Longtime NJ scene photographer and music blogger James
Damion joins JerseyBeat.com with this column.
History of Nemesis Records…. And Big Frank Harrison
(Patrick Kitzel) (Book)
Retracing and documenting the history of label founder
‘Big’ Frank Harrison and his indelible imprint
‘Nemesis Records’. “The History of Nemesis
Records” documents the labels 1988 – 1993 existence
through rare, never before seen photos, essays, insight
and memoirs from friends and select Nemesis alumni artists
including Ron Martinez (Final Conflict), Dan O'Mahony (No
For An Answer, Carry Nation), Isaac Golub (A Chorus Of Disapproval,
A18), Fred Hammer (It's Alive Fanzine), Jon Bunch, (Sense
Field, Reason To Believe) Rest in Peace, Mike Hartsfield
(Outspoken, New Age Records), Dave Franklin (Vision) Rest
in Peace, Andrew Kline (Strife) and more. Also, included
is a full label discography that includes all of the variation
and colors made available through Nemesis. The resolution
of the records scanned is high enough for close inspection
and the descriptions, photos, flyers and extras really go
a long way to properly tell the labels story.
Scanning the pages of this quick, yet enjoyable read. I
found myself referring to the bands I’d seen and counting
the records I currently own or did at one time or another.
How much time I spent and still spend listening to bands
such as Vision, Instead, Against the Wall, Gameface, Billingsgate
and others. My brief, yet personal exchanges with the band
Instead and how, as much as I loved and still love that
Against the Wall 7’ inch. Recalling what an absolute
knob the band’s front man, Madrid was.
Overall, “The History of Nemesis Records” was
a good go through. The anecdotes, stories and images brought
me back to a time when, for better or worse, I consumed
every Hardcore record I could get my hands on. And while
most of those records find themselves housed in boxes that
rarely get played or see the light of day. This book had
me looking back on a time when rifling through a box of
EP’s at a show or seeing an ad from an independent
record label in your favorite fanzine was the way we operated.
Published by Tribal Books and available through Reaper Records.
With just over two hundred pages. This medium sized paperback
fits snugly in your backpack or computer and reads well
during your otherwise mundane commute.
Images and Stories from the 80’s Washington, DC Punk
(Complied by Scott Crawford)
As a teenager growing up in the mid to late 80’s
NYHC scene. I always looked up to the older kids and young
adults who were present during the early days or Hardcore
and Punk. As someone who hadn’t travelled a whole
lot and was just getting his boots scraped on the dancefloors
of places like CBGB’s, the Anthrax and Avenue A’s
Pyramid Club. I often wished I had been old enough to experience
bands like Minor Threat, Void and The Faith. And while the
New York and its surrounding hardcore scene presented more
than its share of cheap thrills, mosh pits and cleverly
choreographed stage dives. The music I closely identified
with always seemed to be coming from the Washington, DC
and its homegrown label Dischord Records.
Featuring images and stories from Bad Brains, Teen Idles,
Black Market Baby, S.O.A., Minor Threat, Government Issue,
Void, Iron Cross, The Faith, Scream, Marginal Man, Gray
Matter, Beefeater, King Face, Rites of Spring, Dag Nasty,
Embrace, Soulside, Fire Party, Shudder to Think, Ignition,
Fugazi, Swiz, The Nation of Ulysses and Jawbox. Compiled
by Scott Crawford. Who, as a pre-teen on the early DC scene.
Embodied the meaning of All Ages show. “Spoke”
is much more than a collection of photos. In that it allows
the people who lived it articulate what they were feeling
and experiencing, both as groups and as individuals. Comparable
to Cynthia Connelly’s “Banned in D.C.”
and Mark Jenkins “Dance of Days” Often feeling
like a photographic companion to the documentary “Salad
Days”. “Spoke” Perfectly illustrates a
very special time and place. Through images and personal
recollections of a time long past.
Just as Washington DC remains a political web of corruption,
betrayal and political turmoil. The music, relationships
and influence born out of this particular scene can still
be felt decades later. “Spoke” does an excellent
job of documenting what took place in D.C. during that time.
Reinforcing what participators and admirers alike still
hold dear. And that is a time and place that was both creative
and unique. “Spoke” is an absolute must have.
One that I find myself returning to on a regular basis.
Alone – Archie Alone
On the band’s latest self-titled release, New Jersey’s
favorite sons and daughters prove once again that big things
really do come in small packages. Compared to the many lesser
known bands with minimal output during a short, yet highly
creative time frame, it’s no wonder Archie Alone quickly
became a personal favorite, one that keeps calling me back
to its well and wishing for more.
With 6 songs featuring emotive vocals, songwriting and
musicianship that put a unique spotlight on each track,
Nicole’s voice sounds powerful without ever being
too forceful - overwhelmed, yet not overcome. These songs
make the listener feel swept up in each emotion, as if they’re
being taken on a journey. Songs like the single “Mend”
stay with you long after leaving your ears. While the opening
song “Crawl” and its follow up “Motives”
dig deep and plant themselves firmly in your subconscious.
Overall, the band’s six-song, self-titled release
displays Archie Alone knack for creating songs that defy
genre pitfalls and easily identifiable categorization. It's
music that feels organic, honest, personal and intimate.
A group of musicians who continue to evolve, if not fully
embrace their importance to their local fan base and listeners
like myself, Archie Alone manage to channel all the emotionally
charged lyrics and tones of Emo while providing the songs
with enough musical muscle to take down a charging bull.
And that, my friends, is about as high of a recommendation
as I can shove down your throat. Archie Alone is
available on CD as well as a number of high quality digital
formats. Just go to their Bandcamp page and start listening.
– The Don Fury Demo Sessions 1994
Hardcore super label Bridge 9 digs deep to pull H2O’s
original 1994 demo session with Don Fury from the well for
an official vinyl release. Available on yellow and blue
color 12’ vinyl for the first time ever with a title
that tells you exactly what you get.
Present are the original six songs recorded by the legendary
producer Don Fury, songs that would introduce H2O to the
Hardcore scene and launch them onto Hardcore’s worldwide
stage. For those of you that haven’t kept up with
things, H2O are now considered old school legends in many
circles. Best known for their energetic, yet melodic, DC
inspired positive Hardcore and energetic front man and spokesman
for P.M.A. Toby Morse, H2O would go on to release numerous
albums (2016’s “Use Your Voice” being
their most recent.) and tour the world.
The EP features the original six songs from the demo - ‘Scene
Report”, “If the Mask Fits’, “I
Know Why” “Temperature”, “GO”,
“Here Today” and “Gone Tomorrow.”
The demo sessions take you back to the band's earliest recordings
with one of the true archetypes of New York Hardcore’s
In listening to this demo for the first time since its
initial release in 1994. I was quickly reminded why I recently
jettisoned any and all H20 recordings from my record collection
and hard drive. I just never cared for the band’s
music. Often regarding it as lite Hardcore or Easy Listening
Core, for me personally I always felt a H20 record would
be a great gift to give to your twelve-year-old or as an
assurance that your girlfriend would feel safe going to
a HardCore show. Songs that felt a little too safe or accessible
for someone that remembers the dangerous elements often
related to going to shows.
My personal tastes aside, it would seem that the years of
hard work and dedication to a style of music and a community
they truly love, deserves its credit For me personally,
their music never did much to inspire or challenge me. In
listening to these songs, I was assured that, at least in
this case, time hasn’t really changed a thing. Go
ahead though. That is, if the ears are willing.
Payday – Welcome to the Modern World
There’s a certain risk/reward opportunity that goes
along with reviewing music from a band you have no relation
to or knowledge of. If it’s terrible, you write your
thoughts, absolve yourself by wiping your hands clean of the
experience and move on. Or, as in this particular case, you
hear a band that completely blows the doors off the hinges,
making you wonder what rock you’ve been hiding under.
New Brunswick’s Mr. Payday continues the town's undeniable
legacy of giving birth to edgy, creative and noteworthy artists.
On their second release to date, Mr. Payday offer an authoritative
answer to the question “What the Hell happened to Rock
& Roll, big guitars and bombastic swagger?” Each
of those parts can be found under the hood of “Welcome
to the Modern World”
From the opening note of “Club Test” to the
closing title track and everywhere in between, Welcome
to the Modern World establishes itself as a raucous,
fun return to Rock & Roll grandeur. Intended or not,
a thorough go through of the album has me likening Mr. Payday
to bands such as The Supersuckers, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
and just a few exits north of the NJ Turnpike, local heroes
The Rye Coalition. There’s also a heavy dose of 1970’s
era Rock & Glam influences thrown in for good measure.
Pieces of bands such as The New York Dolls, T. Rex and Mott
the Hoople find themselves sitting at the bar on the title
track “Welcome to the New World.” In the end,
the beginning and middle, you're left with all the evidence
you need to prove Rock music is alive and well. Sure, you
might have to go a little left of the dial to find it, but
when was that ever not the case? If there were ever a campaign
to “Make America Rock Again’. Mr. Payday’s
“Welcome to the Modern World” has earned the
right to lead the charge.
