing more bland than cookie-cutter carbon copy scenes that seem to permeate the nation where no one and nothing is any different no matter where you go. Blech! So thank you Josh Smith for stepping up and showing others what’s going on in Syracuse. Here we have tour reports from a few Syracuse bands and the adventure’s the incurred on the road over the Summer. There are a few columns from some locals and a great interview with one of the most quality pop-culture sub-referencing men in town, Black S.S. guitarist and local tattoo artist Mike Tommyrot. Yeah, it’s a quick read for the whole zine, but one I enjoy each and every issue. (Barbarossa Records,

FIGHT AMP, “Manners and Praise”
I’m hoping these Philly-area dudes developed elephantitis of the groin-area because they’re going to need some pretty big stones to follow up the full-on face-rager that was “Hungry For Nothing”, their last full length. That record made a such full on attack against anything moving that I think it was brought up on crimes against humanity (in a good way though, like opening fire on a shopping mall the day after Thanksgiving) so here’s hoping “Manners and Praise” holds up just as well. In my assessment it comes kind of close, but not quite. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but maybe it doesn’t quite have the same killer opening salvo like the last record did? I think it might be more in the overall recording. While “Hungry..” didn’t exactly have the hottest recording, something about how filthy it was just made it that much better. This one sounds a bit more polished and clean, and that sort of thing doesn’t doesn’t resonate with me quite as well seeing as this band deals in grimey punk noise rock the way local mall developers deal in crooked deals with the city. Yes, I’m actually kind of vouching for a shitty recording here, I know. But believe me, it would kind of work in their favor. Fight Amp can write a riff that would drill it’s way into your skull and hammer it in with obscene amounts of volume in less than two minutes. That’s’ the mark of good band. So yes, good record. It just needs to be a little shittier ya know? (Translation Loss,

HEART SOUNDS, “Until We Surrender”
So these two kids from a metal band got sick of doing that and decided to go write a pop-punk record together. It’s nice when people can drop what’s sort of expected of them and try something new and that’s what this dude and lady did. I don’t think it quite works as well as they wanted, but it’s OK. I’ve never actually heard this group, but this is what I think in my head Paramore probably sounds like. I could be totally wrong. But the basic idea is real melodic, pop rock played slightly faster with ultra polished production and female vocals. You can tell they want to escape their metal roots, but still can’t quite get away from it as some random over-the-top guitar flourishes come into play every now and again. And is it me, or do other people think that Horsebites Design stuff is overhyped. I mean honestly, some of their work is OK but a lot of it really isn’t all that great. (Creator Destructor Records,

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anything new that Jello Biafra has done. It’s not that the guy hasn’t been keeping busy, I just haven’t been keeping score. But if you have any mild inclination towards punk music you ought to at least be familiar with the man and his ultra-nasally, totally fucking weird voice that has been a staple of the scene for the last 25+ years. This new band, or project, or whatever (which also happens to be rounded out by former Faith No More bassist Billy Gould) kind of treads the same territory that Biafra has done in the past and as far as lyrical fare goes... well, again, cynical takes on current events with clever wit and vicious sarcasm on the evils of the world. Pot shots at the hype/’hope’ of a new administration, environmental wreckage, America in the shitter... you know the drill. I feel like I’d enjoy this more if it was just a 7” instead of a full length because let’s be perfectly honest- Jello Biafra’s voice gets on my fucking nerves after awhile. It’s certainly an asset for instantly grabbing you by the throat and forcing you to listen. But after 4 or 5 songs it just gets irritating, especially when the rest of the band refuses to let a song die before the four minute mark. The point is made after two minutes. Wrap it up. We get it. All that aside some of this is good stuff. It just needs to get done with faster. I feel like the most interesting thing here is the varied art (no credit given to anyone) adorning the layout, from a very Obey-inspired cover to the cartoon-ish poster inside. (Alternative Tentacles,

