I like when a band, through delivery or recording (though typically a combination of the two) can come off this cold. It's in the stark staccato vocals barks, it's in a smoothed out guitar that sounds almost out of tune, and it's in the deliberate construction of the midpaced songs that they play on this 2016 cassette - the first of two self titled bangers. Sonic images of '80s AustroDeutsch dark DIY punk lurking deep in the shadows, never overpowering KETTENHUND's vision but still refusing to leave this form completely. The vibe on this tape is so overpowering that it took several listens to really let the songs themselves sink in....and I was already more than hooked by the time I got there, making short bursts like "Dreck" hit even harder than they would have on a casual listen. It's not about more, kids...it's bout better.
29 June 2018
I miss Chicago. I miss dipping down there to see or play shows. I miss sitting just to the outside of a tight knit scene that defied the disconnect of a massive megalopolis. I don't miss the traffic....but thankfully I get to bask in that steel and concrete glory in my current locale. And I miss the bands. The bands from the north side, the bands from Pilsen, the bands from the NW suburbs and, more notably after I left, the emergence of the NWI punks...they never seemed to isolate themselves, and it wasn't just new bands every time you blinked - it was good new bands. This 2013 comp gives you just a quick taste of what I (we) have been missing by not paying attention to the North Coast; DECAY AFTER DEATH's MotörGoth/DBeat hybrid sets a bar so monumentally high, and then stalwarts POPULATION, CEMETERY and STARING PROBLEM keep killing it before handing over the rest of the cassette to outfits that were new (to me) when this thing dropped. MAC BLACKOUT BAND, HAWAIIAN PUNCH, idXed, SLAG, KRANG, MORAL VOID and manic thunderous bass/drums grind from DIE TIME....everything on this tape rules. It's all here, it's all great, and I'm happy that I'll be flying into Midway on my trip in July. Maybe we'll stop by the Chicago Diner for a Seitanic Caesar before heading to Cream City for the 24.....
28 June 2018
Sometime in the late '90s there was SPAZZ show at 924 Gilman with CURTAIN RAIL, only the Japanese band never showed up. Word came in as bands were loading out at the end of the night that they had broken down and were stranded with the dude from Conspiracy Evolve at a hotel in Kettleman City. Not wanting to miss seeing these ragers in the flesh, and knowing how much it must suck to think about spending half of your tour stranded in the Central Valley, I drove south instead of driving home, and found myself knocking on a hotel room door around 4am. Four excited dudes opened the door and asked with a mix of curiosity and excitement, "Gilman Street?" The language barrier was severe, but eventually they understood that they had, in fact, completely missed playing at Gilman with SPAZZ (which, in the year 199whatever, was pretty much the holy grail for a fastcore band from Japan) and so we took a short nap before heading back to San Francisco for an afternoon show at Mission Records. That 20 minutes was well worth the late night run, as CURTAIN RAIL were a dervish of stops and starts and manic blasts with warp speed death metal riffs sneaking into their brand of Japanese Hardcore, just a complete and total assault in every way. And then I drove back to LA to send those dudes home....
One of the guys would go on to play in COFFINS (which perhaps help explain the metal tinge to those riffs), but the CURTAIN RAIL are just as deadly 20 years later. The To Be With You 12" is one of the most overlooked gems of the era, and I still come across it for a pittance. These recordings were sent to me after that batch of California shows...
27 June 2018
I love/d this band. Even though these two recordings are older than half of the crowd at an EXPLOITED gig in 2018, I was extremely pleased to see them repackaged together for redistribution to the masses. 7 MAGNIFICOS are weird, trippy, fast, snotty, catchy, and just simply brilliant. Added sounds and samples breathe life into the midpaced burners and there's an energy to both recordings that just can't be faked. SPITS level irreverence applied equally to Latin American '90s melody (which I've come to believe is just a love for RAMONES filtered through a reverse cultural appropriation, but I digress....) and feisty USDIY hardcore. Brilliant and weird punk music.