Brixton Riot – Close Counts
When it comes to shows and events that affected me in ways
that would reward me for years to come, Dromedary Records'
2013 Camel Fest (a benefit for the Roots & Wings foundation)
immediately comes to mind. It’s when I met the world.
It’s when I first heard the call of The Brixton Riot.
With a name that reminded me of the South London riots of
1981 as well as the beloved Punk band The Clash, all with
a sound and appeal that could be compared to that of the Replacements
or better yet, Husker Du. I was immediately hooked. Then I
got my hands on a copy of that year’s Palace Amusements
and the hooks got in and stayed in me.
Four years later and the band’s vocalist/guitarist
Jerry Lardieri reaches out to see if I’d be interested
in hearing what will soon be the new album. “Mmmm,
I don’t know. Is it good?” My anticipation busting
at the seams. Still, with no guarantees on quality, I waxed
my ears and adjusted my writers cap in anticipation of adding
my two cents on the matter.
On the Brixton Riot’s second full length Close
Counts, their first since the aforementioned 2013 Parkside
Amusements, the South Jersey band prove that they haven’t
missed a step or skipped a beat. It’s go-time the
moment the bass line meets up with the opening guitar riff
meet on the album's opening track “Can’t Stop
Now.” One can’t help but rejoice in its statement
of purpose and declaration of being. As the opening anthem
gives way to the album's second offering “Slow Evolution,”
you immediately feel the assurance that you took the right
turn on your journey. There’s a sense of warmth that
seems to wrap itself around every Brixton Riot song. Something
that feels accepting and comfortable. They didn’t
come to reinvent the wheel, but they might put some fresh
air in the tires before taking it for a spin. The warmth
and melody within the songs feel relaxed and enjoyable.
Giving somewhat of a bird’s eye view to the chemistry
within the band, a group of friends that create music that
feels very much in the moment. In the end, making me miss
a place it took me years to fully embrace. “Close
Counts” comes a lot closer than its title might lead
us to think. Skillfully engineered and mixed at Baltimore’s
Magpie Cage by the legendary J. Robbins (Government Issue,
Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels,) these 11 songs will
surely remain in my stream of favorites from the year 2017.
Close Counts is scheduled for an October 6th release,
but you can pre-order it now. Who says you can’t come
More than twenty-five years since they were released, the
original two demos the Queens, NY band DMIZE recorded find
themselves on vinyl for the first time ever on Germany’s
Cupcake label. Featuring original DMS (Doc Marten Skins) (Drugs,
Money, Sex) members Ray (JERE) Oglesby (vocals on first demo,)
Chiqui Rodriguez (vocals on second demo,) Beto on guitar,
Richie Nagel on drums, and perhaps most notably Hoya Roc,
who would go on to be a permanent member of the long running
and still active band Madball on bass. Dmize, though short
lived, reflected a change of scenery on the New York Hardcore
scene, one that brought in more of a Latino influence than
the scene had experienced in years. Add to it the gang culture
and violence that often follow, components that would influence
New York Hardcore for years to come. Musically, DMIZE reflected
many of the stylistic changes that had been taking hold on
Hardcore music for years, with metal-tinged riffs melded with
groove heavy bass lines and hip-hop inspired beats. The music
was heavier, darker and a bit more negative.
The first demo, recorded in January of 1991, features original
vocalist Ray O. (Jere). The second, recorded in September
1991, features his close friend and heir to the vocal throne,
Chiqui Rodriguez. And while the band featured several people
I considered close friends at the time, I never initially
cared for their metallic influence or the violence that
seemed to follow them from show to show. Add the twenty-five-dollar
price tag and shipping costs, the 12 song “Demos”
can only be recommended to Hardcore nostalgia enthusiasts
and fans of 90’s crime syndicate Hardcore bands like
Madball, Merauder, Crown of Thornz and Skarhead. Included
is a 16.5" x 23.375" poster and is limited to
Overall, these songs resonated with me more in 2017 then
they did back in 1991 - good, but by no means great - perhaps
due to a sense of closure regarding the past. They turn
bad memories to good while reminding me of those wild and
crazy times growing up and coming apart.
Stealing Time – 23 Year of Punk Images by Mark Beemer
With proceeds all proceeds go directly to the Syrentha
Savio Endowment to help low-income cancer patients afford
treatment, I felt compelled to pick up a copy of the reissue
of Mark Beemer’s long out of print “Stealing
Time”, which documents his long history and dedication
to photographing punk and hardcore acts. It includes photos
of memorable bands such as, but not limited to, Fugazi,
Henry Rollins, Quicksand, Rise Against and Texas is the
Reason. As both a photographer and a show goer, I’ve
always been interested in what the other shooters in the
pit or on the stage were capturing. Whether it be their
gear, choice of film, vantage point, or overall approach,
I’m always eager to talk shop and eventually see the
So, despite not being familiar with Mark’s work, I
was excited to explore his images and the artists he chose
to document. And while I can appreciate the journey, dedication
and countless acts he documented, as a photographer and
self-proclaimed documenter of my experiences, I honestly
didn’t find myself drawn to many of the work presented
What I did find was a mix of live and promotional location
photos that more than not failed to draw me to the subject.
As one who's photographed countless shows, yet a handful
of band members gathering for a group shot, or better yet,
being caught in a moment, I’ve always been drawn to
the latter. Therefore, I felt myself more closely drawn
to a picture of a band standing in a corner or crowding
into an elevator than performing at a show.
For me personally, “Stealing Time” is more
about the number of images collected than the overall quality.
Regarding the number of images provided in its 124 pages,
it failed to evoke any emotion from someone that may have
hoped for more of a back story or personal view of the many
inspiring artists he captured over those 23 years.
Formed in 2016 by former and current members of various
and musically diverse elements of New Jersey’s indie
and underground scene, Trü quickly evolved from a creative
exchange of ideas to a full-blown band. After releasing
a well-received demo in the Winter of 2016. Trü headed
back to the studio to record an EP for soon to be born “Destroy
All Monsters” label.
Mixing elements of shoegaze and dream pop with indie-rock
proficiency. Trü has quickly won both my attention
and admiration. After receiving a copy of the band’s
debut EP. I felt compelled to reach out to what has quickly
become one of my personal favorites.
Q: I had been hearing the name trü from Cindy and
friends at The Meatlocker, long before I heard the 2016
demo or saw you live in 2017. Can you tell me when you first
came to be?
Pat: We solidified the line up in Summer 2016 but Keith
and I were kicking around the idea since Fall 2015. Once
we started jamming, we really started clicking and that’s
when we brought Steve and Cindy in to round out the rest
of the line-up.
Q: You each come from different bands and musically different
corners. Can you tell me what is was that made you want
to create music together?
Pat: We’ve all been in the same scene with our other
respective bands for a long time. We’ve all played
shows together or were in the same room together too many
times to count as we’ve all become friends over the
years it just all seem to fall into place at the right time.
Q: Were you set on the type of music you wanted to create
before you got together. Or was that something that happened
Pat: We never really decided what type of music we wanted
to write. It just kind of occurred naturally. Everyone in
this band has a wide array of musical tastes and I feel
like with this band we were able to pool together our ideas
to make the best songs we can.
Q: Coming from varied places musically. What was it that
made you want to create this particular style of music?
How would you categorize or identify trü’s
Pat: I am SO bad at this but when people ask, I usually
tell them in the most general sense we’re an alternative
emo band. As for what made me want to write this type of
music, I wanted to write catchy pop songs but the catchy
pop songs early era Weezer would write. Just simple catchy
Q: Cindy, you moved from guitar to bass in trü. What
was that like for you? Had you played bass in the past.
Or was this completely new to you?
Cindy: Playing bass was completely new to me. I'd never
played bass in the past or even owned one, but when Pat
reached out to me I decided to give it a shot. I borrowed
my girlfriend’s bass gear for a practice with Pat,
Keith and Steve and immediately loved it. It was more about
the musical chemistry I had with those three then it was
about the instrument I was playing. Through playing in trü,
I have really grown to love bass and want to become a better
Q: What’s behind the name?
Pat: I thought of the name because I liked how it looked
visually. I wanted something simple we can build a brand
around. We stay very conscious of how we stylize designs
for our merch and album art and building it around trü
has honestly been a lot of fun.
Q: Who’s involved with writing the music and lyrics?
Cindy: Pat and Keith always show up at practice with tons
and tons of ideas. Whether it is just a riff, some lyrics
or an entire song, we all jam on them together and everything
just comes together naturally.
Pat: Yeah, we all have our say when it comes to practice
and it’s what I really think makes these songs great.
There’s a real sense of intimacy in the songs. Do
the lyrics reflect personal situations?
Pat: I’m completely new at writing lyrics and singing
in general but a lot of the things I write about are about
relationship situations I’ve been in.
Q: Having always felt that music has medicinal powers.
