31 December 2017


Another excursion into dark and atmospheric noise from '90s Illinois project FRAGMENTED, a solo project featuring Christopher J. Falvey. Epic sonic transmutations that defy description and remain firmly rooted in a world free from suggestion and repression. Seven movements spanning more than 80 minutes, Falvey's approach is measured, subdued, and focused. Prolific in the latter half of the '90s, FRAGMENTED left us with two cassette releases and a handful of DIY CDs. It's not enough, but I will take it. 

The visual presentation of these tapes is as gorgeous as the sounds they surround. Again, simplicity rules and these may have been little more than Kinko's creations, but when combined with the music the result is superb, and it's as easy to get lost in the images as in the sound. 

"...and on that day the sun will not rise. You will go to the forest and see a figure between four dark trees. All time will stop. You will know then what the signs mean..."

30 December 2017


I don't really need to tell you about this one, do I? If this demo is any indication, GOVERNMENT ISSUE must have been a pretty ripping live act around 1982 or so. This copy came from a formerly active trader, and has a slew of tracks not on the vinyl EP with the same title, though I'm sure they have been booted over the years. Also, her tape indicates that this demo is from 1982, but the record came out in 1983. Whatever, man...it rips. Enjoy. 

29 December 2017


There's a (relatively new) record store in Oakland called Contact Records. I have yet to walk out empty handed, and every visit is filled with pleasant conversation and new (typically non punk) discoveries. It seems like every point of focus for the (tiny) store is just so impossibly and casually cool that you want to explore long dismissed subgenres just to see what you've (apparently) been missing all these years. Once it was Electronic Music vol IV, another time it was a random ALAN WATTS meditation record from 1977. I first heard LES FILLES DE ILLGHADAD in that little store, and also picked up a copy of Troops Of Tomorrow for a nice price, just to remind myself that punk rules. Point is that these fools are easy going taste makers - I take their recommendations and suggestions seriously and I am rarely disappointed. So a while ago when I was checking out with CHRIS AND COSEY's Heartbeat and the MICHAEL CHAPMAN Window reissue (which is honestly not quite as good as I had hoped, but I was buying on trade, and gambling is way more fun when you're gambling with trade), I spied this Contact curated/created mix tape at the register and I was intrigued. I'm a shameless country fan, this is no secret, but the crossroads of country, desert rock, drugs and singer/songwriters is an intersection that leads to a deep dark hole that can be intimidating....and it helps if someone is willing to hold your hand. We all know WAYLON and BUCK OWENS, we all at least know of MOBY GRAPE and THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS, but DOUG SAHM, GOSDIN BROTHERS and BARBARA FAITH deliver some serious tonnage on this comp and who knew the fukkn EVERLY BROTHERS rolled this deep in the psychedelic wonderworld? MASON PROFIT and DAVID WIFFEN were also new to me, but it's the sum of parts that makes Astral Maps so damned perfect....I cannot imagine a better desert driving collection. It's like the aural version of spending two weeks in the Mojave avoiding all of the temporary desert transplants from Los Angeles while secretly kicking yourself as you realize that goddammit they got this one right. This one is going to get a lot of spins in the van on road trips with The Lady, and I now have a slew of new (to me) studs to dig for in the record stalls in those small town antique malls. No shame in being late to the game. 

28 December 2017


I feel sorry for the unfortunate people who let this tape slip them by - not so sorry that I'm not willing to help. Churning metallic stench doing battle with heavy metal so filthy and pure that it will inspire even the anarchopacifists to charge into battle. DEATH MACHINE were (or...are?) a logical next step for a crew of black clad, metal obsessed crusters from Portland, and it didn't surprise me when my ears started bleeding during "City Of The Lost," but one can easily be overwhelmed even when experiencing predictable emotions. Which is to say that, when Keet gave me this demo in 2011 I knew it was going to be good....and I was still blown away. 

