Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ignite - Scarred For Life / Ash Return Demo

So one day I see an ad for a 7" by a new "supergroup" featuring members of No For An Answer, Unity and Justice League. Who are also on the same label as a recent favorite, Triggerman. And described with those 2 magic words: melodic hardcore. Money order sent off to Ringside Records!

When that first Ignite 7" arrived, it didn't leave the turntable for a while. Like a lot of OC hardcore, they had an interesting take on old school hardcore. The music carried the tradition, but there were slower, DC style moments. The lyrics were emotional and semi vague, like other bands across genres at the time. And the vocalist was the icing on the cake. Randy Johnson had previously yelled for Pushed Aside, but here his vocals were like when Dave Smalley went from DYS to Dag Nasty. A perfect fit for the band.

I eventually learned of another Ignite release on the dreaded Lost & Found Records, so I tracked that down. It contained the songs from the 7", 2 more Randy songs and 3 songs with their first singer, Joe Foster from Triggerman? What? I had no idea. His songs were really good too, but I preferred Randy's voice.

Finally they put out a full length on Conversion Records. 16 songs?! This is going to be amazing! Plunk it on the old CD player...

...Uh, what the fuck? Where's Randy?? Why is Luciano Pavarotti singing now???

I guess the news of their lineup change never reached me. Call On My Brothers was a huge letdown. I can hang with Past Our Means, but an entire album of operatic hardcore is too much for me to take. Especially when I was anticipating a Can I Say for the 90's.

I've compiled all the pre Zoli stuff here. The Ash Return demo (featuring Joe Foster) was released on a split CD with X-Acto. The audio isn't the greatest, but I tried to clean it up a little more, taking out some of the hiss and balancing the volumes. I think it sounds better now.

Scarred For Life CD (1994)
   01) Automatic
   02) Slow
   03) Where They Talk
   04) Shade
   05) Turn
   06) Ash Return
   07) Should Have Known
   08) Scarred For Life
Ash Return Demo (1993)
   09) Ash Return
   10) Distance
   11) Slow
   12) Should Have Known
   13) Far Away
   14) Sided

Ignite - Where They Were (vbr 0)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

RIP: Dickie Hammond

Besides being a completely awesome band, my love of Leatherface probably had a little to do with the challenge in finding albums that would go on to be my favorites even 20 years later. Mush criminally turned up in the cheap bins due to poor US distribution and promotion. After that, it took some mailorder from Round Flat, Vaccum Records, Bottleneck Distribution and a US roadtrip to complete my Leatherface collection.

When I found out that 3 of the members had been in another hardcore band previously, I then set out to find all of those records. I was expecting HDQ to be, you know, just some old hardcore band. But they turned into one of my favorites as soon as I heard You Suck. I hadn't heard that kind of guitar work on a hardcore album since Dag Nasty.

And like Brian Baker, Dickie Hammond became one of my favorite guitarists and I followed him to any band he joined. I don't know what it is about British punk guitarists, but they have a certain sound that I've never heard from a US punk band. That sound of multiple chords in one. Dickie had that sound and damned if I wasn't a sucker for it every time.

Dickie's era of Leatherface remains one of the most consistently awesome periods of any band. Like most fans, Mush is still my favorite, but everything else he played on comes in a close second. Some of the guitar interplay on The Last almost makes me cry at how cool it sounds.

I've linked a few YouTubes highlighting his career over the years. Just to be in one of these bands would be a proud feat.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hour Of The Wolf - Obsolete (Hellfish, 2009)

A quick upload to let you know I'm not dead.

Speaking of which, Hour Of The Wolf left this world too soon. I only became aware of them from seeing them live at The Fest in Gainesville one year. My friend JGoon actually had to deliver them some t-shirts or something from the label he was working for at the time. "Hour Of The Wolf, eh? Never heard of them. I'll check them out."

That show converted me into an instant fan. It reminded me of the first punk shows I'd gone to, with that mixture of excitement and fear. The band was aggressive, but funny. They played with the intensity of Black Flag and the melody of the Misfits. They obviously had a rabid bunch of converts already. I don't do much "dancing" at shows anymore, but I was nervous to even be on the outskirts of that pit. And that was before a garbage can went flying into the crowd!

