When I reviewed Ex Friends' Rules For Making Up Words last year, I mentioned that I really liked Audrey Crash's vocals, but was "kind of turned off by Joel Tannenbaum‘s delivery>' Well, here's the perfect solution: Crash is fronting a band called Pushin' It 2 The Limit. Their new, self-titled cassette is pretty boss. Short, punchy tunes that rush along, kind of like a punker Lemuria. The songs have pop hooks and catchy lyrics -- "Breaking through Everything with Your Facehammer" is an excellent example of how PI2TL works: lyrics about pushing through, being creatively fulfilled, sang with wobbly harmonies by Crash and guitarist Leta Gray. Everything's a little shaggy around the edges -- the band's a bit off-time on some cuts, like "Vertical Horizon," where it's a bit like the group recorded, and cared more for the relaxed feel than getting it precisely right. And, really -- I'm fine with that. This isn't a perfect album, but it's warm and fun, and definitely not limited by some idea of what's supposed to happen on an album. Hell, the trio noodles out on the end of "Vertical Horizon," then goes right into "Pump Up the Shred," which is a full-on skatepunk number. That's not following the rules. My favorite song features guest vocals from a cat named Winnie, and is a short, bouncy number called "Pushin' it 2 the Limit Saves the Fish." A cat! A cat on vocals. It's shit like this that makes this cassette super-fucking-charming, and fun, and while I was a little worried when I saw the cover art (it could've very easily have been bad retro hardcore), Pushin' It 2 The Limit play music that is exactly the sort of thing you want to put on, crank to the limit, and start your day off with some positive affirmations that also shred like whoah. Best part of the record is that the entire band shouts the title of each song before it kicks in. That thing, where you're listening to the album, and you have to keep pulling out of the card, case, sleeve, or whatever? No problem! You'll be yelling the titles along with the rest of the songs in no time. You can find more information about Pushin' It 2 The Limit at their Facebook page.
cassettes, punk, reviews on February 4th, 2015 by Nick – Be the first to comment
garage rock, punk, reviews on February 3rd, 2015 by Nick – 1 Comment
Sorry State Records recently launched their first single series, dedicated to releasing bands from North Carolina, and the first two installments are now out. The singles come in identical sleeves, and the design asthetic is clean, with a color scheme that calls back to the North Carolina flag, without directly referencing it. With hand-stamped center labels on the vinyl, the packaging combines thoughtful with the slight sloppiness of DIY, making for a cool look. But looks aren't everything. What of the music? Davidians' release is thrashy, but not in the metal sense -- it's more like the "throw yourself around the room, twitching arhythmically." The beat and melodies on the b-side, "Gimme All Yo' Dope," are off-kilter and disjointed, but infectious. It's a song constructed to throw the listener off-balance, especially as it slowly builds to a passionate middle, which then slows, only to abruptly blast through its final seconds. The a-side, "Night Terrors," is a blast of energy, start to finish, filled with the same shrieking energy to be found on the flip, but it's bit more sonically straight-ahead. While good, it's "Gimme All Yo' Dope" that's the solid jam. No Love's "Dogs//Wolves" does that thing where it starts out with a lo-fi, distorted guitar all alone before just exploding into rock 'n' roll. If there's not a term for it, there should be. Dead smack in the middle, there's a simple three-note bridge that takes the tone down for just a second, before blowing everything up with more short, punchy riffs that leave you breathless and curious as to why the song's suddenly over. The only answer is to put the needle back to start, and go at it again. "Bad Things" has the vocals buried way down in the mix, so it's not quite as much fun. The energy's there, but straining to hear what's being sung makes it hard to enjoy cut, especially the crazy build during the last half. You want to be able to shout along, but straining to hear the words just takes away from the whole experience. Still -- good, just not as great as it could be. Both singles are limited to 250 copies each, and come with download codes. They're available now from the Sorry State store. You can get No Love's single by clicking here and Davidians' single by clicking here.