27 December 2017


Utterly inept Canadian death rock. It's their inability to succeed at anything that makes their repeated and determined attempts even more endearing, and such failures are so much more rewarding to the listener when the artist's goal itself is pretentious and self indulgent. Simply put: This Is Beautiful

26 December 2017


Another repost, as Dead Week conrinues the transformation into Death Week. This one comes from late '80s Germany in the form of blistering and primal crossover thrash like DEATH SIDE in a death grip with DEATH ANGEL but without the solos that either comparison conjures. A few full length platters followed this 1987 demo, but as I mentioned in the original post, none of them hold a candle to the half hour of magic in today's plastic shell. 

25 December 2017


Holiday with the family? Painful day alone? Either way, this will help: "The Painful Realization That You Are A Complete Shithead." You're welcome...and have a good day, because I can assure you that someone else's day is much much worse. 

24 December 2017


A warning that this thing is red lined like fire and sounds about as blown out as my ass after a week of beans at altitude...but these San Diego mutants were straight up one of the shit hottest live acts of the late 2000s. Legit weirdos in every wonderful way, they were also unbelievably fast, laughably tight and unapologetically real. You can recreate the other stuff, but the realness just has to be...well, real. Check the rest of their output here (and hear this demo in a much less distorted digital form - you can compare/contrast like I did, though I'm not sure which version I prefer), and get fukkn wild. 


DIATRIBE should be known to most, but folks outside of California might not know that they "reformed" a few years back. Vinnie Fono, who sang for DIATRIBE on the Aftermath EP and was fronting Beer City Records recording artists THE SHITGIVEITS when I met him in 1995, decided to "get the band back together" with a crew of people who had never been in the band at all, and they started gigging. I saw this iteration once, and it was OK I guess (I was there to see another band, I swear), but it's not a thing that anyone needs. However, their first post-"reformation" release was this 2011 split with DEATH CRISIS and the three tracks on the non-DIATRIBE side of the tape are fukkn creamers. 

23 December 2017


A repost of a demo I shared back in 2011, DEATH SENTENCE's 13 minute offering is an exercise in precision and brutality. Snappy but brief pogo punk intros give way repeatedly to unimaginably fast hardcore punk...over and over again the formula repeats, and it never gets old. The eponymous track is far and away my favorite, but this entire demo personifies relentlessness. Their NEGATIVE APPROACH cover has teeth that the original couldn't even conjure, and their off the rails version of fast hardcore is rivaled only by LÄRM. Yeah...the shit is that good, and there's a devastating live show on the flip. Dead Week Continues....

22 December 2017


Holy New Millennium Hardcore, I miss ruthless fastcore. Ferocious blasts from Michigan, this demo seems to predate all of their (excellent) proper releases...and it is pure fire. Fire...and it is also so fukkn fast. Check the bass break that kicks "Dig Your Way Out" into gear, dig the kick drum at the 0:14 mark of "God Hates Major Labels," the whole damn thing is just repeated blasts to the face. The chorus to "What's Next, Concentration Camps?" is like a serious of nauseous episodes masquerading as hardcore upheavals at 45rpm, and that's just what I was able to glean from the first couple of listens because the whole fukkn demo clocks in under six minutes. Do it. 