I was really inspired by the records prescription style
lyric sheet. How did the idea to do that come about and
what made you decide to go with it?
Keith: The prescription template was our friend Todd Campisi's
(Destroy All Monsters) idea and he based it off of the lyrics
for the song "Trouble".
Q: “Kirsti” will most likely remain my favorite
song on the EP. It sounds as if it could be the feel-good
hit of the summer. Yet somehow, I’ve convinced myself
that the lyrics come from a darker place. Can you give me
a little background on the song and the lyrics?
Keith: I wouldn't say they come from a darker place. I
would say that song is more of a "pick me up"
lullaby. Often times we forget our worth or feel insecure
about our place in the world and if we're lucky we have
somebody who somehow makes it all better. I just wanted
to reciprocate that warmth to someone very special to me
who was feeling blue i.e. “Kirsti”.
Q: You moved from 2016’s demo release to the 7’
EP rather quickly. Was there any specific motivation behind
Cindy: We actually had no plans on releasing that demo.
We self-recorded 6 songs in Steve's basement for pre-preproduction
which ended up coming out really cool. We decided to release
2 as a demo to give people a taste of what was to come.
After releasing the demo, we received a lot of positive
feedback so it pushed us to go into the studio and get more
out there. As we were preparing to record an EP, Todd Campisi
approached us about launching his new record label and putting
4 of our tracks on vinyl. We were honored that he asked
us to be his first release and the timing was just right.
Q: Is it more rewarding to have something on wax (vinyl)
than releasing something to say, bandcamp?
Cindy: Absolutely. For me personally, it feels almost like
a milestone. A lot of work went into putting the entire
thing together between communicating with the pressing plant,
having artwork made, physically putting everything together
and getting 5 people to agree on it all in a timely fashion!
Dropping the needle on the record for the first time is
an incredible feeling that can't be articulated.
Pat: I’m a vinyl collector (just like everyone else)
so getting my own music on vinyl is always a great accomplishment.
There’s a great feeling to having something you can
hold in your hand.
Due to my move.
Q: Due to my moving to Seattle the same day, I missed the
band’s record release show. From all the post show
posts on social media. It seemed to be a very special night
for the band and anyone in attendance. Can you give me a
run-down of what made it so rewarding?
Cindy: We missed you at the show! We celebrated the birth
of Destroy All Monsters and our first EP with a party fit
for a bunch of grown up kids! We put together some goodie
bags, had a popsicle party and spent the night with our
favorite local bands, friends and families. The amount of
support from everyone was overwhelming and we can't wait
to do it again!
Q: At this point in time, would you classify trü as
side project or full time band?
Cindy: I feel like we all went into this with the intentions
of having fun and seeing what we could create together.
It started off as a side project but I would consider it
a full-time band for each of us at this point.
Pat: I totally agree. We’re all just having so much
fun with this it’s hard to not dedicate a lot of our
time to it.
Q: What’s next for trü as a band and as indiviuduals.
Cindy: We are already in the process of demoing out more
songs. Pat and Keith have so many ideas that they bring
to practice so we keep cranking out new material. We hope
to get back in the studio by late fall to work on recording
our next release. In the meantime, we all have our other
bands that we are committed to as well.
Disorder – Naïve to the World (Youngblood Records)
Having grown up on countless Dischord releases and influential
acts who called the District of Colombia their home, my interest
and/or curiosity regarding most area releases should never
come into question. Whether it’s Punk, Hardcore, Go-Go
music or any form of underground sound, the mere gathering,
proximity or alignment of the letters D and C have a habit
of drawing my attention while arousing my curious ears. Such
was the case when it came to D.C. Disorder. Which brings to
mind D.C. Disorder and the "Naïve to the World"
EP. The vinyl 7-inch includes digital download.
From the scathing 1:01 instrumental introduction to the
sinister vocal appearance on the record's opener "Put
to the Test," the listener is put on notice. Six short,
but not too, too short, blasts of energy, ire and a sense
of cannibalistic urgency. "Naïve to the World"
possesses an authenticity that makes it nearly impossible
to overlook. Sure D.C. Disorder feature a cast of characters
from current Hardcore lineups, but considering how good
this record sounds, the mere mention of any such relations
to or association with seem unnecessary. With a fresh approach,
energy and conviction, "Naïve to the World"
makes an indelible mark.
Order it Here:
– OC Straight Edge (Color vinyl flexi-disc) (Reaper
Though not thoroughly researched, there must come a time in
a Punk or HardCore kid’s life when just about every
new band you here begins to sound like something you’ve
heard countless times before. Such was the case with California’s
DARE and what I hear on their rather generic offering "OC
Straightege." Whereas countless bands have found influence
in those that came before, acts such as DARE don’t seem
to have anything new to bring to the table. And while I can
honestly say I enjoyed my first listen of ‘OC Straightedge,’
I didn’t feel as if I was experiencing anything that
would stay with me or set them apart from the countless other
bands who continue to follow and not lead. Here is a record
that one would rightfully judge by its cover art. The 7-inch
ncludes digital download and is limited to 400 copies.
of Power – When then becomes Now (Triple B Records)
On their follow up to the excellent 7-inch on New Age Records,
Atlanta, GA’s Abuse of Power deliver a sophomore EP
that should ingrain them as one of the best current bands
HardCore has to offer.
The five song EP opens with the title track "When Then
Becomes Now.” Instantly grabbing the listener’s
attention and admiration with its gutsy aggression and straight
forward approach, it had me reaching for the lyric sheet,
words pouring off the page with a sense of timeless wisdom.
"All I Need" follows with a sense of strength and
wisdom. By now, you’re wondering why you haven’t
already bookmarked Abuse of Power as a band you need to know.
Overall, while sounding original and current, Abuse of Power
have a way of reminding me of the things (however few) I loved
about 90’s HardCore. With each song evoking strength
in a forceful, yet vulnerable way, Abuse of Power’s
"When Then Becomes Now" feels both identifiable
and real. This is a very good and thought provoking release.
The 7-inch includes digital download.
Pact – Instant Execution (Painkiller Records)
Though "Instant Execution" serves as Aggression
Pact’s second release, (the followup to 2015’s
self- titled debut,) it should be noted that it is their first
output as a full band. On the 7 song EP “Instant Execution,"
Aggression Pact stay the course with a fierce double guitar
attack and gut-wrenching growls via Mark (Wasted Time, Mercy
Killings.) With each of the seven songs presented being similar,
yet distinguishable, the EP’s third offering "Buried
and Rotting" slows things down just long enough for you
to get a better feel for the musicianship involved. The drums
move up for a more pronounceable presence while the guitar
sound is particularly insidious, all combining for a recording
that is quite rewarding. And while I really enjoyed their
debut EP. I feel that the additional pieces present on "Instant
Execution" show off growth and improvement when comparing
to the self-titled debut. Aggression Pact continue to keep
me interested and on my toes. The 7-inch includes digital
Order from Revhq:
Order from Painkiller
With the band's EP ‘Rope’ in hand and their
record release show just days away, I reached out to Scary
Stories singer Paul Alan to learn more about the band and
how a group of veterans from New Jersey’s music scene
came to be. Below is what Paul had to say. - James Damion
I know you all come from other bands (both current
and inactive or defunct.) Can you give me a little background
on the band and its members? How did Scary Stories get its
Adam reached out to me in the fall of 2015 with the idea
of doing a band and writing some songs. We had been playing
together in Hell Mary for a bit (and still do), but given
the circumstances and locations of members in that band,
we are unable to get together and write songs. Of course,
I was all about it. Adam brought on Greg because he hits
the drums like he's trying to break them. He also comes
with an unmatched positive attitude which definitely becomes
necessary in a band where the music generally comes from
a dark place. I brought on Vic who was asking about the
status of Hell Mary, but I was like "why don't you
come see how you feel about this new thing we're starting."
The four of us kept getting together on Mondays for a long
time after that and made our first EP in April of 2016.
Here is each member and a list of their current active projects
off the top of my head. I am sure I'll leave something out.
Adam: Permanent Tension, Entia, Bury Yourself, Khantra,
Greg: Basement Beers, Moot Point, Shred Flinstone.
Vic: Hot Knife, Static Radio.
Alan : Control, Hell Mary.
What made you want to make music together? With
those responsibilities, how much time do you have to dedicate
to Scary Stories?
I can't speak for the other guys, but when Adam from Insouciant/Khantra
contacts you to do a project, you don't say no. I've gotten
to know Vic and Greg through doing this band, and I would
definitely do future endeavors with them. It just seemed
to click when we got together because everybody was vocal
about what they wanted to do and we all listened to each
other. The writing process for this band was always gratifying.
I feel like each song has a touch of every member but not
in a way where it’s forced and you end up with a reggae
song with metallic breakdowns. Everyone "got it"
and contributed what is best for each song.
How did the opportunity to work with Black Numbers
Vic and Dave go way back. He heard our second EP and saw
the art and liked both.
