Try looking up the band Kingpin these days and you’ll
find yourself in a fiery pit of hip hop cliché’s
and bling bedazzled rap king wannabe's... or maybe never-
be's. However, if you were listening to and attending hardcore
shows on the East Coast in the 90’s, you just might
recall an upcoming Massachusetts hardcore band by the same
name. I clearly recall securing a copy of their Suburban Voice
released debut EP on one of my record store runs before having
the random chance to see them perform at a couple of Hardcore
matinees I attended while visiting Philadelphia and Washington
DC. While I still own that original 7-inch and hold on to
fading memories of those shows, my interest in hearing this
second, previously unreleased four song EP was high.
Listening to these songs more than twenty years after they
were originally written and recorded, I both enjoy and appreciate
Kingpin more than I might have when they were active. Whether
it be a growing appreciation of metal tinged hardcore or
a long overdue acceptance of bands that lived outside of
the bubble of that sub genre's accepted, yet outdated standards,
when comparing this to their earlier recorded output, one
can hear a marked evolution in their sound and the direction
they wanted to take it. Though it’s not known as to
why this recording was never widely released, it’s
incredibly gratifying to hear something from the past sound
so good in the present tense. The vinyl version comes with
a digital download, featured on color vinyl and is limited
to 600 copies. The record's inset includes lyrics and photos
that reminded me of the images I always wanted to be taking.
Whether you were lucky enough to own an original copy of the
demo in the early 80’s or like me, heard it through
a cassette trading exchange, chances are, Uniform Choice were
one of the game changers when it came to your development
and expansion into what was and is still known as “straightedge
hardcore”. Whereas Washington DC had Minor Threat, Nevada
had 7 Seconds and New York would eventually have Youth of
Today, the music of Orange County, California’s Uniform
Choice would go on to influence countless bands and inspire
many a young hardcore kid to move up front and sing along
Featuring the original ten tracks that appeared on the
demo cassette, as well as the iconic imagery Uniform Choice
became known for, you get a definitive feel for the music
and message the band set out to create. Listening to these
songs for the first time in decades, one can understand
how and why Uniform Choice had such a meaningful impact
on straightedge and hardcore in general. And while these
demo recordings have not aged very well, in recalling and
singing along to songs such as “Don’t Quit”,
“Straight and Alert” and “Uniform Choice,”
I was quickly reminded of the impact Uniform Choice had
on me and countless others.
Just as with past releases and reissues, Mankind does a
great job packaging and presenting these ten songs. The
LP comes packaged in a gatefold cover, is featured on white
vinyl, includes a download code and a 11X17 poster. Having
noticed the record's occasional unavailability on the label
and on distributor RevHQ, I’d gather that the demand
for these recordings is having a hard time keeping up with
If you haven’t heard the dynamic yet quirky Seattle
trio known as Wimps, by all means, you should run out or open
up another window on your computer and check them out. Rachel
Ratner, Dave Rahm and Mike Nyce mix stripped down Power Punk
/ Garage Punk with mundane lyrics that are instantly addictive
and immediately relatable. Overall, a very band-next-door
kind of thing. The Wimps forgo the spikes, leather and Aqua
Net to focus on a simple, honest approach to witty songwriting.
(Think Garage Punk meets Power Punk on the way to a Riot Girrl
show.) There’s a lot of bounce and jangly looseness
to their songs and some freaky yet invigorating riffs sprinkled
throughout, with songs like the opener “Giant Brain”
(with its lyrical refrain “Going insane, going insane.”)
The 13 songs featured on “Garbage People” are
some of the best and most endearing I’ve heard in quite
a while. The album allows the listener to slow down long enough
to listen and indulge in each song individually. That says
a lot considering that we live in time of such immediacy.
Though comparisons can be made to acts such as L7, Babes
in Toyland, Sleater Kinney,
The Muffs and La Luz, Wimps more than set themselves apart.
There’s a lot of bounce to their songs and some freaky,
yet invigorating riffs sprinkled throughout. Whether you
shake your booty, your head or jump up and down in a small
spot in front of your record player, Wimps are the band
to do it to and “Garbage People” is the record
to be spinning when you choose to so.
Time & Pressure are a relatively new hardcore band based
in the St. Louis area, featuring members of Perfect People
and Better Days. (Sorry, but I’m not familiar with either.)
Their five-song demo came to me in an email and I’m
glad I took the time to give it a listen.
Featuring five songs of mid to fast-paced style of hardcore
that immediately reminded me of the band Champion, the pace
and guitar driven-style of these songs also reminds me a lot
of earlier straightedge bands and the youth crew sound, a
style many seem to gravitate towards and emulate decades after
its inception. At the moment, you can listen or download these
songs on Bandcamp. Demo cassettes and possibly more can be
expected from their signing to Safe Inside Records. The band
had a handful of shows booked in recent months, but haven’t
announced any trips east just yet.
Though new to these ears, this five-piece hardcore punk band
from Redding California formed way back in 2015. While not
dated by any means, that’s three plus years I’ve
missed out on experiencing a pretty outstanding act. Dying
For It match impassioned female vocals and intelligent socio-political
lyrics with the double guitar assault of Shane and Walter,
accompanied by the assertive, pounding rhythms of Matt on
bass and Thomas on drums. Rikki V’s primal screams help
assert the songs' urgency and authenticity. “Born to
Deny” made a lasting impression on me, one I won’t
soon forget. Each of the ten songs featured on
“Born to Deny” carry a fast, melodic, somewhat
chaotic, yet thoroughly empowering energy, with “Don’t
Buy the Lies” and “Misery and Company” being
my favorites. Fans of bands such as Nausea, War on Women and
American Nightmare stand up. You’re going to love Dying
Chances are, if you’ve been following this column since
its inception, you may have read my less than glowing review
of DARE’s 2017 demo. Well, the Orange County straight
edge hardcore band has managed to keep pretty busy with two
EP’s in the year 2018, this being their second and first
since July’s single “The Difference.” The
six songs featured here have everything you’d expect
from a hardcore act trying to find their way. Unfortunately,
the fast-paced aggression, riffs and breakdowns each come
off sounding generic, if not borrowed. Though these songs
show a marked improvement over their 2017 demo, the band still
seems to be swimming in all too familiar channels. Perhaps
they're trying to emulate their heroes and playing so close
to their influences that they never found time to carve out
their own identity. The cover brings to mind Outburst’s
classic “Miles to Go,” wearing goofy looking attire
while chilling out on what looks like a kindergarten inspired
technicolor nightmare. The vinyl version plays up the color
scheme with a Blue / Banana Yellow and Pink / Orange splatter.
While Dare continue to move forward. They still have a very
long way to go.
Love ‘em, ignore 'em, or just hate along with ‘em,
there’s no denying the impactful history of lead singer
Choke and Slapshot. With major influences from early hardcore
acts such as SSD,
Negative Approach, Impact Unit and Choke’s former bands
Last Rites and Negative FX, Boston’s Slapshot got its
start way back in 1985 and have been providing us with dark,
negative, often tongue in bloodied cheek hardcore ever since.
On “Make America Hate Again”, an obvious play
on words regarding Trump’s “Make America Great
Again” election slogan, the band proves that not all
of us mellow with age.
The eleven-song album opens with the less than stellar “Edge
Break Your Face” before moving to the more successful
tracks “Hypocrite” and “Remedy.” It
isn’t until the fourth track “Alone” that
I felt as if I was in the full-on maelstrom I’ve come
to know as Slapshot. From there and throughout the rest of
the album’s seven offerings, you feel the band's full
on gift for aggression, power and - depending on how you look
at it - dark sense of irony. Though clearly not Slapshot’s
best work to date, “Make America Hate Again” shows
a band intent on keeping hardcore evil for all of the jaded
folks who often wonder how hardcore got hijacked by a bunch
of cargo shorts-wearing boy scouts. Now get the fuck off my
“Cro-Mags” Flanagan – The Original Cro-Mags
I still remember the day that metal dude authoritatively placed
a copy of “Age of Quarrel” on top of my desk.
It was a time when I was still maneuvering my way towards
New York Hardcore, A dyed-in-the-wool true believer still
recovering from Agnostic Front’s colossally shitty crossover
“Cause for Alarm.” At the time, it would seem
that the last thing I would want to hear was another crossover
attempt or Hardcore band looking to expand their audience.
Despite my distrust, I took that cassette home, listened to
it and dubbed the fuck out of it. So, anyone who was at least
half willing, was going to hear it. Soon, The Cro-Mags would
join the Bad Brains and pre-Cause for Alarm” Agnostic
Front as unquestionable reasons I needed to continue my journey
towards becoming a NYHC kid.
My first reaction to seeing the pre-release online was
that it takes serious cojones to expect people to pay upwards
of ten American dollars for a compact disc featuring four
songs demoed more than 35 years ago. With everything I’ve
read and heard coming from the Harley Flanagan camp, it
seems overwhelmingly evident that he’s still deeply
entrenched in his past. And though the Cro-mags are rightfully
credited as one of the most influential New York Hardcore
bands of all time, I find it sad that Harley is still trying
to capitalize on music he created a lifetime ago. I don’t
feel that I’d be overreaching by noting what a ,shame
it is how such a great band managed to blow most, if not
all of their creative juices on “Age of Quarrel,”
an admittedly groundbreaking, landmark release that was
praised by fans of hardcore, metal and crossover universally.
Sadly, due to the riff between Harley and Jon, they never
came even remotely close to the impact made with “Age
of Quarrel” under the Cro-mags name or any of their
other respective artistic endeavors.
While these four songs have their moments, and show off
some of the early building blocks of what would eventually
become The Cro-Mags, I couldn’t help but feel monetarily
overcharged and musically underwhelmed. Overall, the back
story (featured on the records inset) was more rewarding
than the four songs presented within.
When choosing whether or not to invest your time and money
on “The original Cro-Mags demos 1982/83,” one
must ask themselves if they really need to go that far down
the road again. Considering how that chapter of my music
indulgence and search for the remaining pieces to its puzzle
seem closer and closer to coming to a close, I honestly
Terror – Pall in the Family (Reaper Records)
I first heard Sheer Terror on 1985’s Big City Records
Compilation “One Big Crowd.” Though the two tracks
Sheer Terror provided didn’t really inspire me, within
just few years and the urging of friend and super-fan Gina
Lawson (R.I.P.) I soon fell under their dark spell. Since
that day and the rather striking image of Sheer Terror’s
Paul Bearer passed out on stage on the back cover of Blackout
Records epic time capsule 1989’s “Where the Wild
Things Are,” New York Hardcore's drunken uncle Sheer
Terror have become a personal favorite and somewhat of a counterweight
to much of the posi-core hardcore I’ve come to listen
The opening siren “Bohacks, Wetsons, Tung-Bo &
Me,” the fire and brimstone “Get Me off this
Rock,” and the closer “The Moon’s Gone
Out” each serve as calling cards for a sound and style
the band and its patriarch Paul Bearer have been serving
up for decades. On the third track, “North Shore Love
Affair,” Bearer narrates and navigates his way through
a series of falsehoods on a road to a perfect world that
does not exist. “Where men are men – stock market
to sewer. And a broad knows her place – Hairdresser
or Hooker.” Sure, it’s not politically or socially
correct. But this is a Sheer Terror record. What do you
expect? Any conversation or listen to Paul Bearer or Sheer
Terror will have you imagining a world where Bearer voices
everything from hardcore documentaries to self-help seminars
for men who cry in their whiskey and wet their bed sheets.
With more than thirty years of credible evidence, you don’t
need rocket science to come to the conclusion that world
is a bitter, perhaps better place with the Reverend Paul
Bearer and Sheer Terror in it. For all you record nerds,
the vinyl version is available on orange + black splatter
and green + pink splatter.
Plain and simple, John Carpenter is a legend. A name synonymous
for both his films and his unique style of directing. He is
also, perhaps less known, credited for his work crafting his
film scores with numerous musicians. His minimalist approach
to synthesizers played a major part in creating moods, triggering
emotional responses such as fear and nerve gripping anticipation.
If you’re a fan of Carpenter’s films or have even
seen any of them, you’ll know well that their themes
and scores often stay with you as long as the characters and
On “Anthology” you get what you came for. From
the thunderous opener “In the Mouth of Madness”
to the eerily familiar closing track “Christine”
and everything in between, you're reminded of what an important
part music played in his films, sounds that often helped
set a tone or create a mood. I found that most of my favorites
were those featured in movies I wached with eyes wide open
and my jaw practically sewing for separation: “Halloween,”
“The Fog,”“Escape From New York”...
the list goes on and on. Whether you’ve seen all of
the films or not, "Anthology” is an absolute
must. From beginning to end, it manages to keep you under
A few weeks back when having coffee in nearby Georgetown,
my wife and I came across a show flyer advertising Toe Cutter’s
record release party. The band name, inspired by the character
of the same name featured in the 1979 cult classic “Mad
Max,” coupled with the image of Wex from the 1981 post-apocalyptic
sequel “The Road Warrior,” was captivating to
say the very least. It stuck with me for the ride home and
drew me to it when I caught a glimpse in the new releases
bin at one of the numerous music retailers I regularly visit
here in Seattle. But what of the music?
On their self-titled four song EP, Seattle’s Toe
Cutter carve through four fast-paced brawlers that mix heavy
handed metallic punch with punk's simplistic aggression.
Though not terrible (okay, kind of terrible,) I found nothing
within these four songs that I could write about or make
me want to seek out more. Toe Cutter don’t seem to
offer anything more than your average, run of the mill thrash
act. Considering they’ve been around long enough to
sharpen things up, I honestly don’t see much hope
I think a good way of judging a record's importance is by
thinking about how long it’s stayed with you and maintained
its importance. In a time of immediacy and mass consumption
of product - or in my case, music - intimacy often becomes
a victim of that immediacy. How often my mind is fixated on
the next thing as soon as my pile of records is handed to
the cashier. And though I cannot recall a time when I was
so consumed with acquiring new and old music, I tend to miss
the leaner times when each record provided a sense of intimacy.
Something that could be achieved by listening to a record
until you wore down the grooves.
It’s a feeling that has eroded over time due to mass
consumption of music and media. But tt’s a feeling I
recapture when listening to Red Hare’s Little Acts
of Destruction, a record that, by all means, has captivated
my attention, admiration and praise. A record that has also
left me struggling for the right words to describe it’s
many strengths, significance and lasting impact.
Featuring former and current members of both noteworthy
and legendary acts such as Dag Nasty, Swiz, Bluetip, Sweet
Belly Freakdown, Fury, Garden Variety and The Hasbros to
name just a few, Red Hare’s personnel have played
on many of the records that helped develop my taste in music
and still influence me today. While the term “Super
Group” can easily be applied, the band's chemistry
on each of its recordings reduces and even erases any need
for such grouping.
On Little Acts of Destruction, the band's third
release and second full length to date, Red Hare prove once
again that hardcore punk at its very best can be executed
in an aggressive yet intelligent manner, featuring 14 songs
of kerosene-injected fury that run the gamut of emotion
and soulful rage. While the musicianship on Little Acts
of Destruction are deserving of praise, I found myself
in awe of Shawn Brown’s vocals. Having heard them
for over thirty years fronting some of the most influential
bands on the planet, I can’t help but think his voice
is the perfect vehicle for conveying punk’s aggression,
power and sense of relatable alienation. Favorite songs
include ‘Affirmation’, “Like Wire”,
“Foley Artist” and “When my Stars Sleep,
it’s for Ages” and the chaotic, yet beautiful
“Cicada”. Overall, this one of the best albums
I’ve heard from punk, hardcore or any form aggressive
and loud music in decades. Powerful and undeniably addictive.
You’d be hard pressed to find anything this characteristically
epic from any corner of music’s genres and sub genres.
Though a Hellfire/Dischord Records split, without blinking
an eye I’d slide this in amongst some of Dischord
Records' early classics.
A cab driver, an attorney and a global creative director walk
out of their past and into a Pennsylvania recording studio
to create what is one of the most rewarding adventures in
alternative pop since the dawn of a new and promising decade
known to most as the 90’s. Interesting, considering
the band's origin and first go around came and went as that
decade was in its infancy. Decades later, three of the original
cast of four were brought together, ultimately deciding to
record and release the LP they always hoped to.
My first impressions of Cart Before the Horse
were ones of both delight and confusion. Having no information
about the band or its history, I wasn’t sure if I
was listening to recordings found in a box of cast off memories
recovered while sorting out an attic or storage unit. Or
brand new ones. It wasn’t until I ordered a copy of
the record and interviewed my old friend and The Hasbros
percussionist/singer Joe Gorelick that I was able to fill
in the blanks, information that somehow allowed me to listen
freely without questioning the music’s origin or time
As mentioned earlier, Cart Before the Horse carries
an authentic late 80’s/early 90’s indie rock
excellence that shows off a sense of chemistry and comraderie
between its creators, most evident on tracks such as the
driving “Favorite One Now,” the laid back yet
hypnotic “Ever After Now,” the power-pop chaser
“Nothing at All” (my personal favorite on the
album,) and the rocker “Trial By Fire.” Whether
intended or not, Cart Before the Horse displays
The Hasbros' versatility in that it provides something for
everyone... one of the best albums since you, me or someone
we know was in college, going to shows at local and not
so local watering holes, learning that music was as much
a part of us as the degrees we were seeking and twisting
the knobs on our FM receiver trying to get some decent reception
just left of the dial.
With songs that remind me of early R.E.M., Bob Mould and
Tim Buckley all at once, it’s no wonder that CBH
has been making so many visits to my turntable and a number
of appearances on my favorite playlists.
I visit enough record stores here in Seattle to have had the
chance to get to know many of the staff and owners pretty
well. While the occasional discount is appreciated, I really
love it when one of them points out a record they feel or
know might be right up my alley. Such was the case when I
pulled in to my favorite downtown punk rock retailer earlier
today. While almost immediately finding what I came in for,
the orange haired gentleman pointed towards a record that
I might enjoy just as much, if not more. As usual, his recommendation
was right on point.
