A recent evening spent with Struggle To Survive reminded me of all of the dead links from The Early Escape Years (and it's weird to think that there is such a thing...but there is), but this post has way more to do with how good this tape is than how many other tapes are left dangling in the abyss of lost servers and mediafire data dumps. The pures might claim that hardcore was dead by 1987, and the self righteous might claim that nothing worthwhile happened after 1985 (incorrect), but there are so many underrated bands that popped up in that weird spacial void between punk's 1980s heyday and the birth of the DIY network in the 1990s. Not quite linked to the anarcho scene, removed from early hardcore, but playing by a rulebook that seemed to allow them to get away with whatever they wanted, these bands often appear to exist in an ether devoid of scene association...which is what makes them so appealing. BLACK OVER RED approach tuneful punk with the fury of the UK thrash that popped up around the same time, and it just manifests fiery punk. Killer punk...and I really like killer punk.
23 July 2018
This one is distorted so right. Dark and murky raw hardcore with a thunderous low end that's perfectly suited to that weird bouncy squirm that seemed to take over punk a while back. I was just talking yesterday about boogie and how most good punk has a nice ass shaking rhythm, often hidden beneath the leather. And while LA's NO PEACE might not remind you of "People Of The South Wind" (insert "people Of The Southland" joke here...a joke that perhaps only SoCal residents will get, and a joke that perhaps isn't really very funny), there's something about that rumble that gets me going. Weird ass chopped up edit of this demo, which only serves to make it more engaging - it's good when punks keep you on your toes, even if by accident. If the rest of your week is a crushing as Volume One, then I'd say you are doing OK.
22 July 2018
Delivery is important, sometimes more important than the content itself, and delivery is where BLACK MONUMENTS really fukkn nails it. A stark and cold and abrasive synth driven monstrosity that crams early art punk/wave weirdness that lives at the intersection of SCREAMERS, DOW JONES AND THE INDUSTRIALS and DEVO...an intersection with no traffic signal and countless blind spots. Farty bass, thin drum machine, piercing synths and ferociously barked vocals, it's like all of the hype with none of the pretense.
21 July 2018
20 July 2018
Punks. When something goes wrong or someone needs help, they just seem to say "let's do a benefit." And as easy as it can be to dismiss this allocation of financial and personal resources (seriously, it's really easy), it's just as important to recognize the common struggle and speak in a unified voice....even if that voice is straining to be heard over screaming guitars. This compilation was released to raise money for and awareness of refugee Camp de la Liniére in Dunkerque, France during what was then the most heart wrenching public refugee crisis of my adult life. That crisis has now faded into the shadows, shrouded by packed nationless boats in the Mediterranean and unforgivable crimes against family and humanity at the US/Mexican border. So, do we need another compilation cassette? Maybe not, but it helps to know you're not alone in your thoughts....and maybe it will help you know that you aren't alone in your actions.
It's worth noting that this comp fukkn screams from start to finish. The bands you recognize on that cover all offer stellar tracks, and some of the bangingest bangers included are from bands that were heretofore unknown to me. Also, I fully recognize what a pass my passport gives me...it's a pass that every resident of earth should be afforded.
19 July 2018
Mexican punk rules....y'all already know this, right? I mean, you must know this. Mexican hardcore also rules, but that should have been an obvious conclusion. I'm not trying to say that across the board Mexican bands are the best or anything (though I would not argue if you tried to make such an aassertion), I just mean that there's a specific bent to Mexican punk and hardcore that I can never quite put my finger on - it's distinctive and it's awesome. Also, CADENAXO are very very sick.
18 July 2018
Anyone know what the fukk this is? Or where it came from? Aside from the dreamboat on the (photocopied) cover, the context of this offering is a complete mystery. Vocal/piano musings that lie somewhere in a bedroom across the hall from ANDREW W.K. and two floors down from NICK CAVE, a bedroom in which TOM WAITS and DJ LEBOWITZ occasionally rest their weary heads between gigs. Also, there's a wild ass saxophone in one song. I simultaneously praise and curse the makers of cassettes like these - the people who include no information and not even any clues in the packaging of their homemade works. So we listen and we wonder and we ask...we ask what and we ask why.