I tracked down all of their stuff (only EPs), and of course shortly after, Think Fast! Records reissued it all on 2 vinyl compilations, along with some bonus stuff. A physical copy of this CD is included with the Decompositions Vol. 2 LP, but it's mastered to about half the normal dynamic range. I just pushed the level up to the full dynamic range, so now it's at an equal volume to the rest of their CD/digital material.

This EP ended up being their final recorded output. I'd say it sounds just slightly more tame than their other stuff. No less powerful, but a little more melodic. And as usual they throw in a classic cover, this time being Agent Orange's "Bloodstains."

01) Faith In Fiction
02) Age Of Nothing
03) Heart Failure
04) Obsolete
05) Bloodstains (Agent Orange)
06) Cowards And Critics

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ex Number Five - Extras

Anyone remember Anyone remember tying up your parents' or roommates' phone line for hours with a dial-up modem just to download shitty 128 kbps (or less!) mp3s, or stream them with real audio? Am I really old?

Besides having an incredibly opportune url, was one of the first sites I can remember that featured downloads of a lot of good, independent bands. Some of my beginning mp3 collection came from the site with bands like Capture The Flag, The Jealous Sound and Ex Number Five.

If I remember correctly, Ex Number Five piqued my interest from their comparisons. The closest 2 would have to be Farside and Shades Apart. Maybe a little Seaweed in there too. A little too tough to be pop punk, more in the melodic hardcore vein.

They put out a bunch of releases, but never really took off the way that their peers did. I'm not sure if they ventured out too far from New Jersey, which might have had something to do with it. You can grab 2 of their releases from bandcamp, but I've compiled their remaining odds and ends here.

The Movielife Split Cdep (2001)
   01) Armistice
   02) Go
Va - The Best Comp In The World (2000)
   03) First Attempt Spangler
Va - Streets Of Philadelphia (1999)
   04) Old Village 73

Ex Number Five - Extras (vbr 0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I Want A Milky Way!

More YouTube/Mashup genius. Keep watching:

This one might even be better:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Limp Bizkit vs. Seinfeld - Break Stuff

Limp Bizkit vs. Seinfeld - Break Stuff

I don't want much in life. But I'd really like to come up with a YouTube video that is as dumb/brilliant as this. I've already watched this about 10 times.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

M.O.D. - Live @ Hellfest (2014)

M.O.D. - Live (Hellfest, 2014)

M.O.D. played in Barcelona last year and I think I was out of town. I don't think I was going to go anyway because I thought it might be a little sad. But I just watched this set of them playing at Hellfest last year and now I'm really bummed that I missed them. They sound great, Billy is funny and humble and the crowd is going off. I don't know if the Barcelona crowd would have moved much though, judging from the Wehrmacht show a few years ago.

S.O.D.'s Speak English Or Die is probably one of my favorite albums. I remember my friend and I listening to it in the car and my parents telling me to put something else in with less swears after "What's That Noise" came on. So we put on the Minor Threat tape and snickered to ourselves.

I used to like U.S.A. For M.O.D., but don't really listen to it anymore. Not because of the questionable lyrics (I believe that Billy was just being offensive as a joke), but because it's just not that great. There are some decent songs, but it just doesn't have the riffs and speed of S.O.D. I do still like Gross Misconduct though. And I even throw on Surfin' M.O.D. sometimes for a chuckle. I remember when I first heard the horrible first Mindfunk album, I was more disappointed that it was former M.O.D. dudes than former straight edge poster boy, Pat Dubar (Uniform Choice).

Some friends and I saw M.O.D. on the Gross Misconduct tour at a place called Billy's Old Mill in Milwaukee. It was a cool and scary (to me at the time) club that had a lot of great metal shows in the 80's. I remember pulling up to the back of the venue and seeing the bassist skateboarding around. I was probably the smallest kid at the show and Billy Milano came up to me a few times to pick on me (in a funny way). This is my fave M.O.D. song, and pretty much how I remember the show (minus the hair metal bits):

M.O.D. - True Colors

In the 2014 video above, Milano dedicates "Kill Yourself" to Scott Ian. I'm not sure what happened with their falling out, but it's too bad. They never really re-created the magic of Speak English, but they were still amazing when they played SF on their reunion tour however many years ago.