Though formed just a year ago, the cast of the Northeast hardcore
outfit Restraining Order have been cutting their teeth and
earning their stripes playing in bands for years. With a style
that finds influence in early 80’s hardcore and punk,
it’s no wonder they’ve struck a chord with so
many in such a short time. The band’s debut EP "Restraiing
Order puts forth six tight and focused songs that feel honest,
raw and easily relatable, with lyrics reflecting a youthful
exuberance and a yearning to stand out and step up. Overall,
with the exception of wanting to hear more, Restraining Order’s
self-titled EP left little to be desired. The record comes
on purple vinyl and features a double-sided inlet with lyrics
There’s an old saying, “You can’t teach
an old dog new tricks.” And while I certainly don’t
believe it to be %100 accurate, as I get older, I find myself
admitting that at least some of that rather broad statement
to be true. For me personally, I accept that truth when it
comes to music and my openness to new music featuring a cast
of aging cast members of bands I enjoyed in my younger years
and still lean rather heavily on today. That said, I ask,
who in their right mind wouldn’t want to hear a band
that featured personnel from bands such as Lifetime, Minor
Threat and The Bouncing Souls? I, for one, would have been
more than happy to hear new music from former Lifetime front
man Ari Katz alone. A super group? Though one can’t
deny the impact each member has had on the hardcore, punk
and emo landscape, with so many band members trading their
ideas and passions with one another, you’d need a detailed
map to keep up with all the cross breeding. (I suggest BandtoBand.)
On their debut EP, Katz, Brian Baker, Pete Steinkopf and
Bryan Kienlen produce five catchy melodic hardcore punk
gems that quickly impact the listener. Baker’s sharp
riffs, Katz’s rigmarole vocal style and the infectious
rhythms of Steinkopf and Kienlan makes for an unforgettable
gathering of the titans. Considering I’ve always been
such a staunch fan of the band Lifetime, it’s worth
noting that I’ve always loved the vocal delivery of
Ari Katz. While I don’t often understand what he’s
shouting, I am more than inclined to sing along with every
Though ‘Wasted Time’ features a mere five songs,
none of which each eclipse the two-minute mark, I found
myself quickly identifying with the band and their sound.
Listen to the riffs and breakdown on the opening track “Lonely
for the Night” or any second of “Sports Stink”
and tell me you’re not already craving more.
If you were a punk or hardcore kid in the early to mid-eighties.
Penelope Spheeris’ 1981 Documentary “Decline of
Western Civilization” and 1983 film “Suburbia”
were as much a rite of passage as your first stage dive or
go-around in the mosh pit. I still fondly recall crowding
into our friend's basement with the small group of punks and
budding hardcore kids to watch a borrowed VHS copy of “Decline.”
Already enamored with bands like The Germs, Circle Jerks and
in particular, Black Flag, watching that documentary gave
us a rare and exciting chance to get a glimpse at some of
the members of acts we had heard, but seldom seen. Our eyes,
as well as our small world, were about to get bigger.
Filmed from 1979 – 1980 by budding filmmaker / documentarist
Penelope Spheeris and released in 1981,“The Decline
of Western Civilization” takes a raw, honest and unflinching
look at the early L.A. Punk scene through interviews and
live performances by Black Flag, Circle Jerks, X, The Germs,
FEAR and more, each a trailblazer who influenced and paved
the way for countless others to come. “The Decline
of Western Civilization” also serves as a reminder
of just how easy bands and show goers have it today when
compared to then. There’s a rather good look at Slash
magazine and their impact on the area's growing punk scene
as well as an impressive performance of Slash fanzine/magazine
editor Claude Bessy’s Catholic Discipline. Also, worth
noting is the footage featuring Alice Bag Band.
Whether you’re an old timer like myself or a fresh
cut who wants to learn about the earlier days of L.A. Punk
and what would become American hardcore, I highly recommend
you investing your time. And while I’ll admit to feeling
a bit guilty seeing this on fancy, schmancy Blue Ray some
thirty plus years since originally viewing it on a beat-up
VHS tape, I’m sure it won’t haunt you one bit.
Whenever a review request is accompanied by a long and
often agonizing bio about the artist, his music, latest
release, and the cereal he liked to eat as a kid, I get
the feeling that the publicist, best intentions or not,
seems to be writing the review for the intended critic.
“A crisp fifty in your pocket if you’d just
put a ribbon on what I just wrote.” It’s a key
reason I try to surpass the bio and go right to the music
itself, the path I decided to take when electing to review
Rich Hope’s I’m All Yours.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I read the fucking press kit,
and while I fully realize that everyone has their own taste
in music and a right to choose whatever route they want
in life or music, in listening to the ten songs on I’m
All Yours, I felt as if I was locked in to a cruel
CIA torture experiment. From the twangy and whiny guitar
chords to the nasally vocals, I’m All Yours
offers ten of the most unreliable songs I’ve heard
since my Mother tried to convince me that nu-country was
the voice of reason.
In recently trying to write regarding the clashing feelings
regarding my love for Johnny Cash VS my hatred - if not,
complete lack of appreciation for Country music, old or
new, I just can’t relate. Call it a regional thing.
Call it whatever you want. To quote Reggie Johnson’s
character ‘Junior’ in the movie “Platoon:”
“Redneck noise, dude. That’s all it is.”
On “Growing Pains,” Montclair shoegazezers
Tru return with five songs that display both the band's
appeal and for lack of a better word, growth. If you’ve
been following this column since its inception, you already
know my feelings about the band and the gold they’ve
been mining since they first came together in 2016.
Featuring elements of shoegaze, dream pop and slow core,
Tru create atmospheric soundscapes that are as dreamy as
they are awakening, bringing to mind acts such as
Belle and Sebastian. Ride, Slow Dive and Swervedriver. I
find it worth noting that in listening to the aforementioned
bands, I often feel the chill factor due to the dreamy,
laid back sensibility you get when listening to any of their
albums. Though I do get that with TRU, those feelings and
emotions I hear elsewhere are accompanied with a sense of
nourishment and aninspired sense of being uplifted - something
that feels natural but is a lot harder to describe or articulate.
While each of the five songs included are worth both praise
and discussion, I thought I’d keep it short by noting
that “Same Conversation, Different Day” might
end up on my “Favorite Tracks of 2018” list.
And while it might be a bit early in the game to predict
what kind of impact TRU will have outside of New Jersey’s
artistic fabric, I will go on to say, they’ve already
had a major effect on mine.
Baltimore. Maryland’s newly formed Glue Traps enter
the fray with a five-song demo that taps into some of punk
and hardcore’s most important components. Raw, aggressive
and unflinching, Glue Traps deliver fast, cannibalistic bursts
of unapologetic aggression rarely heard in the sub genres
metal leaning sound. Featuring Tony Pence (Deep Sleep, WarXGames,
Celebrated Summer Records) on vocals, Glue Traps leave no
time for solos, refrains or reprisals, just in your face,
take it or leave it, shove it down your throat or up your
ass punk. While Glue Traps' introduction is a short one, it
more than serves as reason to want to hear more. You can go
over to Bandcamp for a “Name Your Price” taste
or hold on for a handmade, duped cassette. The choice is yours.
Whether you realize it or not, Rock & Roll is alive and
well. While many will call it a revival, there are others
like myself who have seen and heard it bubbling just under
the surface, looking to be heard while screaming out to those
who are willing to listen. One of the more interesting elements
I’ve been hearing these days is mounting an invasion
from shores you might not expect. It seems that Italy, not
England, is producing some inspiring acts and Italy’s
infectious Giuda and Faz Waltz are leading the charge to authoritatively
and authentically fill your ears with Glam Rock’s swagger
and relatable traits of Power Pop.
After hearing their early 2018 single "Julie,"
I sat on my hands awaiting the arrival of the bands 6th
LP to date. On the evenly rounded out ten song LP, Faz Waltz
deliver catchy, upbeat rock excellence that will keep you
on your toes throughout. With its lion’s share of
moments and no filler to be found, you’d be hard pressed
to choose one or two favorites, giving way to enjoying the
record as an extended celebration. While acts such as Cheap
Trick, (Ziggy Stardust era) Bowie, T. Rex, Slade and The
Sweet each come to mind, Faz Waltz seem to be creating a
sound they can call their own.
The vinyl version is available on limited black / blue
/ orange versions. (I ordered orange) and includes a digital
download. Get it while it lasts. I can assure you that it
won’t. And while I haven’t been very label loyal
in decades, I can honestly say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed
everything Spaghettytown records has released thus far.
More reason to support the small, home grown record labels.
Whenever I’m indulging in a photo book or essay, I like
the pictures to tell a story about the subject or the environment
it was taken. When the images themselves don’t, I appreciate
a little sidebar with the name of the band or artist, where
it was taken, and maybe a date or a little anecdote. While
I was able to recognize a lot of the bands Bill Daniel shot
for this book, having to search the back pages to match the
bands really took some of the air out of the book’s
sails. Add to that to the fact that the photos themselves
didn’t elicit much emotion.
Here's Daniel's own description: “3 decades of subterranean
countercultural hijinks are recorded on black and white
film. Beginning with early the '80's Texas skatepunk scene,
the book is a sprawling visual journal of a life lived on
the road and after dark. Punk shows high and low, crusty
experimental cinemas, freight train adventures, Mission
School graffiti, impossibly obscure house shows, and art
exhibits in the shadowy margins— it’s a mash
up of subcultural documentation, from San Francisco to Shreveport,
from Texas to Braddock Pennsylvania, a flash-lit scrapbook
of an invisible vanguard— all shot on Tri-X film.”
While the layout and number of image reminds me of many
of the photo books depicting bands, show goers, and club
patrons, the photos and the overall presentation left a
lot to be desired. Thirty-five years of travel and show
going, and dedicating yourself to capturing intimate images,
should tell a better story than these photos do, something
that could have been taken into consideration when compiling
this book. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
When stopping in at Seattle’s Singles Going Steady to
pick up my copy of the reissue of Verbal Assault’s ‘Trial,”
I wisely added the latest two issues of Razorcake fanzine
to my pile of things I’d be taking home with me on that
particular day. Influenced largely by the subject matter and
the emboldened phrase “We do our part” on each
issue’s cover, I was somewhat assured that I’d
find something worth reading within its pages. Talk about
Razorcake, in the unlikely event you'e never seen it, is a
newsprint fanzine with a glossy cover and includes columns
- many, many columns, including a photo feature by former
ABC No Rio photographer and alumni Chris Boarts Larson. There
are also features, reviews, interviews and more. Issue #104
features interviews with Bristol UK’s Caves, Minnesota’s
Kitten Forever, and Austin, TX’s The Elected Officials.
Issue #105 has a mre familiar look with its interviews of
Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Julia Ruin’s Kathleen Hanna,
producer/engineer extraordinaire, World Series of Poker winner,
and Big Black founder Steve Albini, powerviolence icon Chris
Dodge, and cartoonist Marinaomi. After fully absorbing these
two issues, I’ll be sure not to miss another one.
Wilson – Bambu (The Caribou Sessions) (Sony Legacy)
As a wee boy baptized in a fire of Jimi Hendrix, The Who and
AC/DC, the saccharine sounds of California’s Beach Boys
could not have been farther from my musical tastes if they
were surfing the waves of the Antarctic. As my taste in music
veered toward even more aggressive styles of music such as
punk, hardcore and hip hop, the Beach Boys were in the midst
of grabbing on to their last chance of remaining relevant
with the admittedly contrived “Kokomo”.
I was approaching thirty when I came upon a two-part miniseries
that documented the bands rise and fall during the Sixties,
one that shed light on their father’s cruel and abusive
handling of the family as well as his handling/mishandling
of the band as its manager - arelationship that may have
been a major contributor to Brian Wilsons deteriorating
mental health and his brother Dennis’ battles with
drug and alcohol. While I soon found myself falling under
the spell of the bands opus, 1966’s Pet Sounds,
it was the story of drummer and brother Dennis Wilson that
seemed to be the more intriguing.
Upon hearing a forty-year anniversary reissue of his one
and only solo release. 1977’s Pacific Ocean Blue,
I found myself swept up in soulful, yet gravelly texture
of his words and voice. Though critically acclaimed at the
time and considered by many to be more important than any
of the Beach Boys recorded history, tt would go on to be
largely ignored by most Classic Rock radio formats. Still,
almost ten years since pulling it off the shelf of my local
record store and taking it home, Pacific Ocean Blue”
remains a personal favorite, one I like to listen to while
wearing my headphones and knowing I won’t be interrupted
by anyone or anything lurking outside my door.
Bambu, Dennis' unfinished second solo album and
follow up to Ocean Blue, is just as, if not more,
moving and cathartic as his debut. Rich orchestration meets
soulful vocals that capture a sense of intimacy rarely captured
in such epic recordings. With noticeable influences, such
as the Allman Brothers, The Eagles, Southern Rock, New Orleans
Boogie and Soul, Bambu offers a lot of different
vibes and elements, all of which can be quite rewarding.
Though not finished or previously released due to Wilson’s
untimely death, I could imagine a few of these 16 songs
charting and getting airplay before quickly fading amongst
the black hole that was and is FM radio and MTV. There are
a lot of great entries here. And to be honest, Bambu
sounds as if it was completed and ready for delivery.
While you won’t see me visiting anything beyond Pet
Sounds in the Beach Boys catalog, listening to Pacific
Ocean Blue and Bambu convinces me that though
Brian Wilson was the Beach Boys' creative genius. Dennis
was the soulful one.
Although this was a 2018 Record Store Day release, I highly
recommend tracking it down. I think it would be worth your
While Verbal Assault might get lost in the shuffle of more
documented or celebrated positive hardcore bands such as 7
Seconds, Minor Threat, Uniform Choice and Youth of Today,
many who remember them will attest to the fact that they were
just as good and in some cases, better than the aforementioned
acts. Verbal Assault’s sound and lyrical content could
easily be compared to DC’s Revolution Summer bands such
as Rites of Spring and Embrace just as quickly as to contemporaries
such as Uniform Choice and Youth of Today.
With infectious, rhythmic grooves and introspective lyrics,
Rhode Island’s Verbal Assault added a smart and somewhat
musically evolved to hardcore that made them stand out. Originally
released in 1987 on Kevin Seconds' (7 Seconds) Reno, Nevada
based Positive Force Records and the follow up to their 1986
debut Learn,Trial would see the band grow
and mature while not straying from their original sound. This
reissue of Trial features each of the original nine
tracks featured on the original and was lovingly remastered
by Nick Townsend from Townsend Mastering. (drummer for Fireburn/Deadbeat.)
My copy is the yellow vinyl version which is limited to 300
copies. And while I keep hearing vinyl and audiophile purists
urging us to stay clear of reissues, I couldn’t help
but add this to my “must have” list. Thanks to
Byron at “Singles Going Steady” for putting this
aside for me.
Interrupters – Fight the Good Fight (Hellcat Records)
Admittedly, I’m no expert on SKA. Though my record collection
is flushed with every wave of the dance crazed ‘Pick
it up / Pick it up’ sound, it’s a style, sound
and culture that I find to be best enjoyed in small samples;
all reasons I didn’t find myself rushing to approach
the Los Angeles, CA SKA band The Interrupters’ third
LP, Fight the Good Fight.
SKA, Reggae and Rock Steady each represent genres and sub
genres I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid who found a
love for Jamaican inspired music through a combination of
curiosity and crate digging. Finding a record or an act
that authentically represents and honors that sound almost
always brings joy to my ears and a bit of rhythm to my step.
And while I never quite found my way onto a dancehall floor
to properly skank it up, my appreciation and fondness for
that sound has never wavered. Thanks to The Interrupters
– and their upbeat, get on your feet and move to the
rocksteady beat sound - Fight the Good Fight proves that
not a whole lot has changed. Favorite songs include, but
are by no means limited to, ‘She’s Kerosene’
‘Not Personal’ and the anthem inspiring ’Got
Eachother” . Green Day’s Billy Armstrong and
Rancid’s Tim Timebomb contribute to the album and
the vinyl version comes in a gatefold cover featuring lyrics
and credits. Fans of The Specials, Operation Ivy, The Toasters
and of course Rancid, rejoice.
Not to be confused with legendary DC Dischord band Dag Nasty,
Seattle’s Die Nasty take a more stripped down punk approach
to their sound that might find inspiration in a late 70’s
D Beat approach. Die Nasty’s self-titled 2018 release
follows 2015’s ‘Escape with You’ and ‘Take
a Ride,’ and 2016’s ‘Things that Make Moms
Cry’ with authority and 20/20 clarity. Featuring 11
songs with my favorite being “Karate (I know).”
Die Nasty remind my old ears of acts and artists such as The
Slits, The Avengers, Joan Jett and the Distillers. Seattle’s
Die Nasty left me wanting to learn and listen more to a band
I just happen to accidently come upon.
Fronted by Lauren Goffin and rounded out by Steve Ross on
guitar, Lonnie Bristle on bass and Dain Hudson on drums, I
found a lot of interesting angles and approaches within. Give
it a try. You just might like it.
Booogie – “She’s so Tuff” / “Peanut
Butter Blues” (Spaghettytown Records)
There’s something to be said about the lost art of 45
rpm singles, turning the record over and listening in anticipation
as the needle hits the record. It’s a feeling you’ll
never get from an MP3 or a compact disc, afeeling I get when
rifling through a box of old 45’s, a feeling I got when
placing Dr. Boogie’s two-song offering on the turntable...
the excitement that came from hearing Los Angeles, California’s
Dr. Boogie. The band's straight-up 70’s rock n’
roll approach brings to mind a healthy dose of The Faces,
Mott the Hoople and a healthy dose of the NY Dolls, all with
a modern twist and hip shaking effect. Somewhere out there.
on the streets, the back alleys and the blue collar, blood
stained bars, there’s a campaign to bring back the dirty
and somewhat dedgy rock & roll that’s been lying
just beneath the surface. Thanks to bands like Dr. Boogie
and small indie labels like Spaghettytown Records, more and
more people are listening.
Ravagers – "Ravagers" / "SUZI (Has
an Uzi)" (Spaghettytown Records)
Fast and dangerous rock n’ roll with a cutthroat approach
that gives it a street punk aesthetic that is as appealing
as it is hazardous, like that bottle of Scotch or the loaded
handgun left out in clear sight when you were a kid. (You
know, the one you were always warned not to even think about
picking up, but always did?) It’s memories and visuals
like these that immediately come to mind when listening to
this new single from the Ravagers. Though I’ve warned
against judging a book by its cover, The Ravagers' sound and
output can be summed up properly by just looking at the EP’s
cover. The term “Fast, Loud, Rules” should authoritatively
be applied her. Vital and cutthroat, these two songs introduced
me to the Baltimore outfit that’s been delivering singles
since 2013’s ‘Livin’ in Oblivion’.
Though a Motorhead meats the Dead Boys comparison immediately
comes to mind, I highly recommend the listener come up with
their own matchups. Regardless of what you come up with, you’re
in for one hell of a listen. One can only hope The Ravagers
stick around long enough to deliver a full length.
