“Hardcore, Punk, and Other Junk” demonstrates aggressive music has more to offer than the mosh

Posted in books, hardcore, punk, reviews on April 17th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book cover - hardcore punk and other junkIt’s a shame that Hardcore, Punk, and Other Junk: Aggressive Sounds in Contemporary Music is sort of marketed as an academic book. This collection of essays, edited by Eric James Abbey and Colin Helb, with a little tweaking, could easily fit into any popular punk or metal magazine’s pages with little change in approach.

The essays run the gamut from deeply scientific to historical to a trifle fannish. The editors’ approach and aim is to discuss “the important need of aggressive release in our world.” You’ve got the scientific approach, which breaks down both Sid Vicious’ take on the Sinatra standard “My Way,” dissecting lyrical changes and chord alteration to make the point that the song transcends pure cover and becomes a sort of “cannibalization” of the original.
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Sean Hoen on writing “Songs Only You Know”

Posted in books, hardcore, interview on April 16th, 2014 by Nick – 6 Comments

sean hoen
Sean Hoen‘s memoir of his youth, Songs Only You Know, came out yesterday from Soho Press. It’s an emotional read, fraught with stories of a family of the brink of collapse and finding personal expression within the arms of the Detroit hardcore scene. Hoen isn’t afraid to tell his story with raw, open, honestly, and the result is a book that instantly drops you into a whirlwind of feelings.

I spoke with Hoen by phone a few weeks back, and we discussed the book in detail, as well as his writing process and influences.
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Podcast #111, “Epic”

Posted in podcast on April 14th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

viking fire
Not even kidding — I spent about two hours digging our records, recording tracks, and getting everything ready for this podcast. Then I came up with this idea and thought it was so fucking cool, I had to do it right away. So, What we have here is the shortest playlist the podcast will ever see. It’s four epic songs, sort of suitable for a rainy spring night where the weather’s going all kinds of sideways.

Will it rain? Will there be thunder? Might we have to take shelter?


Um … yeah. So. I did this as a radio set once, with the idea that it all had to be rock songs longer than 8 minutes — no electronic music, no jazz. It was a little more varied than this, but then I had four hours to roam free.

<b Podcast #111, “Epic”
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Earth Wind and Fire frontman Bailey’s “Shining Star” a shining example of ghostwriting gone awry

Posted in books, funk, reviews, soul on April 14th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book cover - shining starBeing familiar with pop culture memoirs, I understand the purpose of the the “with” which comes after the ostensible author’s name. The celebrity, musician, actor, whomever — it’s their story. They sit down with a computer, knock out some stories, do an interview with their collaborator, and then that person shapes everything into a narrative. Some are better than others, allowing the voice of the subject to come through, while authors are basically cranking out something.

Word to the wise: if an “autobiography” has not one, but two “with” credits on it … it will suck. Terribly. Oh my god. Philip Bailey‘s Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire was written with Keith and Kent Zimmerman, and I just don’t know what happened. It’s written in such a way that the historical context often takes over the story, because while Bailey’s story is the constant, every other page features some sort of historical digression. You’ll go from a fine piece of malapropism like “her nice round booty ass” to a stentorian explanation of Juneteent which might as well have been taken directly from a textbook: “an American holiday celebrated by African Americans in more than forty states, commemorating the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865.
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PUP’s self-titled LP out today from SideOne Dummy; BUY IT

Posted in album overview, punk, streaming audio / video, upcoming events on April 8th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

pup teeth

Toronto’s PUP have the stateside release of their self-titled debut out today via SideOne Dummy. I’ve been listening to it pretty regularly since I was turned onto them by Wade from Black on Black, because it’s a monster stereo record — it’s the sort of thing you put on, and just steadily crank the volume until things are rattling on shelves and your ears are ringing. It’s exuberant and raucous and holyfuckingshit have you heard “Reservoir”?
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Graham Jones’ “Last Shop Standing” a friendly tour of the UK record shops

Posted in books, reviews on April 7th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book cover - last shop standingGraham Jones, the man behind Proper Records — makers of some of my favorite box sets and compilations — has the sixth edition of his Last Shop Standing coming out just in time for this year’s Record Store Day. It’s appropriate, as last year, the documentary based on the book was the official RSD movie.

The book is combination memoir and tour of the record shops of the UK. It’s like taking a tour with your favorite uncle, as he introduces you to all his pals and shares their best stories. Granted, the story-telling is pretty bog-standard: there’s a bit of a sense that these stories are much funnier in person.
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Espectrostatic releases “Phantominom VGS” as benefit

Posted in electronic, soundtracks on April 1st, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment

Good news: Hex Dispensers‘ Alex Cuervo has finally followed up his debut Espectrostatic LP on Trouble in Mind!

Bad news: it’s to benefit the medical expenses of the Hex Dispensers’ Rebecca Whitley. She had to have a 23-pound ovarian cyst removed from her. You can see the VERY uncomfortable images of that here (not recommended if you’re planning on eating anything involving tomatoes for the next few days).
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Podcast #110, “April Fools Rush In”

Posted in novelty / humor, podcast on March 31st, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

april foolsTomorrow is April Fools’ Day, so I spent the weekend putting together a plethora of strange and interesting music for you all. For whatever reason — be it feeling better or just the obscure nature of the tracks requiring some explanation — I ran my mouth pretty much constantly throughout this episode. My apologies for that.

You can rest assured that everything is Dr. Demento-eque, if not actually demented. I avoided using noisemakers, but certainly managed to pull together a wide swathe of weirdness, and managed to not pull from any of the good Doctor’s compilations this time.

Podcast #110, “April Fools Rush In”
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Thee Tsunamis, “Delirium and Dark Waters” 7-inch

Posted in garage rock, punk, reviews, streaming audio / video, vinyl on March 27th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

cover - thee tsunamisThee TsunamisDelirium and Dark Waters 7-inch on Magnetic South is just so much fun, I can’t believe they haven’t hit the Terminal Boredom hype machine. The songs aren’t scary — you look at the cover art and song titles, and you immediately assume Cramps-ish psychobilly or Deadbolt-style death surf — but instead, the trio works in a lo-fi garage vein with a shitload of twang to work their atmospheric magic.

There’s some swampy surf vibes going on instrumentally — and they’re really good, too. Thee Tsunamis rock a wave of late-night creepiness enhanced by the sneer in the voices of Betsy, Sharlene, and Josie. Opening cut “Haunted House” sounds like the trio’s singing from the perspective of the house’s denizens, daring you to risk a trip through the front door.
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Revisiting “The Snakepit Book” ten years on

Posted in books, comics, reviews on March 26th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment

book cover - snakepit bookRevisiting Ben Snakepit‘s The Snake Pit Book a full ten years after its original publication means you get to not only consider how Ben sees it at a remove, but also how you as the reader respond to his daily journal comics.

In his closing afterword, Ben makes the point that while at the time, he saw his life as being “the most wild and free,” but now realizes that this was “a horrible time,” where he was “depressed and lonely, heavily self-medicating and desperately seeking the companionship of whoever was around.”

The inner covers do a pretty good job of summing them up visually — the inner front is 16 panels of some variation on “going to work,” and the inner back is 16 of “bong hits” or “getting drunk.” And that’s really sort of the point of journal comics: you get what is, essentially, familiarity through repetition, which then itself makes the really interesting stuff stand out.
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