31 January 2021

POLITICAL ASYLUM

 

We saw Ramsey in passing last week, cleaning up downed branches and rubbish on the sidewalk in front of his place in Oakland. Said a brief hello from the street and remembered how much we like hanging out with that guy, and that it's been far too long since we have. Vaguely related, POLITICAL ASYLUM stand far far off from the rest of the '80s anarcho bands. They were more melodic, and that was their approach from the start (as opposed to a mellower sound that they "grew" into). On the demos, I feel like they're punching somewhat above their weight by writing songs that they can't quite play ("Apathy" is a perfect example), which is of course a great charm. Likewise with Ramsey's vocals, always out front and confident but often just a touch off. Soft and powerful, those vocals are the instantly distinguishable component to POLITICAL ASYLUM's sound even though the guitars are clearly what puts the band in their own league. I remember Ramsey telling us that they went to see HÜSKER DÜ in 83(?) and focused on Mould's guitar pedals - what they were, how they were EQed - in a failed effort to mimic the sound. The result of all of this was a sound that was theirs....heavier on the leads, protest prose as lyrics, as quietly fierce as they were earnest. Valium For Masses came out in 1984 less than a year after the first demo, with six studio cuts and 36 minutes of live recordings to tide folks over until the release of the Winter EP in 1985. It's good....and you should talk to your friends more often. 


30 January 2021

RELY

 

You can let the cartoon cover fool you if you like, but it would be your mistake. Killer mid '90s hardcore from the far reaches (especially pre-internet) of the Bay Area, RELY left us with this one demo before most of the members found god (or at least talked about it) and formed TOWARDS AN END. These kids knew their breakdowns, and young RJ's vocals were far more powerful than his years should have rightfully allowed...drop these tracks into a different time and/or context and you're talking about legit positive hardcore shits that would make fools sweat. The crew vocals on "You Thought" that yell "fuck you up again!" is almost as sick as the entirely of "Clear Time To Fight" - listen loud enough (and in solitude) and you turn into a seventeen year old suburban kid. I tried it...it works. 


update: Apparently there was another recording after this one...it's good. 



29 January 2021

MUSIC FOR GREEBOES

The first ARTIMUS PYLE tour was a short jaunt up the West Coast in 1998 with a band called MUCKSPREADER from England. They were notable (on flyers, anyway) because the drummer was Spider from AMEBIX, but I admit that the main draw for us was that they were all awesome to hang out with. Just a few shows, including an insane weekend festival outside of Tenino, Washington that featured ATROCIOUS MADNESS and who fucking knows who else. There were a lot of drugs. There was a dude cruising around with a backpack stuffed with mushrooms and a criminally long blade with "Hippie Killer" engraved in the side (the irony was not lost on us). We dubbed the fest "Wasted In The Woods" and by the end people were just randomly screaming "WAAAAASSSTEEDDDD!!!" to the gods and it definitely seemed like nothing good could come from staying any longer. We slept in tents (note: I didn't say we camped. Camping implies some kind of preparation) and it was cold as shit. I was sharing a tent with their guitarist Lee Provins (more recently a member of BLACK ROCK HIGH), who stumbled and/or crawled in one night several hours after I had turned in. He was fumbling around, trying to situate himself to pass out but mostly just making a mess and waking me up, he spilled a full beer in our 2 person tent and tried to clean it up with a roll of toilet paper (hint: that doesn't work). He mumbled something as he was trying to get the beer soaked toilet paper mush off his hands and clothes and I looked up, admittedly annoyed. Lee was on all fours, pants partially down, facing away from me with his ass next to my face. He looked sheepishly at me over his shoulder and with shocking lucidity said, "Wanna have sex?"

MUSIC FOR GREEBOES

Lee made me this tape several years later. A sinister collection of thrash metal on one side (CRANIUM, POSSESSED, WARHHAMMER, SODOM) and snippets from John Peel's BBC Radio program on the flip. He put the Peel stuff together for me so I could hear my bands being played on the show (the kid in me still gets a wee bit giddy every time I hear his distinguished voice say "from the ....Fucked From Birth LP"), and then the end of that side is another mix - more all over the place and really nicely curated. Consider this a prized possession I suppose - or at least a really nice gesture and a ripping tape? Anyway, we never did have sex.  