If you’re a devotee of Fugazi (and by all means you
should be,) you’ve most likely noticed how much of a
musical entity they were. So, when I got word that a new band
featuring Fugazi’s rhythm section had formed an instrumental
trio to record an album, I jumped at the chance to listen
and perhaps share some of my unsolicited thoughts.
Featuring nine songs recorded at Brandan Canty’s practice
space during the year 2017, despite - or perhaps due to the
lack of overdubs and studio magic or tomfoolery - these songs
have a fluid and organic feel to them, probably due to the
fact that these songs were recorded live. There’s a
certain sense of small venue or coffee house intimacy about
As you listen to these nine offerings, you might find yourself
searching for your own lyrics to add. Let me assure you, though,
none are needed. As someone who always enjoyed Fugazi’s
rhythmic sense of timing. I found Messthetics self-titled
debut to be quite rewarding.
Not many bands or records leave such an instant, impactful
and lasting impression on me the way Criminal Kids and their
6-song self-titled 12" EP. Perhaps the scorching vocals
and the wicked bass lines were the hook and line that drew
me to their core, or the razor-sharp riffs and tribal beats
that sunk me. Regardless, the South Side of Chicago’s
Criminal Kids sound like a band that has lived the music they
play. Each song possesses a raw honesty and element of danger
that sets them apart from the pack. Though this self-titled
gem has rock & roll’s swagger and danger written
all over it, I can’t help but compare them to punk protagonists
The Dead Boys and perhaps the more overlooked Stimulators.
This is a very limited pressing, with only 300 made. With
65 on black vinyl and 35 on a stunningly looking clear/splatter.
Sweet Things – “Slather” / “Dustianne”
This was my second taste of New York’s The Sweet Things
and as much as I might fight it, the band is really starting
to grow on me, perhaps due to their 1970’s Lower East
Side junkie vibe or that New York Dolls boogie. The Sweet
Things very much look and sound like they were carved out
of the rubble of a of a dirty pothole-infested slab of concrete
causing delays and pile ups on New York’s Bowery during
the Seventies. Fans of glam rock, early punk and raunchier-era
Rolling Stones should take notice. The additional keys provided
by Rob Clores as well as the vocals of Liza Colby really add
depth to these songs. Thankfully, the more I listen to The
Sweet Things, the more I can distance myself from being reminded
of The Black Crowes. Sounds like the soundtrack to a Keith
Richards drug binge. The record comes on red vinyl and is
limited to 200 copies.
Discharge – Early Demos: March / June 1977 (Radiation
Though arguable, it’s safe to say that England’s
Discharge are the most important and influential punk band
to come out of England. Albums such as 1978’s The
Feeding of the 5,000 and 1982’s Hear Nothing,
See Nothing, Say Nothing brought forth raging socio -political
ideals that would reflect the times and influence punk ideals
for decades to come, while standing as some of punk and post-punk's
most defining releases. So when I saw a chance to hear the
band in its infancy through their earliest demos, I pounced.
Unfortunately, in listening to this uninspiring pile of dong,
I wanted nothing more than a refund or at least a chance to
reclaim the few minutes it took me to listen to these early
recordings. Adjectives such as sloppy, infantile and incompetent
each describe my initial reactions to hearing these 13 songs.
While “RAW” is often used to describe a band’s
unbridled hunger and approach to making music, I would use
it here to describe how juvenile and terrible these recordings
sound. There’s often good reasons why some things fail
to surface, fall through the cracks, get lost or get lost
or fail to show themselves for decades. I would strongly urge
any fans of Discharge to by all means, avoid these demos.
As they will probably erode your appreciation of the band.
If you’ve yet to hear Discharge and would like to hear
some influential, yet less celebrated early punk. I’d
also suggest avoiding ‘Early Demos’ and instead
look into the albums I mentioned. Those expecting the great
Discharge, or even a marginal version, beware. This collection
will make even the most dedicated fan of the band turn away
Hellbent were one of the many unsung acts to come out of New
York’s first wave of Hardcore Punk, who played countless
shows and might have even made an impact during their life
as a band. During their short window of existence, Hellbent
played on bills with bands such as Discharge, Samhain, A.O.D.,
The Undead and the Exploited to mention just a few. Featuring
14 songs recorded during two sessions with the legendary Don
Fury, there are four or so notable covers including Sham 69’s
“Borstal Breakout” and other rock standards. Though
an interesting story about a long forgotten band from New
York’s long undocumented first-wave of hardcore punk,
if you weren’t around during the time Hellbent were
active, you will most likely have a hard time finding anything
special or noteworthy about these recordings. And while I’m
not hearing anything on these demos worth revisiting, it’s
not a bad document for all of you early hardcore documentarians
and archeologists. As usual, Radio Raheem Records does an
amazing job restoring and gathering archive material for each
of its releases and the release of Hellbent’s 1983-1984
Demos are no exception to the rule. Included within is a 24
X 36-fold out poster containing many flyers and unseen photos
from the era.
Dammit, why does the name Rozwell Kid ring such a familiar
bell? Somehow, I feel as if I’ve seen this band perform
in one of my favorite holes in the wall or basements in recent
years. Maybe so, but all traces of any reaction are fuzzy
at best. So instead of trying to recapture any and all fading
or imagined memories. I’ll wipe the slate clean to give
my impressions on their fourth studio album to date.
Though released on Side One Dummy in 2017, for reasons unknown,
I find myself connecting to these songs deep into the summer
of 2018. On “Precious Art,” the West Virginia
band gives fans of power- and pop-punk reason to rejoice and
dance spastically in the corner. “I’m up to my
eyeballs in red neon streaks and neon tan” opens the
gates to what chalks up to be one of Side One Dummy’s
best releases in recent memory, 12 tracks of catchy, uplifting
punk with plenty of gratifying qualities, ones that honor
pop punk's past while exhibiting many of the ingrediets needed
to bring back what once introduced the term with a level of
respect and authenticity. And though the band's influence
can be traced to early Weezer brilliance, in recently listening
to Weezer's uninspiring cover of Toto’s "Africa,"
I think it’s long overdue that we stop pining for another
Pinkerton or Blue Album and look to the
present and future of bands like Rozwell Kids.
Anthem – The '59 Sound Sessions (SideOneDummyRecords)
It might be hard for some to remember, but there was a time,
many albums ago, when Gaslight Anthem and their singer songwriter
Brian Fallon were releasing songs that felt as if they were
ripped from the pages of New Jersey’s long running story
board. The '59 Sound, considered by many as their
last great album, gets a revisit in Sessions, featuring
rare, unreleased and alternative takes from the albums recording
process. Hearing an alternate version of the title track “The
59’ Sound" gave me goosebumps. It was their cover
of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”
that really jumped off the record with its haunting passage.
Though there’s no comparing it to the Cash classic,
the band really nails it on their tribute to the man in black.
Overall, the nine songs featured on “Sessions”
brought me back to a time when I still extolled the virtues
of The Gaslight Anthem and Brian Fallon’s storybook
songwriting, originally released some ten years ago. Having
these recordings served as a much need reminder of a once
great band. There are two packages being offered by Side One
Dummy Records, one featuring just the album; the deluxe version
features the album and an accompanying 60-page book. The choice
Reaction – Hangman 7" EP (Six Feet Under Records)
Though I tried, I could not find much information regarding
the four-piece hardcore unit called Chain Reaction, featuring
former members of Rise and Fall, Kingpin and Spirit of Youth.
“Hzangman” features five songs that display a
streetwise hardcore sound that closely resembles that of late
80’s NYHC outfit Outburst. The vinyl version comes on
milky white vinyl and for reasons unknown, the B-side features
a picture of one of its members posing with the Cro-mags'
Harley Flanagan and their sons.
Baltimore’s Outsider play meaty metal core with sharp,
tight riffs and barreling rhythms. Though not bad by any means,
I didn’t hear anything in these four songs that would
make me want to hear more or further investigate what this
band is all about. For fans of Terror, Bulldoze and Slugfest.
And while the demo's artwork rekindles memories of beginning
to see galactic looking hardcore aliens making appearances
on demos and 7” inch EP’s, the expressionless
figure featured behind prison bars doesn’t seem to be
too hopeful for an early parole. Maybe time will grant Outsider
release from mediocrity. Judging from these four tracks, I’m
not all that hopeful.
I openly admit to being pretty close minded when it comes
to embracing the return of cassettes. At one time or another
I had about four hundred of them, including a collection of
mix tapes I had made and traded with friends over the years.
Though you’ll never find me complaining about those
days, I’m definitely not one to embrace the practice
of outdated technology. So, when coming across this World
Demise cassette release while visiting my chosen music distributor,
I was more than pleased to find that the release's seven songs
could be obtained through Bandcamp. A good decision in my
opinion; two-fold in that I avoided further cramping my home
with outdated technology and I spared myself from adding just
another item to my ever-growing pile of things I don’t
need, want, or even like. Not to say that New Jersey’s
World Demise and their self-titled seven song release is bad.
Their style of Hardcore occupies a room of the sub-genre's
growing ward of young inpatients, with meaty riffs, stampeding
rhythms and throat wrenching vocals, each of which serve as
key ingredients to what World Demise bring to the table. My
one issue here and with many of the acts looking to enter
the fray is that, more often than not, I’m not hearing
anything new, different or uniquely identifiable.
As young teens with few resources, we’d often lend
one another hardcore records, knowing full well their return
was seldom guaranteed. The ones you wanted back would often
require a visit to your friend’s home to extract them.
“Oh, I think this one’s mine,” but you'd
always try to avoid any hard feelings or broken bones when
attempting to repo one’s own property. My best friend
Dan and I were always leaving one another’s rooms
with records. Dan didn’t seem to be into Hardcore
as much as I was. While I can easily recall seeing the Smiths,
Echo & the Bunnymen, The Cure and many others with him,
the only hardcore show I can remember going to see together
was when 7 Seconds played CGBG’s. Still, a few of
my Hardcore records made it in to his stack, two of which
I recall never getting back. Long story short, Dan was convicted
of murder and after a long, high-profile trial, was sent
to prison. And while my “Connecticut Fun” comp
LP and Crippled Youth's “Join the Fight” EP
were never returned, I would have felt like quite an ass
asking his parents if they would return it, as their lives
and the life of their son were in upheaval. Though the idea
of knocking on their door to retrieve my belongings at a
time of utter chaos may have crossed my mind, in retrospect,
I’m glad I never crossed that line in the sand.
Years later, although the “Connecticut Fun”
album would one day be reissued on CD and the original “Join
the Fight” songs would appear on BOLD’s The
Search: 1985 – 1989 (Crippled Youth soon changed
their name to BOLD,) this release marks the one and only
time it has been officially reissued in its original 7-inch
form under its original name. The memories of the K-town
Mosh Crew, the bands silly name and that iconic image of
two hockey players facing off still called out to me.
Originally released in 1986, the very first output for
the fledgling West Coast label Revelation Records whose
first two releases would come from East Coast bands (Crippled
Youth and Underdog,) it came at a time when my interest
in hardcore music and going to shows was still in its infancy.
At a time when I found myself quickly moving from the angrier,
negative or tongue in cheek acts of the era (many of which,
I prefer today.) Bands like Youth of Today, Verbal Assault
and Token Entry appealed to me in a way that others no longer
did. Crippled Youth and to be more accurate BOLD always
seemed to walk in their shadows.
Listening to these songs deep into my forties for the first
time in decades, I immediately notice the rudimentary nature
of the lyrics and the music. Hearing Matt’s voice
crack like a vase in a stereo store is a nice reminder that
we were all young once, with some of us being a lot more
idealistic and earnest than others. For what it’s
worth, Crippled Youth/BOLD were the text book Youth Crew
Straightedge band. Often compared to Youth of Today, yet
younger and less evolved, its personnel would go on to play
in bands such as Beyond, Into Another, and most notably,
And while “Join the Fight” exhibits a real sense
of goofy innocence and naiveté in its songs and lyrics,
one must take into consideration the age and maturity level
of the group of young teens that creatd it. Though the music
within might not live up to today’s more polished
form of Hardcore, the memories give it an importance that
you’ll clearly feel if you’d been around to
witness it first-hand.
Revelation Records is offering a limited pressing of seven
hundred copies on both red and green vinyl, which Includes
a 28-page color booklet with liner notes from people involved
with the band and the original release of the 7-inch with
lots of photos and other artwork from that period in the
band's history. I can assure anyone who is reading this
that “Join the Fight” will sell out quickly.
So, if you’d like to take a peek into New York HardCore’s
past, you best do it now.
Being that No Matter the Cost was my first taste
of this band, I felt able to listen with open ears and an
open mind. What I heard completely blew whatever expectations
I might have had going in. Formed in 20013, New Jersey Hardcore
band Blind Justice channel the sound of acts such as California’s
Suicidal Tendencies with the intellect of Richmond’s
Down to Nothing and a touch of New York legends Madball. Featuring
ten songs in all, Blind Justice go for the jugular, while
leaving little room to breathe.
From the opening note on the album’s opener “Cast
You Out” to the closing riffs on the album's final burst
of rage on “Lessons Learned,” Blind Justice fire
on all cylinders. Offering more than its share of halcyon
moments, favorite songs include the fast, driving and relentless
“Cast You Out,” the vital Day By Day” with
its addictive riffs and tasty rhythms, and the quickly paced“Never
Enough,”“Burn You Down,” and “No Matter
the Cost.” As a whole, “No Matter the Cost”
turned out to be a much-needed affair, featuring all of the
essential components you would want and expect from a modern
King Down – Bloodlust Revenge: (Twentieth Anniversary
Holy Time, Batman! Has it really been twenty years? As of
late, it would seem that the anniversaries are coming a lot
faster than one can remember and what seems like yesterday
has become old news. Which of course brings me to yet another
reissue and anniversary edition.
Originally released by Steve Reddy’s Equal Vision
Records in 1997 and reissued by the same label, a veritable
powerhouse for Hardcore at the time, One King Down’s
Bloodlust Revenge features remastered versions
of the original six EP songs plus a robust 16 additional
bonus live and demo bonuses. For (no pun intended) hardcore
fans of the band, the remastered, expanded version serves
as a good look back at some of One King Down’s best
work. The band’s style closely mirrored that of the
time, as well as the bands they kept company with. Mixing
Hardcore’s breakdowns with Heavy Metal’s slowed
down pace and beefed up riffs, One King Down can easily
be compare to that of other heavy hitters of the time such
as, Integrity, Strife, Snapcase and more.
And while it might take a trip on a time machine to remember
the days when straight edge hardcore bands like Earth Crisis
ruled the streets of Albany, NY, ignoring or even overlooking
Albany's impact on straightedge and hardcore music as a
whole would be, to say the very least, foolhardy. With a
couple of decades behind me, listening to most of the bands
that dominated that era, as well as the capital of my home
state, do not bring much satisfaction. Overall, the packaging
and additional tracks make this a must for fans of the band
and 90’s Metalcore. As for me, I’d rather put
that underwhelming chapter to rest.
Much of my initiation and education regarding punk and
hardcore music came via labels like Dischord records. As
a matter of fact, much of Dischord’s output can be
credited as some of the most musically influential of what
I listened to then and still hold in the highest regard
decades later. While acts like Minor Threat and Government
Issue each helped me develop my appetite for Hardcore Punk,
later acts such as 3, Soulside, Dag Nasty, Rites of Spring
and many others guided my conscience and expanded my view
of the world just outside my door and beyond.
Then of course, there was Scream. Originally hearing Scream’s
“Ameri-Dub” on the landmark 1989 DC benefit
comp “State of the Union,” I would slowly seek
out the band's recorded catalog, only to find myself feeling
disappointed and somewhat puzzled as to why I just wasn’t
finding anything of interest in what I was hearing.
Though Scream may have existed longer than most of the
aforementioned bands,. they were perhaps the only band in
the Dischord family that I never really embraced. While
the label produced some of the most influential and beloved
acts in the history of hardcore punk and indie music, as
far as my personal tastes and that of many of those being
influenced and challenged by what the label was generating,
Scream and their progression towards radio friendly hard
rock often sounded polished, yet incredibly dull and out
of place on what has always been such a beacon of light
when it comes to iconic releases.
Existing from 1981 to the very early 90’s while
producing four albums over that span of time, Scream often
sounded more like corporate or AOR rock than their Punk,
Hardcore or Emo label mates. Though that direction of sound
doesn’t necessarily indicate any negativity, I always
found Scream and their output to be somewhat uninspiring.
Perhaps the draw of No More Censorship being the
first and only Scream full length to feature a young, pre-Nirvana
Dave Grohl on drums might interest some. However, musically,
NMC17 sounds just as dull as it did when it was
originally released thirty years ago. The saving grace for
NMC17, if there actually is one, would have to
be the inclusion of photos, lyrics, poetry, and other personal
writings from the band during that era collected in an extensive
composition notebook themed booklet. Knowing full well what
I was going to get from a Scream record, I can’t really
say I was disappointed in what I heard on NMC17.
However, it’s safe to say that almost thirty years
later, Scream’s music still doesn’t inspire
or interest me.
Raleigh, North Carolina’s Night Battles return with
four songs that even the most causal listener won’t
soon forget. Whether intended or not, the term “Night
Battles” or “The Night Battles” originates
from the 1966 book with the subtitle “Witchcraft and
Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.”
The name and the music itself seem to cohesively gel with
what you might find within its 209 pages. Soaking in Post
Core excellence with a consciously mindful aggression and
purposed intent, the Raleigh four-piece serves as a solid
reminder that good music - really good music - can
distinguish itself without depending or calling for any genre
The rhythms presented here are incendiary. Twisted and devilish,
they help frame what is already a captivating canvas. In listening
to these newly cut songs. I couldn’t help but wonder
aloud, “What if Bauhaus indulged in a louder, more upbeat,
yet sinister hardcore sound?” “Gemini” and
“Brackish” are quick paced, yet dark in nature.
The third track “Down Ballarat” features a more
mid paced flavor, making way for the slow dance that is “Reed
Overall, “Remedy and Cause” showcases a band who’s
not afraid to experiment with different musical colors and
tones. One’s that create a record that is both complex
and sustainable After being solicited to review their 2017
two song debut. I wondered how long it would be before Night
Battles released any new music. Well, here we are more than
a year later feeling even more rewarded while still craving
for more. “Remedy and Cause” will be made available
on Night Battles Bandcamp this coming Friday, June 15. I highly
recommend looking out for it.
