When I first moved to San Francisco in the mid '90s, it took a while to develop a social circle. Most weekends were spent with John and Matt snorting speed, listening to that MENSCLUB disc on Bar/None (Side Note, punks: this one is pure fire and motherfukkr creamed the drums like few fools I've ever witnessed), and talking about our band - I didn't really know anyone else, and this is a hard place to meet people. Eventually we started to fall in with a solid crew with whom we shared familiar common denominators like music and drugs...and that's where we met a dude named Steve. My memory says Steve played in TINA, AGE 13 (for the purists and historical perfectionists: the internet says this is not so), but perhaps Steve played in CORDUROY (?), and Steve definitely lived at 109 Cypress (I mean...probably? I might be wrong here. He definitely did drugs there). 109 was a weird and dark place where I spent many mid mornings out of my fukkn mind...it was also a place inhabited and frequented by a bunch of fukkn geniuses. Steve played drums for FUCKFACE when we played a set of HICKEY covers for Tania's birthday party (that was the night HICKEY played a set of SABBATH covers as surf instrumentals - a legendary night in my brain) and was an all around solid dude who was always...all around. I honestly do not know how I came by this tape, and I didn't know that these sounds even existed until recently, but I can't say that I'm surprised. Equal parts '90s Mission, VASELINES and DINOSAUR, this collection of recordings is an actual portal into genius unrealized (or underutilized?). The combination of brilliance, innocence and freedom is a hard one to fuck with.
28 February 2016
Thinking back to that night in Los Angeles when I drank beer with the dude from Vacation hours after the store was closed and we talked about music and introduced each other to new sounds, perhaps the most intriguing piece of sound I left with was this S. MOODY cassette. On an evening filled with primitive black metal and proto industrial and modern DBeat hardcore, these four creamers seem to be the ones that are really sticking with me. Apparently the main man here was in MURDER CITY DEVILS (of whom I have obviously heard, but whom I have never consciously heard - does that make sense?), so maybe it sounds like that band (I don't think it does though)...or maybe it sounds like a southern tent revival attended by BOWIE, CAVE and MURPHY. Probably it's just legitimately soulful jams made by some grown-up motherfukkrs who have filled a magical crevice with crunked out grooves through the filter of aged punks. And yes, I am absolutely aware how stupid that sentence might sound but 1) this is my internet, and I don't care, and 2) you have to admit I'm at least a little bit right. Right? Four songs, all brilliant. Four riffs, do the math.
This Is The New Age // For I Have Unveiled The Myth Of Freedom
(Released in an edition of 25 for a live performance at Vacation Vinyl last autumn)
27 February 2016
Sweet PENTAGRAM drum intro, my dudes, but after that it's all hiNRG punk all the time. Spastic weirdo mutants with a penchant for classic rock grooves crammed into little freak show dioramas. But if you think about it: when SSD started, Led Zep III was only eleven years old and TOTAL CHAOS started playing seventeen years ago...so those Blackmore licks seem a little cooler now, don't they?
26 February 2016
One of the riffs in the quieter part of "End Of Haze" sounds like PINK FLOYD. Nothing else on this tape sounds like PINK FLOYD. Instead they sound like a bunch of raucous snots with a penchant for snarky vocals and heavy riffs and garage punk chaos. And '90s Olympia. Yes, all at the same time.
25 February 2016
An early offering from the Black Twilight collective in Los Angeles, KUXAN SUUM dropped this one track of psychedelic black metal in 2009, followed it up with another in 2012, and then faded into the shadows. Long introductions and limitless ambiance, the band is haunting and distant even when they unleash...almost like you are a part of something that's incomplete. The guitars are ethereal and colossal, but still cling to a sharp, thin quality forever attached to black metal. The shit is out there, and one could surely argue that "Kinich Ahau" is merely a part of the path that took this scene to astounding heights....but sometimes getting there is the best part, you know?
