Tuesday, June 27, 2017

All this Music; Young Widows / Coliseum Split (Relapse Records)

With almost daily trips to local records stores. My new life in Seattle has more than proven that I'm not ready to free myself from the grips of the addiction many of us in the record collecting community have come to know as  both an obsession and currently an untreatable  addiction. The split I picked uo on this particular day features the vaguely familiar Young Widows and Coliseum. This is a copy is the 2006 Relapse Records release. Scroll  down to give Young Widows 'Future Plans' a listen. It's fierce.  




Thursday, June 22, 2017

All this Music; French Toast, Bacon and Tops 'Sugar at the Gate'

Imagine if you can, the weekend. You're sitting in your new found favorite record store enjoying a heartly place of French Toast with a slathering side of bacon. Suddenly, the record store clerk slides in a CD and your already over stimulated senses go into overload. You jump from your stool to see just what has stimulated that part of your brain, but for the life of you. No matter how many sprints you take the counter. Your shorter than usual attention span can't remember the badly chosen band name or it's instantly forgettable title. Luckily, after entirely clearing my plate of any tangible evidence. I was able to focus my energy and attention to finding out and acquiring what had me tripping over my feet just moments ago. That band, Montreal's  Tops and their third proper album 'Sugar at the Gate' initially caught my attention with it's lush, chill and laid back vibe. In recent years, I've found my myself drawn to the more atmospheric charms of genres like dream pop, slow-core and shoegaze type stuff. Tops and their 2014 release 'Sugar at the Gate' fall into that realm rather nicely.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

All this music; Vinyl Score at Seattle's Spin Cycle

Earlier today I headed up the hill to Broadway East where I accidentally came across "Spin Cycle" records. The store features an abundance used and new records, gaming and DVD's. As I got familiar with the stock and worked my way through the bins of vinyl. I picked out a vinyl reissue of Superchunk's "No Poky  for Kitty". A record that, more then twenty five years since it's original 1991 release, remains a favorite. After some serious digging, being left alone in the shop and being rightfully mistaken for an employee. I came across what would be my choice record of the outing. Ebullition Records #43 Yaphet Kotto's - "The Killer was in the Government Blankets". Perfectlly fitting the Ebullition blue print. San Jose, California's Yaphet Kotto (Named after the African American actor of the same name.) played great emotive Hardcore with sociopolitical lyrics. Released on both CD and LP. The LP came on green vinyl and was limited to a mere 1,000 copies. And while the cover of the copy I found was a bit beaten up the record and the inlets include show no wear, whatsoever. I'm glad I decided to stop in at Spin Cycle. They have a great stock, the prices are reasonable and the employee I chatted with was very friendly. I can't say enough about how he went  out of his way to point our some off the radar spots to catch live music.



 



Monday, June 19, 2017

All this music; Citizens Arrest Vinyl Find

Though I may have stopped in at Singles Going Steady during my first visit to Seattle during my May visit to Seattle. I stopped short of making any purchases due to my fear of return flight and the fear of damage while in transit. A hard choice considering how many friends names, images and personal memories stared me right in the face. Some of whom I've called friends since childhood and my teens. Some of which I've grown to know from social media and reunions. While knowing I'd soon return as a newly transplanted resident.  The chance that those two Citizens Arrest records would be gone were pretty high.

Still in the first days of my new life as a WA resident. I was happy to find out that same record store I visited back in My was a seemingly short walk from my temporary digs on Taylor Ave.I took what tuned out to be a short walk over to Singles Going Steady to see what I could find. From the moment I walked in the door. I felt as if I had been transported to long gone days digging for Hardcore records in New York City. Everything from the Bad Brains "Live at CBGB's 1982" DVD to the many reiusses of classics from bands ranging  from Agnostic Front to Warzone. It wasn't long before I located the two Citizens Arrest records you see below. It wasn't until I brought those records to the counter that I found out the man running the store was a veteran of the early NYHC scene. Before I headed out. We were talking about bands like Reagan Youth and Urban Waste and why we thought their reunions were a joke. In the end. I can definitely see myself sending these back east to an old friend whose photographs are all over these.Only time will tell.