When starting a band, any band for that matter, blending your
influences with your own ideas and inspirations are essential
ingredients. Ones that make you identifiable while giving
you an identity of your very own. That's a lesson Alter Ego
might have benefited from when setting out to start their
band and record a demo. Instead, it’s painfully obvious
that they went out of their way to highjack the sound and
overall look of what New York’s Breakdown did more than
30 years ago with their groundbreaking, earthshaking self-titled
1987 demo. And while I will not go as far as accusing Alter
Ego of any copyright infractions, by all accounts Alter Ego’s
four song 2018 demo is a blatant, yet failed attempt to capture
the raw and very honest energy, anger and sense of alienation
felt on that release and the one’s the band would go
on to create.
Not only is Alter Ego's four song demo a complete and total
rip off of NYHC legends Breakdown's 1987 demo, it's terrble.
From the dumbed down musicianship to the painfully dreadful
vocals, Alter Ego's demo shows a band with little imagination,
originality or skill. Perhaps a more original approach or
overhaul of personnel would do the band some good. I’d
suggest starting from scratch.
As someone who’s always appreciated good hooks, breaks
and melody. with the exception of a couple of bands (Rorschach
immediately comes to mind) I’ll honestly admit to never
identifying with the sub, sub-genre of the 90’s known
to many as Powerviolence. Still, something in me, perhaps
my days experimenting with hardcore drugs and dissonant sounds,
drew me to revisit this Nineties band’s output.
Consisting of 64 (!) quick, stabbing dissonant assaults,
way too many to fully digest on even the emptiest stomachs,“Sweatin’
to the Oldies” struggled to keep my attention and
interest. Covers of State of Alert’s “I Hate
the Kids” and Half Off’s “Who Makes the
Rules?” are worth noting. Overall, though I would
only recommend this to the most devoted of fans and archivists.
If there is indeed a “Sweatin’ to the Oldies
Part II” out there, I’ll be sure to avoid it.
Available on 2XLP, CD and other download services such as
When travelling, a good rule of thumb is to find out where
the locals eat. Not only is it rewarding, but what better
way to get to know the city and the people who call it home?
The same thing can be said for music. While most big cities
(smaller ones too) have their brick & mortar, all-in-one
entertainment franchises, I suggest seeking out the local
independent record store and seeking out music from bands
the area might have spawned. I’ve always found it to
be a good way to discover music old and new while engaging
in a music related conversation with a true blue local. I’ve
done it in places as afar as London, Paris, Belfast and Tokyo
as well as American cities, such as New York, Princeton, Baltimore
and New Orleans. Each of which was rewarding, giving me something
extra to take home and commemorate my trip with. I suggest
doing a little homework in order to bring something to the
Which brings me to my recent trip to Portland and finding
another Wipers record to indulge in. “Outtakes”
is just what the title might infer, featuring rare and unreleased
recordings from the band’s early days of the late
70’s to early 80’s, around the same time the
band released their landmark debut “Is this Real”.
Featuring thirteen demo and live tracks that were hand-picked
by guitarist and founder Greg Sage, the songs are raw, yet
audibly refined, essential to anyone fond of the band or
knowledgeable of the bands undeniable influence on American
Punk and Grunge. You really get a sense of how elements
of Power Pop and Hard Rock would influence many of the bands
that went on to create the American Punk sound. I highly
recommend checking “Outtakes” and much of The
Wipers recorded output. As far as influential, yet under
the radar acts go, it doesn’t get much better.
On their debut full length, New Jersey’s Shred Flinstone
reinforce the adage “What’s in a name?”
with brilliant strokes of distortion, reverb and an undeniable
knack for producing a diverse, yet focused stroke of indie
With the distorted guitar and fuzzed out vocals featured on
the albums opener, “I’m On the ParKway”
and the following “Scalps,” you get the feeling
you’re being treated to some of the best White Stripes
garage rock you’ve heard this far east of Detroit’s
Commerce Park. Then, just when you think you know what you’re
in for, “Doc Holiday” and “Delta”
take a detour down a more Indie Rock road. Overall, "They’re
Not There” features nine songs that blend Garage rock’s
edgy raw power with Indie rock beauty. There’s also
a noticeable progression from their five song EP “Cartoon
Physics.” Favorite songs include, but are in no way
limited to, “Doc Holiday,”“Delta,”
as well as the laid back and trippy grooves on “Living
the Life Avocado.” For fans of The White Stripes, Blind
Melon and anything that takes you where you want to be. For
the time being “They’re Not There” is available
for download and streaming through their Bandcamp.
Poking fun of Queens retail legend Crazy Eddie and The Descendents,
these former members of Fahrenheit 451, District 9, Abject,
and Downside title their lengthy 15-song debut “Milo
Goes to College.” The New York four piece looks to the
past to find inspiration, playing simple and fun Hardcore
without any heavy messages or political agenda. Ripe with
enough fiery riffs, barreling rhythms and catchy choruses
to keep the pit moving (check out Drew Stone of Antidote's
guest vocals on “Offended,”) Eddie Drops out
of College is one of those recordings that, as opposed
to making an immediate impact, grows on you more and more
with each listen. And while fifteen songs are more than twice
the amount I’ like to hear from any new band, over time
I found myself moving more closely to the core of what Crazy
Eddie had to offer. In the end, Eddie Drops out of College
reminds me of many of the middling demos being circulated
at clubs around NYC during the late 80’s and early to
mid-ninety’s. Nothing special, but not bad by any means.
Recorded at Six III studio in Forest Hills, Queens and mixed
by Andy Guida (Supertouch.)
It’s hard to believe Static Radio NJ had more or less
been missing from the New Jersey music landscape since 2011’s
“We are all Beasts”. With founding members Michael
Santostefano and Vic Costello cutting tracks with Pale Angels,
Crimes, Hot Knife, Scary Stories and more, it felt as if they
never really left us. While they remained with us performing
as separate entities, the dynamic that Mike and Vic created
as Static Radio NJ was missed.
The five new songs presented on … “Resentiments"
call for a healthy heaping of tasty riffs, melodies and
sing along lyrics. Static’s decision to take a more
melodic approach to their Punk leanings has produced great
results both in the past and on “Resentiments.”
There’s still a certain rasp to Santostefano’s
voice that gives these songs an urgency and blue collar
edge that always made the them stand out. While past comparisons
to Lifetime and Kid Dynamite were easily appealable, these
new recordings might find themselves sharing a lineup with
dearly departed acts such as Ben Franklin and The Wait.
Though each of the records five entries warrant strict attention
and numerous spins on the turntable, “Resentiments”
opener “Love to Death” and the closing track
“Lonely” are too good not to mention. The limited-edition
(250 copies) one sided color 12” EP includes a digital
download and is featured with a blank B-side. It's also
available through Black Numbers , Bandcamp, and iTunes.
Welcome back guys. I hope you decide to stay for a while.
While planning our first ever trip to Portland, Oregon,
I was reminded of some of my recent scores from 2018’s
official Record Store Day. With this year’s list looking
a bit thin and the fact that I had no intention to wait
in line for hours. I made it to my favorite record store
to find out that most, if not all of the releases on my
list were snatched up in a pre-dawn raid.
One of the big “ifs” on that original list was
a live set from the legendary Portland Oregon trio The Wipers.
While not known by the average Joe, the Wipers, by all means
a great punk band, would go on to influence many punk acts
to follow as well as many of the most celebrated grunge
acts (most notably Nirvana.) Recorded live at Portland’s
The Met (a legendary music venue that has existed under
numerous names since the 60’s and still remains today
under the name “Dante’s,”) on New Year’s
Eve, December 31st 1982, the album features 17 songs. The
live performance sounds raw, yet refined and audible, having
been recorded on recently purchased equipment and mastered
by The Wipers own guitarist/vocalist Greg Sage, offering
plausible evidence as to why the sound quality is so good
on this performance. Songs jump off the record, drawing
you in as if you were in attendance. “Live at the
Met” is an audiophile release and is limited to 2,000
copies. (Try eBay.) Knowing full well that most people don’t
run around trying to track down Record Release Day releases
after the fact, I will instead urge you to track down some
of their best studio releases, 1980’s “Is This
Real” and 1981’s “Youth of America”
I came across New Jersey creepers Haunt Club while checking
to see if there were any new releases to look into on the
Sniffling Indie Kids website. Though little background could
be found regarding Haunt Club, the band’s debut release
presented enough clues for me to keep digging.
"Volume One" features seven songs that sound
like they should be featured in an episode of Twin Peaks,
Stranger Things or X-Files. Complete with
reverb, fuzz, distortion and vocal refrains, “Ghosts”
opens just as the title might suggest, creeping into your
conscience slowly and gently before exploding like a car
bomb. “Incident” follows, adding a slow yet
sonic layer of creepiness to the band’s already (for
lack of a better word.) haunting sound.
The third, most focused and personal favorite track, “VHS,”
has an overall build to it that makes the song really work
for the band. There’s a lot of fuzz, reverb and distortion
on this release that really help it stand out in a way that
is gripping, yet enduring. “Volume One” is a
debut that more than earns the right to a sequel. Let’s
hope production is not delayed. Available on cassette and
– “LIE” (Live in Europe) (SubPop Records)
Being as I never really invested much time, money or interest
in LIVE albums, I felt no urge to purchase or even listen
to Mudhoney’s “LIE.” It wasn’t until
hearing it in its entirety while perusing my favorite West
Seattle record shop that I decided to take a copy home to
spin and possibly write about.
As I brought the record home and took it for a spin, my memories
of all the muck, mire and dirt under my fingernails - feelings
that always accompanied listening to Mudhoney - came back
to me. Formed in 1988 after the demise of the beloved band
Mother Love Bone, Mudhoney were one the bands that helped
put Sub Pop on the map and are considered by many to be architects
of the “Grunge Sound”.
The album opens with longtime favorite “Fuzz Gun
91’” and rarely lets up from there.
The fuzzed out, trippy leads on the B side opener “Judgement,
Rage, Retribution and Thyme” are as hair raising as
being lowered into a pit of poisonous snakes. Another personal
favorites is “I Like it Small.”
Recorded live during a 2016 European tour which included
shows in Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Austria and Slovenia,
“LIE” represents the first and only non-bootleg,
live Mudhoney recordings to date. The record also serves
a precursor to the band's upcoming release of brand new
material, their first since 2013’s “Vanishing
Point. “LIE” features 11 songs, including a
cover of Roxy Music’s “Editions of You.”
There are already a few editions/versions of this album
floating around, so be sure as to check first before ordering
or purchasing from your chosen record store. The end.
For those of you unfamiliar with them, Mission of Burma was/is
a band that originated in Boston, Massachusetts in 1979 and
originally disbanded in 1983. “Forget” is a collection
of the band's early demos recorded prior to their debut EP
“Signals, Calls, and Marches” and the following
full length Vs. Though raw, these early recordings
from 79’ and 80’ show some of the foundations
of early U.S. punk and hardcore. The twelve demo tracks featured
here sound vital and well preserved. Mission of Burma’s
sound and knack for producing smart punk would influence countless
bands, including the legendary experimental giants Sonic Youth.
Mission of Burma would reform in 2002 (almost 30 years
after their initial split in 1983.)
The band has since recorded five albums while seeing their
original recordings of “Signals, Calls, and Marches”
and Vs remastered and reissued. Listening to “Forget”
served as a powerful reminder of what drew me to the band
as a young teen looking for something different lurking
in the back of my neighborhood record store.
On his fourth solo album and first on his own imprint “Tough
Lover,” former Shudder to Think vocalist Craig Wedren
reflects on age, death, sex, marriage and family. Wedren’s
14-song meditational narrative has a noticeable poetic flow
that is both warm and comforting, songs of reflection that
show a man who seems to have found peace with his past while
fully embracing his future. Each of the fourteen entries flow
beautifully with a hypnotic, reflective spirituality. Simple
acoustics meet subtle yet spirited vocal harmonies, providing
soothing soundscapes that feel rooted in transcendentalism.
As a whole Wendren’s voice seems the perfect vehicle
to carry and navigate “Adult Desire”. If you’re
looking for something unique, yet special. Look no further.
Over the last couple of decades, it’s become harder
and harder for me to identify let alone, defend Hardcore as
the vital sub- genre of Punk it once seemed. Hardcore music
continues to be going strong with an endless crop of new bands,
while much overdue attention and praise keeps getting heaped
on its first, second and even third wave. However, the problem
I tend to see and in many cases, hear is the overall lack
or originality in newer acts entering the fray. Enter my introduction
and overall disappointment in listening to Decline’s
“Own Your Words” 7-inch EP.
Hooded sweatshirt, check. Cargo shorts, check. Varsity
Jackets, check. Cover image of lead singer in full “Bust
it” mode for the cover, check. Their 6-song EP so
closely mirrors, if not imitates the look and sound of 80’s
youth crew acts such as Youth of Today, Bold and Judge,
it ’s hard to tell whether they’re honoring
the movement or straight up copying it. Chicago’s
Decline formed in 2013 by former members of Haunted Life,
Expired Youth, Noose and New Heart. It would seem that Decline
came together to create the most unimaginative, unoriginal
and perhaps most clichéd EP I’ve heard in decades.
While by most standards a very good recording. “Own
your Words” falters in that it lacks any sense or
originality or individualism that would distinguish them
as anything more than a nostalgia act, a trend I see/hear
much too often in HardCore these days. Considering how important
and urgent Judge’s classic “Fed Up” always
sounded, hearing it being covered here was like experiencing
it as a jingle in an “All You Can Eat” TV spot
for a local food chain. And while anyone who hasn’t
been around long enough to experience bands like Judge and
Youth of Today in the mid to late 80’s might find
reason to like this record, this old curmudgeon thought
Adolescents – The Complete Demos (Frontier Records)
The Adolescents are a punk band formed in Fullerton, California
in 1980, part of a first wave of Hardcore/Punk acts forming
in Southern California. Like many bands of their ilk, the
Adolescents endured numerous lineup changes, break ups and
reunions since their conception.
Though dominant throughout the 80’s and beyond, former
cast members also went on to form such notable acts as D.I.,
Manic Hispanic (and who can overlook guitarist Rikk Agnew’s
1982 solo album “All By Myself?”) The band's
first self-titled album, aka the Blue Album, remains
the only classic, must-have release in the bands catalog.
With bands like Agent Orange, The Adolescents, The Vandals
and D.I. being such major early influences on hardcore and
skate punk, not to mention their stamp on the overall identity
and attitude of west coast bands to come, investing in a
vinyl reissue of “Demos 1980 – 1986” was
one without risk or downfall. Hearing these songs for the
first time since purchasing them on CD some years ago definitely
had its peaks and valleys. With the lack of production,
many of these songs sound lackluster at best. One has to
appreciate that many if not most of the bands coming out
the that defining, influential era were not blessed with
the best studio gear or production. The whole idea of being
in a punk or hardcore band was to play and hopefully record
songs that were raw, aggressive and pissed off. In the end,
as both a fan and a listener, you have to take that into
account. For me, hearing these original recordings of songs
like “Wrecking Crew”, “I Hate Children”,
“Amoeba” and “Richard Hung Himself”
was quite rewarding.
Way back in the early 90’s, I used to drive around Clifton
with my friend Tom in his Ford Falcon. While Tom had some
A+ taste in music, each joyride would come to a screaming
halt when he would pull a cassette from his pocket and proudly
exalt, “This is the worst shit you’ll ever hear.”
There was a certain joy and satisfaction in not only sharing
the misery with someone you trusted, but being able to distinguish
the good from the absolutely awful. Strangely enough, those
particular memories came to mind as quickly as the time it
took to wade through the first minute of Trail of Lies, “W.A.R.”
Trail of Lies' 8-song debut full-length opens promisingly
with the ferocious and punishing rhythms of “Master
of my Destiny.” However, when the vocals chime in at
the 18-second mark, “Ferocious” and “Punishing”
quickly become “Punishing” and “Unbearable.
While this is quite good musically. I can’t help but
think the front man (I would suffer from a bottomless shame
spiral if I used the words “singer” or “vocalist”)
derived his style while suffering from a near death battle
with irritable bowel syndrome. Think Viking Metal meets oral
surgery at a colonoscopy clinic. As mentioned, “W.A.R.”
features eight tracks, with “Fight for Victory”
being the only one to make the two-and-a-half-minute mark.
While fans of Another Victim, Bolt Thrower and Earth Crisis,
might find common ground here, Trail of Lies' debut LP only
made me miss the days of being trapped in an overheated Ford
Falcon listening to Bolt Thrower.
Last Gang – “Keep them Counting”
Following their debut 2017 single on Fat Wreck Chords, Orange
County’s female fronted punk trio The Last Gang return
with a full length that will surely put the band on the punk
Female fronted Punk Rock that easily draws comparisons to
The Distillers, Rancid, and The Avengers, Keep them Coming
delivers tasty riffs, hooks, bouncing rhythms and a voice
you won’t soon forget. The 10 songs featured on “Keep
them Counting” keep the listener focused throughout,
while eliciting numerous listens.
The album’s opener, “Sing for your Supper,”
(originally heard on the band's 2017 single of the same
name) gets things started on a high note. While Reed's vocals
on “Strange Fruit” (one of my personal favorites)
sound quite fierce, the band never seems to forgo their
pop punk ethos, thus giving the record a unflappable sense
of cohesion. Overall, I felt I was being treated to a very
good record that introduced me to a band that will surely
bring more rewards down the road. The album cover picture
depicting the band propped on the edge of their van’s
rear leads me to think they’ll be visiting my area
sooner than later. For fans of The Avengers, The Distillers
and Rancid, the Last Gang give Pop Punk a gnarly edge that
allows them to stand out from the pack.
Originally released on the legendary indie label Dischord
in 1990 and long out of print, Ten Spot would be
Shudder’s first of three releases on Ian McKaye’s
imprint. Funeral at the Movies and Get Your Goat
would follow before the band jumped ship to sign with Epic
Records, where they went on to release Pony Express
and 50,000 B.C. as well as a handful of 90’s
When experiencing Shudder to Think, one can’t help
but get swept away at how weird and eccentric the band sounded
and presented itself. Front man Craig Wedren’s vocals
and look set the band apart from many of their contemporaries.
More theatric and vaudeville than punk; both artistic and
eccentric at the same time; liked, loved and often hated.
There’s no denying the imprint their artful post-hardcore,
post-punk style left on those who were there to experience
it. Listening to these 11 songs for the first time in more
than twenty years was as much a pleasure as it was a chance
to, once again, embrace the madness that was Shudder to
Think. The reissue features revised artwork, courtesy of
Heather Hendrix Russell and comes on blue vinyl. As with
all Dischord titles, the vinyl version is accompanied with
a digital download.