24 February 2016
I hope that at least some of you visit Terminal Escape for the shit you've never heard before...right? This tape comes from Curitiba, the capital city of Pararná, sometime in the '90s (I'm assuming). Heavy US hardcore influence, up front political lyrics (translations included in the .zip file so you can learn more things) and unhinged fast parts. Top banger: "On Your Knees."
23 February 2016
There must be innumerable MERV AYLESBURYs languishing in cut-out bins around the United States. Over produced schmaltzy country pop with horribly dated keyboards and processed drums, the absolute worst that would-be-radio-rock had to offer in 1986. So....why do we like it? We say that we like to make fun of it...but we keep listening, don't we? There's the arbitrary hard rockin' "Angel Looking For A Place To Fall" (what you doin' here if desire hasn't called?) with its unnecessarily ever present guitar and cornball tracks like "My Kind Of Woman" that would make Christopher Cross ashamed for what he did to pop music (sometimes she's less than a lady // sometimes she talks like a saint). There's a glimmer lyrical hope on "Two Against The Night," but when Merv slows down on "We Can't Do This To Love," any dreams of finding even a historical justification for these sounds are finally crushed. But still we listen...because the 25¢ bins just keep on giving.
22 February 2016
You want mean? Then I'd like to introduce you to four women from London who are about to rip your face off. Bryony's vocals were the first thing that struck me - right out of the gate, the presentation of "Asbestos" is just a little off...enough to make you pay attention at least. And you will pay attention to these vocals (listen to "Skin" at appropriate volume and it'll give you chills)....and then 0:32 into "Tactics" DREGS hit on all cylinders and everything just clicks. Everything actually clicks from the first burst, but I kept getting distracted by nuances...white knuckled from start to finish, this just makes me want to break shit. A quarter hour of the finest stomps that modern hardcore has to offer awaits you.
21 February 2016
I am a blatant and shameless supporter of the Chondritic Sound label. I relish each new batch of releases, and typically check out of life for a few hours when I get them into my grubby little paws. Within the (admittedly vast) realm of electronic sounds, the output is all over the map....but the quality control is strict, so I never fear blind purchases. Enter the 2013 cassette from AVELLAN CROSS - infectious, introspective, EBM-light if you will. An obvious affinity for the classics, and the combination of repetitive acid house pulsations and 20 Jazz Funk Greats styled blips and bloops on "Crosswalk" makes it clear that they know exactly what they are doing. Almost 50 minutes in total, and Stations Of... makes every minute of the journey worthwhile. I'll keep listening while I look forward to my next installment.
20 February 2016
The blatantly simple riffs, the funky drum beat, the gruff neighborly vocals...the prevalence of SubPop sounds (and, to a lesser extent, the desire for what was perceived as SubPop success) had a massive impact on underground scenes in the early '90s. Some people surely saw it as little more than another progression, a new interpretation of loud music that was rooted in another old interpretation of heavy music...for others it was their initial gateway into something other than radio rock (ironic, since it's closer to radio rock than most other brands of "underground" music - probably why it so quickly became radio rock). I suppose I was somewhere in the middle, but my musings only relate to MARCUS NOISE anecdotally. So many moments on this 1992 demo are perfectly engineered for the time, straddling Northwest aggression and Midwest pre-emo DIY....it sounds dated the minute you press play, but I suggest working through that and getting to tracks like "Breakneck" (odd that my initial go-to is an instrumental, but it's the jammer here) and "Choke" and listen to why so much of the '90s nostalgia and rehash is, in fact, justified. But I contend that this stuff was so accidental that the rehashes are rarely more than a tiny notch above cringe worthy...I mean, I want to hear something as unexpected as the end of "If Glass Was Broken" today, I just don't want it to sound contrived.
19 February 2016
Minimal digital sounds from Sweden...scooped this one on a total whim based on the presentation and discovered a world of weird - exactly what I was hoping for. Monotonous pulsations and TG-esque outsider sounds, CRYME defibrillate first wave industrial electronics with an urgency that is completely relevant in a modern world where one can mailorder a loop pedal and all of a sudden YOU'RE AN ARTIST. These are not simple sounds from CRYME, but these are not simple times.
