As always, I relish in the world of independent sound to delving deeper. Getting weirder. Exploring darkness in hidden corners...just to see what's lurking. Imagine the patience required to perform the 20+ minute "Cinderella" live, the excruciatingly slow build into white noise crashing into psychedelia and archival voice manipulations...to even think that it's a good idea is art in itself. Because it's not., which is precisely why it works. Live recordings from 2014 on both sides of this cassette, like a study into the very possibilities of sound without boundaries, using the space around the sound as an element of the sound itself, a deliberate creation with incredible measure and purpose. I want CYANIDE TOOTH to unleash, and he simply refuses. And through steadfast denial, we get exactly what we wanted.
30 August 2019
I suggest starting this series with Volume 1 here, and then sink into this hour of sounds that you know and a story that is ultimately fascinating for fans of this, or any, era of rock 'n roll. Host Mike Johnston focuses on STOOGES and MC5 in Volume 2, so you've likely heard most of the featured tracks, but this isn't (just) about the tracks. Between Johnston's clear reverence for the sound and time, and interviews with Ron Asheton (STOOGES) and Dennis Thompson (MC5) and some context from Scott Morgan (THE RATIONALS), this hour is a wholly compelling listen. These are the innovators - breaking the rules before most people knew there were rules, harnessing the politics and turning it all into one energy. So even if you've heard the free jazz meets high energy rock 'n roll freak out "Train Music" from the last MC5 studio session, I recommend listening to it again with Thompson's introduction.
"What that band tried to do was just open up the limits, because music is constrictive and formulaic and equative - it's the same equation played over and over again, and there's not much there for people to grab onto as a contemporary art form. Not much there that you can take away with you, not much content that you can dream on and base you life around. A lot of it's negative, and a lot of it's just pop and fluff. And the one thing I can say about The 5 is they stood for a lot of quality things: They stood for brotherhood and they stood for experimentation.
And they stood for the art form."
- Dennis Thompson, MC5
29 August 2019
This 2007 recording is challenging on purpose. Bl(e)ak metal from Washington (with BONE AWL members thrown in for good measure), GRAND MOOD presents as light and inoffensive, with clean guitars soaring overhead like cicadas creating a subtle menace in the mental distance. There are only three tracks (with an instrumental version of each on the flip), and they very blunt - you've got the ubiquitous howling BM vocals anguished in the dark corner of the mix and a lot of the riffs are honestly pretty standard, but this tape is all about creating a mood and transmitting a desperate energy. And in that, Final Urge To March is a great success.
28 August 2019
It's 2019, and I'm posting a tape from 2001 focused on ending US aggression in Afghanistan. Aggression and occupation that still continues after nearly two decades. Field recording from an anti-war protest on the A side, two doses of relentless Japanese crust on the flip...listening to this makes me really really pissed, and unfortunately the end result is a feeling of helplessness instead of hope. Maybe where that's where the intensity comes from.
27 August 2019
Without falling into an academic jazz analysis hole that goes way deeper than I'm equipped to climb out of, just listen to John Gilmore and Lee Morgan blow on this 1965 live recording. The entire ensemble is in complete control the whole time - the casual start to "Lament For Stacy" with Morgan's muted trumpet is the prime example - and the result is what feels like a simple and casual display of face melting chops spread out over this half hour-plus recording. Blakey as band leader uses the drums as much as encouragement as to keep time, creating a place for himself in the performance that feels like it was ready made just for him and his sticks. There's something special about listening to the masters, and hats off again to Loathed Sound for digging deep.
26 August 2019
That straight forward four-on-the-floor North American hardcore punk that has seemingly consumed every DIY punk that hasn't gone goth, but SLEW sound like they're on better drugs than most, and "Surveillance" brings to mind THE DOGS "Smash Your Face" in a really sick way. Only five tracks here, every one of them bangs hard, and I don't know shit about the band. SLEW included a bandcamp link on their demo, but it takes me to a Minnesota band who tag themselves (unironically) with the term "slap bass," so I'm just gonna guess it ain't the same SLEW. Anyway, bang on, my bangers.
25 August 2019
Those distorted drums that open up "Soup," and the bass that follows...it sounds like there's some unearthed JOY DIVISION session in front of me and I am at attention. But that only lasts 19 seconds, then they add a guitar, and another guitar...and another guitar, and vocals, and then I realize that I'm listening to a breathy rediscovery of MERCURY REV and/or PAVEMENT-esque '90s indie. And I still like it. From the lazy adolescent "Soup" to the blown out (lack of) production and casual chaos of "1998" these kids capture a time and a vibe brilliantly. There are a few harsher moments ("Cadillac" and the chorus in "California," for example) though for once I think that staying cool and mellow works in their favor. A note that this tape was duplicated WAY up in the red, so everything is blown out and most, if not all, subtleties are buried in distortion...and you see, these are the qualities that make our kind of punk so unique and, ultimately, interesting. No?