I posted a version of many of these tracks that was released as Per I Qualche Dollaro Piu (Por Un Punhado De Dolares Mas) during the early days of The Escape, and I keep that link live because the band is so fukkn good.
26 June 2018
There was a lot of activity in our filthy 24th Street flat in the late '90s - specifically referring to musical and artistic creativity and creation (though that opening salvo could definitely refer to plenty of other kinds of "activity") that our little group of miscreants had their collective hands in. In addition to countless bands and side projects and zines and drawings and paintings and writings...OFF DA PIGS was a neighborhood band that shouldn't have existed...Matty Luv (HICKEY, FUCKBOYZ, YOGURT) on guitar, Captain Norlon (FAGGZ) on bass, Scottzy (FAGGZ, IDIOTS, FUCKFACE/ARTIMUS PYLE) - everyone was friends and everyone partied together, so why not rock together? But the music was something like the sum of those parts recreated as an adult funk band with drug addled psych-by-way-of-Haight-Street guitars. It was weird, and made weirder by neighborhood dude Big Dog rapping over the whole thing, typically with a small posse of large men in tow. It didn't make any sense....and it was completely logical at the time. I guess maybe one way to casually acknowledge your position and privilege as a first wave gentrifier (arguably second or third wave) is to ask a local dude who grew up in the neighborhood to sing for your band and invite him over to get high, right? There was on 12" on Probe in 1998 that you can still snag for well under $5....you can hear Big Dog's vocals better on that recording than on this rehearsal tape, but I really feel like Norlon and Scottzy are in the pocket on these songs, and Matty is playing out of his mind leads. Plus, the third track could really just be a funky re-working of a HICKEY track, which is pretty cool.
25 June 2018
Ahhhhhh, back to the shit that made Mondays worth living for so long. ALLERGY occasionally ventures a little to close to WANKYS drunk noise territory, but they manage to teeter themselves drunkenly back on the right side of the fence that separates happy pogo from absolute rage. I'm not a Noise Not Music purist....I like good songs, I like dreamy vocals, and occasionally I like to feel a song's meaning sink into me a shine a mirror into my very soul. Sometimes though, I want to feel guitars piercing my brain and fight the (my) system to make the volume go even higher...sometimes I want to destroy. Enjoy your Monday.
24 June 2018
Like a garage No Wave outfit from an alternate plane, Oakland's WET DRAG swerve around four tracks of damaged primitive indie with a casual deliberation. Occasionally breaking into awkwardly addictive melodies ("Too Young," for example) the vibe is somewhere between PIL playing on a broken turntable and East Bay Ray playing guitar for BLURT....on Klonopin. The line between intentional pretension and accidental brilliance is a blurry one, y'all.
23 June 2018
Around the turn of the century, the DIY scene around these parts was exceptional. That's not meant as some "back in the day" comment, or to imply that things are not exceptional now....I'm just saying that punk and hardcore in and around San Francisco circa The Year 2000(ish) was really fukkn good. THE LAB RATS were the kids who took us all by surprise...the SF kids (which is different from the East Bay kids...and notable because SF has always felt like an "older" punk communnity) who showed up with tiny combo amps and just ripppppped with a live energy that made us old people (read: late 20s) take notice. Connor's vocals are straight teenage fire on this recording....hell, the whole band is straight teenage fire. Ultra high energy fastcore/punk that blends subgenres with a casual, if accidental, ease that still gets me like a kick in the pants.
22 June 2018
I really liked this from the start, and even though it's pretty far outside of my typical wheelhouse I found (and still find) myself coming back to it. Wildly infectious melodic punk with vocals up front, two female leads trading trading harmonies while they call/response through future classics like "Destroy To Contain" as if the layers of voices from FUZZBOX had been given new life as a completely different band on a completely different planet. The tunes are catchy as hell, and they swing with a drive and urgency that sits in contrast to the pure pop from some of the song construction. In a different lifetime this is Simple Machines, borderline riot grrl, early '90s college radio fodder with an occasional BABES/SMUT vibe...but in this lifetime it's three punks bashing out a few banger...but pretty bangers that will stay with you for days. I like things that are pretty.