Number One’s – “Another Side of the Number
Having recently undergone their own One-ders/Wonders transformation
by going from the #1’s to The Number One’s, Dublin’s
fab four will hopefully be a bit easier to track down and
identify, thus opening the eyes and ears of a new crop of
potential fans. Playing tight power pop that would as easily
find its roots in the wave of exciting rock bands of the 60’s
as it would with the new wavers and power pop wave of the
late 70’s and early 80’s, each of the four offerings
on “Another Side” - “Lie To Me”, “Long
Way To Go,” “You’re So Happy I Could Cry”
and “Breaking Loose” - solidify the band’s
knack for creating and helping to preserve a sound rarely
heard in a genre that, for decades, has depended on image
and instant gratification over quality and sustainability.
The Number Ones' knack for creating fun, electric and frenetic
power pop and guitar rock puts them in good company with older
acts such as The Knack, Cheap Trick, The Buzzcocks and other
greats of that era. while still sounding fresh and vital.
I highly recommend you download their self-titled LP Here.
Their current EP is available both on 7-inch and iTunes.
Featuring three songs from the somewhat recently Dave Smalley
fronted vehicle Don’t Sleep, "Bring the Light"
suffers from what Hollywood might describe as typecasting.
We’ve all seen Dave play this role before. Maybe it’s
time to pass the torch to someone/anyone else. Here are
songs that are by no means bad, but don’t even remotely
stray from Smalley’s 30-plus years of recorded output,
for better, worse, or in my case, indifferent. It’s
predictable in the sense that, if it inspires anything,
it’s to go back and explore the work he did with acts
such as D.Y.S., Dag Nasty, ALL and Down by Law.
And while fans of melodic hardcore, familiarity and nostalgia
will certainly find reasons to rejoice, "Bring the
Light" doesn’t really distinguish or set itself
apart from anything he’s done in the past. Add to
that, this small sampling of new songs could easily be mistaken
as Dag Nasty or Down by Law outtakes. The three song EP
features three fast, melodic and upbeat songs with positive
overtones, but are we actually hearing anything new? While
I surely wasn’t expecting anything adventurous from
Smalley and crew, inspiring the listener to get excited
for more would have sufficed. At least in my case, "Bring
the Light" did not.
Tory Anne Daines is what most would consider a musician’s
musician. The very talented, multi-instrumental artist whose
beautiful violin and piano talent have been featured on numerous
recording and gave indie rockers Those Mockingbirds an artic
edge that many bands of their ilk lack or altogether ignore.
With Fair Panic and their thirteen-song debut Feels, steps
out of the shadows to front one of the unique acts we’ve
seen or heard in ages.
Having heard some of the early demos and being trusted
with an early advance of the album. I went into Feels thinking
I might have to step up my review game and dress up my thinking
cap. Being asked to listen in the sequence added an additional
level of pressure. One I may not have felt since being offered
this column. In the end, concept album or not. I found myself
listening closely to something that would be incredibly
Lush orchestrations add complex layers to the songs quirky
Tori’s angelic voice easily draws close comparison
to that of Kate Bush, Tori Amos and perhaps more currently,
Regina Spektor. There’s an eccentricity and uniqueness
to the album that’s so engaging that you’ll
find yourself frequently returning for further visits. With
each go through, I feel as if I’m being treated to
something new and fresh. Song wise, Gateway Drug and You
and Me stand on the shoulders of giants. In the end, though,
hearing is believing.
STYLES – GRAFITTI IN NEW YORK HARDCORE by Freddy Alva
(Di Wulf Publishing)
While many of the suburbanites who found Hardcore music
in the late 80’s might not admit or even remember,
much of NYHC’s inspiration and influence came from
urban kids who grew up on Hip Hop culture and graffiti.
This was most evident in the flyers, demo tape art, and
tagged up walls of the venues, surrounding streets, and
mass transit we took to get to shows. Listen to any Hardcore
record from the 80’s or any other period of time and
you’ll notice the Hip-Hop influence on every break,
breakdown and/or mosh part. Truth be told, with every Hardcore
band we listened to or went to see, there was a Grandmaster
Flash, Public Enemy, KRS-One or Eric B. & Rakim 12-inch
within reach. For every Sunday Hardcore Matinee or band
practice, there were fat markers, black shoe polish or a
couple of cans of Krylon at the ready to tag up the nearest
wall, mailbox or train.
Featuring images, art, anecdotes, interviews with the like
of Mackie ‘Hyper’ Jason (Cro-mags), Sergio ‘Deem’
Vega (Collapse, Quicksand, The Deftones), Chaka ‘Expo’
Malik (New Breed Tape Compilation, BURN) and countless others,
including the bands who were both influenced and populated
by many of the city’s most active writers, Urban
Styles traces, explores and documents the individuals
and cliques who drew from graffiti’s earliest 70’s
influences and displays their inclusion and contributions
to the New York’s Hardcore scene. From the walls and
trains to the flyers, zines, demos and album art, Urban
Style shows just how much these influences found their
way and ultimately found a home amongst a creative group
of misfits, outsiders and non-conformists.
Spread out over more than three hundred pages, I myself
was reminded of my days getting a close up look at artists
like Jere and Mod, and crews such as TMR and DMS. And though
my tags, ‘Omen’ and ‘Southpaw never made
it further than my notebooks, school desks or mailboxes
of my neighborhood, still, my interest and appreciation
for the outlaw art form never waned. Just for kicks, a handful
of my earliest images and the cover image of the second
issue of my fanzine ‘UNITE’ can be found within
Urban Style’s pages.
Freddy Alva has always had a unique and sincere knack for
documenting his environment. From his early life i Peru
to the New Breed Compilation to the book Urban
Styles and everything in between, he’s made a
point to put a spotlight on and lift up those he experienced
these things with.
– It Cost Me Everything (Atomic Action Records)
The decade known to many as the 90’s was populated by
countless unsung bands that left an endearing footprint before
imploding or quietly calling it quits. For me, Cable can be
added to a long list of bands I had the pleasure of standing
eye to eye, nose to nose with in a sweaty basement or VFW
hall, a memory I can easily return to more than twenty years
later... like taking the express bus from Manhattan to Staten
Island with my friend Marlise to see Cable play with Weston,
Lifetime, Malcom’s Lost and others.
While many are quick to dismiss the endless caravan of
meathead metalcore acts whose music inspired countless backspin
kicks and more than their share of trips to the ER with
mosh inflicted injuries, there were just as many other bands
who expanded and experimented with Hardcore music’s
original sound in ways that made them stand apart from the
others. For myself and many others, Connecticut’s
Cable were and still are a very good example. While the
band’s sound could easily be categorized as hardcore,
their infusion of noise, spoken word, emo, impassioned screams
and musical discordance gave the band more of an introspective
vibe than that of an outpouring of emotion. The seven songs
presented on "It cost me everything" reflect just
that, sounding just as fresh and cathartic as they did when
they were recorded during the band’s first creative
year together. Though listening to “It Cost Me Everything”
reminds me of many of the bands of that era (Current, Hoover
and Rorschach immediately come to mind,) tt also comforts
me in knowing that many of those still remain. Killer tracks
include but are not in any way limited to "Plastic,"‘
" Flowers and Funerals." and "Feed Me Glass."
The EP includes a digital download and a blank B-side.
It’s quite possible I’ve spent most of my life
dealing with ADHD symptoms and related issues. How else can
I explain my short attention span and passion for a good single
or EP? Such diagnosis might explain the boxes of 45 rpm records
or my fond memories of the 90’s record label “SOL”
(Singles Only Label.) It might explain a lot of things, and
give insight to just what drew me to Supercrush in the first
place. The Seattle duo of Mark Palm and Aaron O’Neil
have released several singles that successfully blend sugary
sweet lo-fi fuzz pop (hink 90’s greats Dunebuggy) with
elements of shoegaze (Current NJ act TRU come to mind,) ingredients
that combine for excellent results. The warm, summery vibe
felt here and on previous singles are as refreshingly welcome
as an open hydrant or the sound of an approaching ice cream
truck on a steamy, sun drenched summers day. Familiar, yet
fresh. Reminding us of how a good pop song can stick with
you. "I’ve been around" provided some much-needed
warmth to Seattle’s current rainy season while inspiring
me to look for previous releases and information regarding
Sometimes the difference between a positive review and a negative
one can depend on knowing your audience and directing your
work through the proper channels - knowledge that Rahway,
New Jersey singer/songwriter J Hacha De Zola and/or his handlers
might have benefited from.
This album came accompanied by a two-page press kit that all
but declares him to be the second coming of Tom Waits. (Sorry
kid, you’re going to have to put in some work before
you get to dance with the devil.) Considering it took me longer
to read the press kit than listen to the album and form my
own opinion, let’s just say I was more irritated than
entertained. Self-described as “creepy person writes
creepy songs,” it would seem fitting that De Zola would
be best suited to write his own reviews. As for the music,
think of an uninspiring mix of Josh Groban meets Clay Aiken
for a date at the opera. No offense to New Jersey’s
thriving opera community, but De Zola’s work seems best
suited for a J.G. Wentworth TV commercial spot. (Surely you’v
e seen them once or twice over the years.) Antipatico
(translated from Spanish to English, means “unfriendly,”
“unpleasant”) features 11 cringeworthy songs which
you can torture yourself with while reading his masturbatory
bio. Click the link below if you so wish.
With a namesake that brings 80’s lower east side squats
to mind and a sound that mixes a cross section of San Francisco’s
Penelope Houston fronted Avengers and New York’s crustier
punks Nausea. It’s no wonder why I found myself identifying
with the six songs featured on Rats in the Wall’s “Warbound”.
Featuring Brad Logan and Donny Morris of late 90’s anti-heroes
Leftover Crack. Their namesake, socio political leftist past
should serve as a preview as to what’s being served
up by this Huntington Beach, CA based unit. All comparisons
aside, it’s the vocals of Eva Hall (Gather) that make
“Warbound” feel so vital. Reminding me how many
of the raw emotions that originally drew me to Hardcore Punk
still resonate with me decades later. Rats in the Wall’s
raw, nihilistic rage, offer a sense of apocalyptic alienation
that draws you in. Knocking the listener out of their comfort
zone. Now, isn’t that what a good punk rock record is
supposed to do?
With album cover art reminiscent of 80’s death metal
acts such as Death Angel, Sodom and Death, one might expect
a sound and approach from Voice of Addiction similar to what
you might hear on labels such as Roadrunner, Century Media
or Metal Blade. Needless to say, I was a little surprised,
if not caught off guard, when I heard something so completely
unexpected and instantly identifiable.
Without a doubt, there’s a certain familiarity that
made The Lost Art of Empathy so easily relatable. Add to
it the call-to-arms singalong choruses and the tight musicianship,
it’s no wonder Voice of Addiction draw such immediate
praise. Though the album’s opener “Rustbelt”
creates an instant bond with the band, it’s tracks
like the gritty “Dead by Dawn,” the working-class
ska-influenced anthem “Corporate Pariah,” “Eviction
Notice” and the final and personal favorite, the reflective,
acoustic “Are We even Human anymore?” that cement
it with a brash sense of working class sensibility and strength
that cannot be overlooked.
Surely Voice of Addiction bring acts like Dropkick Murphy’s,
Stiff Little Fingers, The Living End and early Gaslight
Anthem to mind. However, The Lost Art of Empathy certainly
sets VOA apart while putting them on a course all their
own. If you’re a fan of guttural vocals, razor sharp
riffs and fierce rhythms, you’ll feel right at home
with Illinois’ Voice of Addiction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
History of Nemesis Records…. And Big Frank Harrison
(Patrick Kitzel) (Book)
Retracing and documenting the history of label founder
‘Big’ Frank Harrison and his indelible imprint
‘Nemesis Records’. “The History of Nemesis
Records” documents the labels 1988 – 1993 existence
through rare, never before seen photos, essays, insight
and memoirs from friends and select Nemesis alumni artists
including Ron Martinez (Final Conflict), Dan O'Mahony (No
For An Answer, Carry Nation), Isaac Golub (A Chorus Of Disapproval,
A18), Fred Hammer (It's Alive Fanzine), Jon Bunch, (Sense
Field, Reason To Believe) Rest in Peace, Mike Hartsfield
(Outspoken, New Age Records), Dave Franklin (Vision) Rest
in Peace, Andrew Kline (Strife) and more. Also, included
is a full label discography that includes all of the variation
and colors made available through Nemesis. The resolution
of the records scanned is high enough for close inspection
and the descriptions, photos, flyers and extras really go
a long way to properly tell the labels story.
Scanning the pages of this quick, yet enjoyable read. I
found myself referring to the bands I’d seen and counting
the records I currently own or did at one time or another.
How much time I spent and still spend listening to bands
such as Vision, Instead, Against the Wall, Gameface, Billingsgate
and others. My brief, yet personal exchanges with the band
Instead and how, as much as I loved and still love that
Against the Wall 7’ inch. Recalling what an absolute
knob the band’s front man, Madrid was.
Overall, “The History of Nemesis Records” was
a good go through. The anecdotes, stories and images brought
me back to a time when, for better or worse, I consumed
every Hardcore record I could get my hands on. And while
most of those records find themselves housed in boxes that
rarely get played or see the light of day. This book had
me looking back on a time when rifling through a box of
EP’s at a show or seeing an ad from an independent
record label in your favorite fanzine was the way we operated.
Published by Tribal Books and available through Reaper Records.
With just over two hundred pages. This medium sized paperback
fits snugly in your backpack or computer and reads well
during your otherwise mundane commute.
Images and Stories from the 80’s Washington, DC Punk
(Complied by Scott Crawford)
As a teenager growing up in the mid to late 80’s
NYHC scene. I always looked up to the older kids and young
adults who were present during the early days or Hardcore
and Punk. As someone who hadn’t travelled a whole
lot and was just getting his boots scraped on the dancefloors
of places like CBGB’s, the Anthrax and Avenue A’s
Pyramid Club. I often wished I had been old enough to experience
bands like Minor Threat, Void and The Faith. And while the
New York and its surrounding hardcore scene presented more
than its share of cheap thrills, mosh pits and cleverly
choreographed stage dives. The music I closely identified
with always seemed to be coming from the Washington, DC
and its homegrown label Dischord Records.
Featuring images and stories from Bad Brains, Teen Idles,
Black Market Baby, S.O.A., Minor Threat, Government Issue,
Void, Iron Cross, The Faith, Scream, Marginal Man, Gray
Matter, Beefeater, King Face, Rites of Spring, Dag Nasty,
Embrace, Soulside, Fire Party, Shudder to Think, Ignition,
Fugazi, Swiz, The Nation of Ulysses and Jawbox. Compiled
by Scott Crawford. Who, as a pre-teen on the early DC scene.
Embodied the meaning of All Ages show. “Spoke”
is much more than a collection of photos. In that it allows
the people who lived it articulate what they were feeling
and experiencing, both as groups and as individuals. Comparable
to Cynthia Connelly’s “Banned in D.C.”
and Mark Jenkins “Dance of Days” Often feeling
like a photographic companion to the documentary “Salad
Days”. “Spoke” Perfectly illustrates a
very special time and place. Through images and personal
recollections of a time long past.
Just as Washington DC remains a political web of corruption,
betrayal and political turmoil. The music, relationships
and influence born out of this particular scene can still
be felt decades later. “Spoke” does an excellent
job of documenting what took place in D.C. during that time.
Reinforcing what participators and admirers alike still
hold dear. And that is a time and place that was both creative
and unique. “Spoke” is an absolute must have.
One that I find myself returning to on a regular basis.
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.
Hardcore super label Bridge 9 digs deep to pull H2O’s
original 1994 demo session with Don Fury from the well for
an official vinyl release. Available on yellow and blue
color 12’ vinyl for the first time ever with a title
that tells you exactly what you get.
Present are the original six songs recorded by the legendary
producer Don Fury, songs that would introduce H2O to the
Hardcore scene and launch them onto Hardcore’s worldwide
stage. For those of you that haven’t kept up with
things, H2O are now considered old school legends in many
circles. Best known for their energetic, yet melodic, DC
inspired positive Hardcore and energetic front man and spokesman
for P.M.A. Toby Morse, H2O would go on to release numerous
albums (2016’s “Use Your Voice” being
their most recent.) and tour the world.
The EP features the original six songs from the demo - ‘Scene
Report”, “If the Mask Fits’, “I
Know Why” “Temperature”, “GO”,
“Here Today” and “Gone Tomorrow.”
The demo sessions take you back to the band's earliest recordings
with one of the true archetypes of New York Hardcore’s
In listening to this demo for the first time since its
initial release in 1994. I was quickly reminded why I recently
jettisoned any and all H20 recordings from my record collection
and hard drive. I just never cared for the band’s
music. Often regarding it as lite Hardcore or Easy Listening
Core, for me personally I always felt a H20 record would
be a great gift to give to your twelve-year-old or as an
assurance that your girlfriend would feel safe going to
a HardCore show. Songs that felt a little too safe or accessible
for someone that remembers the dangerous elements often
related to going to shows.
My personal tastes aside, it would seem that the years of
hard work and dedication to a style of music and a community
they truly love, deserves its credit For me personally,
their music never did much to inspire or challenge me. In
listening to these songs, I was assured that, at least in
this case, time hasn’t really changed a thing. Go
ahead though. That is, if the ears are willing.
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.
When it comes to shows and events that affected me in ways
that would reward me for years to come, Dromedary Records'
2013 Camel Fest (a benefit for the Roots & Wings foundation)
immediately comes to mind. It’s when I met the world.
It’s when I first heard the call of The Brixton Riot.
With a name that reminded me of the South London riots of
1981 as well as the beloved Punk band The Clash, all with
a sound and appeal that could be compared to that of the Replacements
or better yet, Husker Du. I was immediately hooked. Then I
got my hands on a copy of that year’s Palace Amusements
and the hooks got in and stayed in me.
Four years later and the band’s vocalist/guitarist
Jerry Lardieri reaches out to see if I’d be interested
in hearing what will soon be the new album. “Mmmm,
I don’t know. Is it good?” My anticipation busting
at the seams. Still, with no guarantees on quality, I waxed
my ears and adjusted my writers cap in anticipation of adding
my two cents on the matter.
