The 1970s were the heyday for American country and western songwriters. Without question, many of the greatest songs of the genre were penned by the pioneers in the decades prior, but artists were too often chained to the Nashville Sound and overzealous producers bent on stamping out endless versions of the same hitmakers. But by the late '60s, pickers started migrating away from the constraints that the record industry put on them, spending time in Texas and even California and finding their own voices. Some, like Willie Nelson, were probably emboldened by the freedom that their success as a writer allowed them, while others were simply determined to create on their own terms. I feel like 1971's The Taker/Tulsa was Waylon's first real statement record, even though it came more than a dozen full lengths into his then-relatively-short solo career. The record swings a little harder, the burners are a little faster, and he builds a bridge between the layered studio production of establishment Nashville in "(Don't Let The Sun Set On You) Tulsa" and the almost funky swing of Kristofferson's "The Taker," the biggest hit on the record and one of the first real shots in the battle that Outlaw Country would wage against the industry throughout the decade. Sometime in the '80s, seizing on the commercial popularity of the artists who had strived to pave their own collective musical path, players like RCA issued literally dozens of collections pre-Outlaw recordings from Waylon and Willie, who had both been under contract with the label for much of the '60s, while fly by night labels started repackaging early recordings in an effort to jump on the bandwagon and cash in. The ultimate result is that you can come across some crucial 1960's country for even cheaper than the relatively affordable original releases, and you can find them literally everywhere. This copy of 1984's The Taker, from UK reissue monolith Everest, takes about half of The Taker/Tulsa and combines it with his versions of "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" (Mel Tillis), "Today I Started Loving You Again" (Merle Haggard), and an additional Kristofferson track, "Sunday Morning Coming Down" just for good measure. Even though I prefer The Taker/Tulsa in its original form, if only for the songs that didn't make this compilation, the substitutions maintain the feel and flow (most specifically the version of John Hartford's "Gentle On My Mind," which stands with the title track as the highlight of this collection), and you can practically hear Jennings pulling away from the Establishment while still working as a part of it. The moral, I suppose, is to not skip over the 49¢ cassette bin at those rural Goodwills...
30 January 2019
Benefitted supremely from a filthy recording, HOT TIP create a whirlwind of sound on their 2014 demo. A sonic cacophony in line with early '90s MOHINDER/HEROIN chaos, but with a devastating AmRep bass rumble and a casual caterwaul posing as vocal presentation, this upstate New York group makes you feel tense from the inside out. There was a much more polished full length recording that came out a couple of years after this tape that shows what HOT TIP were going for - meticulously constructed and wholly engaging rough indie with guitar leads taking a front seat as much as the vocals, more than a slight dusting of YEAH YEAH YEAHS over the top. It's super good, but the two releases present very differently...and I will almost always choose the dirty road.
29 January 2019
No sense fronting: I don't really know shit about Greek punk. I know PANX ROMANA, I have a couple of ANTI... records, HIBERNATION was a monster in the late '90s Skuld/Profane realm and those STRESS reissues from a few years ago get pretty regular spins, but I still don't really know shit about Greek punk. I first heard GULAG on the Disturbing The Common Peace comp and those tracks are really good, but 1990's Στην Αυλή Των Θεαμάτων (In The Showyard) is a straight killer. Classic tuneful/tunefilled '80s (East) Euro punk to be filed alongside VERDUN, F.P.B. and EU80, GULAG approach punk with a fearless intensity that opens doors that most punks would walk right by without even bothering to knock. Powerful melodic vocals throughout that give the band a(n almost) goth edge but instead seem to opt for honesty, something far too often lacking in punk from any generation or region. This tape was hand (and lovingly) crafted by someone a long time ago, with all of the album info typed out and presented with a color copy of the cover for underground distribution and/or communication. Let's hope the motivation was the latter.
28 January 2019
I hadn't heard of this band until I heard rumblings from SFO punks about their recent show in Oakland, and about how I was clearly out of touch if I was letting myself miss it. So be it, I suppose - age will keep advancing until I'm dead and my touch gets weaker and weaker as poor blood circulation advances along with that age...but I took note nonetheless because it's important to listen to the kids. Sometimes. Luckily, I got a second chance in San Francisco last weekend, and as I stepped into that basement, the wall of sound blew me the fukk over...the kids were right. Maximum intensity blown out raw DBeat punk of the highest order with riff presentation and song construction head and shoulders above the crowd. ETERAZ inject the mid tempo metallic DISCHARGE chug (hereto referred to as "dischug") into unhinged lightning fast DBeat seamlessly, and I don't mean like "fast part/slow part" (because anyone can do that), it's like they are doing it at the same damn time. The show was sweaty and loud, and the band was fukkn good...the tape gives you a chance to listen and dissect though - and there's a LOT to dissect - so this might be a rare instance where I prefer the recorded manifestation. Although, after these riffs and these howls are ingrained in my head, I have a feeling that the next show will be even better.
