Sometimes reliving the darker periods of my adolescence is horrible...but then there are times when something jogs a memory of the moments that weren't miserable and I wasn't suicidal. Discovering OCEAN BLUE with Scott Danbom and watching with wonder as this 14 year old (?) kid made music on his then-state of the art keyboard. Driving aimlessly with Chase Valdez in his Karmann Ghia (I think it was orange?) and listening to THE SUNDAYS. Hearing THE PRIMITIVES and trying to convince my pal Dotti that they were great (maybe it worked, but I never sold her on THE PIXIES, she thought "Monkey Gone To Heaven" was noisy crap). Making mix tapes for Laurie and hoping to find some CURE b-side or live cut that she hadn't heard before...this was all happening while I was reading No More Censorship inserts in DEAD KENNEDYS records and mail ordering SCREAMING TREES and RUN WESTY RUN records because they were on the same label as MINUTEMEN and HÜSKER DÜ. And it was all the same to me. It was all an escape. It was all a connection to worlds outside of our shitty town, and connections to the lifelines that we maintained within it. And this is where I went the first time I heard BUMMED.
14 December 2018
This was made for parties. Made for punks and ragers who don't mind having a few beverages and/or substances and hanging their pretense on a coatrack near the door. One side is a collection of mostly shit-fi angular art freak sounds that fall in line with much of the Trim Tab catalog - heavy synth presence, lots of drums machines, a stripped down Neue Deutsche Welle vibe running through tracks by JPGRR, FUN FARE, PURPURSPYTT, THE STACHES (who steal the side with "Total Commitment"). MOSQUITO EGO...too any to run down the full list, but twenty tracks of pure freak musik filling almost 50 minutes with joy and intrigue. But it's arguably the flip side that really confirms the party is coming and YOU are fukkn invited. Shameless celebration of catchy commercial dance hits, some you know better than you'd like to admit and a few that were new to me on this mix...SUGABABES, DOJA CAT, PRINCESS fucking NOKIA just to touch on a few, then the side ends with the brilliant "Dye My Hair," which may or may not have been the first body blow in a fist fight with mainstream youth culture that ended with my mouse hovering over the *buy now* icon on ALMA's webstore, wondering if I could get away with wearing a neon yellow sweatshirt with printed tribal sleeves but knowing that "Chasing Highs" was going to be my winter jam. You need to just submit and trust me on this...better yet, trust Riso Club in Leipzig.
13 December 2018
A Washington ripper from 2013, MULTITUDE's four song banger is like modern metallic ScandiCrust crashing headlong into '00s US mutant hardcore. So maybe you listen to GENOCIDE SS and think that's as fierce as it gets? Or maybe in your world "hardcore stomps" start and finish with 1-2-1-2 and you're scared of guitar solos? Or maybe you just need a serious kick in the fucking ass, like most of the world. Clench your fist, and don't forget the Late NeoLiberal Holocausts EP, released the following year.
12 December 2018
More nostalgia for a lost era of loose, arguably shitty and intensely earnest USDIY punk. It's the same charm that makes WHITE TRASH SUPERMAN more than just "some band from Mississippi" to anyone who can really hear them. It's the guilty giddy feeling you get when you crank Boogadaboogadaboogada when no one else is home. It's being sweaty and half drunk and not giving a shit about anything except that very moment, even if that means you might wind up crying in the bushes before the night is over. STAG push all of those buttons....and they did it on the first listen, even though (or especially because) that first listen came in 2018.
This generation Memorex suggests to me that STAG were a product of the early '90s, but with no information included, your guess is as good as mine. Date your demos, kids!
11 December 2018
Harder than normal to find the right words for VERA MALETA. These are sounds and feelings and conjurings that come from a distant time and an unimaginable place. Truly meditative, with layers of vocals and assemblages that take you on an inward path. Recommended for night listening, and seasonally appropriate...I don't throw out the "witchy" descriptor lightly, but rarely have I encountered an artist more worthy.
10 December 2018
I'm going to assume that Tokyo's UNARM need no introduction at this point. Maximum energy Japanese hardcore of the highest order, period. Four songs on this banger, released for their West Coast tour in 2017....relentless rage and riffs for days.
