16 August 2018


It opens like a ...And Justice For All-era influenced crossover thing, but then it turns into an amalgamation of metallic hardcore, crunchy guitar '90s melodic punk and about five other things that could only have existed on the same recording in that glorious but lost decade of punk when there were no suppositions, no rules, and you just simply liked what you liked and played what you wanted to play. Clean guitar surf break in "Un Dia En La Vida" before breaking into third wave ska? Why the fukk not - and it rules. 


LIFE DRAG have been nice enough to visit The Escape several times, and I think that each time they settle a little more into the weird reality that they are making their own. Forty minutes here, for fans of Mark E. Smith and Dilloway and Blixa and Branca and Gira and solitude and emptiness. Flawless. 

15 August 2018


I figured after VACCUUM had run it's course that I would never do vocals for a band again - I had always been curious, and it felt exceptionally awkward, so I was happy to have given it a go, but even happier to go back to hiding behind by bass. Then a few months ago a few pals asked if I would be interested in this project....and here we are. 100 copies of the demo, pressed for the tour that started with our first show on Sunday (why fukk around, right?), these four tracks along with five more from the same session will make it to 12" wax be the end of the year, and careful listeners will note the blown out analog nature of this cassette reproduction vs. the stuff already available on the www. This one wasn't easy - self destruction, bad decisions, a soul crushing amount of pain, hate and then ultimately, gratitude. Enjoy. 

Remaining dates on the COMMUNICATES (Tokyo)//SHIT COFFINS tour: 
8/15 - Mexicali
8/16 - Los Angeles
8/17 - San Francisco

14 August 2018


I want you to think about something, really consider something: This is Volume Fukkn FOUR. Your weird uncle's bedroom hobby dreams realized in homemade cassette form, even his version of Conway Twitty/s creepy ass "You've Never Been This Far Before" sounds harmless when presented with Fawcett's North Woods drawl. For purists and weirdos only, of course. 

13 August 2018


This thing....ooooofffff, I swear you don't find 'em like this very often. São Paulo's PRESTO? are utterly mindblowing, with 21 songs clocking in just over 17 minutes, and they still have time to throw in flares like the face melting lurching blasts in "Auto Ajuda" that make up what is one of the most intense segments of a hc/grind song ever. Ever. Yeah, I said that. Released in 2001 at the height of fastcore, Odio Pure Concentrado is quite simply head and shoulders above vurtually all of their contemporaries - from the metallic riffing in "Correna" (and ugh that breakdown - are you kidding me?!) to the devastating and ominous opening 40 seconds of "Progresso Accelerado," it's literally everything I want from this style of hardcore. It doesn't just hold up after all these years, this one still sets the fukkn bar.  

12 August 2018


Playing music between bands at shows is an important skill. No one wants to hear full volume death metal while the next hardcore band is setting up, and even at a reasonable volume it can get pretty old just playing music over the PA that sounds more or less like the bands playing on the stage. When Karoline and I see Willie Nelson (which is as often as possible, to be clear), we can expect to hear a newer Willie Nelson record played at a moderate volume over the PA - this works nicely, but probably doesn't translate to punk and hardcore shows very well. At 2015's Everything Is Not OK festival, John and I thought we would be funny and we convinced the sound engineer to play COLLECTIVE SOUL before the headliner took the stage...imagine our surprise when we realized that we had not considered the generational gap before we plotted our joke - that proto commercial grunge hit that came out when we were in our mid-20s and was a source of ridicule for the decades that ensued? Well it was pure classic rock to these kids, as if someone had put on AEROSMITH's "Toys In The Attic" for us in 1993, and those kids loved it, all singing the "yea-ayuh"s in unison at the bridge. At the now defunct Balazo aka Submission Gallery in SF, a constantly revolving bevy of men seemed to have two things in common: an inability to make any band sound good, and a steadfast determination to play raw punk and/or metal at maximum volume whenever there was not a band playing, rendering conversation or any other activity virtually impossible. Anyone who went to hardcore/PV shows in San Jose during the early '10s surely remembers the amazing R&B/Soul dance parties that would spontaneously break out nearly every damn time, it was an amazing and addictive break from the fury, and going from CAPITALIST CASUALTIES to MARY J. BLIGE almost always seemed perfectly logical. Then Friday evening at the CELL ROT show in Oakland, between bands we heard the hits from a young(er) punk's youth: 4 NON BLONDES, WEEZER, 311...hell, that COLLECTIVE SOUL track would have fit in nicely. It was all at a reasonable, conversation friendly volume (keeping us ne'er do wells in the venue and off the street), and every now and then you'd see people quietly bobbing their heads, maybe getting into the groove a little too much, or maybe just having a nice reminisce....it worked, and I hope it works again tonight.

