Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

Longtime NJ scene photographer and music blogger James Damion may have relocated to Seattle, but he still keeps a keen eye on punk, hardcore, and whatever else comes his way in this column.

Dead Boys 1977 – The Lost Photographs of Dave Treat

For those unfamiliar with the Dead Boys, the Cleveland Ohio band were key to the first wave of American Punk. Upon their journey to New York City and the Bowery to be more geographically correct, they became legends of their craft with one sonically epic album Young, Loud and Snotty, a record - though you may or may not have heard it - appears on just about every list of “Best Punk Albums of All Time.” Often compared to proto punk legends such as Detroit’s The Stooges and Chicago’s The MC5, they were a band whose legacy is not to be fucked with.

“The Lost Photographs of Dave Treat” collects this photographer's rare and for the most part unseen photos (only one was ever published in “Rock Scene” magazine.) This was a shot that, though not used for the cover of their Young, Loud and Snotty album, became somewhat of a template for the band. Included in the book is the original four-hour session of promo shots Treat took within the urban decay of Cleveland’s streets, a few images from a couple of shows before their exodus to New York City, and upon their return to Cleveland in support of the Dictators. Part III, entitled “Stiv Bators,” is without any doubt, the best the book has to offer, featuring images of Dead Boys frontman Stiv Bators for Treat’s final photography portfolio at The Cooper School. In addition to entries from Dead Boys members Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz, there’s an introduction by Ron Kretsch (contributing editor of Dangerous Minds) as well as a Forward by author/photographer Dave Treat.

Although the Dead Boys remain one of my favorite bands of that first wave of Punk,
t he images presented are rudimentary at their best, something one might expect to fish out of an old box of vacation photos forty years after they were taken. With a lack of composition, focus or even the most basic photography fundamentals, the photos themselves are often overexposed, washed out and badly focused. A good example would be how Cheetah Chrome often resembles an albino ghost due to the images' lack of contrast or detail. Chalk it up to time or perhaps a lack of proper storage, the content within did little to nothing to warrant becoming published. At a price tag of $29.99, The Lost Photographs of Dave Treat hardly merit more than a quick glance at your local book store. Sad considering the impact The Dead Boys had on so many.

Dead Boys 1977


Truth Assassin – In the Shadow of Tyranny

With isms reaching disgusting heights, a tax plan that could all but erase the middle class, collusion with foreign entities, and nuclear war being just a small sample of what Donald J. Trump's presidency has brought this country. It’s a wonder there aren’t more artists forming Anti-Trump coalitions and side projects.
With acts such as Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine and Prophets of Rage becoming distant memories to many, it’s no wonder that more acts such as Truth Assassin haven’t risen to the occasion. With Trump looking to further prove he is incapable of doing much more than hosting a reality TV show, it’s only a matter of time. Which brings me to the task at hand: My impression and opinions regarding Truth Assassin and their 10-song debut LP.

Following their 5 song debut "The Scrooge," In the Shadow of Tyranny features ten songs of Hardcore-influenced pop punk that rage against America’s greatest threat to truth, justice and personal freedom. While both musically and sonically viable, I can’t imagine wanting to dedicate an entire album or side music related side project to a single target of such misery and ire without having any substantial outlet or fundraising goal. In the end, good politically inspired music should inform and to a degree, educate the listener, perhaps offering a solution. In the case of Truth Assassin's In the Shadow of Tyranny, I felt that I was merely being reminded of what a shit hand we’ve been dealt.

You can follow the link below for blow by blow descriptions of what each song entails.

Truth Assassin

Dinosaur Eyelids – Left Turn on Red

Upon my initial introduction to Dinosaur Eyelids, I found myself wondering how in the hell does one pocket of New Jersey (New Brunswick, for those of you keeping score.) manage to pump out so many noteworthy acts willing to keep the spirit of guitar -driven, in your face music, whether it be Punk, Hardcore, or in the case of Dinosaur Eyelids, Rock & Roll. Is it the College Town atmosphere? The middle of nowhere placement? Or perhaps the way the taps serve beers at local pubs like the Court Tavern? Though the answers to this question will surely remain a tight-lipped secret, I will forever be grateful for its diverse contributions to music.

