Sunday, March 06, 2011

Record Reviews (winter 2011)

Happy new year to my blog readers who just follow for the record reviews. We've got a handful of stragglers from last year this time around, as well as some early '11 releases. A handful of these come courtesy of Grave Mistake Records (thanks Alex). GM will be re-releasing the new Coke Bust 7" shortly, and I highly recommend picking that up as well. I'll probably be doing another reviews post toward the end of March/early April, since I've been trading a lot, and been getting a bunch of new records over the past month. Bands/labels: send me shit!


OFF!- First Four EPs
If you were trying to create the perfect Black Flag rip-off band, here's some pointers: Kieth Morris on vocals, Raymond Pettibon artwork, name the band after an insect repellent. OFF managed to do all of these things. The music is more in like with Morris-era Flag than it is with any Circle Jerks material. This 4 7" box set compiled all 4 of their EPs, however only the first was released individually. I feel like it listens better in mp3 form, since it flows more like an LP, and you don't have to flip a record every 3 minutes. It's good to see some new music from Kieth Morris, as I'm more interested in this than anything the Circle Jerks have done since Group Sex. The music is cool, but ultimately I feel like it falls short. Maybe Vice readers who used to listen to punk will check this out and be impressed, but I'd rather listen to a band like Government Warning play this style better.

No Comment-Common Senseless
No Comment-Downsided
Man, when I heard these 2 were getting a ptoper reissue, I made sure to order them right away. No Comment is a band I always thought was overlooked due to their shit being out of print for so long. For those not familiar, they were one of the early power violence bands, in the same league as Infest. They played fast as hell, and the singer actually sang instead of growling or grunting. I'd say No Comment was more a ridiculously fast hardcore band. Downsided is my fucking shit man, if I had to pick a favorite, start with that one. "Dead Stare For Life" is such a perfect song. Was never a fan of the slower last song though. Common Senseless is just as good, though Downsided was always my favorite. The reissues look and sound great, the only thing that I didn't like was the addition of the Man Is The Bastard myspace link. Lame, make a NC one, or list an e-mail address. Regardless, these are mandatory for fans of fast hardcore.

Negative Approach- Friends Of No One
Before I write about the music, I want to talk about how this is the fucking worst cover art I've ever seen. It's poorly drawn, poorly colored, poorly composed and looks like total shit. It's unreleased NA shit from 1983, find a photo and make it look like an 80's HC record. Also no lyric sheet or liner notes. Chances are there's a story about this recording session, and why it was lost for all of these years. Musically it's demo quality, but still clear. The unreleased songs are killer, and John's voice sounds more vicious than past NA recordings. There's even an awesome cover of "I Got a Right" by the Stooges. Great record, shitty half-assed package.

Manipulation- s/t #2
I loved Manipulation's demo and first 7", so I was real psyched that they had another 7" coming. Like the first 7", they re-recorded some demo tracks along with some new jams, and the recording is just as raw. Musically is sounds like Gauze covering early Discharge. The layout is very dark, which fits the mood of the music, and has a bright red obi strip. Fucking awesome, maybe do an LP next?

Stripmines- Sympathy Rations
Raleigh, North Carolina drops another megaton explosion of hardcore punk on you fucks (Bruce Roers RIP). Stripmines' demo was killer, but didn't match their intensity live. This 7" is everything I wanted it to be, plus they even re-record "Failsafe." There are blazing fast parts, balanced with more harder mid-paced parts. Their music is a perfect balance of Japanese power and American rage. I can't recommend this higher, you need to take a chance on this record. Fuck...

Troops Of Tomorrow- T.W.W.L.
I loved the Troops demo, so I was psyched that the new stuff finally made it to vinyl. Unfortunately there's only 3 songs, but luckily they're all good. They play punk with a UK82 vibe mixed with a Boston HC 82 burliness. The layout is pretty clean, and I don't really like the cover. It seems to be made to look like a single for TWWL, however omitting the lyrics from the B-side songs. The B-side is just as good though. Would love to have some more new songs by these guys ASAP.