This group falls into something that’s not quite full-on stoner rock, or heavy metal, or hardcore, but instead a little bit from each column for a pretty bitchin’ heavy mix. Maybe some Eyehategod minus a good deal of the feedback, perhaps some Kylesa without getting too far into left field. I definitely like it though. Unfortunately it’s only two songs though each is a decent length so it sorta makes it all work out. I’d definitely be stoked to hear a few more though. (Forcefield,

MAYFLOWER, “Lighter Fluid” 7”
A couple years ago some Oswego-area kids started a band for fun to play gruff East Bay-style pop-punk and the result was sloppy, East Bay-style pop punk with lots of depressing lyrics and lightning quick three chord jams. It was alright. Since that time Mayflower has become a bit more serious, added and subtracted some members and is now full force, realizing what I think they were aiming for in the first place. Reminiscent of groups like Off With Their Heads in terms of gruff vocals and a highly cynical lyrical wit this self-released 7” showcases a couple of songs from an as-yet unreleased full length, as well as an additional song exclusive to the record. It’s good to hear a band that understands what pop punk ought to be and not the shitty mall version most people are familiar with. It’s not always pretty, it’s typically very rough around the edges, but it definitely gets a party started. I’ve seen these guys a lot and it’s always in a small place and for some reason the only place where I feel the perfect setting for them is in someone’s garage, playing on the fly before the cops show up to shut things down. One of the best parts of this record is the matrix scratching, which just furthers the dark humor present here: “Live simple, die complicated”. Right on. (

NEW NOISE zine #1
I’m really liking this re-emergence of locals creating print zines that are not only committed to documenting the scene, but quality as well. For a first issue this is very well done- very clean and simple layout, comprised entirely of interviews (Polar Bear Club, Unholy, Not Sorry, Foundation, etc) and reviews (think lengthy Skyscraper style). While that may sound average to most I feel like for a first outing it’s a great attempt. Plus, upon reading this one can see the desire to work towards making this as good as can be. This also comes with a comp CD of mostly local bands that’s pretty sweet. My suggestion for next issue though- break out the spellcheck brother because this is a grammatical nightmare at times. Otherwise, everything else is pretty top notch! (

This rather short-lived New Jersey band is pretty much what you’d get when you get a few guys who like Black Flag just as much as they like Rage Against the Machine and bob Marley. The band is composed of former members of Charge, and follow a similar path, albeit a little straight ahead punk sounding. This CD collects all their recorded output into a nifty limited screenprinted package. It’s pretty cool. Shawn makes for a pretty good vocalist, but on songs like “Brainwash Mind Games”, which have a far more laid-back Bad Brains style reggae feel the screaming just doesn’t really fit. Overall though, if you dig this sort of hardcore mish-mash of sounds Overstand is a pretty cool band to check into, even if they may not really be a band anymore? (Gaotu Records,

This is a pretty cool idea- get a bunch of people together who have first hand experience with significant physical ailments to contribute pieces on their condition and how their life has been affected because of it. In one sense it’s very depressing, and quite frankly, filled me with a sense of dread about my own mortality for a few minutes each night I picked this up and read through a few more stories. On the other hand, it was exceptionally informative in certain respects as well. I’ve never personally had to deal with something temporary (yet long-lasting) like Lyme Disease, or 100% life changing like cancer so I learned about a bunch of new diseases/ genetic disorders that the contributors have faced, or are facing. Some people discuss how they discovered their illness and what they have done to make life easier on themselves because of it, some discuss the total fucking displeasure of dealing with doctors and insurance (something I think anyone can understand), or how frustrating it can be. Some offer up tips of how to deal with these issues as well. There is a lot of talk of how to comfort friends and loved ones who are dealing with major illness, and so on. There is one recurring issue within these pages that irks me though, and you can call me callous and shallow for it, but it doesn’t change my opinion. That would be this idea that the world needs to accommodate one person because it’s a some sort of radical punk thing to make ‘radical spaces to talk about illness’... listen, not everything has to be ‘radical’ OK? If you have some crazy immune issues and you CHOOSE to live with dirty crusty kids why do you think it’s their responsibility to not dumpster possibly bacteria-infested food just so you might not get sick? The smarter option would probably be to not live with filthy crust punks, right? It’s this, ‘the world revolves around me’ thing that drives me nuts and reading about it just makes me sympathize less for your situation. People who have serious health issues that choose to live in a way that is working against their health shouldn’t get a free pass on sympathy. That’s just my take. Other than the little annoyances this definitely is informative and gives a window into a subject I don’t typically explore too much. (Microcosm,