Having released the 'Shimmers' demo on cassette
and 'Rope' on a flexi disc. One might think the band is
fixated on outdated technology. What went into the decision
to go with these antiquated formats?
Well, we're on all those digital platforms, so I wouldn't
say we're fixated really. We really had no plans. Tohm from
Forced Abandonment offered to do a short run of the cassettes
and we said yes because we like how he runs his label and
enjoy his catalog. We thought the second one would be awesome
to have on vinyl and Dave from Black Numbers was about it
so we went with it. If they didn't come out in these forms,
I don't think we'd have a physical component to each release
and they'd just exist in cyberspace conveniently waiting
to be ignored.
How are you planning on promoting the record? Will
you be leaving the beloved Garden State?
Our record release is July 7th at Backroom Studios with
Concussed, Devoidov, What of Us and Ides. For our release
we wanted a diverse lineup of bands we would want to see/play
with and that we feel fit well together. It was probably
my first time reaching out to bands for a show and they
all said "yes" without me having to hound them,
so I have a good feeling about this show. As for future
plans, we are playing "Fest" in Florida in October.
Have you written any new songs since you recorded
We haven't. Both EPs are now available "everywhere"
Personal favorites such as Botch and more locally,
Kid Dynamite have been mentioned when describing your sound,
approach and overall delivery. What are some of the bands
that inspired you to play this style of music?
That's awesome that you think of those two bands when describing
our sound. I think you nailed it. Again, I can only speak
for myself, but I think our tone and sound comes from the
individual styles we brought from our past/current bands.
When I hear Vic, Adam and Greg on other recordings I can
usually always recognize that it's them. Outside of that,
I really like those "desperate" sounding bands
play with urgency and conviction. I was honored to be part
of one of the Dangers local shows back in the winter.
I would never describe your music as Horror Punk, the name
'Scary Stories' brings to mind acts like The Misfits and
such. What's behind the name?
We stole it from those children's books of folklore
with the terrifying pictures. I like it because it's nostalgic
for me and those books may be the first "dark"
art I was ever exposed to.
What would you say is your favorite song on the
EP? Which one do you think performs best in a live setting?
"Rope" is my favorite because I think it's the
most dynamic and is a good metaphor for the band in general.
"Numbers" seems to go over well live...it's a
quick burst that has a lot crammed into a small space. It
opens up at the end where the vocals kind of go between
the hits (after being directly on them) and I always think
that "space" in parts translates well live. The
breakdown of "White Plague" is probably my favorite
30 seconds of the Scary Stories output and I'm happy we
chose that to close the album.
What influences / inspires the lyrics?
They are all pretty personal except for the last 2 which
touch on politics a bit. The hardest one for me to write
was probably "Fall Cleanups" because it had me
examining my privilege and a certain hopelessness that I
feel at times that I can't justify or validate...I guess
that was my attempt with these words. All of the lyrics
are posted on our bandcamp and the EP comes with an insert.
I encourage you to read along! A lot went into them.
Pre-Order the "Static" EP
Brian Musikoff should need no introduction to the readers
of Jersey Beat.com. For decades he was Hoboken's favorite
friendly neighborhood bartender at Louise & Jerry's,
a mainstay in local bands like Friends, Roman, Countrymen
and Stuyvesant, and a brilliant cartoonist and illustrator.
(Brian drew two fantastic covers for Jersey Beat during
our print zine days as well as the poster for our 35th anniversary
party.) His sudden departure to Seattle took a lot of us
by surprise, and he's going to be missed. Happily, thanks
to the Internet, he's no more than a few mouse clicks away,
and shared with James Damion some remininscences about New
Jersey and his decision to head west. - Jim Testa
James Damion: When I got in touch
with Brian about our interview, he seemed curious as to
why I, or anyone else for that matter, would be interested
in doing or reading an interview with him. To be 110% truthful,
Brian perfectly fits the mold for most of the interviews
I've done or been interested in doing over the years. Getting
to know someone who's inspired me with their music, art,
or straight up creative nature interests me more than any
upcoming release date, tour or single.
For me personally, Brian Musikoff fits the bill for the
kind of interviews and exchanges I prefer to approach. Brian
is the artist who created the logo for my blog United By
Rocket Science, and was the charismatic bass player for
Friends, Romans, Countrymen and Stuyvesant (a band whose
music and live performances brought me more joy than I could
ever wish for. ) So much so that whenever I think of or
hear their music, I'm brought back to my time in Hoboken
as well as my nights at Maxwell's, the music venue that
first brought me to the now famed town in the early 90's.
I'm also very appreciative of Brian's time in helping me
build a bridge between my former home in New Jersey to brand-new
one in Seattle. Here's what he had to share.
(Interview and images by yours truly, James Damion.)
What was it that sparked your move to Seattle?
After being fought, fucked, and educated in the NY/NJ area
for 45 years of my life, I was suddenly overcome by an insatiable
desire to tear up my roots; something that (with the exception
of a 4 month stint in Newport, Rhode Island in '92) I have
never experienced before. I needed a change and I needed
to relocate myself to a slower urban environment. Over the
past 20 plus years, I have observed a very lame and grotesque
assimilation in the NYC area as far as being a cultural
epicenter is concerned. I'm speaking for no one else other
than myself here when I say that I have been feeling an
ever growing increased tension toward the new generation
of entitled and naive people who have outwardly exhibit
a blatant disregard for NYC culture, and toward those who's
basked sense of entitled security which has made them feel
comfortable enough to behave disrespectfully without consequence.
I have seen the greater wave of social and economic interest
entirely shut down the venues, shops, and restaurants that
I hold close to heart.
What were some of your initial impressions of Seattle?
Pros and cons for any East Coasters looking to move there?
As with any metropolitan area, the local true blue natives
are going to be understandably defensive against an influx
of newcomers and their affects on the local economic and
social climate. As far as the weather itself, newcomers
need to be prepared for long, wet, grey winters. The sun
only appears in bursts between November and February and
the cold misty rain is frequent. Personally, and to the
dismay of many defensive locals, I love the winter weather
in Seattle. I see it as "forest weather". I'm
here to contribute more than I take, and those few who are
opposed or uncomfortable with me being here have no choice
in the matter.
What do you miss most about New Jersey? In particular,
I miss the pizza, the "mutz", the NYC view along
the Hudson, our band Stuyvesant, my immediate circle of
dorks, my bartender family, and the proximity to the beach.
Have you had any musical collaborations since you've
been out there?
Not yet, but I shall.
(About Brian's "Live from the Barrage" podcast.) How
did you become involved? How do you stay involved being out
west? What is the key focus of the show?
I knew John and Patrick of LFTB largely through the independent
rock community, and not just here in NYC and NJ either.
I initially appeared on the the show as a guest and I guess
our host John Houlihan and producer Tömmy Röckstar
immediately picked up on my dedication to the mutual interests
associated with the show. Since I've moved away from the
NYC area I continue to support the show by booking guests,
designing the weekly promotional images, and promoting the
show on social media. The show is still focused on discussion
regarding (but exclusive to): good music and those who create
it, good comedy and those who best understand it, crap/not
crap, The Ryan Game, TRNN NOOZ, and Mario Asaro.
You grew up in a few stops from me in Bayside, Queens.
Some of my earleist adventures included heading to Flushing's
Main St. and eventually Mike's Comic Hut. Can you share
some of your early impressions of living in Queens?
I lived in Bayside, Queens until I was 11 years old, where
my experiences on my own were limited to nearby destinations
along Bell Blvd such as Peter Pan Arcade, White Castle,
George's Pizza, the Bayside Batting Range, and Bayside Cinema
(where I saw Empire Strikes Back, E.T., Stripes, and Poltergeist).
My grandparents lived in Flushing on Main Street so I was
there often, and of course this proximity made me a regular
attendee at Shea (whether legitimately or vagrantly, heh).
My dad moved around a lot but always remained in Queens,
so I've resided all over neighborhoods such as Forrest Hills,
Woodside, and Astoria.
What initially interested you in art and how did it influence
your decision to go to Art school?
Brian's poster for Jersey Beat's anniversary show
As a hyperactive kid, music on the stereo in my ears and
a pencil and paper in my hands were the only things that
kept my interest as child. By the time I survived the social
warfare of a suburban NJ high school (my mom remarried and
moved us to Englishtown, NJ in 1983) I knew that a liberal
college, state school, or community college was not for
You designed the logo for U.B.R.S. Aside from here and
the work you've done for Stuyvesant. Who else have you worked
I've designed animation for comedians such as Patton Oswalt
and Brian Posehn, and my clients include Warner Bros Records
and Relapse Records.
The bass has long been my favorite instrument. Was it
the first instrument you learned to play? Inspiration?
My first ever instrument learned was bass drum for my grade
school band. Moving on to junior high, I wasn't focused
enough or disciplined to study drums, so I started piano
(which sucked.) In high school, I fancied myself a Hardcore
singer with Wake Up Call, and by college I had taken up
bass because the band that I was in at the time (Overeasy
with Brandon Stosuy, formerly editor of Pitchfork) just
had their bassist quit. To this day I can still not play
chords. I live for pushing air and fattening riffs.
