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I've said it countless times, but I've thought it countless more....one of the best perks about dragging this out of date cassette blog (because, I mean, who even writes or hosts or curates these anymore - much less bothers to read them or use them as anything approaching a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.