Thursday, August 4, 2016

Time for Something Else

This will most likely be the last post you see in a long time, if not ever.. While I hate to permanently close any doors, burn any bridges or exhaust any cliques. I haven't had the energy or interest in writing about music in a long time. My music blogging batteries are burnt out and after five years of consistently posting to United By Rocket Science. I no longer have the passion to go forward.

The departure of Dave and the fact that I became the only person who seems to contribute to another co-created, co-authored music blog have led me to think that any future endeavors would almost surely be both solo and less time consuming. Something that, at this point seems unlikely.

These five years years have taught me a lot about myself and my obsessive nature. How, whenever I take on any project. I develop this compulsive desire to make it bigger, better and to ultimately involve as many creative people as possible. While not a terribly bad thing. Putting that much passion or energy into anything can more than often result in burn out. One starts to expect too much from themselves and the people he/she chooses to involve.

In recent months and years my health has been a major cause of concern. Nothing I'd like to discuss in a public forum, but bad enough that I've told my doctors that I'm getting tired of fighting. And as much as they admire my resilience. I don't know how much longer I want to fight. Obviously, I needed to change some things in my life.

It all started slowly with a change of diet. My wife and I became vegetarians.  A stricter diet,  an exercise regiment and meditation followed. I began withdrawing from the rat race and rebuilding  my greatest passion, studio photography. I've been happier. And all I really want to be is happy. Over time, I've  learned that happiness often starts when you stop trying to make others happy. That's important, because United By Rocket Science stopped being fun for me and became more about setting deadlines and trying to please others. Something Dave and me never set out to do in the first place.

In the end, I'm very proud of what Dave G. and I created and built. Grateful for the many friends we made and the one's who contributed. Hopefully, the many people who stopped in to read the reviews and interviews, enjoyed the experience. But for now, it's time for something different.

Sincerely,
- James Damion

P.S. I'll be covering two upcoming Jersey City music festivals in the coming weeks and months. Sugarfest August 12th and 13th at The Citizen and The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival Saturday September 12th at Cathedral Hall. I'll be taking lots of pictures at both events and will most likely be posting some of them here.








Friday, January 29, 2016

New Breed Tape Compilation 2016 Official Documentary Trailer Has Finally Arrived

The wait is almost over. The New Breed Documentary is slated to premiere in March at Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinema. Featuring interviews with band members that played on the comp, fanzine editors & record label heads that chronicled this influential period of NYHC's history circa 1987-89. There will be a simultaneous VHS(!), DVD & online release of the documentary to coincide with the screenings.
   A Q&A with the director, John Woods & editor Orlando Arce as well as the creators of the comp, Freddy Alva & Chaka Malik, will take place at Nitehawk.
  We welcome everyone to attend, it's not everyday one sees a full length documentary on such an anachronistic format as a cassette compilation!
Follow the Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/New-Breed-Documentary-468278020040125/
Look up the hashtag #newbreeddocumentary on Instagram.


Holy City Zoo - No Bunting

I've been sitting here listening to Holy City Zoo's debut full length since it welcomed me home from Japan twenty plus day ago. Three weeks later and I still find myself struggling to find the appropriate words to describe my feelings in regards to an album I rooted so heavily for, but wasn't quite convinced would ever see the light of day. Doubts and fears caused by a year of deafening silence and inaction from a band that  has been featured here regularly since the blogs conception. If hindsight is 20/20. 2015 Was a year well spent for Frank, Joe, A.J. and Brian. Time spent creating an album that, by all means, is deserving of attention and praise from all angles of the music spectrum.

On their first full length "No Bunting" Holy City Zoo explore new territory musically without forgoing the ballsy nihilism that made them stand out in the first place.  The twelve song set opens curiously with "Memo" and it's Kraftwerk/ Devo / Revenge of the Nerds inspiring intro. A three minute jam that could fit easily on the space shuttles mix tape.The title track           "No Bunting" follows bringing the bands back to earth with that chaotic weirdness that always served them so well in the past. "We are the War", (This track is so fucking good.)             "Saw a Bush" and "Stan Lee's Cup" each highlight the bands gift for creative nihilism.      Tight and nasty with a flare for the eccentric.

Whereas HCZ have often found themselves navigating territory between the nihilism of           Rye Coalition and the more technical side of say, The Foo Fighters. "No Bunting"  shows the band exploring more of the technically savvy and experimental areas of their sound.           Most evident on "Even Steven gets the Blues." (My personal favorite.)                                     A song so eccentric and experimental. You would think there was a Fugazi like poltergeist lurking somewhere in the studio when it was recorded.
While I regret taking so long to write this review. I feel that it allowed me to thoroughly take in all the different nuances and elements the record has to offer. Overall, it had me scratching my head. Wondering, how could this possibly be the bands first full LP. As many of the acts that fueled the early days of this blog have faded ... Holy City Zoo continue to grow and mature musically, adding new and dynamic components to their sound without losing touch with what originally drew us to them. James Damion

Available Here


Monday, January 25, 2016

Archie Alone Post Two Tracks from Their Upcoming Spit 7 " Inch

New Jersey Post Core / Emo Gods Archie Alone  have posted two new tracks that will be featured on their upcoming Split 7" with a special (unnamed) West Coast band in the near future. You can download fit or free or donate  to their bandcamp at the link below.




