9.05.2018

THE FAINT - Danse Macabre

Artist:  The Faint
Album: Danse Macabre
Year:  2001
Genre:  Electro / New Wave

To qualify The Faint solely as a retro, throwback, copycat of 80s synth-pop is unfair.  Is that what they sound like?  Well, in general, yes…but there’s much more going on with this outfit from Omaha.  They capture the feel, sounds and best aspects of early electro-rock-dance-post punk-new wave, and filter it though through some pretty creative musicianship.  I grew up in the height of the 80s new wave and this makes me feel like a kid again.  When this came out in 2001, no one was doing what The Faint were, and very few have been able to encapsulate that era as they successfully have.  The Faint take their craft seriously and truly personifies this band as a trailblazer in the overcrowded world of music; not just some facsimile of a time long past.


Listen to "Glass Danse" here.

8.15.2018

CARLOS MONTOYA - Soleares

Artist:  Carlos Montoya
Album: Solearas
Year:  2004
Genre:  Spanish Guitar / Classical Guitar

Classical guitar is a bit of a departure from the typical music I rant about here.  I won’t say that I listen to it all the time, but I do enjoy it immensely and I can’t express my admiration for the talent these artists have.  Carlos Montoya is a favorite of mine because of the energy he creates.  He has the ability to make the music come to life and paints vivid soundscapes with only two hands and an acoustic guitar. Very few could compete with his precision skill and the sheer passion he exuded.  The man played intensely, intertwining beautiful melodies and pure, over-the-top speed that made you question how is that even possible?  He was just an absolute gift to the music world.  

Listen to "Farruca" here.

7.26.2018

COUNT RAVEN - Mammon War

Artist:  Count Raven
Album: Mammons War
Year:  2009
Genre:  Doom Metal

Firmly rooted in the Sabbath vein of doom metal, Count Raven offer up a rather cookie-cutter approach to their song writing, but damn if the riffs and the cool sounding Ozzy-esque vocals make this one fine head banging experience.  Count Raven isn't offering new ideas, but they have obviously studied the pioneering doom gods thoroughly enough to write a compelling and entertaining record.

7.09.2018

Songs You Should Know #21 – The Fluid, Arcturus & Joe Jackson

Artist: The Fluid
Song: Pretty Mouse
Genre: Alternative Rock

Artist: Arcturus
Song:  The Chaos Path
Genre: Avant-Garde

Artist: Joe Jackson
Song: One More Time
Genre: Pop

6.19.2018

AGENT STEEL - Skeptics Apocalypse

Artist:  Agent Steel
Album: Skeptics Apocalypse
Year:  1985
Genre:  Thrash Metal

Agent Steel are a band that clawed its own little niche in metal by using elements that were not typical of the burgeoning thrash movement in 1985.  My assumption is that they are one of those love ‘em or absolutely hate ‘em bands amongst metalheads.  The main reason is the polarizing vocal style of John Cyriss.  Lyrically, he intentionally strayed from the popular Satan/violence combination that dominated thrash and chose Sci-Fi, aliens and ancient rituals as his subject matter which were just as dark and fit the music perfectly.  Cyriss is a talented man whose vocals soar in the Rob Halford range for the majority of this record.  Now if you’re playing straight up power metal, that vocal delivery may sit a bit more comfortably when chugging along at a Maiden or Priest pace.  But, Agent Steel were not playing power metal; they were a full-bore thrash assault in league with Exodus, Razor and Slayer.  Skeptics Apocalypse is fast.  Very fast.  Yet, it is also musically brooding and violent, just as any thrash album worth its weight should be.  The riffs and song structures are tremendously akin to “Bonded By Blood” era Exodus and “Hell Awaits” era Slayer.  Then you add in the vocals, which, to these ears were initially a bit confusing, yet, ended up sounding exciting and original.  This record is a bulldozer.  Their second record is just as good, if not even more powerful with its superior production.  Although thrash was only a few years old in 1985, Agent Steel were already a welcomed change.  Like most bands, they did not get the recognition they deserved and called it quits a few years later.  Too bad.  They were on to something good.

Listen to "Bleed For The Godz" here.

6.06.2018

7 SECONDS - New Wind

Artist:  7 Seconds
Album: New Wind
Year:  1986
Genre:  Hardcore

“I’m not a ‘punker’, just a human being with the urge to exercise what’s in my heart and mind.”

Right or wrong, these are words I’ve held dear and lived by for a long time now.  7 Seconds recently announced their break-up and it’s hit me decently hard.  On one hand, I’m saddened that I will never see another show or ever get to hear a new record.  I’m much sadder to hear that health issues have taken this band’s 38 year career out of commission.  On the other hand, I’m thankful for the time I’ve gotten to spend with this band’s music.  The music, lyrics and people of 7 Seconds are more import and significant to me than any other band out there.   I’ve seen them live more than any other touring act.  They’ve been a personal and life-shaping experience.  I could sit for hours reciting the words and ideas of Kevin Seconds and attach them to social or situational aspects of my life.  Their influence on the way I compose songs is glaring to the few that have heard them.
 
