4.20.2017

NME - Unholy Death

Artist:  NME
Album: Unholy Death
Year:  1986
Genre:  Black Metal

My god did I go dead fucking wrong on this album.  I’ve owned this record since 1987 after reading a review in Powerline fanzine.  I never got rid of it because the collector idiot in me said “keep it,” but after numerous tries, the album never resonated.  Anyways, the zine described them as Seattle’s first black/death metal band and dwelled on the negativity surrounding the album and the members of the band.  They gave the music a strong review and, in essence, called the lyrics reprehensible; a perfect combination for any 16-year-old seeking the most extreme music on the planet.  Obviously, the reviewer had way more vision than I did since my brain for the past 30 years was never able to handle this record and always looked at this as a sloppy, noise infused mess.  I was gravely mistaken.  Unholy Death is unprocessed primordial chaos that uses mood and texture, not speed, to create their abhorrent cacophony.  Its goal is to make you worship Satan, do drugs and kill things.  THIS is what Venom was supposed to sound like.  THIS is what Warfare was supposed to sound like.  THIS is what Hellhammer was supposed to sound like.  Raw, noisy, simplistic assaults that are as ugly as they are malevolent.  Unholy Death is the kind of record that will make other bands cower and parents fear for their kids’ safety.  It’s so hateful.  The fact these guys had this going in 1986 is mind-numbing.   Now I’m furious at myself for not realizing their genius long ago.


Listen to "Black Knight" here.

4.11.2017

LOVE SPIT LOVE - Trysome Eatone

Artist:  Love Spit Love
Album: Trysome Eatone
Year:  1997
Genre:  Alternative

I owe a friend big time for this one as I was ignorant to the fact that Love Spit Love contained the voice of Psychedelic Furs front man Richard Butler.  Although some lump The Furs in with the 80s era one-hit-wonders, they truly were fiercely talented and wrote dense albums in their signature new wave / modern rock sound.  They represent a time and movement of music that will never be replicated.  Just like The Furs, groups such as Modern English, Flock of Seagulls and Duran Duran became gigantic for a song or two, yet, I always looked at them as bands that wrote full records, front to back, without the single-minded intention of becoming international pop stars; which is exactly what happened to each one of them.  Well, as I listened to the second offering by Love Spit Love, I was immediately time machined(?) back to my late teens when my world was slowly becoming a bit more 120 Minutes and bit less Headbanger Ball. 

I have no other good way to put this but to say Trysome Aetone is a lost Psychedelic Furs record.  A good one, at that.  In fact, it may be the best thing they never did since Talk Talk Talk and could have easily followed the criminally overlooked World Outside.  There is a perfectly acceptable reason I’m relating this so closely to a band that hasn’t released any new material since 1991.  It’s that voice!  Richard Butler is one of the most unique singers in rock, and the years have been kind to him as his beautiful tone and distinct delivery haven’t aged a bit.  Musically, this record harkens back to the glory-era of early 90s rock with fuzzy, psyched out guitars and big, hard-hitting rhythms.  The album shifts moods now and again, but it is at its most powerful when the band is laying down their somewhat formulaic sounds and lets Mr. Butler takes over to belts it out like the iconic alternative singer that he is.  Unfortunately, Love Spit Love is dead in the water, but now that Psychedelic Furs are back together and touring, let’s hope they quit screwing around and get back into the studio soon.

Listen to "Fall On Tears" here.

4.01.2017

Songs You Should Know #17 – Material Issue, Omen & Bullets And Octane

Artist: Material Issue
Song: International Pop Overthrow
Genre: Power Pop


Artist: Omen
Song: Shock Treatment
Genre: Power Metal
Artist: Bullets And Octane
Song: Save Me Sorrow
Genre: Heavy Rock

3.13.2017

LEAF HOUND - Growers Of Mushrooms

Artist:  Leaf Hound
Album: Growers Of Mushrooms
Year:  1970
Genre:  Heavy Rock

Leaf Hound IS a cult classic among fans that love to rummage through boxes at corner record stores searching for bands that influenced the next generation of rock and metal.  They had a incredible knack for mixing hard rock with a subtle blues vibe that always seemed to creep its way into most of the early heavy music from the 70s.  Their raw and unfiltered sound would've made Blue Cheer turn their heads and had Leslie West nodding in approval, yet, Leaf Hound had just enough of that psychedelic influence to calm the beast from time to time.  What a great record!  Good luck finding an original copy of this.  Sometimes LP represses are a good thing.

Listen to "Freelance Fiend" here.

