Jersey Beat Music Fanzine


Gross Polluter – Cynical Scumbaggery / Piss Popular (Rattown Records)

Fast punk rock out of Orange County, CA, Gross Polluter (formerly known as Smogtown) step out with two songs that are parts punk, part garage punk, and almost instantly forgettable. Though “Cynical Scumbaggery” and the B side “Piss Popular” briefly bring to mind classic bands such as The Germs and Crimpshrine, there’s nothing here that would warrant further listening or investigation regarding the band. Though I fully understand their might be an audience for Gross Polluter, I was not the least bit impressed.

Rat Town Records


Rat Fancy – Stay Cool (HBBTM Records)

On their 2019 debut Stay Cool, Rat Fancy unleash ten songs of fuzzy and warm jangle pop that feature some nice hooks, rhythmic jaunts and catchy melodies. However, after reading the press kit and bio for both Rat Fancy and lead singer Diane Barraza, I was quite surprised at how her voice is the one and only consistent reason I found Stay Cool to be so grating and unenjoyable. To each their own, and I might find myself in the minority here, but her chirpy and overwhelmingly bratty vocal approach made listening to these songs a painful experience. And while the album has its share of hooks, warm rhythms and fuzzed out remnants of jangle and power pop, it’s hardly enough to cover for that one rather large factor. The vinyl version comes with a download card that I almost immediately designated for the circular file.

HHBTM Records

Devo – This is the Devo Box (Rhino/Warner Bros.)

Here I am, weeks removed from the overwhelming crowds of Record Store Day 2019, still in awe over coming home with the grand prize that the Devo box set was, is, and will surely continue to be. The exclusive Record Store Day release served as both a time capsule and a vivid tour through the band's early recorded history.

Like many, I was only ten when introduced to the band through the video for “Whip it.” By then, I was already reaping the rewards on an allowance that included an album of my choice every other week. After seeing the video and hearing it at the local roller rink the following weekend, I chose “Freedom of Choice” based entirely on the single. What I didn’t expect but was jazzed to learn was that the entire album was amazing. From the thunderbolt charge of “Freedom of Choice” to the quickened pulse of “Girl U Want,” I was transported to this outer world of geek-strong “beam me up and take me to your leader” nerdism.

The box set features the six albums released by Warner Bros. between 1978 and 1984: . Q: Are We Not Men?, We Are Devo! (1978), Duty Now for the Future (1979), Freedom of Choice (1980), New Traditionalists (1981), Oh, No! It's Devo (1982), and Shout (1984.) Housed in a sturdy box, repressed on a different color vinyl showing the original art work and covers, the sound quality is outstanding and I can honestly say, I enjoyed unwrapping and listening to each record as a whole. While I’ve continued my appreciation of Devo over the years, I’ve admittedly done so by listening to collections of their work and an occasional spin of Freedom of Choice.

Listening to each of these records chronologically had quite an endearing effect on me. The box itself is limited to 3,000 copies. And while I fully understand both the monetary cost (around $120) and time it might take to listen to each album, I still hold it in the highest regard. Whether or not you decide to seek out the box set, I highly recommend looking into Devo’s recorded works.



Tri-State – Hey Pal

While I can’t quite remember who first alerted me to the term “Dad Rock”. I can authoritatively narrow it down to either Jim Testa, (Jersey Beat) James Appio, (Cool Dad Music) or Al Crisafulli (Dromedary Records.) Which brings me to Essex County Dad Rockers Tri-State. Formed in 2010, and featuring Jeff Zelevansky (guitar/vocals), Brady McNamara (drums), Julian Brash (guitar/vocals), and Scott Stemmermann (bass,) Tri-State’s music can be best described as a laid-back pop rock affair. Hey Pal carries a warm, lived in vibe highlighted by plenty of hooks, harmonies and guitar driven melodies. The album features nine songs, with the opener “Toasts and Boasts” and “First Responder” being personal favorites. (RIYL The Hasbros, Bastards of Melody and the Anderson Council.)



The Heavy – Sons

When I was first introduced to England’s The Heavy, I couldn’t help but feel that soul music was on a brilliant crash course with rock & roll. When first introduced through the lead single “How You Like Me Now?” from their 2009 sophomore effort The House that Dirt Built, I felt that I almost immediately was being treated to something special.

Fast forward ten years and I’m getting a similar vibe from a somewhat old and familiar place. Sons opens like a neutron bomb with “Heavy for You,” its screaming guitars, pounding rhythms and Kelvin Swaby’s soulful screams calling out “I got taste/ I got lust/ I got all those things that you want. “ From there, it’s just one groove-heavy soulful trip that combines classic R&B and eccentric rock that features a lot of interesting twists and turns. (Including the electro-funk inspired “Simple Things.”) If you’re a fan of James Brown, Jimi Hendrix or Sly & the Family Stone, you should feel right at home with Sons. Though I found it hard to scale this album down to just a couple of praise worthy offerings, I couldn’t end this review without noting that “Heavy for You”, “Better as One” and the album's closer “Burn Bright” deserve serious accolades as well as countless returns to the dancefloor. And while it’s rare that a band that gave me instant gratification year agos still feels vital and irreplaceable, this one does.

The Heavy


Shit Kid – Detention

When you’re a kid, a common tactic of bullies is to call another out as weird or weirdo. Though intended to be hurtful, it ultimately means you don’t fit in with all the squares who choose to walk a straight path or care to fit in with the status quo. As you get older, that weirdness takes you places while enabling you to thrive in creative areas far beyond those of your peers.

Which brings me to Stockholm, Sweden’s Shit Kid aka Åsa Söderqvis. In listening to Shit Kid for the first time, I found myself swimming in the pool of weird genius that was both simple and brilliant. Each song carries the warm simplicity of a home recording, while still sounding clean and tight in all the right places.

Söderqvis’ approach feels like a strange yet compelling cross between a young Liz Phair and early Lilly Allen. Åsa’s voice can be bratty and commanding while vulnerable and innocent at others; at times off key, yet completely on target.

“Detention” features eight songs that carry a sense of intimacy and vulnerability, one that feels honest and integrally quirky. In listening to “Detention” on vinyl, I felt myself falling deep into a spell of the songs featured on Side A, with the opening title track “Detention”, “Romance”, “Last Mistake” and “Summer Vacation” becoming instant favorites. Still, flipping over to the B side quickly led me to “Home Wondering (I don’t want to go to prom.)” and “Lost in Dreamland.”

In listening to “Detention” and reading up a bit on Sweden’s Shit Kid. I got the feeling that I was experiencing something different, unique and somewhat special. Kind of like the first time I heard Bjork’s voice with the Sugarcubes.


The Sweet Things – Borrowed Shoes on Borrowed Time (Spaghetty Town Records)

After two praise-worthy singles on Spaghetty Town Records, The Sweet Things return to the turntable with more of the rock n roll swagger that made them so appealing to those longing for a return to rock's edgy, street wise depravity.

On their debut full length, New York’s Sweet Things strike hard with ten songs that showcase their knack for creating dirty, bluesy and totally infectious style rock & roll. With elements, reminiscent of the Stones, the Stooges and the New York Dolls, The Sweet Things seem hell bent on bringing back a somewhat dangerous street wise edge to the genre. There’s definitely a Jagger/ Richards kind of kinship between guitarists/ vocalists Tierney and Behrman, one that has me visualizing them cozying up to one another to share the mic at shows.

There’s a lot of guitar swagger on tracks like “Liquor Lightning” and “Fix to Kick”. However, on songs like the title track, “Borrowed Shoes and Borrowed Time” and the aptly titled “Drained” the band show their ability to change pace and take it down a notch. Aside from the songs I mentioned, you be hard pressed to find a deuce in the deck. As for me, my personal favorite was the fiery and raucous “Through the Cracks of the City”. If you’re looking for a stand out guitar rock band with a punk twist. Look no further.

Spaghettytown Records


L’mour – Look to the Artist: 1978-1981 (Beach Impediment Records)

When you approach the highway of late 70’s/ early 80’s, you’ll quickly notice the monuments built to bands like Cheap Trick, The Knack, The Cars and many more, each and every one of them worth both our praise and air guitar salutes. For, if it were not for them, we might have dragged out vapid versions of punk rock for a few more years or dived right into a synth saturated world of emotionally void new wave.

But what about the many power pop acts that populated that same highway, yet never received the same spotlight or praise that say, Cheap Trick, The Knack or the Cars continue to rightfully receive? What about the countless other bands that cut their teeth honing their look at style at bars, clubs and local halls? What about Richmond, Virginia’s L’mour and the fourteen-song discography “Look to the Artist”?

Compiling fourteen songs recorded between 1978-1981, “Look to the Artist” documents L’mour’s recorded history in its entirety. Most of what is featured here is very basic, run of the mill, three chords and six pack rock 'n’ roll, material that might have been improved through a better recording and a more hands on producer. If you choose to read the bio while listening to the music, you’ll have a hard time matching the two. Sure, there are some good bass lines sprinkled here and there, but not nearly enough to mask the terrible vocals, muffled guitars and distant drums. Overall ‘Look to the Artist” is a complete and total mess that took more than couple of attempts to get all the way through. While it’s usually an enjoyable adventure, tracking down lost recordings or a band that might have, fpr whatever res]ason, slipped through the cracks. Listening to L’mour only serves a reminder that some things are best left unfound.

For more information about L’mour, or to order, go Here.


Weezer – The Teel Album (Crush/Atlantic)

There comes a time in any band or artist’s creative life when the chemistry or ability to write songs of an impactful nature begins to gray. Though the causes can vary, it’s something that eventually happens to everyone. Unfortunately, perhaps due to contractual obligations, ego, or whatever keeps them from realizing that the magic they once wielded in long gone, they keep going. Sadly enough, the once great Weezer continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence brought up in this case.

While there was a time when listening to a Weezer album was rewarding. (Think “Pinkerton” or “The Blue Album.”) Those days are decades past. Since then, it’s felt as if the band has basically been phoning it in while relying on indie cred and an occasional night of drunken karaoke

Look no further than a collection of cover songs to prove my point. Weezer’s attempt at
covering FM radio staples such as Toto’s “Africa” Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” and The Turtles “Happy Together” sound tired and void of any injection of wit or sense of humor.
While I’ve never one to shy away from a cover or two, “The Teel Album” and Weezer’s vapid attempts at relevancy just serve up more proof that Cuomo & Co. need to check their answering machine and check their inbox featuring the countless messages to stop recording.


Maximum Penalty – 89’ Demo (Vinyl Reissue) (Reaper Records)

Maximum Penalty represent an important place and time in my experience with New York Hard Core. At the time of its release, I was waist deep in the second issue of my fanzine Unite, sitting in on studio sessions and recordings and going to just about every hardcore show I could sniff out. Though it signaled the beginning of the end chapter of the second wave of New York Hardcore, I myself, could not have possibly felt more at home.

Though often finding themselves on a bill and being compared to the likes of Breakdown and Raw Deal (a band that would soon to become known as Killing Time,) Maximum Penalty seemed a bit more soulful, maybe even spiritual, perhaps due to their lyrics, Jimmy Williams' soulful growls and Millie’s groove heavy bass lines. Musically, the band merged elements of hardcore, metal and hip hop to create a sound that would go one to become common place with countless other hardcore acts of the 90’s.

Songs like “Acceptance”, “Hate”, “Nowhere to Turn to” and “All Your Boyz” have aged well since first appearing on the demo some thirty years ago. Featuring the original nine songs that appeared on the 1989 cassette tape as well as an isolated vocal recording of “All your Boyz.”

Presented in a gatefold cover, including a 12’ X 24’ fold out poster featuring show flyers and images from back in the day and a digital download. The first pressing is limited to 600 copies and comes on blue vinyl.

My one complaint, and this is one that has nothing to do with the music: Upon opening the poster, I noticed a photo I had taken thirty years ago appears in the collage. I was never approached, informed, credited or compensated for its use.

Reaper Records

Tied Down – Self Titled (Refuse Records)

Hailing from the Northeastern corner of England and featuring members of Vorhees and Break it Up, Tied Down take a similar approach to what they put forth in the past. When you name your band after a Negative Approach song, chances are you’re going to sound a lot like Negative Approach. And while there’s nothing wrong from finding influence in one of the great architects of the genre, it doesn’t necessarily give your band a shot at longevity or credibility. That said, I have to admit coming away with an overall positive opinion of what I heard in these five songs. Though from England, Tied Down sound as if their influences come from across the Atlantic in cities like Boston, New York and other areas where Hardcore music found its origins.

Tied Down


The Wanna-Bes – Broken Record EP (Mom’s Basement Records)

Don’t let the band’s name fool you. Longview, Washington’s The Wanna-Bes are about as convincingly authentic as a rock band can get. On their latest single and follow up to their 2017 full length “Out Went the Lights,” The Wanna-Bes mix elements of punk, power pop and hard rock to create pulsating rock & roll with a big guitar sound, driving rhythms and sneering vocals. “Broken Record”, “Talk to You”, “I’m a Drag” and “Hangin’ On” each teem with rock & roll authenticity, exuding a confident swagger and confidence, reminiscent of bands like The Rye Coalition, Rocket from the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu. These four songs will make your dick harden with an adrenalized shot of bombastic energy and passion.

The Wanna-Bes


Eat My Fear – Taking Back Space (Refuse Records)

“Taking Back Space” is the 2nd EP from Berlin, Germany’s queer, feminist hardcore act Eat My Fear. The four-member band play a type of screamo punk core that can best be compared to the Riot Grrl movement of the 90’s. (Think Spitboy meets Bratmobile.) My first and lasting impressions of this six song EP were not good ones, as I found the vocalist's mix of dysphoria and ear piercing screams to be both scathing and unlistenable, ultimately failing to succeed in delivering any intended message. While somewhat comparable and inspired by Olympia, Washington’s G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside of Society’s Shit,) Eat My Fear fail to come close to warranting praise or even the most casual listen.

Eat My Fear


The Membranes – What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away (Cherry Red Records)

Old punks never die…. Or so I’ve been told. Which is notable, considering England’s The Membranes joined the punk circus way back in the late Seventies. Originally formed out of Blackpool, Lancashire in 1977, The Membranes' style of dark post punk was highly influential on bands such as Sonic Youth and Big Black before eventually calling it a day. Since resurrecting in 2009, The Membranes have kept busy recording and touring the world and performing at festivals.
On their latest, the soon to be released “What Nature Gives .. Nature Takes Away,” the Membranes whet the source with its brand of dark and sinister post punk. There are additional strokes of goth and psychedelic rock that deepen the already murky romantic undertones of the songs. In listening to this, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if Glenn Danzig teamed up with the Stranglers with the sole intention of writing love songs?”
Featuring sixteen songs, “What Nature Gives…” is being promoted Cherry Red Records as a double LP. RIYL bands like Joy Division, Mission UK or My Bloody Valentine.

The Membranes

Frontside – Society’s View

Wow, talk about surprises! Due to the EP’s rudimentary artwork and title, I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting much. Yet, Frontside’s five song EP “Society’s View” impressed me right out of the gate. The San Diego, California five piece play a raw, no frills version of hardcore that has a first wave appeal, with short bursts of fast, yet even paced guitar driven anger and aggression, creepy crawl rhythms and bass lines, and snarled yet easily comprehendible vocals. Frontside have it all covered. Having been quite pleased regarding what I’ve thus heard from Safe Inside Records. I’d highly recommend looking into the label and the bands that call it home. This looks to be a digital only release. So be sure to check out their Bandcamp.


Autoclave – S/T (Dischord Records)

It’s been quite a while since an Autoclave EP spun on my turntable. Considering I sold all my original records some twenty years ago, I’m guessing 25. So when I saw that Dischord was reissuing a remastered 12’ of their original EP’s, I excitedly added it to my cart. Members of Autoclave would go on to form and perform in notable acts such as Team Dresh, Helium, Slant Six, Wild Flag and Ex-Hex, to name a few.

Like many of the Dischord bands that preceded them. Autoclave challenged the perceptions of what punk, or in this case, post punk should sound like, with a sound more akin to what would come to be known as Math Rock, an approach that features complex chord structures and start, stop progressions. Perhaps inherent to their more complex approach or the fact that they were an all-female band playing within what was essentially a boy’s club, Autoclave stood out.

The record compiles eleven remastered songs from their 7-inch EP and two additional songs, each of which provides an interesting yet complex trip through the past.

Dischord Records

POW! – Shift

Okay, to start things off, let me first say that prior to being sent this submission, I had never heard of or had any previous knowledge of POW! With that said, I can approach this review, or to better put it, observation, without any personal preconceptions or prejudice. Weird and unconventional in every sense of the world, POW! possesses so many interesting and quirky elements that it would be senseless to attempt to pin them down or fit them into some convenient compartment. Think Kraftwerk meets Devo meets a cyber, horror punk version of Gary Newman on the set of Stranger Things: Gloomy, dark, haunting and as good as it gets. If space punk were ever to become a thing, POW! Would surely be the band to man the first shuttle. Though punk has tried the spacey electronic approach with varied results over the years, POW! Seem to pull it off effortlessly.


Charlie Sub and the Sound Dogs- The Bronx is Burning

I was having a conversation with my wife this morning about my first trips to the Bronx and how the burnt-out buildings and crack heads interested me so much more than the zoo we were driving to. So it's ironic was given a submission featuring a title that closely resembles that earlier conversation, even when realizing that Charlie Sub and the Sound Dogs sound nothing like anything that ever came out or went near the area.