My 32-year journey with 7 Seconds began with this very record after a review I read in my now yellowing copy of Death Row Zine from 1986.  I can’t say the review was overly glowing, but it was enough to make me check them out since I was diving into the punk world at that time.  After listening to New Wind over and over, I went on the search for the first two records…then the 7”s…and then waited for every subsequent release.  Anyone who has followed 7 Seconds’ path knows there have been some stylistic twists and turns, but, with all honesty, I can say I’ve loved close to everything they’ve produced.  Fanboy?  Yeah, probably.

New Wind saw the band make a hard pivot from their high-speed endeavors.  What was unusual was that the band was only 6 years old when they made the switch to songs that were slower and more melodic.  It’s as if they knew they would become like The Ramones if they kept going in the same direction.  Let’s be honest, only The Ramones can write the same record for 30 years and pull it off.  Only two songs on the album were reminiscent of what they previously released.  Of course, I didn’t know this and had zero preconceived notions of what I was hearing.  What I heard opened a whole new musical world for me and, maybe for the first time, lyrics had something meaningful to say.

When I listen to New Wind now, I get a whole different feeling than that angsty 16-year old I was previously, who really didn’t know shit about the world.  Many of the songs were written about some pretty heavy subject matters ranging from sexual assault, personal integrity, unity and keeping a positive stance in a dark world, and breaking the mold of the bullshit, typical tough-as-nails male facade.  Every song carries a message; some just aren’t as in your face as others.  The music is raw but melodic and has quite a unique sound.  Not full on punk or hardcore and not full on pop punk, but somewhere in between.  As stated, 7 Second let off the gas pedal a bit, but still retained the energy and spirit of their roots throughout the album.  They would keep evolving in this direction until their true return to hardcore on the awesome 1999 album Good To Go.

New Wind changed my world and opened my eyes and taught me to be a thinking, aware and caring human being.  It also created a life-long adoration for this pioneering band and the droves of punk and hardcore I plunged into after the fact.  I’m guessing this is the last time I write about this band.  Thank you Kevin, Steve, Troy, Bobby and the few other scattered members.  You have given me a gift that cannot be repaid.  I wish you well in all that is to come.

Listen to "The Inside" here.

5.30.2018

Video Mix Tape 06

Video Mix Tape 06
0:00  Psychedelic Furs
4:18  Angel Witch
7:43  The Wipers
9:31  Leaf Hound
12:45  Sicko
14:48 Horrendous
18:21 Token Entry
20:03 Every Time I Die
21:47 Part 1
25:16  Adrenalin OD

5.12.2018

BLOODLINE - Hate Procession

Artist:  Blooodline
Album: Hate Procession
Year:  2009
Genre:  Black Metal

Black metal has innovated, terrified and rebelled for close to three decades.  With all due respect, credit and love to Bathory, Venom, Hellhammer and NME, I’m speaking of the 2nd wave of Norwegian and Swedish bands that, literally, lit the world aflame around 1990.  The sound of those grim, cold, unrelenting pioneers has now been duplicated, emulated and transformed.  As the music spread and gained popularity, which was most likely unintended, bands from all over the globe conjured their version of what could be considered the world’s most extreme, dark and dangerous music.  With that said, black metal became a true example of quantity over quality and has sent listeners down endless rabbit holes searching for bands worthy of their time.  Occasionally a band claws its way to the top of the pile of enemy corpses to bring you something new and unique.  One of these bands is Bloodline and their album is Hate Procession.

Bloodline strays far from the cold, cave-like sound and rabid velocity of the early masters, yet, retains the abhorrent anti-human nature of those bands.  They move at a non-typical, sludgy pace that feels like trying to trudge through a murky swamp while being strangled; you want to move faster, but you cannot, which is the torturous glory of this record.  It’s an uncomfortable listen. Bloodline is smart and keep things simple.  The instrumentation is bulldozing but layered with smatterings of samples and keyboards to avoid a one-dimensional feel.  The vocals sound certifiably insane, are devoid of any positive emotion and are composed with pure conviction.  It has been a long time since I’ve witnessed such a pulverizing and abusive vocal performance that grows stronger as the album plays.  When the album finishes, an overwhelming sense of despair and hopelessness exists.  Once again, it’s an uncomfortable listen.  I believe that was the overall purpose of this album.  This is life-draining music. 


Listen to "Order Of The Parasite" here.

4.25.2018

LOW PLACES - Low Places

Artist:  Low Places
Album: Low Places
Year:  2010
Genre:  Hardcore / Sludge

So many extreme musicians wish they could muster the ugliness that Low Places achieved on this recording.  Numerous bands try sounding down and dirty by overloading the distortion and aggression, but just don’t have it in their hearts.  There’s something about Low Places that makes you know they cannot sound any other way even if they tried.  They mangle the listener with 6 intense, hideous compositions that weave between all out thrash and swamp-filled sludge in a short, painful, 11 minutes.  Sometimes ugly is a beautiful thing.