On the Brixton Riot’s second full length Close
Counts, their first since the aforementioned 2013 Parkside
Amusements, the South Jersey band prove that they haven’t
missed a step or skipped a beat. It’s go-time the
moment the bass line meets up with the opening guitar riff
meet on the album's opening track “Can’t Stop
Now.” One can’t help but rejoice in its statement
of purpose and declaration of being. As the opening anthem
gives way to the album's second offering “Slow Evolution,”
you immediately feel the assurance that you took the right
turn on your journey. There’s a sense of warmth that
seems to wrap itself around every Brixton Riot song. Something
that feels accepting and comfortable. They didn’t
come to reinvent the wheel, but they might put some fresh
air in the tires before taking it for a spin. The warmth
and melody within the songs feel relaxed and enjoyable.
Giving somewhat of a bird’s eye view to the chemistry
within the band, a group of friends that create music that
feels very much in the moment. In the end, making me miss
a place it took me years to fully embrace. “Close
Counts” comes a lot closer than its title might lead
us to think. Skillfully engineered and mixed at Baltimore’s
Magpie Cage by the legendary J. Robbins (Government Issue,
Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels,) these 11 songs will
surely remain in my stream of favorites from the year 2017.
Close Counts is scheduled for an October 6th release,
but you can pre-order it now. Who says you can’t come
More than twenty-five years since they were released, the
original two demos the Queens, NY band DMIZE recorded find
themselves on vinyl for the first time ever on Germany’s
Cupcake label. Featuring original DMS (Doc Marten Skins) (Drugs,
Money, Sex) members Ray (JERE) Oglesby (vocals on first demo,)
Chiqui Rodriguez (vocals on second demo,) Beto on guitar,
Richie Nagel on drums, and perhaps most notably Hoya Roc,
who would go on to be a permanent member of the long running
and still active band Madball on bass. Dmize, though short
lived, reflected a change of scenery on the New York Hardcore
scene, one that brought in more of a Latino influence than
the scene had experienced in years. Add to it the gang culture
and violence that often follow, components that would influence
New York Hardcore for years to come. Musically, DMIZE reflected
many of the stylistic changes that had been taking hold on
Hardcore music for years, with metal-tinged riffs melded with
groove heavy bass lines and hip-hop inspired beats. The music
was heavier, darker and a bit more negative.
The first demo, recorded in January of 1991, features original
vocalist Ray O. (Jere). The second, recorded in September
1991, features his close friend and heir to the vocal throne,
Chiqui Rodriguez. And while the band featured several people
I considered close friends at the time, I never initially
cared for their metallic influence or the violence that
seemed to follow them from show to show. Add the twenty-five-dollar
price tag and shipping costs, the 12 song “Demos”
can only be recommended to Hardcore nostalgia enthusiasts
and fans of 90’s crime syndicate Hardcore bands like
Madball, Merauder, Crown of Thornz and Skarhead. Included
is a 16.5" x 23.375" poster and is limited to
Overall, these songs resonated with me more in 2017 then
they did back in 1991 - good, but by no means great - perhaps
due to a sense of closure regarding the past. They turn
bad memories to good while reminding me of those wild and
crazy times growing up and coming apart.
Stealing Time – 23 Year of Punk Images by Mark Beemer
With proceeds all proceeds go directly to the Syrentha
Savio Endowment to help low-income cancer patients afford
treatment, I felt compelled to pick up a copy of the reissue
of Mark Beemer’s long out of print “Stealing
Time”, which documents his long history and dedication
to photographing punk and hardcore acts. It includes photos
of memorable bands such as, but not limited to, Fugazi,
Henry Rollins, Quicksand, Rise Against and Texas is the
Reason. As both a photographer and a show goer, I’ve
always been interested in what the other shooters in the
pit or on the stage were capturing. Whether it be their
gear, choice of film, vantage point, or overall approach,
I’m always eager to talk shop and eventually see the
So, despite not being familiar with Mark’s work, I
was excited to explore his images and the artists he chose
to document. And while I can appreciate the journey, dedication
and countless acts he documented, as a photographer and
self-proclaimed documenter of my experiences, I honestly
didn’t find myself drawn to many of the work presented
What I did find was a mix of live and promotional location
photos that more than not failed to draw me to the subject.
As one who's photographed countless shows, yet a handful
of band members gathering for a group shot, or better yet,
being caught in a moment, I’ve always been drawn to
the latter. Therefore, I felt myself more closely drawn
to a picture of a band standing in a corner or crowding
into an elevator than performing at a show.
For me personally, “Stealing Time” is more
about the number of images collected than the overall quality.
Regarding the number of images provided in its 124 pages,
it failed to evoke any emotion from someone that may have
hoped for more of a back story or personal view of the many
inspiring artists he captured over those 23 years.
Formed in 2016 by former and current members of various
and musically diverse elements of New Jersey’s indie
and underground scene, Trü quickly evolved from a creative
exchange of ideas to a full-blown band. After releasing
a well-received demo in the Winter of 2016. Trü headed
back to the studio to record an EP for soon to be born “Destroy
All Monsters” label.
Mixing elements of shoegaze and dream pop with indie-rock
proficiency. Trü has quickly won both my attention
and admiration. After receiving a copy of the band’s
debut EP. I felt compelled to reach out to what has quickly
become one of my personal favorites.
Q: I had been hearing the name trü from Cindy and
friends at The Meatlocker, long before I heard the 2016
demo or saw you live in 2017. Can you tell me when you first
came to be?
Pat: We solidified the line up in Summer 2016 but Keith
and I were kicking around the idea since Fall 2015. Once
we started jamming, we really started clicking and that’s
when we brought Steve and Cindy in to round out the rest
of the line-up.
Q: You each come from different bands and musically different
corners. Can you tell me what is was that made you want
to create music together?
Pat: We’ve all been in the same scene with our other
respective bands for a long time. We’ve all played
shows together or were in the same room together too many
times to count as we’ve all become friends over the
years it just all seem to fall into place at the right time.
Q: Were you set on the type of music you wanted to create
before you got together. Or was that something that happened
Pat: We never really decided what type of music we wanted
to write. It just kind of occurred naturally. Everyone in
this band has a wide array of musical tastes and I feel
like with this band we were able to pool together our ideas
to make the best songs we can.
Q: Coming from varied places musically. What was it that
made you want to create this particular style of music?
How would you categorize or identify trü’s
Pat: I am SO bad at this but when people ask, I usually
tell them in the most general sense we’re an alternative
emo band. As for what made me want to write this type of
music, I wanted to write catchy pop songs but the catchy
pop songs early era Weezer would write. Just simple catchy
Q: Cindy, you moved from guitar to bass in trü. What
was that like for you? Had you played bass in the past.
Or was this completely new to you?
Cindy: Playing bass was completely new to me. I'd never
played bass in the past or even owned one, but when Pat
reached out to me I decided to give it a shot. I borrowed
my girlfriend’s bass gear for a practice with Pat,
Keith and Steve and immediately loved it. It was more about
the musical chemistry I had with those three then it was
about the instrument I was playing. Through playing in trü,
I have really grown to love bass and want to become a better
Q: What’s behind the name?
Pat: I thought of the name because I liked how it looked
visually. I wanted something simple we can build a brand
around. We stay very conscious of how we stylize designs
for our merch and album art and building it around trü
has honestly been a lot of fun.
Q: Who’s involved with writing the music and lyrics?
Cindy: Pat and Keith always show up at practice with tons
and tons of ideas. Whether it is just a riff, some lyrics
or an entire song, we all jam on them together and everything
just comes together naturally.
Pat: Yeah, we all have our say when it comes to practice
and it’s what I really think makes these songs great.
There’s a real sense of intimacy in the songs. Do
the lyrics reflect personal situations?
Pat: I’m completely new at writing lyrics and singing
in general but a lot of the things I write about are about
relationship situations I’ve been in.
Q: Having always felt that music has medicinal powers.
I was really inspired by the records prescription style
lyric sheet. How did the idea to do that come about and
what made you decide to go with it?
Keith: The prescription template was our friend Todd Campisi's
(Destroy All Monsters) idea and he based it off of the lyrics
for the song "Trouble".
Q: “Kirsti” will most likely remain my favorite
song on the EP. It sounds as if it could be the feel-good
hit of the summer. Yet somehow, I’ve convinced myself
that the lyrics come from a darker place. Can you give me
a little background on the song and the lyrics?
Keith: I wouldn't say they come from a darker place. I
would say that song is more of a "pick me up"
lullaby. Often times we forget our worth or feel insecure
about our place in the world and if we're lucky we have
somebody who somehow makes it all better. I just wanted
to reciprocate that warmth to someone very special to me
who was feeling blue i.e. “Kirsti”.
Q: You moved from 2016’s demo release to the 7’
EP rather quickly. Was there any specific motivation behind
Cindy: We actually had no plans on releasing that demo.
We self-recorded 6 songs in Steve's basement for pre-preproduction
which ended up coming out really cool. We decided to release
2 as a demo to give people a taste of what was to come.
After releasing the demo, we received a lot of positive
feedback so it pushed us to go into the studio and get more
out there. As we were preparing to record an EP, Todd Campisi
approached us about launching his new record label and putting
4 of our tracks on vinyl. We were honored that he asked
us to be his first release and the timing was just right.
Q: Is it more rewarding to have something on wax (vinyl)
than releasing something to say, bandcamp?
Cindy: Absolutely. For me personally, it feels almost like
a milestone. A lot of work went into putting the entire
thing together between communicating with the pressing plant,
having artwork made, physically putting everything together
and getting 5 people to agree on it all in a timely fashion!
Dropping the needle on the record for the first time is
an incredible feeling that can't be articulated.
Pat: I’m a vinyl collector (just like everyone else)
so getting my own music on vinyl is always a great accomplishment.
There’s a great feeling to having something you can
hold in your hand.
Due to my move.
Q: Due to my moving to Seattle the same day, I missed the
band’s record release show. From all the post show
posts on social media. It seemed to be a very special night
for the band and anyone in attendance. Can you give me a
run-down of what made it so rewarding?
Cindy: We missed you at the show! We celebrated the birth
of Destroy All Monsters and our first EP with a party fit
for a bunch of grown up kids! We put together some goodie
bags, had a popsicle party and spent the night with our
favorite local bands, friends and families. The amount of
support from everyone was overwhelming and we can't wait
to do it again!
Q: At this point in time, would you classify trü as
side project or full time band?
Cindy: I feel like we all went into this with the intentions
of having fun and seeing what we could create together.
It started off as a side project but I would consider it
a full-time band for each of us at this point.
Pat: I totally agree. We’re all just having so much
fun with this it’s hard to not dedicate a lot of our
time to it.
Q: What’s next for trü as a band and as indiviuduals.
Cindy: We are already in the process of demoing out more
songs. Pat and Keith have so many ideas that they bring
to practice so we keep cranking out new material. We hope
to get back in the studio by late fall to work on recording
our next release. In the meantime, we all have our other
bands that we are committed to as well.
Disorder – Naïve to the World (Youngblood Records)
Having grown up on countless Dischord releases and influential
acts who called the District of Colombia their home, my interest
and/or curiosity regarding most area releases should never
come into question. Whether it’s Punk, Hardcore, Go-Go
music or any form of underground sound, the mere gathering,
proximity or alignment of the letters D and C have a habit
of drawing my attention while arousing my curious ears. Such
was the case when it came to D.C. Disorder. Which brings to
mind D.C. Disorder and the "Naïve to the World"
EP. The vinyl 7-inch includes digital download.
From the scathing 1:01 instrumental introduction to the
sinister vocal appearance on the record's opener "Put
to the Test," the listener is put on notice. Six short,
but not too, too short, blasts of energy, ire and a sense
of cannibalistic urgency. "Naïve to the World"
possesses an authenticity that makes it nearly impossible
to overlook. Sure D.C. Disorder feature a cast of characters
from current Hardcore lineups, but considering how good
this record sounds, the mere mention of any such relations
to or association with seem unnecessary. With a fresh approach,
energy and conviction, "Naïve to the World"
makes an indelible mark.
Though not thoroughly researched, there must come a time in
a Punk or HardCore kid’s life when just about every
new band you here begins to sound like something you’ve
heard countless times before. Such was the case with California’s
DARE and what I hear on their rather generic offering "OC
Straightege." Whereas countless bands have found influence
in those that came before, acts such as DARE don’t seem
to have anything new to bring to the table. And while I can
honestly say I enjoyed my first listen of ‘OC Straightedge,’
I didn’t feel as if I was experiencing anything that
would stay with me or set them apart from the countless other
bands who continue to follow and not lead. Here is a record
that one would rightfully judge by its cover art. The 7-inch
ncludes digital download and is limited to 400 copies.
of Power – When then becomes Now (Triple B Records)
On their follow up to the excellent 7-inch on New Age Records,
Atlanta, GA’s Abuse of Power deliver a sophomore EP
that should ingrain them as one of the best current bands
HardCore has to offer.
The five song EP opens with the title track "When Then
Becomes Now.” Instantly grabbing the listener’s
attention and admiration with its gutsy aggression and straight
forward approach, it had me reaching for the lyric sheet,
words pouring off the page with a sense of timeless wisdom.
"All I Need" follows with a sense of strength and
wisdom. By now, you’re wondering why you haven’t
already bookmarked Abuse of Power as a band you need to know.
Overall, while sounding original and current, Abuse of Power
have a way of reminding me of the things (however few) I loved
about 90’s HardCore. With each song evoking strength
in a forceful, yet vulnerable way, Abuse of Power’s
"When Then Becomes Now" feels both identifiable
and real. This is a very good and thought provoking release.
The 7-inch includes digital download.
Though "Instant Execution" serves as Aggression
Pact’s second release, (the followup to 2015’s
self- titled debut,) it should be noted that it is their first
output as a full band. On the 7 song EP “Instant Execution,"
Aggression Pact stay the course with a fierce double guitar
attack and gut-wrenching growls via Mark (Wasted Time, Mercy
Killings.) With each of the seven songs presented being similar,
yet distinguishable, the EP’s third offering "Buried
and Rotting" slows things down just long enough for you
to get a better feel for the musicianship involved. The drums
move up for a more pronounceable presence while the guitar
sound is particularly insidious, all combining for a recording
that is quite rewarding. And while I really enjoyed their
debut EP. I feel that the additional pieces present on "Instant
Execution" show off growth and improvement when comparing
to the self-titled debut. Aggression Pact continue to keep
me interested and on my toes. The 7-inch includes digital
Order from Revhq:
Order from Painkiller
With the band's EP ‘Rope’ in hand and their
record release show just days away, I reached out to Scary
Stories singer Paul Alan to learn more about the band and
how a group of veterans from New Jersey’s music scene
came to be. Below is what Paul had to say. - James Damion
I know you all come from other bands (both current
and inactive or defunct.) Can you give me a little background
on the band and its members? How did Scary Stories get its
Adam reached out to me in the fall of 2015 with the idea
of doing a band and writing some songs. We had been playing
together in Hell Mary for a bit (and still do), but given
the circumstances and locations of members in that band,
we are unable to get together and write songs. Of course,
I was all about it. Adam brought on Greg because he hits
the drums like he's trying to break them. He also comes
with an unmatched positive attitude which definitely becomes
necessary in a band where the music generally comes from
a dark place. I brought on Vic who was asking about the
status of Hell Mary, but I was like "why don't you
come see how you feel about this new thing we're starting."
The four of us kept getting together on Mondays for a long
time after that and made our first EP in April of 2016.
Here is each member and a list of their current active projects
off the top of my head. I am sure I'll leave something out.
Adam: Permanent Tension, Entia, Bury Yourself, Khantra,
Greg: Basement Beers, Moot Point, Shred Flinstone.
Vic: Hot Knife, Static Radio.
Alan : Control, Hell Mary.
What made you want to make music together? With
those responsibilities, how much time do you have to dedicate
to Scary Stories?
I can't speak for the other guys, but when Adam from Insouciant/Khantra
contacts you to do a project, you don't say no. I've gotten
to know Vic and Greg through doing this band, and I would
definitely do future endeavors with them. It just seemed
to click when we got together because everybody was vocal
about what they wanted to do and we all listened to each
other. The writing process for this band was always gratifying.
I feel like each song has a touch of every member but not
in a way where it’s forced and you end up with a reggae
song with metallic breakdowns. Everyone "got it"
and contributed what is best for each song.
How did the opportunity to work with Black Numbers
Vic and Dave go way back. He heard our second EP and saw
the art and liked both.
Having released the 'Shimmers' demo on cassette
and 'Rope' on a flexi disc. One might think the band is
fixated on outdated technology. What went into the decision
to go with these antiquated formats?
Well, we're on all those digital platforms, so I wouldn't
say we're fixated really. We really had no plans. Tohm from
Forced Abandonment offered to do a short run of the cassettes
and we said yes because we like how he runs his label and
enjoy his catalog. We thought the second one would be awesome
to have on vinyl and Dave from Black Numbers was about it
so we went with it. If they didn't come out in these forms,
I don't think we'd have a physical component to each release
and they'd just exist in cyberspace conveniently waiting
to be ignored.
How are you planning on promoting the record? Will
you be leaving the beloved Garden State?
Our record release is July 7th at Backroom Studios with
Concussed, Devoidov, What of Us and Ides. For our release
we wanted a diverse lineup of bands we would want to see/play
with and that we feel fit well together. It was probably
my first time reaching out to bands for a show and they
all said "yes" without me having to hound them,
so I have a good feeling about this show. As for future
plans, we are playing "Fest" in Florida in October.
Have you written any new songs since you recorded
We haven't. Both EPs are now available "everywhere"
Personal favorites such as Botch and more locally,
Kid Dynamite have been mentioned when describing your sound,
approach and overall delivery. What are some of the bands
that inspired you to play this style of music?
That's awesome that you think of those two bands when describing
our sound. I think you nailed it. Again, I can only speak
for myself, but I think our tone and sound comes from the
individual styles we brought from our past/current bands.
When I hear Vic, Adam and Greg on other recordings I can
usually always recognize that it's them. Outside of that,
I really like those "desperate" sounding bands
play with urgency and conviction. I was honored to be part
of one of the Dangers local shows back in the winter.
I would never describe your music as Horror Punk, the name
'Scary Stories' brings to mind acts like The Misfits and
such. What's behind the name?
We stole it from those children's books of folklore
with the terrifying pictures. I like it because it's nostalgic
for me and those books may be the first "dark"
art I was ever exposed to.
What would you say is your favorite song on the
EP? Which one do you think performs best in a live setting?
"Rope" is my favorite because I think it's the
most dynamic and is a good metaphor for the band in general.