Much Worse- Proper Execute
Don't know much about these guys, other than they're from Minneapolis and that No Way is doing their next record. Thought I'd give it a shot based off that. Musically it kinda reminds me of Born Bad a little. They seem to be playing a style of US hardcore with a Japanese raw big production. Glad I gave this a shot, because it is killer. Just got their new record on No Way, and psyched to give it a spin.

Young Republicans- s/t
This is an interesting little lost and found record. Young Republicans were a punk band from CT in the early 8o's, who kind of remind me of other bands from the area like like CIA, 76% Uncertain or Vatican Commandos. Most notably though is that members of this band went on to form Youth Of Today years later. Oddly enough some of the riffs in these songs were later re-used in YOT songs ("Stabbed in the Back" and "Expectations"). The song "High School Rednecks" was later turned into the anthem "Straight Edge Revenge," if you can believe that. These songs are demo quality, though sound pretty good for something that was thought lost for almost 30 years years. The music is actually pretty good despit the novelty of being a pre-Youth of Today band. I feel like youth crew types won't like it and find it a novelty, but fans of obscure early 80's HC/punk will probably enjoy this.

The Ladies- Six More Reasons to Hate...
Well if you're looking for some reasons to hate the Ladies, the topless nazi girl on the cover would be a good place to start. There's also some nazi bondage, on the back. I think it rules. Musically though, you get some killer garage/punk/rocknroll here. I liked the other 7"s of theirs that I have, and this was certainly no let down. I actually like this more, and on top of that, more songs than the previous records too. The only downside is that there's no lyrics, but I guess that adds another reason to hate the Ladies.

Brain F- So Dim
Don't know too much background on Brain F other than they released a demo last year as Brain Flannel, have a member of Logic Problem and are from NC. Musically, it reminds me a bit of Gorilla Angreb, but with a more weird distorted sound. Most of the parts have male/female vocals singing at the same time. I tend to like my punk rock a bit more straight forward, but this is pretty cool. The layout is a real cool dark look, with various type in different languages. Looks weird, sounds weird...

Backslider- s/t
Backslider finally release their first solo record. Stylistically not much has changed from their lo-fi 2 piece power violence/grindcore sound. I've always gotten a heavy Lack of Interest vibe from them. Fastcore fans are gonna flip their shit for this. The only gripe I have it a lack of lyric sheet. I feel like printed lyrics legitimize the pv/grind scene for not just being a bunch of grunts and 20 second songs. Otherwise the record looks and sounds great!

Nightfall- Fucking Noise Addicts
From the ashes of Dissystema and SPG, Nightfall goes from side project to full time band. They did a 7" way back in 2005, but obviously within 6 years they've improved. They play a raw punk style of HC, in the vein of bands like Anti-Cimex and the Shitlickers (who they cover). The lyrics cover your standard crust topics of war and death, as well as a dark layout with some skulls. Came out on a German label, so it may be tricky to find in the US right now. Definitely worth checking out for your raw punk/d-beat fix.

Outlast- Take Control
Outlast is one of my favorite local bands; they remind me of the youth crew revival bands from around 1997 when I was first getting into HC. Outlast plays music similar to band slike In My Eyes or Floorpunch, with something to say. The recording and layout are very clean, which looks nice, but doesn't really capture the HC energy. There's enough sing along parts to make me miss my bleach blonde posi-top. If you're into modern bands like Mindset, or the rest of the React Records roster, you need to check these guys out.

No Comply- It's Getting Hot
No Comply is a newer band from TN, not the FL band or Atlanta band of the same name. I had heard that this band had a member of Deathreat, or one of those family of bands. Sounds similar to Bury The Living, but it kind of falls flat in the end. Cool screened cover, but I'd pass on this one...


H100's- Live
Live albums are usually crappy, this one however is not one of those. This must have been recorded off of a soundboard, because it sounds really clear. What you get is a live set from 1995, where you get the H100's at their loud distorted snotty obnoxious best. The between song banter is pretty great as well. There's also some little kid backups during "Agitate," which are awesome. They basically play the hits from the 3 7"s, which are pretty mandatory in my opinion. Wish there was some sort of insert with info on the show or a more legible back cover, but it's probably the best live LP you can find. RIP Chard.