I've posted links to both records, as well as a live set. I highly recommend you checking them out. While the words "Savage" and "Brutal" come to mind. I, myself would have a hard time better describing their approach to Hardcore Punk.



 

 

 

Friday, June 16, 2017

All this music; My first trip to Seattle's Easy Street Records.

I hopped my first Seattle bus for a trip to Seattle's Easy Street Records. With all of my records and CD's sitting in storage until my wife and me find a permanent home here. I've been experiencing some separation anxiety when it comes to my obsession with vinyl. Having heard the news of Chris Cornell's passing just before our morning flight to visit Seattle. I was left with the feeling that the copy pf Soundgarden's 'Screaming Life" I ordered from RevHq the week before may have sold out.
True to form, it did not arrive with my order a few days after my return to New Jersey.

My first impressions of Easy Street Records were lasting. Two floors of vinyl records, CD's, movies, books and apparel. I spent a good hour navigating the aisles and familiarizing myself with the stores abundant stock. The staff is both friendly and helpful. People who really know their stuff and are more than happy to pass on their knowledge. Easy Street features the ginormous stock you'd find in a big box music store. Yet they manage to keep the prices down. All while maintaining the intimacy and charm of a mom and pop type business.

As for the records and more importantly, the music. 1987's Debut SST records release "Screaming Life" and 1989's A&M records label "Louder than Love" perfectly bookmark 1988's sophomore release "Ultramega OK". The two releases I picked up on vinyl were the albums that originally introduced to the band and incredibly gifted singer / front man Chris Cornell. While I will be without a turntable for a good month or so. The download cards included will help me to further damage my hearing while listening on my headphones.

 


Thursday, June 1, 2017

All this Music; Cheap CD's from Hoboken's Tunes



After coming up empty handed at Princeton Record Exchange and Vintage Vinyl last week.  I decided to stay local and visit Hoboken's Tunes to scope out some cheap CD options.Wanting to stay within a self imposed budget. I returned hauld a couple to their rightful bins before heading to the cashier with a small, yet satisfying. Below are some thoughts regarding my score.


Stereolab - Emperor Tomato Ketchup
This one has been on my list for a long time now. As a matter of fact. It was written on the list when I went record digging yesterday. My journey to Sterolab started with a kiss and an invitation to accompany  her to Maxwell's to see a then unknown (at least to me ears.) Stereolab headline a show with an act that went by the name Lois.
As much as I might have missed out on going to that show and perhaps perusing a relationship with that girl.Stereolab and "Emperor Ketchup" is even more rewarding than I could have imagined. This perfectly fits in with a lot of the music I've been listening to over the past years or two. I might have not been ready for this in the 90's. However, in 2017, it couldn't possibly be more fitting.

The Sundays - Blind
While there was a time I recall having a  copy of The Sundays "Blind". The overwhelming amount of musical intake probably has a lot to do with my not being able to recall anything remotely specific about the band with the name of the day God supposedly rested after making the mess we all have come to know as the human race. .... with a 27 dollar vinyl reissue over head and a 1.99 CD with the same exact songs in hand. I was willing to take a second chance.

Buffalo Tom - Skins (Deluxe Version)
I first heard of Buffalo Tom from the 90's teen drama "My So Called Life." More than twenty years later I began to revisit the bands catalog.


Dazed and Confused - Soundtrack
A cult classic with a stellar classic rock sountrack. How can I refuse? Why is Edgar Winter Group's "Free Ride" absent?

Garden State - Soundtrack
Great, quirky movie with a quirky, yet addictive soundtrack. One can't go wrong with either. 

All this Music: Crate Digging at Dave's

Welcome to a new feature on United By Rocket Science. "All this Music."  hopes to keep a tab on all the records and CD's that come in on a weekly basis. The thought of posting images, thoughts, reactions an maybe a few memories seemed like a good idea that hopes to have some staying power. 

