04 March 2021

POSITIVE GREED

 

I suppose people not alive or around in the '90s know Seattle's POSITIVE GREED (if they know them at all) because the drummer was a founding member of FOO FIGHTERS and SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE. But I knew them because ALL YOU CAN EAT had run into them at some point on tour and Danny B. turned me onto them. Their sound (especially with hindsight) is definitively '90s - the quick ska breaks, the honest determination that can only come from adolescence, dancing between raging hardcore and earnest DIY basement punk. "Mindrattler" is like ACCÜSED crashing headlong into '80s Euro hardcore, "Two Wrongs" and "Bob Song" sound like they got lost on a Very Small compilation LP....basically this 1992 tape is great,  and I don't know why I bothered even mentioning the Foo Fighters thing because it's totally irrelevant. 


03 March 2021

THE GEORGE CLINTON STORY

 

Just as the cover suggests, welcome to The George Clinton Story brought to you by DJ Billy Jam with help from Daddy Dog and Dr. Watt. Academic and/or nerd level analysis and wildly deep cuts, this program as broadcast in the '80s runs just just shy of 70 minutes. 

You see that what the dominant culture is trying to take - Clinton is already there. We were trying to get into outer space, he was the extraterrestrial brother. 




02 March 2021

DEMISE

 

All I think when I listen to DEMISE is that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of course, if I had been there then then I probably wouldn't be here now, so that's something to think about...but listen to "The Valdez" as those double snare taps bring '80s Orange County to life in a Germantown, Wisconsin basement...listen to kids playing rough Midwestern hardcore just a few years removed from the era historians will refer to as "the heyday" for as long as they talk about DIY hardcore punk. Thirteen tracks here, and every one of them rips. If I had to narrow it down though, "Secret Government" is the one. 

APATHY WILL GET YOU NOWHERE

01 March 2021

MIDNITE BRAIN

 



They aren't really fooling anyone by starting off with the blatant DEATH SIDE lift, you know exactly what they are going for and you get exactly what you expect. Fast, raw US hardcore punk with a shameless ear turned towards the classics. This band was a bit of a flash, but revisiting the material is a nice reminder of how many good ass bands were kicking around SF/Oakland in the early '10s. I'm still convinced that no era is definitively better or worse than any other, which makes it a lot easier to reach back into my (midnite) brain (or nine year old posts) to pull out sweaty memories....see what I did there?


28 February 2021

THE VERSATILE ABSCESS GROUP



Seventy minutes of madness? I might not even know what else to say except....seventy minutes of complete madness. There are 23(ish) distinct tracks (or "pieces" perhaps?) on this cassette. Presented with no context. Primitive synth cuts give way to mental audio collages and missives that sound like they were created in a closet using Baby's First Casio. The eighth track for example (no titles, of course), could be a 12 year old fucking around with a $19.99 drum machine just as easily as a calculated homage to minimalist industrial acts of the late 1970s. And it's followed by six minutes of brooding spacial psych monotony that sounds like it was lifted off a Nik Raicevic record....and then there's an advert for a funeral parlor, a two minute live noise core stomp and then more synths. Equal parts experimentation, piss take and high art, the only thing I have managed to glean from the internet is that the act may (or may not?) have performed at Safari Sam's in Huntington beach in like '87. So there you go...maybe this is Southern California's answer to NEGATIVLAND? The guy I got it from is dead and I can't ask him.

Does anybody know the Abscess dances out there?
"I do!"
Well I want you all to come up and start dancing please, because this is...this is just such a danceable song. This is serious. OK, it's a serious song. It's a serious dance song. It's a love song. It's a beer song. Its...it's four songs in one!

