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. Continue reading →
It’s become something of a cliche to say that a band has stripped away all the excess and reduced songs to just the necessary pieces. At first listen, Richmond’s Cretins seem to be reductive, but when you listen, you realize that they’ve stripped away nothing but the pauses.
Cuts like “Piss On Your Pieces” and “Last Path” demonstrate this pretty effectively, as they open each side with a blast of hardcore, blowing out of your speakers with an intensity that frightens. Whereas any other band would let their guitars feed back a little, generating a little anticipation before launching into the next verse or iteration of the chorus, Cretins chooses instead to cut everything short, and just power ahead. Continue reading →
We’ve talked before about the inherently forgiving nature of the vinyl format, and how those pops and hisses can hide a multitude of sins. In this case, Night Birds gain a lot of power from vinyl. Listening to this band via earbuds or laptop speakers is not the way to go. Initially, I was worried that their new LP on Grave Mistake, Born To Die In Suburbia, had some audio issues while streaming it at Bandcamp or listening on my iPod, because it sounded … thin.
The fact of the matter is that the surf rock aspect of Night Birds’ sound means that you really need to play this through stereo speakers. This is a band that benefits from something that allows nuances to shine through. I know what you’re saying: “They’re writing songs about Mick Foley. Where’s the nuance in that?” Continue reading →
Grave Mistake Records label head Alex DiMattesa recently teamed up with Bobby Egger, owner of Richmond’s Vinyl Conflict record store to relaunch the label of the same name. While formerly a subsidiary to No Way Records, it’ll now be a sub to Grave Mistake, but will keep the original incarnation’s “focus on Richmond Punk and Hardcore bands.”
First on deck for the relaunched label is Barge‘s No Gain 7-inch. It was pitched to me as “fast hardcore, like Infest / No Comment.” Yes, yes it is. Holy fuck, it’s fast. Eight songs in eight minutes. The first side blazes through so quickly and punishingly, you need that time it takes to flip the record over to brace yourself for what you know is about to come in the second half. Continue reading →
The Sickoids have been name-dropped to me as a band to check out repeatedly over the last few months, so it was pretty great to have their latest EP, No Home, show up in the mail last week. The 12″ is a split release between Grave Mistake and Sorry State, and it’s loaded with visual imagery that clues you into what’s ahead before you even have a chance to drop the needle.
The cover of No Home is a photo of a 1965 tornado survivor sitting on the steps of what used to be his home. The back cover is an image of the skull of Phineas Gage — a railroad worker, who in 1848 had a tamping iron driven through his cheek, exiting through the top of his skull, yet survived. These are not going to be songs of hope. These will be songs of survival. Continue reading →
We’ve been big backers of Big Eyes for a good long while, going back to their debut 7-inch on Evil Weevil. Since they first released that collection of demos, the garage-pop trio has toured the country, released a slew of amazing split releases, and are now getting ready to release their second full-length LP on Grave Mistake Records, entitled Almost Famous. Frontwoman and guitarist Kate Eldridge spoke with us via e-mail about the new LP, touring, and more. Continue reading →
Grave Mistake Records recently reissued Big Eyes‘ demo 7-inch from 2010 as part of a co-release with Evil Weevil, who originally put it out. When Alex at Grave Mistake told me that it’d been recut and repressed at a different plant, I figured this was a good time to sit down and compare the two releases.
Demo 2010 (as I suppose the record is now known) has new art, new labels, and it’s also cut at 45 versus 33. Everything’s different, at least in terms of the physical appearance, but how does it sound? I’m one of those people who’s not going to buy a record I already own just because it’s got a new cover. Continue reading →
Unsurprisingly, this entire LP plays at 45 rpm. Frankly, the only thing that would make more sense were it to be a 78. We loved that last release from The Shirks. Their “Cry Cry Cry” single was a monster, but this self-titled LP is pure pedal to the floor rock ‘n’ roll. The whole thing is fuzzed-out, blown-speaker fury, and it is an intense ride.
Thankfully, it’s also a short ride — the Shirks’ style of rock ‘n’ roll, played as it is at 500 miles an hour, can seem like you’re riding shotgun with a madman at the wheel. It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, and it makes you feel more alive than you thought possible, but you’re ready for a cup of tea and a lie-down when it’s all over. Continue reading →
Could Big Eyes write a bad song if they tried? I doubt it. Their Hard Life LP was one of my favorite records of last year, and the two singles preceding it were equally stunning. And now, with the “Back From the Moon” b/w “I Don’t Care About Friday Night” single on Grave Mistake, they’ve tightened their garage pop even further.
While the a-side is stellar, and a punchier version of what we’ve come to expect from the now Seattle-based trio, it’s the flipside that’s the real treat. “I Don’t Care About Friday Night” is sunny, but tough. Like “Back From the Moon,” it has even more melody than what Big Eyes brought in the past, but it’s the crooned “ooh”s that grab your attention. Continue reading →
Listening to the a-side of Bloody Gears‘ “Frozen Rain” single is a gloomy experience. The downtempo, churning rhythm of the track gives the song a sensation of openness. Not the inviting openness of an embrace, but more like a field under a cloudy winter sky. It’s goth as fuck, which is contrasted very effectively by the songs on the b-side, “Bite the Hand” and “Tragic Mistake.”
“Frozen Rain” builds over the course of its five minutes, with the guitars remaining muted in the mix, never quite cutting through the muting drums and bass. The two songs on the flip, however, hit immediately. There’s no build — both songs start off full-tilt, and go straight on until the end. These tracks are less chanting, and more immediate. Although the bass is equally as important as the guitars, the guitar tone manages to come through, like a spot of sun coming through the cloud cover at day’s end. Continue reading →