21 June 2018
Anyone know if these Central Valley freaks still play shows? Because fukk I would love to see them live. STARK MOON is an excellent (if accidental) mix of raw modern noisy metalpunk and '80s peace punk - some of the character comes from the void that sometimes lies between intent and execution (that's the "if accidental" part), but rarely to you see blatant AMEBIX influences in present day blistering raw punk, and it turns out those influences are pretty crucial. Just three songs on this tape that I got from them just after they finished playing....which was the moment I walked in the door. Shit.
20 June 2018
Maudite Mémoire was a random 50¢ purchase a few summers ago, and this 1992 document is a perfect example of why I continue digging....and hopefully always will. Rooted in Québécois folk but with an ear to Faubert's '80s act JANITORS ANIMATED (I snagged the My God He's Terrible 12" from another discount bin on a trip to Tulsa in the late '80s...) this tape is full of beautiful haunting a cappella lilts with instrumental accompaniment on two notably excellent numbers. "La Passion De Jésus-Christ Telle Qu'inspirée Par L'Évangile Selon Majorique Duguay" is a mouthful, but rarely do I come across a single track that so completely envelops the listener, and rolling straight into the light hearted "Lamentations Sur Les Restes D'un Âne" is a perfect segue. The sincerity in the voice makes it sound as if Faubert is manifesting as Leonard Cohen singing alone in a cathedral - something that I wouldn't have known I wanted to hear until I actually heard it. And so we keep digging....
19 June 2018
This one has always struck me as hopelessly smart...like - maybe to smart for its own good. A Mark E. Smith irreverent swagger in the vocals gives these four jerky tunes more attitude than should be allowed without a license, and then there's the guitar that reminds me of SKATE KORPS (who, it turns out, were also from upstate New York - this might not be a coincidence) and a crisp, sharp presentation that defies punk in almost every way. Almost. "Complicated Medication" screams under-the-radar '80s UK post/art punk while "The Haze" comes of like a boisterous, angular, brooding (mostly undeniable) classic. This one is from 2014, and decidedly more calculated than the MALLWALKERS split or the "No Solace/Waxing" 45 that preceded it...I'm glad I don't have to choose between the two approaches.
18 June 2018
Tour was great (let's be honest - it usually is), Western Canada was breathtaking, and the last month of traveling has been superb. The United States of America is a terrifying place, and hardcore is just as fierce and ugly as it always has been....
To an outlier and/or outsider like myself, GASP never seemed to fit in. I wasn't hip to the inner workings and scene dynamics of the desperate hardcore that was coming out of Southern California in the '90s, and the connections that would create Power Violence were a world away from my reality at the time, even as I marveled at CROSSED OUT and CAPITALIST CASUALTIES and MITB, wondering what the fukk these people were doing (and what they were on). Though GASP seemed almost like they were a part of that world, to me they sounded like BUZZOV•EN and DYSTOPIA...but more psychedelic - and with blast beats. I would have had no clue while I listened to 1998's Drome Triler Of Puzzle Zoo People over and over, and I perhaps wouldn't even have cared. But I listened like a motherfukkr, and all of GASP's recordings hold up today as a pleading and ferocious document. Judging from the manifestation of their current form last fall at the Power Violence Project show in Oakland, two decades have done nothing to mellow GASP and my first live exposure was (thankfully) more than I could have expected. This is pure devastation - listen to the vocals during the slow parts of "Silver And Shiver When Troubled" and ask yourself what is happening to us: I'm ok, I'm ok, I'm fucking ok...so leave me here.