24 August 2019
Spite filled, dark and primitive industrial cacophony from Michigan's REDROT. This self titled offering, their/his first, was recorded in 2002 and unearthed in the early aughts by the fine people at Chondritic Sound....a dizzying display of industrial noise and manifested bedroom angst. From the creaks lurking beneath the chaos in "Pre-Kill" to the menacing digital rumble that permeates "Stealth Of Disease," prepare yourself for a 70+ minute assault on all senses. Also, the destruction of SWANS' "Thug" is perhaps the most logical thing that REDROT could have done.
23 August 2019
Another compilation of soul baring smoothness from the East Side Story series. There's a little more melancholy in this volume, especially with the power-combo of THE GALLAHADS "Lonely Guy" running right into ROSIE & THE ORIGINALS' tearjerker "Angel Baby" right out of the gate, setting the tone for a monster collection. "I Really Love You' (DEE DEE SHARP), "Together" (THE INTRUDERS), a little wet funk with "I Love You For All Season" (THE FUZZ), "Me And You" (BRENTON WOOD), plus the brilliant East Side formula that drops main stream standards in the middle of under-the-radar soul shakers. This time it's THE PENGUINS' "Earth Angel" and then RENE & RAY's "Queen Of My Heart" leading right into the full production swell of THE INTRUDER's "Together" - and they could have ended it there with no complaints, but hang your arm out the side window and feel the warm sun on your face while SAM & BILL belt out "For Your Love" and ROSIE & RON close this volume with "So Dearly." These comps can truly do no wrong, and vol.9 is perhaps the best yet.
One of the vocalists on the SAM & BILL track really reminds me of Rio Grande Mud-era Billy Gibbons, which is obviously not a criticism.
22 August 2019
Yes. While the underground/DIY world continues sinking deeper into synthesized pulsations and welcome a different '80s alternative genre into the fold. I like that the results keep getting weirder. Getting punker. Seizing ideal, shedding constriction and opening doors, sometimes these artists find themselves in a place that's very fucking similar to the people who gave me teenaged solace before the world of punk and DIY hardcore was fully in focus.....simply put, I welcome bands like E.T., and if these are the sounds that will make the basement walls shake moving forward then I welcome the future.
One, Two, Three, Four
What do you want....more?
21 August 2019
Lumbering and often awkward emotional hardcore from the basement scene that dominated 1990s Wisconsin. There are moments that might make you cringe in retrospect (most of "The Deepest Well" is a good example), and there moments that make you snap to attention thinking "Oh damn - these kids almost fucking nailed it." And there's something about teetering on the edge of almost that makes a historical document even more interesting.
20 August 2019
Raw and heavy rock 'n roll full of fire and dipped in fuzz. RED HORSE DRUNK PUNKS are from Virginia, but their sound is a study of past lives in The Philippines and classic burners sounds from all over the world. I hear Brasil's STRESS, there's some '70s Australian pub rock, early NYC trash, hell, "RHDP Way" even kinda reminds me of EBBA GRÖN a little bit....and the cover of the Juan de la Cruz band's "Beep Beep" is an unbelievably sick move. RHDP do the damn thing with such casual confidence....it feels like they were born to make these sounds. Because they were.
19 August 2019
Really? Sometimes I wish this Boston crowd would just release a turd, because it almost takes all the joy out of it when you know it's going to be great before you even hear it...and then it's great. LIFELESS DARK dropped a steaming pile of churning stench on last year's Who Will Be The Victims?, a three track clinic on how to execute bulldozer metalcrust that is arguable even more devastating than you think it's going to be. You can list all of the comparisons you want (and to be clear, to be clear), but I would suggest just listening...it might sound familiar, and maybe you just haven't heard it this good in a while. With a deadly members-of list more extensive than most teenagers' mp3 collections, the casual, confident success of this detonation isn't exactly a surprise.
18 August 2019
Deliberate and calculated improvisation from Los Angeles instrumental trio DOCTOR 9. When they're locked in, I'm reminded of Gabor Szabo stripped down to the rawest and simplest demo production....and then DOCTOR 9 get weird. Wandering guitars occasionally meet on the same path, only to trail off and continue on their own individual journey, complimenting each other along the way and having brief exchanges with the drums that present almost as an afterthought at times. Those wary of borderline pretentious prog be warned, this is an extremely indulgent experience - members of LA's FEATHERWOLF and GASP experimenting with no limitations....the curious among you will be rewarded.
17 August 2019
How many bands are there (and have there been) called BLEACH? Punk bands, hardcore bands, indie bands, electro bands, metal bands...there must literally be dozens, if not hundreds, who have slayed or disgraced stages and floors for decades. There's no way we can know how many bands called BLEACH are even worth mentioning much less revisiting, but I can say that there's a band called BLEACH from Edmonton who are straight fukkn fire.