17 July 2018
You want it to be sharp and sassy, right? You want it to have teeth, but still want the bass lick that leads into the guitar solo to fukkn swing, right? You want the vocals to whine just enough to get on your nerves, and then you want to rip your clothes off and get sweaty and get the fukk down, right? You want it to be so cool that you fukkn hate it, and then you want it just be just a little cooler so you won't care. I have good news for you, friend: You want DILETTANTES.
16 July 2018
Texas punk. Squirmy and weird. And fukkn pissed. One of the best bands I have seen (so far) in 2018. You'll maybe want to trash the first two bangers since both copies of this tape I got were duped like shit, but on first listen it makes the mosh in "Paz" that much sicker when it drops, so I present the tracks as they were presented to me.
15 July 2018
I saw San Antonio's AMYGDALA last night with a new local screamo band called HAWAK and PROVOKE. Small show - Sick show, all of the bands were stellar, and it was sweet to say hello to a really nice group of Texas folks that I hope I keep running into for years to come. It was their first time to California, and I when was chatting with Yole about their route I asked if they were going to Chico. The next day, in fact...which is today. And I thought: "man, that last OUTSIDE LOOKING IN demo is a certified banger, I should post that tomorrow." Say what you will about the Oi! chants during the breakdown of "Fortunate Son" (yes, that one), and say what you will about the main riff from "Content With Discontent" (a straight rip of HÜSKER DÜ's "Target"), but mostly just note that this band just fukkn smokes. I've only seen them once, and that was years ago...but I need to see them again.
14 July 2018
I've said it countless times, but I've thought it countless more....one of the best perks about dragging this out of date cassette blog (because, I mean, who even writes or hosts or curates these anymore - much less bothers to read them or use them as anything approaching a resource? That's what discogs and googletube are for, right?) is the random donations. The promo-esque stuff is swell, don't get me wrong, because who doesn't like free stuff? But when someone is like "I think this rips and I want people to know about it but it seems like history and punk's short attention span relegated this to the shadows" and then they offer up a cassette for the archive? Well....it's fukkn rad, and that's what today is. Post-TEAR IT UP Dave on vocals, these five songs are rock 'n roll tinged US hardcore that I honestly think could have been huge had they gone a slightly different route (or perhaps if they had simply stayed together). Crazy melodic noodling on one of the guitars while the band charges full force at all times, and an instantly comfortable listen because it's a sound that you already know....but THE GOOD BOOK offer just enough of something to hold you tight.
13 July 2018
Listen To Me Last is brilliant mix tape, a remnant from a relatively small circle of friends and sound dealers active in the mid-'00s....a circle we called the Milwaukee Mix Tape Exchange. Me met one Sunday a month at RiverHorse, where John and I played records to a tiny room that was typically half full. But on Mix Tape Exchange nights, that room was sometimes as much as 2/3 full, and that extra bump came from people like Jen and Ellie and Patsy and Brad and Dave....people who fukkn loved sound, loved new sounds, and loved creating mix tapes. Because a good mix tape isn't just a thing that you make, or a thing you put together, it's truly a thing that you create. From Gambia's SUPER EAGLES to EXCLAIM, from CIRCLE to FIONA APPLE, Dave absolutely crushed on this one...carrying a melancholic vibe through artists as diverse as his chosen audience and closing with the curve ball (and, to be honest, arguably lazy) move of dropping his own band's 12" near the end of side B. In its entirety. Who does that?! Dave does. And its a sick move (and Dark Well is an underrated banger to the extreme), allowing the listener to completely settle in (read: submit) before wrapping up with a peppy track from MILKTRAIN and a superb come down from SUNNO))). Keep for casual dips if you like, or settle in for the long haul (recommended), but Listen To Me Last is a benchmark for sonic collections...and for friendship.
