MOVING TARGETS seem to have been lurking just underneath the surface since I discovered The Greater Punk. I picked up Brave Noise at Shadowplay Records in Campus Corner in Norman around 1990, and discerning diggers will recognize most of the their catalog from forays through used bins over the years. But these records not to skipped, not to be passed over...MOVING TARGETS are to be celebrated. To be listened to repeatedly on long drives. Their songs should be a part of you just like their (used) records are a part of your record shopping experiences. Brave Noise and Fall (1989 and 1991, respectively) are the two most common scores, though it should come as no surprise that the first full platter, 1986's Burning In Water is still my go-to. Historically, file this alongside contemporaries like DINOSAUR JR., (early) SOUL ASYLUM, (mid-'80s) HÜSKER DÜ and so forth (all four of their LPs were on Taang!, so the punk/hardcore connection is inescapable even beyond their sound), but the discordant melody of those walls of guitars are worth a special mention because they put the band in their own category. "Shape Of Some Things" starts with a Plastic Surgery Disasters-caliber wail before settling into it's own, and the guitar seems to teeter effortlessly between post-hardcore DC/Dischord and the less aggressive sounds that dominated the college radio airwaves at the time. I can see MOVING TARGETS on a stage with (later) WIPERS or GUADALCANAL DIARY just as easily as FUGAZI, and there's an easy line to draw between this sound and modern bands like NEON PISS. Spend some time, get to know them....if you don't already.
12 November 2018
11 November 2018
It's that four on the floor stomp that you love, but GRUMP are fukkn faaast, and that speed makes my ears perk up from the first drop. The guitars are weird as shit, like just that track on the recording was laid down on a damaged dumpstered reel and then cranked higher than everything else in the mix, making for an anxiety riddled dose of hardcore mania. This one is a few years old, but comes from the same family of Halifax mutants that I have celebrated here before....and today I celebrate GRUMP.
10 November 2018
A tribute to Malcolm X recorded in Chicago in 1968, The Malcolm X Memorial chronicles a life in four movements through avant-jazz and blues and an improvisationally tinged free-bop that makes me want to do nothing except dive into Philip Cohran's extensive but somewhat obscure catalog. Most noted for his stint in Sun Ra's ARKESTRA, Cohran spent years in Chicago nurturing and playing with younger musicians (Chaka Khan and EARTH WIND & FIRE, to name a couple), curating the Affro-Arts Theater and helping create the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians....there's a lot more to say about an under the radar icon who died last year at 90, but instead I suggest focusing on this brilliant 35 minute long performance - if the purpose was to take the listener on a journey, then mission accomplished. From the innocence of "Malcolm Little" to the tension in "El Hajj Malik El Shabazz," Cohran's ensemble carries and transports the listener, even though this trip is a half century in our past. Highest recommendation for reflective sonic escapes.
Like the Sonny Sharrock post from few weeks back, these sounds were put to tape by the Good People at Loathed Sound Department...
09 November 2018
It's so much harder to find this combination of influences and approaches in one band playing in any kind of modern era, but bands like PLATYPUS SCOURGE weren't uncommon in North American punk's second solid DIY wave. Kicking around Sacramento starting in the late 1980s, these kids have (had) elements of emo/posi-era 7 SECONDS, the lazy, jangly Jasper Thread guitars, and California punk all with a pervasive high school punk band awkwardness. I would stop short of calling PLATYPUS SCOURGE good, but the chorus of "Sunny Disposition" is undeniable, and the endearing "If I Had The Nerve" is an over the top example of unrequited teenage adoration. "No Nukes" is an actual rocker, and the occasional pop bass, the unnecessary whoas and the clueless Guitar Center EQs combine to make an entertaining, nostalgic aural excursion. I mean, "Fundamental Blues" is a garage blues metal admonishment of their school district.
Two demos included in the link below - the orange sleeved self titled ten song cassette from 1989 (that closes with the most adorable and expendable SHAM 69 cover) features the tracks mentioned in the above paragraph, while the Destroyed demo from 1990 shows PLATYPUS SCOURGE start to come into their own. The slap bass is more proficient and higher in the mix (it was the time, man...I don't know what to say) but the songs are more aggressive, and tracks like "Used To Be Friends" could stand alongside any number of contemporary East Bay or Midwest DIY bands. There were two EPs that followed these demos...both are (not surprisingly) readily available for typically reasonable prices in used bins across the United States. Members went on to play in AMBER INN, EXHALE and a host of other bands, including the current act WET THE ROPE, who sound like well-tuned emo/hardcore juggernaut...just all grown up.
08 November 2018
There is nothing cute or appealing about this. This is pure ugliness and determined anger. They don't hate arbitrarily, they hate for reasons....and it helps concentrate, and therefore intensify, the rage. The tracks are straightforward and fast, the guitars are wading through knee deep metal zone distortion, and the vocals are like a black metal demon without a winter to wallow in. But mostly, HANGMEN ALSO DIE are just fukkn pissed and everything runs together so you can never catch your breath. Nine tracks in eleven minutes...if you dare.