09 December 2018
At the risk of your world settling into a state of acceptance and/or complacency, I present Baltimore's ELAGABALUS. True freak synth psych/metal - there are guitars in there somewhere, but it's like GOBLIN and MONK MONTGOMERY reinterpreting one of those eyeliner mall metal bands.....dude, it's weird. After several trips on their journey, The Wizard isn't even sure if he likes ELAGABALUS, but still he keeps going back to the lab for more sonic research...and this is worth more than something - it is worth a lot.
08 December 2018
It seems like every time I discuss an old(er) band from the modern age (I'm talking '90s through mid '00s or so) I get nostalgic...like "I miss that" or "remember when punk felt like this" or some other old man bullshit. It would be easy to just dig into relic after relic and convince yourself that there was nothing worth listening to anymore, or accept that your relevance has passed, wallow in the basement DIY version of FOGHAT and feel pathetic. Enter DESERTER: by any typical measure, they are fine. It's a pretty rough recording, a small(er) town trainwreck of unintentionally raw epic crust and then-dated basement screamo crammed into a tortured cassette 4-track recorder and topped with leads screamed through a Gorilla 1x8' combo amp. BUT.....it's great. And that's the thing, the pretense is gone and DESERTER are going for it. Not going for the pretense, or the brass ring or the prize or whatever, DESERTER are going for it. And maybe that's the thing...there's not a better or worse, and it's not about importance or irrelevance, these are all artifacts, they are all moments. Maybe they are ours that we share, maybe someone else's that we observe or enjoy, or maybe they simply pass us by. Also, the URANUS cover is a bold move and kinda brings the whole damn thing together.
And speaking of relevance, SHIT COFFINS is playing a show tonight with several bands that collectively feature members of SCHLONG, VARUKERS, SACRILEGE, DYSTOPIA, ACTS OF SEDITION, NEUROSIS, TALK IS POISON, FLUX OF PINK INDIANS, and countless others.
07 December 2018
Again: regional punk compilations rule, ok?
Six tracks from Newfoundland, six from Nova Scotia, twelve tracks of killer mid-aughts hardcore and/or punk. Enough said.
In Order: BRICKS, GRUMP, WOOLWORM, PUNK LUXURY, NEVER HUMAN, WEAK LINK, NOT FRIENDS, BAD PLAN, CARNATION, MIND VIOLENCE, NEW FLESH
06 December 2018
How did these people make a shredding hardcore record sound like a damaged surf/garage assault and a perfect unknown '90s Basement DIY nugget at the same time? Then again....ours is not to question why, ours is to fucking dig, right? Total freakazoid Portland sounds of the highest order, as far as I can tell these kids dropped a demo 6 years ago and ghosted, which kinda adds to the mystique. Also, "Break Borrow" is a 100% classic punk jammer.
05 December 2018
While I'm not really going to pretend to be an expert and probably can't tell you much that you can't figure out with a relatively quick Internetting, I will drop enough characters to let you know that ELMO HOPE was a fukkn beast, a tortured beast but a beast nonetheless. Contemporaries with Monk, shot by the pigs as a teenager, plagued by heroin, and blessed with an approach to jazz/bop piano that was truly his own, Hope died in 1967 after just 43 years on earth, but managed a legacy on influence that extended (extends) far beyond his years. Also, he recorded this motherfukkr in 1963 with an ensemble who were all veterans of Rikers Island. My first real exposure to jazz was from my boss on a graveyard bakery shift in Oklahoma...her partner was named Morris, and that fool played the shit out of the piano and we would all listen to jazz all night long, both of them schooling me and telling me stories just like I probably bore kids today foolish enough to feign interest in whatever I'm into. Morris fukkn loved ELMO HOPE, and this record swings and bangs hard, from the drum intro to "One For Joe" right through to the slightly off kilter "Kevin."
03 December 2018
I've said it more than a few times in these pages, but pop punk and then-known-as "melodic hardcore" gets a WAY bigger pass when you start including DIY punk and hardcore from non-North American regions. Not only were more kids simply running with influences from the music they had access to, but it was a time with far fewer internet-dictated norms and mores...so punks were just playing what they fukkn wanted to. And here's a brutally honest newsflash....pop punk can be pretty damn fun. Doesn't mean it's not pissed, doesn't mean it's not political, doesn't mean it's not important...and is definitely doesn't mean it's not good. 5 SENTIDOS fall more in line stylistically with last week's ALL YOU CAN EAT post than with any of the commercial pop punk that might come to mind, further exemplifying how the lack (or absence) of rules simply results in better sounds. Period. It's like DESCENDENTS and WHITE TRASH SUPERMAN...and "La Puerta," even as a mostly instrumental track, is on a short list of unheralded and likely forgotten classic songs. I mean...you aren't too cool, are you?