What was/were some of the first bands you played with?
My first ever band was in 1986, I played Casio keys for
a middle school rap group that consisted of two white guys
and two black guys called The Funky 4 (no relation to the
much more accomplished The Funky Four Plus One of the Bronx.)
We played talent shows and battle of the bands. In high
school, I was in a home-recording "basement band"
with my best friend called Spleverb. Spelverb were reminiscent
of Ween (I guess) and by the time of graduation we had evolved
to a full 4 piece band. I was in a few punk bands that never
got off the ground in the early 90s, and then in 1996 I
was introduced to the members of FRC.
I first learned about Friends, Romans, Countrymean from
Al Crisafulli (Dromedary / Sugarblast Records). Can you tell
me how you met Sean and how the band came to be?
Bill Dolan (American Standard) and I were both at the first
big Descendents reunion show at the Stone Pony where he
introduced me to FRC members Sean Adams and Dan Murphy,
who were in need of a bass player. So we connected really
easily being that, after all, we were together at a Descendents
show (no pun intended,) and we all lived in or around the
Hoboken/Jersey City area. I played and recorded with FRC
from 1996-2002, and then in 2003 Sean and I joined Ralph
Malanga from Footstone to form Stuyvesant.
Check out Brian's artwork at www.manualcomics.com.
– S/T EP (Destroy All Monsters Records)
If you had the chance to read my review of Tru's 2016 demo
and my thoughts on their performance in what was my first
and thus far, sole show review, you might get the impression
that I think that they’re all that and a big ole’
bag of chips. Well, while all that might be (no pun intended)
TRUE, I thought I proper to save my real enthusiasm for when
they put something on wax. Well folks, they just have. So
excuse we while I get a little bit excited here.
On the band’s debut self -titled four song EP, New
Jersey’s TRU blend burly bass lines and guitar hero
riffs that add muscle and texture to toned down dreamy vocal
landscapes. Mixing elements most likely to be found with
dream pop and shoegaze vocalsm, they weave a perfect web
that is virtually inescapable. The EP’s opening track
“Take a Peek” offers itself as a perfect introduction
to the band’s sound and approach with its warm and
uplifting sound. “Trouble,” a holdover from
their 2016 demo, follows with its warm and infectious vocals,
spiraling guitar, and supportive backbeat. “Kristi”
and “Hand in Hand” ride the same bus with warm
lead vocals and even warmer refrains. One can’t help
but fall in love with a band that so effortlessly blends
elements of guitar rock with the lush landscapes often found
in the best that shoegaze acts, both past and present, have
With members from local New Jersey acts such as Archie
Alone, Dutchguts, Lkffct, Threat 2 Society and Washington
Square Park, to name just a few, TRU’s personnel seem
like unlikely choice when it comes to creating such a chill,
laid back music environment. However, regardless of any
past or current associations. TRU strive and succeed in
creating artful sounds that see them escaping any and all
genre and geographical limitations. I can’t wait for
my record to arrive. Get it here...
Sweet Things – Love to Leave / Cocaine Asslicker Blues
Here I am about to write another long overdue review while
wondering why, after all these years, anyone would care about
my opinion on music. So, when my friend, Spaghettytown Records
founder Ted Dougherty handed me the latest and second label
release The Sweet Things “Love to Leave” single,
I quickly embraced my role as reviewer / skewer and got to
work on throwing my weighty opinion around.
As New York descends into becoming a giant strip mall for
tourists and high rise living yuppies with Wall Street salaries,
it’s good to know that there are still bands like
The Sweet Things fighting their way upward from the cracks
in the sidewalk that once fostered the likes of the Ramones,
N.Y. Dolls and Dead Boys with “Love to Leave”
and its Johnny Thunders inspired B side, “Cocaine
Asslicker Blues.” The Sweet Things finds influence
in various genres that include, but do not limit themselves
to the Blues, Southern Rock, 70’s Punk and straight
up Rock & Roll.
The Sweet Things introduce themselves with a boogie and
swagger that quickly resonates with this listener. Bringing
to mind 1970’s Rolling Stones as well as the grossly
underrated act known as The Faces. This single spins on
limited release pink vinyl. I suggest you get it while the
getting’s good. Get it here...
Fiendz – Fossils (Black Pumpkin Records)
If you lived in or travelled through New Jersey in the late
1980’s or 90’s, you most likely heard the Fiendz,
owned one of their records, and might have even seen them
play a show or two at the Pipeline or City Gardens or any
other lost yet beloved music venue sprinkled throughtout the
I must have been sixteen or seventeen when I was introduced
to the Fiendz by future Electric Frankenstein bassist Dan
Canzonieri. I have to admit it was a tough sale for a kid
from Queens who, at the time, worshiped at the altar of bands
like Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Agnostic Front. Let’s
just say harmonic songs about girls weren’t my thing.
It wasn’t until Dan handed me a copy of the band’s
first single, “Runaway with Me,” that I surrendered
to The Fiendz and their knack of creating catchy pop punk
that welcomed you to sing along to every note.
Before long, I was running into Joe and Jimmy at parties,
and making friends with them while learning about countless
other mutual fiendz.
The unreleased Fossils unearths recordings by
the classic lineup of Jerry Jones, Jimmy and Joe Darone,
with 10 songs written by Jerry and Joe and produced by Tim
(Rumblefish) Gilles, during what I would consider the band's
height. This material is easily comparable to the albums
We’re the Fiendz and Wact.
While the Fiendz most definitely found influence in the
likes of The Ramones and Jersey horrorcore greats The Misfits,
their sound was a mix of harmony and Power Pop. (What if
The Ramones had recorded End of the Century with
The Beach Boys Brian Wilson instead of the maniacal Phil
While I have to admit that I haven’t paid much attention
to The Fiendz in the decades since these songs were written,
I thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to hear this. Mostly
though, it was the memories of younger days. The Fiendz
are still playing and releasing music today, with Jerry
being the only original member. Fossils is available
on CD and in digital download.
– The Victory Years
Like many people my age. I was introduced to Warzone through
the Revelation Records EP compilation “Together”
and the band’s debut EP “Lower East Side Crew.”
Truth be told, my interest in Warzone became almost non-existent
after “Open Your Eyes” and the disastrous self-titled
mess that followed. By the time Raybeez and crew moved over
to Victory Records, I had all but moved on from Hardcore altogether.
So much so that I had no idea that The Victory Years
was originally released on CD in 1998, shortly after Ray’s
untimely death in 97’. Regardless, the vinyl release
had me reminiscing about a man who was instrumental in my
starting a NYHC fanzine around the same time their debut album
Don’t Forget the Struggle, Don’t Forget the
Streets” was staking its claim on the streets of
Along with Jimmy G. (Murphy’s Law) and Vinnie Stigma
(Agnostic Front,) Ray Barbieri (Agnostic Front / Warzone)
was one of the most original and endearing characters to
come out of New York City’s Hardcore scene and movement
Most surprisingly, these 17 tracks of Hardcore Punk and
Oi really stand the test of time, evoking memories of younger
days and reinstating my love for a style of music that,
for me at least, once represented a sense of acceptance
Thanks to this and the recently reissued Don’t
forget the struggle…, my appreciation has grown
for Warzone and Ray’s dedication to the music and
worldwide hardcore scene he helped create. Though the band's
message of positive thinking and unity could sometimes seem
a bit corny, it always came from a a very sincere and honest
place. The Victory Years are deserving of the attention
of anyone even remotely interested in hardcore, punk or
Oi. While you’re on the hunt, I urge you to also pick
up a copy of Revelation Records' recent reissue of Don’t
Forget the Struggle…Don’t Forget the Streets
Aficionado – Volume 1 U.S. Hardcore / Punk 1978 –
How many times have we either kicked ourselves in the collective
consciousness for selling off our original punk and hardcore
records. (Oh those limited first pressings still haunt my
dreams.) Or wished we were around to pick up those round
stacks of wax when they bore their original “pay no
more” pocket change price.
As a kid growing up with a love and fascination for vinyl
records, I was always eager to see what was inside. The
lyrics, image, graphics and that oh-so-important “Thank
You List”. Information that made you feel closer to
the band as you listened to their music.
Record Aficionado goes further than many other books, fanzines
and record collecting websites, in that it goes beyond the
record cover to show the inner works and structure,
highlighting the records A and B side and reprints the record's
inlay/lyric sheet, stickers, record label advertisements,
as well as an accompanying record review from the time.
144 pages of two color printing featuring over 500 images
dedicated to every aspect of many hard to find, long out
of print EP’s that reshaped Punk while initiating
the birth of American Hardcore, from the Abused to Youth
of Today. Record Aficionado has it covered. Comparable to
Europe’s much sought after two volume Flex Discography,
all at a quarter of the price one volume would fetch.