27 February 2021

SIERPIEN



Another dose of synthetic cold from Moscow's SIERPIEN. Melancholic synth/pop by way of dark European wave, the sounds this duo create are timeless, and rarely have I wanted to understand an artist's language more than on this release. "Сигнал" ("Signal") simply begs to be sung along to, swaying alone in a crowded club enveloped by isolation, the light of the chorus pulling back the shades and exposing the early morning sun. It's a song with the force and the hook of a "TiK ToK" or "Domino," but this power may be rooted in KINO by way of SIEKIERA...and accept my apologies if I reached for low hanging fruit. The band sounds like a modern, relevant act that has come from the past (as opposed to a band who are looking to the past for inspiration).  As I mentioned when I previously visited SIERPIEN, body of work is immense, compelling, varied...you are encouraged to get lost. I did, and I still do. 



26 February 2021

HAWK


"Once upon a time, there was a garden. The garden bloomed. She stood naked, she stood proud."

The instant you hear the opening lines to HAWK's 1972 opus Africa, She Too Can Cry, you know this is not going to be another rock 'n roll listening experience. Johannesburg's most notable heavy rock export of the '70s manage to wrap the previous decade's hippie/protest rock up in a bundle with no limits operatic assemblages and gratuitous cultural appropriation to create a stunning record...even if it enjoying requires a touch more latitude than I typically grant myself. Musically...what about FLOWER TRAVELLIN' BAND tempered with THREE DOG NIGHT? Does that raise your eyebrow? "Rolling Of The Bones" and "The Elephant Must Die" are solid floor jammers, and the bloke who put this cassette together was nice enough to throw a few non-LP cuts from era appropriate 45s at the end of the album, including the aquarian "In My Youth" and their biggest commercial hit "Orang Otang" (thinking of this song having anything approaching commercial success is really bizarre to my 2021 ears). Something about a bunch of white dudes in 1972 South Africa singing about the power, beauty and conflict of a continent colonized and enslaved by...well, a bunch of white dudes...it tastes a little off. But hell, I wasn't there, and maybe they were on the right side of the fight.
 
Also, getting this in a package of over the top noise and harsh power electronics tapes was a real treat, so there's that. Try rolling from the EMASCULATE REGRESSION tape right into "The Return."
It's a trip...

25 February 2021

MOMMY



When NYC's MOMMY started rumbling a few years ago, I kinda figured it was a result of the who as much as it was a case of the what. Folks from PERDITION, SAD BOYS, L.O.T.I.O.N., CERVIX and a host of other new York acts joining forces in a damaged, chaotic trio is going to turn some heads regardless, and that's understandable, but listening to this 2015 demo I almost wonder how many people made it through the who and actually sunk teeth into the what. The drums are treated as contributing instrumentation - they sound destroyed, off-putting, the distortion in a noise punk band while the bass drives the songs. Words are delivered with a fury that can only be described as a realized hatred...it's teenage adolescent desperation offered with the hindsight of young adulthood and the benefit of emotional freedom....even while emotional peace remains out of reach. Is that a stretch? Are they just having a go? Listen to "Tiny Dancer" and ask yourself that question again. 
 


24 February 2021

TRADEMARK

 

If you look back at flyers for early '90s DIY shows in Wisconsin, you'll see the name TRADEMARK a lot - and since many of those shows were attended (or organized) by my wife, I have seen their name more than most over the past 25 years. Until I got a loaner package from Dug a couple of weeks ago I had never heard the band, but now I've had the clunky chorus to "Trendy Rebels" stuck in my head and there seems to be no relief aside from the hopelessly damaged guitar that kicks the breakdown in "World Disaster." Walkin The Dogma is a blur...a loose, earnest (read: honest), chaotic punk attack created by a bunch of kids. There are moments that are just blistering Midwestern hardcore punk ("Nightmare Of Confusion" is probably the purest example), but TRADEMARK go off on weird tangents, often trying to play material they don't have the chops to pull off in the process....and that's what made this listen worth the wait. Thanks Dug, and visitors will be happy to know there are still more than a dozen relics waiting in that loaner package. 


Yes, CAREER SUICIDE used the same nuns a decade (plus) later. 


23 February 2021

MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI

 

Once again, I'm not really qualified to discuss Amma with anything approaching authority - my background is simply the result of a general (and genuine) curiosity. I heard about Mata Amritanandamayi in 2004, and I watched a fellow from Helsinki I was on tour with talk about her at length with our host in Amherst, Massachusetts (they had both been hugged by her - that's how they met, in fact).  So it's a thing, a really big thing. And not surprisingly there's a sound that goes with it. 


