Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Band 101 Chapter 3-Songwriting

Read Chapter 1-Forming a band
Read Chapter 2-Practice, Practice, Practice

The obvious next step after an article about the importance of practice would be about getting shows, but you shouldn't get ahead of yourself. Rushing into shows is a bad idea, especially if you're a younger band and don't really know what it feels like when you "gel". For this reason, I want to cover songwriting first. You might argue that songwriting is a totally subjective field and no one can tell you how to write songs, and you'd be right. No one can teach you how to write, not like John Lennon wrote, that comes with talent, but there is a method to the madness. I'm going to cover this in two sections, music and lyrics. I could write an entire book on the subject, but if you really need an entire book about writing songs, you shouldn't even bother.

Your first few songs should be easy to force out. You just put a few chords together for a verse, and then some more for a chorus, maybe a bridge, and you've got it. However, this only gets you so far, and soon enough most of your songs will all blend together into some musical grey area and they'll just be generic. That's where paying attention to the character of the songs comes into play. Like I said before, I could write a book about this, and several people already have, but there's nothing any all of the pages in any of those books that falls outside the one simple rule about writing songs, and that is to make every song better than your last. That's it. Sure, your first few songs will probably suck, but you learn from them and write better songs. If you ever write something that's just not quite up-to-snuff with your other material, either re-write it or trash it completely.

On the same token, if you start to build up material that's substantially better than your early stuff, don't feel bad about dumping the old songs. If you have an emotional attachment to them, you can always record them for your own personal record, or re-work so they sound better. There's a major plus to dumping them, though, and that's recycling. If there was one really cool riff you came up with that ended up in a song that turned out lousy, just dump the old song and use the good riff in a new song.

Now, lyrics. A lot of bands get away with writing really awful lyrics, but that shouldn't be an excuse. Just because you listen to a lot of bands that sing about stupid things or can't write for shit doesn't mean that you should, too. I've found that the most effective method for writing lyrics is to always write the song twice (at least). You need one draft to get down the idea, which is really just the subject matter put into a basic candor with a little bit of an idea about the rhythm. After you get the words down onto the paper, you're able to really see what you're doing and fill things out with a rhyme scheme and allow it to flow. If you try to just write things in one take because you're "inspired", you'll usually end up with 4-6 lines of solid gold and the rest will be total shit. I also suggest that you read a lot. I know, it's not punk rock to read (or something), but if you don't know of anything and can't get any good suggestions, just go to the library and pick out books to read at random. It helps with your vocabulary, it helps your phrasing, and it can open your eyes up to a lot of subjects that you never would have thought about otherwise. I've known so many inarticulate guys singing for bands that sit and write horrible songs because they never read anything except what they were forced to in junior high, and they don't have anything to compare their stuff to, so they think it's amazing by the standards of all the other inarticulate assholes who were never able to see how their socio-political commentary pales in comparison to Orwell, or how their jaded but carefree attitude set to heavy rock sounded like pre-pubescent whine next to Bukowski's brilliant Factotum.

I read one of those songwriting books once. I didn't think it would do me any good, but I went into it with an open mind because I think anyone can stand to learn, no matter what it is they're learning or where they learn it. It was awful. It had page after page explaining song structures, which are useless and intended to stupefy your listener (I'm not arguing against organization, but you should write something in a way that flows, not a way that's formulated to the radio). It talked about establishing an "emotional connection with your audience" (telling them what you think they want to hear as opposed to what you really want to say), and it even advocated pulling song titles and "catch phrases" from already commercial items. The guy admitted that he would go into Hallmark and browse gift cards looking for song ideas. This is a guy who won Grammy's for writing pop-country songs. This is how much of a fucking joke the record industry is.

Sorry for the rant. Hopefully this helps. Next time I'll cover booking shows.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Spazz/25 Ta Life-A Love Story...Of Hate 7" (Edison) review

This record has apparantly been sitting on shelves for 8 years. It was set for release and the place that was printing the covers went out of business and took all the money. If that's the case, they could have issued them without covers? I don't know, whatever. Also, because this was sitting around so long, all of the songs on this record have their way onto other collections for each band, this is really more for a collector or someone who has never heard either band than anything else.