3.08.2017

OBSCURE SPHINX - Anaesthethic Inhalation Ritual

Artist:  Obscure Sphinx
Album: Anaesthethic Inhalation Ritual
Year:  2011
Genre:  Doom / Post-Rock

This is one of the most interesting albums I’ve heard in the last 5 years.  Don’t get freaked by the “post-rock” tag and think this is going to be another Xerox of Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky, Pelican or any of the other 100 indecipherable copycats out there.  Obscure Sphinx are more of a Pink Floyd and Isis in a blender combination with a dash of Electric Wizard.  The band is excellent at flowing between moods and has an extremely unique and talented female singer that handles the changing temperament phenomenally.  They are breath of much needed fresh air in both doom and post-rock music.  

Check out "Nastiez" here.

3.01.2017

SCHLEPROCK - America's Dirty Little Secret

Artist:  Schleprock
Album: America’s Dirty Little Secret
Year:  1996
Genre:  Punk

Schleprock’s swansong, titled America’s Dirty Little Secret, is not only the best work of their entire catalog, but it is an unrecognized jewel of 90s punk rock.  Schleprock were one of the many bands scooped up by a major label during the explosion of Warped Tour, Green Day and The Offspring.  Apparently Atlantic records were a huge help to them because this album is pretty damn great as none of their independent releases even come close to matching its quality.  Elements of street punk and ska are tastefully scattered all over this incredibly catchy style of straight forward punk rock.  Schleprock never caught on with the masses and the band died off after this release.  Definitely worth combing through discount CD bins to find this cool record.

Listen to "America's Dirty Little Secret" here.

2.20.2017

PARIS - Sleeping With The Enemy

Artist:  Paris
Album: Sleeping With The Enemy
Year:  1992
Genre:  Hip Hop

I won’t sit here and write some false pretense about how deep I am in the hip hop scene.  I’m not.  With that said, I love when hip hop gets aggressive.  Give me energetic grooves, bass drop backgrounds, synth accompaniment and a raucous MC with cool tone, timing and context.  I am not one for slow rhythms or a heavy R&B influence.  Paris is an extremely competent composer and has major vocalization talent.  More importantly, this record lights a fire inside of me every time I listen to it and reminds me to get off my complacent ass and be aware of politics and social issues that affect me, my family, my friends and my community.  Being a fan of bellicose music, this record speaks volumes to me.  Paris is enraged and what he was spewing 25 years ago is just as relevant as it is today.  When I listen to this album, I think of the timeline that has passed since 1992.  It presents a doomed reflection of society as I realize nothing has changed.  Paris has a message and a mission; to call out societal atrocities along with governmental failures and crimes.  He does not relent and his combative mentality is compelling and inspiring.  There is no hidden message.  There is no sugar coating.  Much like the protest music of the 60s or the “Reagan years” of punk rock, he is creating awareness that is direct and unambiguous.  Artists like Paris are a necessity and more people in all styles of music need to take a lesson from him.  Oh, and yes, the whole album rules.


Listen to "Guerillas In The Mist" here.

2.16.2017

PROPHECY - Legions Of Violence

Artist:  Prophecy
Album: Legions Of Violence
Year:  2008
Genre:  Thrash Metal

The “re-thrash” wave that began around 2000 produced bands that were almost clones of those that came before.  Since some of the original masters changed their ways or were having difficulty reproducing the stellar quality they once maintained, it was kind of cool hearing young, motivated bands do their take on their thrash metal heroes.  Didn’t like the latest offering from DRI?  Check out Municipal Waste or Possuido Pelo Cao.  New Destruction or Sodom boring you?  Listen to Avenger Of Blood or Violator.  Brazil’s Prophecy would like to remind you of how great Testament was on their first two records, as they emulate Testament’s signature big time crunchy riffs, speed to burn rhythms and wonderfully growled thrash vocals.  If you told me this was a new Testament release, I wouldn’t have doubted it for a second. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?  With that said, the new Testament is a pretty damn great record, so you should go buy that too.

Listen to "Empty Life" here.

2.12.2017

DIE KREUZEN - Die Kreuzen

Artist:  Die Kreuzen
Album: Die Kreuzen
Year:  1984
Genre:  Hardcore Punk

It would be a touch too elementary of me to merely write about what a brilliant and barbaric hardcore punk record Die Kreuzen's full-length debut is, and then continue to prattle on how it contends with anything released from 1984 and previous years.  Although all of this is true, it would be unfair.  For years I’ve contended that the creativity and talent of this band vastly superseded their peers.  I briefly expressed these thoughts in an earlier review of their Gone Away EP.  Even though this self-titled record is in a consistent rotation for me, I recently I listened with a purposeful and analytical ear.  Instead of taking the album in as megaton auditory blast that makes you want to heave objects at a brick wall just to see them smash to pieces, I intently listened to the musical effort of the band and not just the annihilating outcome.