Whether you regret selling that first pressing. Or, for
reasons beyond your control, were never able to grab an
original, Record Aficionado provides the visual stimulation
and/or blueprint for you to embark on your journey towards
record collection perfection.
While the book's binding leaves a bit to be desired. Its
content is as thorough as it is outstanding. The painstaking
attention to detail, cut and paste style and overall fanzine
style give Record Aficionada a personal touch that feels
as warm and intimate as your very own record collection.
An absolute must for record aficionados, collectors and
music archivists alike. For under twenty-five dollars. You
really can’t go wrong.
Worse – We Suck! (The Lost 1982 Album)
If it were not for ROIR’s cassette only label and its
now legendary “N.Y. Trash” compilation. My taste
and knowledge of Punk may have never gotten past the Clash,
Sex Pistols, Ramones stage of my early adolescence. For it
was that trip to Broadway’s Tower Records that I got
my first taste of Heart Attack, Bad Brains, Stimulators, Kraut
(A band who, thanks to my Mom, I had seen open for The Clash
at Bonds Casino), Even Worse and many, many more. And while
I was much too young to have gone to those shows at Max’s
Kansas City, A7 and the Great Gildersleeves. That particular
compilation served as a spring board for what was to come.
Even Worse, one of the many bands featured on “N.Y.
Trash” were an integral part of New York’s early
80’s punk, thrash, noise scene. A band who at different
times featured Beastie Boy co-founder John Berry (R.I.P.),
The Big Takeover creator/editor Jack Rabid, Thurston Moore
(Sonic Youth) and future “Noise the Show” host
Timmy Sommer. Even Worse played fast, up tempo punk rock
with bratty female vocals that can be compared to many of
their New York City contemporaries. As well as their West
Coast counterparts, Alice Bag (the Bags) and the Avengers.
Punk Thrash at it’s very best. It was post Pistols
/ Sid Vicious Punk. Pre-Agnostic Front era N.Y.H.C. Recorded
at the legendary 171A studios and co-produced by Bad Brains.
The album’s B side feature’s the band performing
live at the famed New York City restaurant/club/bar Max’s
Kansas City in 1981. (The same year it closed.) Imported
from Italy and limited to only five hundred copies on 180
Gram vinyl. “We Suck” includes rare images of
the band as well as very personal liner notes from the bands
drummer Jack Rabid. This is a must for fans of more obscure
and undocumented punk and prototypical art-punk.
“We Suck” does a fantastic job of encapsulating
a time and place in New York City’s proud music history.
One that I feel has been shrouded in mystique due to its
limited amount and incredibly hard to track down recorded
history. Here’s hoping that “We Suck!”
opens the doors to more lost treasures as well as re-issues
of long out of print release from bands such as Heart Attack,
The Mad and many, many more.
Kids – S/T (10 song album)
If your childhood consisted of trips to Korvettes, Woolworth
or Caldor, chances are your parents were either price savvy
or economically strapped. Growing up in Jackson Heights, Queens,
I myself was familiarized with 82nd Street's Woolworths at
a very young age. So, when New York City’s Caldor Kids
dropped their ten song self-titled ode to discount chain stores
in my email, I immediately got the connection.
On what seems to be their debut, Caldor Kids deliver a
set of geeky garage punk that reminded this listener of
a cross between old garage punk favorites Crimpshrine and
perhaps a poorer man’s Screeching Weasel. Though based
in New York City, Caldor Kids' sound, style and approach
feels like something that fell out of the Lookout Records
family tree. Fast, noisy, adolescent and loose with bratty
vocals, I felt an East Bay connection running through each
of the record's 10 songs. I really enjoyed the song “Pop
Tart” with its fast and loose bass attack as well
as the familiarity of “Caldor Kids” (a spoof
on the original “Toys R Us kids” commercial.)
Overall though, Caldor Kids hardly warrant more than a casual
listen or two. Beyond that, it just gets plain irritating.
As raucous as this might sound, Caldor Kids seem destined
for the circular file at your local discount store’s
cut out bin.
Cimdy and Pats’ Birthday Bash featuring Whiner, Tru,
Archie Alone, No Honeymoon, Puddle Splasher at The Meatlocker.
This past Saturday I headed west to Montclair’s Meatlocker
music venue for Pete and Cindy’s (Archie Alone drummer
and guitarist) Birthday Bash show. There was food, champagne,
friends, family and plenty of music. Five bands with varied
sounds that ranged from Shoegaze and Dream Pop to Emo and
Indie Rock performed. Over the years The Meat Locker has
been a consistent landing strip for local and touring bands
from varying sounds, styles and genres.
The venue's cavernous layout and sense of community combine
the structural feel of CBGB’s with the DIY ethos of
ABC No Rio. For me, personally, attending shows there has
become as much about the people as it is about the music.
Below are some images taken at and after the show. Happy
Birthday to Cindy and Pete.
Cindy - Archie Alone
Nicole - Archie Alone
Pete - Archie Alone
TRU - Cindy
Tier – Everyone’s OK (Beverly Martel Music)
If it weren’t for my tagging along with Jim Testa to
2011’s 3-day Brick City Riot Festival. I might have
completely missed the opportunity to become acquainted with
the music and personnel of Courtesy Tier. With a name one
might find at a hotel career seminar and a sound you wouldn’t
expect to hear coming out of any New York club or bar, the
chances they’d soon become so important to me seemed
unlikely. Judging on what I witnessed from the duo’s
performance and EP’s that followed, that importance
quickly grew stronger and stronger.
Enter 2017 and we’re greeted with Courtesy Tier’s
first vinyl output, the very rewarding “Everyone’s
Ok”. It brings together 11 songs that showcase the
trio's gift for creating a hauntingly beautiful mix of soulful
blues rock you’ll seldom hear north of the bayou,
Spirited songs that read like a dirty old pulp fiction novel
left on the nightstand next to the bottle of Makers Mark.
The 11-song LP opens with the long time personal favorite
“Cold,” previously featured on 2011’s
“Holy Hot Fire” EP. This is a song that’s
become so special to me that I feel I’ve come to know
every aspect of it intimately. “Childish Blues”
follows with Omer Leibovitz’s squealing blues riffs
and unique vocal style. By the time the album's third track
“And we don’t know” presents itself, it
becomes more than evident that you’re being treated
to something uniquely special and rewarding. Favorites from
the album include but are definitely not limited to the
haunting “Cold”, “Little Rock”,
the driving “Jackson”, “Hey Bee”
the incredibly bluesy storyteller “Mila Says”
and the album's closing tear jerker, “Home”.
With Courtesy Tier blurring the lines of style sand genre,
simply categorizing them as blues rock or alt-country would
be a serious disservice. A “What if Jack White and
Ryan dams hijacked the panels of an otherwise dreary Wilco
recording session?” comparison will have to do for
now. You’d be hard pressed to find a record as thoroughly
good as “Everyone’s OK”. Eleven songs
that feel so perfectly crafted, you’re sure to have
it in heavy rotation for the unforeseeable future.
Youth – Reality Check
Just when you thought that hardcore punk had run out of
every possible way to incorporate the word “Youth
in to their name, Charleston, South Carolina’s Backwards
Youth put the name game in reverse before putting their
brash approach to hardcore on blast.
“Reality Check,” the follow up to their 2014
EP “Outcast,” features 6 songs of well rounded,
metal influenced hardcore. Growled vocals, breakdowns, beefy
guitar riffs and a pounding backbeat highlighted by thick
bass lines, producing short, yet satisfying results. Overall,
it was the cleverly (insert sarcasm) titled instrumental
“Intro” and the EP’s fifth track “Life
Sentence” with its well-rounded metal core sound that
stood above the others.
“Reality Check” was tracked and mixed by Kris
Hilbert at Legitimate Business. Mastering is by Brad Boatright
at Audiosiege. Album art is by Chad Lawson, with track listing
art by Preston Weippert. Guest vocals on Excuse are by Patrick
Thomas of False Light. The record is available to download
Breaker – 2017 Demo
Fresh for your boom box comes a five-song demo cassette
from a new band that sounds as if it was carved out of an
80’s CBGB’s Sunday hardcore matinee. Featuring
membership from both the Garden State and Virginia, the
cast of Wall Breaker have played in such bands as Wormeaters,
Chainsaw to the Face and the very influential Coke Bust.
Wall Breaker come out of the gate swinging with a five-song
demo of raw, savage and blistering straightedge hardcore
you don’t often here in youth crew circles, asomewhat
rare trait that I found to be particularly impressive. Adding
speed and an updated sound to influences like Boston’s
S.S.D., Detroit’s Negative Approach and later 80’s
bastards of hardcore New York’s Life’s Blood.
The band's overall sense of purpose, swagger and intensity
allow Wall Breaker to set them apart from being just your
random act playing to their influences.