Sunday, January 17, 2016

Local and Touring Bands Highlight My First Show of the New Year

What better way to spend a rigid, below freezing night than in a cavernous dungeon called The Meatlocker? Strange how a basement club I once promised to never return to now provides me with a home base to catch local and touring acts. Many of which have grown to become favorites of mine. With each descent down to the cavernous basement. I find myself becoming more and more of a familiar face there. So much so that I feel myself becoming a part of what's happening there. So here it is. Without ado, the years first show review.
James Damion

New Jersey's Dutch Boys started things off promisingly. Having downloaded their recent self titled EP from their band camp just hours prior to the show.
I was curious to see if a live set would fuel my interest in a band that was already feeding my reasons for getting there in a timely manner. The Emo Punk trio more than made my early entry worth while. Musically technical,
Dutch Boys set served as a reminder that Emo (for lack of a better description) isn't  about eye liner and wetting your skinny jeans over a sale at the mall. Reminding me of old favorites such as Saves The Day and Texas is the Reason. Bands they may not have ever even heard of. The band's set put me in a good place.
Dutch Boys


Next on the bill were Massachusetts Cherry Mellow. It's rare for me to look up a band I'm not  even vaguely familiar with before a show.  However, when the weather drops below zero and I find myself my questioning my need to venture out  It happens. After a glimpse at their band page and a quick listen to their band camp. (Yes, I cheated.)
I was pretty much convinced that Cherry Mellow wax not my kinda thing. A few songs in and I received confirmation of just that. While not terrible by any account. There just didn't seem to be a purpose or reason why they made the pilgrimage to New Jersey. Were they a jam band or a joke band? Did I need a reminder that light shows and strobes have a history of initiating me to have seizures or, at the least, make my eyes feel as if they haven't seen a good nights sleep in over a week? No, I did not. Cherry Mellow, while not bad. Proved to be exactly what I expected. Honestly, I was just glad when their set was over.
Cherry Mellow


Luckily, Archie Alone were there to put things back on track. Easily said, Archie Alone's presence on the Independent music scene and this blog speak volumes to just how much of an impression they made on us all over recent years. The band I'd personally choose to launch my own independent record label. (A man can dream.) and one I'd urge every existing one to take notice of have more than earned a place amongst the acts that have helped form and nurture my musical conscience.
On this particular night the band played what seemed like a criminally abbreviated set. Perhaps due to the single thought that every one of the bands sets to date have left me craving and yes, begging for more. Over the last year or so, they've tailored their sound from their heavier, say Metal tinged riffing to a more emotionally cathartic sound.  Cue singer/rhythm guitarist Nicole Mesce's lyrics and vocal delivery for inspiration. One can't go any further when describing the bands growth without mentioning the growth and overall confidence Nicole has made as a guitarist. She really seems to be coming in to her own in the department. On an extra side note. I think bringing Pete Clark and his drums to the front of the stage during shows works perfectly. Not only does it bring an interesting  visual element to their sets. Ultimately, it really goes a long way in putting a spotlight on his talent and what that skill set brings to the bands overall sound.
Archie Alone

While I can't remember any dates,  (last just assume a year ago)  the last time I got to see Massachusetts's Snowhaus was the key reason I felt it so important to head over to The Meatlocker on this particular night. As with the many of the touring bands I've latched on to over the years.
The chance to catch them play a show when passing through anything remotely close to home is too much to pass on.  I've found that in all of my years of going to shows, writing for fanzines and blogging.
The bands on the bill with your favorite local band often become personal favorites. Ones that, in hindsight, often turn out to be the bands you wished live closer or ultimately decide to pack up the homestead to relocate to your backyard. Snowhaus, for what it's worth, turned out to be one of those bands. Musically exceptional . Snowhaus tend to avoid being pegged down or thrown in to a ready made genre. What the band seem to tap in to is  a merging technical musicianship with a freeform style that is as fun as the bands unwound and fun stage presence. Needless to say, I like it. I like it a lot.
Snowhaus

Closing the night on a high note were the three piece act Basement Beers. Being somewhat of an old dolt when it comes to dumb band names. I really didn't expect much than dick and fart jokes from  these guys. Having enjoyed many dick and fart jokes in my time. That's not a bad thing. However, it does tend to limit things a bit. As the band launched in to that set.
I felt as if a grade school teacher was popping like a quotation bubble in my subconscious. "What did I tell you about judging things by their cover?"
A reminder I sometimes need considering how much I loved them. The crowd, yeah. They loved them just the same. Only they seemed to know the words to every song. Thanks to Ana for the dance. I absolutely adore you. Now you know what everyone else already knows. I Have absolutely no rhythm.  Overall, I wish all the shows I went to were this much fun. I'm glad I'm finally starting to realize how much fun I can have if I let myself.
Basement Beers