07 November 2018
Growing up and coming of age in Oklahoma was, for the most part, fucking horrible. In retrospect and with hindsight, I think it was even worse and more damaging than I realized at the time...which is pretty bizarre to contemplate considering how terrifying and demoralizing it was then. There were friends, to be sure, so it could have been worse (and was, in fact, much worse for many others), but those friendships were often just bonds based on fear - fear of isolation, fear of violence, fear of humiliation. There was nothing "cool" about this adolescence, there was only coping, and we coped however we could. We entertained ourselves at the expense of strangers, we stole things, we sent sex toys to jock's houses (COD, of course), we vandalized - and sometimes we got caught and sometimes we got punched. And we made phone calls. When I found PARK GRUBBS after I left Ponca City and moved to Norman, I identified instantly...with the premise, with the delivery, with the boredom, indeed with the desire to have some kind of power and some kind of control over any situation, even if it was fleeting. These tapes passed from hand to hand for years - ask anyone who grew up weird in Oklahoma in the pre-internet eras and I would guess you'll be greeted with a knowing smile. Say "I wanna tickle your love offerins..." and you'll likely get a "Hey, that's fantastic!" in response. These kids from Bartlesville were straight fire - the shit they came up with on the fly was legitimate comedic genius, and the context within which they were not just making these calls but documenting them makes it all even better in hindsight, and it wasn't until years later that I had any inkling that the people responsible were punks and outcasts. This is pre-syndicated Howard Stern, pre-Jerky Boys, before the choice bits from "I'm In Your Band" call on Neil Hamburger's Great Prank Calls became ingrained in our psyche ("you ever heard of the fukkn KRINKLES, man?!")....this was as much a product of pre-technological boredom as it was a result of the creators' genius. The absurdity of these calls borders on high art, and the ability to bring the subject along is incredible (a trait shared with contemporaries Hamburger and Longmont Potion Castle), but for me it's the regional connection that puts Park Grubbs over the top. Heading over to Miami (pronounced "my-am-UH") from Talequah to check out a $100 canoe...the accents...the slang..."the reason I's callin' - I's wonderin' if later on if you would object too strongly if I'd come over and bathe y'all - you're entire family?" "no, you can't." "Uhhhhh, is there some surgical procedure I could talk to your husband about?" ...this is boredom in Oklahoma.
A couple of Okies put together an excellent short documentary film titled Calls To Okies about the people responsible and the people they inadvertently affected, influenced and entertained. Former Buttman (the band, not the family) Wampus is prominently featured in the doc, as well as several people who were just a little older and/or cooler than I was when I lived there...people who experienced that same joy and the same sense of belonging when they heard these recordings. "P-A-R-K, G-R-U-Double BS"
06 November 2018
Oooooofffffff on the Indonesian devastation. This mid '00s recording from Bandung is only three tracks, but XBRW cram more power into five short minutes than most bands can muster in an entire discography. Rapid fire machine gun drums drive the assault and almost overshadow hints of '90s Japanese hardcore lurking amidst face melting fastcore. The breakdown "Rebuild To Destroy" alone is well worth the price of admission, and since the whole thing is so short, I've found myself listening over and over and looking forward to the quiet mood setting build up that takes the middle third of the song before that breakdown drops....you know it's coming, and it just makes you want to break stuff more when it arrives. Just complete sickness throughout.
05 November 2018
When you start your life shrouded in the dust of the thousands of howling raw DBeat bands that blazed the trail before you - hundreds of bands who followed the masters, soullessly aping a formula as genius as it was necessary and choosing mimicry over originality...it's daunting, that's all. How do you make your bombastic DBeat band stand out? How do you create a light so bright that it will shine through the black clad haze and burn a permanent impression of your creation into the hearts, minds and earholes of all fortunate enough to experience it. Considering the odds, how is this even possible - and what would make someone even try? But people do try, and bands continue to fall in line recycling the same riffs and making sure the EQs on their distortion pedals are set precisely the same as the bands who came before them (and the ones that will come after) to ensure that there is no distinction. No originality. Indeed, no life whatsoever, just passable facsimiles taking up space on shelves and in boxes before they move onto used bins and languish. So the real question is: Why bother? Indeed: why, why - why why why? Because there's a chance. Because you might have the formula tweaked just right, and the conditions might be perfect, and maybe you are the unicorn and your horn with stand tall above the studs and spikes. Of course, it's also possible that you are just that fukkn good, and that your under the radar Four Track Demo from 2015 will slowly and confidently rise to the surface, filtering fury down from the Great White North. Sure, maybe you keep bashing the shit out of that tired ass drum beat because you don't know any better....but maybe you do it because you're driven. Because you need it. Because you're full of fire and if you don't release the energy then you will implode. And so you release it in the most efficient and deadly way possible.
04 November 2018
I confess without shame to getting swept up in the Stranger Things hype storm of 2016, and I agree that the program's appeal was inextricably linked to the soundtrack provided by Austin's S U R V I V E . If you're wondering why exactly that matters today, I urge you to imagine that program presented instead with an accompanying soundtrack from Winnipeg's THE WILL TO POWER. Those same vibes, that same propensity for beauty, but this Dark Forest soundtrack is so much darker, so much creepier, and the sonic turns lead you down a series of uncomfortable paths. Highly recommended for late night listening, though as the above linked trailer implies....maybe not best suited for fall camping trips.