I still think this is an odd pairing. If there is some sort connection between these two bands that I don't know about, please clue me in. The 25 Ta Life tracks sound exactly like all the other 25 Ta Life songs they recorded. I guess if you're into the style it's good, and while it's certainly better than a lot of the generic "NYHC" mosh stuff, it's almost completely uninteresting to me.

The Spazz material is excellent, but everyone knows I love powerviolence. It makes me want to go out and steal a Hummer for the sole purpose of running over Yuppies. They should call this "Run-Over-Fucking-Yuppies-Core".

Worth it for the Spazz stuff if you don't have it elsewhere.

Buy It on Interpunk

Fuck This/State split 7" (Punks Before Profits) review

I was wary of this record. State were a cool band from way back when who put out a great 7", that's amazingly still in print. I had heard they did a few reunion shows last year that were really good, but I still just have a hard time believing all these reunions are legit. However, I was delightfully surprised with their side of this split. It's raw and angry, they haven't lost any of their bite over the years, and they're an example of how vets can actually put out new stuff without sounding stale. If you never heard them the first time around but you're a fan of early Touch and Go Records stuff, you should love this.

Fuck This is a new Michigan band featuring Ryan, the former bassist of I Object! splitting vocal duties with a girl. It's good stuff, fast hardcore that doesn't break any barriers musically (also reminds me of early Touch and Go), and honestly loses a little in the recording. The lyrics remind me a lot of I Object!, both in delivery and subject matter, very pro-active and anti herd mentality. Solid release in all.

Buy It on Interpunk

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Podcast 2/23/08

I decided that instead of skipping an episode, I'd just re-scatter the schedule. There might be some issues with this one, I'm trying a new way to sequence the show and have some kinks to work out, so bear with me. I like the playlist a lot, though, so get into it.

(Intro) Tragedy-"The Intolerable Weight"

Converge-"No Heroes"
Dalek:Engam/The Blackstones-"The Bag I'm In"
Dead Boys-"Sonic Reducer"
Conniption-"Hopeless at 21"

Whoppers Taste Good-"Cheap Beer"
Wendy Rene-"After Laughter (Comes Tears)"
Thought Criminals-"Display/Response: Action"

The Dicks-"Rich Daddy"
Eddie Fontaine-"Nothin' Shaking"
Scream-"Who Knows-Who Cares?"

Download it
View feed (for subscribing!)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bloody Sods/This is the Life

I upped these really quickly the other night for a message board and thought I might as well cross-post them here, sans the usual long, boring text with them. I've had a shitty fucking week and don't really feel like doing much else.

V/A-This is the Life Volume Six

25 track comp. of Japanese thrash and hardcore. The legendary MCR Company put this out (MCR are the longest running DIY punk label in the world). If people get into this and I get the time/patience in the next couple of weeks, I'll rip my copy of Six Weeks Omnibus Volume 2, which is another amazing Japanese hardcore comp that I don't think was ever put out on CD.

Download it

The Bloody Sods-Get Outta My Head

One of the fastest, most intense Southeastern hardcore bands ever. Think Minor Threat influenced by thrash metal with split vocals by a bunch of rednecks. I saw these guys a few times, and made a show with like 10 kids feel packed and they could start a mosh pit in a church. Sadly, one of their singers died in a motorcycle crash a few years ago (I want to say three or four, it wasn't too long before I moved to Chicago). The best song is "Blackout", which has guest vocals of Frank of the infamous TERMINUS CITY, and there's an SOD cover on this record.

This was never released in the US, and was put out by Madskull Records in Europe.

Download it

If you are a tattoo artist and you're more about politics, drama, playing games, and "making connections" than you are about putting out good work and being a decent dude, you need to have your hands broken. If you're a misogynist and don't want to apprentice and/or hire a girl because you don't want her invading the "boys club", then you should just skip getting your hands broken and go ahead and hang yourself from a ceiling fan.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Scream-Still Screaming LP

The sad thing about Scream is that they'll always be remembered as "that band that Dave Grohl used to be in". The fact is that the band was amazing and Dave Grohl didn't play drums on this record, anyway.