podcast on January 26th, 2015 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Somehow, I lost the cable which connects the soundboard to my computer, so I was forced to dig out the old USB microphone in order to back announce. The positive is that I managed to relate some really good information, while the negative is that the audio volume fluctuates quite a good deal. I did my best to mitigate, but we'll have to see what you all think. The music's good, at least. Podcast #126, "Subhumanoid Meltdown" Glenn Acker, "Class of Nuke 'Em High Part 2 Theme" (Class of Nuke 'Em High) Reggie & the Full Effect, "What the Hell is Contempt" (Songs Not to Get Married To) Torche, "Blasted" (Restarter) The Murder City Devils, "Midnight Service at the Mütter Museum" (Thelema) --- Lemuria, "Courtesy Mercedes" (Turnstile Comix #3) Radiohead, "Bones" (The Bends) Tears For Fears, "Head Over Heels" (Songs From the Big Chair) The Jam, "That's Entertainment" (Sound Affects) --- Andrew Thomas Wilson, "Car Chase" (Chain Reaction) Umberto, "Confrontations (Antoni Maiovvi's Galaxy Of Terror Mix)" (Digital download) John Carpenter, "Night" (Lost Themes) Kurt Vile, "Invisibility: Nonexistent" (Square Shells)
live music, punk, reviews, ska on January 19th, 2015 by Nick – 3 Comments
RBF/LTJ The Granada, Lawrence Friday, January 16 Something about pairing the twin titans of ska-punk brought out every 30-something in Lawrence Friday night. Also, their kids. Hell, even my kid was there with his roommate. It seemed like the in place to be. And why not, really? While it's a legitimate argument that neither Less Than Jake nor Reel Big Fish have put out a good album in the last decade, the energy and fun of their live shows is undeniable. It's weird, because I've seen Less Than Jake so many times at this point that I'm never quite certain as to which show I'm remembering. Given that the band's had a pretty steady lineup as of late, with a setlist that's always sure to include "Look What Happened" and "Automatic," it's basically like the ska version of those REO Speedwagon, Boston, or Foreigner shows that played every summer for most of my childhood. It's great that they're still releasing new material, but I basically just want to hear "Riding the Storm Out" or "More Than A Feeling." But nostalgia aside, everybody's voices are holding up, they don't look wrinkly and sad while jumping around on stage, and the crowd's got enough money to buy merch. I think we all win. [gallery ids="18253,18252,18251,18250,18249,18248,18247,18246,18245"] Jesus Christ, Reel Big Fish. The Granada was sweaty and packed by the halfway point of their set. It was a perfect example that, despite the fact that Aaron Barrett is the only original member, the band's managed to remain a fantastic live act. You'd think that the loss of Dan Regan and Scott Klopfenstein would've rendered the band a pale imitation of itself, but Reel Big Fish remains a live act of impressive energy. Hell, they rocked a cover of "Monkey Man" which managed to be of quality, despite being a cover of Amy Winehouse covering the Specials covering Toots & the Maytals. I might've been drunk as shit by the halfway point of their set, but I could've watched them all night. [gallery ids="18242,18244,18241,18243,18240,18239"] Authority Zero kicked everything off. They've been around for years, always seeming to glom onto the opening slot for a third-wave ska act making the rounds. They're the amalgamation of every heavy pop-punk band that ever had a ska song (see also: Wank, Schleprock), and while energetic, completely failed to grab my interest. Authority Zero gives their all on stage, for sure, with a frontman who's constantly in motion, but they're that thing that kills me: talented, but utterly unremarkable. Not a single song turned me off, but neither was there anything which had me writing down lyrics to track it down afterward. [gallery ids="18238,18234,18236,18237,18235,18233"] Fun fucking times, people. Wallowing in nostalgia might be sad at times, but sometimes it can be a glorious celebration of shit that's fun and exciting. It's always a pleasant thing to discover that sometimes, you can revisit your youth, and thank god -- it's actually something worth going back to.