The 4-song EP opens with a 38 second instrumental that had me thinking I was being treated to something in the realm of Charlie Parker or John Coltrane. (Which, by the way, would be both inviting and satisfying.) While undoubtedly soulful and bluesy, their overall sound feels way too polished and corporate sounding for my taste, perhaps even outdated by today’s standards. “The Bronx is Burning” features some rich instrumentations, keyboards and horns. However, it seems to lack any sense of character or grit, important traits that often draw one to an artist or genre of music. Charlie Sub and the Sound Dogs walk a tightrope between orchestral rock and country music. You know, the kind of stuff you Dad might put on in the car or mention he got complimentary tickets to see when he booked his hotel room in Atlantic City. Though parts of the Bronx may still be burning. C.S.S.D. surely didn’t start it.


Bad Reputation – Music from the original motion picture soundtrack

Growing up, the walls of my bedroom were covered with Joan Jett posters. I had a scrapbook featuring every Joan Jett article and interview I came across. I even convinced my Mother to take me to a Hell’s Angels benefit where she was performing. To say I was a fan would be a major understatement. Looking back, one of my greatest opportunities as a writer and photographer came years later when I was given a photo and backstage pass to an Irving Plaza show where Joan Jett & the Blackhearts headlined a show that included the Eagles of Death Metal and Valiant Thor. A co-founder of the Runaways (the first all-girl hard rock act,) solo artist, long time front woman for Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, producer, actress, and vocal supporter of the LGBTQ community, Joan Jett has more than earned her title as an icon as well as a member of the Rock & Roll hall of fame. The upcoming rock doc on Joan Jett’s life in music looks to be honest, raw and unrelenting. Getting my hands on the soundtrack was just the grease I needed to get my motor working. The perfect appetizer for what is sure to inform as well as well as raise more than a few nostalgic hairs.

“Fresh Start” opens the 18-song soundtrack with the classic Joan Jett & the Blackhearts stomp-the-yard bounce and pomp. The iconic and untouchable title track “Bad Reputation” follows with an equally strong presence. The early recording of “I Love Rock n’ Roll” with former Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook. (two musicians who contributed to her first solo record) sounds hollow and tinny, yet it highlights the earliest sessions that would bring Jett to the forefront. “Androgynous” featuring Miley Cyrus & Jayne Joyce is by far, the worst song on the album, sounding more like a drunken attempt at karaoke than a well thought out collaboration.

There are so many great and instantly recognizable songs to be had here, most of which we’ve been blasting over our speakers since the early Eighties. “Bad Reputation,”“Do You Want to Touch Me (Oh Yeah,)”“Victim of Circumstances” and many, many more. Listening to the soundtrack brought back a lot of great memories and made me look forward to seeing the movie. Joan Jett is more than worthy of the icon status put upon her. I’m really looking forward to seeing and hearing her finally tell her own story. Until then.


The Police – Every Move You Make (The Studio Recordings)

If you got into music in the early 80’s, chances are The Police are your favorite band, or at least one of your favorite acts to date. Record sales and chart topping singles aside, Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland wrote and recorded many of the era's best songs. Though known widely for their pop rock wisdom, the trio would at times, venture into jazzier territory, most evident on songs such as “Murder by Numbers” and “Tea in the Sahara.”

Every Move You Make features each of the band’s five studio albums - 1978 ’s debut Outlandos D’Amor, 1979’s Reggatta De Blanc, 1980’s Zenyatta Mondtta, and 1981’s Ghost in the Machine. And their swan song, Synchronicity. Each has been half- speed remastered at Abbey Road Studios and pressed on high quality 180-gram vinyl, making for noticeably superior listening quality, one that truly enhances the overall experience. (More about half-speed remastering here.) Also included, and this was the clincher for me, is a bonus LPm “Flexible Strategies,” which features the B–sides of the many singles the band released. The box itself is quite sturdy, and the snug fit makes expelling the records from its shell somewhat of a task. However, any audiophile would be grateful regarding the construction.

My only complaint, if it is one, regards the 12 X 12 book that’s included. Though it’s pages are loaded with many rare and often intimate images, there’s no commentary, essays, or text to be found. Any fan of the band, myself included, would love to read stories about or by Sting, Andy and Stewart. Or perhaps, at the very least, stories and observations from the many bands and artists who found inspiration in their music. I found this to be a major misstep in regards to the release and the only noticeable one worth mention. The original price of $130 has skyrocketed to about $200 on Amazon since its initial release. I’d suggest nosing around both online and at your favorite record store before plucking down the extra cash.

Whether you’re a fan, completest or audiophile junky, you’d be remiss in not investing in this limited-edition release. And while career spanning box sets can be hit or miss due the often-heavy price tag and the sheer amount of music, I found the packaging and mastering of the bands recorded output to be overwhelmingly positive. Considering this is a limited run, I’d advise seizing the moment when the moment is here.

The Police Official


Giuda – E.V.A. LP (Burger Records)

As one who doesn’t really follow music trends or pay any attention to the charts or mainstream music, relying on friends whose taste in music consistently provides inspiration, as well as plain old ear to the underground habits. I’ve managed to stay informed when it comes to music that might appeal to me on one level or another. In the case of Italy’s Giuda, I owe a great debt to longtime friend and Spaghettytown Records kingpin, Ted Dougherty. For, if it were not for him, I may have never been given the chance to get a taste of what Italy’s Giuda were cooking up.
On their latest ten song LP, the band continues to quicken the pulse, keep the toes tapping and the hands clapping along with each note. Listening to any Giuda track is an exercise in mirth. An act of celebratory indulgence that feels as natural as it does necessary. Overall E.V.A. exudes with confidence and good time swagger. Somehow, I feel as if Giuda found a lot of influence in 70’s power pop, punk, disco and glam. “What if the Bay City Rollers took on a more glam punk role?” E.V.A. is outstanding throughout. With all its bounce and pomp, with all its uplifting and upbeat rhythms, I can’t help but equate Giuda’s sound to punkish power pop meets roller derby’s energy and vibe.



Dyke Drama – New Hard Pills

Whenever I visit Olympia, I’m sure to make a pit stop at 5th Avenue to pay a visit to Rainy Day Records. The selection, staff and atmosphere each provide a special experience for every visitor, whether they’re a local regular or, like myself, an out of towner. What I’ve come to really look forward to is their attention to promoting local artists. And though I might find myself overlooking an artist with the name Dyke Drama, the store’s detailed description and mention that Dyke Drama was the post G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside of Societies Shit) project/nand of singer Sadie Switchblade caught my attention. New Hard Pills follows 2015’s Tender Resignation and 2016’s Up Against the Bricks.

In listening to Dyke Drama and New Hard Pills for the very first time. I couldn’t help but get swept away by the fast paced and upbeat energy Sadie puts forth. Songs song with a passionate aggression and urgency, though presented on a 12" format. The 45 rpm record only features four songs, each of which became instant favorites. Think punk rock aesthetic and energy without the tired clichés that often accompany punk music.

Dyke Drama


The Cheap Cassettes – "Worse N’ Better" / "Hieroglyphics in Lipstick"

Seattle Washington’s The Cheap Cassettes return with a new single that continues to boost the band's power pop presence and overall ability to create edgy hooks and …
Simply said, The Cheap Cassettes have forged a path so formidable that I can’t help but feel that an underground revival of power pop, i’s hooks and resounding honesty, has the nessasary chops to keep it relevant for years to come.


Fried Egg – Square One

Naming your band Fried Egg could mean a number of things. Either you suck and don’t plan on sticking around too long; you’re really good, but didn’t put a lot of time or thought in to naming your band; or you really don’t give a fuck either way. In listening to Square One, I was convinced that they just didn’t give a fuck.
Virginia’s Fried Egg combine the latter two to offer something that will have you throwing yourself into the pit and looking to share or steal the mic. D–Beat punk meets an early American hardcore sound with an in your face, basement show authenticity. In listening to the nine songs on Square One, you can sense influences from early Black Flag, as well as Detroit’s Negative Approach and Boston’s SSD. Square One, the band’s first full length to date ,features nine scorchers that warrant numerous listens as well as an exploration of their earlier recordings. I highly recommend checking out their bandcamp and booking them for your next show.

Fried Egg


Colour TV – Some People

Sussex County, NJ trio Colour TV step out with what looks to be their first EP to date,
three songs of dull, uninspiring blues-rock that took me nowhere. The slow-moving opener “Some People” features the lyrics “Some people are slaves. Some people are free.” “Some people are blind. Some people can see.” The following entry “Don’t Feel Right” ups the energy level but suffers in that the vocal energy just isn’t there. “Nothing Is” stays flat despite the promise that you’re free to go now. The show is over. Overall, these songs just feel lazy and uninspired. Though I tried to find some background information on the band, my search came up empty. The only saving grace here is… Wait, there was no saving grace.



The Specials - Encore

Original members Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, and Horace Panter return under the name in which they originally formed in 1977 to perhaps revive and test to see if any of those creative juices were still flowing. My first, second and third reactions when listening to Encore were very good. Yet somehow, I couldn’t help but think these songs would be best served under a moniker other than The Specials.

“B.L.M.,” with its infectious rhythms, will have you feeling as if you’ve been invited to Kingston, Jamaica, complete with a Studio One reggae and dub spirit throughout. Side B’s “10 Commandments,” by far my favorite cut on the album, had this pessimist believing in what I was hearing.

Like with most albums, Encore has its highlights and lowlights. Yet, as far a reunion, comeback, and “first record in longer than you can recall” albums go, Encore was a true joy. As a lifelong fan of the Specials, this album threw me a curve, in that it isn’t the second wave ska I will always remember about their sound. The application of reggae, dub and rock steady found on these twelve new offerings (each important ingredients that inspired the sounds of Two Tone Records and each wave of ska) are quite good. And though the album definitely has it’d good and not so good moments. Approaching it without any high expectations allowed me to enjoy the album more than I would have I been expecting to hear something likened to, say, “Ghost Town” or their legendary 1979 self-titled The Specials.

The Specials

Cyclone Static – From Scratch (Mint 400)

Music has a power to take you places, whether it’s geographically or some journey through time, something I was immediately reminded of upon getting my first taste of the band Cyclone Static. The band's gritty guitar rock sound, sneering vocals and the devious rhythms featured on From Scratch had me longing for the dirty clubs and basements I frequented back east. I can go on and on about James Salerno’s imprint on the local scene or the fact that the ten songs on From Scratch represent Cyclone Static’s debut. However, bands and releases such as this one deserve to be searched and routed out by potential listeners. Let’s get right to it.

As noted earlier, Cyclone Static are crafted practitioners of guitar rock that doesn’t refrain from occupying some post punk, post core territory. Favorites include “Runaway” (thankfully, not a cover of the Bon Jovi song of the same name.) and “Sacred Island,” with it’s cool rhythms and gritty vocals. Also worth noting are the opening chords and bass lines that cut through “Company Man” which bring to mind AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Way To The Top.” From Scratch rocks throughout these ten songs, further proof that guitar rock is not just chic revival, but more like a sleeping dragon that has returned nourished and prepared to breath new fire.

Cyclone Static


Radon – More Of Their Lies

Not to be confused with the great Kentucky Post Core mathematicians Rodan, Gainesville, Florida’s Radon were more known for the melodic pop punk sound they brought to their community and to the world, one that was influential on many but would take years to be brought to the mainstream. For what it’s worth, Radon was always a band I let someone cut me in line so as to avoid seeing, hearing or investing time in. Regardless, that was then and this is now. So, with new ears and an open mind, I sat down and gave the Florida band a thorough listen. Fast forward to 2019 and Radon sound a lot like they did to me in the Nineties.
There’s some bounce to go with “More Of Their Lies'” twists and turns. However, the highlights and the energy usually found in the pop punk formula seems absent. Instead, those elements get lightly sprinkled throughout and hardly outweigh the ones where Radon just feel like they’re phoning it in. Overall, this record did nothing to change my feelings about the band, their music, or their legacy.

Dead Broke Rekerds


Protein – "Alive" 7-inch EP (Refuse Records)

The bio for Poland’s Protein certainly gives them a lot of credit for the band's hard work promoting hardcore and straight edge ethics through their label Youth2Youth Records. Yet who are we to argue with the written word or the many good deeds the band has done for Europe’s hardcore and straight edge community? Though from Poland, Protein’s sound and approach is cut from the American Hardcore text book. While influences ranging from Turning Point and Floorpunch are predominant throughout the band’s sound, Protein mention Belgium’s True Colors as a major influence. I can’t help but think how they too were products of American hardcore acts such as Youth of Today. While these six songs sound rather impressive, a debut worth noting, you’d be hard pressed trying to convince yourself that you’re not listening to any random 90’s straight edge hardcore act which was, for the most part, a revival of the 80’s.

Refuse Records


Shiners Club – Can’t Have Nice Things (Indecision Records)

Whoever said “Old dogs can’t learn new tricks” never met the members of Shiners Club. Not to describe or compare these hardcore scene veterans as old dogs, but somehow, that old phrase best describes the lack of veracity in that statement. Shiners Cub and their debut LP “Can’t Have Nice Things” show that, despite their life long connections to hardcore music, they are more than capable of making music outside the confines of that sub-genre. The music itself has a dark tone that might move in the direction of hard rock and 90’s indie rock territory. (Think Laughing Hyenas and Afghan Wigs.) Though “Can’t Have New Things” offered a good listen, each of the twelve songs seemed to be on the same the same wave length rather than one song flowing or connecting to the other. I felt as if I was listening to one long winded breath of air. Overall, ”Can’t Have Nice Things” took several go throughs before garnering my appreciation, with “Touch my Face” being the first to grab my attention.

Regardless, it seems as if Shiners Club saved the best for last. As the final two songs, the devilish “Mia Culpa” and the title track “Can’t Have Nice Things” stood out and would arguably be the best on the album. Not a bad effort by any stretch of the imagination. Still, one that took some coaxing to properly appreciate. Looking back, I find it important to note that many of the records I get the most mileage out of stalled upon their initial go-round. Somehow, I feel that Can’t Have Nice Things will grow on and with me in time.

Indecision Records


Regres – "Tu I teraz" 7- inch (Refuse Records)

Back in the late 80’s when I had a zine called Unite, I somehow managed to extend its reach outside of the U.S. to Europe and parts of Asia. During that time, I managed to procure a small yet rewarding collection of pen pals. One of them that will remain unnamed introduced me to European hardcore and in particular, his country of origin, Poland, memorable exchanges that not only served as an eye opener to the world outside my door, but influenced me to keep tabs and seek out music outside of the places I’ve had the pleasure to travel.

“Tu I Teraz” translated from Polish to English means “Hear and Now.” A somewhat provoking title that, along with the EP’s cover photo, makes for a thought provoking call to hear what lies within. Regres take an edgy, yet well rounded path that mixes elements of 80’s emo, hardcore and screamo, aspects that might draw comparisons to what might have come out of the Ebullition Records camp in the early to mid-nineties. Each of the six songs on the EP have a personal and introspective vibe that come off feeling honest and sounding intelligent, altogether working overtime to earn a spot amongst your record collection.

Refuse Records


Wallbreaker – Democracy Dies (Refuse Records)

I have to admit to being a bit reluctant to give Wallbreaker’s Democracy Dies a listen. Whether it was the band’s name, the overtly politicalized title, the somewhat cliché album art or all of the above, Democracy Dies just didn’t look or feel like something I would be into. Boy, was I wrong. So, after dialing back a bit, I found a review I wrote of their 2017 demo. On Democracy Dies, Wallbreaker deliver twelve hellraising tracks that pick up where that demo left off. The album tackles that raw, angry and vital hardcore that drew me to its core as a teen, displaying many appealing characteristics that brought to mind “Victim in Pain” era Agnostic Front and SSD’s “The kids will have their say” and even Kraut’s “Adjustment to Society”. Democracy Dies hits all the right chords, making it a great listen from start to finish.

Refuse Records

Pale Lips – After Dark (Spaghetty Town Records)

Though I’d never heard the term “Bubblegum Punk” prior to reading about Montreal, Canada’s all- female four piece Pale Lips, I can honestly report that I fully understood and appreciated it the moment I heard them for the first time. Originally formed in 2013, the four-piece rock outfit features Jackie (Vocals), IIona (Guitar), Lynn (Drums) and Jamie (Bass.) On their second album and follow up to 2016’s Wanna Be Bad, Pale Lips venture forward with twelve new songs that have the listener bouncing, bopping and pogoing until you’ve worn holes in the carpet and worn down your record player's needle. Pale Lips apply strokes of 70’s rock and Roll, power pop and early new wave to perfect a sound that bring to mind the Ramones and the Donnas, while perhaps unintentionally adding a dash of Japan’s Shonen Knife. Songs like “All My Baby Brought Back Was The Blues,”“The Kids,” and “Johnny” carry the album's upbeat and uplifting sense of celebratory energy really put the hooks and bounce on display while completely reeling in the listener. After Dark packs a lot of punch without ever showing the Pale Lips as over serious or self important, thus providing balance and a little something for every listener. Definitely one of my favorite records from the early start of the year.