This record fits right into the early Dischord aesthetic. There was a pretty distinct vocal style going around DC in the early 80s, and you can usually call out the bands from that scene based on vocals alone. These guys went so far past that, though. They weren't as insane as Minor Threat, but they approached hardcore punk with the same carefree style that allowed the evolve within the scene, but by their own standards. There's a melodic element to this record that was almost non-existent in the rest of the East Coast bands at the time, the songs were markedly slower than other DC bands, but they retain the urgency of the scene.

I'd say that this is one the most under-rated early Dischord Records. Maybe even the most under-rated (the only one that might be above it, in my opinion, is the SOA single). Everybody knows Minor Threat were amazing, and Government Issue, while under-rated, still get due props. There was some over rated stuff, like the Teen Idles (sorry, but that single is 70% crap), and of course, Iron Cross (who I used to love, and I still own the Live For Now collection, but the older I get, the more of their catalog becomes unlistenable).

Dischord finally decided to re-issue this on vinyl. It's spot on, everything is reproduced just as the original, in the Dischord style. You have to love them.

Buy It On Interpunk

Sunday, February 17, 2008

3-D Invisibles-They Won't Stay Dead LP Download

My wife introduced me to this band a couple of years ago. Apparantly they still play annually in Detroit, and she happened to catch one of those gigs. She had a bootlegged copy of their first record, Jump Off the Screen, which is a lot more surfy than this. This record reminds me a lot of the UK garage/psychobilly stuff coming out at the time. I know I harp on American Psycho bands a lot, and rightly so, and all I can think of while listening to this is "Man, these guys are way better than the Quakes."

This record came out in 1989 on Neurotic Bop Records, and it was the bands last album (there was one between this and Jump Off the Screen that I've never heard. As far as I know, there was only one pressing and it's never been officially issued on CD (you can buy CD-R copies from the band, one like my wife had that's obviously DIY). There a pretty good site with some info on the band here


Side A
They Won't Stay Dead
Creature From Outer Space
Down in the Dungeon
Frankenstein Stomp
Surprise for the Teacher
I Walked With a Zombie
Mars Needs Women
Mail-Order Monster
Creepy Fella

Side B
Graveyard Rockin'
I Married a Monster From Outer Space
Skeleton Rock n Roll
Christopher Lee
Beach Party Massacre
The Mad Doctor's Unsuccessful Experiments
My Baby's Gone to Pieces
Blood Feast

Ripping this record and seperating all the tracks was a chore, but it was worth it. So, you know, you're welcome.

Download They Won't Stay Dead

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Still Hate the Radio

The radio station I'm forced to listen to at work is celebrating St. Van Halentine's Day. Since Valentine's Day is all about finding somebody to shack up with, and Eddie Van Halen's guitar style is all about masterbation, I'm finding a conflict of interest.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Band 101 Chapter 2-Practice, Practice, Practice

Read Chapter 1-Forming a Band

After you have a band together and the basic idea of where you want to go sound wise, you have to practice. This is where 90% of bands fall apart. "Yeah, man, let's practice Tuesday at 7," and then Tuesday at 7 comes and nobody shows. Joey's fighting with his girlfriend, Gabe is stoned, and Jason just forgot. Repeat a couple more times and nothing ever happens and the idea of the "band" fizzles out.

You have to get together, set a time to practice, and stick to it. Take it seriously. Be there on time and be there ready to practice, and remember that you can't opt because you "just don't feel like playing today." If you were on tour and didn't "feel like" playing you can't just cancel the date. If you want the band to really work, you should be practicing once a week AT LEAST. You can start off maybe going every other week while you figure out your schedules, but the biggest thing is getting a few practices under your belt. I'd say that after five to six practices, the idea starts to solidify with most people and they start to take the band more seriously, but that's a much bigger hurtle than it seems (and than it should be).

Go over songs over and over. Don't ever make the mistake that you've practiced it enough. Instead of taking that smoke break, play through one of the songs again. Take it apart and go through it line by line, picking out the hard parts so it all comes together. Make tapes of your practices and make sure everybody has copies of when they leave. They can go home and listen to it and learn from mistakes they hear. I think this is probably the most effective way to tighten a band up, because it allows to hear how things sound when you're not "in the moment", you're just an outsider listening in.

Next time, songwriting!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dynamite 8-The Medicine CD review

This is an awful, boring, and grating record that tries to be both punk and "accessible" to a mainstream audience and fails at both. All I could think of the whole time I listened to this was that it sounded like the band that some "rocker" girl on American Idol would start after she duped her 13 year-old girl fanbase into thinking this music was good.