On Left Turn on Red, the band’s 5th album to date, New Brunswick’s Dinosaur Eyelids continue to grow while sticking to their D.I.Y. rock roots. Having carved out their own niche through semi local gigs and somewhat regular rotation at local college radio stations, these five New Jersey rockers show no signs of slowing down or selling out to make holiday jingles for Walmart. Through fuzzed out guitars, grunge rock inspired elements, and a bit of 70’s Rock swagger, Dinosaur Eyelids will have you rushing the stage to get a piece or to offer to offer a pitcher or two after their set. While Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Fu Manchu and local heroes Mr. Payday each come to mind, all comparisons aside, it’s quite evident that D.E. are on their own trip.

Left Turn on Red and its groove-heavy eleven tracks shape up to be one of this year’s best and biggest “Year Ending” specials. Mentioning or referring to any one song would only take away from the fact that Left Turn on Red should be listened to in its entirety while wearing sunglasses and riding a motorcycle. Any band that lists Turkey Lamps in the “Interests” section of their band page deserves my attention, admiration and perhaps, closer interrogation on your part. Listen, own it, wash with it.


Further Investigation


Banana – "Die Alone Pt. 2"

Man, woman or child, it must take serious cojones to name your band Banana. Luckily, scorning acts with ridiculously questionable name choices isn’t in my swag bag these days. Instead, I hold back my judgement until I’ve had a full get to know session with the bands songs and delivery of such. When listening to Die Alone Part II (there is actually a prequel,) I couldn’t help but think, “what a fitting title.” Boston’s Banana (yeah, that’s really their name) play self-described “Anxiety Pop.” The six song EP is a collection of low fi recordings that are monotone, morose and downright depressing (and by “depressing,” I don’t mean in a cool, The Smith’s kind of way.) While the fifth and second to last track "Doomed" have their moments, and while could see potential in both the vocals of Chelsea Ursin and the entire Banana crew, overall, this is just a train wreck of an EP.



Squitch – "Wonderful / Pitiful" EP

It’s no wonder Boston’s trio Squitch are sharing the same bill with Banana. Considering how similar the two seem. I can imagine a few showgoers scratching their heads thinking “Didn’t this band just play?” Upbeat / uptempo female -fronted pop rock that doesn’t quite feel like it’s ready for consumption. Musically, there’s a certain garage band feeling to these two pop tunes that remind me of a band of teenagers clunking away in the garage before Mom intervenes with a plate of freshly microwaved Totstinos. With this being their third entry to Bandcamp, I’m guessing that Squitch have settled on their sound. Whether or not that’s good is up to you. As for me, I could not have reacted with more indifference if I tried.



Hot Knife – My Fangs

Brooklyn’s Hot Knife were born out of a bar stool exchange between Vic (Static Radio) and Ryan (Spanish Gamble). From there, the two became four after recruiting Luke to sing and Matt (Candy Hearts) to play drums. A self-titled flexi disc on Black Numbers followed, inspiring the cast of Hot Knife to continue writing their own story.

On “My Fangs,” the band’s second release to date. Hot Knife take influences that run the gamut between Green Day and Nirvana to create catchy and well executed Punk Rock that I found to be quite appealing. While I could hear the Green Day influence loud and clear on most of the six songs, it was the fourth track, “Guppy”, with its Bouncing Souls meets H20 vibe that particularly resonated with me. A song that would fit rather nicely on your mixed tape or, to be more current, Spotify playlist.

Listening to Hot Knife will immediately remind the listener of how closely their sound mirrors that of their influences, byt these guys do enough to stand out on their own. And much like their influences, their style of Punk Rock might not get them banned from the town meeting, but at the end of the day, it just might keep the mall punks at bay.

For those of you who prefer, love, or hoard vinyl, only 250 copies are being pressed (100 on Yellow, 150 on Orange). Includes free digital download.

Rev HQ/Black Numbers

MEEKO BRANDO – Lemonade, Lemonade

It’s not every day that I get a personal, hand written note asking me to review someone’s music. It’s another thing, altogether, when that note includes an expression of love and a drawing that honors your past, present, and soon to be future as a universally celebrated music critic, When you’re the subject or target of such genius promotion, you best take more than a quick glance at what you’ve been served. It’s what they call “tribute” in the old country.