12 July 2018
Ten tracks in as many minutes means I am probably interested. Ten hardcore tracks filled with intensity and hooks and '80s SoCal swing delivered with turn of the century US hardcore intensity means I'm definitely hooked. Take "Lo Arruine," a track seamlessly introduced by SUN RA that launches into a kick drum heavy B'LAST pace and comes to a halt after an infectious ass shaking mosh starts to really settle in....and then it's as if ASALTO is like "nah....we out - we feel like playing a different burner right now." Urgency often reserved for harsh blasts is manifested here in midtempo, in your face hardcore, and this listener couldn't be happier. Also - what the fukk is the guitar doing in the main riff on "Dualidad"? I don't know, but it's the kind of shit that keeps me coming back to this tape over and over.
11 July 2018
Instant love on this one, proving that it's not all about volume and intensity...sometimes just the delivery is enough. Take drug addled shuffles, add vocoded backing vocals and an indescribably endearing childish attitude, ADAM HEALTON takes his Nuggets by way of early '80s LIPS freak/psych through laid back burners like "Ima Rollin' Stone" and "Mutate Ma Brain" while keeping his feet planted firmly in the bedroom. Or the closet. Wherever the 4-track tape machine lives, that's where Adam lives. I'm still not sure if this guy is devoid of or consumed by pretense and careful calculation, but if III is any indication then this keyboard crusader is gonna lose a few hours not caring why or how and just letting this genius wash over me.
10 July 2018
Seriously....listen to the guitar at the beginning of this fukkr. So loud, so fukkd....so good. It's like a damn icepick in your face, Repeatedly. In your face. And CANDY doesn't get any easier. Don't let those cute ass clackering teeth on the cover fool you, this shit is straight motherfukkn fire.
09 July 2018
Yesterday at the house, Karoline and I spent some serious time with JERRY REED's extensive (and flawless) catalog, then cranked CHRIST ON PARADE's A Mind Is A Terrible Thing LP before hitting the HETEROFOBIA/LAMPS/CREMALLERAS show at Thrillhouse. And this morning....? I listened to this 2014 demo from Texas metalpunks VERSKLAVEN. I listened to it really loud. A lot of people in San Francisco live in rooms in shared houses, but me and the wife? We got our own spot (for now), which means that volume is not an issue. Ever. And these three songs sound really fukkn good when they are really fukkn loud. Emphasis on the metal in that metalpunks descriptor, VERSKLAVEN's guitars are relentless, as is the galloping double kick, but those howling vocals are pure stench crust and it makes everything sound so much more real. The volume helps too.
08 July 2018
Not to be confused with STRANGERS or STRANGER or MAKING OUT WITH STRANGERS or STRANGERS, St. Louis freaks THE STRANGER welcome you into a shadow filled walk through the early night with five tracks of urgent and urgently flanged weirdo muzic. Dual guitars jangle aggressively, doing battle and dancing off of one another while manufactured misanthropy oozes from the backside of the microphone. The slows ("Decay," "Ritual") have that perfect sqrm that you young hung punks go apeshit for, but this old head gets wild for the early FLAG meets PERE UBU vibe on "Stranger With My Face" (yeah - figure that out, right?) and the unhinged burn of "Visions" that closes the tape. This band ain't new fodder for wise observers of flyover punk, with a wax platter on Lumpy already under their belt, but it's important to keep coastal elites and foreign dignitaries in the loop.
07 July 2018
Hail oppressive doom. The moment the first crash interrupts the feedback to start "Interred In Foam" and TEMPLE STEPS start deliberately marching forward, you can tell that these two tracks are very very real. Punctuated with bleak midrange screams, they slog through a quarter hour of despair, often using chords as moments of rest assembled into reluctant riffs. On the flip, WRECK appear slightly more technical and uptempo, with thick, low vocals and arguably unnecessary guitar flare - an argument that I stop making about three minutes in, when I fully succumb to the aura that WRECK creates. Listen to the desperate cries of "no tomorrow" as "On The Gallows" reaches its inevitable conclusion and you'll see why. They approach a funeral doom pace on "Unleash The Drones," a the end of that track is a perfect end to this split release. Both bands were new to me and both are presented with enthusiasm...there's nothing like spending a hot summer day with dark, oppressive sounds.
