Staying light years away from my Monday morning cocktail of shoelace headbands and walls of manicured distortion for yet another week. Next Monday the band will be dressed in black, but today the SPIRITUAL WARRIORS are just fukkn fierce. Cacophonous and manic, with female vocals shrieking with every bit as much fury as the band is dishing out. This is raw and primal hardcore delivered with all of the intensity and none of the pretense. Studio tracks on one side with seven minutes of live chaos on the flip (the guitar at the 0:30 mark of the live side is worth the entire tape). Sometimes Olympia, Washington makes good things.
30 December 2012
For folks who think that the term "synth punk" applies only to dreamy and artificially introverted idealists in tight pants moping about in dark corners. Aggressive and in your face dual vocal punk, an insistent Korg attack with live drums. There are moments you can shake your ass to, but this is primarily rock music - just reinterpreted and twisted.
29 December 2012
TRAGATELO featured members of CRUDOS, ESPERANZA and LIFES HALT (and they were every bit as good as that lineage suggests). KONTAATTAQUE dished out some of the fiercest political punk/grind this side of New Mexico, and the only thing more intense than Lalo's vocals was watching him deliver them. Five songs from TRAGATELO, three from KONTRAATTAQUE.
28 December 2012
Early '00s comp from Guatemala. Hardcore, straight edge, fast core, punk...you know the story, but this just reinforces that the story is told all over the world. FUERZA X made their way to the US a couple of times while I lived in the Bay Area (the first time), and this tape came with them on one of their trips.
27 December 2012
26 December 2012
This an absolutely huge sounding mindfuck...walls of total madness pressing in on synthesized chaos. Urgent sounds, rich and passionate, moving effortlessly from industrial intensity to dancefloor insistence without ever once letting you pull your face away from the screen (or your ears from the speakers). Our friends at Nostilevo never seem to let us down...
25 December 2012
24 December 2012
Weirdo outsider punk perfectly suited to bum the living shit out of leather clad distortion mongers who might troll this spot on Mondays looking for their white hiss fix. Weirdos are one thing, but Southern weirdos are a different animal entirely (trust me), and the nucleus of NO BABIES are Bay Area residents by way of Alabama. Throw convention out the window and don't forget the saxophone, this is art punk on crack crashing headfirst into some twisted No Wave by way of Zorn insanity monstrosity. Shit is out there - and live it's even better (American friends, you just missed out, Japanese friends, they are coming next month).
23 December 2012
Nasty, downtuned grind is about to fill the next 11 minutes of your life. This shit is just plain ugly. It is also really really fast. I was talking with my pal John a few weeks back (well, technically we were texting, which is really just the modern version of talking, even for grown ups) about how we had this unspoken (actually, it was often spoken) no grind policy for years and how we had both recently opened up to grind and discovered that having our faces melted was actually kinda pleasant. CELLGRAFT is exactly the kind of band that helped change my mind (or open my eyes), except CELLGRAFT is better than most of the bands that helped change my mind (or open my eyes). This shit is just searing intensity captured on this little 1/4" piece of tape. Seriously, how do they cram all that anger on that little thing? I don't know, but I'm glad they did.
Learn more here, but as usual I am a little late to the party. CELLGRAFT are done.
22 December 2012
To some, this split release needs no introduction or explanation, and to everyone else, it would be impossible to put either of these bands or this release in proper context. May I should ask Greg since he's better at words than I am, or maybe I should just stop typing and ask you to listen...but I frequently don't do what I should. SHOTWELL has been a San Francisco institution for two decades, and this line up was perhaps their finest incarnation (to date, I'm sure there is another one just around the corner), while MIAMI was Aesop and Matty post-HICKEY paired up with one of the most distinctive voices that punk has ever produced...but if that means anything at all to you then surely you already know this. If this doesn't mean anything to you then I would suggest that it should, but I'm not one to tell people what to do, I merely make suggestions.
Worth noting: Ivy collected meth, weed and heroin baggies off the streets and sidewalks of The Mission for ages until she had just the right collection of weird and inexplicable designs to adorn the cover of the record. The full color glory is one of the best reasons I've ever seen for a full cover LP jacket - and sadly doesn't quite translate to the photocopied cover of this still excellent cassette. You'll have to use your imagination, trust me, or buy your own copy of the record.