The name Meeko Brando, intended or not, reads like a character you might find concealing intentions at the end of the bar on a Star Wars sequel. Though not created a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Meeko Brando carries a sound and style that is just otherworldly. On the band’s second release to date “Lemonade, Lemonade," the Trenton, NJ band produces five quirky and weird post-punk-revival, dance-indie-rock jams that run on all cylinders. When listening to “Lemonade, Lemonade,” I couldn’t help but compare the band’s sound to a Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled debut meets The Killers “Hot Fuss”. Now that may be dialing things back a bit, but it is a qualified compliment on my part. Meeko Brando’s sound and its execution has the potential for mass appeal.

LKFFCT – Dawn Chorus

When I think of the many bands I got to see live over the years, it’s always the ones that I was able to get face to face with in the basements and dingy rooms of New Jersey that stand out as my personal favorites. What better way to be introduced to the sounds of a local band than standing nose to nose, covered in sweat as their twenty-minute set washes over you? It’s how I started out, it’s how I re-introduced myself to live music, and it’s how I came to love the consonant loving LKFFCT.

LKFFT, or Lake Effect if you like a few vowels in your alphabet soup, are a New Jersey indie rock band that formed from the ashes of the praiseworthy act Washington Square Park back in 2013. Quickly carving out a niche and grass roots following of their own
f ollowing 2016’s “The Flower Investment Pawn,” and my introduction and personal favorite, 2015’s “American Sarcasm,” LKFFCT continue to work their way upward with a gift for creating warm, uplifting pop rock songs that have staying power that is somewhat of a rarity in a time and place where immediacy and the arrival of the next big thing are far too real.

Whether it’s the quirky, yet soaring energy of the title track, “Dawn Chorus,” the raucous escapism of “Flavor,” or the more subdued Neil Young/Big Star channeled “Starling,” from start to finish Dawn Chorus clicks on all levels. As each of the albums 11 songs reward the senses, keeping the listener’s attention and admiration, you can really feel the love and hard work that was applied to these songs. You get a strong feeling that the band really enjoys making music together. If you take a moment to look at the credits,
which feature a wide array of contributing artists, you’ll get an even better sense of the community and family LKFFCT seem to foster. While names like Frank Joseph (NGHTCRWLRS/Sniffling Indie Kids) and Ken DePoto (France/They Had Faces Then) are already familiar, the list of contributors is astounding. Also worth note is LKFFCT’s own Max Rauch's engineering and the mix/mastering of the incomparable Skylar Ross (Skylar Ross Recording)

Tera Melos – Trash Generator

Frank Joseph (Nghtcrwlrs/Sniffling Indie Kids/Holy City Zoo) is a good man, one whose opinion in music I may not always share, but always respect. So when he took to social media to declare that Tera Melos (a band I admittedly had never heard of.) was the best this galaxy had to offer, I felt the weight of his proclamation calling me to, at the very least, give them a listen.

After a visit to their bandcamp page, I was met with numerous releases (12 in all,) dating back as far as 2012. Quite a lot of material to sift through if you ask me. So instead of taking the long way to the short route, I decided to give their most recent release, August 2017’s 12-song release Trash Generator, a robust go through. While the spacy California trio Tera Melos and Trash Generator took it’s time to build and eventually grow on me, I feel it was time well spent. Their atmospheric ambient rock took me places I had departed long ago; songs that take the listener in a lot of different directions with more than its share of twists and turns, eccentric, trippy and totally worth getting weird with. And while I can’t agree that Tera Melos are the best band in the galaxy, I can wholeheartedly agree that these cats are out of this world. One I hope to continue to explore.

Weep Wave - "Entropy" EP

I’ll be honest with you. When moving to Seattle, I was expecting to find myself engulfed in the flames of the great Northwest’s forever-changing music culture. Instead, I found myself falling in to a series of reunited bands stopping off for a last gasp at the past. This reunion-crazy world, it seemed, would leave little time to explore the wide array of local acts making names for themselves in the now. Still, names like La Lux, Ayron James, and a handful of others sparked enough inspiration to warrant numerous listens. Then of course, there was Weep Wave.