06 July 2018
The world needs more PISSING MATCHs. The punk world needs more bands like PISSING MATCH. Ten tracks of angry hardcore that lasts less than four minutes with not one breath wasted for bullshit, these Buffalo mutants cram complete songs into tiny little boxes without sacrificing the track or The Riff - with zero blasts. The demo's opus "Inflated Balloons" is a total classic with everything you need in a hardcore song....and it clocks in at 0:48. File alongside geniuses like RAD and PUSRAD, and listen repeatedly.
05 July 2018
04 July 2018
The first PROVOKE show I saw was one of the last with the lineup on this 2016 demo. They switched members with class, making their changes during the set so that the (then) new personnel finished the show. And cooler than the fact that they remained shit hot fire during every move was the camaraderie with which everything happened - like the "old" was just kinda passing the thing on and offering support. Like they were all still family. I'm not going to get into the male vocals on this demo vs. Jenny's vocals in the current lineup, because it really is still the same band and both singers are fukkn devastating so win/win. Fierce, urgent hardcore, not at all contrived, and a spirit that owes ever so slightly to early '00s political-meets-posi hardcore that flooded the scene (and speaking of that era, Moses nails the new millennium fastcore drums better than anyone I've watched in ages). They aren't a new band anymore, but PROVOKE are at the center of a new crew of hardcore in the Bay Area that is getting me (re)stoked.
03 July 2018
....and this is why tapes are great. Maybe it's not the physical medium itself, but simply the role cassettes played in a certain pre-internet era, and the window back in time that the artifacts offer us. Or maybe it's just that tapes are great....because they bring us sonic artifacts like this. CHARLOTTE'S WEB sum themselves up as well as I could (pizza, cider and turkey burgers), though they do't mention how gloriously damaged their guitar sounds, but I suppose they were just employing a little humility in their typed promo letter:
This would fit very nicely amongst the current rebirth of dark punk - early '80s CURE vibes mingling with songs that seem stuck between eras and staunchly committed to adhering to nothing. "Mutant Oranges" is the definite banger, but all three songs are well worth your time.
02 July 2018
I know these Swedes flew just under my radar for a while - but that's my problem, and I hope to make sure that it's not yours. I heard about SEX DWARF a few years ago; they've been quite busy lately (I know this because: Internet), and I pretty much always assumed they were gonna be killer when I got around to checking them out. Vocalist Per doesn't really do "decent" bands - he just sticks with the rippers (PROTES BENGT, FILTHY CHRISTIANS, BRUCE BANNER) and SEX DWARF is no exception...except that holy shit I was still not expecting this. From the high speed pogo fury of "Din Gud" to blistering all out DBeat/noise assaults like "Märkt Av Livet," where your only breath is hearing the wash of the cymbals fade away while the bass blurs ferociously into the song's second movement, these fifteen tracks are relentless. You know the kind of release that makes you want to just rest for a minute after you listen to it....? That's Non-Stop Erotic Noise Cabaret. Well, I went back and listened to "Erat Spel" a few times in a row just to figure out what the fukk they were doing, but then I took a break.
12" wax by D-Takt & Råpunk and Konton Crasher, this cassette version is from KL label/store Tandang. Physical possession is sometimes recommended....today it is necessary.
01 July 2018
When they finished, we just looked at each other. Slack-jawed and smiling...half bewildered and half excited, but completely amazed. It wasn't so much that we weren't sure what had just happened, it was that the band didn't seem like they knew what had just happened. It was a realness that you cannot fake, a disaster impossible to manufacture - it was an sonic trainwreck from start to finish, defying the songs on this (excellent) hardcore punk demo cassette to manifest themselves in the physical world. And it was amazing.