Small 23 were and still are a very important band to me. Back in the early 90's the vibrant Chapel Hill indie and college music scene was to me what Seattle and Grunge was to the masses. The southern east cost was providing us indie kids with an abundant amount of new bands and noteworthy music. Small 23 just happened to be one of them. Having their early singles. I was lucky enough to see them live in both New York and New Jersey. I sat them down for an interview when they played Maxwell's and recall cramming the band into the clubs tiny bathroom for a picture. Seeing these records in one of Dave's sales bin brought back a lot of good memories of the band, their music and a time when my music palette was becoming more and more colorful. It also served as a reminder that the best record store I've ever been to is still located at my friends home. Thanks Dave G.

  
 





Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Coast to Coast with Brian Musikoff (Stuyvesant, Friends Romans Countryman)


When I recently got in touch with Brian about our interview. He seemed curious as to why I, or anyone else for that matter, would be interested in doing or reading an interview with him. To be 110% truthful, Brian perfectly fits the mold for most of the interviews I've done or been interested in doing over the years. Getting to know someone who's inspired me with their music, art or straight up creative nature interests me more than any upcoming release date, tour or single. 

 For me personally, Brian Musikoff fits the bill for the kind of interviews and exchanges I prefer to approach. As the artist who created the logo United By Rocket Science and the charismatic bass player for Friends, Romans & Countryman and Stuyvesant. (A band whose music and live performances brought me more joy than I could ever wish for. ) So much so, that whenever I think of or hear their music. I'm brought back to my time in Hoboken ans well as my nights at Maxwell's. The music venue that first brought me to the now famed town in the early 90's. I'm very appreciative of Brian's time and his helping me build a bridge between my current home in New Jersey to my soon to be new one in Seattle. Here's what he had to share. (Interview and images by yours truely, James Damion.)


When I found out that I would soon be relocating to Seattle. I took comfort in the fact that I would be able to look up  an old friend from the old neighborhood.

What was it that sparked your move to Seattle?

After being fought, fucked, and educated in the NY/NJ area for 45 years of my life I was suddenly overcome by an insatiable desire to tear up my roots; something that (with the exception of a 4 month stint in Newport, Rhode Island in '92) I have never experienced before. I needed a change and I needed to relocate myself to a slower urban environment.

Over the past 20 plus years I have observed a very lame and grotesque assimilation in the NYC area as far as being a cultural epicenter is concerned. I'm speaking for no one else other than myself here when I say that I have been feeling an ever growing increased tension toward the new generation of entitled and naive people who have outwardly exhibit a blatant disregard for NYC culture, and toward those who's basked sense of entitled security which has made them feel comfortable enough to behave disrespectfully with out consequence. I have seen the greater wave of social and economic interest entirely shut down the venues, shops, and restaurants that I hold close to heart.

 What were some of your initial impressions of the area? Pros and cons for any East Coasters looking to move there?

As with any metropolitan area, the local true blue natives are going to be understandably defensive against an influx of new comers and their affects on the local economic and social climate. As far as the weather itself, new comers need to be prepared for a long, wet, grey winters. The sun only appears in bursts between November and February and the cold misty rain is frequent. Personally, and to the dismay of many defensive locals, I love the winter weather in Seattle. I see it as "Forrest weather". I'm here to contribute more than I take, and those few who are opposed or uncomfortable with me being here have no choice in the matter.

What do you miss most about New Jersey? In particular, Hoboken.


I miss the pizza, the "mutz", the NYC view along the Hudson, our band Stuyvesant, my immediate circle of dorks, my bartender family, and the proximity to the beach.

Have you had any musical collaborations since you've been out there?

Not yet, but I shall.

(Live from the Barrage podcast.) How did you become involved with "Live from the Barrage" podcast Here? How do you stay involved being out west? What is the key focus of the show?