Spaghetty Town Records


Taking Back Sunday – 20

Turn of the century Emo revivalists such as Thursday and Taking Back Sunday introduced wearing your heart on your sleeve to an entirely new generation of kids who often turned to MTV, FM radio, and visits to the mall for their punk rock look and form of homogenized punk rock. The kids who were around when punk broke wide open in the early to mid-nineties with bands like Nirvana, Green Day, The Offspring and countless others were quickly approaching their thirties and were becoming more and more focused on careers and raising families than keeping tabs on bands they worshipped in their post teen years.

Though Long Island’s TBS came around at the advent of what many refer to as Mall Punk, pretend punk, and the marketing and rebranding of Emo, it would be criminal to mention them in the same breath as bands such as Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance or damn them all to hell, Good Charlotte. Something about TBS and a small contingent of bands cut from a similar cloth initially resonated with me. This double LP, commemorating the band's 20th anniversary, features songs taken from each of their seven studio albums. Though I was only familiar with songs from their 2002 debut Tell All Your Friends and their 2004 sophomore effort Where You Want to Be, I felt that through listening to 20 I was given a window into their later recordings. 20 features 21 songs in all, two of which - “All Ready to Go” and “Song for Dan” - are brand new recordings. 20 is available on numerous formats, mine being a beautiful gatefold 2 X LP bearing lyrics of each song on the sleeves. Overall, a comprehensive look back at the band's 20-year history.

Taking Back Sunday


Motosierra – S/T (Spaghetty Tlown Records)

Translated to English, Motosierra means "chainsaw." Pretty accurate when you listen to the Uruguayan powerhouse. Originally formed in the city of Montevideo (Uruguay’s largest city) in 1999, Motosierra's approach to hard rock can be compared to a mix of Motorhead and Turbo Negro with a bit of Thin Lizzy peppered in here and there. Fast, tight and straight up vicious and sung in their native Spanish, an aspect that I feel only seems to intensify while accentuating each song. Simply put, I really love what I’m hearing on this 12-song ripper. It’s forceful, vicious and dangerous. No mater how you like your music, Motosierra stake their claim for making rock and roll that sounds dangerous and flat out evil. Despite the fact that Motosierra has been together for more than twenty years now, the band has just few scant releases to call their own. Somewhat puzzling considering how good their recorded output sounds. One can only hope that they’ve found a home or at least a launching pad for both publicity and future recordings.

Spaghetty Town Records


The Morlocks – Bring on the Mesmeric Condition (Hound Gawd Records)

Take two tablespoons of H.G. Wells inspired science fiction, ateaspoon of comic book noir, and two heaping cups of garage rock and you get a pretty good idea of what San Diego’s The Morlocks are cooking up. Having been in and out of commission since the Eighties, it would be acceptable if the band had gone through somewhat of a Spinal Tap unevenness in their sound and approach. Yet, through break ups, lengthy time periods apart and a few member changes, the band has managed to authentically stick to and hone the sound that originally inspired them, one that these five garage rockers do very well.

Bring on the Mesmeric Condition features 10 impressive songs deeply rooted in garage rock and psychedelia's simple, raw energy and bombast. It's a record that builds from one song to the next, complete with cool chord structures, a healthy amount of distortion , and Koizumi’s snarled and sneered vocals. “Bothering me” opens the album with a sense of swagger that assures the listener that, if they’re looking for dirty rock n’ roll, they’ve come to the right place. “Heart of Darkness” lives up to its namesake with a snakebit twang that might find itself in the scene of a movie where a beaten and blood soaked body gets dumped in the desert for the vultures to feast on. That theme seems to reoccur with song titles such as “One Foot in the Grave”, “High Tide Killer” and my personal favorite, “Easy Action”. Overall, a great album that’s all killer and no filler.


The Mods – Reactions (Ugly Pop Records)

When visiting a record store, I’ve made it a practice to bring a list of the records and titles I’m specifically looking to acquire. It’s just a little habit I fell into over the years, one that’s helped to control my urges and keep me on somewhat of an even keel. Being that over time, my list has dwindled and some of the titles within it aren’t as readily available as I’d hoped, I often find myself forgoing the list and letting my eyes point me in other directions. This tactic often allows me to discover lesser known gems that might be just as, if not more satisfying, as what I came looking for.

Such was the case with The Mods Reactions. Considering that when I brought it to the counter, the store’s owner did a double take, remarking, “I haven’t had a chance to listen to this yet, but by the look of it. It’s bound to be great.”

Reaction revisits the music of late 70’s Toronto band The Mods and their aborted, unreleased album. The Mods mixed punk’s raw energy with power pop looks and hooks. Heavily influenced by the Kinks along with contemporaries like the Jam, the Buzzcocks and the Undertones. These recordings had me wondering, “What if Sham 69 had had developed a more pop friendly sound?”

Comparisons to lesser known (yet worthy of exploration) acts such as Canada’s The Dogs and Ireland’s The Number Ones can easily be made. While recorded 40 years ago, Reactions features enough moments to elicit numerous spins on your turntable. The album collects the bands 1978 45 single as well as the tracks intended to be featured on their unreleased 1979 album. In listening to The Mods, I can’t help but wonder what direction they might have gone in musically. Judging from what is presented here, the songs, images and liner notes provide evidence that The Mods seemed to be heading in a direction that reached beyond the limits of the Mod or Punk sound. As I write this. Reaction features thirteen songs, liner notes, band photos and a reprint of an old show flyer. I can’t help but be thankful for my judgement when picking this complete unknown off the shelf.

Ugly Pop Records


School Drugs – Relative Suffering

Pure mania at its apex! School Drugs sound like the soundtrack to being locked in a room to fight your demons. Only in this case, the demons wind up on the short end of the stick.

The six songs on “Relative Suffering” overcome the listener like a tidal wave of sonic emotion that grows in strength lie a tsunami as one song feeds into the next. The dual vocals on songs on “Burn” and “Relentless” sound as if they came straight out of a torturous battle with schizophrenia. Considering how much territory School Drugs cover on “Beyond Suffering,” it would be criminal to handicap them with one or even two genre specific boundaries. To put it simply, the best way to describe New Jersey’s School Drugs is to listen to the music they’ve created. For all of you vinyl enthusiasts out there, “Relative Suffering” is available on orange vinyl.

Hell Minded Records


Pushed Aside – 1989 Demo 7” (Indecision Records)

Just as the second wave of hardcore was coming to a close, we began to see the promise of a third wave, one that offered a glimpse of hope that would soon fade with the rise of tough guy metalcore. At the time, many promising bands would emerge and leave a lasting footprint before fading to grey. Pushed Aside fit into that pattern , having existed for a year or less, appearing on the long out of print “The Iceman Cometh” 7” live compilation, breaking up shortly before they were able to record something of their very own.
What they left us with has been reissued and put to vinyl for a limited window of time.

The five-song demo starts off with a slow-paced intro before shifting into first gear for the sped up “Locked Down.” Though the lyrics are well written and rise above the often generic, cookie cutter topics straight edge bands seem to cling to, the vocals and musicianship leave a lot to be desired. Taken into consideration that this a thirty-year-old demo reissued for vinyl enthusiasts and nostalgia geeks like myself, I can’t say I expected much. Regardless, these songs failed to illicit any emotion or jog any particular memory. These five songs may have sparked a fire when they were originally released. However, hearing them now didn’t have any impact whatsoever.

Indecision Records is offering two color versions of the 7”. Green/Clear split 300 copies and Blue Splatter 700 copies.

Indecision Records


Better Than A Thousand – Value Driven Vinyl Reissue (Youth Crew Records)

By the time Ray Cappos' post-Violent Children/ Reflex from Pain/Youth of Today/Shelter band
Better Than a Thousand surfaced in in 1997, my interest in his musical output and spiritual beliefs had reached a titanic low. Considering the epically bad Shelter album Beyond Planet Earth, even the most head strong fan had to be hoping for a rewind or a do over. With twenty plus years to look back on, perhaps Better than a Thousand was the rewind needed to ever so slightly return to what endeared him and his passion to so many others.

Right out of the gate, Better Than a Thousand sounds like an extension of Cappo’s early efforts with Youth of Today and early Shelter. A return to the well, so to stay. Anyone familiar with Cappo’s work should note that Better Than A Thousand were not going for a different sound or message. If the vinyl reissue did anything for me, it’s that it allowed me to revisit one of the more overlooked and under listened to entries in his catalog.

The reissue features its original thirteen songs, an updated cover and comes on color vinyl. Remastering was provided by Shelter/Better than a Thousand alumnus Ken Olden and produced by Dharmavit Das.

Youth Crew Records


Iron Chic / Toys that Kill – Split (Recess Records)

For as long as I can or want to remember, split records were a great way to enjoy a band you loved while being introduced to one you may or may not have even vaguely heard of. With an EP box dedicated to 7" inch splits and countless other split LP’s littered throughout my collection, it’s pretty easy to assess my interest as more than casual. Having been a big fan of Long Island, New York’s Iron Chic since experiencing them at a Brooklyn show I attended with Jim Testa, I was given more than a reason to look into their split LP with California’s Toys that Kill. The 12” split offers nine songs: Four from Iron Chic and five from Toys That Kill.
Iron Chic’s appearance shows the band's strengths and gift for consistently providing anthemic melody laced hardcore. “The Old Man of Crete,” “Kid Icarus,” and “Amazing Fantasy” showcase the band’s ability to write and put fourth songs that appeal to every sub-genre of Punk and Hardcore.

And though my first taste and second go around with Toys That Kill wasn’t all that favorable, the band's final entry to the split, “I Can Hear It Stop,” kept me from entirely writing them off. Just as with any record and in particular, splits, you’re bound to hear a lot of peaks and valleys. Thanks to the presence of Iron Chic, there were enough peaks to warrant investigation.

Recess Records


Offended by Everything – Evergreen

Being that we live in a society where thin skinned individuals who seem to find new and creative ways to be offended on an hourly basis, it’s surprising that the term “Offended by Everything” hasn’t become the rally call of the times. All observations aside, let’s focus on the band and their just-released EP. Offended by Everything are a Dallas, Texas based emo, pop punk outfit representing a wave of the sub, sub-genre that I’m not particularly fond of. Think Thursday meets Taking Back Sunday at a New Found Glory sponsored “Sensitivity Training” seminar. While the five songs featured on “Evergreen” weren’t bad in any way (note the riffs on the opening track, “Deadweight,”) Offended by Everything aren’t producing anything I haven’t heard countless other times for what seems to be forever. If you’re into bands like Anberlin, Mayday Parade or
A Loss for Words but don’t want to color outside the lines, then by all means go for it. Otherwise…

Stand By Records


Struck Nerve – Self-Titled (War Records)

Though Philadelphia’s Struck Nerve are a relatively new band, the five-member hardcore act has spent time in a slew of notable hardcore acts such as Jesus Piece, Agitator, Uzi Kids and Pain Strikes. And while titles like “Play the fool”, “Life’s Too Short”, “All Talk” and “Keepin’ It Real” might find themselves vying for awards in the cliche department, I found these four songs to be quite good. Struck Nerve play fast-paced, high energy hardcore that is highlighted by a sense of urgency and focus that reminds me of an older hardcore style. The mpressive musicianship is fronted by double guitar leads, chords and jagged riffs and well timed breaks. Also worth mention are Anthony’s clean, decipherable vocals and a sharp focused delivery, elements that only enhance the overall delivery of the songs. Though I really didn’t and still don’t know a whole lot about Struck Nerve, this four song EP had me wanting to hear more. The vinyl version is limited to four hundred copies. You can also visit their Bandcamp and download it there.

War Records


The Verdict – Hostis Humani Generis (Edgewood Records)

Having grown up on the East Coast, I always considered Richmond, VA a hot bed for bands flying the flag of independence. Whether it be punk, hardcore, power pop or indie rock, there always seemed to be something interesting happening in the state's capital. Perhaps that had something to do with my checking in with The Verdict. The Richmond band/collective features, count ‘em, twelve active members. So many that only nine of them could fit on the cover. “Hostis Humani Generis” (Latin for Enemy of Mankind) features six short blasts of meat and potatoes hardcore that, even after a few go -arounds, didn’t impress me or stand out in the least. And as much as I’ve always claimed to love hardcore, I realize that, for every band I’ve loved and admired, there at least a hundred bands like The Verdict. They say that it takes a village. However, we’re also warned that too many cooks spoil the broth. In this case, the latter seems to apply.

The Verdict

Trapped By Lies – Demo '18

Tacoma, Washington’s Trapped By Lies enter the fray with a five song demo. The four-piece hardcore act, who cite the legendary Black Flag and New York City’s The Cro-mags as influences, shows a band that has a long path ahead of them. They need time to grow and improve, but that's not to say that this is all bad. The musicianship and vocal approach are not nearly as rudimentary as the recording and production quality. Only time with tell if Trapped By Lies will find a niche in the North West’s hardcore scene.

Trapped By Lies


Permanent Tension – Dedicated to the Guilt that Should have been Felt but Never Was (Forced Abandonment Records)

When a friend (in this case, Tohm) asks you to give his band’s material a listen and a possible review, a certain feeling of worry accompanies the sense of responsibility one might feel. “What if I hate it?” “What if I think it sucks?” Such was the case when the band’s singer, a longtime friend, reached out to me asking that I not only listen, but could I form enough opinion to review it.

Featuring former members of Four Fingers, Johnny-Cab Suicide and numerous other New Jersey home wreckers, Permanent Tension bring forth eight bursts of noisy aggression that hijacked my attention and held on long enough to elicit an emotional reaction and response.
On their third offering to date, Permanent Tension offers an all-out thrash, screamo attack with surprising elements of math rock peppered throughout. In listening to its eight songs one can detect a strong kinship with 90’s power violence acts such as Man is the Bastard, Neanderthal and Spazz. Intended or not, comparisons to Rorschach can also be made. And while the screamo vocal approach is clearly not my thing, the slowed down instrumentals inspire thoughts of doom metal gods Sleep. Noteworthy entries include “Newt” and the following track “Pendulum,” with “If the Accident Will” and “Hug the Dark” being my favorites. Overall, “Dedicated…” is a scorcher that took some time to fully appreciate, but in the end had its fair share of redeeming qualities. Whether you’re into thrash, scream, power violence or doom metal, Permanent Tension should quench your thirst for such darkness.

Permanent Tension

The Ratchets – First Light (Pirates Press Records)

Guitar punk is one of the coolest sounds to ever emerge from the ashes of punk’s origins.
That blue-collar approach at writing and releasing the angst via stripped down, raw bombast has been a common thread in much of the best songs bands such as The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers and Social Distortion have produced.
Having harnessed a curious taste regarding New Jersey’s the Ratchets lately, I was excited to see their latest album highlight a package Jersey Beat’s Jim Testa had sent over to me.
The opportunity to hear and learn a little about them for the very first time, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relatable and identifiable kinship with the band and their working-class sound.

The Garden State has quite a reputation for giving birth to acts that mirror the areas tough, middle class values. First Light, the band's eleven song return to the well, sees the band navigating territory that mixes elements of folkish street punk, Oi! and rock n roll, while honoring the guitar punk ethos mentioned earlier. The Ratchets' authoritative delivery has a sense of hands off realism that feels as honest as it does heartfelt, loaded with hooks, great lyrics and a socio-political edge that one can easily relate to. A nice tonic for fans of bands like Gaslight Anthem who prefer a less earnest (dare I say clichéd?) approach.

Available Here

Odd Man Out – Odd Man Out LP (Refuse Records)

Not to be confused with the late 80’s band of the same name that featured Steve Caballero and Ray Stevens of skate punk greats The Faction, Olympia Washington’s Odd Man Out were a straightedge hardcore band formed sometime in 2008 and featured members of Angel Dust and Gag. Considering my admiration for the band Angel Dust, I was somewhat surprised by how rudimentary and outright terrible this collection sounded. Lackluster and downright lazy riffs, shift and breakdowns that support gruff, growled vocals that bring back memories of the “So easy, even a cave man can do it” commercial spots. This release is their discography so far, containing songs from both their 7-inches and tape, with four new tracks exclusive to this release and three covers never officially released. There are several covers here including Youth Brigade’s “I Object” somewhere around the middle; unfortunately, Odd Man Out don’t do any better when they venture outside of their own material. Overall, 18 tracks of raw hardcore I myself struggled to get through.

Available Here


Warzone – Open Your Eyes (Revelation Records)

With the song “As One”, Raybeez and Warzone led the charge for a new chapter in New York Hardcore’s storied history. The track featured on 1987s Revelation Records 7-inch compilation titled “Together” ushered in a new wave of bands and ideas that would dominate the sub-genre for the rest of the decade and influence many others for decades to come. Raymond “Raybeez” Barbieri, the former Agnostic Front drummer and one of the architects of New York Hardcore, would double as Warzone’s front man and spokesperson for hardcore music, scene and family up until his untimely death on September 11th, 1997.

With the recent parting of one time Warzone guitarist and the twenty-year anniversary of the death of Ray, I’ve found myself revisiting many of the memories and recordings from that long-gone yet often celebrated era. The thirty-year anniversary edition features each of the original ten song recordings for the 1988 Caroline Records release and a 16 page, 12x12" booklet with many never before seen photos, lyrics, and liner notes by author Tony Rettman. Also featured is an interview conducted with Raybeez around the time of the original release.