28 January 2021

SEA OF SHIT

 

SEA OF SHIT have spent a lot of time in my ears over the years. They aren't a band I listen to on repeat, instead I feel like sometimes I need a break after blasting...like, maybe I'm just done listening to music for a few minutes. Maybe all day. The sound is absolutely massive, and they attack the sound rather than deliver it. They are mad at the riffs, and they want to make the riffs pay (don't get me started about the drums - I'm not sure what those drums did to that dude in a previous life but they are surely paying the price in this one). They inflict pain, and then make it worse by destroying their own songs with noise and a bombastic recording that takes tonnage to criminal heights...it's "only" ten minutes long but if experienced properly it will leave you completely drained. Exhausted. There's a lot more, but this one is from 2011 and it's where I started...I still haven't finished. 



27 January 2021

EFFEXOR

 

A soaring, pained, twenty minute opus constructed in 2003, in the forgotten rural lands far south of San Francisco. Described by the creator as a "response to the war on terror, the impending war with Iraq & America's lust for Middle Eastern resources," Barren is excruciatingly deliberate - "Oceans Of Jihad" spends its existence coaxing the listener into hoping for a release while "From Father To Son" provides something of the sort, albeit in the form of volume induced angst extended out over the final six minutes of the piece. More of a realization than an actual release of any sort. This one was passed from a stranger's hand to mine in the midst of what feels now like another lifetime (perhaps because it was, in fact, another lifetime entirely). It's hard to tell if the piece itself has matured over those 17 years, or if I was just (finally) ready for EFFEXOR when I went back to revisit this tape a few weeks ago. Either way, I am glad to have it with me in this lifetime. 

26 January 2021

ADVERTS

Watch the 1978 documentary Raw Energy - Punk The Early Years. The whole thing is great, but the SLITS performance alone is more than worth the price of admission. Seriously, just watch the damn doc; listen to the punks talk about why they're pissed. Listen to the execs try to compartmentalize punk and the punks (and sometimes nail it). Check the GENERATION X footage. And EDDIE & THE HOT RODS. And then crank these three ADVERTS tracks taken from the film....raw energy indeed. 

25 January 2021

BLINDING GLOW

 

Four pieces of total devastation from San Diego, courtesy of Speed Creamer Cassettes. U.X.O. goes hard from the opening drum fill that drops into a brief high energy pogo dupa before unleashing raw DBeat fury. Barely a breath between or within tracks - just tortured, clenched fist mania. Just the way you like it.  








24 January 2021

AURORA

 

If you still had any questions after blasting AURORA's 1987 cassette, then a quick listen to what they did the following year should clear thing up for you quite nicely. I want every one of these tracks in my brain. Permanently. 

1988

23 January 2021

ENSEMBLE ECONOMIQUE

 

The repetition is what does it. The melody in two parts that creates the floating foundation for the first untitled track, those five notes on a six minute loop while guitars soar and a faint drum machine acts as a the ghost of a metronome left on the tape from a previous recording. And from there, ENSEMBLE ECONOMIQUE reach only upwards with synths breathing like tentacles, transcending all of the clichés that (understandably) tie ambiance down. Equal parts primitive new age, lost art house sound track, '70s synthesizer experimentation....but together it simply feels like a creation. It works. 

22 January 2021

DISARRAY IN THE BAY

 

Brilliant regional compilation compiled a 2004 by Clint...a then-young Clint who would grow into a local legend. Disarray In The Bay is a snapshot of the Bay Area that I had just left, so I confess that it's of particular interest to me. The hot shit bands of the moment (BRAINOIL, DYSTROPHY, VÖETSEK, IRON LUNG, LBAL, BORN/DEAD, FLESHIES) sharing space with the one who rolled lower and picked up some kids along the way (CASE OF EMERGENCY ["Never Again" is, perhaps, best track on the tape], HIGHTOWER, LIVE AMMO, THE URCHINS). A couple of bands from Reno because the scenes had considerable overlap then (BAFABEGIYA, ARABELLA), and I guess YAPHET KOTTO and HIGH ON FIRE are on the same comp because it was 2004. This is so clearly a tape put together by a fan, which is probably why it listens so damn good...so you can pretend you were there. Just like me. 


21 January 2021

TRUCKDRIVERS

 

I'm really sure why this one grabs me, but it does. Laid back ska-heavy vibes from the Ural mountains, it just feels...nice. A bit of a CULTURE SHOCK vibe at times though the groove isn't quite as heavy, and in the interest of completely useless references I'll add that the first track strikes me like TUOMARI NURMIO with Mike Muir singing. There are four cuts on this 2013 release, but if it grabs you like it grabbed me, then there is plenty more waiting for you if you go straight to the source. 