18 February 2016
You can try to not like BENNY AND THE ROIDS if you want, but you will likely fail. Feisty UK influenced garage/Oi! hybrid delivered on a perfectly tweaked sounding cassette. Check the solo in "Poison Boys" - if you want punk and you like to get down, then this is what you've been looking for.
17 February 2016
The second volume of Punky Reggae Party (find the first tape here, hard to believe that I posted those tracks more than five fukkn years ago). I'm going to avoid a history lesson, primarily because I know little about ŚMIERĆ KILINCZNA aside from their two 45s on Tonpress, these two cassettes, and the things you find when you slip down an internet hole....like this insane video for "Paciorek" (a more subdued, yet weirder, version of that track can be found on Punky Reggae Party cześć 1). Basically, I know that ŚMIERĆ KILINCZNA were a band of Polish punks active in the early '80s who bridged punk and reggae sounds and approached everything with an intellectual weirdness that is difficult to describe. Favorite jammer on this installment is "Robinson," but this might simply be because it rocks harder that any of the tunes aside from the untitled and impossible to digest final track, a free form rocker that sadly falls victim to age and the physical limitations of magnetic tape. Their normal approach was steeped in reggae/punk, but these two tapes forgo the latter for the former, and you should prepare yourself for extended jams and gratuitous guitar solos...not that I'm complaining. I can't pretend that these tracks weren't a hard toke at first, but context and concentration is everything, my friends....and now I find myself binging on these two tapes with almost alarming frequency. If nothing else, this version of "Edukacja" from the second Tonpress single is really really cool.
16 February 2016
Unfathomably unlistenable unconscionably awful nonsense. The fact that resources are utilized to reproduce (even in laughably small quantities) useless nonsense barfed up in a garage somewhere in the suburbs makes me sad to be a human. You're Down With West Side? Well...I just don't know what to say. If you want inept rendidtions of MINOR THREAT, BLACK SABBATH and NIRVANA tracks interspersed with utter nonsense like the "Mommy, wow! I'm a big kid now!" commercial (full disclosure: your very own The Wizard might have covered this nugget on stage in the early '90s....maybe definitely this happened) and nonsensical bedroom 4-track streams of consciousness that should have remained subconscious. It's worthless, and it's not even funny. So obviously you need it.
BUT THERE'S MORE!!!!! In case ESC isn't enough to make you cast all faith in humanity aside, get into JOHN AFRO BAND on the flip. But before you do, believe this: Even though these mutants are debatably more punk than those ESC mutants...you do not need any of these sounds in your life. Unless you like SOCKEYE. I like SOCKEYE...so there you go.
Seriously though: that "Post Office" track is pretty sick.
15 February 2016
It's always possible that my historical recollections are a little off, but I place OUTLOOK at the crest of the wave of Olympia punk that has crashed down on the rest of us for the last several years. Urgent hardcore, notable both for Adriana's vocals and guitars brutalize riffs and leap up for quick licks when appropriate. Check the backing vox on "Not In My Name" and realize that these kids always seemed to roll with a crew, so that even when they were in your town, half the sea of mutants up front would know every tempo change and every word...then listen to "Dead Peasants" and realize that OUTLOOK were lightyears beyond basic. The vinyl releases are also recommended...
14 February 2016
Not that this information will help anyone who doesn't live in the Bay Area, but Maximum Rocknroll put together a series of really good shows this weekend (I hesitate to call it a "fest," both because that's a dirty word with some folks and because it really just feels like a bunch of great gigs crammed into four consecutive days). You can see what you missed here, and start making plans for next year, or you can just take my word that this weekend has been a much needed shot in the arm for me. Great band after great band, and lots of faces I haven't seen in far too long...punk stuff can be very good, my friends. I got a few records (including the NO FORM 12" - holy balls I hope this band makes it to our shores), a few tapes that you'll be hearing soon enough, and today the weekend closes with a 924 Gilman show with Bay Area freaks SBSM (and a bunch of other bands). This four songer was released last year by FOTE Remote Outposts, and I was pretty floored to hear that their live mania was able to be harnessed onto magnetic tape. Soaring electronics, layers of vocals, hypnotic drums pounding out appropriately monotonous rhythms...good shit.
