Thursday, April 12, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Time to move awn!

Yup. The world of file-sharing blogs seems to be collapsing and I'm jumping ship and moving on. If you haven't heard, megaupload/megavideo's been sniped by the FBI, and now all likeminded site owners are closing their doors. I won't go into too great of detail, and while it's likely to peeter out, at the moment, everything from bootlegs, the ultra-obscure and un-re-pressed, and even musician-approved sampling is getting torn down and the affiliated uploaders are being suspended. Running this blog's been fun, but honestly, I'm tired of this format. I realize all my limitations have been self-imposed, but I wanna start fresh. My interests in music stretch far beyond the punk-centric nature of this blog, and as such, I'm going to say fuck all to seeking a specific demography and start writing about whatever it is floating my boat at any given moment - cohesion be damned. If you're familiar with my old, considerably more avant-garde focused (as well as cringeworthy) blog, that kind of stuff roughly makes up the other half of my aural intake, and it seems silly that I've decided against covering it any longer. What will likely end up happening is that I'll re-write and re-publish most of the articles found here and on The Rest Is Just Music, and leave my contact info on the sidebar if anyone is interested in downloading anything in particular. I'll hook 'ya up.

I'll post my new blog's URL here soon. Thanks for the comments and support!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Knuckle Scraper - Max Isn't The Bastard

You've probably seen this already, but I still think it's pretty amusing stuff:
This comment in particular deserves to be pointed out:
"First they came for the No Age, and I did not speak out, because I was not a No Age. Then they came for the Joy Division, but I did not speak out, because I was not a Joy Division. Then they came for the Man Is The Bastard, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Man Is The Bastard. Then they came for me, and there was nobody left to copyright my t-shirt"
To be honest, I actually really love it when bands pay blatant homage to their influences/heroes in their artwork, t-shirts, and song titles. Perhaps not "Fiend Club" Melvins t-shirt levels of blatancy or the Black Flag "bars" pairing with literally every word couplet in existence, but I can definitely appreciate stuff like that DK font Dear Landlord hoodie and the Mammoth Grinder Goes To College demo. Such fetishism led me to check out Knuckle Scraper, embarrassingly enough.
Knuckle Scraper was a fucking awesome 3-piece powerviolence machine from Houston, Texas (hence the skulls, I suppose) fresh from the ashes of yet-unheard-by-me Machine Gun Romantics. Like most bands of their stripe, they lasted for a depressingly short time, and only left about 10 or 15 minutes of tuneage in their wake. The awesomely titled Max Isn't The Bastard (presumably in reference to Max Ward of 625 Thrashcore) was their first 7", and manages to clock in 12 tracks at a stupidly brisk 5 minutes without becoming an unmemorable blur of blastbeats. This isn't to say the band aren't fast as fuck, as they pretty much switch exclusively between frenetic blasting and hardcore tempo, but the songwriting on here is really captivating regardless of the brevity. Actually, Knuckle Scraper, much like XBrainiaX and Sore Throat, is one of those bands notorious on for the inability to "scrobble" due to their penchant for songs under 30 seconds. Stylistically, the band's sound is relatively standard powerviolence fare, but again, the songwriting ability of the members is key to their appeal. That said, the sound itself comes across like a glorious hybrid of Crossed Out's balls-out aggression and speed and Spazz's idiosyncrasy, humor, and triple vocal assault.
This is great stuff, but it's unfortunately OOP as far as I can tell. I've heard both of their 7"s were compiled recently, including a few compilation tracks they did, but that may have just been a rumor. By the way, Knuckle Scraper gets listed in XBrainiaX's "M.S.M.P" (speaking of tributes) alongside The Endless Blockade, Warzone Womyn, Scapegoat, and some band called Born Backwards (presumably after that old Assuck EP). Does anyone know anything about them? Are they the equivalent of the non-existent Manpig listed in Man Is The Bastard's "H.S.M.P"?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ACXDC - He Had It Coming

I'm on a "KUH-RAY-ZEE" powerviolence trip right now (as someone I would dislike might say) since I'm trying to slap together a nice lil' introductory zine. If you come here for the pop-punk, I apologize, but its delivery will be a bit diluted for the time being. Ha, what am I saying, you don't "come here".

I wonder how long it'll be before the intentional self-deprecating humor will be called out as narcissistic.