11 June 2018
I don't know if you can take this....but you have a few days to mull it over. I'm off to the wilderness with Karoline, and nothing else is going to matter for a few days. Well....tapes will still matter, and so will punk, but the wilderness is going to be pretty great, and my wife is better than everything else put together. More tunes in a week or so.
10 June 2018
Current band from Houston. Fukkn smokes. Listen loud, listen often. If you like North American Hardcore Punk Music, then you likely like LACE. There's a 45 and a 12"....but I post tapes. My Mask Is Off is a tape, and it is very good.
Tour is over tonight, final show in Calgary. The last time I was in Calgary was in 1996...FUCKFACE and HICKEY played a model shop and it got real wild. Not like a fashion model shop, that would have been weird....like a shop where people buy plastic model cars and airplanes and shit to take home and put together with rubber cement and get all high on the fumes. Anyway, it was wild, one of the best shows on that trans-Canadian tour. I hope the same tonight at Dickens, even though there will likely not be any models of any kind, car or human. Calgary residents are encouraged to bring me Canadian punk and mutant cassettes from the'70s and the '80s and the '90s and the '00s and the '10s. I will shower you with gratitude and or loonies. Your choice.
09 June 2018
MotherFUCKKR. What the fuck is this and where has it been all of my punk life? I have a hard time understanding how something this brutal has stayed off of the radar for so long, but I'm glad to have it now...because now is better than never. Holy SHIT this thing bangs hard - relentless bursts of neanderthal hardcore absolutely in line with INFEST, CROSSED OUT, and/orNAUSEA (LA). Not that DEMISE sound like any of those acts per se, but we are talking about that level of intensity. There are a handful of vinyl releases that I've seen and passed up over the years, because I am an idiot, I suppose? After jamming this thing on repeat for like two hours and mentally crushing all of my internal enemies, I resolve to include them all into my fold eventually. Hopefully "eventually" in this case means "soon." Listen to "Is The Future?" a few times and tell me you aren't on my team....
Haunting sounds that teeter between sparse orchestral compositions and bleak ambient electronics. Palindromes is absolutely gorgeous, and requires the kind of attention that most of us do not allow ourselves to give. Listen to the beats that take over around the 13 minute mark and just as it's becoming clear that Swindell is a visionary the piano abruptly takes over once again. An extremely impressive piece of work, I recommend visiting his site directly for a proper sequence and complete version of these sounds...but in the meantime:
08 June 2018
Most of these tracks have appeared in these annals previously, but the monstrous impact that RHINOCERVS has made cannot be understated, and this collection is an excellent example of their power. Devour All The Living Things was released in 2013, compiling twelve tracks from Rhinocervs releases, and when you put them all together like this, the label/band/collective present an even more imposing presence than any of their releases on their own. Several tracks from the untitled RHINOCERVS cassettes (catalog numbers 02, 03, 07, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15) along with the numbing TUKAARIA, GLOSSOLALIA, and ODZ MANOUK, I have never come across a collective creative power as compelling as this one. Bleak and terrifying black metal from Los Angeles, presented in all its mutated forms over the course of just a few years, RHINOCERVS as an entity will be missed even though their very legacy may have necessitated their dissolution.
07 June 2018
Maybe this could have been released anywhere, maybe it could have been released anytime after 1994 or so, but there's something distinctive to me about US influenced hardcore from South America...which is exactly what RETHINK are. Heavy nods to DC and SWIZ, these kids pretty much nail it, and would have done quite well for themselves going back and forth across I-80 anytime during the '90s. The quieter, slower moments (specifically "Something Is Wrong") sound the most dated, but I look forward to midpaced melodic bands that sound like this...instead of GIVE or whatever new band that people say is the second coming of modern hardcore even though they sound like frat bar rock. RETHINK....? RETHINK just sound like thinking fucking punks.