More M.O.D. info here:

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Blink 182 - All The Small Songs

In the wake of the devastating (!!!) news that Tom DeLongedong is out of Blink 182, I thought I'd finish this collection of b-sides that I've been meaning to compile.

I know, I know, "Dey ain't ponk!" (That's how you speak.) But hear me out. In college I used to frequent Mad City Records in Madison at least once a week to spend the money I should have used for food, and then stop in the skate shop next door. Mad City had/has a great section of used CDs that you could listen to on their 3 listening stations. So I'd get first chance at a lot of their used and promo stuff.

One day there was a cutout CD by a band called Blink on Grilled Cheese/Cargo Records. I liked a lot of stuff on Cargo/Headhunter (7 Seconds, Drive Like Jehu, Big Drill Car, Heavy Vegetable) and I was already a regular mailorder customer of Cargo from their catalog that included other labels like Nemesis, Workshed, Psyche Industry, etc. So I grabbed Blink and my preliminary pile of CD purchases and brought them to the listening station.

I popped in the Blink CD and it was pretty good. Of course those days I was listening to the usual stuff on Epitaph, Lookout and Dr. Strange, and Blink fit right in. Melodic, fast, snotty, scatalogical. Plus it was produced by O. (fluf, Olivelawn, skate photographer, friend of Neil Blender). Why wouldn't I like them?

Well that CD was Cheshire Cat. The version before they had to change their name to Blink 182. And I still have it. That's right. You know you totes jelly! Someday I'll sell it on eBay and retire!

Honestly though, I can't say I listen to it much these days. I've never bought or downloaded another Blink 182 album since Dude Ranch. I saw the videos and I'm sure I could hang with Enema Of The State, but I just kind of lost interest in them. I do throw Dude Ranch on my mp3 player from time to time. That's a pretty quintessential pop punk album. I mean, if you still like the movie American Pie, you can probably hang with it.

Over the years I acquired all the compilations that they appeared on, usually because they were in pretty good company. Almost all of these tracks feature their original drummer, Scott Raynor. Maybe I would have kept up with them if he had remained in the band. I looked up their later discography at some point and saw that they had a couple other b-sides that didn't stray too far from the early days. I think this is actually all of their b-sides, but they might have some during their weird "I Miss You" period and that I don't know or care about. Mostly I did this just so I'd have "Good Times" and "Family Reunion" together somewhere.

01) Wrecked Him
02) Waggy
03) Zulu
04) Lemmings (7" Version)
05) Enthused (Demo Version)
06) Dancing With Myself (Billy Idol)
07) I Won't Be Home For Christmas
08) Good Times Theme Song
09) Mutt (Early Version)
10) Family Reunion
11) Man Overboard
12) Another Girl, Another Planet (The Only Ones)

Blink 182 - All The Small Songs (vbr 0)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Humanoids - Unreleased (2013)

I feel like lately I've been saying "this is one of my favorite recent bands" an excessive amount of times. Maybe that's a good sign for music. Or maybe it's a sign of Alzheimer's.

Either way, The Humanoids are one of them. I think JGoon and I first heard them through MySpace. Then we got to see them at The Fest, where we picked up their awesome first EP, Are Born. We were so taken with the band that we wanted to release something of theirs on our record label (which never got off the ground). We all could have been hundredaires by now if they had signed with us!

Instead, their first album was supposed to come out on a member of Less Than Jake's label, got delayed forever, and was finally self-released by the band. I managed to find a copy for JGoon and I from a St. Louis (their hometown) record shop.

And of course now I find out that most of their stuff is easily available through Bandcamp. Including these 2 unreleased songs that were recorded during the sessions for their self-titled album. But hey, I'm not complaining.

So what do The Humanoids sound like? Well, just move your little sausage fingers to the link below! I'd say Are Born is my favorite stuff, sounding like a more hardcore version of Dillinger 4. They have touches of classic punk as well, like Naked Raygun, Adolescents, The Wipers and Dag Nasty (the latter 2 I know they've covered). This first unreleased song reminds me a little of Jawbox too. And I'm always a fan of a band with prominent, rumbling bass.