As I close this long winded review out. I honestly can't go without showing my appreciation for Ana, Cindy and Nicole for the welcome back they gave me. It's people like them who make a scen worth participating in. Thanks

Monday, January 11, 2016

Leeway - Born to Expire (Vinyl Reissue)

Growing up in Jackson Heights Queens. Astoria was our first right of passage as far as escaping the invisible borders of adjacent Elmhurst were concerned. In reality, the same thing could be said about New York Hardcore. While my first High School Msgnr. McClancy had it's small, yet tightly knit fabric of Hardcore kids to show me the ropes. It wasn't until my excursions in to Astoria with them when I was able to see and hear the real thing up close and personal.
Bands with names like
Token Entry whose fast and aggressive approaches to Punk and in Leeway's case "Crossover" would eventually bring me to the haloed doors of CBGB's, the Sunday Hardcore matinee and eventually
The Rock Hotel shows at the Ritz. Then, just as I had begun to find a home and an extended family in CBGB's and the clubs that were inviting this strange and sometimes dangerous form of street music in to their doors. Things seemed to change overnight. Crossover came and sucked away many of the bands. I hated it, with one glaring exception, Leeway.
The reason, Leeway were always a Crossover band. Even before Crossover became part of my vocabulary. For Leeway, owed more to Thrash Metal than they did to bands like Antidote, Agnostic Front or any other Hardcore band that may have come before them.
As 1985's "Enforcer" demo were a combination  calling card and wake up call. 1989's "Born to Expire" served as a perfect time capsule for the era and a landmark release for Leeway. One that would go on to define them as a band.

Upon hearing about a vinyl reissue of "Born to Expire" as well as their later releases began circulating. I knew that the redemption I had been seeking since deciding to sell all of my records in the year 2001 would finally arrive. Listening to old favorites like "Rise and Fall", "Mark of the Squealer", "Be Loud" and "Enforcer" on vinyl for the first time in over decade brought back my love and appreciation for the band. Recalling the first time I saw them live at the Ritz and getting my hands on a copy the day of it's original release in 1989. Listening to it this week with new ears, discovering a new favorite in the albums final track "Unexpected" only sweetened the pot. And while the live bonus tracks are great. I'm pretty confident in my belief that even the most pedestrian fan of the band would be happier with the incredible 1985 "Enforcer" demo. Overall,  this is an essential re-issue that satisfies on many levels. Whether you love Hardcore, Metal, Crossover or all of the above. This is a must have. One that will most likely go out of circulation before long.  The album, as well as Leeway's "Desperate Measures", "Adult Crash" and "Open Mouth Kiss" are available in various vinyl colors as well as CD format from Reality Records.
 James Damion

Available Here

While We Wait - S/T 7' Inch EP

While the name "While We Wait" might read like the perfect handle for two guys waiting for the next thing to come along. The bond between Andy Guida (Altercation, Supertouch, Absolution...)  and Matt Warnke (Bold) go back to their time together in Running Like Thieves and more recently The Mistaken.

Less Bluesy and more connected to their Hardcore past than
The Mistaken were.
While We Wait's approach to Hardcore is more melodic and for lack of a better description, subtlety pronounced.

The EP opens with
"Kings Ransom". A song so ambitious with it's revved up guitar part, up front drum leads and emotionally drenched vocals.
The epic nature of
the song bring to mind the long lasting effects of Hardcore greats Supertouch and their landmark song "Searching For the Light" (A band for which While We Wait's Andy Guida played. a key role.) To even attempt describing the deep pull of the "Kings Ransom" without mentioning the emotional grip of Guida's backing vocals would be damn near criminal.
"By Now You Should Know Right From Wrong" follows respectfully with similar results before "All the Plans You Made" finishes the three song sample like a statement of purpose. It's all systems go with Matt's deep and soulful vocals belting out lyrics with both authority and purpose. Having listened to this a couple of dozen times  continually over a twenty four hour period is without pause, the highest recommendation I can possibly give.

Released on Freddy Alva's Wardance Records and available through Big Cartel. The record was produced, recorded and mixed by Andy Guida himself at Six III Studio. Matt Warnke wrote the songs, sings lead vocals and plays rhythm guitar while Andy Guida handles the drums, lead guitar, backing vocals.

Maybe it's time we move on from familiarizing ourselves with artists by mentioning or comparing their work to what they accomplished decades ago. Leave your preconceptions of what Hardcore kids can do as adults in the past and just listen. You might like what you here. I know I did. James Damion

Available Here

Youth Brigade - Complete First Demo

Dischord Records continues to do an incredible balancing act. Releasing new and vital music while finding time to honor it's much celebrated history. In addition to a steady stream of praise worthy reissues. The label has managed to conduct some successful archeological digs that have unearthed never before pressed demos and studio sessions from storied acts such as Fugazi and Rites of Spring to their earliest and perhaps most sought after icons 
State of Alert, Void and Faith to name a few. DC's Youth Brigade (Not to be confused with the California act of the same name.) came in to existence upon the break ups of Washington DC area bands The Teen Idles and The Untouchables. Nathan Strejcek 
(Teen Idles Vocalist) and Danny Ingram  (The Untouchables Drummer) formed 
Youth Brigade. Soon after becoming part of Dischord Records first four 7' inch EP's with their eight song offering "Possible".

