You can hear the anger. You can hear the frustration. You can feel the determination. When he yells "it doesn't mean shit," I know he sees the same world that I do.
30 May 2020
29 May 2020
Wrapping up this series today, it's been a great run. I love these comps, and the manner in which they were curated only makes them more appealing. Revisiting old favorites in the series (Barbara Lynn and Barbara Lewis each make repeat appearances, for example), casually dropping straight classics from James Brown and Etta James amongst uncovered gems from Brenton Wood and THE JIVE FIVE. The cassette versions are decidedly DIY in sound look and feel, so much that it can seem like you're pumping a mix slipped in your pocket be a would be lover on a summer afternoon....and you're just cruising through town, listening. Dreaming. These comps are brilliant, these comps are soundtracks to a completely different world. The links to the entire East Side Story series should all still be live, and all are recommended.
And I'll use the vibe as an excuse to cheat a little bit and add this mix from Maricon Collective. This CDr was handed off to us on tour years ago, and I dare say we listened to essentially nothing else for the rest of the trip. There's some overlap with the East Side comps, but classics are classics, and no one should mind listening to THE ELGINS sing "Darling Baby" just one more time....
The world is actual shit.
Steal moments for happiness, joy and freedom whenever and however you can.
28 May 2020
This one hit the spot the second I slapped it in, and I can't even guess how many times I've listened since. TOTAL LOSERS are what I want to think when someone talks about pop punk, or "poppy" punk or melodic hardcore or whatever...because they are fast and they are punk and they are poppy as fuck. There are early SoCal hooks, even a touch of MISFITS, doing time with 1980 Scandi punk, but there's also these little tastes of 1990s USDIY pop punk and that makes it even catchier...and ugh they are fast. A dozen burners in fourteen short minutes - "With Punk Rock I'm Not Alone," "Checkpoint For Your Love," "You're Gonna Need Your God," and the list goes on and on. Repeat listening is encouraged, and I hope there are more burners in my future.
27 May 2020
True mutant sounds from one of the fellows from VIOLENCE CREEPS, already mutants in their own collective rite. Audio collages, damaged sounds, psychedelic pop from another dimension. For the (few) people who will get the reference, this takes me back to the minimal recordings of ARTHUR STONE or other, related, drug addled Mission District creations from a long lost decade. It might also or alternately be free jazz for the new age.
You can find physical copies of this one and a pile of other weird shit at Digital Regress.
Be careful though.
26 May 2020
I kinda can't really stand how good this tape is. The second I've heard form Moscow's ОСОБЫЕ УСЛОВИЯ, this full length from 2016 is a stone classic. Steady and steadfast dark pop with soaring guitars and a vocal delivery worthy of Bizarro comparisons. There's an EP and a demo that came before this ('14 and '12, respectively), but they were building to Страх Уйти Без Сожаленя, and it was worth the effort. This release is magnificent.
25 May 2020
I was exceptionally psyched last year when I saw that SOW THREAT were coming to California. Not just because I want to see a whirling stench crust band from Okinawa in the flesh, but also because their drummer is Kiku (ex-ASSFORT, ex-CHARM, CFDv.1), one of the greatest dudes on this forsaken planet. I dropped him a line to tell him I was excited to see him....and alas he's only their local drummer - he moved to Okinawa after the 2011 Tōhoku quake and I'm pretty sure the island life suits him, but I digress. The band...was a filthy, murky, downtuned mess, like ENT through a fog, but with the irreverence of SOCIAL PORKS. I was floored, if there is any justice in the world then the 12" on SPHC will be revered as a classic, and who the fuck bookends a collection of songs like these with damaged Link Wray covers...? SOW THREAT do. Pairing them up with Portland's SUSS LAW was perfect for the tour and for this split - a piercing, hard charging new millennial crust assault drenched in noise. Drums are....well, the shit is fast and everything else is just trying to catch up. Volume, drinking, chaos - not necessarily but very likely in that order.
While writing this, I read that SOW THREAT guitarist Tamura passed away earlier this month. I met the fellow twice and he was extremely fucking nice....