There are a few points of catchy-as-hell guitar riffs, especially the closing riff on the title track, but it's all lost in generic songwriting, boring arrangements, and the most imperious vocals I've ever had to listen to. I've listened to this CD several times on several seperate occasions thinking maybe it would grow on me, but instead it actually gets worse. I can't make judgement calls based on a sound, but it honestly feels like this band is trying to capatalize on their "ex members of..." credits (that include Fabulous Disaster and the Angry Amputees), and they're also taking full advantage of the (backwards and sexist) "pro-woman" (read: "exploit women and act like it makes you enlightened") state of punk and hardcore now*.

Free track: Horror Belle (the only tolerable song on the CD)

Dynamite 8 Official Website

*I know I'm probably going to get a lot of shit for that statement, and I'm not saying it this band is or is not doing that, but I have noticed an influx in bands actively recruiting female members for "scene points". I've been in bands with girls and have had both good and bad experiences in those situations, but none of those experiences had anything to do with them being girls. I wish everyone else would wake up to that and just realize that if you have a girl in your band, that's cool, let her play and do her thing, don't flaunt her and make sure everyone pays special attention like she's some sort of freak. Nine times out of ten if I write about a band on this blog that I like and happens to have a female member, I make sure not to even mention it because if a band is good, they're going to be good whether their guitarist is a super-hot blonde girl or not.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Vitamin X in Chicago 2/8/08

Vitamin X are touring the states for the first time in 4 years. It's a short, two-week stint that is mainly just to get some extra cash while they finish recording their new LP in Chicago (which they actually finished mixing yesterday!).

I caught their show in Chicago at Galaxie last night. I totally forgot a camera, so I don't have any pictures, but the show was great. It was the first time in a looong time when I went to a show and enjoyed every single band that played, and there were five bands on the bill. Cold Shoulder were good, fast hardcore. The best thing about them was the Dave Grohl lookalike on lead guitar that fucking shredded through songs with some killer thrash solos. Poison Planet were good. Fast and tight, good but probably the weakest band that played all night. They seemed to be the most pro-active band on the bill (the singer booked the show), and the singer gave good talks between songs about the importance of DIY and supporting the underground, but he knew to keep it all short as not to sound preachy. Intifada were fucking great. Their singer was a totally awkward looking gangly little kid. He seemed like a really quiet guy who probably told his friends he was going to sing in a hardcore punk band and they laughed. But man, the kid is great. Not only is so sure of himself and his vocals when he gets into a groove, but he wasn't afraid to order around the crowd at a couple points. Their set was definitely impressive, especially considering how young they are. Sin Orden are a Southside band from who ripped through one of the angriest sounding thrashcore sets I've seen a long time. They have a couple of releases out that I regret not picking up, but I'll have to check the shit out in the future. These guys were tight as hell and just nuts to watch. The crowd had been getting crazier for each local as they came on, and people were going nuts by the time these guys started playing, so their set was super energized.

Most of the time, I would have been burned out after watching four bands play full sets before the headliner and would have just wanted to leave (don't you hate that feeling? I feel like I'm like 45), but because all the openers were so great and the crowd was really into everything, I was even more stoked about it then I was when I got there. When Vitamin X got on, The whole room was set to explode, and it did about 5 seconds into their set. Tons of moshing, circle pits, and drum diving (no stage!), that just kept going. The band played a good bit of the stuff I knew, and a good bit of material that was new to me. Some of the stuff I didn't know were brand new songs from their upcoming LP, and some were just tracks on records I don't have, which isn't surprising because they have a ton of releases. There was a cover of the Misfits' "We Bite" that was less than stellar (but who does a really great job covering the Misfits?...why even try?), but also a great cover of "Tied Down" by Negative Approach. There was a pretty good encore that included a cool drum solo and little jam session. They were super tight and fun their entire set. The only thing I didn't like about their set was that some of the gaps between songs were a little too long. When you're playing fast hardcore and your songs are only about a minute long, and you have 2 minute gaps between those songs, it gets a little straining. However, they were great and pretty much what I would have expected from listening to their records so long. Hopefully this won't be the last time I see them.