Listen to "Malcontent" here.

4.04.2018

HAZEL - Toreador Of Love

Artist:  Hazel
Album: Toreador Of Love
Year:  1993
Genre:  Indie / Power Pop

I recall learning of Hazel through a glowing review in a magazine.  I can’t remember what the reviewer specifically said to make me go buy Toreador Of Love without hearing a single note off of it, but I’m sure the fact that the record was on Sub Pop helped persuade me toward the purchase.  Whatever it was, I’m glad I took a chance because this is power pop gem hidden inside a dirty, gritty exterior.

Hazel has a few traits on this record that make them a standout from the ocean of indie/alternative bands from the 90s that played endlessly on MTV and FM radio.  First, they present a more aggressive drive than their peers; a lot more Pixies and a lot less Oasis.  The loud-quiet-loud rules are in effect for much of this record.  They’re not afraid to cause a raucous in all the right places while still maintaining their catchy, rough-around-the-edges melodic sensibility.  Second, there’s an imperfect nature to this record that creates intensity, urgency and honesty.  Jack Endino deserves gigantic kudos for not cleaning up Hazel’s playing and made sure their true sound hit tape.  Third, the lyrics play out like a high school drama, but are insanely relatable and heartfelt.  When filtered through Pete Krebs’s vocals and the unpolished nature of Jody Bleyle’s harmonies, a natural tension is created and makes the subject matter instantly memorable.  Much like many of their Sub Pop brethren, Hazel were not virtuosos on their instruments, but used their talent to their fullest extent to write memorable, ardent songs that sound true to themselves.

Hazel came and went in what felt like flash.  Their 4-year tenure produced 2 full length records and a slew of 7”s.  To my dismay, I do not like their sophomore effort very much, which is just fine because it creates some extra room to listen to Toreador Of Love


Listen to "She's Supersonic" here.

3.16.2018

Songs You Should Know #20 - Bivouac, Therapy? & Gruntruck

Artist: Bivouac
Song: Good Day Song
Genre: 90s Emo

Artist: Therapy?
Song: Screamager
Genre: Alternative Rock

Artist: Gruntruck
Song: Move In Silence
Genre: Grunge

3.07.2018

BEIGE EAGLE BOYS - You're Gonna Get Yours

Artist:  Beige Eagle Boys
Album: You’re Gonna Get Yours
Year:  2014
Genre:  Punk / Noise Rock

This is punk rock.  Beige Eagle Boys do not give one fuck and do exactly what they want to unsuspecting listeners.  They are noisy, brash, ugly and unapologetically individualistic.  They take what turbulent pioneers such as Hammerhead and The Cherubs blueprinted years ago and add their own unhealthy dose of unhinged disquiet and overblown tones to the mix.  Another great release on the fearless Reptilian Records label.

Listen to "I Want Out" here.

3.05.2018

BLOOD PRESSURE - Need To Control

Artist:  Bloood Pressure
Album: Need To Control
Year:  2016
Genre:  Hardcore Punk

There is only so much you can say about an album like this.  Within the first 30 seconds, you will absolutely know if this record is for you due to the instantaneous bashing your ears take.  Either you’re a punk or you’re not with this one, because there is not straying between genres, no experimentation, and not a doubt what type of band Blood Pressure is.  What you get is around 13 minutes of brutal, wall-shaking hardcore punk and nothing else; which is exactly what I love about this band and record.  Their overpowering style lies in the land of Poison Idea, Tied Down-era Negative Approach and Wolfbrigade.  I swear your speakers have a chance to catch on fire while this is playing!  Blood Pressure is the band you want to see in a crowded basement as they whip everything into a fucked up, sweat-filled frenzy. 


Listen to "Need To Control" here.

2.26.2018

CALABRESE - The Traveling Vampire Show

Artist:  Calabrese
Album: The Traveling Vampire Show
Year:  2007
Genre:  Pop Punk

Horror themes and punk have always seemed like a no-brainer combination.  The brothers Calabrese have taken their love of Misfits and the best era of AFI and created an extremely impressive record.  Everything is spot when it comes to performance and delivery.  The songs are pure driving energy from start to finish with the vocals being the strongest facet of the album, showcasing the talent these guys possess.  In no time they will have you singing about cemeteries, ghouls, love and death while this incredible record rocks on.  This may be the best release of horror themed punk since Walk Among Us.  No joke.

Listen to "Voiced Of The Dead" here.

2.08.2018

Video Mix Tape 05

Video Mix Tape 05
0:00  Count Raven
4:31  Mammoth Grinder
6:55  Das Efx
10:51  Shock Therapy
14:46  Dangers
16:11 English Beat
18:48  AC/DC
22:04 All
24:05 Jesus Jones
27:13  Tyr