24 May 2020
Let's keep trudging forward in the direction of "No Rules," shall we? This Buffalo act come off somewhere between THE OFFS, WIZZARD and TRAGIC MULATTO - just weird rock 'n roll freak outs with a trombone and a couple of ska parts. Shirts off summer sounds...if your summer includes getting extremely loose. "Claustrophobic" is an absolute classic.
23 May 2020
Did you miss the Not Normal cassingle series from a few years back? I feel like the tapes were gone in less time than it took to listen to them (which was not very many minutes), but what a seriously killer batch of killers. FAILED MUTATION, GLOW GOD, NO NEGATIVE - I'm sure there were others and I'm sure that I missed a few. I didn't miss SPLASHIN' SAFARI. Two 67 second rippers with snappy paper bag drums, a hollow rumbling low end and a piercing aggressive jangle masquerading as a guitar. "Violent Days" closes the tape, an unexpected piece of aggressive pop punk with the whiniest most perfect vocals. Hard to explain, definitely great...short, to the point, excellent.
22 May 2020
Everything that I said yesterday? It all applies to this band and this cassette as well. We dubbed and assembled an unknown quantity, one at a time, to send to promoters (read "promoters") before a series of consecutive tours that lasted almost six months in total. A couple of songs from our first EP, a song from the HICKEY split with different lyrics, and what I think is the only FUCKFACE recording of "Hedonistic Calculus," which was leftover from our time as MULTIPLE CHOICE and always one of my favorite songs to play. Just another artifact.
For those interested, all of the FUCKFACE releases are now available on most streaming platforms. So if you ever felt like asking your mom's Smart Speaker to "play Big Pile O' Cocaine by Fuckface," then now is your chance.
21 May 2020
I don't need to start an essay about the 1990s, about how the years are misrepresented by punk revisionists. I've certainly blabbed more than enough in these pages to warrant a '90s Reader that will offer more than my fair share of the collective opinion on the matter, and yet the fact remains....the 1990s USDIY punk scene is far too often dismissed horribly misrepresented. The life and genre defining bands that took advantage of the last gasp of organic scene and sound development, before taste makers (and their tastes) went digital, went warp speed, and some element of free thought and expression was replaced with access and emulation. There are countless lost artifacts from that lost decade, and certainly many of them are from bands trying their hand at this punk thing because of something they saw on cable television instead and not because of a crucial mix tape they got from a pen pal's pen pal in Austria who knew about all of the good bands, but this was a time when even those late night no budget music video shows were precious little glimpses into the world that you wanted to touch. Does this mean that every mid-'90s Ohio artifact is an invaluable piece of punk history....? Probably not. It just means that it was, and somehow that context means something.
Worth noting that the demo pictured is probably from 1994/95, but the band were nice enough to slap the 1996 Centsless Records demo at the end, and those four cuts are way better than the first eight. Killer GG/early-Weasel spit and vinegar with screaming NYC'77 guitars.
20 May 2020
19 May 2020
Mindfuck electronic and industrial improvisation, recorded and released in 2005. Not much I can say that the ebbs and swells of distortion and manipulation that they don't say for themselves...but I can say that a complete and disorienting immersion into this recording was exactly the kind of release and/or escape that the Earth called for today. Volume.
Each side is edited with a cool down period...I found the subtle (to the point of absence) chatter after completion to be almost therapeutic in and of itself.
18 May 2020
There was a time when I reached for this genre (and honestly, this band) with some frequency. For whatever reason my ears started turning towards the kids in the '10s, and I feel like doom is primarily a second wave thing - your first band doesn't play oppressive doom, it's the later bands...after you've become rightly disillusioned. But still, the familiar riff that starts "Who Is This Who Is Coming" makes the chills come, and slowly the intensity and despair cloud the rest of the experience. Eight songs, averaging around six minutes apiece, with a devastating RORSCHACH cover to close things out. MOLOCH's catalog is much celebrated, but I confess that I always reach back.
17 May 2020
It's just....mean. Two demos on one cassette, and the spine pretty much describes the band: Toronto Hardcore. Vicious, deliberate midpaced bursts that pack no subtlety whatsoever. Brutality in two movements, both recorded in 2014 - the second batch is faster, ever so slightly more polished, while the first is dirty and furious. "No Truth" is the toughest NAHC track I've come across in a long long time. Today was exactly the day to revisit this one.