21 December 2012
A killer three band comp that a F.O.T.E. sent in so long ago that it is positively shameful that I am just now sharing the jams with you. Mini discographies put together with love from THE AGENDA, DAISY'S COMPACT MICE and FRIENDLY. All three bands had tracks on the Life Of Monotony comp that appeared here some time ago (and most of those tracks made it onto this mix), but this tape includes live radio stints, demos and vinyl releases as well. While I'm sure that there was a lot more to Minneapolis during this era, this is a great glimpse into a small scene...and DAISY'S COMPACT MICE are absolutely an unheralded gem of mid '00s Midwest punk (fukk man, those vocals are unreal) and they should be celebrated, even if you find yourself a little late to the party.
20 December 2012
A complete departure from the vast majority of posts on The Escape, Washington, DC's HAND GRENADE JOBS spend the better part of a half hour pouring raw emotion into a glass and then watching it shatter, spilling all over the table. These two women take musical arrangements that are unconventional at the very least (within the confines of punk, that is) and deliver wistful, soul searing sounds..."Witchcraft" is all consuming, while "Move Away" is among the most beautifully reflective tracks I've come across. If I told you that such transfixing intensity could come primarily from xylophones, vocals and percussion then you might think me insane...so I won't tell you.
When I cannot take your reality, I make my own
19 December 2012
More unsung Midwestern hardcore in the form of Flint, Michigan's GUILTY BYSTANDERS. Raw and irreverent punk and the snottiest vocals this side of THE CRUCIFUCKS. "If It's OK With My Mom" is a legit punk classic and the amount of pure don't give a fuck that these cats delivered in 1985 is astounding. Also, broccoli really does rule.
18 December 2012
For those of you who think that hardcore just isn't angry anymore, I offer WRITE OFF. Nine minutes of downtuned face melting hardcore that spends most of its energy churning out infectious mid tempo riffing...but when they ramp the tempo up to a blinding whir it might be best to stand back. Highlights: the brief moment of straight punk at the 0:19 mark of "Stumble" and the terrifying mosh build up that takes up a about half of "Dodger." Also, "State The Obvious" in its entirety...do I really have to pick a favorite part?
17 December 2012
16 December 2012
Forceful and hopelessly catchy punk from the Silenzio Statico camp in Southern California. As much influence from Eastern Europe as from Spanish language punk, the hooks here are undeniable and the presentation is excellent as always.
15 December 2012
I got a package from Chondritic Sound a couple of weeks ago, and this BAD NEWS cassette has been on near constant rotation ever since. Waves of frustration crash in desperate rhythms, driven into the ground by distorted minimal percussion and a swarm of sound. Not harsh by any means, BAD NEWS just come off as intent. The second track almost pulls off late '80s industrial dance/industrial BPMs, but accompanies it with such a dizzying array of oddities and shrill female vocals that the result has more in common with solitude in dark corners than crowded dark dancefloors. While obviously aware of the primitive (mostly) electronic music they will get compared to (SKINNY PUPPY, JOINED AT THE HEAD, CONTROLLED BLEEDING), these sounds are a progression and not just an homage. I have a feeling this is going to be on rotation for a while.
14 December 2012
The title here does not lie: Thrash Fest Attack is ten Malaysian bands blasting and grinding their way through 20 tracks of thrash mania. A couple of grindier acts (JAHILIA, HUDUD), but the majority here is pure SE Asian fastcore: SECRET 7, BANZAI 606, FAST GAME, MY PRECIOUS (a slight and welcome screamo tinge - these tracks are the highlight), XGAMPANGY, MAKHLOK PEROSAK, SHARON STONED ("Circle The Pits" is one of the most gloriously off Thrash2K jams I've heard) plus comedic blasting from JERITANXSEPI. You aren't going to find anything here you haven't heard before, but you WILL find kids from the other side of the world playing their fukkn hearts out for all of the right reasons.