21 December 2017


One day when I was 15 years old, I complained to my mother that there were no radio stations in Ponca City, Oklahoma that played the new wave music that I had just started listening to. My mother (correctly) told me that she didn't have any control over the music programming on local radio stations, and suggested that I take my complaint to the radio stations themselves. So I did. And it worked. And so my first job was hosting a weekly new wave and punk radio show in my small Oklahoma town. Within a few months I figured out how to solicit free shit from record labels and was getting promo material from SST, Alternative Tentacles, Elektra and Enigma to supplement my extensive collection of CULT, ERASURE and CURE cassettes. These record labels (correctly) assumed that Music From The Underground was an actual institution, worthy of the same perks that any other influential taste making radio DJ would be entitled to. So I got free records, and I got to interview bands. I talked to BOOK OF LOVE, I got free tickets to see STING and CONCRETE BLONDE (but Sting was tired so the interview was cancelled), I talked to Mark Pistel from CONSOLIDATED about animal rights before I was even vegetarian, much less vegan (side note: I was pretty bummed but also entertained to learn recently the Mr. Pistel fell off the vegan wagon years ago...), and when I was just sixteen I saw my first punk show.  I went to Tulsa to see THE DEAD MILKEN on the Beelzebubba tour, and I was on the fukkn guest list and I had a scheduled interview with the band before the show. As if I was an actual person who mattered. It was a pretty big deal for me, and I was nervous as shit to meet a band whose career I had been following for almost a whole two years at that point. Beelzebubba was a massive hit, and "Punk Rock Girl" was creeping onto the airwaves during regular hours at 99.3FM KLOR instead of just during my show, but still I was convinced that the fellows in THE DEAD MILKMEN were going to be down to earth and mellow....and I was right. Almost 30 years later, I am still struck at how patient they were with a clueless, unimaginably nervous and awkward 16 year old from Ponca City who brought along a couple of equally clueless friends, and I'm pleased at how genuinely funny and dorky they were. In anticipation of this epic meeting, I asked listeners to submit questions for the band (by mail, of course), and they answered them all. I asked if Rodney really hated GENE LOVES JEZEBEL, and he replied with a timbre that has stuck with me to this day: "Yes I do....you bet I do!" They signed shirts I so could give them away as I played the entire interview in segments over the following weeks. The show was great, though local opener BABY M were dicks to THE DEAD MILKMEN and to us ("You guys play "1970?" Bet you can't fukkn do it as good as we do"), and though we didn't talk to them afterwards we still rode home on a fukkn cloud. It was my first punk show...and I got to interview the band. 

Entertaining notes: 
1) Sometime around 2010, I was touring with CITIZEN FISH and they played in Asbury Park, NJ with Joe Jack Talcum's band THE LOW BUDGETS. I was selling merch, and while Jello Biafra (who just happened to be in town) was doing an on stage cameo with LEFTOVER CRACK I leaned over to Joe Jack and tried to thank him for the gracious interview his old band had done for my teenage Oklahoma self so many years before. He seemed confused. 
2) Me telling THE DEAD MILKMEN that I was "really fond of" Jello Biafra and saying that my goal in life was to meet him. Jello was kind of a boner when that meeting finally happened a year later, but that's a different story...

20 December 2017


A killer four song slab from 2002, just around the time I was phasing out of being a Bay Area resident. Rough around the edges, but with a passion that more than makes up for any technical inadequacies. This was from a time when the lines between raucous basement hardcore and breakneck fastcore and youth crew were kinda blurred...and I (still) contend that this was a good thing. 

19 December 2017


Dead Week continues with DEAD MAN. A sinister and somewhat terrifying downtuned attack in four movements. This one is powerful and deliberate, taking abstract metalcore (a la CELESTE) and approaching it with the subtlety of a gas attack. I wish I knew more, but I can only tell you to adjust the volume appropriately, remove sharp object from reach, and strap in. 

18 December 2017


I feel like this Portland band flew under the radar for the entirety of their existence. Maybe it was Portland, with it's strict guidelines on what bands need to be to be well received (not a dig on Portland, really, just an outsider's observation of the results of years of sub-scene fracturing...and the internet). DEAD BY DAWN were weird and kinda grunge, but their hardcore was fierce and fukk and they knew how to swing (I'm talking the last 60 seconds of "Mental Health" here....three tempos, and they all roll like casual thunder). There were a few records (the LP is pure $1 bin fodder, has pretty uninviting artwork, and is WELL worth your time and money) after this demo, but I feel like the band was never fully appreciated in or out of their home city. There is no justice in this world though, so this shouldn't come as a surprise. 