1988’s “Open Your Eyes”, Warzone’s second LP, easily slides in between the bands best, 1987’s “Don’t Forget the Struggle, Don’t Forget the Streets” and its worst, 1989’s self-titled Caroline Records release. Not bad but considering the impact made by “Don’t Forget the Struggle…” just a year prior, not great by any means. Though well intentioned, opening the album’s title track with a speech by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was questionable at best. Though followed by the sound of a bomb dropping and anti-racist, anti-discrimination lyrics, I can recall the initial reaction being quite negative. Highlights of the reissue include, but are not limited to “Dance hard or die.”, “Always – A Friend for Life” and the albums closer, “Striving Higher – For A Better Life.” A must-have for fans of American hardcore, NYC street punk, and of course, for those who were there.

Order it Here


Joe Strummer – 001 (Ignition Record)

It’s been sixteen years since the passing of Joe Strummer, taken down by a heart attack at the age of fifty. Without exaggeration or overestimating the long shadow he cast as both a member of The Clash and his post punk solo work, his early departure was one that many, including myself, took harder than that of the many eulogies we rush to post on social media. It seems that not a day passes when I don’t recall London Calling being the first record I bought with my own money. Or how, at the age of eleven, I persuaded my Mother to take me to see the Clash perform in concert at New York City’s Bonds Disco.

This long-overdue limited box set, a 32 song retrospective, features rare, seldom heard and unreleased songs that explore Strummer's work outside of the legendary punk band, The Clash, from his pre-Clash rock n’ roll outfit The 101’s to the Mescalero’s and everything in between, including a 1986 collaboration with former Clash bandmate Mick Jones. Strummers post-Clash endeavors reveal him as a conscious explorer looking to experiment with a wide range of sounds, tones and colors in order to create a canvas uniquely his own. Though his love for stripped down rock n’ roll cannot be overlooked, it isn’t until Strummer focuses on folk, soul, country and Latin that he really takes on a glimmering shine. While some of the work presented here is admittedly oddball, there are some real gems to be found throughout. Strummer’s work with The Mescalero’s might be his most focused work outside of The Clash. There’s no denying that “Coma Girl” is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. His performance with Johnny Cash on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and “Over the Border,” an inspiring collaboration with reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, cannot go without praise as they showcase his ability to branch out and change gears. In the end, 001 goes on to prove the important lesson that music still matters and Strummer’s legacy is still being felt. “The future is unwritten.” Rest in Peace, Joe.

Check it out here


Glenn Campbell – Sings for the King

You’d be in your right mind to ask why someone who grew up on punk and hardcore is writing about someone whose name is synonymous with country music on a site called Jersey Beat. Truth be told, though seldom seen, during the site and fanzine's long existence, Jim Testa and his many contributors have proven that music, in its many colors and shapes, often finds a way to erase borders and finds itself in unexpected places.

In my sometimes less than humble opinion, Glenn Campbell’s legacy deserves a little closer examination. Considering that long before Campbell was scoring hits like “Summer Nights,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy," the Country Music and Musician Hall of Famer was a seasoned session musician with quite an impressive resume - one that credited him on records by the Mama’s and Papa’s, The Everly Brothers, Frank Sinatra, The Ronettes, The Beach Boys, and even the King himself, Elvis Presley.

On the previously unreleased and just recently found 1967 recording session “Sings for the King,” Campbell demos 16 songs with the intention of presenting them to Elvis Presley himself, as songs the King might consider recording in the future. Now one might wonder why Mr. Presley would choose Campbell to be his delivery boy when it came to helping him in considering what to record somewhere down the road. That answer might and can easily be found in Campbell’s voice. In listening to these songs, one can easily close their eyes and open their mind to realize how, intended or not, Campbell’s voice mirrors that of Presley’s. Without mocking or mimicking either artist, you could visualize Elvis sliding into these songs like a comfortable pair of slippers, part rock 'n’ roll and part country with enough soulful interplay for a King. There are some real praiseworthy moments to be had here. The opening track “We Call On Him” is a soulful gospel achievement that is both inspiring and beautiful. “All I Needed Was the Rain” is quite possibly the best evidence needed in tracking down why Campbell was chosen to work with Presley, while “How Can You Lose What You Never Had” and the session's closer “Restless” are worthy or mention and high praise. If you’re looking for something a little different to add to your collection, I highly recommend wrapping your ears around this collection of songs. While you’re at it, try putting some time aside to watch the 2014 rockumentary “I’ll Be Me.”

Get it Here

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Billy Idol – Revitalized (Capitol)

If you grew up in the early to mid '80’s, you might remember him as one of the early faces of the video revolution and the poster boy for faux punk.
Billy Idol originally gained fame during a short stint in the English punk band Chelsea, before leaving along with Tony James to form Generation X, who achieved mainstream success while releasing three albums. Upon the band's breakup, Idol would move to New York, where he would soon meet guitarist Steve Stevens and forge a new career as the snarling yet amiable face of the newly launched “All Music, All the Time” channel known as MTV. Singles such as “Dancing with Myself”, “White Wedding” and “Rebel Yell” established Idol as an early 80’s icon and sex symbol.

On Revitalized, Paul Okenfold, Moby, Crystal Method and a cast of DJ’s that include Idol himself give Billy Idol’s best known songs the remix treatment and reinvent them as dancefloor mashups. From the opening (Cray Remix) of “White Wedding,” you’re reminded of how awful and unnecessary remixing and reimaging any artist's work is. (Leave that shit on the dancefloor or in your imagination.) While the majority of Idol’s solo catalog has not gotten better with age, even his best songs that still carry some nostalgic value feel hollowed out and unimportant. Listening to these remixes only served as a reminder of how heartless and droning techno sounds. Overall, unless you’re a huge fan of Electric Dance Music (EDM,) Revitalized doesn’t even warrant a casual listen. To quote someone who recently shared his horrible experience of seeing a widely beloved act from the '60's:“I’d have to be on some serious drugs to enjoy this kind of shit.”


Blood Pressure – Surrounded (Beach Impediment Records)

Blood Pressure are a Pittsburg based Hardcore band featuring a cast of many hardcore luminaries from the area. The hardcore scene collective has been up, running and sharpening their version of venomous hardcore since way back in 2009.
The bands bio, which can be found on their bandcamp page is as entertaining as it is nonsensical. “Say there was a Keystone State Wrestling Alliance of sorts that consisted of a plethora of regional hardcore punk bands instead of a gaggle of scantily clad lowbrow beefcakes in spandex... Pittsburgh's own BLOOD PRESSURE would surely be the undisputed heavyweight champions of this fictitious league that I envisioned whilst rocking a slash in that alley across from the Rock Room.”
Musically speaking, Blood Pressure pack a lot of punch into these ten songs. Playing fast paced, no holds barred and no punches pulled hardcore with barked vocals that guide each of its entries with a sense of relentless urgency. Though each of these tracks pack all the aggression and power of an oncoming train. None of what’s being presented hear stands out or sets itself apart. With each entry sounding like the one before or the one to follow. The overall impression is that you’re simply the same ninety second song ten times. Whether that was just part of the game plan or not, is not known to me. Intended or not, “Surround” failed to move me in any way.

Beach Impediment Records


Great Reversals – Stalactite (Ugly and Proud Records)

Detroit’s Great Reversals have been delivering tasty, yet dirty rhythms and devilish metal breakdowns since their first demo surfaced in November of 2009. As someone who’s always been curiously enamored with just what makes Detroit music so ballsy and real. I was eager to hear what this motor city band had to offer.

On “Stalactite”, Great Reversals deliver complex riffs, leads and breakdowns complimented by roared, impassioned vocals that deliver intelligent, introspective lyrics. Each song carries a sense of raw, honesty that solidifies their impactful urgency, both individually and as a whole. I found myself being drawn to the core of what this band has to offer from the opening rhythms on “No Mind.” Call it a possession, an obsession or whatever you want. I felt hooked from the very start. Great Reversals pension for creating dark, dense and intense songs really shine on here. Think parts Integrity and parts Bane. Bands who both displayed and benefitted from their metal influences. Ugly and Proud records are currently accepting pre-orders with a release scheduled for November. The EP is available in Grey and Clear color options and featured on a one sided 12’ with a screen-printed B side. With the bands knack for mixing the aggression and nihilism of hardcore with the proficiency and power of Metal. Fans of both should find common ground.

Ugly and Proud, Bandcamp


Primitive Weapons – Surrender Yourself (Party Smasher Inc.)

Ev Gold of the band Cinema Cinema once told me that a key asset to listening to something outside of your normal comfort zone is that you have to “surrender to the trip,” wise words that can be applied to most any experience in life, words that have come to mean a lot to me over the course of time. It's one that I find myself applying to my daily life, and words that came to mind when listening to the Brooklyn band Primitive Weapons' third full length. For those who enjoyed the experimental phase of many hardcore and post hardcore outfits. it might be worth noting that Mind Over Matter guitarist, Arty Shepherd shares membership with former On the Might of Princes’ Chris Rodriguez here.

The aptly titled “Surrender Yourself” is, without any doubt or hesitation, one of the most interesting and unexpected submissions thrown my way since the inception of this column. And while the vocal approach Primitive Weapons unleashes is definitely not my thing, it is an approach that challenged me as it swept me up in its vortex. One that coupled with its musicality made me feel as if I’d been unwilling absorbed into some sort of demonic possession. Whether intended or not, I sometimes found it challenging to distinguish the choruses from the instrumentations. “Surrender Yourself” features eight tracks with six of them clocking in at over four minutes a piece. Musically, Primitive Weapons\ sound melds Metal and Post-Hardcore experimentation, without forming too close of an alliance with either. Though not my usual bag of tricks, I found “Surrender Yourself” to be quite rewarding.

Party Smasher Inc.


The Cheap Cassettes – "Kiss The Ass of My Heart" EP

Who in their right mind could abstain from checking out a band with a name as cool and retroactive as “The Cheap Cassettes?” Not me, that’s for sure. While my own sanity might come into question every now and then, my decision to check out what Seattle’s The Cheap Cassettes had to offer was quite rewarding. Featuring four songs, “Kiss The Ass of My Heart” is a cocktail of pub rock meets punk with a nuts and bolts approach that gives these songs a raw and honest appeal. As I listened, I could picture myself experiencing them live in a dirty basement of bar room, leaning in and singing along. Overall, The Cheap Cassettes’ sound aligns pretty well with their name - simple, easy and instantly gratifying, bringing to mind the vibe you were trying to convey with the bands and songs you carefully chose for those mix tapes you sent out to your friends and the girl you might have had a crush on at the time.

The Cheap Cassettes


The Subjunctives – Demo 2017

When a band name drops or even hints at being influenced by the great Husker Du or the mighty Stiff Little Fingers, you’d be best served to at least give them a listen or a long look see. Though their 2017 demo is a year old, I felt a desire to give these four songs a good listen to best gauge what these “three nice boys playing fast pop punk” had to offer. On their four song demo, The Subjectives take a minimalist approach to fast punk, one that quickly reminded me of early Bay Area punks Crimpshrine. Whether intended or not, there’s hints of “Kerplunk”-era Green Day and “Unfun”-period Jawbreaker on “Guinevere in Ray Bans and Chucks” and “Headed East Again.” Yet somehow, it all comes together on “Patriotic, But Fucked Up.” While The Subjunctives might have one foot firmly planted in East Bay’s pop, garage punk past, it sounds as if they’re truly on their own path here in Seattle. Here’s looking up your address.

The Subjunctives


Chain Whip – S/T

Straight outta Vancouver, BC comes a relatively new act whose simple yet direct approach to early 80’s American hardcore has a touch of English street punk and Oi. Think New York’s Urban Waste and D.O.A. meet England’s The Blitz. Sneering, or better yet, growled vocals meet crashing rhythms and a somewhat muffled, if not tuned down guitar sound. Overall, Chain Whip’s sound is as frenetic as it is energetic. While each of the five songs featured here resonated with me, like the fearless “Let’s bomb East Van” and the painfully earnest “Six day weekend,” it’s the fifth and final cut “How many chances / These eyes” that If had to choose (I mean, gun to my head.) would be my favorite. In listening to Chain Whip, I hear enough elements of the past and present to feel positive about Chain Whip’s future. Give this one a few go arounds. You might think so too.

Drunken Sailor Records

Indonesian Junk – Darkness Calling

My mother used to talk about the summer her Mom removed her from the stoop of their Brooklyn apartment and sent her to spend a year in Milwaukee with her grandparents. As she described the changes her daily life underwent, I imagined going from cooling herself off in the borough's countless fire hydrants to milking cows and curdling cheese. For better or worse, that has been my image of Milwaukee since I was a kid. In comes glam punk rockers Indonesian Junk to shake up and redraw our presumptions of that land to the North.

The self-described glam punk trio got their start in 2014 with designs on mixing punks sleaziness with power pop riffs and chords that paint a picture that mirror that of New York’s bowery and lower east side during the 70’s than any Milwaukee imagery you might come up with. “When I Find You” has a laid back, yet sinister vibe to it that reminds the listener. “Come On And Love Me” carries a similar “Lay, stay or go away” nonchalant vibe about it while featuring more than its share of hooks and devious turns.
“I Could Die” has a slow and somewhat bluesy narrative that teems with swagger and confidence. Raunchy and devilish. Indonesian Junk really put the hooks in me.
With a NY Dolls, Dead Boy, Lords of the New Church meet 70’s era Rolling Stones vibe, how could anything possibly go wrong?

Indonesian Junk


Kingpin – S/T (Atomic Action)

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.

Atomic Action Records

Uniform Choice – S/T

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 the production.

Deathwish Records

Wimps – Garbage People

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.

Kill Rock Stars


Time & Pressure - 2018 Demo

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.


Dying For It – Born to Deny (Safe Inside Records)

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 For It.


DARE – S/T 7-inch

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.

Reaper Records


Slapshot – Make America Hate Again

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 lawn.

Bridge 9 Records

Harley “Cro-Mags” Flanagan – The Original Cro-Mags Demos 1982/83

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 didn’t.

Rev HQ


Sheer 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 to.

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.

Reaper Records


John Carpenter – Anthology (Sacred Bones)

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 story lines.

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 its spell.

Sacred Bones


Toe Cutter – S/T EP

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 for progress.



Red Hare – Little Acts of Destruction

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.

Dischord Records


The Hasbros – Cart Before the Horse

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 of arrival,

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.

The Hasbros


Restraining Order – S/T (New Age Records)

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 and images.

Restraining Order


Beach Rats – Wasted Time

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 note.

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.

Bridge 9 Records


The Decline of Western Civilization – DVD reissue

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.

Rev HQ


Rich Hope – I’m All Yours (Planned Obsolescence Recording & Novelty Inc.)

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.”



TRU – Growing Pains

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.



Glue Traps – Future Shock 2018 Promo (Self Released)

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.



Faz Waltz – Double Decker (Spaghettytown Records)

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. On vai.

Spaghettytown Records


Bill Daniel – Tri-X-Noise (Radio Raheem)

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.

Tri-X Noise


Razorcake - #104 and #105 (

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 an understatement!

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.



Dennis 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.

Record Store Day


Verbal Assault – Trial (Atomic Action Records)

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.



The 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.

Hell Cat Records


Die Nasty - S/T LP (Self-Released)

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.



Dr. 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.

Spaghettytown Records


The 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.

Spaghettytown Records


Messthetics – S/T (Dischord Records)

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 the album.
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.

Dischord Records


Criminal Kids – S/T (Spaghettytown Records)

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.



The Sweet Things – “Slather” / “Dustianne” (Spaghettytown Records)

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 Re-Issues)

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 in shame.

Radiation Records


Hellbent – 1983 -1984 Demos (Radio Raheem)

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.

Radio Raheem Records


Rozwell Kid – Precious Art (SideOneDummy Records)

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.



Gaslight 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 is yours.



Chain 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.

Six Feet Under Records


Outsider – FSR35 2018 Demo (Self Released)

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.



World Demise – S/T (Self Released)

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.

World Demise

Crippled Youth – "Join the Fight" EP

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, Quicksand.

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.



Blind Justice – No Matter the Cost

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 Hardcore outfit.

Flatspot Records


One King Down – Bloodlust Revenge: (Twentieth Anniversary Edition)

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.



Scream – NMC (Southern Lord)

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.

Southern Lord Records


Night Battles – Remedy and Cause

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 specifications.

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 Thin.”

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.



Alter Ego – Demo 2018

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.



Spazz – Sweatin’ to the Oldies

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 iTunes.

Tankcrimes Records


The Wipers – Out Takes

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 conversation.

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.

The Wipers - Out Takes


Shred Flintstone – They’re Not There

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 rock indulgence.
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.


Crazy Eddie – Eddie Drops out of College

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.)



Static Radio – "Resentiments" EP

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.

Black Numbers


The Wipers – Live at the Met December 31, 1982

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”


Haunt Club – Volume One

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 digital download.

Sniffling Indie Kids


Mudhoney – “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.

Sub Pop


Mission of Burma – Forget

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.

Taang! Records

Craig Wedren – “Adult Desire”

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.



Decline – “Own Your Words” (New Age Records)

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 otherwise.

New Age Records

The 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.

Frontier Records


Trail of Lies – W.A.R.

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.


The 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 rock map.
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.

Fat Wreck Chords


Shudder to Think – “Ten Spot” (Reissue)

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 teencentric soundtracks.