podcast on January 12th, 2015 by Nick – Be the first to comment
[caption id="attachment_18226" align="aligncenter" width="560"] http://wha-ever.com[/caption] The first podcast of the new year finds us giving up more information about the music you hear. It's a mixed bag, because it means there's more talking, but you get a better idea of where these cuts come from and information about the artists who perform, which is a pretty good trade for having to listen to me ramble on longer than usual. If you like what I play on the podcast and want to hear it live, I'll be on KJHK 90.7FM on Tuesday, January 13, from 9:00am-noon, Central Standard Time. You can click on the link to stream it live, or hear it over the air, if you're within the wattage range in eastern Kansas. I'll be spinning new wave, horror disco, and assorted sounds to make you dance your Tuesday away. Podcast #125, "Dim Light of Winter" Sturgill Simpson, "Life of Sin" (Metamodern Sounds in Country Music) Tav Falco's Panther Burns, "Snake Drive" (Behind the Magnolia Curtain) Shingoose, "Silver River" (Native North America Vol. 1) Santo & Johnny, "Summertime" (Slow Grind Fever Vol. 2) --- Emily Wells & Clint Mansell, "If I Ever Had A Heart" (Stoker) Mogwai, "HMP Shaun William Ryder" (Music Industry 3 Fitness Industry 1 EP) Wino, "Rake" (Songs of Townes Van Zandt) Jonathan Snipes & William Hutson, "Emotional Architecture" (Room 237) --- Isis, "False Light" (Oceanic) Wolfmen of Mars, "All Those Terrible Times" (Gamisu) Kraftwerk, "Computer Love" (Computer World)
cassettes, hardcore, reviews on January 7th, 2015 by Nick – 1 Comment
Lunglust's As Guilt Collects Dust cassette took a few listens to get a handle on. I couldn't quite wrap my brain around what the band was trying to accomplish. However, it finally clicked one morning that the five piece is really letting these songs breathe. It's not that they're wide-open, jammy bits of hardcore -- not at all. As a matter of fact, opening cut "Closed Casket" goes right into "Broken Idol" without much more than a slight dip in the music. No, what Lunglust has done here is create a hardcore single that isn't trying to play a mile-a-minute, with all the riffs crammed tightly into 45-60 second songs. Hardcore's the rare genre wherein a two minute song can be considered "stretching out," but such is the case. Every song on As Guilt Collects Dust let's the instruments speak without the vocals jammed right on top of them, so you can hear the interplay between Jeff Sykes' harsh rasp and the band's lurching, pounding rhythms. It's especially noticeable on the final track, "Revenge." As Sykes yells "REVENGE!", it's almost as if guitarists Eric Lee and Eric Kelling are answering him with riffs. It's incredibly powerful music. Props to Lunglust for playing music that manages to utilize hardcore's brevity and intensity, but is willing to branch out and let their songs have some space to grow. Any band that's willing to let their breakdowns have a melodic element to them is aces, in my book. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/lunglust/broken-idol[/embed] Lunglust's As Guilt Collects Dust is available now on Bandcamp and as a limited-edition purple cassette Tor Johnson Records.
podcast on December 29th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Sitting around, being a sad bastard -- despite four days off work, time in front of the TV, plenty of books, good food, and even exercise. I have no idea what has me in such a shit mood, but here's to hoping the music sounds better than my attitude. I mean, it does. Several year-end favorites make the list, as well as some new discoveries. So, yeah ... Happy New Year, I guess? Podcast #124, "Boo Hoo" Weak Teeth, "Providence Music Scene Soccer Camp Trophy" (So You've Ruined Your Life) Your Funeral, "I Wanna Be You" (Killed By Deathrock Vol. 1) The Cramps, "How Far Can Too Far Go?" (A Date With Elvis) --- The Paperhead, "Mother May" (Africa Avenue) Rev Gusto, "Boys Are At It Again" (Midwestern Audio Vol. 2) Angel Olsen, "Forgiven/Forgotten" (Burn Your Fire For No Witness) --- The Clash, "Police On My Back" (Sandanista!) Earth Girls, "Wrong Side of History" (Wrong Side of History EP) The Mr. T Experience, "King Dork Approximately" (digital single) Here's the Frank Portman interview I mentioned in the podcast -- A Conversation With Frank Portman About Following Up ‘King Dork’. You should buy King Dork Approximately, too.