I found two videos of the show on YouTube. The sound quality is pretty bad on both. The first video is of their cover of "We Bite", and the other video was so muffled I couldn't make out the song, so I'm not posting it.

Here's a much better video from their last US tour. It's from Gilman street.

Antillectual-Waves 7" (Square of Oppositon) review

I'm late jumping on this, as it came out this past summer specifically for a US tour the band did. Antillectual are from the Netherlands, but you'd never guess it from listening to them. The music sounds very West Coast US. It's pretty melodic and poppy (but still fast and edgy) punk rock. These guys are probably more kids who grew up on Fat Wreck Chords stuff in the 90s and then got more overtly political and pissed off as they got into darker stuff. Think of the angry elements of Propaghandi with the more melodic elements of Strike Anywhere and you'll be somewhere close to imagining what these guys sound like.

The guitar-work is great, lots of cool riffs and interesting changes. Actually, the musicianship is pretty good all across the board, and the song structures are all pretty unique and well thought out. Some of the vocals are a little annoying, as the singer gets into the whole nasely thing from time to time, which takes away from the otherwise catchy melodies he's singing. The closing track on side A, "Waves", is definitely the stand-out, but not so much that the other songs are boring.

The record is limited to 500 copies on purple vinyl.

Offical Antillectual Website
Buy It On Interpunk

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Band 101 Chapter One-Forming a Band

I've decided to write a series of articles about starting a band. I've decided to do this because I meet people all the time who want to start a band but have no idea what they're doing and subsequently aren't ever able to get anything off the ground. A lot of the advice here will seem obvious, especially the first articles, but it's useful. There's something very honest about discovering things like this for yourself, but that leaves you learning most things the hard way. I don't regret starting off totally naive with my first couple of bands, but in hindsight, there are a few things I wish people had told me to start off with. I'm by no means an expert, but I've played in several serious bands so I know a little something about what I'm talking about.

The first step is obvious; find people you want to be in a band with. Even if you live in a small town, or are young and don't know many people, chances are you can find at least a couple other punk kids in your town who know a little something about playing guitar, and there's always going to be some kid who plays percussion in marching band that wants to do something else. Just get three other guys together, decide what you're all going to play, and go from there. Nowadays you can just go buy a book on guitar chords and bass method and teach yourself the basics that way, the rest will come with time and practice.

The second step seems obvious, too, but it's a big hurtle for a lot of bands. Decide what kind of music you want to play. I don't mean pigeonhole yourselves right away, but you all need to have a serious discussion about bands you like, what would be influencing you all individually, and then seeing how all of it can mesh together. A band of four guys who all want to play four completely different styles right out of the gate is not going to work, no matter how great of friends you are. When I was in Slag, the bassist and I were the two songwriters, so we ended up spending a lot of time together going over songs again and again, trying to figure out which direction we were going with them. I'd say probably 70% of the time we were just arguing; it was always me telling him the songs needed to be faster or have more changes, and him telling me the songs needed to less dark and more accessible. We just had two completely different takes on songwriting and we were both too stubborn to back down. As a result, some of the Slag stuff came out really interesting and uniqe, and some of it came out sounding directionless. But either way, playing in the band felt like something of a chore at times.

After you're all pretty sure you know what you want to play, you need to actually start playing together. Starting out with covers is good if you're all new, because it gets you used to playing with each other. Playing covers also teaches you how to watch each other and stay in communication enough during a song to keep to keep it all together. Another good thing about learning covers early on is it gives you a basis for how to write a song. I get stuff from bands all the time who compare themselves to bands they don't actually sound anything like, and it sets a bad tone when you're expecting to hear a certain sound from a band and get something else entirely. If you like a band a lot and you all decide that's the direction you want to go in, learning how to play some of their songs shows you how they build their material. You'll learn what scales they use, how they structure songs, and what chords they're using. That gives you something to build on.

I'm not telling you to rip bands off, but study them and learn. If you're able to do this with a lot of bands, you'll start to come up with really unique ideas of your own. I think the biggest problem with most bands now is they're so limited in what they actually draw influence from that their sound is stagnant. You have to make yourself a student to music. You have to like it and you have to really want to do it and believe in what you're doing, but you also have to have the patience to study it and learn from it, otherwise you'll never be able to create something that's truly your own.

