Imagine 1968 Coltrane descending from the heavens to create a soundtrack for a silent documentary that Hitchcock filmed about the beats in 1961 New York....imagine that.
30 July 2020
There were these kids from Wisconsin who I didn't really know when we moved (back) there in 2002/03. Some of them were around, some of them didn't live in Milwaukee and only showed up every now and then, and most of them were several years younger than the remnants of the '90s scenes that we were already friends with. This is all to say that I knew them, but our inner circles didn't really intersect. That changed over the years, and I ended up doing shows with some of them, even played in a couple of (very brief) projects with people rooted in that world, and I consider several of them friends today. But, I still find myself surprised when I go back and listen to some of the bands, and I wonder why they were not absolutely kicking my ass 17 years ago. Maybe I was too concerned with a Swedish DBeat, or something about the haphazard spastic energy just didn't grab me for some stupid reason but, while it was obvious that these bands were good, I don't think I acknowledged that they were great. I'll rectify that now: TAB! are great. These kids took early Midwest hardcore by the horns and refused to drag it out of the basement. Songs about diet soda, energy from adolescence. Eight minutes of magic.
29 July 2020
28 July 2020
27 July 2020
If you know me, and we've ever talked about records, then you have heard me talk about AFTERBIRTH. 1988's Who's In There? EP is truly one of the most mystifying records I own, and I have celebrated its inept glory more times than I can remember (and more times than most of my friends would prefer). Before everything was on the internet, the greatest sonic export from Tawas City, Michigan was a source of wonder, of laughter, of mystery, and even though we know more today than we did then....that knowledge has really only led to more questions. 1992's Oblivion & Ecstacy, released by an AFTERBIRTH rebranded as ANARCHY, shows a band who has spent a few years practicing, but whether or not those newfound chops worked in the band's favor is very much up for debate. The magic of Who's In There? is not that is is good, the sheer sonic abomination is exactly the appeal, and sadly that abomination has grown into a moderately competent but utterly horrific band. They are still noteworthy for the comedic Allin-esque growl and the sixth grade band class guitar solos, and I note with some resignation that the subject of "Sixteen" (the only track from Who's In There? that made the transition to the ANARCHY-era, and a track that is especially cringeworthy when heard in the context of 2020 ears) seems to have remained, well, sixteen. Even during their existence, AFTERBIRTH and/or ANARCHY was a band that couldn't decide if it wanted to be punk, shock rock, shitty Sunset Strip glam metal, or classic rock crooners (take a deep breath and accept my apologies before starting the five and half minute brutality of "Special Place" or the third rate "More Than Words" ripoff that ends the tape disguised as "Many Years Ago"), but I hope you will take some solace in hearing that they were, ultimately, bad at all of the things they tried. It would have been nice to have an entire cassette filled with the indescribable and accidental brilliance crammed into the grooves on that inimitable EP from 1988 but we all move on, and I accept the evolution of my beloved AFTERBIRTH. I wish they had never practiced. I wish they hadn't learned to overdub guitar solos, I wish they had never tried to layer backing vocal harmonies and I wish they had never stepped foot in a proper studio...but I accept them.
OBLIVION & ECSTACY (sic)
26 July 2020
This was a glorious find, even if it asked more questions than it answered. Wild and addictive new romantic rock 'n roll with generous doses of twee pop and swagger. The music is sweet, it's nice, it's corny, it's kinda like THE JUDY'S sometimes, FANTASY sometimes (I still need that FANTASY slab, if anyone's holding) but there are also plenty of campfire jams, and it all feels completely genuine. THE FIELD MICE came from San Francisco, and this (their sole release perhaps...?) came out in 1987. Choice cuts are "Happy With You" and "I Hate You," which are hopefully not written about the same person.
25 July 2020
24 July 2020
23 July 2020
Maybe I'm out of hardcore tapes (spoiler: I'm not). But I got them from Remote Outposts when they were doing a purge a while ago and I still kinda like it. New York City mid 2000s but sounds like Bay Area early 1990s and/or Deep South early 2000s. Sweaty, dirty, catchy, punk.
And if you are doing a purge, then I want your tapes too.
22 July 2020
New Century DIY punks trying their hand at '80s Homestead and/or DINOSAUR fare is the time/space continuum version of Late Century DIY punks covering Everly Brothers. That's not a knock, just an acknowledgement of where we are. Folks from CURMUDGEON, DISCIPLINE and few other bands who sound nothing like LONG GONE.
21 July 2020
A fifteen year old dose from Michigan Mindfukkrs ODD CLOUDS to remind you of the damage that has been inflicted on all of us and our reality since we left the womb of ignorance. Improvisational sonic destruction and calculated sensory assault.
20 July 2020
19 July 2020
In the alternate reality, these are the pop sounds that dominate the airwave. This is commercial rock music. These are the sounds of your summer. Well, technically they would be the sounds of Summer 2014, but you get the idea...
18 July 2020
I was talking about SHOTWELL the other day and I realized that I hadn't listened to SHOTWELL in a while. Y'all know Jimmy is a savant, right? He can drive you batty if you aren't on the same level of inebriation or wavelength of reality that he he on at that exact moment, but if the world we just Jimmys, then the world would be a really beautiful place. A really odd place, but a really beautiful place. You know when you walk into a room and the light is different and you squint a bit just to help your eyes communicate to your brain what you're actually seeing? Well, that's what it's like to listen to a new (or, in this case, a different) SHOTWELL recording. It's going to be great, maybe even brilliant, but you may need to squint your ears to help your brain adjust to what it is you are hearing. Unless, of course, you are currently experiencing the exact level of inebriation and are currently surfing the exact same reality wave that Jimmy was surfing when he made the sounds. That's just the way shit works folks...and it's worth it.