13 February 2016
These Austin kids nail it, and they did so right out of the gate on this 2013 demo. Simultaneously dreary and peppy, they sneak darkness into pogo friendly first wave punk numbers - part of it is the guitar leads, but the drab vocals are obviously a key factor. Perhaps it's all totally calculated, and I quietly suspect that it is, but when I hear anarcho punk and WARSAW-era art school jams co-mingling like this? I'm just saying I start to care a little less about the motivation when the end result is really good. Several vinyl releases have followed for those who haven't already taken the plunge...
12 February 2016
It doesn't always have to be clean, my friends. Sometimes it's simply excruciating...and every now and then it's worth the pain. Angular and awkward, NOTHING BAND slog through a half hour of tortured guitars, a generous collection of found sounds and disjointed, almost nonsensical, percussions. The vocals make rare appearances, and sound like a tantrum from a tormented adolescent when they do. But these are timeless sounds...it's clearly not music...but that's part of why I find it so engaging. Because it's presented as music, and it's interpreted as something like music, but these are just sounds and actions as sounds. All musical convention is absent, making tracks like the fifth one here even more challenging simply because they are more musical. Listen hard and let go.
11 February 2016
I like punk with a weirdo bent, and I'll take tuneful jams for days if they sound just a little off. Combining early Aussie punk vibes with casual, messy pop punk sensibilities and KBD smarts sounds like a good idea, but you won't know how good until you bang on this WORN LEATHER demo from 2014. There's a second tape from the same year (also great), but I'm still sticking with the debut - seven hook filled tracks of mid paced, off kilter weirdo punk? Sold.
10 February 2016
I played in a band called MALACHI towards the end of my stint in Milwaukee - fun band with a stellar bunch of folks...played a dozen shows in our hometown, hit Europe for three weeks in 2009 and then called it a day as the members gradually relocated (not all of us - Russell still lives in The Promised Land). One of the two guitarists was a cat named Dathan (ex-SKULLTIME, ARCHITECTS OF THE AFTERMATH), who lived in Panama for a year(ish?) and then split for Minneapolis, where he started a band called HIVE (with some other people from bands with a way higher profile than our little outfit ever mustered). Quintessential epic crust...riffs for days, a constant low end heavy chug, and a singer with a rasp well worthy of the Northwest elite. If nothing else, HIVE stands out for the intensity and speed they bring to the game - even the slower, more melodic bits ("Reversal Of Fortune") will have you clenched tight...the knife edge that this band straddles creates a legitimate tension with even a casual listen. Comparisons aren't really necessary, but if you monkeys like the sound of a black clad apocalypse with full stacks, then here you go. Thanks for the envelope, Dathan...the rest of you should thank him too.
08 February 2016
True mutant jammers, these SoCal freakazoids simply don't make any actual sense. On the one hand, it's like that one out-of-left-field art/alt band with the video that played on 120 Minutes just that one time, but it's also bizarro college rock and Shimmy Disc and some future genius jerking around in his bedroom with a 4-track...it's all of these things. And it's yours. The whispering vocals, the meandering bass leading the sparse and simple clean guitar, the general weirdness and the TV samples and the occasional XTC-meets-BUTTHOLE SURFERS vibe. It's yours.
Sometimes you want to listen to really catchy punk, and sometimes you want to listen to Blood Sweat and No Tears...and sometimes you don't want to have to choose. For those times, I offer Italy's SIEGE STOMPERS for your consideration and inevitable enjoyment.