27 January 2019
I feel like freak sounds like Big Ole Trees are suppressed by The Internet. In his hypothetical 2019 resurgence, JONNY HAHN would have a youtube channel or some shit, and maybe there would even be a flurry of activity as a track like "Proposed Land Abuse Action" went viral...but ultimately it would be lost in the white noise of digital data...much in the same way that I present it to you today. But to come across an artifact like this in it's physical form, to wipe the scum from the cover off on your pants while digging through detritus in a desert resale shop and wonder what world you are about to step into....? That is the magic of physical media. Of physical ephemera. An outlet for outsiders, independent cassettes were cheap and easy to reproduce, and for literally a few dollars the voiceless were amplified - and those voices still ring out. Like an '80s Berkeley castoff activist co-mingling with D.J. LEBOWITZ, Hahn peppered instrumental compositions with topical left wing jabs like "Oliver North" and "Who Killed Director Casey?" and sowed his seed in plastic shelled pods. One of those pods lay dormant in Arizona until recently...and now it grows. True freaks and outsiders only.
26 January 2019
It doesn't take long to know this POLLUTED BRAIN demo is a winner. That four chord mid tempo DISCHARGE chug intro makes you stand instantly at attention and wonder which way they going to go next. There are many potential successful trajectories a band can take from an intro so basic and so good....POLLUTED BRAIN seem to travel in all of them. At once. N.O.T.A. by way of RIPCORD, with a stop in DC along the way to pick up a dead mint copy of Legless Bull just for the extra riffs. Nine minutes of hardcore punk....the formula is so simple, and it's hard to deny the power when it's this good.
25 January 2019
24 January 2019
This is kinda perfect, and not just because it came as a surprise packaged up with a MARSHSTEPPER record. Ultimate proto-modern post punk, like a WIRE/WIPERS hybrid reincarnated in Memphis in 2004, JON EDIFICE sits (alone?) on a guitar shaped pedestal in the midst of the Ascetic House roster...and he seems to feel right at home. Angular, robotic and brilliantly tuned in to the important sounds of aural addiction. Also - it looks badass.
23 January 2019
22 January 2019
Some sounds are borderless, and sometimes you need a low end neanderthal mosh. And no matter where you are (or were) after 1997 or so, there were bands like CONFRONTO. Take their contemporary countrymen POINT OF NO RETURN as a stylistic comparison, this Rio de Janeiro powerhouse drop metallic brutality with gratuitous chug chugs and jud juds, and only break loose a few times on their '99 debut. Brooding, burly metalcore in its infancy (they have evolved over 20 years into a thrash/metalcore behemoth), CONFRONTO are at once timeless and shamelessly dated - which is to say that this demo doesn't take me back to a place, rather it puts me in a place. And also the mosh....the mosh.
21 January 2019
Anyone know anything about this fool? I mean aside from the flawless hair and that shirt and the icy almond. You might know "See The Funny Little Clown," but you probably don't know that this is the dude responsible. Well....that smash single ain't even the banger here. Even though a thrift store in Sierra Vista, AZ stored the damn thing in the sun and half of the tape is warped to shit, the uppercut to body blow combo of "If You've Got A Heart" into the heavy "Broomstick Cowboy" makes me want to dig way deep into BOBBY GOLDSBORO's '70s AM radio glory days. Suspend preconceptions and let Bobby take you back.
Dream on little Broomstick Cowboy, dream while you can
For soon you'll be a dreadful thing - my son, you'll be a man...
20 January 2019
An anthemic epic for the rockers and the nostalgic set, Truman Zone harkens back to the '00s before neocrust was called neocrust - when it was just the music that everyone seemed to be making and everyone seemed to listening to. High/low vocals on top of a relentless mid-DBeat gallop...it's In Darkness-era WOLFBRIGADE, and it's executed perfectly. A couple of rock 'n roll burners (a la DISFEAR, keeping with the melodic Swedish hardcore theme) and when they unleash, LOS REVOLUCIONARIOS really get after it. For every kid that had a ragged TRAGEDY patch in 2004, and still can't bring themselves to get rid of the jacket even though it's threadbare and hasn't fit for ten years.