Just as expected, the sound is raw, unhinged and rudimentary. Displaying what you would expect from a young band playing  and in essence, helping to create a style of music that is essentially, still in it's infancy. Eight quick and sonic outbursts of impassioned anger and alienation. One of which, the aptly titled "Waste of Time" fails to even clear the one minute mark. 

Youth Brigade's complete first demo, recorded by the now legendary Don Zientara and Skip Groff at Inner Ear Studios in the Summer of 1991. Thus making it older than many of our readers. The edition of the single reviewed here was pressed on orange vinyl. 

It really speaks volumes about the power of Punk, Hardcore and the original D.I.Y. ethos when material recorded more than a quarter century ago can feel so vital and easy to relate to. Music is funny that way. James Damion

Available Here

Brain Slug - Live in Power Promo Tape

Long Island's Brain Slug first came on my radar when they played a rare Hardcore bill at Steven's Institute of Technology in Hoboken. On a night when I was on a mission to see a personal favorite of mine in Living Laser.
My eyes and ears were opened to a score of bands, including
Brain Slug, that would more than earn favorite status through their blistering performances that night.

Dirty, grinding and ugly. Three elements that initially drew me to Brain Slug's sound nihilistic approach. Three key ingredients that keep me interested. There approach to Hardcore brings to mind bands such  as Straight Ahead, Rorschach, Citizens Arrest
(There's a cover CXA's "Serve and Protect on here.) and power violence kings Man is the Bastard. Amongst these six killer tracks there is also a cover of The Beastie Boys "Ode too..." from the bands 1982 Hardcore EP "Pollywog Stew".
The six song promo tape serves as an appetizer for the upcoming full length album where each of the four original songs will make an appearance. If "Live in Power" is any indication of what's to come in the near future. Fans of Hardcore will have one hell of a record to look forward too. I, for sure, can't wait. James Damion

Order it Here

Dead Blow Hammer - S/T 7' Inch

I was trolling the aisles of  my somewhat local record store the other day when my eyes were drawn to a vaguely familiar name on a very nondescript looking EP priced suspiciously lower than the small gathering of
7 inch records in the stores racks. Whether or not it was the discounted price or odd familiarity that had me take it to the counter along with my much anticipated vinyl reissue of Leeway's "Born To Expire" is unbeknownst to me. I was quickly reminded later that night that it was the band my Hoboken friend Adriano Garcia was fronting with old band mates from the 90's Hardcore act Against the Grain.


The opener "Not Tonight" doesn't really serve as a very good introduction to what turns out to be a generally good first offering from these old timers . "Transporting " follows authoritatively upping the skill level while ranking as my favorite of the five offerings. With "Controllable"  following as a close second. Dead Blow Hammer's sound runs in the "Loud Fast Rules" territory of Hardcore. Yet still finds room for some mid paced fun in it's two plus minute warnings.

While Dead Blow Hammer didn't  grab me initially. A few thorough listens had me finding more and more to like, appreciate and ultimately win me over. The bass lines of Kabula (Cause For Alarm, Agnostic Front) and the out of the box vocal charge of Mr. Garcia really put their hooks in me. Ultimately, serving serving as the EP's most distinguishing elements. And as I find myself losing interest in Hardcore. It's bands like
Dead Blow Hammer that bring me back due to a slightly different approach and delivery that keep me returning to the fold. James Damion

Order it Here

Friday, January 1, 2016

Holy City Zoo Debut New Single "No Bunting"

2015 was a quiet year for New Brunswick favorites Holy City Zoo. That's why I'm so exited to report the band has a new single "No Bunting". Word on the streets is the band is set to release their debut full length in early 2016. Let's keep our fingers and toes crossed that it's earlier than later. Stay tuned for more.



New York's Brain Slug Release Limited Cassette Tape

 NYC'S BRAIN SLUG TO RELEASE LIMITED CASSETTE TAPE AHEAD OF NEW LP
LISTEN TO NEW TRACK "CHECKMATE" NOW. BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN FOR AN LP IN 2016.



Living Laser return with 3 song EP

New York favorites Living Laser have returned with a new three song EP cassette that's being made available through Frequency Deleted Records and online via stream. Living Laser have been a long time favorite of mine and Dave's. Having been featured here numerous times in the past. If you're into bands such as Bad Brains, Leeway, Burn, Cro-mags, Beyond or anything that's full of boundless energy and intensity. You'll surely love Living Laser.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Future Forecast for United By Rocket Science

Whether you've noticed or not. United By Rocket Science has, for the most part. been inactive for a few months. With Dave spending most of his spare time hauling vinyl to and from record shows and my side project Document Fanzine. There hasn't been much inspiration or initiative to work on this blog. With jobs, family, travel and just plain other things to do. United By Rocket Science has moved from the forefront to the back burner. The decision to delete our Facebook page earlier this year was mine alone and one I personally felt was a long time coming. Over time, maintaining it became a frustrating time suckage that was as frustrating as it was disappointing.