07 February 2016
It might be good to occasionally venture off of your path, to sink your teeth into tastes that challenge your palette. Maybe you find something you like and start on a new musical journey, or maybe you just solidify your affinity for whatever brand of hardcore and/or punk and/or minimal electronic noise that happens to float your boat. Enter Albuquerque's THE PADILLA BROTHERS, a schmaltzy trio who belt out syrupy sweet easy listening '70s country with an apparent obsession with a dude from Bethlehem. But religious affiliations aside, when they pick up the pace on "Buenos Dias, Señor Jesus" it kinda swings like The Nashville Sound but without the strings. These three dudes don't just bring killer hair to the table, their vocal harmonies are stellar and though the guitar licks are subtle, they are extremely effective. Perhaps not an accident that the Spanish language tracks are the most successful, as these are the songs that lay it back and just kinda roll, but the questionably titled closer "His Hand Is Touching Me" crushes at such a slow and deliberate pace that it's the song I keep coming back to. So step off the trail, young punk...even if your journey only leads you back to where you starts, you'll at least know you're headed the right way.
06 February 2016
Karoline and I just had a discussion about the HICKEY/FUCKFACE show she booked in Milwaukee in '96...I have always thought that HINGE was one of the locals on that show, she thinks that they had probably split up by then, but we both agree that we spent most of the show making out in the front seat of a double parked brown Ford on Oakland Avenue, so the memories are good ones either way. I have had a different HINGE recording floating around since that era, but I snagged this one from Daniel when he was purging a couple of summers ago, and it's way better than the one I've been listening to. Four tracks of impassioned basement DIY with a heavy DC influence and killer swarms of guitars. I've said it countless times in these pages, but I miss bands having the freedom to write like this without instant access to every subgenre at their fingertips...I miss songs like "How The West Was Won" popping onto tapes and steering your listening in an entirely different direction. So whether I saw HINGE or not, I'm glad to have the sounds. And if, in fact, didn't see them? Well, it was a really good make out session, so no regrets.
05 February 2016
Shameless modern heavy metal from Philadelphia...there's nothing wrong with a killer blues based guitar lick, and if your vocalist can pull, off that gravelly swagger then by all means: let that flag fly, my man. I was struck immediately by this tape...I was supposed to be analyzing the latest international punk offerings and I was rocketed back to adolescence the moment I pressed play. It's like KYUSS without MELVINS, or PENTAGRAM without SABBATH...it's timeless heavy metal music, loud and dirty.
04 February 2016
Sometimes you like to get bashed in the face. Repeatedly. And for moments like those, I suggest listening to the NO PEACE demo. Repeatedly. The guitars alone will likely be enough to start you pounding your face into the nearest wall with maximum force. Repeatedly. But the whole package here is some UK82 punx snorting baby arm sized rails of phencyclidine. Repeatedly. NO PEACE sound so brilliantly fukkd, so horrifically pissed...and "Rat Maze" is pure filth snorting crank thats been stepped on so hard that you blow a line, immediately take a shit and then sit around wondering if you're high or not. Since you aren't sure, you do another line. And repeat. But I digress.
03 February 2016
As simple as it is ferocious, this 2013 banger from northern Spain drops eight solid punk jams right in your lap. "Atrapado" and the four note "Celdas" slow the pace to a creepy crawl, but the rest of this tape is some kind of DBeat/pogo hybrid - fast, pure, raw, and very punk. You like the way it looks? You'll like the way it sounds.
01 February 2016
Once again - I'm getting tired of the hoards of kids dishing out regurgitations of the new wave and goth that a sunk into as a teen. And once again - I hear bands like RHYTHM OF CRUELTY and all I want is more. The brutal simplicity of the opening track, with the caterwauling vocals sharing reverberating frequencies with the over treated guitars and a two track monotony that continues for three and one half minutes...that simplicity can also be described as perfection. The next two are slightly more up tempo, vocals lost swimming in those guitars while the phasered (of course) bass drives the train (actually, the drum tracks might be the most interesting aspect of this whole recording, but they are sadly buried in the mix...if only they had an effects pedal for drums - oh wait: it's a drums machine, so they've got that covered too). By the time "Still Life" settles into a 4/4 to close things out, you might be as addicted as I was. Lucky you, because this tape is from 2012, and this Canadian duo has been rather busy since then.