Hopefully they put their 7" Year Of The Snake up on Bandcamp too. I ripped it once, but it came out sounding a little crappy, probably due to the 80's Fischer receiver that I should have replaced ages ago. They also have a song on the Traffic Street Records' Dangerous Intersections VI, which you can find a download of on Amazon or Emusic.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Too Many Cooks

I don't keep up with Adult Swim stuff as much since being outside the states. Maybe you've seen this already, but it's pretty great.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Best Of 2014

Maybe I'll get to my 2013 list one of these days.

* Albums *

I end up going to a lot of hardcore shows here in Barcelona since there's kind of a glut of mid-sized punk bands who make it over here. Most of the bands don't impress me too much, but these guys did. They remind of 80's Italian hardcore, even though they're from Austria. Intricate and tight, these guys blaze through their first full length in 17 minutes. If that's not enough for you, they have another EP that came out in 2014 as well.

Now, Prince is still awesome, but he'll never write another Purple Rain. Chromeo might one of these days. I won't deny liking a song or 2 from modern pop acts, but I don't think any of them put out albums this solid. Maybe because Chromeo is channeling pop from the 80's, which speaks to me more. When I listen to this, I think of bands like the Jets, New Edition, Atlantic Starr or the big funk bands as they were transitioning into the 80's. Plenty of synths, handclaps and funky bass. I saw them recently, by myself, at the end of a very long night, and still couldn't pull myself from the dance floor for their entire set.

Love these guys. Actually saw them the same night as Chromeo (weird mix). You've probably heard the hype (and band) by now. Awesome mix of punk and 90's indie rock with plenty of buildups that payoff in full. They've streamlined their sound a bit on this album. Oddly for me, I actually prefer their last album for not being so direct, but I'm not complaining. A good song is a good song, and this is a whole album full of them.

Musically, this fits right alongside Screeching Weasel or most Danny Vapid bands, but the morose tone puts them in a whole other category. The Creeps have always taken their name to heart, with depressing lyrics concerned with death, dismay and darkness. You can tap your toe to it, but then you'll think, "Did they just say that?" Something to unite the high school punks and goths.

These guys sound like someone gave them a tape in their formative years with Warsaw on one side and the Wipers on the other. Their energy keeps them from being too derivative of either. Catchy post punk with swirling guitars, driving rhythms and a great singer.

This album was promised for a long time and it doesn't disappoint. Ever since seeing them in SF, I've been impressed by their unique style. Like many of my other favorites of this year, the guitarwork really makes this band. They're like an updated version of Untitled era JFA, with twisty/surfy guitars, slightly monotone vocals and an overall skate rock feel. One of the best best newer punk bands who will probably be underappreciated unfortunately.

If these guys were around in the 90's, I would have mail-ordered this from Lookout or Dr. Strange. The song "Career Progression" even has a "Lookout! 1993 breakdown." They sound like old Green Day, Sicko or Ramones-core stuff, only with funny Scottish accents. The lyrics follow similar themes of lethargy, isolation and heartache (and then drowning those sorrows) that a lot of us experience in our 20's. Now in my 40's, I'm happy to revisit those feelings through the Kimberly Steaks.

Totally catchy indie pop with a touch of punk from this English band. Apparently the album is dedicated to "growing up weird," and the male/female vocals display a mix of naivete and cleverness befitting an artsy, new kid in town. But with songs this infectious, I don't think they'll get any hinder binders from the cool clique. Just listen to "1967, I Miss You, I'm Lonely" and try not to be hooked.

Snuggle! put out one of the best pop punk albums of the last 10 or so years, so I was sure to follow their members where ever they went. The singer went onto Murmurs who didn't disappoint with 2012's Fly With The Unkindness. Bound continues their grungy punk sound with lots of meaty guitars and their dual vocal attack. They combine a lot of the classic East Bay sound, from straight forward pop punk to the crustier hardcore side. The singer's acoustic side project, Pipsqueak, even rears its head on a couple songs.

More great gloomy punk from this Bay Area band. The New Flesh reinvigorate the post punk sound and demonstrate why they're one of the best of the new breed. Dark and brooding, with throbbing basslines, tight drumming, Frank Agnew inspired guitars and anguished singing. Happy I got to see them in Barcelona a few months ago.