More next time!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Dukes Of Hillsborough/The Mercury League split 7" (Accident Prone) review

The Dukes of Hillsborough side of this record seems unfocused. It's sort of emo, sort of pop-punk, very late-era Bouncing Souls. There's not much bite to it, but it seems like their goal is to be more introspective and toned-down than to really put a lot of umph into their songs. Actually, their side of the record is really most dissapointing to me because it's one of those cases where I read the lyrics before I listened to the songs and got really excited, because there's a lot going lyrically, but the music fails to provide the right backdrop for it. The first of their two songs, "Spider Rico", is a great jab at the jaded "cool guy" complex in the whole punk/subcultural scene that's written in a serious tone, but succeeds in bringing a sense of humor to the subject ("I'd rather see the move that they emulate"). The second song, "Reinventing Axl Foley", is an obvious jab at Against Me!, and again provides insightful lyrics in a unique candor, but musically seems uninspired. The vocal delivery is all one level, sort of a groaning almost-yell that doesn't draw attention to the lyrics, which isn't doing them justice.

The Mercury League succeed where the Dukes of Hillsborough fall short. The lyrics are still pointed and inspired, but the music is spot-on, with a much more developed style and a lot more going on. The guitar work is constantly changing, and there's not much in the way of song structure. I love bands that are able to write material that's free flowing, almost like it sounds improvised, but stay on target.

I got the half red/half clear version, limited to 250 copies. There is also a red/black swirl version, also limited to 250 copies. As you can see, there is no cover art. The record comes in a heavy plastic jacket with a two sided insert with lyrics and basic liner notes. It's very efficient, but it looks nice.

The Dukes of Hillsborough on MySpace
The Mercury League on MySpace

Buy it from Accident Prone

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Unseen Force-In Search of the Truth CD (Grave Mistake) review

Reviewing reissues always feels weird, because it never feels like a real review, it feels like just I'm just putting something into context, which is always about a very personal discovery since I wasn't around in the 70s/80s. This is a refreshing exception because I never really listened to Unseen Force before this was re-issued, so I'm able to give it a more objective listen. I've heard about this band before, and I probably heard the record in passing at some point and wasn't really impressed with it and passed on it. This is a pretty easy assumption because the first time I listened to this CD after it came in the mail, I wasn't really into it, it just sort of sounded like standard late 80s hardcore. Luckily, I let it cool for a couple of days before taking another listen, while I was stuck in awful traffic and bored out of my mind, so I was pretty much forced to listen it.

There are a lot of little things about this band that make a lot of difference, but they're easy to miss if you aren't paying attention. The guitar playing is excellent, but it's very subtly crafted so it doesn't get too "in your face". "Don't Know" is a perfect example of how to do a lot with very, very little. A few guitar slides with some volume swells adds a lot of effect to the song, and the two second, five note guitar solo at the very end is perfect. There are a lot of short little guitar riffs throughout the record that you can tell were written out and worked on even though they're so short; a lot of effort went into these songs. Parts of the record sound sloppy, but if you let yourself really take it in, the band is really just dragging out a shuffled beat, so it just sounds sloppy, even though they're repeating it the same way every time. It's a pretty simple effect that's by no means genius, but it's really effective and unique. There are other times, like the song "Sermon", which is blistering fast hardcore with spot on start-and-stops and perfectly synced rhythm changes that are proof that these guys knew what they were doing.

Perhaps the easiest thing to overlook on this record is the fact that it was recorded in 1986. It's easy to compare this to a lot of bands that have come out since and have been developing on the style, and then shrug off Unseen Force, but these guys were working on their own sound. In a lot of ways, the most impressive thing about this is the slow stuff. When a lot of bands were trying to break the speed barrier, these guys could play fast, too, but they weren't afraid to slow something down if they thought it sounded better that way.

The CD contains the entire remastered In Search of the Truth LP, but it also contains a live set from '86 and a demo from the pre-Unseen Force band 2,000 Maniacs. The live set is surprisingly good quality for the most part, and the few rough spots are short and easy to ignore. My complaint is that the guitar leads are a little hard to hear at times, which would probably make a big difference.