13 December 2012
I've been sitting on this one for far too long, even though I listen to these tracks all the fukkn time. Greece's ANTIMOB were stellar on their first cassette release, but these jams from their forthcoming full length blow the roof off the damn joint. European crust tempered with geographical proximity to Eastern Europe and the punk history offered by that region and an aural admiration for anthemic Japanese hardcore....and the whole thing is delivered with an intensity forced by trying times in a powerful nation. This is hardcore built for riding into battle.
12 December 2012
11 December 2012
The speed and intensity from the first MDC record with harsh and articulate vocals a la NOTA, 23 tracks in all, and there's seriously not a dud among them. As is too often the case, if this band had existed four years earlier or in a punk mecca like SF or DC then you'd see their name scrawled across the leather jackets of legions of teenagers trying to relive glory days that may or may not have ever existed. These songs are taken from the 1987 Storm Und Stress demo, one of three recording sessions crammed onto one CD a few years ago. This is well worth your time (would I lie to you?), and I challenge you to not sing along to "Fuck You Shut Up" when the mosh breakdown/chorus kicks in.
10 December 2012
Complete mastery and subsequent annihilation of a concept. For those of you who've been wasting your time with the latest big thing, it's time to go to school. Noise and message.
This cassette version from Gasmask Records has Near Dark 12" (Feral Ward) on one side with Death Culture Deprivation 8" (Overthrow) and Poison Wave EP (self released) on the flip.
09 December 2012
The opening tracks on EUTHANASIE's 1985 cassette release is a 5+ minute brooding goth/anarcho number with perfectly crafted (and understated) flanged guitar leads and the ominous "this is the end my friend // no way out" repeated for a full 60 seconds, pulling a shroud over what is to be an hour of music even before your journey is under way. But even though "Tag X" follows with a similar melancholy off kilter UK styled punk vibe, they launch into into ferocious rudimentary pogo punk at the three minute mark proceed to tear through two more tunes before slowing down again with "Justified Rape," a brilliantly dreary female fronted number that owes more to dark mental recesses than to fiery punk. The tape continues on this path, teetering between UK anarcho, Deutsch Punk and primitive goth punk, tracks taken from rehearsals, studio sessions and live gigs (and presented with a degree in quality as varied as you would expect). EUTHANASIE had a very limited output during their run (much of which was put to wax by Looney Tunes a couple of years back), but I'm struck by how perfect their mix of sounds is for the current explosion of spiky UK worshipping punks diving into the world of goth and new wave sounds except this is delivered with determination and fire rather than calculation and flare.
08 December 2012
A gloriously filthy release from the well documented Crepusculo Negro label. MUKNAL tracks are confusing and disjointed but all consuming, while THE HAUNTING PRESENCE are more like an evil bulldozer intent on complete destruction. If you pay attention, then you are well aware that this set rarely makes missteps, and this release from earlier this year is no exception.
07 December 2012
I found out yesterday morning as I was walking into work, and even though hearing about the death of someone battling terminal illness is never a shock, the feeling of loss was instant. Sarah was more than a guitarist, was more than just a mere inspiration, and even though we didn't see each other often there was an instant void. I can see the absence on the faces of friends feeling the same thing. When Sarah did things, she did them right. No fanfare, no flag waving, no celebration - just quiet determination and pure conviction. That is her influence, and to me that is her legacy. The records are great (seriously, all of them), but the impact is so much more personal and so much more intense than a few good riffs...even when the riffs are as good as these. It's the genuine look in her eyes that tells you that everything matters, that you matter, and that what you do is important and to never stop fighting. And to never stop smiling, though I confess that one is pretty tough to pull off today. While her musical legacy is primarily associated with her life spent as Mike Kirsch, Sarah's personal legacy transcends both gender and sound. Few people in the world of DIY hardcore have been as influential, even as important as Sarah. It's an impact I honestly doubt she was fully aware of, and a level of genuine respect attained by only the most worthy...these are the things we should say to our friends while they are alive, but rarely do. Never stop fighting.
I've found myself deflated by the years defending this life led idle and we've seen the loss too many times. This life is bought and sold, the days I've dealt with blinded by the numbers piled up high beside me. They try and keep me pacified but I find you're happy and satisfied. No will or way will ever bind me to this burden to keep dissension at bay. And every day I fight myself, tried and tired but moving forward. Where do we go from here? Not down.