"Numbers" seems to go over well live...it's a
quick burst that has a lot crammed into a small space. It
opens up at the end where the vocals kind of go between
the hits (after being directly on them) and I always think
that "space" in parts translates well live. The
breakdown of "White Plague" is probably my favorite
30 seconds of the Scary Stories output and I'm happy we
chose that to close the album.
What influences / inspires the lyrics?
They are all pretty personal except for the last 2 which
touch on politics a bit. The hardest one for me to write
was probably "Fall Cleanups" because it had me
examining my privilege and a certain hopelessness that I
feel at times that I can't justify or validate...I guess
that was my attempt with these words. All of the lyrics
are posted on our bandcamp and the EP comes with an insert.
I encourage you to read along! A lot went into them.
Brian Musikoff should need no introduction to the readers
of Jersey Beat.com. For decades he was Hoboken's favorite
friendly neighborhood bartender at Louise & Jerry's,
a mainstay in local bands like Friends, Roman, Countrymen
and Stuyvesant, and a brilliant cartoonist and illustrator.
(Brian drew two fantastic covers for Jersey Beat during
our print zine days as well as the poster for our 35th anniversary
party.) His sudden departure to Seattle took a lot of us
by surprise, and he's going to be missed. Happily, thanks
to the Internet, he's no more than a few mouse clicks away,
and shared with James Damion some remininscences about New
Jersey and his decision to head west. - Jim Testa
James Damion: When I got in touch
with Brian about our interview, he seemed curious as to
why I, or anyone else for that matter, would be interested
in doing or reading an interview with him. To be 110% truthful,
Brian perfectly fits the mold for most of the interviews
I've done or been interested in doing over the years. Getting
to know someone who's inspired me with their music, art,
or straight up creative nature interests me more than any
upcoming release date, tour or single.
For me personally, Brian Musikoff fits the bill for the
kind of interviews and exchanges I prefer to approach. Brian
is the artist who created the logo for my blog United By
Rocket Science, and was the charismatic bass player for
Friends, Romans, Countrymen and Stuyvesant (a band whose
music and live performances brought me more joy than I could
ever wish for. ) So much so that whenever I think of or
hear their music, I'm brought back to my time in Hoboken
as well as my nights at Maxwell's, the music venue that
first brought me to the now famed town in the early 90's.
I'm also very appreciative of Brian's time in helping me
build a bridge between my former home in New Jersey to brand-new
one in Seattle. Here's what he had to share.
(Interview and images by yours truly, James Damion.)
What was it that sparked your move to Seattle?
After being fought, fucked, and educated in the NY/NJ area
for 45 years of my life, I was suddenly overcome by an insatiable
desire to tear up my roots; something that (with the exception
of a 4 month stint in Newport, Rhode Island in '92) I have
never experienced before. I needed a change and I needed
to relocate myself to a slower urban environment. Over the
past 20 plus years, I have observed a very lame and grotesque
assimilation in the NYC area as far as being a cultural
epicenter is concerned. I'm speaking for no one else other
than myself here when I say that I have been feeling an
ever growing increased tension toward the new generation
of entitled and naive people who have outwardly exhibit
a blatant disregard for NYC culture, and toward those who's
basked sense of entitled security which has made them feel
comfortable enough to behave disrespectfully without consequence.
I have seen the greater wave of social and economic interest
entirely shut down the venues, shops, and restaurants that
I hold close to heart.
What were some of your initial impressions of Seattle?
Pros and cons for any East Coasters looking to move there?
As with any metropolitan area, the local true blue natives
are going to be understandably defensive against an influx
of newcomers and their affects on the local economic and
social climate. As far as the weather itself, newcomers
need to be prepared for long, wet, grey winters. The sun
only appears in bursts between November and February and
the cold misty rain is frequent. Personally, and to the
dismay of many defensive locals, I love the winter weather
in Seattle. I see it as "forest weather". I'm
here to contribute more than I take, and those few who are
opposed or uncomfortable with me being here have no choice
in the matter.
What do you miss most about New Jersey? In particular,
I miss the pizza, the "mutz", the NYC view along
the Hudson, our band Stuyvesant, my immediate circle of
dorks, my bartender family, and the proximity to the beach.
Have you had any musical collaborations since you've
been out there?
Not yet, but I shall.
(About Brian's "Live from the Barrage" podcast.) How
did you become involved? How do you stay involved being out
west? What is the key focus of the show?
I knew John and Patrick of LFTB largely through the independent
rock community, and not just here in NYC and NJ either.
I initially appeared on the the show as a guest and I guess
our host John Houlihan and producer Tömmy Röckstar
immediately picked up on my dedication to the mutual interests
associated with the show. Since I've moved away from the
NYC area I continue to support the show by booking guests,
designing the weekly promotional images, and promoting the
show on social media. The show is still focused on discussion
regarding (but exclusive to): good music and those who create
it, good comedy and those who best understand it, crap/not
crap, The Ryan Game, TRNN NOOZ, and Mario Asaro.
You grew up in a few stops from me in Bayside, Queens.
Some of my earleist adventures included heading to Flushing's
Main St. and eventually Mike's Comic Hut. Can you share
some of your early impressions of living in Queens?
I lived in Bayside, Queens until I was 11 years old, where
my experiences on my own were limited to nearby destinations
along Bell Blvd such as Peter Pan Arcade, White Castle,
George's Pizza, the Bayside Batting Range, and Bayside Cinema
(where I saw Empire Strikes Back, E.T., Stripes, and Poltergeist).
My grandparents lived in Flushing on Main Street so I was
there often, and of course this proximity made me a regular
attendee at Shea (whether legitimately or vagrantly, heh).
My dad moved around a lot but always remained in Queens,
so I've resided all over neighborhoods such as Forrest Hills,
Woodside, and Astoria.
| 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
You designed the logo for U.B.R.S. Aside from here and
the work you've done for Stuyvesant. Who else have you worked
I've designed animation for comedians such as Patton Oswalt
and Brian Posehn, and my clients include Warner Bros Records
and Relapse Records.
The bass has long been my favorite instrument. Was it
the first instrument you learned to play? Inspiration?
My first ever instrument learned was bass drum for my grade
school band. Moving on to junior high, I wasn't focused
enough or disciplined to study drums, so I started piano
(which sucked.) In high school, I fancied myself a Hardcore
singer with Wake Up Call, and by college I had taken up
bass because the band that I was in at the time (Overeasy
with Brandon Stosuy, formerly editor of Pitchfork) just
had their bassist quit. To this day I can still not play
chords. I live for pushing air and fattening riffs.
What was/were some of the first bands you played with?
My first ever band was in 1986, I played Casio keys for
a middle school rap group that consisted of two white guys
and two black guys called The Funky 4 (no relation to the
much more accomplished The Funky Four Plus One of the Bronx.)
We played talent shows and battle of the bands. In high
school, I was in a home-recording "basement band"
with my best friend called Spleverb. Spelverb were reminiscent
of Ween (I guess) and by the time of graduation we had evolved
to a full 4 piece band. I was in a few punk bands that never
got off the ground in the early 90s, and then in 1996 I
was introduced to the members of FRC.
I first learned about Friends, Romans, Countrymean from
Al Crisafulli (Dromedary / Sugarblast Records). Can you tell
me how you met Sean and how the band came to be?
Bill Dolan (American Standard) and I were both at the first
big Descendents reunion show at the Stone Pony where he
introduced me to FRC members Sean Adams and Dan Murphy,
who were in need of a bass player. So we connected really
easily being that, after all, we were together at a Descendents
show (no pun intended,) and we all lived in or around the
Hoboken/Jersey City area. I played and recorded with FRC
from 1996-2002, and then in 2003 Sean and I joined Ralph
Malanga from Footstone to form Stuyvesant.
If you had the chance to read my review of Tru's 2016 demo
and my thoughts on their performance in what was my first
and thus far, sole show review, you might get the impression
that I think that they’re all that and a big ole’
bag of chips. Well, while all that might be (no pun intended)
TRUE, I thought I proper to save my real enthusiasm for when
they put something on wax. Well folks, they just have. So
excuse we while I get a little bit excited here.
On the band’s debut self -titled four song EP, New
Jersey’s TRU blend burly bass lines and guitar hero
riffs that add muscle and texture to toned down dreamy vocal
landscapes. Mixing elements most likely to be found with
dream pop and shoegaze vocalsm, they weave a perfect web
that is virtually inescapable. The EP’s opening track
“Take a Peek” offers itself as a perfect introduction
to the band’s sound and approach with its warm and
uplifting sound. “Trouble,” a holdover from
their 2016 demo, follows with its warm and infectious vocals,
spiraling guitar, and supportive backbeat. “Kristi”
and “Hand in Hand” ride the same bus with warm
lead vocals and even warmer refrains. One can’t help
but fall in love with a band that so effortlessly blends
elements of guitar rock with the lush landscapes often found
in the best that shoegaze acts, both past and present, have
With members from local New Jersey acts such as Archie
Alone, Dutchguts, Lkffct, Threat 2 Society and Washington
Square Park, to name just a few, TRU’s personnel seem
like unlikely choice when it comes to creating such a chill,
laid back music environment. However, regardless of any
past or current associations. TRU strive and succeed in
creating artful sounds that see them escaping any and all
genre and geographical limitations. I can’t wait for
my record to arrive. Get it here...
Sweet Things – Love to Leave / Cocaine Asslicker Blues
Here I am about to write another long overdue review while
wondering why, after all these years, anyone would care about
my opinion on music. So, when my friend, Spaghettytown Records
founder Ted Dougherty handed me the latest and second label
release The Sweet Things “Love to Leave” single,
I quickly embraced my role as reviewer / skewer and got to
work on throwing my weighty opinion around.
As New York descends into becoming a giant strip mall for
tourists and high rise living yuppies with Wall Street salaries,
it’s good to know that there are still bands like
The Sweet Things fighting their way upward from the cracks
in the sidewalk that once fostered the likes of the Ramones,
N.Y. Dolls and Dead Boys with “Love to Leave”
and its Johnny Thunders inspired B side, “Cocaine
Asslicker Blues.” The Sweet Things finds influence
in various genres that include, but do not limit themselves
to the Blues, Southern Rock, 70’s Punk and straight
up Rock & Roll.
The Sweet Things introduce themselves with a boogie and
swagger that quickly resonates with this listener. Bringing
to mind 1970’s Rolling Stones as well as the grossly
underrated act known as The Faces. This single spins on
limited release pink vinyl. I suggest you get it while the
getting’s good. Get it here...
Fiendz – Fossils (Black Pumpkin Records)
If you lived in or travelled through New Jersey in the late
1980’s or 90’s, you most likely heard the Fiendz,
owned one of their records, and might have even seen them
play a show or two at the Pipeline or City Gardens or any
other lost yet beloved music venue sprinkled throughtout the
I must have been sixteen or seventeen when I was introduced
to the Fiendz by future Electric Frankenstein bassist Dan
Canzonieri. I have to admit it was a tough sale for a kid
from Queens who, at the time, worshiped at the altar of bands
like Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Agnostic Front. Let’s
just say harmonic songs about girls weren’t my thing.
It wasn’t until Dan handed me a copy of the band’s
first single, “Runaway with Me,” that I surrendered
to The Fiendz and their knack of creating catchy pop punk
that welcomed you to sing along to every note.
Before long, I was running into Joe and Jimmy at parties,
and making friends with them while learning about countless
other mutual fiendz.
The unreleased Fossils unearths recordings by
the classic lineup of Jerry Jones, Jimmy and Joe Darone,
with 10 songs written by Jerry and Joe and produced by Tim
(Rumblefish) Gilles, during what I would consider the band's
height. This material is easily comparable to the albums
We’re the Fiendz and Wact.
While the Fiendz most definitely found influence in the
likes of The Ramones and Jersey horrorcore greats The Misfits,
their sound was a mix of harmony and Power Pop. (What if
The Ramones had recorded End of the Century with
The Beach Boys Brian Wilson instead of the maniacal Phil
While I have to admit that I haven’t paid much attention
to The Fiendz in the decades since these songs were written,
I thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to hear this. Mostly
though, it was the memories of younger days. The Fiendz
are still playing and releasing music today, with Jerry
being the only original member. Fossils is available
on CD and in digital download.
– The Victory Years
Like many people my age. I was introduced to Warzone through
the Revelation Records EP compilation “Together”
and the band’s debut EP “Lower East Side Crew.”
Truth be told, my interest in Warzone became almost non-existent
after “Open Your Eyes” and the disastrous self-titled
mess that followed. By the time Raybeez and crew moved over
to Victory Records, I had all but moved on from Hardcore altogether.
So much so that I had no idea that The Victory Years
was originally released on CD in 1998, shortly after Ray’s
untimely death in 97’. Regardless, the vinyl release
had me reminiscing about a man who was instrumental in my
starting a NYHC fanzine around the same time their debut album
Don’t Forget the Struggle, Don’t Forget the
Streets” was staking its claim on the streets of
Along with Jimmy G. (Murphy’s Law) and Vinnie Stigma
(Agnostic Front,) Ray Barbieri (Agnostic Front / Warzone)
was one of the most original and endearing characters to
come out of New York City’s Hardcore scene and movement
Most surprisingly, these 17 tracks of Hardcore Punk and
Oi really stand the test of time, evoking memories of younger
days and reinstating my love for a style of music that,
for me at least, once represented a sense of acceptance
Thanks to this and the recently reissued Don’t
forget the struggle…, my appreciation has grown
for Warzone and Ray’s dedication to the music and
worldwide hardcore scene he helped create. Though the band's
message of positive thinking and unity could sometimes seem
a bit corny, it always came from a a very sincere and honest
place. The Victory Years are deserving of the attention
of anyone even remotely interested in hardcore, punk or
Oi. While you’re on the hunt, I urge you to also pick
up a copy of Revelation Records' recent reissue of Don’t
Forget the Struggle…Don’t Forget the Streetshere...
Aficionado – Volume 1 U.S. Hardcore / Punk 1978 –
How many times have we either kicked ourselves in the collective
consciousness for selling off our original punk and hardcore
records. (Oh those limited first pressings still haunt my
dreams.) Or wished we were around to pick up those round
stacks of wax when they bore their original “pay no
more” pocket change price.
As a kid growing up with a love and fascination for vinyl
records, I was always eager to see what was inside. The
lyrics, image, graphics and that oh-so-important “Thank
You List”. Information that made you feel closer to
the band as you listened to their music.
Record Aficionado goes further than many other books, fanzines
and record collecting websites, in that it goes beyond the
record cover to show the inner works and structure,
highlighting the records A and B side and reprints the record's
inlay/lyric sheet, stickers, record label advertisements,
as well as an accompanying record review from the time.
144 pages of two color printing featuring over 500 images
dedicated to every aspect of many hard to find, long out
of print EP’s that reshaped Punk while initiating
the birth of American Hardcore, from the Abused to Youth
of Today. Record Aficionado has it covered. Comparable to
Europe’s much sought after two volume Flex Discography,
all at a quarter of the price one volume would fetch.
Whether you regret selling that first pressing. Or, for
reasons beyond your control, were never able to grab an
original, Record Aficionado provides the visual stimulation
and/or blueprint for you to embark on your journey towards
record collection perfection.
While the book's binding leaves a bit to be desired. Its
content is as thorough as it is outstanding. The painstaking
attention to detail, cut and paste style and overall fanzine
style give Record Aficionada a personal touch that feels
as warm and intimate as your very own record collection.
An absolute must for record aficionados, collectors and
music archivists alike. For under twenty-five dollars. You
really can’t go wrong.
Worse – We Suck! (The Lost 1982 Album)
If it were not for ROIR’s cassette only label and its
now legendary “N.Y. Trash” compilation. My taste
and knowledge of Punk may have never gotten past the Clash,
Sex Pistols, Ramones stage of my early adolescence. For it
was that trip to Broadway’s Tower Records that I got
my first taste of Heart Attack, Bad Brains, Stimulators, Kraut
(A band who, thanks to my Mom, I had seen open for The Clash
at Bonds Casino), Even Worse and many, many more. And while
I was much too young to have gone to those shows at Max’s
Kansas City, A7 and the Great Gildersleeves. That particular
compilation served as a spring board for what was to come.
Even Worse, one of the many bands featured on “N.Y.
Trash” were an integral part of New York’s early
80’s punk, thrash, noise scene. A band who at different
times featured Beastie Boy co-founder John Berry (R.I.P.),
The Big Takeover creator/editor Jack Rabid, Thurston Moore
(Sonic Youth) and future “Noise the Show” host
Timmy Sommer. Even Worse played fast, up tempo punk rock
with bratty female vocals that can be compared to many of
their New York City contemporaries. As well as their West
Coast counterparts, Alice Bag (the Bags) and the Avengers.
Punk Thrash at it’s very best. It was post Pistols
/ Sid Vicious Punk. Pre-Agnostic Front era N.Y.H.C. Recorded
at the legendary 171A studios and co-produced by Bad Brains.
The album’s B side feature’s the band performing
live at the famed New York City restaurant/club/bar Max’s
Kansas City in 1981. (The same year it closed.) Imported
from Italy and limited to only five hundred copies on 180
Gram vinyl. “We Suck” includes rare images of
the band as well as very personal liner notes from the bands
drummer Jack Rabid. This is a must for fans of more obscure
and undocumented punk and prototypical art-punk.
“We Suck” does a fantastic job of encapsulating
a time and place in New York City’s proud music history.
One that I feel has been shrouded in mystique due to its
limited amount and incredibly hard to track down recorded
history. Here’s hoping that “We Suck!”
opens the doors to more lost treasures as well as re-issues
of long out of print release from bands such as Heart Attack,
The Mad and many, many more.
If your childhood consisted of trips to Korvettes, Woolworth
or Caldor, chances are your parents were either price savvy
or economically strapped. Growing up in Jackson Heights, Queens,
I myself was familiarized with 82nd Street's Woolworths at
a very young age. So, when New York City’s Caldor Kids
dropped their ten song self-titled ode to discount chain stores
in my email, I immediately got the connection.
On what seems to be their debut, Caldor Kids deliver a
set of geeky garage punk that reminded this listener of
a cross between old garage punk favorites Crimpshrine and
perhaps a poorer man’s Screeching Weasel. Though based
in New York City, Caldor Kids' sound, style and approach
feels like something that fell out of the Lookout Records
family tree. Fast, noisy, adolescent and loose with bratty
vocals, I felt an East Bay connection running through each
of the record's 10 songs. I really enjoyed the song “Pop
Tart” with its fast and loose bass attack as well
as the familiarity of “Caldor Kids” (a spoof
on the original “Toys R Us kids” commercial.)