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.

Dischord Records


The Number One’s – “Another Side of the Number One’s” EP

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.

Sorry State Records

Don’t Sleep – "Bring the Light" EP

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.

Reaper Records


Fair Panic – Feels

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 rewarding.

Lush orchestrations add complex layers to the songs quirky pop base.
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.


Read James Damion's interview with Tory Anne Daines here...



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.


Cable – 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.




Supercrush – I’ve Been Around / Brutal Honesty

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 the duo.




J Hacha De Zola - Antipatico

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.


Rats in the Wall – Warbound

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?

Rev HQ


Voice of Addiction – The Lost Art of Empathy

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.

Voice Of Addiction


Dead Boys 1977 – The Lost Photographs of Dave Treat

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

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

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

Dead Boys 1977


Truth Assassin – In the Shadow of Tyranny

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

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

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

Truth Assassin

Dinosaur Eyelids – Left Turn on Red

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

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

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


Further Investigation


Banana – "Die Alone Pt. 2"

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



Squitch – "Wonderful / Pitiful" EP

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



Hot Knife – My Fangs

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

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

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

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

Rev HQ/Black Numbers

MEEKO BRANDO – Lemonade, Lemonade

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


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

LKFFCT – Dawn Chorus

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

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

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

Tera Melos – Trash Generator

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

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

Weep Wave - "Entropy" EP

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation Records

The History of Nemesis Records…. And Big Frank Harrison (Patrick Kitzel) (Book)

Retracing and documenting the history of label founder ‘Big’ Frank Harrison and his indelible imprint ‘Nemesis Records’. “The History of Nemesis Records” documents the labels 1988 – 1993 existence through rare, never before seen photos, essays, insight and memoirs from friends and select Nemesis alumni artists including Ron Martinez (Final Conflict), Dan O'Mahony (No For An Answer, Carry Nation), Isaac Golub (A Chorus Of Disapproval, A18), Fred Hammer (It's Alive Fanzine), Jon Bunch, (Sense Field, Reason To Believe) Rest in Peace, Mike Hartsfield (Outspoken, New Age Records), Dave Franklin (Vision) Rest in Peace, Andrew Kline (Strife) and more. Also, included is a full label discography that includes all of the variation and colors made available through Nemesis. The resolution of the records scanned is high enough for close inspection and the descriptions, photos, flyers and extras really go a long way to properly tell the labels story.

Scanning the pages of this quick, yet enjoyable read. I found myself referring to the bands I’d seen and counting the records I currently own or did at one time or another. How much time I spent and still spend listening to bands such as Vision, Instead, Against the Wall, Gameface, Billingsgate and others. My brief, yet personal exchanges with the band Instead and how, as much as I loved and still love that Against the Wall 7’ inch. Recalling what an absolute knob the band’s front man, Madrid was.

Overall, “The History of Nemesis Records” was a good go through. The anecdotes, stories and images brought me back to a time when, for better or worse, I consumed every Hardcore record I could get my hands on. And while most of those records find themselves housed in boxes that rarely get played or see the light of day. This book had me looking back on a time when rifling through a box of EP’s at a show or seeing an ad from an independent record label in your favorite fanzine was the way we operated. Published by Tribal Books and available through Reaper Records. With just over two hundred pages. This medium sized paperback fits snugly in your backpack or computer and reads well during your otherwise mundane commute.

Available here

SPOKE– Images and Stories from the 80’s Washington, DC Punk Scene
(Complied by Scott Crawford)

As a teenager growing up in the mid to late 80’s NYHC scene. I always looked up to the older kids and young adults who were present during the early days or Hardcore and Punk. As someone who hadn’t travelled a whole lot and was just getting his boots scraped on the dancefloors of places like CBGB’s, the Anthrax and Avenue A’s Pyramid Club. I often wished I had been old enough to experience bands like Minor Threat, Void and The Faith. And while the New York and its surrounding hardcore scene presented more than its share of cheap thrills, mosh pits and cleverly choreographed stage dives. The music I closely identified with always seemed to be coming from the Washington, DC and its homegrown label Dischord Records.

Featuring images and stories from Bad Brains, Teen Idles, Black Market Baby, S.O.A., Minor Threat, Government Issue, Void, Iron Cross, The Faith, Scream, Marginal Man, Gray Matter, Beefeater, King Face, Rites of Spring, Dag Nasty, Embrace, Soulside, Fire Party, Shudder to Think, Ignition, Fugazi, Swiz, The Nation of Ulysses and Jawbox. Compiled by Scott Crawford. Who, as a pre-teen on the early DC scene. Embodied the meaning of All Ages show. “Spoke” is much more than a collection of photos. In that it allows the people who lived it articulate what they were feeling and experiencing, both as groups and as individuals. Comparable to Cynthia Connelly’s “Banned in D.C.” and Mark Jenkins “Dance of Days” Often feeling like a photographic companion to the documentary “Salad Days”. “Spoke” Perfectly illustrates a very special time and place. Through images and personal recollections of a time long past.

Just as Washington DC remains a political web of corruption, betrayal and political turmoil. The music, relationships and influence born out of this particular scene can still be felt decades later. “Spoke” does an excellent job of documenting what took place in D.C. during that time. Reinforcing what participators and admirers alike still hold dear. And that is a time and place that was both creative and unique. “Spoke” is an absolute must have. One that I find myself returning to on a regular basis.

(Akashic Books/Dischord)


Archie Alone – Archie Alone

On the band’s latest self-titled release, New Jersey’s favorite sons and daughters prove once again that big things really do come in small packages. Compared to the many lesser known bands with minimal output during a short, yet highly creative time frame, it’s no wonder Archie Alone quickly became a personal favorite, one that keeps calling me back to its well and wishing for more.

With 6 songs featuring emotive vocals, songwriting and musicianship that put a unique spotlight on each track, Nicole’s voice sounds powerful without ever being too forceful - overwhelmed, yet not overcome. These songs make the listener feel swept up in each emotion, as if they’re being taken on a journey. Songs like the single “Mend” stay with you long after leaving your ears. While the opening song “Crawl” and its follow up “Motives” dig deep and plant themselves firmly in your subconscious.

Overall, the band’s six-song, self-titled release displays Archie Alone knack for creating songs that defy genre pitfalls and easily identifiable categorization. It's music that feels organic, honest, personal and intimate. A group of musicians who continue to evolve, if not fully embrace their importance to their local fan base and listeners like myself, Archie Alone manage to channel all the emotionally charged lyrics and tones of Emo while providing the songs with enough musical muscle to take down a charging bull. And that, my friends, is about as high of a recommendation as I can shove down your throat. Archie Alone is available on CD as well as a number of high quality digital formats. Just go to their Bandcamp page and start listening.


H20 – The Don Fury Demo Sessions 1994

Hardcore super label Bridge 9 digs deep to pull H2O’s original 1994 demo session with Don Fury from the well for an official vinyl release. Available on yellow and blue color 12’ vinyl for the first time ever with a title that tells you exactly what you get.

Present are the original six songs recorded by the legendary producer Don Fury, songs that would introduce H2O to the Hardcore scene and launch them onto Hardcore’s worldwide stage. For those of you that haven’t kept up with things, H2O are now considered old school legends in many circles. Best known for their energetic, yet melodic, DC inspired positive Hardcore and energetic front man and spokesman for P.M.A. Toby Morse, H2O would go on to release numerous albums (2016’s “Use Your Voice” being their most recent.) and tour the world.

The EP features the original six songs from the demo - ‘Scene Report”, “If the Mask Fits’, “I Know Why” “Temperature”, “GO”, “Here Today” and “Gone Tomorrow.” The demo sessions take you back to the band's earliest recordings with one of the true archetypes of New York Hardcore’s recorded history.

In listening to this demo for the first time since its initial release in 1994. I was quickly reminded why I recently jettisoned any and all H20 recordings from my record collection and hard drive. I just never cared for the band’s music. Often regarding it as lite Hardcore or Easy Listening Core, for me personally I always felt a H20 record would be a great gift to give to your twelve-year-old or as an assurance that your girlfriend would feel safe going to a HardCore show. Songs that felt a little too safe or accessible for someone that remembers the dangerous elements often related to going to shows.

My personal tastes aside, it would seem that the years of hard work and dedication to a style of music and a community they truly love, deserves its credit For me personally, their music never did much to inspire or challenge me. In listening to these songs, I was assured that, at least in this case, time hasn’t really changed a thing. Go ahead though. That is, if the ears are willing.

Bridge 9 Records


Mr. Payday – Welcome to the Modern World

There’s a certain risk/reward opportunity that goes along with reviewing music from a band you have no relation to or knowledge of. If it’s terrible, you write your thoughts, absolve yourself by wiping your hands clean of the experience and move on. Or, as in this particular case, you hear a band that completely blows the doors off the hinges, making you wonder what rock you’ve been hiding under. New Brunswick’s Mr. Payday continues the town's undeniable legacy of giving birth to edgy, creative and noteworthy artists. On their second release to date, Mr. Payday offer an authoritative answer to the question “What the Hell happened to Rock & Roll, big guitars and bombastic swagger?” Each of those parts can be found under the hood of “Welcome to the Modern World”

From the opening note of “Club Test” to the closing title track and everywhere in between, Welcome to the Modern World establishes itself as a raucous, fun return to Rock & Roll grandeur. Intended or not, a thorough go through of the album has me likening Mr. Payday to bands such as The Supersuckers, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and just a few exits north of the NJ Turnpike, local heroes The Rye Coalition. There’s also a heavy dose of 1970’s era Rock & Glam influences thrown in for good measure. Pieces of bands such as The New York Dolls, T. Rex and Mott the Hoople find themselves sitting at the bar on the title track “Welcome to the New World.” In the end, the beginning and middle, you're left with all the evidence you need to prove Rock music is alive and well. Sure, you might have to go a little left of the dial to find it, but when was that ever not the case? If there were ever a campaign to “Make America Rock Again’. Mr. Payday’s “Welcome to the Modern World” has earned the right to lead the charge.


The Brixton Riot – Close Counts

When it comes to shows and events that affected me in ways that would reward me for years to come, Dromedary Records' 2013 Camel Fest (a benefit for the Roots & Wings foundation) immediately comes to mind. It’s when I met the world. It’s when I first heard the call of The Brixton Riot. With a name that reminded me of the South London riots of 1981 as well as the beloved Punk band The Clash, all with a sound and appeal that could be compared to that of the Replacements or better yet, Husker Du. I was immediately hooked. Then I got my hands on a copy of that year’s Palace Amusements and the hooks got in and stayed in me.

Four years later and the band’s vocalist/guitarist Jerry Lardieri reaches out to see if I’d be interested in hearing what will soon be the new album. “Mmmm, I don’t know. Is it good?” My anticipation busting at the seams. Still, with no guarantees on quality, I waxed my ears and adjusted my writers cap in anticipation of adding my two cents on the matter.

On the Brixton Riot’s second full length Close Counts, their first since the aforementioned 2013 Parkside Amusements, the South Jersey band prove that they haven’t missed a step or skipped a beat. It’s go-time the moment the bass line meets up with the opening guitar riff meet on the album's opening track “Can’t Stop Now.” One can’t help but rejoice in its statement of purpose and declaration of being. As the opening anthem gives way to the album's second offering “Slow Evolution,” you immediately feel the assurance that you took the right turn on your journey. There’s a sense of warmth that seems to wrap itself around every Brixton Riot song. Something that feels accepting and comfortable. They didn’t come to reinvent the wheel, but they might put some fresh air in the tires before taking it for a spin. The warmth and melody within the songs feel relaxed and enjoyable. Giving somewhat of a bird’s eye view to the chemistry within the band, a group of friends that create music that feels very much in the moment. In the end, making me miss a place it took me years to fully embrace. “Close Counts” comes a lot closer than its title might lead us to think. Skillfully engineered and mixed at Baltimore’s Magpie Cage by the legendary J. Robbins (Government Issue, Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels,) these 11 songs will surely remain in my stream of favorites from the year 2017. Close Counts is scheduled for an October 6th release, but you can pre-order it now. Who says you can’t come home?


DMIZE – Demos

More than twenty-five years since they were released, the original two demos the Queens, NY band DMIZE recorded find themselves on vinyl for the first time ever on Germany’s Cupcake label. Featuring original DMS (Doc Marten Skins) (Drugs, Money, Sex) members Ray (JERE) Oglesby (vocals on first demo,) Chiqui Rodriguez (vocals on second demo,) Beto on guitar, Richie Nagel on drums, and perhaps most notably Hoya Roc, who would go on to be a permanent member of the long running and still active band Madball on bass. Dmize, though short lived, reflected a change of scenery on the New York Hardcore scene, one that brought in more of a Latino influence than the scene had experienced in years. Add to it the gang culture and violence that often follow, components that would influence New York Hardcore for years to come. Musically, DMIZE reflected many of the stylistic changes that had been taking hold on Hardcore music for years, with metal-tinged riffs melded with groove heavy bass lines and hip-hop inspired beats. The music was heavier, darker and a bit more negative.

The first demo, recorded in January of 1991, features original vocalist Ray O. (Jere). The second, recorded in September 1991, features his close friend and heir to the vocal throne, Chiqui Rodriguez. And while the band featured several people I considered close friends at the time, I never initially cared for their metallic influence or the violence that seemed to follow them from show to show. Add the twenty-five-dollar price tag and shipping costs, the 12 song “Demos” can only be recommended to Hardcore nostalgia enthusiasts and fans of 90’s crime syndicate Hardcore bands like Madball, Merauder, Crown of Thornz and Skarhead. Included is a 16.5" x 23.375" poster and is limited to 500 copies.

Overall, these songs resonated with me more in 2017 then they did back in 1991 - good, but by no means great - perhaps due to a sense of closure regarding the past. They turn bad memories to good while reminding me of those wild and crazy times growing up and coming apart.


Stealing Time – 23 Year of Punk Images by Mark Beemer (Dischord)

With proceeds all proceeds go directly to the Syrentha Savio Endowment to help low-income cancer patients afford treatment, I felt compelled to pick up a copy of the reissue of Mark Beemer’s long out of print “Stealing Time”, which documents his long history and dedication to photographing punk and hardcore acts. It includes photos of memorable bands such as, but not limited to, Fugazi, Henry Rollins, Quicksand, Rise Against and Texas is the Reason. As both a photographer and a show goer, I’ve always been interested in what the other shooters in the pit or on the stage were capturing. Whether it be their gear, choice of film, vantage point, or overall approach, I’m always eager to talk shop and eventually see the results.

So, despite not being familiar with Mark’s work, I was excited to explore his images and the artists he chose to document. And while I can appreciate the journey, dedication and countless acts he documented, as a photographer and self-proclaimed documenter of my experiences, I honestly didn’t find myself drawn to many of the work presented within.

What I did find was a mix of live and promotional location photos that more than not failed to draw me to the subject. As one who's photographed countless shows, yet a handful of band members gathering for a group shot, or better yet, being caught in a moment, I’ve always been drawn to the latter. Therefore, I felt myself more closely drawn to a picture of a band standing in a corner or crowding into an elevator than performing at a show.

For me personally, “Stealing Time” is more about the number of images collected than the overall quality. Regarding the number of images provided in its 124 pages, it failed to evoke any emotion from someone that may have hoped for more of a back story or personal view of the many inspiring artists he captured over those 23 years.


Formed in 2016 by former and current members of various and musically diverse elements of New Jersey’s indie and underground scene, Trü quickly evolved from a creative exchange of ideas to a full-blown band. After releasing a well-received demo in the Winter of 2016. Trü headed back to the studio to record an EP for soon to be born “Destroy All Monsters” label.

Mixing elements of shoegaze and dream pop with indie-rock proficiency. Trü has quickly won both my attention and admiration. After receiving a copy of the band’s debut EP. I felt compelled to reach out to what has quickly become one of my personal favorites.

Q: I had been hearing the name trü from Cindy and friends at The Meatlocker, long before I heard the 2016 demo or saw you live in 2017. Can you tell me when you first came to be?

Pat: We solidified the line up in Summer 2016 but Keith and I were kicking around the idea since Fall 2015. Once we started jamming, we really started clicking and that’s when we brought Steve and Cindy in to round out the rest of the line-up.

Q: You each come from different bands and musically different corners. Can you tell me what is was that made you want to create music together?

Pat: We’ve all been in the same scene with our other respective bands for a long time. We’ve all played shows together or were in the same room together too many times to count as we’ve all become friends over the years it just all seem to fall into place at the right time.

Q: Were you set on the type of music you wanted to create before you got together. Or was that something that happened later?

Pat: We never really decided what type of music we wanted to write. It just kind of occurred naturally. Everyone in this band has a wide array of musical tastes and I feel like with this band we were able to pool together our ideas to make the best songs we can.

Q: Coming from varied places musically. What was it that made you want to create this particular style of music? How would you categorize or identify trü’s

Pat: I am SO bad at this but when people ask, I usually tell them in the most general sense we’re an alternative emo band. As for what made me want to write this type of music, I wanted to write catchy pop songs but the catchy pop songs early era Weezer would write. Just simple catchy tunes.

Q: Cindy, you moved from guitar to bass in trü. What was that like for you? Had you played bass in the past. Or was this completely new to you?