Die Kreuzen were erratic, fierce and unconventional for what was defined as punk in the early 80s.  Their approach is highly unorthodox much in the same way Dead Kennedys or Flipper was considered odd.  While other bands were bashing the living hell out of themselves and their instruments, replacing passion for talent and playing fast for ferocity’s sake, Die Kreuzen had both unbridled fury and innovative skill.  These guys were light years ahead of the pack.  The guitar playing is the demonic baby of Daniel Ash and Greg Ginn; dissonant but always forceful. The influence it had on bands such as Voivod is obvious as their guitarist Piggy (RIP) was well known for turning standard chords inside out; a trait heard often throughout the entire Die Kreuzen catalog.  The rhythm section ultimately controls the pace of this record with precision decision making on what should be fast for neck-snapping power, what should be slow for dreary dynamics and what should be off-time to accentuate some the weirdness going on.  The singing (yeah right) is absolutely maniacal.  Other guys sounded tough; Dan sounded possessed.  His tell-tale shrieks have still yet to be duplicated.  With that said, the way this band played music has yet to be duplicated.  What always boggles my mind is that there really wasn’t a blueprint for the band to play this way.  This album might be 1984, but some of the songs were released on their first demo as early as 1982.  Their strain of individuality continued throughout their career.  Die Kreuzen we’re always 3 steps ahead and flew by all the bands playing catch-up with what they heard in 1982.  True innovators.

During the time I started writing my thoughts on this record (this has taken about 3 weeks, I don’t have much free time!), I’ve listened to it front-to-back at least another 5 times.  I believe I’ve concluded Die Kreuzen just may be my favorite hardcore punk record.  It sounds silly to just realize this at age 46: especially since I bought this album my senior year of high school.  This sonic binge solidified what an achievement this recording is.  Hell, I can’t even listen to The Crew, Start Today, Horse Bites, Dog Cries or Age Of Quarrel that many times in a row.   Maybe I should give it a try.  Or maybe I would just get bored with those records.  Whereas, I would listen to Die Kreuzen again.  Right now...if you put it on.

Listen to "Live Wire" here.

1.29.2017

Songs You Should Know #16 – Nothingface, Argy Bargy & Cirith Ungol

Artist: Nothingface
Song: One Thing

Genre: Nu Metal

Artist: Argy Bargy
Song: Lights Over London
Genre: Punk / Oi


Artist: Cirith Ungol
Song: Frost And Fire
Genre: Heavy Metal

1.18.2017

Mix Tape 15


Featuring:
0:00  Doughboys
3:12  Krux
9:05  Hypnosia
11:53  Steel Rules Die
14:57  Skitsystem
17:11  Unity
19:46  Toto
24:48  Angry Red Planet
27:11  John Entwistle
31:04  Only Living Witness

1.07.2017

NORMAN BATES AND THE SHOWERHEADS - Norman Bates And The Showerheads

Artist:  Norman Bates And The Showerheads
Album: Norman Bates And The Showerheads
Year:  1989
Genre:  Hardcore Punk

The release of The Age Of Quarrel by Cro-Mags established a slight obsession with the music, the people and the lore of New York Hardcore.  Being a Detroit-area kid, we had our own characters and stories, but there was something fascinating about what was happening in New York.  Although, I had previously owned records by Agnostic Front and Kraut, it was Age Of Quarrel that overly piqued my interest in everything punk and hardcore related coming out of NYC in the mid 80s through the early 90s.  Who into aggressive underground music wouldn’t be intrigued, right?  We’re talking Murphy’s Law, Judge, Warzone, Youth Of Today, Leeway, Sick Of It All and so on and so on.  Those bands left me desiring more.  Although word-of-mouth and zines were good sources, compilations were my main go-to of that era to discover bands.  There was nothing like hearing a song from newcomer and then going on the hunt for other items they had released.  In the midst of getting my hands on anything NYHC, I bought the New York Hardcore – Where The Wild Things Are cassette without a second thought.  Soon my ears were being blasted by Sheer Terror, Outburst, Raw Deal, Life’s Blood and others.  Toward the end of side 2, a couple of songs hit me like a clean one-two combo.  I remember furiously rewinding back to these two songs because this band easily stood above all the others.  They were raw and unusually catchy.  That right there began my journey to find whatever I could by the short-lived Queens, New York band Norman Bates And The Showerheads, because I needed more.