Vancouver tonight, so I encourage all old BC punks to make the trek to the Rickshaw Theatre and bring me your old demos. You don't want them anyway, they are just taking up space. I have a bunch of spots on this guest list taking up space too....we can help each other out.
06 June 2018
Straight up one of the most powerful current live acts in the world. How two people can create such a cacophony and set such a powerful mood...it's just mystifying. Karoline and I flew them to San Francisco for our anniversary show last year, and I already look forward to the next time I can see them in the flesh. Centered around the state execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari, an Iranian woman who killed the man who was trying to rape her, these four songs transcend any preconceived notion you may have about power...it's helplessness manifested as overwhelming strength, and it feels as huge as it sounds. In the meantime, as much as I have listened to 2017's Black Flame EP, their new LP is dominating my world lately.
Violence begets Violence - a lesson learned
Violence begets Violence - I'm gonna take my turn
Why hang the rapist?
Watch him twist and turn
When you can torch the rapist? And watch that fucker burn
05 June 2018
Can't really put a finger on why I liked this one as much, or as instantly, as I did. I mean, the opening bars or "Amazon Woman" are so gloriously fukkd that it's hard to not pay attention - the tortured guitar struggling to emit anything beyond a grunt while vocals blurt staccato with sass and soul. It's like SCRATCH ACID and THE VANISHING, but punker than either. Rhode Island makes 'em right, forget what you think is cool and get amongst TOWANDA.
I could have just let the label say it all for me:
04 June 2018
Man, those PNW kids are really good at cranking out the hooks, right? Blown out basement punk that drips of late '70s swing. Two minute pop songs delivered with attitude and alcohol, the way primal rock 'n roll is meant to be delivered....and for $3 (or, in your case, free....you fukkn mooch) you simply can't go wrong.
Dear Eugene, Oregon punks: Bring me shitty '90s NW demos tonight, and I will put you on the guest. This is an example of using my "position" to benefit myself, but at least I offer something in return.
03 June 2018
This was the first band I played in when we moved back to San Francisco ten years ago. We were active for maybe a year and a half, played a few shows, released maybe 50 copies of this demo and recorded for a 12" with a few additional tracks that never saw physical form. It was mostly pretty fun, and led to me continuing to play with Trash in OPT OUT after SUICIDE BOMB dissolved...so a pretty decent "welcome home." Also, probably the "punkest" band I've ever played in.
Arcata/Eureka tonight, still trading guest list spots for cassettes. Priority given to '80s punk and hardcore, but id someone wants to drop a SAKÉ demo on me tonight or ask Roshawn to come to the gig so I can say hello, then I would be much obliged.
02 June 2018
I just missed this ferocious femme hardcore act when I left the Midwest, but it's not hard at all to picture them destroying Chicago basements in the waning days of The Last Great Century. Five tracks of straight fukkn fire that speaks to a different time that seems both not so long ago and an entire generation in the past. SANGRE DE ABAJO are awkward, jerky, full force and maximum energy at all times, blazing a path with determination and skill working in constant conflict. It's really really fukkn good.
01 June 2018
A buddy from Sacramento handed me this gem a few months back, said that he thought I should have it. He was right. THE YAH MOS kinda slipped by me at the time - too quirky perhaps? - and being able to revisit stuff you didn't pay enough attention to at the time is one of the genuine joys of punk, right? Full of attitude, these tracks (culled from two EPs and one compilation) sound more exciting and relevant now than I imagine I would have found them 25 years ago, but picture manic Midwest hardcore (say....HOLY SHIT!) and snarky California punks (as much as it pains me to say it...fans of F.Y.P. will eat this shit for breakfast) but throw in way more hooks than either of those bands can muster and a barrage of '90s San Diego screaming guitar leads....THE YAH MOS were a product of their time, perhaps...and perhaps their time was excellent.
And speaking of Sacramento, I will be there tonight at Holy Diver. You should bring me more relics from your fine city's punk history. Let's go back to the '80s though, shall we?