The 2,000 Maniacs material is good by itself, and great to have from a historical standpoint (definitely deserves inclusion on the CD), but it's exactly what you should expect, an early, undeveloped incarnation of Unseen Force. They sound like a lot of the BCT bands, with a couple of songs that clock in under 10 seconds.

I do have one real complaint. The press release sent with this CD contains some really cool information about the band and Richmond scene that really should have been put into the liner notes of the CD. Honestly, I would have rather had the info than the lyrics. But really, it's 33 tracks of killer 80s US hardcore for under 10 bucks, what more do you want?

Unseen Force-"Misguided Agression"
Unseen Force-Corrupted Seed" (live)
2,000 Maniacs-"No One Understands"

AND IF THAT'S NOT ENOUGH FREE MUSIC, I'm going to point you to a download for 4 Walls Falling, one of the several bands members of Unseen Force went on to be in, via

Buy it on Interpunk
Grave Mistake Records

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Common Enemy-Groovy 7" (Sick of Talk) review

Common Enemy have been around for a few years now, and I guess are getting pretty big. This isn't a surprise since they've got a pretty smart (or lucky?) business plan, that includes signing on to do lots of split 7"s on several different labels. While they certainly aren't the best thrash style band out right now, they're certainly good enough to warrant being so popular.

This record is over so fast you don't really have time to discount the negatives about it. It's fast as hell East Coast style hardcore (think early Dischord with a better since of humor) that's intense and tight as hell. Bones Brigade are a good comparison (who also went with the whole Evil Dead theme at times), but not nearly as metal.

As stated before, the four songs on this record are all about the Evil Dead trilogy, which has sort of been done to death, but this isn't exactly the sort of record you buy hoping it will open you up to new musical landscapes. The cover artwork is cartoony and cool, fits the theme well. The b side of the record is a superb etching that just has to be seen. The vinyl itself is grey marble, which has always been one of the coolest colors the folks at United Pressing came up with.

Common Enemy on MySpace
Buy It on Interpunk

Coaccion-Cenizas 7" (Morbid Reality) review

These guys are from Tijuana and spew out five tracks of vaguely familier (but still good) d-beat style hardcore punk on this 7". The band is fast, tight, and just heavy enough to keep up with the times, these guys probably fare well in the current "crust" circles in the US right now (and apparantly already have quite a following in LA). There's a heavy European influence on this record, a lot of it reminds me of the heavier Scandavian hardcore coming out now, and they seem to do a better job of copying it than most US bands. Pieces of it remind me of Wolfbrigade, and other parts (for a reference more close to home) remind me of Witch Hunt a little.

Pretty limited artwork on this, with full lyrics and what looks like a pretty hefty "thank you" list, but all in Spanish, so it does me no good. It came out on Morbid Reality Records, and I have no link for them, nor do I know where to send you to buy this. So go check out the band's MySpace and see if they can get you copy.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Podcast 2/2/08

I like the fact that I can always say that the most recent episode of the podcast is my personal favorite. This one's pretty low-key, and I'm goofing off a little, but it was fun. I'm getting better at working the software, too.

I didn't mean to put Korova on this. I had another song on the playlist and it got corrupted or something and wouldn't load right, so I had to add something quick. It was a cool late 70s song from Australia, and I'll put it in next time!

Murder City Devils-Dear Hearts
Authorities-Your Life

Death Sentence-Live to Die
Shadowy Men on A Shadowy Planet-Zombie Compromise
Neon Christ-We Mean Business

The Rivals-Here Comes the Night
The Coasters-Down in Mexico
Peacocks-Next Room Sleeping
Phil Ochs-My Life

No Rock Stars-Thrash
Born Against-A Whopper of a Tale

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In case you missed the new addition to the left sidebar, my family has hit a financial rough spot. Also, traffic is picking up on the blog and the free picture and MP3 hosting probably isn't to last too much longer because I'm just about hitting max bandwidth every month. I want to continue to do this, but there won't be as many downloads (mostly because I'll be trying to save bandwidth, but also because I want to focus more on the reviews, columns, and podcasts). Clicking an ad/considering a donation (which I really hate asking for because I know I'm certainly not the only person in financial troubles, but whatever) would help out a lot, and I appreciate it. The easiest way for anyone to help (besides just checking out some linked ad content) is by clicking on the banner up above and buying a copy of the Korova record for a measily $4.50.

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