20 January 2021

MULTI FACET



It's probably best for me to just leave this demo here and not get myself all wound up. MULTI FACET released one of my favorite EPs of the 1990s - a record that is dark, relentless, and captures so much of Oakland hardcore punk. Until recently, I thought that those four songs and the split with SHEEPHEAD were it....turns out there's more. Jeneane's vocals sound like they are about to just collapse on "Slow Burn" (many of the lyrics are undecipherable, but listen to her fucking die while she forces out "feel so cold" and "crashing around me") and the take of "Reach" here is faster, more manic than the vinyl version. So just listen, and I'll get myself wound up in private. 


There's one cut on the tape that's not listed....any Bay Area heads want to help out with the title?
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I posted a Gilman set a few years ago...it's really fucking good too. 


19 January 2021

INTERNAL AUTONOMY

Sometimes I wonder how long INTERNAL AUTONOMY will fly under the radar. Amidst the swells of dark-anarcho-goth over the last few years, one would think that a band like this would be exactly what all the mutants were drooling over - especially a relatively uncelebrated band with so many brilliant tracks. Well, until that day comes, the relatively small number of you who decide to dig deeper can enjoy a stunning unreleased session titled Here In Our Hearts, Most of these tracks popped up on subsequent releases and/or the collection CD that came out several years back. "Star Spangled Banality" is unquestionably a timeless and unsung smash hit...every other song is pretty fucking good too. 

HERE IN OUR HEARTS
Also...some of the responsible parties are now (very) active in a project called FEROXIDE. The split with ACHE OF AGES is pretty damn incredible. 

18 January 2021

VOLUNTEERS

 

Remember when '80s hardcore bands started playing melodic and you wondered if maybe the catchy stuff was really their intent all along, like maybe the anger was just from them being frustrated that they didn't have the chops to write pop hits, and then they learned to play and record better and we were just hearing what they actually meant to sound like the whole time. Well, there are a few moments on this VOLUNTEERS demo that make me wonder if maybe I'm hearing that process in reverse. Like, the sound and the chops are there and they've got hooks like crazy, but you hear shit like "BBC Scum" and it's as if some grown ass musicians were like
"the fuck is this shit? we wanted to sound like HEIBEL" and they pulled the straps off and just let loose. While I'm sure my hot take is completely incorrect, but I still like to think I accidentally discovered the secret to recreating late '80s unhinged European thrash fury. 

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17 January 2021

IMPACT



This demo is....it's something else. There are only four tracks on IMPACTS's 1982 demo, but they are all perfectly executed UK82 stomps ripped from the grooves of your favorite Riot City and No Future 45s. There were other recordings after this one (many compiled on an excellent LP from AntiSociety that'll likely be far easier to source than a copy of this little monster), but even though it's trite to say it....the first demo is the best. This copy came from a Welsh source (apparently) well versed in the importance of filling blank magnetic tape with the sounds of the day, so a series of 1983 bangers follows the IMPACT demo. You're welcome.  


 

16 January 2021

TIMEKILLER

 

Fucking screaming modern hardcore from Viet Nam. A band of ex pats based in Ho Chi Minh City, TIMEKILLER have been active since the mid-10s and I've dug everything I've come across enough that I eventually just scooped all of it from them (powers of the internet age, though it does wash some of the magic away...). Howling vocals, tortured guitars that land somewhere between BL'AST and Hydra Head late '90s fare - the band fire on all cylinders at all times, comfortable enough to make serious sonic reaches like the end of "Callus" feel completely natural. This tape kills, that is all....just fukkn kills. 

15 January 2021

SUPERIORITY SOUNDS

I made a two volume mix tape for a restaurant on New York City. That's not weird...is it? 
=========

Just listened to both volumes the other day (back to back as intended) and can confirm that, objectively speaking, I did a really good job. If your restaurant makes good (vegan) food and wants a mix tape, please let me know. Two volume offerings reserved for restaurants who make really really good food - pretty sure there's a spot in Oakland who can expect one in their very near future.  