There's a reason for all this, I promise. Other than the desire to just bloviate, that show last night made me think of this GRINSPOON demo, it somehow landed in my brain between the modern hardcore with a penchant for a mean breakdown and the between band easy listening radio alternative heavyweights I kept hearing between bands. Like when Eric mentioned that there's an OFFSPRING/311 split EP coming out soon (this is real, y'all...seriously) I just thought about posting this tape. Australia's GRINSPOON land(ed) more on the heavy end of the '90s alterna-spectrum, more in line with SEASON TO RISK, HELMET, BRUTAL JUICE and the like, but you kinda get the feeling that (at least some of?) these dudes used to be legit heshers - the same way that MACHINE HEAD is almost completely uninteresting, but they still have "something" that you can't quite put your finger on. I mean...you're hearing me here, right? Listen to the fukkd sounding guitar on the breaks in "Post-Enebriated Society" (sic), and the drums that lead into the chorus of "Pig Pen" totally remind me of NUNCHAKU, while "Champion" is straight RATM complete with the Morello waka-waka guitars. Maybe this whole thing stirs something in you. Probably not, but I felt it necessary to share nonetheless...and hopefully someone, somewhere will pump this bad boy through the speakers between bands. At a reasonable volume of course. 

11 August 2018


Once again, the things that slip by you sometimes blow your mind more than the things that you paid attention to at the time. This BAD BLOOD tape is a hard banging high energy stomper from start to finish, but I swear the band was little more than a blip on my mental radar at the time. It's the right kind of distortion, the kind that comes from just being full wylde style all the time, and damn I wish I had seen this outfit in the fukkn flesh, because their self titled 2014 cassette just drips with sweat and raw ass energy. Yeah, ass energy. Raw. Dripping all over the tape. And I played it anyway....like several times. I guess the association with Not Normal should mean that I'm not surprised, and i'm not surprised exactly, I'm just blown the fukk away. 

Worth noting that "Mono-Scented Freak" starts of with the same (admittedly generic) two chord progression as ARTIMUS PYLE's "Already Dead" (2003) and that one IRON LUNG song that I contributed backup vocals to - the irony of me pointing this out will not be lost on close followers and/or nerds. 

10 August 2018

09 JULY 88

I don't need to (further) discuss the beauty or the importance of mix tapes, but there's something especially magical about an unmarked cassette filled with new and sometimes mysterious tracks. Like many folks, one of my first introductions to "underground" punk and hardcore was the P.E.A.C.E. double LP, but my copy was dubbed onto cassette with all of the artists listed.....in alphabetical order. So this Oklahoma teenager had exactly zero chance of figuring out who was DECLINO and who was SHIT S.A. and whether that was CONTRAZIONE or R.A.F. PUNK doing "Sbarre." But that was half the excitement (who IS this....? WHAT is this?!), and today's 09 JULY 88 mix tape taps into some of that joy - 63 minutes of punk and proto-punk and outsider music. I was able to pick out classics from MENACE, ARTISTIC DECLINE, AVENGERS and DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, contemporary late '80s US punk from STIKKY, BEAT HAPPENING and MR. T EXPERIENCE (all of whom sound insanely fresh in this context - BEAT HAPPENING providing one of the highlights of the tape, in fact) and nuggets from THE FUGS, THE MOCK TURTLES and a coupla burners from THEM. But there are loads more tracks that escape my far-from-encyclopedic brain, and I think that this mix is expertly crafted for long drives and/or party settings. So....a tip of the hat to the creature who created this, and a casual nod to the invisible hands of the universe that guided it from The Creator's hands to mine, and now to yours. 