No Class-Keine Klasse
A friend of mine recommended this record to me, saying it was "a very Jeff record." Not sure what that means, but he was right that I'd like it. The music is pretty basic distorted American hardcore. I really like the singer's delivery, and it gives off a real snotty attitude. The cover art however doesn't match the music, and looks like some mysterious guy crap. Is that trend dead yet? This rules though, check it out.

Night Fever- New Blood
Man, I've had mp3s of this record for a while, so I was real psyched that Vinyl Conflict had copies on vinyl. Someone once described them to me as 80's hair metal mixed with youth crew hardcore. That may sound terrible to some, but I had to hear them based off that. Holy fuck, am I glad I did. Basically it's faster US style HC (they're from Denmark), with the vocalist actually singing kinda like Danzig (but way more snotty). The sung parts are kinda weird at first, but everyone I've played this for agrees that it grew on them. Apparently they're planning to come to the US in the summer, I will be moshing. Someone sell me their 4 Song live EP please...

Low Threat Profile- Product #2
Unless you had your head under a rock, you know that Low Threat Profile 7" from last year was killer. If you did have your head under said rock, LTP is a band that contains No Comment, Infest and lack of Interest members, which was started in the early 2000's. This LP was recorded probably around that same time as their 7", but the vocals just recorded recently (kinda like that last Infest LP). The music isn't as distorted sounding, but is obviously still blazingly fast. There's definitely 2 guitars in the mix, but I can't hear much bass if there is any. I'm also not sure how I feel about the skit at the end of the first side at the end of "Product #2," it's cool at first then seems kinda cheesy on repeated listenings. Hopefully now that they started actually releasing records, maybe they'll start doing new stuff.

Deep Sleep- Turn Me Off
After a trio of 7"s, Deep Sleep finally release their first LP. I feel like more melodic/poppy bands really shine better on LPs than singles, and this is the case. What do you get when a bunch of dudes who played in hardcore bands get way into the SST back catalog, and grew up listening to the Descendents/ALL? Probably the fastest pop-punk record you'll get this year. I liked Deep Sleep's first 7", but thought their other EPs fell a little short. This LP however captures the speed and intensity of that first record, and is way faster than I expected. I like the layout, and theme they've had across all of their releases of colored high contrast photos as well, and this continues that theme. Real good LP for sure.

Mindset- LIVEset
So first off, the label that released this put up pre-orders for this in May, and didn't send the records until February. I mean at least I got the record at all, but it severely tainted my excitement to get this. What you get here is a live set of Mindset's from A Time We'll Remember Fest in 2009. There's songs from their 2 7"s, plus Agent Orange and Minor Threat covers. Some between song banter about the standard posi-core topics, but I prefer the H-100's banter (see above). The sound quality is pretty good compared to some other live albums I have, but this is probably mainly for people who already like the band.

This Comp Kills Facsist Vol.2
It's always real hard to review compilation LP, especially ones like this. Here you get 2 LPs of fastcore/power violence/grind/hardcore music, clocking in at 74 songs and around 20 bands. Since I don't get paid to do this, and I didn't receive a promo copy, here's the short review. The comp has some highs (Lack of Interest, Extortion) and some lows (like 90% of the rest), but definitely introduced me to some new bands that I will have to check out for sure. The whole package looks great, with some full color collage work that will make Winston Smith jealous. Each band gets a small square on the gatefold for artwork, but most chose not to print their lyrics unfortunately. Fastcore freaks will probably appreciate this more than me. I almost wish I had it on CD, so I could skip tracks, but it's overall a solid comp.