17 December 2017


My pal Ross from Oklahoma has been in a bunch of bands in the 20ish years that I've known him. I used to live in Oklahoma, but I moved away when I was just 23 and Ross is a few years younger than me, so I've only seen him play a couple of times over the years. The shows were always good, plus Ross is a hilarious and smart and wildly talented dude who I really like hanging out with when our paths cross. Most of his bands seem to fly more or less under the radar, perhaps because they were all from Oklahoma, but that's punk's loss, and not Ross's. Because that fool gonna keep yelling his head off and making weird mutant DIY hardcore punk until the rest of punk has made the switch to self indulgent bedroom electronics - and then he's gonna outlive the next punk generation too. Ross gave me this AMERICAN HATE demo a few years ago at a show in Oakland, when they played a tiny ass living room and the cool kids didn't know what to think. I knew what to think though....I thought: "Oklahoma is OK." 

Ross is also responsible for Everything Is Not OK, which is the coolest punk fest in North America (dear All Other Punk Fests: no offense, I only know how to speak the truth), and AMERICAN HATE have a new LP that's really fukkn good. 

16 December 2017


My pal Jason from Georgia has been in a bunch of bands in the 20ish years that I've known him. Georgia is pretty far from every house I've ever lived in, so we don't visit very often and I have only seen him play a few times....and he's a really good drummer. And a super hilarious dude who I really like hanging out with when our paths cross. Most of Jason's bands seem to fly more or less under the radar, perhaps because some of them have had really stupid names like AMERICAN CHEESEBURGER, but that's punk's loss, and not Jason's. Because that fool gonna keep beating the shit out of the tubs and cranking out relentless DIY as fukk hardcore until the rest of punk has finished making the switch to self indulgent bedroom electronics - and then he's gonna out live the next punk generation too. Jason made me a tape of this AMERICAN CHEESEBURGER recording back in '06, I decided to include his handwritten address on the cover in case you want to send him a postcard and tell him he rules. 

15 December 2017


Snagged this compilation when it came out in 2012 and it's been a regular staple ever since. Ten electronic, dance and dark synth artists, crowded in the more experimental end of the aural spectrum.  Personal favorites are GROUP RHODA, BRANDON NICKELL, the SURVIVE-esque SSLEEPINGDESIRESS and DESIGN, but I only find one dismissible track in the entire collection. Sweating Tapes appear to have ceased operations, but if only for exposing to me to DEATHDAY and AROHAN I owe them thanks. This comp (and the initial volume, featuring Portland artists) is the icing on the dancefloor. 

14 December 2017


In 1994, FUCKFACE played at the Tune Inn in New Haven, Connecticut with UNDERTOW, BURST OF SILENCE, JASTA 14 and UNBROKEN. We were not well received. In 2001, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? played at the Tune Inn in New Haven, Connecticut with LIFES HALT, DIALLO and some other bands. That show went considerably better for my team, due in no small part to how hard DIALLO fukkn ruled...and a year later my band ARTIMUS PYLE had a split EP with them on Sweden's Busted Heads (several copies currently available for less than $2 on Discogs, or scour your local bargain bin - you shouldn't have to look too hard). I snagged this demo at that show, and the songs are still with me today - "Inherit" gets stuck in my head at least once a month but "A Flag Burns, Shades Of Red" is probably the best of these eight bangers. This demo was released on wax by Germany's Yellow Dog (several copies available for than $2 on Discogs or scour your local bargain bin - you shouldn't have to look too hard), but the important thing is not the format - but the content. They just don't make 'em like this any more....no pretense, just power. 

13 December 2017


Pure American DIY filth. The guitars sound like they are are played through speakers made of grocery bags, the vocals are unintelligible grunts, and their forays into aural DYSTOPIA(n) missives often land flat....but holy SHIT does this demo rule. I can only assume this is late '90s, and that must have been an interesting time to be a dirt punk living down the road from Muskegon, Michigan. That dude Nazi Jake was probably around then, and that dude was pretty creepy when I met him in the '00s...but I digress. If your capacity for high energy crust and under the radar grime is high, then this demo is HIGHLY recommended. 