Cindy: Playing bass was completely new to me. I'd never played bass in the past or even owned one, but when Pat reached out to me I decided to give it a shot. I borrowed my girlfriend’s bass gear for a practice with Pat, Keith and Steve and immediately loved it. It was more about the musical chemistry I had with those three then it was about the instrument I was playing. Through playing in trü, I have really grown to love bass and want to become a better player.

Q: What’s behind the name?

Pat: I thought of the name because I liked how it looked visually. I wanted something simple we can build a brand around. We stay very conscious of how we stylize designs for our merch and album art and building it around trü has honestly been a lot of fun.

Q: Who’s involved with writing the music and lyrics?

Cindy: Pat and Keith always show up at practice with tons and tons of ideas. Whether it is just a riff, some lyrics or an entire song, we all jam on them together and everything just comes together naturally.

Pat: Yeah, we all have our say when it comes to practice and it’s what I really think makes these songs great.

There’s a real sense of intimacy in the songs. Do the lyrics reflect personal situations?

Pat: I’m completely new at writing lyrics and singing in general but a lot of the things I write about are about relationship situations I’ve been in.

Q: Having always felt that music has medicinal powers. I was really inspired by the records prescription style lyric sheet. How did the idea to do that come about and what made you decide to go with it?

Keith: The prescription template was our friend Todd Campisi's (Destroy All Monsters) idea and he based it off of the lyrics for the song "Trouble".

Q: “Kirsti” will most likely remain my favorite song on the EP. It sounds as if it could be the feel-good hit of the summer. Yet somehow, I’ve convinced myself that the lyrics come from a darker place. Can you give me a little background on the song and the lyrics?

Keith: I wouldn't say they come from a darker place. I would say that song is more of a "pick me up" lullaby. Often times we forget our worth or feel insecure about our place in the world and if we're lucky we have somebody who somehow makes it all better. I just wanted to reciprocate that warmth to someone very special to me who was feeling blue i.e. “Kirsti”.

Q: You moved from 2016’s demo release to the 7’ EP rather quickly. Was there any specific motivation behind that?

Cindy: We actually had no plans on releasing that demo. We self-recorded 6 songs in Steve's basement for pre-preproduction which ended up coming out really cool. We decided to release 2 as a demo to give people a taste of what was to come. After releasing the demo, we received a lot of positive feedback so it pushed us to go into the studio and get more out there. As we were preparing to record an EP, Todd Campisi approached us about launching his new record label and putting 4 of our tracks on vinyl. We were honored that he asked us to be his first release and the timing was just right.

Q: Is it more rewarding to have something on wax (vinyl) than releasing something to say, bandcamp?

Cindy: Absolutely. For me personally, it feels almost like a milestone. A lot of work went into putting the entire thing together between communicating with the pressing plant, having artwork made, physically putting everything together and getting 5 people to agree on it all in a timely fashion! Dropping the needle on the record for the first time is an incredible feeling that can't be articulated.

Pat: I’m a vinyl collector (just like everyone else) so getting my own music on vinyl is always a great accomplishment. There’s a great feeling to having something you can hold in your hand.
Due to my move.

Q: Due to my moving to Seattle the same day, I missed the band’s record release show. From all the post show posts on social media. It seemed to be a very special night for the band and anyone in attendance. Can you give me a run-down of what made it so rewarding?

Cindy: We missed you at the show! We celebrated the birth of Destroy All Monsters and our first EP with a party fit for a bunch of grown up kids! We put together some goodie bags, had a popsicle party and spent the night with our favorite local bands, friends and families. The amount of support from everyone was overwhelming and we can't wait to do it again!

Q: At this point in time, would you classify trü as side project or full time band?

Cindy: I feel like we all went into this with the intentions of having fun and seeing what we could create together. It started off as a side project but I would consider it a full-time band for each of us at this point.

Pat: I totally agree. We’re all just having so much fun with this it’s hard to not dedicate a lot of our time to it.

Q: What’s next for trü as a band and as indiviuduals.

Cindy: We are already in the process of demoing out more songs. Pat and Keith have so many ideas that they bring to practice so we keep cranking out new material. We hope to get back in the studio by late fall to work on recording our next release. In the meantime, we all have our other bands that we are committed to as well.


D.C. Disorder – Naïve to the World (Youngblood Records)

Having grown up on countless Dischord releases and influential acts who called the District of Colombia their home, my interest and/or curiosity regarding most area releases should never come into question. Whether it’s Punk, Hardcore, Go-Go music or any form of underground sound, the mere gathering, proximity or alignment of the letters D and C have a habit of drawing my attention while arousing my curious ears. Such was the case when it came to D.C. Disorder. Which brings to mind D.C. Disorder and the "Naïve to the World" EP. The vinyl 7-inch includes digital download.

From the scathing 1:01 instrumental introduction to the sinister vocal appearance on the record's opener "Put to the Test," the listener is put on notice. Six short, but not too, too short, blasts of energy, ire and a sense of cannibalistic urgency. "Naïve to the World" possesses an authenticity that makes it nearly impossible to overlook. Sure D.C. Disorder feature a cast of characters from current Hardcore lineups, but considering how good this record sounds, the mere mention of any such relations to or association with seem unnecessary. With a fresh approach, energy and conviction, "Naïve to the World" makes an indelible mark.

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

Though not thoroughly researched, there must come a time in a Punk or HardCore kid’s life when just about every new band you here begins to sound like something you’ve heard countless times before. Such was the case with California’s DARE and what I hear on their rather generic offering "OC Straightege." Whereas countless bands have found influence in those that came before, acts such as DARE don’t seem to have anything new to bring to the table. And while I can honestly say I enjoyed my first listen of ‘OC Straightedge,’ I didn’t feel as if I was experiencing anything that would stay with me or set them apart from the countless other bands who continue to follow and not lead. Here is a record that one would rightfully judge by its cover art. The 7-inch ncludes digital download and is limited to 400 copies.

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Abuse of Power – When then becomes Now (Triple B Records)

On their follow up to the excellent 7-inch on New Age Records, Atlanta, GA’s Abuse of Power deliver a sophomore EP that should ingrain them as one of the best current bands HardCore has to offer.
The five song EP opens with the title track "When Then Becomes Now.” Instantly grabbing the listener’s attention and admiration with its gutsy aggression and straight forward approach, it had me reaching for the lyric sheet, words pouring off the page with a sense of timeless wisdom. "All I Need" follows with a sense of strength and wisdom. By now, you’re wondering why you haven’t already bookmarked Abuse of Power as a band you need to know. Overall, while sounding original and current, Abuse of Power have a way of reminding me of the things (however few) I loved about 90’s HardCore. With each song evoking strength in a forceful, yet vulnerable way, Abuse of Power’s "When Then Becomes Now" feels both identifiable and real. This is a very good and thought provoking release. The 7-inch includes digital download.

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Aggression Pact – Instant Execution (Painkiller Records)

Though "Instant Execution" serves as Aggression Pact’s second release, (the followup to 2015’s self- titled debut,) it should be noted that it is their first output as a full band. On the 7 song EP “Instant Execution," Aggression Pact stay the course with a fierce double guitar attack and gut-wrenching growls via Mark (Wasted Time, Mercy Killings.) With each of the seven songs presented being similar, yet distinguishable, the EP’s third offering "Buried and Rotting" slows things down just long enough for you to get a better feel for the musicianship involved. The drums move up for a more pronounceable presence while the guitar sound is particularly insidious, all combining for a recording that is quite rewarding. And while I really enjoyed their debut EP. I feel that the additional pieces present on "Instant Execution" show off growth and improvement when comparing to the self-titled debut. Aggression Pact continue to keep me interested and on my toes. The 7-inch includes digital download.

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With the band's EP ‘Rope’ in hand and their record release show just days away, I reached out to Scary Stories singer Paul Alan to learn more about the band and how a group of veterans from New Jersey’s music scene came to be. Below is what Paul had to say. - James Damion

I know you all come from other bands (both current and inactive or defunct.) Can you give me a little background on the band and its members? How did Scary Stories get its start?

Adam reached out to me in the fall of 2015 with the idea of doing a band and writing some songs. We had been playing together in Hell Mary for a bit (and still do), but given the circumstances and locations of members in that band, we are unable to get together and write songs. Of course, I was all about it. Adam brought on Greg because he hits the drums like he's trying to break them. He also comes with an unmatched positive attitude which definitely becomes necessary in a band where the music generally comes from a dark place. I brought on Vic who was asking about the status of Hell Mary, but I was like "why don't you come see how you feel about this new thing we're starting." The four of us kept getting together on Mondays for a long time after that and made our first EP in April of 2016. Here is each member and a list of their current active projects off the top of my head. I am sure I'll leave something out.

Adam: Permanent Tension, Entia, Bury Yourself, Khantra, Hell Mary.
Greg: Basement Beers, Moot Point, Shred Flinstone.
Vic: Hot Knife, Static Radio.
Alan : Control, Hell Mary.

What made you want to make music together? With those responsibilities, how much time do you have to dedicate to Scary Stories?

I can't speak for the other guys, but when Adam from Insouciant/Khantra contacts you to do a project, you don't say no. I've gotten to know Vic and Greg through doing this band, and I would definitely do future endeavors with them. It just seemed to click when we got together because everybody was vocal about what they wanted to do and we all listened to each other. The writing process for this band was always gratifying. I feel like each song has a touch of every member but not in a way where it’s forced and you end up with a reggae song with metallic breakdowns. Everyone "got it" and contributed what is best for each song.

How did the opportunity to work with Black Numbers come about?

Vic and Dave go way back. He heard our second EP and saw the art and liked both.

Having released the 'Shimmers' demo on cassette and 'Rope' on a flexi disc. One might think the band is fixated on outdated technology. What went into the decision to go with these antiquated formats?

Well, we're on all those digital platforms, so I wouldn't say we're fixated really. We really had no plans. Tohm from Forced Abandonment offered to do a short run of the cassettes and we said yes because we like how he runs his label and enjoy his catalog. We thought the second one would be awesome to have on vinyl and Dave from Black Numbers was about it so we went with it. If they didn't come out in these forms, I don't think we'd have a physical component to each release and they'd just exist in cyberspace conveniently waiting to be ignored.

How are you planning on promoting the record? Will you be leaving the beloved Garden State?

Our record release is July 7th at Backroom Studios with Concussed, Devoidov, What of Us and Ides. For our release we wanted a diverse lineup of bands we would want to see/play with and that we feel fit well together. It was probably my first time reaching out to bands for a show and they all said "yes" without me having to hound them, so I have a good feeling about this show. As for future plans, we are playing "Fest" in Florida in October.

Have you written any new songs since you recorded the EP?

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

Personal favorites such as Botch and more locally, Kid Dynamite have been mentioned when describing your sound, approach and overall delivery. What are some of the bands that inspired you to play this style of music?

That's awesome that you think of those two bands when describing our sound. I think you nailed it. Again, I can only speak for myself, but I think our tone and sound comes from the individual styles we brought from our past/current bands. When I hear Vic, Adam and Greg on other recordings I can usually always recognize that it's them. Outside of that, I really like those "desperate" sounding bands play with urgency and conviction. I was honored to be part of one of the Dangers local shows back in the winter.

Though I would never describe your music as Horror Punk, the name 'Scary Stories' brings to mind acts like The Misfits and such. What's behind the name?

We stole it from those children's books of folklore with the terrifying pictures. I like it because it's nostalgic for me and those books may be the first "dark" art I was ever exposed to.

What would you say is your favorite song on the EP? Which one do you think performs best in a live setting?

"Rope" is my favorite because I think it's the most dynamic and is a good metaphor for the band in general. "Numbers" seems to go over well's a quick burst that has a lot crammed into a small space. It opens up at the end where the vocals kind of go between the hits (after being directly on them) and I always think that "space" in parts translates well live. The breakdown of "White Plague" is probably my favorite 30 seconds of the Scary Stories output and I'm happy we chose that to close the album.

What influences / inspires the lyrics?

They are all pretty personal except for the last 2 which touch on politics a bit. The hardest one for me to write was probably "Fall Cleanups" because it had me examining my privilege and a certain hopelessness that I feel at times that I can't justify or validate...I guess that was my attempt with these words. All of the lyrics are posted on our bandcamp and the EP comes with an insert. I encourage you to read along! A lot went into them.

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Brian Musikoff should need no introduction to the readers of Jersey For decades he was Hoboken's favorite friendly neighborhood bartender at Louise & Jerry's, a mainstay in local bands like Friends, Roman, Countrymen and Stuyvesant, and a brilliant cartoonist and illustrator. (Brian drew two fantastic covers for Jersey Beat during our print zine days as well as the poster for our 35th anniversary party.) His sudden departure to Seattle took a lot of us by surprise, and he's going to be missed. Happily, thanks to the Internet, he's no more than a few mouse clicks away, and shared with James Damion some remininscences about New Jersey and his decision to head west. - Jim Testa

James Damion: When I got in touch with Brian about our interview, he seemed curious as to why I, or anyone else for that matter, would be interested in doing or reading an interview with him. To be 110% truthful, Brian perfectly fits the mold for most of the interviews I've done or been interested in doing over the years. Getting to know someone who's inspired me with their music, art, or straight up creative nature interests me more than any upcoming release date, tour or single.

For me personally, Brian Musikoff fits the bill for the kind of interviews and exchanges I prefer to approach. Brian is the artist who created the logo for my blog United By Rocket Science, and was the charismatic bass player for Friends, Romans, Countrymen and Stuyvesant (a band whose music and live performances brought me more joy than I could ever wish for. ) So much so that whenever I think of or hear their music, I'm brought back to my time in Hoboken as well as my nights at Maxwell's, the music venue that first brought me to the now famed town in the early 90's.

I'm also very appreciative of Brian's time in helping me build a bridge between my former home in New Jersey to brand-new one in Seattle. Here's what he had to share.

(Interview and images by yours truly, James Damion.)


What was it that sparked your move to Seattle?

After being fought, fucked, and educated in the NY/NJ area for 45 years of my life, I was suddenly overcome by an insatiable desire to tear up my roots; something that (with the exception of a 4 month stint in Newport, Rhode Island in '92) I have never experienced before. I needed a change and I needed to relocate myself to a slower urban environment. Over the past 20 plus years, I have observed a very lame and grotesque assimilation in the NYC area as far as being a cultural epicenter is concerned. I'm speaking for no one else other than myself here when I say that I have been feeling an ever growing increased tension toward the new generation of entitled and naive people who have outwardly exhibit a blatant disregard for NYC culture, and toward those who's basked sense of entitled security which has made them feel comfortable enough to behave disrespectfully without consequence. I have seen the greater wave of social and economic interest entirely shut down the venues, shops, and restaurants that I hold close to heart.

What were some of your initial impressions of Seattle? Pros and cons for any East Coasters looking to move there?

As with any metropolitan area, the local true blue natives are going to be understandably defensive against an influx of newcomers and their affects on the local economic and social climate. As far as the weather itself, newcomers need to be prepared for long, wet, grey winters. The sun only appears in bursts between November and February and the cold misty rain is frequent. Personally, and to the dismay of many defensive locals, I love the winter weather in Seattle. I see it as "forest weather". I'm here to contribute more than I take, and those few who are opposed or uncomfortable with me being here have no choice in the matter.

What do you miss most about New Jersey? In particular, Hoboken.

I miss the pizza, the "mutz", the NYC view along the Hudson, our band Stuyvesant, my immediate circle of dorks, my bartender family, and the proximity to the beach.

Have you had any musical collaborations since you've been out there?

Not yet, but I shall.

(About Brian's "Live from the Barrage" podcast.) How did you become involved? How do you stay involved being out west? What is the key focus of the show?

I knew John and Patrick of LFTB largely through the independent rock community, and not just here in NYC and NJ either. I initially appeared on the the show as a guest and I guess our host John Houlihan and producer Tömmy Röckstar immediately picked up on my dedication to the mutual interests associated with the show. Since I've moved away from the NYC area I continue to support the show by booking guests, designing the weekly promotional images, and promoting the show on social media. The show is still focused on discussion regarding (but exclusive to): good music and those who create it, good comedy and those who best understand it, crap/not crap, The Ryan Game, TRNN NOOZ, and Mario Asaro.

You grew up in a few stops from me in Bayside, Queens. Some of my earleist adventures included heading to Flushing's Main St. and eventually Mike's Comic Hut. Can you share some of your early impressions of living in Queens?

I lived in Bayside, Queens until I was 11 years old, where my experiences on my own were limited to nearby destinations along Bell Blvd such as Peter Pan Arcade, White Castle, George's Pizza, the Bayside Batting Range, and Bayside Cinema (where I saw Empire Strikes Back, E.T., Stripes, and Poltergeist). My grandparents lived in Flushing on Main Street so I was there often, and of course this proximity made me a regular attendee at Shea (whether legitimately or vagrantly, heh). My dad moved around a lot but always remained in Queens, so I've resided all over neighborhoods such as Forrest Hills, Woodside, and Astoria.

Brian's poster for Jersey Beat's anniversary show

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

As a hyperactive kid, music on the stereo in my ears and a pencil and paper in my hands were the only things that kept my interest as child. By the time I survived the social warfare of a suburban NJ high school (my mom remarried and moved us to Englishtown, NJ in 1983) I knew that a liberal college, state school, or community college was not for me.