Korova- Demonstration #7089 (pro-tape)
Korova sent me this tape, so I don't know much about them. They hail from Alabama, and I honestly can't think of a single other band from AL (past or present). They play a very noisy chaotic style of HC, not too unlike Sex Vid or some of the Youth Attack bands. Sounds like it was recorded in a garage, but the music is good enough to shine through. I like that they use samples between songs as well. The B-side is a live set, which is equally noisy, but not as well recorded and kind of hard to distinguish songs. The covers are printed with silver ink on black paper, which looks real slick (reminds me of the Left for Dead discography CD). With a studio recording though, I think these guys will sound really killer.

Callous (tape)
Callous is a new band with members of Chainsaw to the Face, Backslider, I Hate This and others. As opposed to their previous bands, this is heavy, slow and dark. De (IHT) and Dave (CTTF) share vocal duties, meaning you get Dave's growling voice juxtaposing with De's more yelled vocals. I get a real Man is the Bastard or maybe like a Crom vibe. Usually sludgey heavy music like this is reserved for stoners, but that's not the case here. You get 4 songs, which probably clock in around 10 minutes. I usually don't listen to stuff like this, but it's done well.

Future Breed #1
If you're not familiar with, it's a website of show photos mostly centered around the Boston scene. The photos are great, but this isn't a photo zine. Instead, it focuses on a lot of other behind the scenes people in the scene, such as HateFiveSix (video) and Manny Mares (photo), as well as band interviews. It's good to see people get recognition for video taping and photographing shows, as I think it makes for an important document of the scene. The band interviews with Bane and Reach the Sky aren't my taste, but he does ask questions other than the basics, which shows a genuine interest in the bands. The zine is real thick for a half page zine too. The layout is very clean, not the usual cut and past punk zine look. It makes for an easy read, I've had punk zines that were impossible to read because the writers were too pre-ocupied with the punk aesthetic. There is a lot of white on the page, maybe get some borders of backgrounds in issue 2. All in all a great start for a new zine.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Birthday Blog 2011

So if you're a regular to my blog, every year I do a Birthday Blog about what's going on with my life currently. Due to the magic of technology, I've set this to post on the morning of my B'day. However, today I will be snorkeling in Great Stirrup Cay. My girlfriend and I will be on a cruise until the 6th.
So over the past year, I lost my job at the startup arts and crafts company, but have been freelancing at a place in NYC. I do production work, but it's for Post Cereals and Nabisco mostly, which is pretty cool. I've also been working with a company doing device skins with the World of Warcraft license. Never played the game, but the graphics are pretty cool. We're very close to being finished, so hopefully they hit stores by the summer.
Musically, I had a productive year. Wormeaters had our 3rd (and I'd say best) EPcome out on one of my favorite labels, Sorry State. We're playing with Weekend Nachos in a few weeks, which makes our first NJ show in over 2 years. I guess my blacklist from the scene has expired. Bloodtype released 2 7"s, which were both extremely well received. Cowabunga released our s/t 7", and may do a second if all goes according to plan. We also had a split 7" with INJ/SYS from FL, but unfortunately our tour plans over the summer fell through. I also released a tape on my own Bleeding Edges records, which had songs from both 7"s and a Black Flag cover. Unfortunately Bloodtype's been on a hiatus due to members moving to other states, but "Scabtype" is playing a show in a few weeks with Noose and RazorXFade.
Lately I've been focused on a new/old band Phibes. The band started as a Wormeaters side project 2 years ago, then got shelved until the summer when we recruited Mike to sing. The music is very early 80's California punk sounding. It's fun to play a little slower, and with more complex song structures. It gives me a chance to flex my bass skills a bit. I released the tape on my label, and have started distro-ing it already. Initial reviews have been real good so far.
Probably the most exciting this I did over the past year was tour Europe with Coke Bust. I had never been on a tour longer than 10 days, so a 3 week European tour was huge. We went to the UK, and across northern Europe. I had a lot of fun selling shirts/records and singing a cover song or 2 every night. Here's a video of me singing a Youth of Today cover.
Some other awsome things to happen this past year was that I adopted a cat (which I named Kat Champion- KC for short), my sister got married (meaning I gained a brother in law), and my best friend Laura got married as well. I haven't taken any more baking classes, but maybe if the job market tanks again I will.
2010 turned out to be really cool, hope 2011 can compete.