garage rock, reviews, streaming audio / video, vinyl on December 23rd, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
Big thanks are due Magnetic South for resurrecting these 14 cuts from wherever they've been hidden the last 25 years. Honestly, at this point, I'd thought all the lost recordings worth hearing had been collected by Pebbles, Nuggets, Back From the Grave, Killed By Death, Bloodstains, et al, and that we were at the end of the road for quality dirtying rock 'n' roll. It's nice to be surprised. From the unlikely town of Bloomington, Indiana, comes the Nevermores: this great, strange, organ-fueled garage rock from the early '90s. This a band for which little information exists, and as the history on the back over was written with a eye to whimsey, it's difficult to parse what's fact and what's fantasy. That said, Gretchen Holtz is your most famous alumnus, having gone on to found the all-woman trash power trio the Smears, and you can hear a little of the dirt and filth in these songs. Not lyrically -- this is typical garage rock innocence, down to the point that the group turns "Auld Lang Syne" into a twistin' and turnin' masterpiece. The whole thing is ramshackle as hell, and to more sophisticated ears, this might sound like garbage. The absolute joy in these recordings has made it a favorite this past month or so, and while there's not a lot that really rises up and makes you wonder why the Nevermores weren't ever previously comped (the brilliant "Auld Lang Syne" notwithstanding), Lock Your Doors is way more fun than usually comes across the turntable these days. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/magnetic-south-recordings/nevermores-theme-from-nevermore[/embed] The Nevermores' Lock Your Doors is available from the Magnetic South store on black vinyl. It's limited to 300 copies, and comes with a fanastic-looking screenprinted jacket. There's no download code, but you should be spinning this on a turntable, anyway.
hardcore, reviews, streaming audio / video, vinyl on December 22nd, 2014 by Nick – 2 Comments
A more appropriate record for holiday release, I can't possibly imagine. Weak Teeth's sophomore full-length, So You've Ruined Your Life (out not from Tor Johnson Records) continues the anger and frustration the group started with on their debut single, and refines and focuses it even further than they did on What A Plague You Are. The stark imagery of the cover gives a clue as to what you'll find on the 12 inches of vinyl within the jacket. Weak Teeth rage against world destroyed by political infighting, but what really seems to come through is the yearning for something with meaning. "I'm Better Than OKay" sums it up best, with "a constant burden that you can't know or understand" being the throughline of So You've Ruined Your Life. The rage and frustration which comes through in everything -- the agonized vocals, the tense rhythms, and terse guitars -- actually find their greatest release in an instrumental, "Providence Music Scene Soccer Camp Trophy," which begins with FDR's Flag Day fireside chat, and then launches into a minor epic of stop-start blasts paired with wide-open stretches of grandiosity. When it ends, you feel exhausted and refreshed, like you've just been through a boxing match in a sweat lodge. Maybe it's come too late to make your best-of list for 2014, but Weak Teeth's So You've Ruined Your Life might be the first great album for 2015. From the moment the album blasts alive with "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Kill Yourself," to the fading moments of "Nothing Is Cool," you realize that you might've waited over three years for this record, but it's been totally worth it. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/dog-knights-productions/weak-teeth-life-is-bullshit[/embed] Weak Teeth's So You've Ruined Your Life is available on silver vinyl from the the Tor Johnson webstore, on mixed green vinyl from Riotous Outburst Records, or on clear with black smoke vinyl from the FITA Records store in the UK.
punk, reviews, vinyl on December 16th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
Gorgeous, wonderful hardcore, where pummeling downbeats meet vaguely positive guitar upstrokes. I had Breakout pitched to me as "Bad Brains meet the Ruts," and it's as accurate as anything I can come up with. There's a sense of 4/4 time, without anything ever being explicitly ska-punk -- listen to "All's Quiet" for a perfect example of that. However, there's also the stomping progression of "No Sooner Said Than Done," which comes in, walks into the room, punches you in the face, and clomps back out. However, there's "Fill Your Boots," which might just be the most perfect blend of punk rock's melody with hardcore's energy I've heard yet this year. It's a song that again, hearkens to something (I'm going to say Cocksparrer) without explicitly being a streetpunk song. The energy on this release had me chomping at the bit to put it on my turntable over and over since True Crime came in the mail. There's just something about the way the low end powerfully annihilates while at the same time the guitar manages to keep everything musically positive. With lyrics like "I stand accused/ Without a voice" from "No Sooner Said Than Done," this could've been a real downer of a record, but Breakout manages to latch onto a sense of getting something accomplished, whether by tooth or claw, and it comes through in each and every note. Breakout's True Crime 7-inch isn't Heartless, but neither is it New Bomb Turks. This quartet reminds me of nothing so much as the harder-edged version of Night Birds, who are pretty much the last band whom I heard and absolutely had to spin their single over and over and over again. Not coincidentally, that release was also on Grave Mistake, from whom you should buy this record. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/gravemistakerecords/breakout-true-crime-7-no-sooner-said-than-done[/embed] [embed]https://soundcloud.com/gravemistakerecords/breakout-true-crime-7-alls-quiet[/embed]