You designed the logo for U.B.R.S. Aside from here and the work you've done for Stuyvesant. Who else have you worked with?

I've designed animation for comedians such as Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn, and my clients include Warner Bros Records and Relapse Records.

The bass has long been my favorite instrument. Was it the first instrument you learned to play? Inspiration?

My first ever instrument learned was bass drum for my grade school band. Moving on to junior high, I wasn't focused enough or disciplined to study drums, so I started piano (which sucked.) In high school, I fancied myself a Hardcore singer with Wake Up Call, and by college I had taken up bass because the band that I was in at the time (Overeasy with Brandon Stosuy, formerly editor of Pitchfork) just had their bassist quit. To this day I can still not play chords. I live for pushing air and fattening riffs.

What was/were some of the first bands you played with?

My first ever band was in 1986, I played Casio keys for a middle school rap group that consisted of two white guys and two black guys called The Funky 4 (no relation to the much more accomplished The Funky Four Plus One of the Bronx.) We played talent shows and battle of the bands. In high school, I was in a home-recording "basement band" with my best friend called Spleverb. Spelverb were reminiscent of Ween (I guess) and by the time of graduation we had evolved to a full 4 piece band. I was in a few punk bands that never got off the ground in the early 90s, and then in 1996 I was introduced to the members of FRC.

I first learned about Friends, Romans, Countrymean from Al Crisafulli (Dromedary / Sugarblast Records). Can you tell me how you met Sean and how the band came to be?

Bill Dolan (American Standard) and I were both at the first big Descendents reunion show at the Stone Pony where he introduced me to FRC members Sean Adams and Dan Murphy, who were in need of a bass player. So we connected really easily being that, after all, we were together at a Descendents show (no pun intended,) and we all lived in or around the Hoboken/Jersey City area. I played and recorded with FRC from 1996-2002, and then in 2003 Sean and I joined Ralph Malanga from Footstone to form Stuyvesant.

Check out Brian's artwork at

TRU – S/T EP (Destroy All Monsters Records)

If you had the chance to read my review of Tru's 2016 demo and my thoughts on their performance in what was my first and thus far, sole show review, you might get the impression that I think that they’re all that and a big ole’ bag of chips. Well, while all that might be (no pun intended) TRUE, I thought I proper to save my real enthusiasm for when they put something on wax. Well folks, they just have. So excuse we while I get a little bit excited here.

On the band’s debut self -titled four song EP, New Jersey’s TRU blend burly bass lines and guitar hero riffs that add muscle and texture to toned down dreamy vocal landscapes. Mixing elements most likely to be found with dream pop and shoegaze vocalsm, they weave a perfect web that is virtually inescapable. The EP’s opening track “Take a Peek” offers itself as a perfect introduction to the band’s sound and approach with its warm and uplifting sound. “Trouble,” a holdover from their 2016 demo, follows with its warm and infectious vocals, spiraling guitar, and supportive backbeat. “Kristi” and “Hand in Hand” ride the same bus with warm lead vocals and even warmer refrains. One can’t help but fall in love with a band that so effortlessly blends elements of guitar rock with the lush landscapes often found in the best that shoegaze acts, both past and present, have to offer.

With members from local New Jersey acts such as Archie Alone, Dutchguts, Lkffct, Threat 2 Society and Washington Square Park, to name just a few, TRU’s personnel seem like unlikely choice when it comes to creating such a chill, laid back music environment. However, regardless of any past or current associations. TRU strive and succeed in creating artful sounds that see them escaping any and all genre and geographical limitations. I can’t wait for my record to arrive. Get it here...

The Sweet Things – Love to Leave / Cocaine Asslicker Blues (

Here I am about to write another long overdue review while wondering why, after all these years, anyone would care about my opinion on music. So, when my friend, Spaghettytown Records founder Ted Dougherty handed me the latest and second label release The Sweet Things “Love to Leave” single, I quickly embraced my role as reviewer / skewer and got to work on throwing my weighty opinion around.

As New York descends into becoming a giant strip mall for tourists and high rise living yuppies with Wall Street salaries, it’s good to know that there are still bands like The Sweet Things fighting their way upward from the cracks in the sidewalk that once fostered the likes of the Ramones, N.Y. Dolls and Dead Boys with “Love to Leave” and its Johnny Thunders inspired B side, “Cocaine Asslicker Blues.” The Sweet Things finds influence in various genres that include, but do not limit themselves to the Blues, Southern Rock, 70’s Punk and straight up Rock & Roll.

The Sweet Things introduce themselves with a boogie and swagger that quickly resonates with this listener. Bringing to mind 1970’s Rolling Stones as well as the grossly underrated act known as The Faces. This single spins on limited release pink vinyl. I suggest you get it while the getting’s good. Get it here...

The Fiendz – Fossils (Black Pumpkin Records)

If you lived in or travelled through New Jersey in the late 1980’s or 90’s, you most likely heard the Fiendz, owned one of their records, and might have even seen them play a show or two at the Pipeline or City Gardens or any other lost yet beloved music venue sprinkled throughtout the Garden State.

I must have been sixteen or seventeen when I was introduced to the Fiendz by future Electric Frankenstein bassist Dan Canzonieri. I have to admit it was a tough sale for a kid from Queens who, at the time, worshiped at the altar of bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Agnostic Front. Let’s just say harmonic songs about girls weren’t my thing. It wasn’t until Dan handed me a copy of the band’s first single, “Runaway with Me,” that I surrendered to The Fiendz and their knack of creating catchy pop punk that welcomed you to sing along to every note.

Before long, I was running into Joe and Jimmy at parties, and making friends with them while learning about countless other mutual fiendz.

The unreleased Fossils unearths recordings by the classic lineup of Jerry Jones, Jimmy and Joe Darone, with 10 songs written by Jerry and Joe and produced by Tim (Rumblefish) Gilles, during what I would consider the band's height. This material is easily comparable to the albums We’re the Fiendz and Wact.

While the Fiendz most definitely found influence in the likes of The Ramones and Jersey horrorcore greats The Misfits, their sound was a mix of harmony and Power Pop. (What if The Ramones had recorded End of the Century with The Beach Boys Brian Wilson instead of the maniacal Phil Spector?)

While I have to admit that I haven’t paid much attention to The Fiendz in the decades since these songs were written, I thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to hear this. Mostly though, it was the memories of younger days. The Fiendz are still playing and releasing music today, with Jerry being the only original member. Fossils is available on CD and in digital download.

Warzone – The Victory Years

Like many people my age. I was introduced to Warzone through the Revelation Records EP compilation “Together” and the band’s debut EP “Lower East Side Crew.”

Truth be told, my interest in Warzone became almost non-existent after “Open Your Eyes” and the disastrous self-titled mess that followed. By the time Raybeez and crew moved over to Victory Records, I had all but moved on from Hardcore altogether. So much so that I had no idea that The Victory Years was originally released on CD in 1998, shortly after Ray’s untimely death in 97’. Regardless, the vinyl release had me reminiscing about a man who was instrumental in my starting a NYHC fanzine around the same time their debut album Don’t Forget the Struggle, Don’t Forget the Streets” was staking its claim on the streets of Manhattan.

Along with Jimmy G. (Murphy’s Law) and Vinnie Stigma (Agnostic Front,) Ray Barbieri (Agnostic Front / Warzone) was one of the most original and endearing characters to come out of New York City’s Hardcore scene and movement

Most surprisingly, these 17 tracks of Hardcore Punk and Oi really stand the test of time, evoking memories of younger days and reinstating my love for a style of music that, for me at least, once represented a sense of acceptance and community.

Thanks to this and the recently reissued Don’t forget the struggle…, my appreciation has grown for Warzone and Ray’s dedication to the music and worldwide hardcore scene he helped create. Though the band's message of positive thinking and unity could sometimes seem a bit corny, it always came from a a very sincere and honest place. The Victory Years are deserving of the attention of anyone even remotely interested in hardcore, punk or Oi. While you’re on the hunt, I urge you to also pick up a copy of Revelation Records' recent reissue of Don’t Forget the Struggle…Don’t Forget the Streets here...

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

How many times have we either kicked ourselves in the collective consciousness for selling off our original punk and hardcore records. (Oh those limited first pressings still haunt my dreams.) Or wished we were around to pick up those round stacks of wax when they bore their original “pay no more” pocket change price.

As a kid growing up with a love and fascination for vinyl records, I was always eager to see what was inside. The lyrics, image, graphics and that oh-so-important “Thank You List”. Information that made you feel closer to the band as you listened to their music.

Record Aficionado goes further than many other books, fanzines and record collecting websites, in that it goes beyond the record cover to show the inner works and structure,
highlighting the records A and B side and reprints the record's inlay/lyric sheet, stickers, record label advertisements, as well as an accompanying record review from the time. 144 pages of two color printing featuring over 500 images dedicated to every aspect of many hard to find, long out of print EP’s that reshaped Punk while initiating the birth of American Hardcore, from the Abused to Youth of Today. Record Aficionado has it covered. Comparable to Europe’s much sought after two volume Flex Discography, all at a quarter of the price one volume would fetch.

Whether you regret selling that first pressing. Or, for reasons beyond your control, were never able to grab an original, Record Aficionado provides the visual stimulation and/or blueprint for you to embark on your journey towards record collection perfection.

While the book's binding leaves a bit to be desired. Its content is as thorough as it is outstanding. The painstaking attention to detail, cut and paste style and overall fanzine style give Record Aficionada a personal touch that feels as warm and intimate as your very own record collection. An absolute must for record aficionados, collectors and music archivists alike. For under twenty-five dollars. You really can’t go wrong.

Even Worse – We Suck! (The Lost 1982 Album)

If it were not for ROIR’s cassette only label and its now legendary “N.Y. Trash” compilation. My taste and knowledge of Punk may have never gotten past the Clash, Sex Pistols, Ramones stage of my early adolescence. For it was that trip to Broadway’s Tower Records that I got my first taste of Heart Attack, Bad Brains, Stimulators, Kraut (A band who, thanks to my Mom, I had seen open for The Clash at Bonds Casino), Even Worse and many, many more. And while I was much too young to have gone to those shows at Max’s Kansas City, A7 and the Great Gildersleeves. That particular compilation served as a spring board for what was to come.

Even Worse, one of the many bands featured on “N.Y. Trash” were an integral part of New York’s early 80’s punk, thrash, noise scene. A band who at different times featured Beastie Boy co-founder John Berry (R.I.P.), The Big Takeover creator/editor Jack Rabid, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and future “Noise the Show” host Timmy Sommer. Even Worse played fast, up tempo punk rock with bratty female vocals that can be compared to many of their New York City contemporaries. As well as their West Coast counterparts, Alice Bag (the Bags) and the Avengers. Punk Thrash at it’s very best. It was post Pistols / Sid Vicious Punk. Pre-Agnostic Front era N.Y.H.C. Recorded at the legendary 171A studios and co-produced by Bad Brains. The album’s B side feature’s the band performing live at the famed New York City restaurant/club/bar Max’s Kansas City in 1981. (The same year it closed.) Imported from Italy and limited to only five hundred copies on 180 Gram vinyl. “We Suck” includes rare images of the band as well as very personal liner notes from the bands drummer Jack Rabid. This is a must for fans of more obscure and undocumented punk and prototypical art-punk.

“We Suck” does a fantastic job of encapsulating a time and place in New York City’s proud music history. One that I feel has been shrouded in mystique due to its limited amount and incredibly hard to track down recorded history. Here’s hoping that “We Suck!” opens the doors to more lost treasures as well as re-issues of long out of print release from bands such as Heart Attack, The Mad and many, many more.

Radiation Records

Caldor Kids – S/T (10 song album)

If your childhood consisted of trips to Korvettes, Woolworth or Caldor, chances are your parents were either price savvy or economically strapped. Growing up in Jackson Heights, Queens, I myself was familiarized with 82nd Street's Woolworths at a very young age. So, when New York City’s Caldor Kids dropped their ten song self-titled ode to discount chain stores in my email, I immediately got the connection.

On what seems to be their debut, Caldor Kids deliver a set of geeky garage punk that reminded this listener of a cross between old garage punk favorites Crimpshrine and perhaps a poorer man’s Screeching Weasel. Though based in New York City, Caldor Kids' sound, style and approach feels like something that fell out of the Lookout Records family tree. Fast, noisy, adolescent and loose with bratty vocals, I felt an East Bay connection running through each of the record's 10 songs. I really enjoyed the song “Pop Tart” with its fast and loose bass attack as well as the familiarity of “Caldor Kids” (a spoof on the original “Toys R Us kids” commercial.) Overall though, Caldor Kids hardly warrant more than a casual listen or two. Beyond that, it just gets plain irritating. As raucous as this might sound, Caldor Kids seem destined for the circular file at your local discount store’s cut out bin.

Caldor Kids

Pete, Cimdy and Pats’ Birthday Bash featuring Whiner, Tru, Archie Alone, No Honeymoon, Puddle Splasher at The Meatlocker.

This past Saturday I headed west to Montclair’s Meatlocker music venue for Pete and Cindy’s (Archie Alone drummer and guitarist) Birthday Bash show. There was food, champagne, friends, family and plenty of music. Five bands with varied sounds that ranged from Shoegaze and Dream Pop to Emo and Indie Rock performed. Over the years The Meat Locker has been a consistent landing strip for local and touring bands from varying sounds, styles and genres.

The venue's cavernous layout and sense of community combine the structural feel of CBGB’s with the DIY ethos of ABC No Rio. For me, personally, attending shows there has become as much about the people as it is about the music. Below are some images taken at and after the show. Happy Birthday to Cindy and Pete.

Cindy - Archie Alone

Nicole - Archie Alone

Pete - Archie Alone

No Honeymoon

No Honeymoon



TRU - Cindy




Courtesy Tier – Everyone’s OK (Beverly Martel Music)

If it weren’t for my tagging along with Jim Testa to 2011’s 3-day Brick City Riot Festival. I might have completely missed the opportunity to become acquainted with the music and personnel of Courtesy Tier. With a name one might find at a hotel career seminar and a sound you wouldn’t expect to hear coming out of any New York club or bar, the chances they’d soon become so important to me seemed unlikely. Judging on what I witnessed from the duo’s performance and EP’s that followed, that importance quickly grew stronger and stronger.

Enter 2017 and we’re greeted with Courtesy Tier’s first vinyl output, the very rewarding “Everyone’s Ok”. It brings together 11 songs that showcase the trio's gift for creating a hauntingly beautiful mix of soulful blues rock you’ll seldom hear north of the bayou, Spirited songs that read like a dirty old pulp fiction novel left on the nightstand next to the bottle of Makers Mark.

The 11-song LP opens with the long time personal favorite “Cold,” previously featured on 2011’s “Holy Hot Fire” EP. This is a song that’s become so special to me that I feel I’ve come to know every aspect of it intimately. “Childish Blues” follows with Omer Leibovitz’s squealing blues riffs and unique vocal style. By the time the album's third track “And we don’t know” presents itself, it becomes more than evident that you’re being treated to something uniquely special and rewarding. Favorites from the album include but are definitely not limited to the haunting “Cold”, “Little Rock”, the driving “Jackson”, “Hey Bee” the incredibly bluesy storyteller “Mila Says” and the album's closing tear jerker, “Home”.

With Courtesy Tier blurring the lines of style sand genre, simply categorizing them as blues rock or alt-country would be a serious disservice. A “What if Jack White and Ryan dams hijacked the panels of an otherwise dreary Wilco recording session?” comparison will have to do for now. You’d be hard pressed to find a record as thoroughly good as “Everyone’s OK”. Eleven songs that feel so perfectly crafted, you’re sure to have it in heavy rotation for the unforeseeable future.

Backwards Youth – Reality Check

Just when you thought that hardcore punk had run out of every possible way to incorporate the word “Youth in to their name, Charleston, South Carolina’s Backwards Youth put the name game in reverse before putting their brash approach to hardcore on blast.

“Reality Check,” the follow up to their 2014 EP “Outcast,” features 6 songs of well rounded, metal influenced hardcore. Growled vocals, breakdowns, beefy guitar riffs and a pounding backbeat highlighted by thick bass lines, producing short, yet satisfying results. Overall, it was the cleverly (insert sarcasm) titled instrumental “Intro” and the EP’s fifth track “Life Sentence” with its well-rounded metal core sound that stood above the others.

“Reality Check” was tracked and mixed by Kris Hilbert at Legitimate Business. Mastering is by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege. Album art is by Chad Lawson, with track listing art by Preston Weippert. Guest vocals on Excuse are by Patrick Thomas of False Light. The record is available to download or stream.

Backward Youth

Wall Breaker – 2017 Demo

Fresh for your boom box comes a five-song demo cassette from a new band that sounds as if it was carved out of an 80’s CBGB’s Sunday hardcore matinee. Featuring membership from both the Garden State and Virginia, the cast of Wall Breaker have played in such bands as Wormeaters, Chainsaw to the Face and the very influential Coke Bust.

Wall Breaker come out of the gate swinging with a five-song demo of raw, savage and blistering straightedge hardcore you don’t often here in youth crew circles, asomewhat rare trait that I found to be particularly impressive. Adding speed and an updated sound to influences like Boston’s S.S.D., Detroit’s Negative Approach and later 80’s bastards of hardcore New York’s Life’s Blood. The band's overall sense of purpose, swagger and intensity allow Wall Breaker to set them apart from being just your random act playing to their influences.