22 February 2021

BLAST FOR ME

 

No cover. 
Tape says BLAST FOR ME on both sides. 
Five minutes of ripping fastcore/grind...
....with samples about drugs and enchiladas. 
You know what to do. 



21 February 2021

PERSONAL STYLE



A relatively recent release, and one that has stuck with me even though (or especially because) it falls well outside of my typical sphere. Buffalo's PERSONAL STYLE are doubtless well oiled and ready, the six songs here are ready for mass consumption, even by commercial standard. But there's a thing buried in their particular brand of hard indie, and you get the feeling that this particular thing that makes them bloom is the very seed from which they have grown. The hiccup in the drums after the chorus in "Bubble Yum," the way the backing vocals haunt the mix rather than dominate it, the single note picking in the chorus of the otherwise hard driving "Defensive," the booming '70s bass rumble - everything is clean, polished, professional...yet it still sounds like punks are behind this. So I guess if it's all a ruse then I'll just tip my hat to PERSONAL STYLE. 



 

20 February 2021

AMONG THE THUGS

 

1994 East Bay punk that sounds like...well, it sounds like East Bay punk from 1994. It sounds like sweaty shows - shows that were sparsely attended, but intense and transformative for the people who were there. It sounds like JAWBREAKER were the unspoken influence on even the bands who claimed they didn't like JAWBREAKER. It sounds like 924 Gilman Street on a Saturday when you didn't even know who was playing and you just went because....because that's what you did, and that's where you went. It sounds like the band that you bonded with in Columbus or Pueblo while you were traveling East and they were traveling West (or vice versa), the band who you still consider friends today. At least that's what it sounds like to me. 

19 February 2021

STEVE SPINALI '77 PUNK SPECIAL

 A crucial 75 minutes of '77 punk presented by long time Maximum Rocknroll contributor Steve Spinali when he was a DJ on Berkeley's KALX. The best part about listening to this broadcast is knowing that all the hardcores in 1985 probably hated this shit because BITCH BOYS and THE JOLT weren't nearly as hard as CORROSION OF CONFORMITY or BGK. And while that's technically true....Steve's show fucking rules. Sets dedicated to Dangerhouse bands, Swedish punk, '77 UK (a set that includes UK SUBS and CRASS) and bands who dropped a killer single or two before going on to be big pop stars. The adverts are a nice touch as well, on this broadcast from November 1985. 

STEVE SPINALI '77 PUNK SEPCIAL 

18 February 2021

GUNS N' ROSA PARKS

More under appreciated '00s rippers, this time in the form of five searing cuts from Denver rippers GUNS MN' ROSA PARKS. They had a nice run of singles in the '00s, and dropped a devastating posthumous batch of unreleased gems last year (put together really nicely too, I might add), but as typical as it may sound....I keep coming back to this tape. The 27 seconds of "Glass Bottomed Boat" alone are enough, but there are like 330 more seconds after that. They deliver, you win. 

GUNS N' ROSA PARKS

17 February 2021

CINDER


The third cut on CINDER's 2005 tour tape is called "You Can't buy The Kids," and it's simply one of the raddest posi fastcore tracks of the mid '00s - the kind of song that reminds you why there are formulas that many bands follow. The kind of song that reminds you why you love fast hardcore. CINDER were a couple of years behind the explosion that started in the late '90s, and I think their output gets overlooked as a result. But now we have 20/21 hindsight (see what I did there?), and what is the real difference between 2001 and 2005? Basically nothing. Check their final 12" Barcelona , it didn't come out until 2010 but it's an absolute stunner. Six tracks here and not a dull moment among them - the real highlight might be "En Pie De Guerra," which later appeared on Barcelona. Just honest, ripping hardcore punk. Music for skating, for hanging out with your friends, for making new friends, for singing along. I do miss this shit....I really do. 