16 August 2019
I shared my contribution last week. And when I returned home from a month traversing some of the lesser visited corners of the Great North American West with Karoline, my reward was waiting for me. I think I told the moderator that I liked "blackened crust" or something like that, but whatever I said totally worked because the tape I received is a perfect combination of filthy bangers that I already know (or own) and stuff that was new to me. If I were being overly critical, I would say that you don't really need to put HHIG on a tape curated for a group of nerds who are clearly already fans of the genre, but my mix tape style runs a little more off the beaten path, and cranking "Internally Bleeding" will always remind me of the first time I heard the track at volume just after passing the westbound toll gate on the Bay Bridge into SF 20something years ago. ATRAMENT, TEMPEST, HEXIS, SKITSYSYSTYEM, AGRIMONIA, NEGATIVE STANDARDS, MISANTHROPIC make up most of the first side, SYMPTOM, WORMWOOM, VORDE, UNRU, BÖLZER, BOTANIST, BUIOINGOLA on the flip. Listening highlights were remembering how much I like UNRU, the stupid fast eurocrust BÜTRON, and the ALUK TODOLO material that wraps up the first side. Signups for the August edition of the exchange open up today...rest assured I will participate.
15 August 2019
A collection of killer live recordings released by ROIR in 1983 (related: check the ROIR mailorder catalog included in the insert, yowza!). It's funny how discordant funk gets classified as "no wave," and while that's often the case on Wild Things, it's the combination of sounds that truly makes BUSH TETRAS stand out - even/especially 35 years in the future. Repetitive drum and bass lay the foundation and the guitar just freaks the fuck out for essentially the entire set. Like a contemporary Roland S. Howard channelling spirits of a future past avant garde, guitarist Pat Place (ex-THE CONTORTIONS) seems to blast in and out of songs at will while the vocals land somewhere between Lydia Lunch and Siouxsie, intensity only slightly tempered with soul and honesty. Pretty much everything here is faster (and "punker") than the studio versions, most notably "Too Many Creeps," resulting in an infectiously spasmodic journey through an hour long no wave/post punk clinic. Rules aren't necessary...BUSH TETRAS make it clear that you just need to break them with confidence.
14 August 2019
A repost from September of 2009, when The Escape was just a fledgling little blog...back when blogs were a thing that (some) people (foolishly) thought were important. But in case you missed it, this dose of UK anarcho from 1984 is absolutely essential - innocent and determined political punk delivered with an honest ferocity. Listen to "We Don't Want A War" and apply it to the reality that is 2019 and these tracks scream relevance...worth noting that much of their millennial output is equally compelling.
13 August 2019
You already have this right? The FAITH 1981 demo presented as it should be, in all of the glory that a blown out 35 year old, third generation tape sitting in a box in some middle aged former trader's closet can muster. It doesn't sound perfect, but it's not supposed to - and that flange near the end of "Don't Tell Me" still pops every time. Live set from the Wilson Center in '82 is here if you want more.
12 August 2019
Blown out DBeat madness from Seoul. More or less a product of the usual suspects here (members from ARRYAM, SCUMRAID, SLANT, CRAWLER, others) - but I'm fine with overlap if the new bands continue to be this damn good (see Halifax as an example). Five deadly tracks offered by the venerable MYDY label.
Listen closely to the drums on "안빈낙도" and know that thins is how hardcore should be played. OK, there are a lot of ways, but this is definitely one of them.
11 August 2019
New Age hippie and/or Phoenix multi-instrumentalist Ed Van Fleet's SYNCHESTRA dropped eight cassettes on the venerable Elfin Music label before Van Fleet concentrated on releasing work under his own name, and this was his first. Peaceful synths soar and dominate 1981's Mother Earth's Lullaby as Van Fleet carries the listener on a journey of spiritual growth rooted in earth Herself. "We cannot achieve paradise in another dimension until we can create one in this dimension," writes Van Fleet on the J-card, "To this end and in the interest of our destiny, we offer this music." I accept your offer.
"Electronic and Acoustic Instruments at their sensitive best."
10 August 2019
Likely the final posthumous release from LIFE DRAG, Unidentify You is an excruciating dirge. Thirty minutes of darkness and frustration, manifested through bass, vocal, drum and sound. The assemblage here is interesting. The opener "Worker" is a disorganized cacophony, followed by "Farmer," which is an intentionally sloppy piece of brutality - awkward to listen to but also the least realized track on the tape. The trilogy that follows - "Polishing Hammers," "A New Trade" and "Unidentify You" - combine to make the most compelling twenty minutes of sound I have heard in a very very long time. It's a ferocious exercise in monotony and deliberation, a calculated assault on all senses and psyche, and it will leave you breathless. I'm not saying that the first two cuts aren't worth your time, but be aware that even when Schmidt and Benjamin shout bury you // one by one in "Farmer," they are just getting started.
09 August 2019
08 August 2019
Weirdo nerd punk with guitars straight out of 2015 NW Indiana (you know the scene I mean, right?) and an attitude lifted shamelessly from 1983. I'm guessing these kids are at home playing in basements and kitchens and perhaps weird coffee shops where one freak works and convinces their boss to have a gig. They just sound like outcasts, and their tracks are deadly good - like SF's SYNTHETIC ID but faster and with hardcore yowls. Check "Let Me Go" in particular, just don't let that crawly intro stomp fool you...(hint: it's not an intro).