In conversations as recent as today with friend and co-creator Dave G. It seems that his time with the blog has come to a respectful end. And while I leave the door open to any future inclusion on his part. I honesty doubt there will be.  Expecting otherwise on my part would be both unrealistic and selfish. 


In December I will be heading to Japan to spend time with my extended family and hopefully have the opportunity to mentally detox. (No news, TV, Social Media, Distractions) My hope is that, when I return I will be able to make a decision on whether or not to move forward with U.B.R.S on my own. Until then, I'm not really sure I can or even want to. Until then, thanks to the many people who contributed over the years and those who supported us be reading, following, spreading the word and providing us with material to review. It's been a fun four years. James Damion

Be sure to stop in to check out a little side project I've got going called Document. With it's many features and simple layout Document is in many ways a tribute to the print fanzines many of us older kids grew up with. There are interviews, reviews, photography and lots of fun features.




Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Night Out with The Nolan Gate

While the future of United By Rocket Science may be in question, there are times when I feel it necessary to post material relative to Dave and my exchanges and experiences.
This past Saturday was just such an occassion when our friends The Nolan Gate played a rare show at Warwick, NY's Tuscan Cafe. The long running Nolan Gate which features old friends
Tom Farkas - Bass, Growls, Paul Andres - Guitar, Vocals and Dave's brother
Darin  - Drums have quietly been making deafening noise for decades under their current moniker and their original namesake Mothman.

The Tuscan Cafe quickly began to swell as my wife and I finished our respective burritos. As the band assembled I found myself surrounded by friends, family, loved ones and complete strangers. Before the night was over. I was most happy to hear how my wife, 
(A woman I originally found common ground with through our mutual love for Slayer, Motorhead and other Gods of noise.) remarked on just how good it was to see our friends gathered at The Nolan Gate .Separately, Tom, Paul and Darin are some of the best musicians I've lent my heavily damaged ears too. Together, they form on of the best trios out there. Loud, Heavy and very, very necessary. Below is documented evidence of this rare occurrence. J.D.




Images from Kylesa's Visit to J.C.'s Monty Hall

A few weeks back I had the chance to catch personal favorites Kylesa in an intimate setting at Jersey City's Monty Hall. To see the show review you can go to Document Fanzine 
James Damion

Kylesa's Laura Pleasants

Phillip Cope of Kylesa
Savannah GA.'s Kylesa
Inter Arma's Mike Paparo
Richmond VA's Inter Arma
Ontario Canada's Indian Handcrafts




Monday, September 7, 2015

New Jersey's NGHTCRWLRS Debut Official Video for the song "Smiling"

New Jersey's eclectic indie rockers NGHTCRWLRS have posted a video for the song Smiling. from their 2015 self titled debut LP on Sniffling Indie Kids.  
The band is currently working on a follow up that should surface later this year. 
Be sure to keep an eye out for it. James Damion




Friday, August 28, 2015

A Juicy Night at the Pussy Pad.

Sometimes I wish there were some sort of telaporter to get me from the couch to the show. For with all the inspiration and passion for music I have. There is an equal if not greater combination of anxiety, indecision appreciation for what I have right here at home.
Lucky for me, the draw of live music is often stronger than most other feeling.

As I parked my car. My windshield was graced with the friendly mug of NGHTCRWLRS guitarist Frank DeFranco. Not a bad way to start the night. Without haste, we made our way through the small corridor that separated the semi attached homes, past the oddly placed antique piano and towards the backyard where we were greeted by our host and those already in attendance. As the bands arrived along with other show goers. I couldn't help but notice the overly friendly and welcome atmosphere the Pussy Pad provided. Before long, we headed down the stairs towards the basement where the first band was already setting up and tuning in.

As much as I enjoyed the opening band. I found myself spending most of their set trying to figure out my camera settings. I had been using it earlier that day in the studio and completely forgot to reset the damn thing. (I tell ya'. It's always something with me. I have a chance to see Toy Cars next week and promise to be on my most attentive behavior.
Toy Cars

Next up were Lancaster Pennsylvania's Spill. This was my first exposure to the band and to say they left a lasting impression would be an understatement. A nice mix of garage meets melody friendly Punk rock with an all inclusive stage presence and banter.
The small, yet intimate crowd in attendance seemed to vibe off each note. Great stuff worth seeking out.
SPILL

NGHTCRWLRS followed
(Or did they?) This was my third time seeing them live.
The band, though hard to describe, are somewhat of a local super group.
(Featuring present and former members of
Holy City Zoo, Nico Blues,
All Sensory Void, Lake Effect and Man on Fire.
(Just to name a few.)
Their sound is as musical as it is eclectic.  Their set was part Punk Rock, part experimental  and part off Broadway production of Silence of the Lambs. Since my first taste of this band I've been second guessing myself on what I should be hearing and what I'm actually hearing. Thoroughly impressive. I like that they keep me guessing.
NGHTCRWLRS