Live from the Barrage

I knew John and Patrick of LFTB largely through the independent rock community, and not just here in NYC and NJ either. I initially appeared on the the show as a guest and I guess our host John Houlihan and Producer Tömmy Röckstar immediately picked up on my dedication to the mutual interests associated with the show. Since I've moved away from the NYC area I continue to support the show by booking guests, designing the weekly promotional images, and promoting the show on social media. The show is still focused on discussion regarding (but not exclusive to): good music and those who create it, good comedy and those who best understand it, crap/not crap, The Ryan Game, TRNN NOOZ, and Mario Asaro.

You grew up in a few stops from me in Bayside, Queens. Some of my earliest adventures included heading to Flushing's Main St. and eventually Mike's Comic Hut. Can you share some of your early impressions of living in Queens?

I lived in Bayside, Queens until I was 11 years old, where my experiences on my own were limited to nearby destinations along Bell Blvd such as Peter Pan Arcade, White Castle, George's Pizza, the Bayside Batting Range, and Bayside Cinema (where I saw Empire Strikes Back, E.T., Stripes, and Poltergeist). My grandparents lived in Flushing on Main Street so I was there often, and of course this proximity made me a regular attendee at Shea (whether legitimately or vagrantly, heh). My dad moved around a lot but always remained in Queens, so I've resided all over neighborhoods such as Forrest Hills, Woodside, and Astoria. 

What initially interested you in art and how did it influence your decision to go to Art school?
As a hyperactive kid, music on the stereo in my ears and a pencil and paper in my hands were the only things that kept my interest as child. By the time I survived the social warfare of a suburban NJ high school (my mom remarried and moved us to Englishtown, NJ in 1983) I knew that a state school, or community college was not for me. 

You designed the logo for U.B.R.S. Aside from here and the work you've done for Stuyvesant. Who else have you worked with?

I've designed animation for comedians such as Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn, and my clients include Warner Bros Records and Relapse Records. 

The bass has long been my favorite instrument. Was it the first instrument you learned to play? Inspiration?

My first ever instrument learned was bass drum for my grade school band. Moving on to Junior High I wasn't focused enough or disciplined to study drums, so naturally I started piano. (That doesn't require focus or discipline, right?)  In High School I fancied myself a Hardcore singer with Wake Up Call, and by college I had taken up bass because the band that I was in at the time (Overeasy with Brandon Stosuy of the website Pitchfork)  just had their bassist quit. To this day I can still not play chords. I live for pushing air and fattening riffs.

What was/were some of the first bands you played with?

My first ever band was in 1986, I played Casio keys for a middle school rap group that consisted of two white guys and two black guys called The Funky 4 (no relation to the much more accomplished The Funky Four Plus One of the Bronx), we played talent shows and battle of the bands. In High School I was in a home recording "basement band" with my best friend called Spleverb. Spelverb were reminiscent of Ween (I guess) and by the time of graduation we had evolved to a full 4 piece band. I was in a few punk bands that never got off the ground in the early 90s, and then in 1996 I was introduced to the members of FRC.

 I first learned about Friends, Romans, Countryman from Al (Dromedary / Sugarblast). Can you tell me how you met Sean and how the  band came to be?

Bill Dolan (American Standard) and I were both at the first big Descendents reunion show at the Stone Pony where he introduced me to F.R.C. members Sean Adams and Dan Murphy who were in need of a bass player. So, we connected really easily being that, after all, we were together at a Descendents show (no pun intended), and we all lived in or around the Hoboken/Jersey City area. I played and recorded with FRC from 1996-2002, and then in 2003 Sean and I joined Ralph Malanga from Footstone to form Stuyvesant.

Stuyvesant Lto R; Ralph, Pete, Sean, Brian.





Thursday, March 23, 2017

United By Images; Archie Alone

It's rare that I miss any chance to see Archie Alone at their home away from homes, Montclair's  Meatlocker Music Venue. Being that the show celebrated the birthday's of it's guitarist, Cindy Ward and it's drummer, Pete Clark. I made an extra effort to show up. Be sure to give them a listen on bandcamp and follow them on facebook. 