As I began to compose this review. I reached out and shared the recording with some likeminded friends, including Life’s Blood singer Jason O’Toole. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and only served to reinforce my own feelings, even though no one is being tested on their knowledge or appreciation of music created when Reagan was still popping jellybeans in the Oval Office. No matter the era, I always find it easier to identify with a band that took the time to listen, appreciate, and be influenced by such essential stuff. For a band that is still very much in their infancy. Wall Breaker really leaves a lasting impression.

The opening song “Wall Breaker” serves as a perfect introduction with its forceful chorus: “Break the fucking walls!!! Break the fucking walls!!!” “Autobiography,” the band's fifth and final one, wraps things up rather well with a short yet laugh educing skit. For someone just being introduced to a new and current hardcore punk act, this is about as good as it gets.

Cassette available through Absolute Contempt Records and is is limited to 200 copies on pro duplicated white and black cassettes (BE=100 white, AC=100 black) and glossy printed covers. I suggest not sleeping on this one. Any and all the money from donations and any profit from the tapes goes to cat rescue as per usual.

Wall Breaker

Forever Losing Sleep / Arrowhead – Split EP

While It might seem as if I’ve been hearing about New Jersey’s Forever Losing Sleep… well, forever. I can trace the first rumblings to an actual show they played way back in 2014. I recall a friend talking up the band during their exhaustingly long pre-show set up. Imagine my dissatisfaction when what took nearly an hour to set up was sleepily performed in a quarter of that time. A ton of build up with no climax. To say the very least. I was not the least bit moved.

More than three years later I’m hearing the band again for the first time again on a two-song split with Boston, MA’s Arrowhead.

Forever Losing Sleep start things off with “Woken by the Sun,” taking their slow, slower, slowest approach to comatose depths of self-indulgent prog–rock indulgence. Even when singer/guitarist Joe Kelly screams during the 9:00 plus minute track, it seems to be done while in a catatonic state. Arrowhead follow, taking an almost exact sloth like pace. The only difference being singer Tad Rios seems to curse the sky a little louder. Perhaps trying to make up for the nine or so less seconds it took to finish the song. Regardless, it’s dull, duller dullest all the way through.

Being a long-time fan of the split single. I’ve learned that combining acts with different sounds, ideas and aesthetics, tend to make for a better listen. On this particular split, though, I could find little to no differences between the two. If you have the time in your life to devote your attention to a couple of songs delivered in a snail’s pace of 17 minutes, more power to you. For me personally, it was an exercise in misery. If I as ever to write a suicide note, it would, in all likelihood, be accompanied by this release.

Forever Losing Sleep -Bandcamp

Aguirre – Overexposed (Forced Abandonment Records)

If George Orwell and Orson Welles ever set out to start a Punk or Hardcore band, chances are it would sound a lot like New Jersey’s Aguirre. Considering their 2015 demo ‘Poverty Rowe’ was accompanied with a dark, black and white film noir movie concept, the thought doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Part demo, part film college thesis, it was as outlandish as it was brilliant.

Come 2017 and the band has returned with their first full length ‘Overexposed’. I was invited by singer Patrick Flynn and drummer Paul Alan to give these ten songs an authoritative listen before putting in my two cents.

To start with, ‘Overexposed’ does a lot to set itself apart from what’s being called Hardcore or Punk these days. Not to say that there is anything wrong with being a Hardcore act in 2017. Or for that matter, any year. It’s just that I haven’t heard a whole lot that sets one band apart from the other recently. Musically, ‘Overexposed’ goes in a lot of interesting directions you won’t hear from in your typical Joe Hardcore act. Vocally, Aguirre lead a dark path with sinister vocals that sound as if they were a prophetic narrative warning of darker days to come. Timely, considering the current political landscape. One can really appreciate the sense of storytelling throughout. Whether intended or not, each of the 10 songs feel connected, as if they were written with the intention of being the score to a George Romero movie. I can say with all honesty that I like where Aguirre are taking things. “Overexposed” is available on cassette and digitally.

Forced Abandonment Records

Moot Point – "History Repeats Itself and We Never Learn Fast Enough" EP (Bandcamp)

Greg Furlong is by far one of the nicest people I’ve met through going to shows (my social media jabs regarding his taste in music aside.) As the drummer for Basement Beers and Scary Stories, he stands out as one of the best and most animated stickmen in the state. Being how those two acts have served me well in the somewhat recent past, I was eager to give these newly recorded songs some attention and focus.

Having barely heard of the duo known as Moot Point. I approached this two-song recording with little to no knowledge of the band or the style of music they played, an approach that didn’t change how completely off guard I felt upon listening to these two short and very abrasive tracks. Raw, unhinged, chaotic and dissonant would best describe the sound being put forth on these songs.

Featuring Vince Basile (guitar/vocals/lyrics) and Greg Furlong. “History Repeats...” two songs screamer is more Power Violence, Screamo, Noise Rock than its predecessor, 2016’s garage rock friendly “Clockwatcher.” With “A clear head of thought” and “History” coming together in just about four and a half minutes, I had a hard time judging just what it was I liked or disliked about this particular recording. However, I’m grateful in that it gave me the chance to compare it to their previous recordings. Whether or not this is your kind of noise, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Moot Point on Bandcamp

Breakdown – The 1987 Demo (540 Records)

I still recall the numerous times I stopped in to Some Records when in route to the Sunday Hardcore matinees at CBGB’s. It was the main spot to check out flyers for upcoming shows. Peruse the latest Hardcore releases and pick up the latest cassette demos from the latest bands in the scene. It’s how I began to build my arsenal of demo tapes. It’s where I picked up the first Breakdown demo.

Years later. After owning every conceivable reissue and version of that original tape. The first full length LP had me wondering whether or not to proceed. Was there anything new to learn or hear. Was there any necessity in owning, yet another copy? A full color 12X24 poster to tape to the walls of my brother’s college dorm and extensive liner notes to base my graduate school thesis on? Yes. A fully restored recording of their live performance on WNYU’s Crucial Chaos that I originally taped on my home’s boom box? Check. In the end, though. A combination of nostalgia meets familiarity made my purchase a sure thing.

Raw, unflinching and streetwise. The nearly thirty-year-old demo still stands strong. The nine-song recording that almost singlehandedly changed the face of New York Hardcore by giving it a tougher edge. (One possibly absent due to bands like The Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front’s fleeing the lower east side due to touring commitments.) While almost simultaneously offering a counterweight to Youth of Today and the countless bands that were forming at the time.

Side A features the 87’ demo in its entirety. Nine classic mosh classics like ‘Kickback’, ‘Life of Bullshit’, ‘Vengeance’, ‘Labelled’, ‘You Gotta Fight’ and ‘Sick People’. Great songs that reflected life’s everyday struggles. To make this a full blast LP. The bands 87’s WNYU Crucial Chaos greets side B. Their live set includes the entire demo. Plus, the additional instrumental ‘Pipe Dream’.

Breakdown would go on to be featured on such classic Hardcore compilations as “In addition to recording another classic demo and a couple of full lengths. The band would be featured on the incredibly influential Revelation Records “The Way it is”, Blackout Records “Where the Wild Things Are” and one of the last tape collections of its time. The “New Breed Compilation”.

For most though, it was the 87’ demo that would go on to influence and become the springboard for countless hardcore acts in and for decades to come. If you love Hardcore. The 87’ demo should already be an important tool in your box. If you ever wanted to educate yourself on the development of late 80’s Hardcore in New York City. This would be a great start.

Rocky & the Chapter – You Are Not Mine

I ran into an old friend at a local music venue the other night. Though I hadn’t seen him in quite some time. I felt more than comfortable reintroducing myself with a big man hug.

We talked briefly about music and in particular, our mutual appreciation for guitarist John Mayer and singer / songwriter Ryan Adams. As we broke the ice. I felt the doors for further exchange were opened for further dialogue. So, I asked what he had been up to since our last encounter. When he revealed that he was currently playing in Rocky & The Chapter. The smile on my face was hard to conceal. For it had been just minutes’ prior when I was speaking to his former bandmate, NGHTCRWLRS guitarist and Sniffling Indie Kids label boss Frank Joseph about an upcoming record release show featuring the very same act I am about to write about.

Following a handful of singles as well as 2015 full length ‘ New Day / Old’ Here. (A record I found to be deeply rewarding.) ‘You are not Mine’ welcomes the singer / songwriter back to the table with sweet, yet sweeping melodies that move effortlessly throughout. Ones that perfectly encapsulate a sense of warmth and the promise of good things to come.

‘You Are Not Mine’ offers a crisp Pop sound with enough kicked up guitar riffs to give it an undeniable rock edge. The added cowbell effect to the infectious guitar driven leads on ‘Lucky 13’ launched me from the couch to my hardwood floors faster than any recent calls to the dinner table.
The following and EP closing track ‘Talk Small’ had all the sinister edge and longing to perfectly wrap up an otherwise celebratory affair.

Four songs that gave me a continued appreciation and respect for the Singer/songwriter camp. Rocky’s voice has a special pull that draws that the listener close enough to the song to make them feel as if they’re a part of it. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy this weekend at Jersey City’s Porta.

Rocky & The Chapter on

Night Battles – Curse the Day / Locust Sky

Sometimes, a good thing just falls into your lap. Such is the case with the two-song offering from Raleigh, NC’s Night Battles. Featuring members of various local NC acts as well as old friend and guitarist Christopher Skelly. (Dahlia Seed / Static is a City) Night Battles lay down some diabolical post punk scripture on their debut two song release.

“Curse the Day” introduces Night Battles with devilish vocals and gasoline soaked riffs. Dirty post core that kicked in like a shot of whiskey with a rattlesnake chaser. Knocking me off my balance while jacking my heart rate to dangerous levels. Side effects aside. I really dig the deviant nature it conjures up. The “Sinner takes all” vibe displayed here cannot go without noting. “Locust Sky” follows. Providing a musically visual authority to its namesake with a slower, even more ominous approach. Imagine Afghan Wigs and Laughing Hyenas waist deep in the sludgy industrial complex along the side of the highway.

While these two teasers had “Best stuff around” written all over them. I was left wondering how soon the collected personnel would get back in the studio for more. Regardless of future collaborations. I appreciate Night Battles reminder that great things often come in small packages.

Night Battles on\

Beyond - No Longer at Ease

Nostalgia is a funny thing. on the downside. It has a way of stealing your time, as well as your hard-earned money. Spend too much time in the past and you'll find yourself trapped there. On the upside. Or at least in this case. Nostalgia has a strange way of freezing moments tucked so far in your past. You never realized you had retained them.
As a teen, I spent most of my free and not so free time involved in the New York Hardcore scene. The majority of it, spent with the members and close friends of a band called Gorilla Biscuits. During my senior year of High School. The name “Beyond” would come up quite regularly. High praise from Walter and Civ. Shortly after graduation. I was invited to share a rather large Queens apartment with Walter, Civ and Beyond drummer Allan Cage. It was during that time I got a full-blown taste of what was a very special and unique band.

Originally released in 1989 on David Stein’s Combined Effort label and later reissued on compact disc by New York’s Some Records. Revelation Records brings the epic New York Hardcore release back to life with a well-deserved vinyl reissue.
While often bunched in with the bands like Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits. (Bands they shared bills with as well as common ground and philosophy.) Beyond's sound and influences were had just as much in common with Iron Maiden as they did Minor Threat.) With Metal tinged guitars, tribal drums, and lyrics that travelled outside the boundaries of Hardcore and Punks topics of the day.

Though short lived. Beyond personnel would quickly go on to push the boundaries of Hardcore in acts such as Bold, Burn, Shelter, 108, Quicksand, Seaweed, 1.6 Band, Last Crime and more.

Featuring the albums original fifteen songs. “No Longer at Ease” has aged incredibly well. The Metal tinged guitar shredding and tribal drumming I mentioned sound just as vital and fresh as they did when I was a teen. Add Kevin Egan’s vocal urgency and the Vic Dicara’s sinister bass work and you’ll find yourself listening to a record that feels as just as urgent and necessary as it felt when it was first released.

With liner notes by Walter Schreifels, song lyrics and the option grey or red marble. “No Longer at Ease” offers something for everyone.
Beyond on Revelation Records

Search – Between the Lines (Revelation Records)

Sharpen your X’s. Dirty up those old cargo shorts and dust off that old backwards Thrasher cap. It’s time to go back to that old reliable fountain of straight edge middle aged youth with the debut six song 7 inch from the newly formed SEARCH. Comprised of personnel from such stellar New Jersey straight edge hardcore acts Mouthpiece, Turning Point and Floorpunch. SEARCH set out to create music in the vein of Youth of Today the youth crew movement that initially influenced them to start bands as teenagers.

“Between the Lines” features six songs packed with all the thunderous glory of Hardcore past and present with fast and furious urgency and intent. Spirited guitar leads, dep rolling bass lines and percussion. All led by the familiar voice of Mouthpiece, Hands Tied and Triple Threat vocalist Tim McMahon.

While Search have done an excellent job with “Between the Lines”. Their debut is nothing one wouldn’t expect from a group of straight edge kids in their early to mid 40’s.
Reliable or just plain predictable. The band sticks to what they know and love so closely. That it ends up sounding more like an ode to the past than a look to the future. The hope of hearing something new and fresh never presented itself. Making the record somewhat of a letdown. Six songs that would complement any of Revelation Records (1987-1989) earliest classics. A nice, colorful slab of vinyl tucked neatly into a pliable cardboard sleeve. Nice, but not all that necessary.
Search on Revelation

NYC Headhunters - The Rage of the City

Comprised of members of The Rival Mob, Step Forward and more. NYC Headhunters represent a new breed of Hardcore bands bringing it back to a resurging NYHC scene. Still abuzz from the band's well-received 2015 demo. I was eager to hear what the Headhunters debut 7' inch EP would offer. True to Hardcore form. The NYC Headhunters haven't strayed very far from the ingredients that made their demo so god damned good. Cutthroat vocals that blend Hardcore's aggression with street punk's urgency and sense of alienation. The five songs offered on 'The Rage of the City' are each impressive in their own way. Musically and lyrically tight with a sound that frequently reminds me of late 80's NYHC without sounding anything like a nostalgia act. Overall, 'The Rage of the City' feels raw, real and very authentic. Painkiller Records

TRUE VISION – Against the Grain (Painkiller Record)

Following their 2015 self-titled cassette release on Mind Rot Records. England’s True Vision return with their debut EP 'Against the Grain'. Featuring members of Violent Reaction, Shrapnel, Arms Race and The Flex. Their lineup reads like a who's who in the ranks of England's most currently celebrated Hardcore and Oi bands.

All parts considered. True Vision exhibit a complete and total lack of originality or ability to create anything even remotely original. Instead, sticking to a cookie cutter, cut and paste, play by the book approach to straight edge Hardcore. Whereas countless others have proudly worn their influences on their sleeves. True Vision recorded a record that feels sleeved in decades old clichés. Upon my first listen to True Identity sounded more like a band covering early Revelation Records EP’s than one creating their own sound and vision. Energy and speed? Yes. Any sense of a band creating their own identity? Absolutely not. Disappointing. Contact PainKiller Records.

AGGRESSION PACT - S/T 7' inch (Painkiller Records)

Formed by Dan, (Waste Management) and Ryan (Green Beret. Two bands I admittedly have never heard of) as well as members of personal favorites, Richmond's Wasted Time. Aggression Pact is yet another band that finds influence days gone by. With hints of A.O.D., B.G.K. as well as other acronym leading bands of the 8o's. A.P.'s six-song debut EP wrecks-havoc on the senses while endearing the listener to its savage bar room brawl appeal. Intended or not.
On the bands six song debut EP. A.P. Do a very good job of making an impact with their fast, razor sharp delivery that doesn’t stop long enough for you to take a cigarette break. And while I definitely felt a Boston / Choke / Slapshot influence.
More closely, Aggression Pact reminded me of 'An Adjustment to Society' era Kraut. (In case you've never heard of New York's Kraut. That's about as good a compliment as you can give.) An all-around excellent record from a band well worth your time.

Contact Painkiller Records

TRÜ- 2016 Demo

Bios are perhaps, one of the most overlooked parts of being an artist, or in this case a band. So, when I read “We’re a band from Jersey who like Weezer.” didn’t come near describing the newly formed TRÜ. I reached to the newly formed band’s bass player and friend for something a bit more telling. Formed in late 2016 as a side project for members of various local bands including, but not limited to Dutchguts, LKFFCT,
Threat 2 Society and Archie Alone. What started out as a side project for the four members quickly became a priority.

On their two-song demo, TRÜ produce sounds and ideas unexplored in any output with the previously mentioned endeavors. The chill, down to earth vibe on the demo’s second track “Fool’s Gold” is just as seductive on the ears. Perhaps offering more of a slightly more uplifting vibe. With parts dream pop and parts shoe gaze. One can't help but think of Belle & Sebastianne cruising down the NJ Turnpike with Beach House riding shotgun.

TRÜ just recently recorded a 4 track EP 7” inch EP at Nada Recording Studios with John Naclario. It's planned Spring 2017 release on the soon to be born “Destroy All Monsters” label. Though just a sample of things to come. I felt TRÜ feft a nice calling card clearly outlining the promise of things to come. Contact Tru


  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.







back to l back to top 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.

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