This might be one of the stupidest band names I've ever encountered or one of the gutsiest. ACXDC (aka Anti-Christ Demon-Core) are a 4-piece from Southern California who did an initial run from '03-'05, called it quits after a reunion show in '06, and then reformed in 2010 much to my loins' approval. Covering their first EP right after Neanderthal was kind of a last second decision, as I had originally intended to do the genre history lesson in semi-chronological order. Unfortunately, this here came up and changed my plans:
So hey, it's topical AND heartrending. Of course, it should go without saying that ACXDC are a great band and the guilt trip I'm imploring you to land in is just circumstantial. Anywho, He Had It Coming is some super intense stuff, floating in the beautiful medium betwixt grindcore and powerviolence. For a glorious 10 minutes, you get mercilessly cockstomped by a wall of high velocity riffing, shrieking, and blasting. Does comparing the listening experience to genital mutilation make you want to listen to this? A lot of reviewers of this sort of music seem to think so, and I am incapable of differentiating myself from them. Bullshit aside, this is a ton of fun. The vocals are utterly unintelligible, inhuman shrieks punctuated tastefully with rumbling death/grind growls that fly at you near constantly ala Rupture. Musically, you get a surprisingly tight and well-produced blast of tight, varied drumming, riffs alternating between chaotic shredding and mid-t0-sludge paced interludes, and even a brief nod to Star Wars. It's the kind of shit best listened to in an empty bedroom without a lot of breakables for you to collide with.
This is currently OOP, but you can still support these guys with merch and whatnot. For example, I would buy the shit out of that skate deck with the Darth Vader heads if I could actually stand on a board without immediately concussing.

As a totally irrelevant sidenote, Sylvester Staline is terrible. I just rediscovered this courtesy of youtube. I made the mistake of picking up their lame-as-fuck-but-amusingly-titled Gonna Spread Hard Drugs To Your Stupid Kids With The Royalties Generated By This CD album back in high school. This is the kind of shit people dismiss powerviolence over: sloppy playing, terrible vocals, and way too many lame inside jokes.
Oh, hey, and here's another pro-tip for starting a powerviolence group: don't name your band Duke Nukem Forever.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Menzingers - Chamberlain Waits

Before I begin:
I'm turning this blog into a zine. It'll be a mash up of music reviews, my comics, personal/political pieces, assorted artwork, and New Yawk scene stuff. I'm also doing a zine covering the history of powerviolence, as well, consisting of interviews, a "best of" list with reviews, and other goodies. I have no idea when this will come to fruition, but you can count on the former seeing the light of day in the not so distant future.

Admittedly, it's been a long-ass time since I had any desire to give the The Menzingers' debut LP a listen. In fact, it wasn't long after completing last year's review that the album's luster wore off and it faded from my priorities list. I guess it would've made sense for me to have rectified this change of heart via an update or something, but well, it's a miracle that I write anything at all, sometimes. Fortunately, the same can't be said about their follow-up, Chamberlain Waits, as it has been percolating in my ears long enough that I feel confident in giving it props. You see, its actually a fantastic concept album detailing the fictional life of Tom Waits' older, seafaring brother, Chamberlain, as he comes to grips with his m,Kkgvd9u2

Ugh, I'm admittedly out of practice with this record review stuff.

Chamberlain Waits features a far more clean and dynamic sound than their debut, and features 10 great-to-fantastic tracks of heartfelt, melodic, folk-tinged "orgcore", and 2 comparative duds. This time around, the band put a greater focus on vocal melody and less on really dated sounding dual scream-singing, and it pays off in spades. If you don't have the right ear for it, I can see Tom May's emotive crooning coming across as a bit overstated at times, but for whatever reason, I love the shit out of even his more warbly moments. With hindsight given by a listen to their new single, I now hear this album as a vaguely transitional one. It seems like the band had grown a bit tired of the gruffer pop-punk sound of the debut and followup EP, and were just beginning to inject more aspects of indie-folk/alternative rock into their repertoire. The results are a fairly smooth mash up of the two halves, and I'd even rate the first 8 tracks here by the arbitrary and mindlessly personal scale of "almost perfect"... well, excepting that cheesy screaming section of "Home Outgrown". Holy dicks are "Times Tables" and "Male Call" great songs, though, both lyrically and musically. I'd hate to pull that boring-as-fuck "worth the price of admission alone" cliche here, but well, if you spank it to the altar of punk news idols, these are two tracks you'd be wise to track down. Okay, here's one:
In reference to a major flaw in the first disc, this one fortunately features no short fuses like "A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology" and "Even For An Eggshell", both of which I listed as standouts in the previous review. Their appeal is about as short lived as how fast they get stuck in your head. There are really only two tracks I don't particularly care for here: "No We Didn't" sounds like that yucky opener on A Lesson... reduced to a more merciful brevity, and "Come Here Often?" is sort of marred by grating/dull vocal patterns. I suppose they're not unlistenable, though, and do in fact vary up the disc's prevailing mood... but so would covers of "ALL!" and "No, ALL!". Does that go without saying? I'm tired since I had to rewrite half this fucking review due to blogspot's inability to consistently save my progress.
Yes, that's why my writing sucks. Because of blogspot.
So it seems like my opinion of this album is about the same as my initial thoughts regarding the debut - THIS TIME WITH MORE CONVICTION. Although, wouldn't it be just a chuckle riot if I totally denounced everything I said here in a future review of the band? Ho HO.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Neanderthal - Fighting Music

This will probably end up being a really short review since I'm still on the road, but well... I guess circumstances could be more inappropriate for a band whose discography clocks in at 10 minutes.