The Preatures have a similar Fleetwood Mac vibe as Haim, but they take it in more of a Linda Ronstadt direction. Like a mix of 70's soft rock and honky tonk, with a modern feel. There are 3 definite hits on this album that I could imagine either on classic or modern rock radio stations. One of which, "Is This How You Feel?" from their previous EP might be my most played song of the last couple years. This description so far might only appeal to my mom, but I promise, this is catchy, original (for 2014) stuff.

These newcomers tread a similar territory to Cloud Nothings, straddling punk and 90's indie rock. You don't immediately know what the next song is going to sound like, and you're not disappointed at the results. "Reservoir" is probably the hit here, sounding like bombastic radio rock that could drown out anything I've ever heard from the Foo Fighters (besides Dave Grohl's incessant babbling). Aggressive enough to rock out to, but the cool guitars and jerky rhythms will hold your attention as well.

I don't even really know what most Ryan Adams stuff sounds like. Isn't he alt-country or something? But I do know that he (and everyone else it seems) has some punk roots and he digs them up for this mini album full of mid 80's style melodic punk. Think Husker Du, Moving Targets, the Nils or Squirrel Bait. Which makes me wonder why none of the songs break the 2 minute mark. These aren't short hardcore blasts, so I would have welcomed some more verses, maybe some solos or something. Brevity aside, this is classic sounding stuff; catchy and quick with a roughness he's probably been jonesing for after all his disco albums or whatever he plays normally.

This is definitely my favorite album of the year. Most new bands playing 80's inspired metal only provide a decent rehash, but this ranks right up there with the greats, IMO. Mix NWOBHM, thrash and power metal ("Bad For Good" almost borders on hair metal too) and add the production value of any major label band and you have this tight as fuck album. Riffs, solos, melodies; they're all there. Plus the singer can hit the high notes without going into opera metal territory. There's even a song about skating, and the singer isn't just paying lip service. I went searching for similar new bands after hearing this and nothing else compared, even Skull Fist's older stuff. But they knocked it out with this one and I'm looking forward to what comes next.

When I used to dork around on my friends Cascio keyboard in my apartment, I wished I had the talent to start a band combining my love of synth and classic rock guitar either in the style of Aldo Nova or something like this. Anything with keyboards over muted power chords and I'm sold. You only need to see the cover art to figure out that Teledrome play retro 80's new wave. Imagine Devo's Freedom Of Choice mixed with some darkwave and then filtered through the (slightly) more modern sound of  Jay Reatard/Lost Sounds. It's like the soundtrack to an undiscovered 80's sci-fi movie.

We went on a roadtrip this summer and this album was the perfect soundtrack for driving at night, quietly reflecting on our day and just looking at the road and mountains and stars ahead of us. This is thoughtful music that builds slowly and then locks into a groove that you don't want to end. They remind me of Dire Straits or Tom Petty, but with the 80's soundtrack quality of Tangerine Dream. Classic rock mixed with synth pop. Whatever it is, I'm on board.

These guys and gals put out a couple really good EPs a few years ago. Then they kind of faded away. I decided to look them up a few months ago and was happy to learn that they had quietly released their first album. There's been a resurgence of this sound lately, but the Weed Hounds are a bit mellower and dreamier with their take on shoegaze and 90's alterna rock. It's good to finally have a full album of their blissed out, hazy pop tunes.

I feared with all the hype last year that White Lung would start to mellow or "experiment" over time, or that I'd tire of them. But this new album laid those fears to rest. Deep Fantasy is even more pummeling than the last. There's an almost industrial feel to a lot of the songs with their jackhammering rhythms. And of course, there are still plenty of incredible guitar parts. "Face Down" is a face melter! I'm bummed I missed them the last time they came through, but their increased hype has unfortunately increased their ticket prices. But I'm satisfied with the home experience.

* Eps *

New band featuring an ex Weston dude, playing slick emo punk/alterna rock ala Jawbreaker, Goo Goo Dolls or Pop Unknown.

More great English style melodic punk by way of France.

The first bitcoin accepted punk release? Another great track from the Gamblers, plus a Big Boys cover.

* Reissues *

Finally! This was the holy grail for ST/Venice Hardcore fans. Maybe someday I'll tell the story about the first time I "acquired" this album.

Classic new wave. "Christmas Wrapping," "I Know What Boys Like" and "Square Pegs" are here, as well as their 2 albums, an EP and a few bonuses.