"Life Led Idle"
06 December 2012
I toured Japan for the first time in 1996, as a (mediocre) replacement bassist for ALL YOU CAN EAT. Most of the tour was supporting GARLIC BOYS and NUNCHAKU in mid sized venues, which only compounded the total sensory overload I was experiencing, but there were a handful of smaller shows aside from that tour (if memory serves, the first Japanese show I played was in Nagoya with OUT OF TOUCH, CFDL, FLASH GORDON and CIGARETTEMAN, but Devon can correct me because while my memory typically does serve me, but does so rather poorly). And as out of place as our band of leaping pop punk misfits was on a blistering thrashcore show in Nagoya, we were just as awkward the following week at Nishi-Ogikobu's Watts live house sharing that tiny stage with SUPERSNAZZ and fOUL (that's the connection between my trip down memory lane and today's post). A melancholy jaunt, 1996's A Foulful Of... perfectly harnesses the hooks early '90s acts like TEENAGE FANCLUB and PAVEMENT then twists them and builds on them (instead of simply re-presenting them). "Opportunity" is clearly the hit, while the 11 minute "Apocalypse" is as sparse and wistful as a band can possibly be. fOUL cranked out two more records after this one (and an excellent split with BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS), and all are work seeking out - but as much as this tape brings back memories, these sounds just reinforce the difference between honest, soul baring music and attempts to simply manufacture a sound.
05 December 2012
After an oppressive introductory passage that weighs on you like a mountain of disappointment, Edmonton's FALSEHOOD rip off the roof. Four minutes into a two note soliloquy, anguished black crust comes blasting out of the speakers - just a taste of what is to come on the five song, 25 minute exercise. While the presentation is often just as important as the riff, serious attention has been paid to both (take the brutal unwavering simplicity that takes up the final two minutes of "Waste" as a prime example) and while it's obvious the FALSEHOOD has jammed their fair share of melodic crust into their earholes, they sidestep mimicry with a chaotic production and howling pained vocals while tracks like "Victims" could still easily win over the whole of Northern Europe with devastating heaviness. You can call it Blackened Melodic Doom Crust if you like, or you can call it good.
04 December 2012
I can't imagine a scenario where PREGASM would play any sort of role in today's punk scene. But in 1994 it made sense that a band of weirdos in Seattle were cranking out spastic industrial punk dirges with ridiculously downtuned death metal guitars. Political lyrics (in the '90s sense: Rush Limbaugh, suicide, and the war on drugs are all given the business) and a low end attack built around the experience more than the riff. Spend enough time with this one to really remove yourself from compartmentalized present day punk and hardcore and you'll see even more relevance than is initially apparent....and also they sometimes remind me of LORDS OF LIGHT, which is a good thing.
03 December 2012
02 December 2012
For those not familiar with the subcultural geography of the outer Bay Area suburbs, Concord is not exactly a hotbed of action, and especially not one with a rich history. This is the town where the teenage punk weirdos live before they move to SF (in the '70s/'80s) or Oakland ('90s/'00s) and start doing awesome shit. Maybe they had a rudimentary punk band while they lived at their mom's house, but then they came to the big city, started doing cheap drugs and made magic. It's a place where people start and where people finish, not a place where people live...I mean maybe I don't know what the fukk I'm talking about (entirely possible), but the only show I ever saw there was MAIDEN. It's kinda like Hayward, but further away. If you share my preconceptions and prejudices, then prepare to eat your shorts. They will taste like 14 minutes of rapid fire hardcore recorded in 1986. There's a slight posi vibe, but DECLINE are so damn frustrated and intent on breaking out that any positivity is shrouded in determination. Concord.
01 December 2012
Total neanderthal knuckle dragging hardcore punk that a certain geographical region in Canada is starting to crank out with alarming efficacy. The tempo sits somewhere in between UK82, NEGATIVE APPROACH and quaaludes, and the vocals are the kind of throaty snarls that made civilians justifiably terrified of the punks when they first heard it - this is just plain nasty. But you can still dance to it, and who doesn't like a band that can lay down a good beat?