I know this band is still kind of new so I’m giving them a free pass on not quite knowing what they want to be just yet. Of everything they throw at you it’s all heavy and pretty bitchin’ overall, but I just can’t quite figure what they’re actually going for. At times there’s a strong From Ashes Rise style of crusty hardcore mixed with some more traditional metal. At other points they go for the Mastodon thing with plenty of riffy noodling. In fact, parts of the third track (“The Watchful Eye”) sounds so close to “Blood and Thunder” you’d think it was a cover, or that Neil Fallon was waiting in the background, ready to jump in and make a cameo. A number of other influences poke their head in and make themselves known. It’s a decent first effort, but it just needs some time to get a bead on what their aim is. (Translation Loss,

Here we have the last recording of this short-lived Syracuse band and it’s a full length of chill jams that continue what they were doing with their demo. Think clean and meandering guitar lines that have a sort of jazzy feel, mixed with maybe a bit of early Tortoise stuff, anchored by thick and simple bass parts and somewhat intricate drumming. The percussion is definitely keeping time in unique ways and full of flourishes so that some of these songs appear to build up to more monumental climaxes, yet it’s never overkill. So in that respect it achieves a pretty cool dynamic overall. Nice home recording and cool handmade packages round it out for a band that has a kind of Chicago- Steve Albini thing, but way more chill vibe. I imagine listening to this when sitting on a porch of a seaside cottage, thinking about Regulator Watts or something. Yup. (no contact)

It may be ignorance on my part, but I really had no idea that there were two different bands on this record. They both sound the same. That’s not to say they’re bad because they both rock a very No Idea Records style of catchy and accessible punk with a hint of Superchunk going on. Cool stuff. They like cats a lot. Fine by me, I like cats too. (Forcefield Records,

WHITE GUILT demo tape
I’m quite aware that whatever sort of criticism I may lob towards this local band regarding the almost unlistenable quality of this recording they clearly will not give a flying fuck and will continue bashing out crazy noise with little to no regard for others hearing. Most definitely taking cues from current hot shit bands like Drunkdriver and Cult Ritual, White Guilt goes for primal fast noise, near powerviolence levels of speed, and bizarre vocal reverb, and throws it all in your gapping maw like so much burning trash down your gullet. I can definitely get behind the extremely raw nature of this group’s intent. I’d just prefer to hear it in a bit more cohesive manner. Of course, I don’t think that will happen. (Barbarossa records,

Sunday, November 8, 2009


So a couple weeks ago I threw a big show in recognition of running Hex Records for the last 10 years. So I assembled a pretty sweet lineup of bands on the label, or that I've at least done records for at one time or another. Everything went pretty freakin' awesome in my opinion.
Highlights included Ed Gein playing at the Westcott Community Center for the first time in about 3 or 4 years, Prize Country's first time in Syracuse (as well as additional free after show with Git Some) to very warm reception, the final No Idols show after a three year absence, and a swine flu-ridden Pat Kindlon from End Of a Year singing with a surgical mask.... yikes!
The first 25 people in the door got a free copies of a special numbered edition of the Hex Records 10 Year Anniversary compilation (of which there are just a few remaining before the real version comes out... there's actually not much difference at all), as well as a raffle for test pressings of some of the records that were released on Hex this year.
Check the photos below for some of the action. All black and white pics, plus the Night Owls pic were taken by Enrique Blanco. Go to his page for some additional photos from this show and the after show. The rest were taken by me.

Crowd at beginning of show
Hanging dudes
Night Owls
Oak and Bone
End Of a Year
Prize Country
No Idols
Ed Gein