16 May 2020
1970s PINK FLOYD crashing headlong into psychedelic goth punk, all presented in a style just easy enough to compartmentalize that casual listeners will catch the JAMC/COCTEAU/SIOUXSIE similarities (as I did the first time) and make the mistake of moving on (as I also did). Two of these cuts made the 1985 Open Mind Surgery compilation, including "Crazy," which is probably considered the hit by most folks. But "Psychotic Episode" is really the focal point on this tape, and it is nothing if not aptly named. Only four songs here, yet another example of all of the stones still left to be uncovered...
15 May 2020
:TWO MIX TAPES:
Distance was put together by me one night last week. My challenge was to use one EP box for each side, with a little help from the "recent listening/to be filed" section, and the result is quite nice. Freakouts 17: Helvetinmatka is part of a series of mix tapes from Jensen Ward (IRON LUNG, Iron Lung Records), and is presented as two 31 minute movements (track listing is included with the download).
14 May 2020
The way that punk (and "underground" music in general) crept through Eastern Europe fascinates me. Legendary bands who never released records or even proper demo tapes, just existing on myth and discreet handoffs of live recordings. A cold urgency from punks existing within while actively chipping away the Iron Curtain that separated them from the "west," and creating some of the most compelling music of the 1980s in the process. But what of Bulgaria in 1995? That's what I was asking when I popped in the JUST A PRODUCT demo and heard three tracks of stark, driving UK power pop drenched Eastern European punk. Like XS•ENERGY snuck onto the the Jak Punk To Punk comp or something....and it's cool. There are, of course, five other songs on this tape that completely blow all of my context out of the water because this was of course released after The Punk Explosion, after The (cultural) West had invaded the former Bloc nations, after MTV, after Green Day, and, notably....after NIRVANA. So after those three excellent (and quite compelling) tracks, JUST A PRODUCT offer up five NIRVANA covers recorded at a NIRVANA tribute show in 1995. So there's that.
13 May 2020
This is a MONSTER. From the chaotic simplicity of the guitar that opens "Chump Change," Georgia's FORCED ENTRY is off to the races. Ironically, that first track may be the least interesting of the bunch, as they seem to gather steam (and confidence) as they move forward. Classic and honestly somewhat basic USHC, reminiscent of MECHT MENSCH or even a slower NEON CHRIST at times but, as with most of the things that grab me by my old ass throat, FORCED ENTRY don't sound like they are going for a sound as much as they sound like they are going for it. Which is to say that their influence and motivation is drawn from the same well as the greats....and a well is way cooler than a mirror.
The tape snapped halfway through "Police," which opens with such a nasty and blown out bass that you leap up and break shit before the rest of the band drops in 3 seconds later. It's a bummer, but fortunately the internet can be used for more than just conspiracy theories...like, the rest of this demo.
12 May 2020
Ripping, throaty SXE hardcore from Syracuse. Sometimes you need it raw and primal, and that is precisely what BLACK ASS (aka BLACK SHEEP SQUADRON) do. If you're looking for more jams, and there are several slammers from the mid-'00s, please search very carefully, lest those searches lead you to a fascist power electronics act and/or a very specific genre of pornography.
11 May 2020
I'm gonna say it yet again: fukkn Halifax. Thanks to Brett from WARSH/ANTIBODIES for making sure I didn't snooze on this one even though I missed it when it came out last year. Blinding speed, DEATHREAT fury, chaotic riffs and a recording that is just destroyed. Not like "ooohhh we are SO noisy" destroyed, but like "we broke the machine because that's the only way we know how to play" *shrugs* destroyed. There is nothing subtle here, BPS just go, and they go hard. Six tracks in eight short minutes, and let me know if you can listen to "Blood Red Leaf" without clenching up.
10 May 2020
Sinister snarls and MGHC cum late 'teens contrived nihilism be damned, "I'm Hell" has one riff and one refrain and it will destroy you. "Life In The Woods" sounds like "Ace Of Spades" invented by Youth Attack - not reinterpreted, not reimagined, not rediscovered....fucking invented. And "Corpses In Their Mouths".....? Yeah, I'm just dead. Everything from "Banality" to "Psychic Violence" is just gravy - and "Banality" is the best song on the damn tape! More Cults...I guess we need more Cults.