09 August 2018


If you asked me about the best Bay Area punk band that you'd never heard of. If you asked me who was the one band that you had missed out on, the one who had slid in under your radar and then disappeared into the forgotten realm while you were understandably busy discovering MOZART and DEIMOS CULT and MASS ARREST and revisiting APEFACE and HICKEY and TRAGIC MULATTO. It makes sense...there's a lot of shit to dig into from around these parts. Our version of a lull would make lots of places jealous. So when a band plats a few songs and drops a five song banger before calling it quits, it's perfectly reasonable that people would kinda forget. But, my friends, the internet was invented to make sure that you always get a second chance. A second chance to fukk up. A second chance for other people to see shit that you did years ago that you wish no one had ever seen. And a second chance for you to listen to the FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS demo. It bangs relentlessly, and packs a relentless mid-'90s East Bay fury like a motherfukkr...plus the tracks themselves are pure gold. I've said it in assorted ways over the years, but if you decode to only leave a handful of jams as your legacy, then they might as well be good ones. Or, in the case of FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS......great ones. 

08 August 2018


I think you could easily argue that up front and in your face left wing politics are more necessary now than they ever were in the '90s (at least in the so-called "west" and/or "first world" countries), but I guess there's no harm in reaching back for a taste of that fire now and then. What HUMAN ERROR lack(ed) in proficiency, they more than make up for with grit, delivering 40 minutes of bulldozer hardcore (four studio tracks and a 30+ minute live set) assailing the rich and the corporations and abusers....you know, the same people who have been fucking the collective "us" for generations. AUS ROTTEN via DISORDER, with a Death And Pure Destruction-era DEATH SENTENCE guitar sound that is wholly endearing. Rough, forceful, unashamed....it's what we need in punk.

I want to thank people for turning up to the anti-McDonald's protests, and thank the people who turned up for the Rock Against McDonald's gig - we made $900 that night for the Global Support Campaign. 

07 August 2018


Sometimes it's simply a matter of how far you are willing to travel off the path. Different approaches to electronic/psych/folk/trance/noise from each artist here, and while I find the RIGHT EYE RITA side entirely more listenable, I think that FORCED INTO FEMININITY's utterly abrasive approach a worthwhile challenge. This 2015(?) cassette is a highly recommended detour off the beaten path, and the version of "The Applicant" here is worth the price of admission on its own.

06 August 2018


Sometimes vacations are unannounced, and sometimes sabbaticals absence just leaves you wanting more. Returned last night from a ten day jaunt through the Yucca Mesa and wondrous Wonder Valley, the Riverwest 24 in Milwaukee (aka The People's Holiday, aka The Best Day Of The Year), a LAUGHING DOG show in the middle of a few days in Albuquerque, and several guerrilla photo exhibits in and on abandoned things across the southwestern United States. My intent was to stockpile enough posts to get you through the hard times, but sometimes hard times are just....hard. 

The final (I think?) offering from these NYC children, DEFORMITY's 2013 demo serves as a nice portal to the manic and psychedelic KALEIDOSCOPE attack that was to follow. Raw and disjointed punk, still shaking rules off its back...but with great success. I recommend referring to the band's earlier work ALSO, but absolutely not instead of this demo, as the progression is noteworthy. "No-One" must be one of the screamingest pogo/thrash attacks I have ever heard, and DEFORMITY warrants more than a casual glance in the review mirror.