As I began to compose this review. I reached out and shared
the recording with some likeminded friends, including Life’s
Blood singer Jason O’Toole. The response was overwhelmingly
positive, and only served to reinforce my own feelings,
even though no one is being tested on their knowledge or
appreciation of music created when Reagan was still popping
jellybeans in the Oval Office. No matter the era, I always
find it easier to identify with a band that took the time
to listen, appreciate, and be influenced by such essential
stuff. For a band that is still very much in their infancy.
Wall Breaker really leaves a lasting impression.
The opening song “Wall Breaker” serves as a
perfect introduction with its forceful chorus: “Break
the fucking walls!!! Break the fucking walls!!!” “Autobiography,”
the band's fifth and final one, wraps things up rather well
with a short yet laugh educing skit. For someone just being
introduced to a new and current hardcore punk act, this
is about as good as it gets.
Cassette available through Absolute Contempt Records and
is is limited to 200 copies on pro duplicated white and
black cassettes (BE=100 white, AC=100 black) and glossy
printed covers. I suggest not sleeping on this one. Any
and all the money from donations and any profit from the
tapes goes to cat rescue as per usual.
While It might seem as if I’ve been hearing about New
Jersey’s Forever Losing Sleep… well, forever.
I can trace the first rumblings to an actual show they played
way back in 2014. I recall a friend talking up the band during
their exhaustingly long pre-show set up. Imagine my dissatisfaction
when what took nearly an hour to set up was sleepily performed
in a quarter of that time. A ton of build up with no climax.
To say the very least. I was not the least bit moved.
Losing Sleep / Arrowhead – Split EP
More than three years later I’m hearing the band
again for the first time again on a two-song split with
Boston, MA’s Arrowhead.
Forever Losing Sleep start things off with “Woken
by the Sun,” taking their slow, slower, slowest approach
to comatose depths of self-indulgent prog–rock indulgence.
Even when singer/guitarist Joe Kelly screams during the
9:00 plus minute track, it seems to be done while in a catatonic
state. Arrowhead follow, taking an almost exact sloth like
pace. The only difference being singer Tad Rios seems to
curse the sky a little louder. Perhaps trying to make up
for the nine or so less seconds it took to finish the song.
Regardless, it’s dull, duller dullest all the way
Being a long-time fan of the split single. I’ve learned
that combining acts with different sounds, ideas and aesthetics,
tend to make for a better listen. On this particular split,
though, I could find little to no differences between the
two. If you have the time in your life to devote your attention
to a couple of songs delivered in a snail’s pace of
17 minutes, more power to you. For me personally, it was
an exercise in misery. If I as ever to write a suicide note,
it would, in all likelihood, be accompanied by this release.
Losing Sleep -Bandcamp
– Overexposed (Forced Abandonment Records)
If George Orwell and Orson Welles ever set out to start a
Punk or Hardcore band, chances are it would sound a lot like
New Jersey’s Aguirre. Considering their 2015 demo ‘Poverty
Rowe’ was accompanied with a dark, black and white film
noir movie concept, the thought doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
Part demo, part film college thesis, it was as outlandish
as it was brilliant.
Come 2017 and the band has returned with their first full
length ‘Overexposed’. I was invited by singer
Patrick Flynn and drummer Paul Alan to give these ten songs
an authoritative listen before putting in my two cents.
To start with, ‘Overexposed’ does a lot to
set itself apart from what’s being called Hardcore
or Punk these days. Not to say that there is anything wrong
with being a Hardcore act in 2017. Or for that matter, any
year. It’s just that I haven’t heard a whole
lot that sets one band apart from the other recently. Musically,
‘Overexposed’ goes in a lot of interesting directions
you won’t hear from in your typical Joe Hardcore act.
Vocally, Aguirre lead a dark path with sinister vocals that
sound as if they were a prophetic narrative warning of darker
days to come. Timely, considering the current political
landscape. One can really appreciate the sense of storytelling
throughout. Whether intended or not, each of the 10 songs
feel connected, as if they were written with the intention
of being the score to a George Romero movie. I can say with
all honesty that I like where Aguirre are taking things.
“Overexposed” is available on cassette and digitally.
Point – "History Repeats Itself and We Never
Learn Fast Enough" EP (Bandcamp)
Greg Furlong is by far one of the nicest people I’ve
met through going to shows (my social media jabs regarding
his taste in music aside.) As the drummer for Basement Beers
and Scary Stories, he stands out as one of the best and most
animated stickmen in the state. Being how those two acts have
served me well in the somewhat recent past, I was eager to
give these newly recorded songs some attention and focus.
Having barely heard of the duo known as Moot Point. I approached
this two-song recording with little to no knowledge of the
band or the style of music they played, an approach that
didn’t change how completely off guard I felt upon
listening to these two short and very abrasive tracks. Raw,
unhinged, chaotic and dissonant would best describe the
sound being put forth on these songs.
Featuring Vince Basile (guitar/vocals/lyrics) and Greg
Furlong. “History Repeats...” two songs screamer
is more Power Violence, Screamo, Noise Rock than its predecessor,
2016’s garage rock friendly “Clockwatcher.”
With “A clear head of thought” and “History”
coming together in just about four and a half minutes, I
had a hard time judging just what it was I liked or disliked
about this particular recording. However, I’m grateful
in that it gave me the chance to compare it to their previous
recordings. Whether or not this is your kind of noise, it’s
definitely worth checking out.
Point on Bandcamp
– The 1987 Demo (540 Records)
I still recall the numerous times I stopped in to Some Records
when in route to the Sunday Hardcore matinees at CBGB’s.
It was the main spot to check out flyers for upcoming shows.
Peruse the latest Hardcore releases and pick up the latest
cassette demos from the latest bands in the scene. It’s
how I began to build my arsenal of demo tapes. It’s
where I picked up the first Breakdown demo.
Years later. After owning every conceivable reissue and
version of that original tape. The first full length LP
had me wondering whether or not to proceed. Was there anything
new to learn or hear. Was there any necessity in owning,
yet another copy? A full color 12X24 poster to tape to the
walls of my brother’s college dorm and extensive liner
notes to base my graduate school thesis on? Yes. A fully
restored recording of their live performance on WNYU’s
Crucial Chaos that I originally taped on my home’s
boom box? Check. In the end, though. A combination of nostalgia
meets familiarity made my purchase a sure thing.
Raw, unflinching and streetwise. The nearly thirty-year-old
demo still stands strong. The nine-song recording that almost
singlehandedly changed the face of New York Hardcore by
giving it a tougher edge. (One possibly absent due to bands
like The Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front’s fleeing the
lower east side due to touring commitments.) While almost
simultaneously offering a counterweight to Youth of Today
and the countless bands that were forming at the time.
Side A features the 87’ demo in its entirety. Nine
classic mosh classics like ‘Kickback’, ‘Life
of Bullshit’, ‘Vengeance’, ‘Labelled’,
‘You Gotta Fight’ and ‘Sick People’.
Great songs that reflected life’s everyday struggles.
To make this a full blast LP. The bands 87’s WNYU
Crucial Chaos greets side B. Their live set includes the
entire demo. Plus, the additional instrumental ‘Pipe
Breakdown would go on to be featured on such classic Hardcore
compilations as “In addition to recording another
classic demo and a couple of full lengths. The band would
be featured on the incredibly influential Revelation Records
“The Way it is”, Blackout Records “Where
the Wild Things Are” and one of the last tape collections
of its time. The “New Breed Compilation”.
For most though, it was the 87’ demo that would go
on to influence and become the springboard for countless
hardcore acts in and for decades to come. If you love Hardcore.
The 87’ demo should already be an important tool in
your box. If you ever wanted to educate yourself on the
development of late 80’s Hardcore in New York City.
This would be a great start.
& the Chapter – You Are Not Mine
I ran into an old friend at a local music venue the other
night. Though I hadn’t seen him in quite some time.
I felt more than comfortable reintroducing myself with a big
We talked briefly about music and in particular, our mutual
appreciation for guitarist John Mayer and singer / songwriter
Ryan Adams. As we broke the ice. I felt the doors for further
exchange were opened for further dialogue. So, I asked what
he had been up to since our last encounter. When he revealed
that he was currently playing in Rocky & The Chapter.
The smile on my face was hard to conceal. For it had been
just minutes’ prior when I was speaking to his former
bandmate, NGHTCRWLRS guitarist and Sniffling Indie Kids label
boss Frank Joseph about an upcoming record release show featuring
the very same act I am about to write about.
Following a handful of singles as well as 2015 full length
‘ New Day / Old’ Here. (A record I found to
be deeply rewarding.) ‘You are not Mine’ welcomes
the singer / songwriter back to the table with sweet, yet
sweeping melodies that move effortlessly throughout. Ones
that perfectly encapsulate a sense of warmth and the promise
of good things to come.
‘You Are Not Mine’ offers a crisp Pop sound
with enough kicked up guitar riffs to give it an undeniable
rock edge. The added cowbell effect to the infectious guitar
driven leads on ‘Lucky 13’ launched me from
the couch to my hardwood floors faster than any recent calls
to the dinner table.