Closing the night was the band I put gas in the car to see. Truth be told. I've been hearing about Lake Effect for some time. So long and so often, that seeing the band perform live seemed to climb higher and higher on my "Must Do" list from one day to the next.
Getting out to finally put the voices in my head to rest was just what this out patient needed. Fronted by singer guitarist Max Rauch. (Who also happens to play the drums for NGHTCRWLRS.)  
The bands set was an impressive mix of musically diverse sounds and child like, wild abandon. There came a point where where Lake Effect and those in attendance became one sweaty mess. From there I doubt anyone could tell who was who. I can only hope that the band were able to make it home with all their pieces in tact. Lake Effect have a show coming up at Jersey City's The Dopeness on September 10th. Be sure to scoop up a copy of their debut album/CD thing
American Sarcasm before, during or after. You wont be sorry.
Lake Effect
Special thanks go out to Frank ( NGHTCRWLRS / Sniffling Indie Kids ) and out host.
If it weren't for basement shows and the people kind enough to open their homes to strangers. We would not have half the music scene we have today. Respect.
James Damion

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Aguirre Post Video Featuring Debut Album

New Jersey's Hardcore Punk newcomers Aguirre have posted an impressive video which features the bands debut album. Featuring current and former members of acts such as 
Melissa & Paul, Control, Hell Mary, Barcode Youth and many others. The band comes to the table with an impressive pedigree. The band will be playing their first show friday night at Tony's in Stockholm NJ on Friday  Details Here and are said to have copies of the album with them the following night when they play at Taps Pub. Details Here Aguirre has a site coming soon. For now you can go support them on their Facebook page. Here  JD



Friday, July 31, 2015

Sand in the Face - Music Made to Riot New Jersey Hardcore 1982-1983

Music Made to Riot collects the very earliest recordings of Montville, NJ's Sand in the Face. Largely recorded at Boonton, NJ's Mix-O-Lydian Studios. The same studio that had already given us The Misfits "Walk Among Us".
The demos within feature the pre-LP lineup of  Pete (Aaron) Wegele,
(bass, vocals) Paul Schraft (vocals, guitar)  and Mark "Munk" Lombardi, who sadly died of cancer in 2010 on drums.

I found this to be a fun and quick listen.
A good time capsule highlighting the first wave of  NJ Hardcore (Something I believe to be criminally overlooked.) Overall the tracks are what you'd expect from a young band getting to know themselves in the early days of Hardcore. A trio of high school kids getting to know their sound while working in the studio for the first time.  Snotty, mid to fast paced teenage anthems A sound akin to such contemporaries Adrenaline O.D. and Bedlam. Music Made to Riot compiles eighteen tracks in all and detailed liner notes written by Wegele himself. His dedicating the release to his departed friend and band mate is, to say the least, touching. Limited to 600 copies. My one complaint, if any, is that this did not come with a digital download. Something that would have come in handy when compiling my New Jersey Hardcore mix tape. James Damion

http://www.matwrecords.com/

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Gillian - Colorize


To this day I still have a sincere affinity for the borough of Brooklyn. Having gone to school there and labored at my first suit and tie job there. Why wouldn't I? These days however, the borough seems to get more grief for it's slick, Pabst drinking hipsters than for the shining beacon of hope it's always been for music of all shapes, sizes and colors. A thread of consciousness that leads me to Colorize, the bands third and most recent release to date.

Warm and flavorful  instrumentals accent smart meets crazy vocal duos for a sound that is as eccentric as it is eclectic.
While Colorize features a mere five songs. (Freak Flag, my personal favorite returning from the 2013 release of the same name.) The band seem to have no problem distinguishing themselves as something that is uniquely special.
Possessing an approach and endearing quality that appeals to the masses while still feeling intimate and personal.
A very rare trait in a time where our attention spans have shortened and the demand for immediacy reign supreme.

Having recently signed a soul stealing deal with a publisher. Who knows where Gillian's music might be popping up. I dare not venture to guess. Regardless of whether it's the big screen or the small one. The Brooklyn quintet seem to be headed places. James Damion


http://gilliantheband.bandcamp.com/  Get it Here

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Lookouts - Spy Rock Road ... and Other Stories

Before there was Green Day, Gilman St. Project or Lookout Records. There was a young and scrappy young trio known as The Lookouts. Featuring a pre-pubescent Tre-Cool
(future Green Day drummer) Vocalist Larry Livermore (The boy who would go on to cofound Lookout Records) and Kaine Kong (Future forest ranger of all things) and guest appearances by Operation Ivy's Tim Armstrong and future eye liner model and voice of Green Day,
 Billy Joe Armstrong.

Spy Rock Road...
and Other Stories features twenty four songs of raw, spirited Punk Rock anthems. Songs that   give offer a glimpse of what was happening in the Bay Area at the time, while showing hints to the blueprint of what was to come.