As always, this is presented to you as the cassette was presented to me. Glitches and fast edits that sound like mp3 compressions on a couple of tracks (like the absolute banger "Creative Forms Of Fears") are manufacturing defects on the cassette itself, and part of the frustration/charm of the format - even if the result of the inclusion of digital reproduction at some point in the chain. This recording is also available directly from the band.
19 January 2019
Brutal, raw, relentless and disorienting, this Maine outfit just lays waste to all musical convention. You may start to feel dizzy during the anxious stops/starts in "The Subject Terrain," as BAKKARA just attack and attack with the subtlety of an earth mover. Ultra distorted (by design and by accident) bombastic chaos for the noise not music set.
18 January 2019
Yeah, more of this....but y'all know the drill by now, right? Because you should - it's a good ass drill. The motherfukkrs who compiled this series are legit genius.es, with THE HEARTBEATS rolling into BRENDA & THE TABULATIONS' "The Touch Of You" (serious candidate for sleeper Track Of Eternity consideration). THE SAPPHIRES' "Who Do You Love" into the JACKIE ROSS floor slammer "Selfish Love," a track that deserves a place alongside THE SUPREMES. And then these fools drop an (abridged) AARON NEVILLE slow jam right in the middle of this motherfukkr and if there was ever any doubt that the East Side Story crew was fucking around....well then be assured that this is the real shit. Twelve more tracks...twelve more essential tracks - because if you don't have your roots then you don't have a fucking thing.
17 January 2019
A dizzying collection of beats and sounds and manipulations makes Tim Cosner's Dead Tech/Modern Homes at once challenging, painful and brilliant. From tracks like "F Real" that sound like your older brother's Intellivision glitching out to NITZER EBB styled repetitive pummeling filtered through modern retro primitive electronica, it's all engaging....and maybe that's it, maybe Cosner is an actual sonic future primitive, inflicting intentionally lo-fi tweaks on sounds that are dying to be massive floorshakers. The construction/s are disorienting and can distract the listener even inside themselves....yeah, I'm gonna have to listen to this one some more. I'll get back to you.
16 January 2019
1. I Want It.
2. I Feel Sick.
3. I Don't Care.
I think first three titles presented without comment should probably be enough to sell even the most apprehensive punk. BONDAGE sweeten the pot with a barrage of 60-90 second four on the floor bursts that land between '77 UK, '17 Midwest and '83 California, with Faiza's reverbed wailings constantly hovering over the top. Austin's BONDAGE are, if nothing else, a perfect example of a band making something new out of all of the old things.
15 January 2019
Yesterday was a total mindfuck. There's no need to go into details or mince words, but it was traumatic and awful and life affirming and powerful and all in the kind of way that you are glad it's over...and you are glad it happened. And then I came home and I listened to this total facemelting accumulation of sounds and electronics and beats and it was like a complete departure, a complete escape - like stepping into absence itself. A half hour of self indulgent psychedelic shoegaze techno does a lot to reset the heart, and sometimes what you really need is a reset.
14 January 2019
13 January 2019
This time it's the presentation more than the tracks themselves, because I don't think you can try to sound like this. The snare drum is like a damp dish rag and the guitars are tinny, marginally in tune and always slightly off time, all of which stands in contract to fiercely snarled and always out of breath vocals and a vicious approach to sharp, bare bones hardcore punk.The breakdown in "Holy War" is where it all really clicked for me - even though the demo was nearly over by that point....but that's where the phrase "turn it over" comes in.
12 January 2019
I bought this, along with a dozen or more other previously unknown-to-me cassettes, a few months back from a mail order distro that was having a pretty massive sale. My pal John was like "you heard of any of this shit?" and I was like "no, but it's all like $3 and the fool writes compelling descriptions and my PayPal account is flush" so I bit. I bit hard. And the aural juices flowed into my mouth when that package arrived and I I am still savoring the taste. ILYAS AHMED is probably the furthest thing from my typical wheelhouse that I welcomed into my collection and my life, but it also is having the most staying power. A (possibly accidental) combination of minimal psych that lands somewhere between FLOYD/SPACEMEN 3 and bedroom folk that harkens back to Wm. Ackerman's early Windham Hill, AHMED sets the tone with his nonchalantly ethereal guitars, fills in the cracks with other worldy other sounds and then just lays the vocals gently over the top....when the mood is right, I dare say that there are few things more fitting. Studded jackets and CIMEX patches will still be there when you wake up.