14 January 2021

NECROMANTX

 

I saw a few friends from Milwaukee blabbing about this band on social media a few weeks ago and my ears (or, more accurately, my thumbs) perked up. I'm not fucking encyclopedia, but I know a few things and it makes me especially eager to devour things I've never heard of - especially punk things, and especially punk things from Wisconsin and Oklahoma (though Ross has the Oklahoma market covered, so you should send your artifacts directly to him). So I reached out, and my pal Dug offered to send me his copy of Headless And Gutted to party with for a bit, and here I am...partying. You aren't in store for raging hardcore, but if you want a blast of irreverent screaming Midwest hardcore punk from the late 1987 then sign the fuck up. Listen #1 was excitement, anticipation. Listens #2 through #6 I was more like, "Man, this shit is childish." And it is childish...but then, you put yourself in a VFW Hall in Cudahay as a surplus store army boot wearing 16 year old....and it's kinda like the greatest thing ever. 

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13 January 2021

TAUREAN



Perfectly executed college/alt rehash from 2017 Portland. Think major label REPLACEMENTS, a touch of SOUL ASYLUM, early solo MOULD, think layers of guitar tracks (one of which sounds *just* out of tune, and it's brilliant). Vocals have an awkward adolescent SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE warble, the whole thing listens like a tattered teddy bear. It just feels....well, it feels good, and there's nothing wrong with wrapping your arms around it. 

12 January 2021

APOSTLES ON STRIKE



I feel like is APOSTLES ON STRIKE had dropped their first EP just a couple of years earlier, or maybe if they had started in Chicago instead of establishing a foothold in Champaign before making the move to the big city, or if they had toured more...hell, maybe if the right reviewer had just hyped one of their cassette releases. They easily mark up with countless better known and more revered bands of the era - gruff, melodic Midwest hardcore punk, and I might like Tolerance better than Always On Strike which came just a year later. For what it's worth, they were playing shows and releasing music again as of the late '10s....
 

11 January 2021

COACH

A twenty-plus minute rehearsal recording from Australia band COACH, probably recorded in 1994. It's interesting to revisit the band after some time - these tracks have far more in common with era appropriate European passion metal than I remembered, and inspired a very cathartic fist clenching afternoon spent with their United We Stand... EP. The captured session is pretty raw - which is what I lean towards on Mondays, and more or less the reason (some of you) are here anyway. Volume. 

COACH

10 January 2021

PUBLIC HEALTH

 

An appropriately disorienting assault from PUBLIC HEALTH. Four pieces of damaged industrial synth, tossing rhythm and purpose aside in favor of distorting and dementing a reality that simply doesn't seem fucking real. Think back to early industrial, primitive and experimental...and listen through learned millennial ears. Ascetic House have never let us down - one of the few constants in this abnormal and unforgiving reality. 


09 January 2021

HEYOKA

 

If it weren't for a very prominent piece of graffiti on the back wall of 924 Gilman, HEYOKA's self titled cassette might have faded completely into the shadows. Instead, it's just mostly in the shadows, but there might be a little "hmmm, I swear I've heard of the band somewhere" at the mention of the band's name from anyone who's seen live photos of their favorite bands playing the storied collective in the mid '90s...because there's a decent chance that you can see "HEYOKA" painted behind them. As for the contents - you can hear 1990s Bay Area the instant "Wrong Side" starts, and they maintain that scrappy, catchy 'kinda hardcore but also kinda pop punk' vibe throughout. Throw in a few ska parts (it was 1995, that's a thing that bands did...well, some bands...ok, a lot of bands) and maybe almost too many backing vocals and poof! The content here is dated, but that's precisely what makes it all click while listening with hindsight - there were so many bands like this, and so many of them were fucking great. So here's to some adolescent graffiti, here's to timeless Bay Area (I think they repped Belmont?) adolescent punk, here's to rediscovering the things you missed the first time around.


08 January 2021

HOLLAND HARDCORE

 

I remember picking up all three volumes of the Holland Hardcore LP reissues in one glorious moment in the early 2000s, and then I devoured them (pixelation and all). Each collection is packed with essential tracks from some of the greats, but also includes more under the radar acts perfect for the budding connoisseur. 1984's 2nd Attack features PANDEMONIUM, INDIREKT and FUNERAL ORATION from the first category, with SESAMZAAD, BLOEDBAD and THE APERITY'S in the second, while C.K.N. fills the void that's in between. Little to say that hasn't already been well covered over the last three decades, but there's a reason these recordings are considered classics.