Formed in the Seattle/Tacoma corners of Washington State in 2016, Weep Wave quickly gained notoriety and praise through hard work, spirited live performances and low-fi recordings. By the time 2017 rolled around, the quirky synth leaning/garage act were making a lot of people take notice. What caught me off guard and kept me tuned in was the simple fact that Weep Wave manage to sound nothing like what you might imagine would come out of a band by that name.

“New Climate” opens the set as if it’s chasing down Guns & Roses' “You Could be Mine” like a PCP tripping maniac with a hammer in one hand and a blow torch in the other. Mixing a garage rock sound with some spacy synth indulgence, you would think Weep Wave were setting themselves up as the headlining band on the next space shuttle festival. The three-song “Entropy” EP rocks with a spacy and quite bass eccentric sound. Fast and upbeat, “New Climate,”“Perfect Piece of Pretty Trash,” and “Worm Eat Brain” left a lasting impression on this listener, one that elicited countless listens as I searched out more of the band's output. At a time when so many acts are focusing on one style or another, it’s refreshing to hear one that combines different ones so seamlessly. Though this is the second of three EP’s Weep Wave have released in 2017,“Entropy” was my introduction to a band that had just recently appeared on my radar. As they say, better late than never.

Safe and Sound – "Ashes Lie and Wait" 7-inch

On their follow-up to “Embers to Remain” and third seven-inch EP to date, “Ashes Lie and Wait,” Safe and Sound take influences such as Burn, Turning Point, Strife and Judge and end up sounding like your random screamo or death metal act. Formed in Seattle back in 2012 by straight edge kids looking to play 2000’s-era youth crew hardcore. (I had no idea that even existed.) With EP titles like “Ashes Lie and Wait,”“Embers to Remain,” and “The Tides,” one might think that Seattle’s Safe and Sound have spent a lot of time sitting in fire safety or disaster relief seminars. And while I can’t say for sure if that’s true or not, listening to their recent two song release, the band seems to take themselves pretty seriously. The two song EP features a mix of screamed vocals and spoken word fury and 90’s metalcore instrumental cacophony that combine to create an unfulfilling/unrewarding misery index immeasurable by any current technology. And while I’m sure there’s an audience for this type of noise, I found nothing remotely desirable in these two songs.

Revelation Records

The 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.

Available here

SPOKE– Images and Stories from the 80’s Washington, DC Punk Scene
(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.

(Akashic Books/Dischord)


Archie 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.


H20 – 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 recorded history.

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.

Bridge 9 Records


Mr. 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.


The 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 home?


DMIZE – Demos

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 500 copies.

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 (Dischord)

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 results.

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 within.

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 later?

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 tunes.

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 player.

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 that?

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.


D.C. 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.

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DARE – OC Straight Edge (Color vinyl flexi-disc) (Reaper Records)

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.

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Abuse 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.

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Aggression 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 download.

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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 start?

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, Hell Mary.
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 come about?

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 the EP?

We haven't. Both EPs are now available "everywhere" though.

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.

Though 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'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 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, Hoboken.

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.

Brian's poster for Jersey Beat's anniversary show

What initially interested you in art and how did it influence your decision to go to Art school?

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 me.

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 with?

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

TRU – 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 to offer.

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...

The 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...

The 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 Garden State.

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 Spector?)

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.

Warzone – 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 Manhattan.

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 and community.

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 here...

Record Aficionado – Volume 1 U.S. Hardcore / Punk 1978 – 1985

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.

Even 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.

Radiation Records

Caldor 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.

Caldor Kids

Pete, 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

No Honeymoon

No Honeymoon



TRU - Cindy




Courtesy 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.

Backwards 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 or stream.

Backward Youth

Wall 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.

Wall Breaker

Forever Losing Sleep / Arrowhead – Split EP

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.

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 through.

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.

Forever Losing Sleep -Bandcamp

Aguirre – 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.

Forced Abandonment Records

Moot 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.

Moot Point on Bandcamp

Breakdown – 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 Dream’.

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.

Rocky & 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 man hug.

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.

Rocky & The Chapter on

Night 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.

Night Battles on\

Beyond - 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 reissue.
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 and more.

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.
Beyond on Revelation Records

Search – 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 that necessary.
Search on Revelation

NYC 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 Records

TRUE 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. Contact PainKiller Records.

AGGRESSION 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 influence.
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 your time.

Contact Painkiller Records

TRÜ- 2016 Demo

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


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