Overall though, Caldor Kids hardly warrant more than a casual
listen or two. Beyond that, it just gets plain irritating.
As raucous as this might sound, Caldor Kids seem destined
for the circular file at your local discount store’s
cut out bin.
Cimdy and Pats’ Birthday Bash featuring Whiner, Tru,
Archie Alone, No Honeymoon, Puddle Splasher at The Meatlocker.
This past Saturday I headed west to Montclair’s Meatlocker
music venue for Pete and Cindy’s (Archie Alone drummer
and guitarist) Birthday Bash show. There was food, champagne,
friends, family and plenty of music. Five bands with varied
sounds that ranged from Shoegaze and Dream Pop to Emo and
Indie Rock performed. Over the years The Meat Locker has
been a consistent landing strip for local and touring bands
from varying sounds, styles and genres.
The venue's cavernous layout and sense of community combine
the structural feel of CBGB’s with the DIY ethos of
ABC No Rio. For me, personally, attending shows there has
become as much about the people as it is about the music.
Below are some images taken at and after the show. Happy
Birthday to Cindy and Pete.
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.
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
Fresh for your boom box comes a five-song demo cassette
from a new band that sounds as if it was carved out of an
80’s CBGB’s Sunday hardcore matinee. Featuring
membership from both the Garden State and Virginia, the
cast of Wall Breaker have played in such bands as Wormeaters,
Chainsaw to the Face and the very influential Coke Bust.
Wall Breaker come out of the gate swinging with a five-song
demo of raw, savage and blistering straightedge hardcore
you don’t often here in youth crew circles, asomewhat
rare trait that I found to be particularly impressive. Adding
speed and an updated sound to influences like Boston’s
S.S.D., Detroit’s Negative Approach and later 80’s
bastards of hardcore New York’s Life’s Blood.
The band's overall sense of purpose, swagger and intensity
allow Wall Breaker to set them apart from being just your
random act playing to their influences.
As I began to compose this review. I reached out and shared
the recording with some likeminded friends, including Life’s
Blood singer Jason O’Toole. The response was overwhelmingly
positive, and only served to reinforce my own feelings,
even though no one is being tested on their knowledge or
appreciation of music created when Reagan was still popping
jellybeans in the Oval Office. No matter the era, I always
find it easier to identify with a band that took the time
to listen, appreciate, and be influenced by such essential
stuff. For a band that is still very much in their infancy.
Wall Breaker really leaves a lasting impression.
The opening song “Wall Breaker” serves as a
perfect introduction with its forceful chorus: “Break
the fucking walls!!! Break the fucking walls!!!” “Autobiography,”
the band's fifth and final one, wraps things up rather well
with a short yet laugh educing skit. For someone just being
introduced to a new and current hardcore punk act, this
is about as good as it gets.
Cassette available through Absolute Contempt Records and
is is limited to 200 copies on pro duplicated white and
black cassettes (BE=100 white, AC=100 black) and glossy
printed covers. I suggest not sleeping on this one. Any
and all the money from donations and any profit from the
tapes goes to cat rescue as per usual.
While It might seem as if I’ve been hearing about New
Jersey’s Forever Losing Sleep… well, forever.
I can trace the first rumblings to an actual show they played
way back in 2014. I recall a friend talking up the band during
their exhaustingly long pre-show set up. Imagine my dissatisfaction
when what took nearly an hour to set up was sleepily performed
in a quarter of that time. A ton of build up with no climax.
To say the very least. I was not the least bit moved.
More than three years later I’m hearing the band
again for the first time again on a two-song split with
Boston, MA’s Arrowhead.
Forever Losing Sleep start things off with “Woken
by the Sun,” taking their slow, slower, slowest approach
to comatose depths of self-indulgent prog–rock indulgence.
Even when singer/guitarist Joe Kelly screams during the
9:00 plus minute track, it seems to be done while in a catatonic
state. Arrowhead follow, taking an almost exact sloth like
pace. The only difference being singer Tad Rios seems to
curse the sky a little louder. Perhaps trying to make up
for the nine or so less seconds it took to finish the song.
Regardless, it’s dull, duller dullest all the way
Being a long-time fan of the split single. I’ve learned
that combining acts with different sounds, ideas and aesthetics,
tend to make for a better listen. On this particular split,
though, I could find little to no differences between the
two. If you have the time in your life to devote your attention
to a couple of songs delivered in a snail’s pace of
17 minutes, more power to you. For me personally, it was
an exercise in misery. If I as ever to write a suicide note,
it would, in all likelihood, be accompanied by this release.
If George Orwell and Orson Welles ever set out to start a
Punk or Hardcore band, chances are it would sound a lot like
New Jersey’s Aguirre. Considering their 2015 demo ‘Poverty
Rowe’ was accompanied with a dark, black and white film
noir movie concept, the thought doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
Part demo, part film college thesis, it was as outlandish
as it was brilliant.
Come 2017 and the band has returned with their first full
length ‘Overexposed’. I was invited by singer
Patrick Flynn and drummer Paul Alan to give these ten songs
an authoritative listen before putting in my two cents.
To start with, ‘Overexposed’ does a lot to
set itself apart from what’s being called Hardcore
or Punk these days. Not to say that there is anything wrong
with being a Hardcore act in 2017. Or for that matter, any
year. It’s just that I haven’t heard a whole
lot that sets one band apart from the other recently. Musically,
‘Overexposed’ goes in a lot of interesting directions
you won’t hear from in your typical Joe Hardcore act.
Vocally, Aguirre lead a dark path with sinister vocals that
sound as if they were a prophetic narrative warning of darker
days to come. Timely, considering the current political
landscape. One can really appreciate the sense of storytelling
throughout. Whether intended or not, each of the 10 songs
feel connected, as if they were written with the intention
of being the score to a George Romero movie. I can say with
all honesty that I like where Aguirre are taking things.
“Overexposed” is available on cassette and digitally.
Point – "History Repeats Itself and We Never
Learn Fast Enough" EP (Bandcamp)
Greg Furlong is by far one of the nicest people I’ve
met through going to shows (my social media jabs regarding
his taste in music aside.) As the drummer for Basement Beers
and Scary Stories, he stands out as one of the best and most
animated stickmen in the state. Being how those two acts have
served me well in the somewhat recent past, I was eager to
give these newly recorded songs some attention and focus.
Having barely heard of the duo known as Moot Point. I approached
this two-song recording with little to no knowledge of the
band or the style of music they played, an approach that
didn’t change how completely off guard I felt upon
listening to these two short and very abrasive tracks. Raw,
unhinged, chaotic and dissonant would best describe the
sound being put forth on these songs.
Featuring Vince Basile (guitar/vocals/lyrics) and Greg
Furlong. “History Repeats...” two songs screamer
is more Power Violence, Screamo, Noise Rock than its predecessor,
2016’s garage rock friendly “Clockwatcher.”
With “A clear head of thought” and “History”
coming together in just about four and a half minutes, I
had a hard time judging just what it was I liked or disliked
about this particular recording. However, I’m grateful
in that it gave me the chance to compare it to their previous
recordings. Whether or not this is your kind of noise, it’s
definitely worth checking out.
I still recall the numerous times I stopped in to Some Records
when in route to the Sunday Hardcore matinees at CBGB’s.
It was the main spot to check out flyers for upcoming shows.
Peruse the latest Hardcore releases and pick up the latest
cassette demos from the latest bands in the scene. It’s
how I began to build my arsenal of demo tapes. It’s
where I picked up the first Breakdown demo.
Years later. After owning every conceivable reissue and
version of that original tape. The first full length LP
had me wondering whether or not to proceed. Was there anything
new to learn or hear. Was there any necessity in owning,
yet another copy? A full color 12X24 poster to tape to the
walls of my brother’s college dorm and extensive liner
notes to base my graduate school thesis on? Yes. A fully
restored recording of their live performance on WNYU’s
Crucial Chaos that I originally taped on my home’s
boom box? Check. In the end, though. A combination of nostalgia
meets familiarity made my purchase a sure thing.
Raw, unflinching and streetwise. The nearly thirty-year-old
demo still stands strong. The nine-song recording that almost
singlehandedly changed the face of New York Hardcore by
giving it a tougher edge. (One possibly absent due to bands
like The Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front’s fleeing the
lower east side due to touring commitments.) While almost
simultaneously offering a counterweight to Youth of Today
and the countless bands that were forming at the time.
Side A features the 87’ demo in its entirety. Nine
classic mosh classics like ‘Kickback’, ‘Life
of Bullshit’, ‘Vengeance’, ‘Labelled’,
‘You Gotta Fight’ and ‘Sick People’.
Great songs that reflected life’s everyday struggles.
To make this a full blast LP. The bands 87’s WNYU
Crucial Chaos greets side B. Their live set includes the
entire demo. Plus, the additional instrumental ‘Pipe
Breakdown would go on to be featured on such classic Hardcore
compilations as “In addition to recording another
classic demo and a couple of full lengths. The band would
be featured on the incredibly influential Revelation Records
“The Way it is”, Blackout Records “Where
the Wild Things Are” and one of the last tape collections
of its time. The “New Breed Compilation”.
For most though, it was the 87’ demo that would go
on to influence and become the springboard for countless
hardcore acts in and for decades to come. If you love Hardcore.
The 87’ demo should already be an important tool in
your box. If you ever wanted to educate yourself on the
development of late 80’s Hardcore in New York City.
This would be a great start.
I ran into an old friend at a local music venue the other
night. Though I hadn’t seen him in quite some time.
I felt more than comfortable reintroducing myself with a big
We talked briefly about music and in particular, our mutual
appreciation for guitarist John Mayer and singer / songwriter
Ryan Adams. As we broke the ice. I felt the doors for further
exchange were opened for further dialogue. So, I asked what
he had been up to since our last encounter. When he revealed
that he was currently playing in Rocky & The Chapter.
The smile on my face was hard to conceal. For it had been
just minutes’ prior when I was speaking to his former
bandmate, NGHTCRWLRS guitarist and Sniffling Indie Kids label
boss Frank Joseph about an upcoming record release show featuring
the very same act I am about to write about.
Following a handful of singles as well as 2015 full length
‘ New Day / Old’ Here. (A record I found to
be deeply rewarding.) ‘You are not Mine’ welcomes
the singer / songwriter back to the table with sweet, yet
sweeping melodies that move effortlessly throughout. Ones
that perfectly encapsulate a sense of warmth and the promise
of good things to come.
‘You Are Not Mine’ offers a crisp Pop sound
with enough kicked up guitar riffs to give it an undeniable
rock edge. The added cowbell effect to the infectious guitar
driven leads on ‘Lucky 13’ launched me from
the couch to my hardwood floors faster than any recent calls
to the dinner table.
The following and EP closing track ‘Talk Small’
had all the sinister edge and longing to perfectly wrap
up an otherwise celebratory affair.
Four songs that gave me a continued appreciation and respect
for the Singer/songwriter camp. Rocky’s voice has
a special pull that draws that the listener close enough
to the song to make them feel as if they’re a part
of it. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy this
weekend at Jersey City’s Porta.
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.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. on the downside. It has a way
of stealing your time, as well as your hard-earned money.
Spend too much time in the past and you'll find yourself
trapped there. On the upside. Or at least in this case.
Nostalgia has a strange way of freezing moments tucked so
far in your past. You never realized you had retained them.
As a teen, I spent most of my free and not so free time
involved in the New York Hardcore scene. The majority of
it, spent with the members and close friends of a band called
Gorilla Biscuits. During my senior year of High School.
The name “Beyond” would come up quite regularly.
High praise from Walter and Civ. Shortly after graduation.
I was invited to share a rather large Queens apartment with
Walter, Civ and Beyond drummer Allan Cage. It was during
that time I got a full-blown taste of what was a very special
and unique band.
Originally released in 1989 on David Stein’s Combined
Effort label and later reissued on compact disc by New York’s
Some Records. Revelation Records brings the epic New York
Hardcore release back to life with a well-deserved vinyl
While often bunched in with the bands like Youth of Today
and Gorilla Biscuits. (Bands they shared bills with as well
as common ground and philosophy.) Beyond's sound and influences
were had just as much in common with Iron Maiden as they
did Minor Threat.) With Metal tinged guitars, tribal drums,
and lyrics that travelled outside the boundaries of Hardcore
and Punks topics of the day.
Though short lived. Beyond personnel would quickly go on
to push the boundaries of Hardcore in acts such as Bold,
Burn, Shelter, 108, Quicksand, Seaweed, 1.6 Band, Last Crime
Featuring the albums original fifteen songs. “No Longer
at Ease” has aged incredibly well. The Metal tinged
guitar shredding and tribal drumming I mentioned sound just
as vital and fresh as they did when I was a teen. Add Kevin
Egan’s vocal urgency and the Vic Dicara’s sinister
bass work and you’ll find yourself listening to a
record that feels as just as urgent and necessary as it
felt when it was first released.
With liner notes by Walter Schreifels, song lyrics and the
option grey or red marble. “No Longer at Ease”
offers something for everyone. Beyond
on Revelation Records
– Between the Lines (Revelation Records)
Sharpen your X’s. Dirty up those old cargo shorts
and dust off that old backwards Thrasher cap. It’s
time to go back to that old reliable fountain of straight
edge middle aged youth with the debut six song 7 inch from
the newly formed SEARCH. Comprised of personnel from such
stellar New Jersey straight edge hardcore acts Mouthpiece,
Turning Point and Floorpunch. SEARCH set out to create music
in the vein of Youth of Today the youth crew movement that
initially influenced them to start bands as teenagers.
“Between the Lines” features six songs packed
with all the thunderous glory of Hardcore past and present
with fast and furious urgency and intent. Spirited guitar
leads, dep rolling bass lines and percussion. All led by
the familiar voice of Mouthpiece, Hands Tied and Triple
Threat vocalist Tim McMahon.
While Search have done an excellent job with “Between
the Lines”. Their debut is nothing one wouldn’t
expect from a group of straight edge kids in their early
to mid 40’s.
Reliable or just plain predictable. The band sticks to what
they know and love so closely. That it ends up sounding
more like an ode to the past than a look to the future.
The hope of hearing something new and fresh never presented
itself. Making the record somewhat of a letdown. Six songs
that would complement any of Revelation Records (1987-1989)
earliest classics. A nice, colorful slab of vinyl tucked
neatly into a pliable cardboard sleeve. Nice, but not all
that necessary. Search
on Revelation Records.com
Headhunters - The Rage of the City
Comprised of members of The Rival Mob, Step Forward and
more. NYC Headhunters represent a new breed of Hardcore
bands bringing it back to a resurging NYHC scene. Still
abuzz from the band's well-received 2015 demo. I was eager
to hear what the Headhunters debut 7' inch EP would offer.
True to Hardcore form. The NYC Headhunters haven't strayed
very far from the ingredients that made their demo so god
damned good. Cutthroat vocals that blend Hardcore's aggression
with street punk's urgency and sense of alienation. The
five songs offered on 'The Rage of the City' are each impressive
in their own way. Musically and lyrically tight with a sound
that frequently reminds me of late 80's NYHC without sounding
anything like a nostalgia act. Overall, 'The Rage of the
City' feels raw, real and very authentic. Painkiller
VISION – Against the Grain (Painkiller Record)
Following their 2015 self-titled cassette release on Mind
Rot Records. England’s True Vision return with their
debut EP 'Against the Grain'. Featuring members of Violent
Reaction, Shrapnel, Arms Race and The Flex. Their lineup
reads like a who's who in the ranks of England's most currently
celebrated Hardcore and Oi bands.
All parts considered. True Vision exhibit a complete and
total lack of originality or ability to create anything
even remotely original. Instead, sticking to a cookie cutter,
cut and paste, play by the book approach to straight edge
Hardcore. Whereas countless others have proudly worn their
influences on their sleeves. True Vision recorded a record
that feels sleeved in decades old clichés. Upon my
first listen to True Identity sounded more like a band covering
early Revelation Records EP’s than one creating their
own sound and vision. Energy and speed? Yes. Any sense of
a band creating their own identity? Absolutely not. Disappointing.
PACT - S/T 7' inch (Painkiller Records)
Formed by Dan, (Waste Management) and Ryan (Green Beret.
Two bands I admittedly have never heard of) as well as members
of personal favorites, Richmond's Wasted Time. Aggression
Pact is yet another band that finds influence days gone
by. With hints of A.O.D., B.G.K. as well as other acronym
leading bands of the 8o's. A.P.'s six-song debut EP wrecks-havoc
on the senses while endearing the listener to its savage
bar room brawl appeal. Intended or not.
On the bands six song debut EP. A.P. Do a very good job
of making an impact with their fast, razor sharp delivery
that doesn’t stop long enough for you to take a cigarette
break. And while I definitely felt a Boston / Choke / Slapshot
More closely, Aggression Pact reminded me of 'An Adjustment
to Society' era Kraut. (In case you've never heard of New
York's Kraut. That's about as good a compliment as you can
give.) An all-around excellent record from a band well worth
Bios are perhaps, one of the most overlooked parts of being
an artist, or in this case a band. So, when I read “We’re
a band from Jersey who like Weezer.” didn’t come
near describing the newly formed TRÜ. I reached to the
newly formed band’s bass player and friend for something
a bit more telling. Formed in late 2016 as a side project
for members of various local bands including, but not limited
to Dutchguts, LKFFCT,
Threat 2 Society and Archie Alone. What started out as a side
project for the four members quickly became a priority.
On their two-song demo, TRÜ produce sounds and ideas
unexplored in any output with the previously mentioned endeavors.
The chill, down to earth vibe on the demo’s second
track “Fool’s Gold” is just as seductive
on the ears. Perhaps offering more of a slightly more uplifting
vibe. With parts dream pop and parts shoe gaze. One can't
help but think of Belle & Sebastianne cruising down
the NJ Turnpike with Beach House riding shotgun.
TRÜ just recently recorded a 4 track EP 7” inch
EP at Nada Recording Studios with John Naclario. It's planned
Spring 2017 release on the soon to be born “Destroy
All Monsters” label. Though just a sample of things
to come. I felt TRÜ feft a nice calling card clearly
outlining the promise of things to come. Contact Tru
is an independently published music fanzine
covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage
music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State
area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music
fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming
bands and a resource for all those interested in
rock and roll.
is an independently published music fanzine
covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage
music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State
area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music
fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming
bands and a resource for all those interested in
rock and roll.