When choosing whether or not to invest in Spy Rock Road... please avoid any comparisons to anything Green Day has done post Ker-Plunk.
Despite their current drummers history in either bands. These are not early Green Day outtakes or demos.
If you're a fan of bands such as Crimpshrine and what Lookout Records was producing early on. This is definitely for you. James Damion

http://dongiovannirecords.com/product/137-spy-rock-road-and-other-stories

All Eyes West - Doomer

One of the many qualities Chicago's All Eyes West possess is there uncanny ability to remind me of the bands I love, while remaining unique and special in somewhat personal manner. Like long time favorites Samiam,
All Eyes West have a knack for writing songs that one can immediately identify with while applying them to your own emotions and experiences.

On their twelve song LP Doomer. AEW continue to build on their gift for producing flawless rock n' roll with a definitive punk rock bravado and aggression.
Drummer Ronnie DiCola keeps the beat as Jeff Dean's titanic guitar attack meets
Justin Millers emotionally drenched vocals/bass  to create songs that feel vital and highly evolved.

All the key ingredients are present. Each coming together to make an excellent record.  Doomer is perfect on so many levelsProduced by the legendary J. Robbins along with the band at Baltimore's Magpie Cage Studios. Robbins also contributes additional vocals as well as instrumentals.  The record comes on both Black and Translucent Blue vinyl. So be sure to specify when ordering. Don't miss out on this. All Eyes West will head to Missouri to start their Summer tour. on the 22nd of July. You can find a lit of dates and places Here.  
James Damion

http://jumpstartrecords.com/wp/album/all-eyes-west-doomer/

The Deafening Colors - Carousel Season

Carousel Season marks the second full length for New Jersey's The Deafening Colors. Music that reflects the duos upbringing in Ocean and Atlantic City with a sound that mixes ambient, shoe gaze and dream pop that grew on me as
I listened. While immediate comparisons to a sleepier, experimental side of
the Beach Boys are unavoidable. One could also reference New Jersey storytellers The Front Bottoms and the long running New Brunswick quintet Sink Tapes.

While The Deafening Colors aren't what we're used to reviewing here at United By Rocket Science. It's definitely something I'd like to see/hear more of in the future. For Carousel Season was definitely something I found myself drawn to more and more with each song. From favorites such as Driving Horse's Ghost,
Waiting For The Axe and the expansive Part Time clocking in at a lengthy 5:30. I felt myself caught up in a moment. Caught up in the beauty of a song. James Damion

Bandcamp <<< Get it Here



Circle Storm - Character Assassin

While not a new release by any means. Character Assassin, Circle Storms 1996 EP is available again, this time on clear vinyl, for what seems like a limited time. I first heard of  Circle Storm when California's Chain of Strength flew into La Guardia Airport, dropping their bags in the Queens, NY living room of what was known as "The SXE House." At the time,
the bands Revelation Records EP was already gaining "Classic" status with it's straightedge anthem True Till Death.

As I got to know the Chain crew personally. I struck up a conversation with Ryan Hoffman where I can swear he talked up the idea of the band Circle Storm and how the name was taken from the D.Y.S. song of the same name.
While the dates between that encounter and the actual formation of the band don't exactly crunch. My memories of the record and the short lived band are strong.
Character Assassin, originally released by Ambassador Records, a label I seem to remember as a flagship label of Revelation Records. (I could be wrong.) Members of Circle Storm featured former and future members of bands such as Justice League, Chain of Strength and Collision.
In that respect, the overall sound reflects that of it's members work both prior and post Circle Storm.

In listening to these seven tracks for the first time in decades. I gained a sense of appreciation for this oft overlooked release.
One that matched the excitement I had when first hearing the name in that long forgotten exchange with Ryan. Good material that was worth revisiting.  James Damion

RevHQ  Order it Here

Rights of the Accused - Innocence (Vinyl Re-Issue)

Innocence revisits the legendary Chicago Hardcore act and their classic 1984 debut EP.
The long out of print and highly sought 7' is back on vinyl for the first time in more than you'll ever remember. While Innocence serves as the bands debut.
Rights of the Accused, known for their silly songs and high energy performances, existed in form or another for more than ten years.
With Guitarist Jay Yuenger going on to play in White Zombie.  Also worth noting is future Rights of the Accused contributor
Brian St. Claire (drummer 1988-1992) went on to form half of 90's grunge, noise duo Local H. The reissues five tracks revisit Hardcore's early punk influences with songs that are raw, intense and tribal.
A nice document of the pre crossover day of the genre and proof that Hardcore wasn't strictly a coastal thing. James Damion

RevHQ  Order it Here

Stand As One - Begin to Care 1991 Demo (Vinyl Exclusive)