It sounds just as fierce as that DragonChainDog cover art looks. Brutal hardcore stomps with overwhelming guitar phasers when it's slow and epic YOT (via the gutter) vocal snarls. Montreal's REMWAR push all of the fukkn buttons on this demo, and last year's Bunker Boys EP was more of the same...emphasis on more. Killer shits for when you need to get over, not just get through.
02 December 2018
As if the cover isn't enough, these Australian deliver a raw-fidelity thrash assault that lands somewhere between Obsessed By Cruelty and GRIMPLE. I assume there has been more since this 2013 demo, but I've been too stuck on "Thrash Is My Girlfriend" to bother looking. Yeah....you know exactly what I mean.
01 December 2018
This one is filthy....like really grimy. Low end heavy bass driven dirges that sound like they are being unearthed as you listen....like SEIZED on some dust stepped on hard with speed and rat poison. You can't help but think that something is missing the whole time you listen, but instead of a feeling of absence or want, CLEAN adds the void into their mix as if the void itself is an integral part of their plan and/or presentation. Ultra primitive sounds, skip the flourishes and just go straight to bludgeoning....except for the lead bass in "Pharaoh's Serpent, which sounds like a damaged MONK MONTGOMERY, but I digress....
30 November 2018
All hail region specific compilations, and especially ones that focus on overlooked eras and/or regions. The View piles over an hour of under the radar punk and hardcore onto this comp, and it's fukkn great...but first off, NEON CHRIST's "Savior" is one of the greatest uncelebrated tracks from a band known primarily for playing faster and looser than anyone on the planet, this song is just pure power and should be considered essential listening. The rest of the comp is excellent, with dips into the proto/pre college radio/alt that put the post hardcore era on the map mixed in with basement DIY and punks breaking out of the then "traditional" formulas. Highlights for me include ACT OF FAITH, KICKER BOYS, THIRD SEASON and STICKMEN....but I am only two ears.
The Atlanta specific Beyond Failure blog made an excellent post about this compilation many years ago. Worth checking for a local's perspective alone, but the comments from the label and other people involved and influenced by the tape at the time are well worth a read. Careful though - I got caught up in some pretty lengthy Atlanta nostalgia...and I'm definitely not from Atlanta.
29 November 2018
Bands try to manufacture this kind of primal chaos, but the discerning listener can see right through them. AD NAUSEUM, however, were the real deal. The first of several cassette releases, 1982's self titled demo is an assault of inept anarcho punk delivered with raw and pure desperation, fighting through tape hiss and a guitar pegged to the right, tracks like "What A State" bang two riffs back and forth like a manic pinball machine. Most of the tape is made up of rudimentary slogs, a verse chorus verse chorus verse chorus stop structure repeated song after song, teenage punk at it's absolute finest. Like I said...you can't make this shit up, and when it's real you know it.
The tape includes a ten song session (I have to assume this is a rehearsal recording, because if they paid someone for this then they are either really drunk or really foolish), followed by a 19 song set from March of 1982....as if to prove that the ramshackle performance captured on tape is, in fact, really what AD NAUSEUM delivers. I shared this one a few years back, but after a few loud listens last week and the realization that many pre-2013 links have long passed into the digital ether (yes, I know...no, I won't/can't fix/replace them all) it seemed that a revisit was a good idea. Cheers to the kids who do and who go hard, whether they know how to or not.