11 January 2019
I can assure you that it sounds every bit as stark as it looks, and those guitars are the very embodiment of damaged. Like, you kinda feel sorry for them (the guitars) because some cruel person spent almost 20 minutes just hurting them back in January of 2018. Hurting them badly. I hear FLAG and Land Speed-era DÜ buried in this recording, but THE WOUND are too fukkn nasty to settle for a "reminds me of" this or that, THE WOUND are aural punishment in it's purest form.
10 January 2019
Devastating solo project from one of the dudes from Oakland's NOPES, this release was well and deservedly hyped by relevant independent music press/es last year....but here, we are irrelevant. Fault is a brilliant bedroom mix of '80s UK post punk (I'm talking heavyweights here - THE FALL and JOY DIVISION don't get dropped lightly), JJ BURNEL, and early Chicago industrial, even if that combination is a total accident. Hopelessly hip, even if by accident, STUNTED could live as comfortably on the AmRep roster as in an intimate West Oakland kitchen gig that no one made flyers for and you didn't find out about until the next week....it's good y'all. it's really good.
09 January 2019
You have probably figured by now that I don't really do the dirty pop punk thing, or Region Rock or whatever...I typically take my hooks straight up, no dumpster. But as with all things, there are exceptions. Like TWAT SAUCE. I've been sitting on these monsters for literally years, so long that they've kinda become staples instead of casual plays. Sweaty, shameless, drunk, infectious, southeast US basement punk....and there's a recording of the band shotgunning beers on the demo. Vocals land dangerously close to BLATZ level supremity, you get the impression they've heard HICKEY more than twice, and there's just something about the way TWAT SAUCE put it all together. Two demos in today's link, from 2010 and 2011 - I snagged them both when they came out, so you know I been blasting "Can't Keep It Up" for a while now.
08 January 2019
Let's not mince words here, Fused is pure fukkn candy. You might not recognize the face, you might not know the name at first....but if you grew up in North America and are under the age of 65, then you've heard this motherfukkr. You might have even grown up with him. LA Law. Hill Street Blues. The A-Team. Law & Order (all of them). Motherfukkn Rockford Files. But he didn't just write the theme songs to all of those shows (and way more, *cough* Magnum P.I. *cough*), fool worked with DOLLY PARTON. Produced past prime-VAN HALEN. THE WHO wrote a song about him. And buried beneath the schlock (I mean, come on....television theme songs as a fukkn career), there are some legitimately sick orchestral/psychedelic arrangements on his lone studio release from 1975. Not surprisingly, it's like taking a guy who writes sick and catchy instrumental tracks (see: Rockford Files) and telling him to turn that into an epic full length release. Well....Mike Post did that shit.
1) Thanks to the 5/$1 cassette box at the city center thrift store in Ajo, Arizona for this one.
2) Tape warbles during "Overground Fusion" courtesy of life and offered here free of charge.
3) Apparently "Afternoon Of The Rhino" was, at one time, a dancefloor burner. I can see it.
4) It's my mother's birthday.
07 January 2019
Why not keep it killer, right? No sense wrapping up the first week of 2019 with some clunker, so here's a ripper from 2016. MYAKKA sound anxious the whole damn time, with a constant surge and some of the weirdest sounding punk guitars I've come across in a long long time. And not "what the fukk?!?" weird, more like "I've been listening for ten minutes and it turns out these guitars are weird" weird. Which is really a much more effective (and honestly? ...weirder) weird. All the gut punch you would expect from a modern south Florida hardcore act, and this one sticks with you something fierce. I recommend not dismissing the flip side - they did they whole "here's our demo backwards on the back side" thing, and it works really really well.
06 January 2019
Someone want to tell me where these bands come from? Because it's as if you fukkn blink and then there's this killer thing in your lap and you're all like "where did this come from?" so that's kinda why I'm asking. I mean, NOPE come from 2017 (and beyond), and they come from Winnipeg, but somehow that just confuses me more. It's like early DeutschPunk with '80s SoCal snarl and sneer, it's got those double snare taps that seem to automatically inject extra energy into all punk things. And the keyboards in "Couch Gag" - where did those come from? There's also a penchant for hooks that lands somewhere between CARBONAS and LUMPY and LA FRACTION....and it's all happening at the same time and still I'm like "where did this come from?" but mostly I just keep listening. More than most things I have posted here, this cassette is truly for fans of punk.