If you're scratching your head as to why I'm reviewing a demo released in 1991.
Take into consideration the fact the Stand By One were just about to become the band we all came to know and love as Strife.
During the bands time as Stand As One,
the California Straight Edge band played with better known acts such as Infest,
Chain of Strength and Downcast before ultimately becoming Strife.
This is the first time this demo has ever been presented on vinyl and this is marketed as a one time only vinyl release. The four songs featured All from the Past, Question Mark, Move Towards and Dedication each have an introspective, positive vibe to them. Musically, it's what you'd expect from a demo.
Powerful, straightforward and anthemic songs featuring high pitched vocals that sound like a young teen looking to find his voice. While none of this was new or fresh sounding to me. I found it to be a nice document of a band in it's earliest stages. A nice document of time for sure. The record does not include a download card. So audiofile geeks beware. Available on color vinyl while copies last. James Damion

Indecision Records  Order it Here

Friday, July 10, 2015

United By Images; June 2013: Stuyvesant's Last Show at Maxwell's

I'm not really sure when or how I first heard Stuyvesant. Having lived in Hoboken for close to twelve years, it seemed inevitable. Having interviewed the band at nearby
Moonlight Mile Studios and having them over at my home studio for some promotional photos. Our exchanges might have cemented somewhat of a friendship with Ralph, Brian, Sean and Pete. However, it was their live shows at nearby Maxwell's that I'll always remember the most. Their energy, spirit and inspiring tunes always left me with a giant smile on my face. Inspiring me to name them Maxwell's House Band and "The only band I ever need to photograph." While there last official show at the old Maxwell's was a joyous one.
It was also a sad reminder that a chapter in our lives was suddenly coming to a close.
As silly as it may sound and look. I asked them to sign their set list later at the bar.
A little something to show the grand kids years from now. The four photos shown were each taken from that final show. One that I will remember for years to come. James Damion
Stuyvesant


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Jersey Beat and Maxwell's Host The Milwaukees, Eastern Anchors and the Bastards of Melody

It's been close to a year since I left Hoboken for the sunny shores of Jersey City. In the times I've been to Hoboken since. I see less and less of what first brought me there in 2001. 
The legendary club that first had me crossing the Hudson in the early 90's not only changed hands in ownership. It's moved on with the times and no longer provides music for local and touring musicians in the way it did for decades. Times change though and while that might be hard for many to emotionally digest, it's inevitable. So when Jim Testa invited me to his Jersey Beat showcase. I was more that happy to attend.

First impression of Maxwell's rebooted were good. Getting carded at the door as a forty something was a good start. Being on the guest list, pretty cool. The back room looks really sharp. The moved the bar and make the room look a lot brighter, deeper and wider. 
The overall feel of the crowd was great and it was a pleasure to see so many familiar faces.
James Damion

Bastards of Melody opened the show on a promising note. Formed way back in 1998.
The trio featuring Paul Crane, Paul Gil and Scott Treude.... gave the intimate crowd a rewarding set of power pop that quickly reminded me of bands like Sloan, Big Star and the Replacements. Lead singer/guitarist Crane loomed tall over the crowd boasting a pretty impressive Hank's Saloon Tee. One that reminded me of may a wild night in Brooklyn.
For their swan song, the band was joined by host Jim Testa of Jersey Beat for a cover of
Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane. Afterward, I headed over to the merch table in the back and grabbed copies of Breakup, Fun Machine and Hurry Up and Wait. Good stuff I thoroughly enjoyed listening to. Bastards of Melody

In the days leading up to the show host and Jersey Beat founder Jim Testa asked me if I was familiar with The Milwaukees. "Sure, if you mean hearing about them from you countless times." The truth was, despite hearing the name and having a couple of CD's I had never listened to taking up space in my bookcases." Regardless, the chance to finally see and hear a band that had ben talked about so often in Jersey Rock lore was much needed.
From the first song to the last. The bands energy and connection with with the crowd was praiseworthy. I felt my body move in places that seemed forever cast in stone.
Singing along to songs I had never heard and enjoying the charisma and chemistry of a great band. If all goes well, I will be both seeing and hearing out this Jersey City band for years to come.
The Milwaukees

To be painfully honest. If it were not for
Eastern Anchors inclusion on the nights bill.
I would have never made it off the couch.
With the keys changing hands at Maxwell's in 2013 and my purchasing a home in Jersey City in 2014. I've had little to no reason to return to the town I called home for over ten years.
The somewhat rare opportunity to see
Eastern Anchors anywhere near my zip code was all the gas I needed to get on to RT. 139 and in to the biggest collection of potholes in all of New Jersey. While my exposure to Eastern Anchors stated in 2012 with a handful of shows and the release of the outstanding
Drunken Arts & Pure Science. The bands membership, music and footprint on New Jersey rock goes back to the 90's with Aviso'Hara,
Mr. Thumb and Tow. These days I find myself listening to Eastern Anchors more and more while getting familiar with Aviso'Hara. What I love most about this band is that, while they remind me of long time favorites Husker Du. It's the overall sound and performance of  Eastern Anchors that I love. Imagine, if you will, a band that sounds like themselves. That's what I feel I'm getting when in the midst of an
Eastern Anchors song or live set. Great seeing these guys again and again and.......
Eastern Anchors