The following and EP closing track ‘Talk Small’
had all the sinister edge and longing to perfectly wrap
up an otherwise celebratory affair.
Four songs that gave me a continued appreciation and respect
for the Singer/songwriter camp. Rocky’s voice has
a special pull that draws that the listener close enough
to the song to make them feel as if they’re a part
of it. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy this
weekend at Jersey City’s Porta.
& The Chapter on Bandcamp.com
Battles – Curse the Day / Locust Sky
Sometimes, a good thing just falls into your lap. Such is
the case with the two-song offering from Raleigh, NC’s
Night Battles. Featuring members of various local NC acts
as well as old friend and guitarist Christopher Skelly. (Dahlia
Seed / Static is a City) Night Battles lay down some diabolical
post punk scripture on their debut two song release.
“Curse the Day” introduces Night Battles with
devilish vocals and gasoline soaked riffs. Dirty post core
that kicked in like a shot of whiskey with a rattlesnake
chaser. Knocking me off my balance while jacking my heart
rate to dangerous levels. Side effects aside. I really dig
the deviant nature it conjures up. The “Sinner takes
all” vibe displayed here cannot go without noting.
“Locust Sky” follows. Providing a musically
visual authority to its namesake with a slower, even more
ominous approach. Imagine Afghan Wigs and Laughing Hyenas
waist deep in the sludgy industrial complex along the side
of the highway.
While these two teasers had “Best stuff around”
written all over them. I was left wondering how soon the
collected personnel would get back in the studio for more.
Regardless of future collaborations. I appreciate Night
Battles reminder that great things often come in small packages.
Battles on Bandcamp.com\
- No Longer at Ease
Nostalgia is a funny thing. on the downside. It has a way
of stealing your time, as well as your hard-earned money.
Spend too much time in the past and you'll find yourself
trapped there. On the upside. Or at least in this case.
Nostalgia has a strange way of freezing moments tucked so
far in your past. You never realized you had retained them.
As a teen, I spent most of my free and not so free time
involved in the New York Hardcore scene. The majority of
it, spent with the members and close friends of a band called
Gorilla Biscuits. During my senior year of High School.
The name “Beyond” would come up quite regularly.
High praise from Walter and Civ. Shortly after graduation.
I was invited to share a rather large Queens apartment with
Walter, Civ and Beyond drummer Allan Cage. It was during
that time I got a full-blown taste of what was a very special
and unique band.
Originally released in 1989 on David Stein’s Combined
Effort label and later reissued on compact disc by New York’s
Some Records. Revelation Records brings the epic New York
Hardcore release back to life with a well-deserved vinyl
While often bunched in with the bands like Youth of Today
and Gorilla Biscuits. (Bands they shared bills with as well
as common ground and philosophy.) Beyond's sound and influences
were had just as much in common with Iron Maiden as they
did Minor Threat.) With Metal tinged guitars, tribal drums,
and lyrics that travelled outside the boundaries of Hardcore
and Punks topics of the day.
Though short lived. Beyond personnel would quickly go on
to push the boundaries of Hardcore in acts such as Bold,
Burn, Shelter, 108, Quicksand, Seaweed, 1.6 Band, Last Crime
Featuring the albums original fifteen songs. “No Longer
at Ease” has aged incredibly well. The Metal tinged
guitar shredding and tribal drumming I mentioned sound just
as vital and fresh as they did when I was a teen. Add Kevin
Egan’s vocal urgency and the Vic Dicara’s sinister
bass work and you’ll find yourself listening to a
record that feels as just as urgent and necessary as it
felt when it was first released.
With liner notes by Walter Schreifels, song lyrics and the
option grey or red marble. “No Longer at Ease”
offers something for everyone.
on Revelation Records
– Between the Lines (Revelation Records)
Sharpen your X’s. Dirty up those old cargo shorts
and dust off that old backwards Thrasher cap. It’s
time to go back to that old reliable fountain of straight
edge middle aged youth with the debut six song 7 inch from
the newly formed SEARCH. Comprised of personnel from such
stellar New Jersey straight edge hardcore acts Mouthpiece,
Turning Point and Floorpunch. SEARCH set out to create music
in the vein of Youth of Today the youth crew movement that
initially influenced them to start bands as teenagers.
“Between the Lines” features six songs packed
with all the thunderous glory of Hardcore past and present
with fast and furious urgency and intent. Spirited guitar
leads, dep rolling bass lines and percussion. All led by
the familiar voice of Mouthpiece, Hands Tied and Triple
Threat vocalist Tim McMahon.
While Search have done an excellent job with “Between
the Lines”. Their debut is nothing one wouldn’t
expect from a group of straight edge kids in their early
to mid 40’s.
Reliable or just plain predictable. The band sticks to what
they know and love so closely. That it ends up sounding
more like an ode to the past than a look to the future.
The hope of hearing something new and fresh never presented
itself. Making the record somewhat of a letdown. Six songs
that would complement any of Revelation Records (1987-1989)
earliest classics. A nice, colorful slab of vinyl tucked
neatly into a pliable cardboard sleeve. Nice, but not all
on Revelation Records.com
Headhunters - The Rage of the City
Comprised of members of The Rival Mob, Step Forward and
more. NYC Headhunters represent a new breed of Hardcore
bands bringing it back to a resurging NYHC scene. Still
abuzz from the band's well-received 2015 demo. I was eager
to hear what the Headhunters debut 7' inch EP would offer.
True to Hardcore form. The NYC Headhunters haven't strayed
very far from the ingredients that made their demo so god
damned good. Cutthroat vocals that blend Hardcore's aggression
with street punk's urgency and sense of alienation. The
five songs offered on 'The Rage of the City' are each impressive
in their own way. Musically and lyrically tight with a sound
that frequently reminds me of late 80's NYHC without sounding
anything like a nostalgia act. Overall, 'The Rage of the
City' feels raw, real and very authentic. Painkiller
VISION – Against the Grain (Painkiller Record)
Following their 2015 self-titled cassette release on Mind
Rot Records. England’s True Vision return with their
debut EP 'Against the Grain'. Featuring members of Violent
Reaction, Shrapnel, Arms Race and The Flex. Their lineup
reads like a who's who in the ranks of England's most currently
celebrated Hardcore and Oi bands.
All parts considered. True Vision exhibit a complete and
total lack of originality or ability to create anything
even remotely original. Instead, sticking to a cookie cutter,
cut and paste, play by the book approach to straight edge
Hardcore. Whereas countless others have proudly worn their
influences on their sleeves. True Vision recorded a record
that feels sleeved in decades old clichés. Upon my
first listen to True Identity sounded more like a band covering
early Revelation Records EP’s than one creating their
own sound and vision. Energy and speed? Yes. Any sense of
a band creating their own identity? Absolutely not. Disappointing.
PACT - S/T 7' inch (Painkiller Records)
Formed by Dan, (Waste Management) and Ryan (Green Beret.
Two bands I admittedly have never heard of) as well as members
of personal favorites, Richmond's Wasted Time. Aggression
Pact is yet another band that finds influence days gone
by. With hints of A.O.D., B.G.K. as well as other acronym
leading bands of the 8o's. A.P.'s six-song debut EP wrecks-havoc
on the senses while endearing the listener to its savage
bar room brawl appeal. Intended or not.
On the bands six song debut EP. A.P. Do a very good job
of making an impact with their fast, razor sharp delivery
that doesn’t stop long enough for you to take a cigarette
break. And while I definitely felt a Boston / Choke / Slapshot
More closely, Aggression Pact reminded me of 'An Adjustment
to Society' era Kraut. (In case you've never heard of New
York's Kraut. That's about as good a compliment as you can
give.) An all-around excellent record from a band well worth
Bios are perhaps, one of the most overlooked parts of being
an artist, or in this case a band. So, when I read “We’re
a band from Jersey who like Weezer.” didn’t come
near describing the newly formed TRÜ. I reached to the
newly formed band’s bass player and friend for something
a bit more telling. Formed in late 2016 as a side project
for members of various local bands including, but not limited
to Dutchguts, LKFFCT,
Threat 2 Society and Archie Alone. What started out as a side
project for the four members quickly became a priority.
On their two-song demo, TRÜ produce sounds and ideas
unexplored in any output with the previously mentioned endeavors.
The chill, down to earth vibe on the demo’s second
track “Fool’s Gold” is just as seductive
on the ears. Perhaps offering more of a slightly more uplifting
vibe. With parts dream pop and parts shoe gaze. One can't
help but think of Belle & Sebastianne cruising down
the NJ Turnpike with Beach House riding shotgun.
TRÜ just recently recorded a 4 track EP 7” inch
EP at Nada Recording Studios with John Naclario. It's planned
Spring 2017 release on the soon to be born “Destroy
All Monsters” label. Though just a sample of things
to come. I felt TRÜ feft a nice calling card clearly
outlining the promise of things to come. Contact Tru
is an independently published music fanzine
covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage
music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State
area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music
fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming
bands and a resource for all those interested in
rock and roll.