16 February 2021

FILTH OF MANKIND



The churning stench of Poland's FILTH OF MANKIND has been well documented, so I guess this is another one that shouldn't need too much introduction. Hard to believe The Final Chapter is twenty years old, but its bleak power is timeless.  
 


15 February 2021

BO DIDDLEY

 

For all of the distorted bombast that dominates the world of outsider punk consumption, it's hard to image anything this side of Kawakami whipping young adults into a blind sweaty fervor as Bo Diddley in 1959. Recorded live in front of a bunch of Cornell University students who probably thought they were just going to a regular frat party...and found themselves placed under his spell. Bookended by the raucous "Hey Bo Diddley" and "Bo Says Night," Cornell Spring Weekend is a series of slow swinging standards and southern stomps - the fast and loose attack turns back the clock on the roots of punk and the repetition nods to Krautrock monotony long before there was even an inkling of such a thing. I might be reaching here but....I don't think so. The folks at Loathed Sound (I miss you) slapped an audio collage of Diddley clips and snips on the flip side, and includes a studio version "Hey Go Go" in its entirety. Not hard to see why the suburban grown ups were scared shitless of this motherfucker. 

14 February 2021

OUTCRY

 

Much has been written about OUTCRY and much has been said about the life of the singer Rosie, who passed away far too young.  So here's the 2017 tape release, here's a link to the rest of their music (and Rosie's related project CRY OUT too). And look out for your friends. 

OUTCRY
====================================





13 February 2021

PRICE OF SILENCE

Fiercely '90s (and simply fierce) DIY hardcore from Adelaide. The tracks here make up their 1994 demo, likely transferred to an unmarked cassette by a longtime friend of mine when he was on a nine month Pacific trek that included a sojourn in Australia long enough for him to start a band. The replication is a little blown out, but I would submit these are sounds meant to be cranked up real high, in the red, intensity over fidelity. 

PRICE OF SILENCE
I'm gonna guess that Mr. Gatewood is going to like this one. ..

12 February 2021

BRAIN V.

 

Two doses of hard swinging '80s new wave boogie from Maine. You can't really tell which direction BRIAN V. is trying to go, but "Coke Princess" has second rate Rat Pack montage oozing from its chords, while the rockabilly flare "Ninja" lands somewhere closer to a Saved By The Bell (outtake) interlude. While it's weird to imagine DIY artists striving for a place alongside THE KNACK or VAPORS until you think that of course there were newer, independent bands reaching for commercial success, and inevitably some of them would have written would-be and should've-been hits that were destined to languish in obscurity. "Coke Princess" is one of those. 

The problem is your nose, it couldn't be clearer.
It's either in the air or...on the mirror. 

11 February 2021

COMBINED EFFORT

 

What do you do when you love playing hardcore and all of the people you hang out with all the time also love playing hardcore? You write songs. And you record them. Because they're good. Even if you're (all) already in other bands, you're not constrained by the style of your other projects - no expectations and no prior presence means no rules. So if you wan't to write a batch of '97 Youth Crew revival bangers, then you write a motherfucking batch of '97 Youth Crew bangers.  And you blink, and there's a demo. Maybe there's only one, but it slams. 

Crank that windmill riff into the breakdown of "Learned Nothing." Brutal. 

10 February 2021

HEARTWORK



First demo from Niigata's HEARTWORK, whose two EPs and split with MASAKARI are some of the best under the radar Japanese hardcore of the '00s. I kinda want to just leave it there, and let these 5 1/2 songs say everything else....so I'll just add that out of all of my trips to Japan, seeing HEARTWORK in Saitama in 2009 was an absolute highlight. Pay special attention to the opening 1:12 of "Worthless."
 

09 February 2021

ZWEI KREISE

 

Parisian minimal techno flavored by ambient passages and a foundation in the monotony of break beat repetition. "Background music" sounds like a dig, but that is exactly how I hear 2017's Silvarum/Rvlen, a recording that takes you to another places while staying with you wherever you are. A recording that is ultimately pleased if you listen with any consciousness at your disposal. 


SILVARUM/RVLEN

Physical and digital copies from Chicago's Jacktone