28 November 2018
ALL YOU CAN EAT were like an earworm in the early '90s, you couldn't escape them. Danny B, Myron and Devon worked with a rotating cast bass players before landing on Craigums and essentially conquering the world while acting as a life line connecting San Francisco to the rest of the DIY world. You might think that San Francisco, itself a hub of punk to people around the world, didn't need a life line - but ALL YOU CAN EAT connected an entirely new generation of punk and punks to their contemporaries in the far corners of the planet in a way that the (then older) establishment simply couldn't...plenty of parallels to current scenarios and scenes within scenes, but they did it with postcards and letters and handmade tapes, and they formed bonds (for themselves and the people around them...including myself) that would last lifetimes. Europe was easy, the network was there and bands had been using it for a decade before ALL YOU CAN EAT started playing shows....so they never went to Europe. But there were arguably the first US DIY band to tour Japan, they booked tours in Brazil, Argentina, Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand....through the fucking mail. Their energy and antics on stage were epic (also: notably photogenic), and it was the legend of those performances that transcended their recorded output, while their seemingly insatiable lust for adventure and the beauty of international DIY punk transcended the shows themselves. They presented as a goofy pop punk band, but tracks like "Lucifudge (You Thought It Was Over)" showcases their love for ripping '80s crossover, and the influences run as deep as the list of sub-subgenres that record nerds continue to pull out of their collective ass(es)....ALL YOU CAN EAT were always so much more than they presented. This recording has most of their hits ("I Saw Your Girlfriend In A Movie," "This Die Cast Metal Has Life," "Food Fight") plus a track called "Everything Sucks" that predates the DESCENDENTS track and Danny B said he did not remember writing, playing or recording. My point is that these dudes were very important....these dudes are very important. And not just to me.
27 November 2018
I appreciate the way these folks do it - a steady trickle of two song cassettes, contents as sparse as the presentation. Lo fidelity dream pop, fuzzed out like the sonic version of the photocopied cover, wrapping two lazy chords around the eight minutes contained inside. It's almost as if the more you listen, the less there is to actually here, which is an art in itself....and this is, apparently, a mission more than a theme.
26 November 2018
XRDM dropped this short offering last year, further reinforcing their status as Kota Kinabalu's fiercest export. Nine tracks in just eight minutes, Fashkodato! is an all out dual vocal fastcore assault, with more nods to low end '90s DIY crust than their previous releases. The piercing highs of Nzt's vocals create a monstrous contrast with the choruses of gruff low backing vox, and then "Avoidance" kicks with a gloriously adolescent bridge before Nzt takes the song to its close. It's theoretically simple shit, really...but these kids are just so fucking fierce. Drums barely hold it together for the fast parts and then somehow tighten up on the blasts...maybe because this is a machine that was built from the start for pure speed and uncompromising power. Third World Hardcore Forever.
I want to see this band live...
25 November 2018
After six years, a welcome return visit from Edmonton's FALSEHOOD. Black, pummeling crust that's more refined and more sinister than on their 2011 debut, which means that FALSEHOOD was even more devastating. An uncanny knack for moving with ease from HHIG styled blasting to all encompassing depressive doom and then filling the cavernous void in between the two with epic ferocity, the almost 8 minute "Deceiver" is a perfect example of what a band can do if they just allow themselves to spread their wings and soar. Pigeonhole this as "blackened crust" and cheat yourself, or listen at full volume with half a heat on and treat yourself.
Bonus points for taking the band pic taken in front of a peaceful stream and photo-shopping them in an apocalyptic graveyard...
24 November 2018
I don't remember when I met Jason Griffin, but I feel like I've know of the dude for a solid 20+ years. HICKEY crossed paths with his band TRES KIDS during one (of many) jaunts through the Southern States, and there's a pretty famous photo of someone from the band passed out next to a pile of vomit, curled up around a HICKEY CD...and over time these are the associations that stick with you. I missed DIVORCE, I missed NO, I feel like I maybe played with GOAT SHANTY in Richmond in 2002, definitely saw AMERICAN CHEESEBURGER in Texas in the mid-'00s, then NO STATIK played with HARSH WORDS in Atlanta in 2013. The point is, it's not like we are tight or anything, but man, I really like that dude...and he hits the drums really good. Like, really good. I also missed SHAVED CHRIST, who claim one of the coolest monikers in modern hardcore and are complete rippers. Like TOTAL FURY crashing headlong into NEON CHRIST, these Georgia kids just fukkn burn through forced, disjointed and ultimately destructive US hardcore punk. No fancy studio work, just one screaming (loose) guitar track amped up higher than the rest of the mix and a crew of fellas banging the shit out of some punk because that's what they fukkn do. There was one six song EP that came shortly after this 2011 demo - I suggest seeking out that slab. You need it.
Listen to the one guitar overdub in "No Crux" and then come talk to me about punk. Fukk.