12 December 2017


It's been a couple of years since I've posted an unmarked cassette, and I'm guessing that the lack of "cool" will have most visitors moving right on past this one....but the five minutes contained in today's link are such a ruthless punch in the gut, so it's your loss. Gruesomely downtuned powerviolence that sounds distinctly mid-90s (or like BRAINOIL reincarnated as a grindcore band?), with more than one third of the time taken up by the painful midtempo slog of the last track. Six pieces in all, an absolutely fierce slab of filthy hardcore. Nerd headphones on, any assistance would be appreciated...anyone?

UPDATE: I totally should have known that. 

11 December 2017


Remember when party thrash was a thing? I mean, it's still a thing - it was a thing (likely) before you listened to it, and it will continue to be a thing long after you stopped thinking it was cool. But remember when YOU listened to party thrash? Check DIOS MIO's "Shit Life" video for a pleasant trip down memory lane, but then click the link below (as you should every day, obviously) and check their 2006 demonstration cassette for eleven minutes of high energy hardcore. The tongue in cheek factor is a little more muted, just some small town Wisconsin kids beating the shit out of their instruments and trying to cop a mosh any way they can. I completely missed seeing this band live, even though I was living a few hours down I-94 during the bulk of their run, but such is life. Choice track here is "Scab," but you'd be wise to jam the whole batch a few times. 

10 December 2017


1990s indie/alt/punk to file alongside BABES IN TOYLAND and/or SMUT except that the guitars are so brutally jangly in a very K Records fashion...and that clashes with the vocal snarls. The juxtaposition is interesting, almost like they were bridging grunge and riot grrl subgenres even they were a few years too late for either to be relevant. But time is a funny thing, and the distance between 1991 and 1996 seems pretty insignificant today, which makes it a little easier to compartmentalize this trio. Aside from a 1997 full length on Theologian and this (very) DIY cassette demo, I can't find anything from BALLGAGGER or the three women involved...

09 December 2017


I've frequently expressed a nostalgic affinity for the Y2K fastcore/thrashcore scene around the turn of the century...the shit was legitimately positive and supportive and the bands were full of energy and even though there was, in retrospect, a lot of darkness lurking in the shadows of that pasty white sausage party, it was pure and genuine fun at the time, and I will always appreciate my connections to it. There's a dude in New Jersey named Ken who feels the same way, and he's putting together a goddamned oral history book about the whole fukkn scene and its far reaching influences. Also, Ken sings for a band called WALL BREAKER....and you can probably guess based on my lumbering preamble what kind of goods they deliver. Ripping, tough as nails and fast as fukk hardcore crosses everything off the checklist in just under seven and a half minutes. For example, you can see the breakdown in "Damaged Mind" coming from a mile away...then when it drops it still catches you by surprise and you want to break shit. This is far from a retro novelty act, WALL BREAKER feels it 100%, and the difference is palpable. 

08 December 2017


Two of my favorite people put this one together for my single favorite person in or around 1999 when we all lived in the same flat on 24th Street. It was a different time...rent was $100/month, Matty was still alive and sharing a room with Matt, who was starting to get pretty good at applying his makeup, Kim was still alive and living in the pantry with Allan, Liz was still getting into fights with the stove and taking comically long baths, and Scottzy's business was booming in the room next to ours. I had band practice three nights a week and we all seemed to work only when and/or if we wanted to. Aesop and Janis made this tape for Karoline...because they loved her (and, I assume, they still do). We kept the tape not just because it's good (it is), but because we love them also. 

For some context, the architects of this collection are Janis (STONE FOX, HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE, FEMME FATALE, PINK, WINTERTHRALL, L7...and others) and Aesop (HICKEY, AGALLOCH, YOGURT, VHOL, LUDICRA, MIAMI....and others). So your collective interest/s should be piqued without me disclosing any specifics about the contents. Enjoy.