But my point really, is that during that conversation about SHOTWELL, I learned that Jimmy was in X-TAL. First thought is "How the fukk did I not know that Jimmy was in X-TAL?" Second thought is: "Damn, I haven't listened to that shit in years, but I wore Reason is 6/7 of Treason LP threadbare when I lived in Oklahoma." A genuinely brilliant but unilaterally unheralded relic from the college/alt-before-it-was-called-indie-rock era.
17 July 2020
Like a(nother) dose of time travel, it makes sense that "these" bands would exist in every era of creativity. As were ARTHUR STONE and 50 MILLION to me, so is AH FUCK to a spun out 25 year old Southern California freak in the Modern Era. One half hour of drones and breathy vocals and sounds and manipulations and dreamy guitars probably recorded in a closet in the wee hours of a(nother) morning.
16 July 2020
I've extolled the virtues of the "retro" sounding bands more times in these pages than I would like to count, just as I have caught myself waxing nostalgic for other times. I think "we" (and I am clearly referring to the elderly-in-waiting here) yearn for the blankets of those other times not because the sounds were better, not because the shows were better....but because they were ours. And the lives we associate with those times were simpler. And we (thought we) were in control, if only of ourselves. When you break down your problems and your stresses and all fingers point to abusive social circles and abusive family members...at least in the moment that's something that you think you can wrap your head around, even though the waves caused by your inability to do so will ripple out for the rest of your days. But that night, hugging your knees to your chest and sobbing silently and lost beyond belief....the illusion of control is a lifeline. Just like the circle pit when you flail like you've gone completely mad, hurling yourself to the concrete with complete disregard for personal safety, much less the well being of anyone else. In the world. Because you're in fucking control. The soundtracks to those nights become inseparable from the nights themselves, and we yearn for the illusion of self control. When the oppression was an abstract even when it was very fucking real, only because you didn't understand. And now we understand...and so we use whatever tools we can to try to retreat.
GLOSS REJECTION exist neither in my past nor anyone else's. The guitars are '82 Pearl Thompson, and the vocals are from a different but completely familiar place. The sounds are lumbered, beautiful, hesitant to exude the confidence that they don't seem to be quite comfortable with....yet. They are the future past for a present day adult-in-waiting. They are surely that soundtrack for someone. That lifeline for someone. And for those someones, they will fade into a powerful and invaluable memory.
...your curtains are wearing thin...
15 July 2020
The first phase of NO CHOICE faded after the release of their killer Riot City EP, but the Welsh band reformed a couple of years later for another stint - one of a few different incarnations that would carry them well into the new century. A couple of new members on this 1985 demo, and a recording that honestly smokes the '83 vinyl slab.
14 July 2020
Late 1990s Bay Area melodic punk. Weird that the high point of this tape might be the MOTÖRHEAD cover, because a band who drops a wimpy proto-grunge track like "Your Boss Is A Dick" in the middle of a demo that's equal parts '90 CaliSkatePunk and (Wish We Were On The) Alt Radio Rock has no business nailing a MOTÖRHEAD cover. The vocals are weird, but let FLAVIUS settle in and it might start to grow on you. You know, like a wart.
13 July 2020
If you didn't think it was possible for a cacophonous, fuzzed out guitar driven mess to be positively dreamy......well, then you have two choices:
1) You were wrong.
2) You need to open your mind.
You're free to choose, but I'm afraid that there is not third option here, and you may need to listen closely and repeatedly until you have either made your decision, or decided to remove yourself from that list altogether.
From our friends at Drug Party.
12 July 2020
Listen. Listen closely. Listen carefully. Listen to the world that surrounds you. Listen to the people in that world. Listen harder so you can hear the cries of the people outside of that world, for perhaps those are the voices that shape it. Listen with your eyes. Learn with your ears. Listen. Ask if today is the day for your story....and ask the same question tomorrow. If you keep listening and you keep hearing your own story, then maybe you aren't actually listening. Or even hearing. Listen. Speaking is not the same as sharing, and sharing is not the same as helping. So listen, and learn the difference/s before you speak. Before you share. Because maybe, just maybe, your job right now is to listen.
From the Ascetic House Family, 2016.
11 July 2020
Q: Can something be a complete mess and also be completely brilliant? A: Yes.
This is No Wave square peg dissonance crammed in punk's round hole. EXIT BAG are just a mess, they are a forceful mess. Sometimes I hear a band and it makes me want to go back and revisit FLIPPER, thinking that maybe this is what FLIPPER was actually like and that maybe I actually like FLIPPER. Unfortunately FLIPPER is better as concept than execution, but the jerky avant/freak assault of EXIT BAG's "Is Polite"? That shit is brilliant.
10 July 2020
One of the last releases from the much loved (around here) Loathed Sound label. Sad to see them wind down, but the last batch I got from them was spectacular, and included this 90 minute country mix by Carrie. Makes me happy to know that there are other people who understand that the True Golden Age of USCW wasn't the saturated overproduced era of the forebears, it was when those second and third generations really started to turn loose. Take a break today, if you can. And then go back to demanding, and fighting for, positive change in this world.
09 July 2020
Teenage twerp fury. It's as if they are trying to be a raw and nasty hardcore band, but they have the chops of a bunch of knuckle dragging garage teenage pukes. Then again, there are the keyboards, which leads me to believe that this clash of (sub)cultures is anything but an accident. SKULL WITH WINGS comes from 2006 with a bullet, but picture yourself in a Joplin, Missouri teen center in 1994 and these jams will sou d right at home.