"Oh yeah, I'm traveling right now. I don't know if I mentioned that before, but its why I haven't updated lately. Expect more regular posts come mid-March!", he typed excitedly, unaware of the irrelevance of his words. It seemed the internet had turned its back on him a long time ago; like the light from a collapsed star, the dissolution of his audience would take a lifetime to become apparent.

Neanderthal's lone EP is the stuff of legends: incredibly influential, hopelessly un-dated, and incomprehensibly expensive on ebay. Consisting of a pre-Man Is The Bastard Eric Wood and Matt Domino of Infest, Neanderthal was an extremely short lived project that single handedly kicked off (and coined) powerviolence as a genre. At this point, Infest had existed for several years, and No Comment had already put out their first EP, Common Senseless, but this is really where it begins stylistically. As such, Fighting Music is about as pure as you're gonna get, and contains all the scuzz, filth, and heaviness the genre provided before the great emo/90's hardcore gentrification struck.
As the name might make you think, the sound this band produces is primitive, brutal, and mammoth spearing as fuck. Imagine the speed and tantrum-like, bellowing rage of
Infest mashed up with creepy, Rorschach-esque riffs and the tremendous grit and intricate basslines of Man Is The Bastard. It's about as rad as that descriptor might lead you to believe, and fits snuggly alongside a number of EPs I've raved about in the past - a short, but really fulfilling listen.

I've never been able to confirm this, but I've heard that Joel Connell of MITB (then of Shrimper label weirdos, Refrigerator) was somehow involved with this band. Does anyone know if Neanderthal performed live shows? If they did, I gotta conclude that Joel filled in on either drums or guitar. Matt Domino is listed in the liner notes as handling both in this EP's liner notes, but I kinda doubt he was doing that Happy Flowers thing where he'd slide his foot around the strings while drumming.

Maybe that was too obscure of a reference.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tuesday - Early Summer

This may be an instance where the hoary cliche "preaching to the choir" could rear it's boring head, but well, if you're not familiar with the branches of the Slapstick family tree, you'd be doing yourself a favor by taking a look at this. Personally, I don't hold it in the place of reverence that many people do, but there are certainly some goods to be had here. For instance, while Slapstick, The Broadways, and Alkaline Trio have always kicked my ass, The Lawrence Arms, The Falcon, and The Honor System are thoroughly, thoroughly underwhelming. Emphasis on the former, albeit that statement may come across as heresy; the way I see it, they started off as an inferior version of The Broadways and slowly made their way into a dull-as-shit, glossy alt-punk waste of time.
Less Than Jake and Tuesday fall somewhere between the two. Admittedly, and somewhat embarrassingly, I actually like the pre-'96 material of the former, and regarding the latter, I only have the EP in the top left corner to indulge in.
Tuesday formed in '96, shortly after Slapstick's dissolution, and were able to clamp their collective sphincters for only a year before releasing the godawful Freewheelin' LP in '97. While the Early Summer EP was 4 tracks of catchy, bass-y, hard-hitting pop-punk with the combined vocal front of future Alkaline Trio bassist Dan Andriano and drummer Rob Kellenberger, Freewheelin' sounded like the band spent the intermediate phase smoking weed and listening to stacks of surface-level Midwestern emo albums. And I don't mean that in the American Football way, either; the band essentially took their infectious style of old, sucked all the life out of it, and slathered it in melodramatic cheese. It's a mess measured by the meter stick of those horrible acoustic songs on Goddamnit if you know what I mean.
Giant globs of criticism aside, Early Summer is great as it's followup is disappointing. At the time, the band were a trio, and the songwriting style was decidedly more in the Crimpshrine/Jawbreaker vein than anything approaching 3rd wave emo. Despite that, the 4 songs here sound surprisingly strong and fresh, with solid guitar hooks and as much care put into the verses as the choruses. Dan Andriano's voice has a lot of bite to it here in comparison to all future ventures, and actually sounds like he belongs in a punk band, which plays especially well off of Kellenberger's cleaner harmonies. My favorite song off of here has to be the closer, "So Awake" (which was later re-recorded as the much weaker "Too Much Of Today" on Freewheelin'), but the preceding 3 are just as strong. Also, I'm pretty sure that's the last positive love song Andriano would ever write.
This EPs out of print as fuck, but I'm pretty sure you can get it cheap on and amazon. After all, pretty much no one knows/gives a shit about this band anymore. Oh, and while I can't confirm this, I heard that The Honor System's demo sets everyone up for disappointment just as bad as Early Summer. At least Andriano didn't postulate that more pro-tools vocal effects would be the key to the kingdom. What the fuck, Hanaway.