Well, my journey was a brief one since NBSH only had one official full length release.  I was very lucky.  Someone at my favorite independent record store at the time had the foresight to order their self-titled cassette.  I recall the excitement of seeing their name on the spine in the middle of a vertical pile of cassettes behind a sliding glass door that I impatiently waited for a store employee to unlock so I could get my hands on it. I scooped it up instantly.  I still have the copy of my tape that is now extremely worn and battered from what must be close to a hundred listens of their mishmash of Motorhead meets DOA with a dose of more metallic Suicidal Tendencies.  They weren’t the prototypical NYHC sounding band, but it appears that was the fan-base that embraced them.  The frantic guitars and drums rain sonic energy bombs over the unusually gruff yet memorable vocals.  NBSH pound away hard on each song, but never let the hook get by them, heavily emphasizing the ever so important punk part of hardcore punk.  Their lyrics have a clever Descendents/Ramones-esque storytelling quality to them at the times they decide to stray from the in-your-face, attitude-ridden bluntness we’ve all come to expect from the New York scene.  Songs dealing with arachnophobia, the daily pains of a retail job, the ultimate rise of cockroaches after nuclear destruction and the boredom of digging graves are atypical, but work well with their rantings of overt disgruntlement with personal issues and society.  The album has a humorous quality, but since the music charges like an enraged rhino, the flippancy gives the record charm and personality, and does fall into novelty territory.  When you can call angry music fun, a band is doing something right.

This album is one of my favorites, plain and simple; not just one of my favorite New York Hardcore records.  Finding the self-titled release can be difficult, but not impossible.  The band did release a discography called Psycho Too which contains this release, the compilation songs that inspired me to be a huge fan and much more.  Doing a little bit of recent research on the band, I learned that guitarist / vocalist Jim Starace and bassist John Garino have passed.  RIP and thank you gentlemen.  Your band made a record I will listen to the rest of my life.


Listen to "Here The Come (Not Another Insect Story)" here.

12.01.2016

Songs You Should Know #15 – The Candyskins, Stigmata & Punkenstein

Artist: The Candyskins
Song: Wembly
Genre: Power Pop
Artist: Stigmata
Song: Save Us
Genre: Metallic Hardcore
Artist: Punkenstein
Song: No School
Genre: Punk

11.08.2016

BOB MOULD - Patch The Sky

Artist:  Bob Mould
Album: Patch The Sky
Year:  2016
Genre:  Modern Rock

Well, it’s finally happened.  I officially like more of Bob Mould’s post-Husker Du work than I like when he was in that seminal band that helped establish hardcore punk AND modern rock.  How can that be, right?  The score so far is 6 to 5 with the Huskers down by one.  The winning number of 6 includes his last three solo efforts and the two full-lengths and one EP by Sugar.  On the other side are Husker classics, Metal Circus, Flip Your Wig, New Day Rising, Candy Apple Grey and Warehouse Songs And Stories.  The answer to your burning query is….no, I don’t like Zen Arcade.  This narrow margin is almost guaranteed to expand if he continues with the stellar quality and expeditious pace he has set for himself the past 4 years.

Just like with Husker Du, there is a decent quantity of Mr. Mould’s material I can live without.  It was a hit and miss affair I’ve had with his solo material since the Workbook record in 1989.  I’ve always felt as if a solid compilation tape could be made from all the releases under his name.  These albums were a mishmash of emotion and experimentation which saw him fall away from his strongest talent; writing music directly related to his personal discontent and frustration.  And, making it LOUD.  I hate to besmirch his work since the man is legendary.  A true trailblazer.  He is immensely talented, innovative and unique, but my ears like what they like and nothing he released that was solo-related truly resonated with me to the point I felt multiple listens were warranted.

That was all true until 2012 and he unleashed the album Silver Age.  Mould took a full-on dive into his younger years where he knew simplicity and zeal had more to do with songwriting than artistry and presentation.  It’s the raw and powerful album I always hoped his other solo jaunts would be.  He took pages out of his own playbook by writing songs in line with latter era Husker Du and the close-to-bulletproof Sugar debut, Copper Blue.  Once again he was applying loads of distortion, a mitigated fury, his signature vocal delivery and melodies saturated with vivid intent.  His next release, Beauty And Rain, was more of the same. He’s found home again and appears to be comfortable in his familiar dwelling. 

This brings us to his third release in under 4 years, Patch The Sky.  With all the impressive material he’s released pre ‘n post Husker Du, “Why are you talking about his latest record?” you might ask. Simply put, Patch The Sky is the best solo record he has ever released and just may be a contender to duke it out for the top spot in his body of work against Copper Blue.  This record is on point with every song and sways seamlessly from moody dream pop to aggressive modern rock without sounding contrived or stale.  Mould’s soul is in these songs and it makes all the difference.  Music is nothing without heart and he’s got loads of it.  He has been unstoppable for 3 straight records.  Some might argue more.   This I can say with complete certainty, the next release by Bob Mould is at the top of my “must buy” list when it comes out.  Given the recent track record, I won’t be waiting long.


Check out "Black Confetti" here.

10.10.2016

Mix Tape 14

Featuring:
0:00  Big Country
3:55  Tombs
8:22  Sisters Of Mercy
12:59  Guttersnipes
15:55  Against Me
18:32  Fastway
22:54  Dig
26:35  Mi Amore
28:20  Khoma
31:47  Agnostic Front