 
 



 

United By Images; Whiner

Over the weekend. I finally got the chance to check out Whiner. Champagne and a particularly celebratory mood filled the room. As Archie Alone members Cindy Ward and Pete Clark celebrated their birthdays. New Jersey's Whiner have been on my radar for some time now. The chance to finally catch them live was quite rewarding. You can check out my show review and images from the show at my new Jersey Beat column Here.










Thursday, March 2, 2017

United By Images; NGHTCRWLRS, The Subculture, Roswell Debacle and Lunch Ladies

This past Saturday I spent the night at Montclair's cavernous, home away from homes, The Meatlocker. Below are some images from what was a pretty stellar night.

Lunch Ladies
Bandcamp


 Roswell Debacle
Bandcamp


The Subculture



 NGHTCRWLRS
Bandcamp



Night Battles - Curse the Day / Locust Sky

Sometimes, a good thing just falls into your lap. Such is the case with the two-song offering from Raleigh, North Carolina's Night Battles. Featuring members of various local NC acts as well as old friend and guitarist Christopher Skelly. (Dahlia Seed / Static is a City) Night Battles lay down some diabolical post punk scripture on their debut two song release.

“Curse the Day” introduces Night Battles with devilish vocals and gasoline soaked riffs.
Dirty post core that kicked in like a shot of whiskey with a rattlesnake chaser. Knocking me off my balance while jacking my heart rate to dangerous levels. Side effects aside. I really dig the deviant nature it conjures up. The “Sinner takes all” vibe displayed here cannot go without noting.
“Locust Sky” follows. Providing a musically visual authority to its namesake with a slower, even more ominous approach. Imagine Afghan Wigs and Laughing Hyenas waist deep in the sludgy industrial complex along the side of the highway.


While these two teasers had “Best stuff around” written all over them. I was left wondering how soon the collected personnel would get back in the studio for more. Regardless of future collaborations. I appreciate Night Battles reminder that great things often come in small packages. 



Thursday, December 29, 2016

JUST - S/T CD

Having just seen half of what was one of the best show opening sets I've witnessed since Geronimo beat the Nazis.
Understandably, I was rather curious to hear what was within the prize handed out to us brave folks occupying the front of the room. As I attempted to upload the home made CD to my computer I noticed there was no track list or information available. Still curious, I went to the bands bandcamp page to find the information needed for s somewhat decent review.

With five songs barring the names 'Pan', 'Grass', 'Drain', 'Chest' and 'Treat'. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much at all from Brooklyn, New York's JUST. Perhaps that set was just an apparition or a full blown hoax. What JUST lack in a creative name, eye catching logo and catchy song titles. They more than make up for in muscular, dirty up the dance floor Hardcore. Great riifs, time changes and authoritative vocals. I guess it's a good sign when you don't flinch after listening  to something a half dozen times in one sitting

Recorded in October 2016 at Barber Shop Studios. JUST left me wanting to hear more as well as catching a full set one day soon. Let's hope the new year presents just such an opportunity. JD

JUST

Friday, December 2, 2016

POINT BLANK- 'Life's Too Short' At Montclair, NJ's The Meatlocker

I'm still reeling from the fact that I wasn't able to make Point Blank's show at Montclair's Meatlocker. Having  reviewed their CD demo and the 7 inch that followed. It's easy to say I've been trying to get my aging ass to a show. Being  that they played so close to my own home base only makes the sting of missing out hurt a bit longer. Lucky for me lead singer Ken E. Wagner shared a video of their performance of 'Life's too Short'. I really do dig this track. And while I'm not yet sure if he sent it to ease the pain or prolong it. I really appreciate it. Thanks, JD



POINT BLANK NYHC - Live and Loud

Below is a recent video of NYHC band Point Blank performing live at Philadelphia's Voltage Lounge. Old School Hardcore played with plenty of energy and heart. Point Blank currently have a 7 inch EP out on Not Like You Records. Click the link below for info. JD

Not Like You



The Nolan Gate Return with a New Five Song EP

New Jersey trio The Nolan Gate just posted an unexpected five song EP that arises like a snow bound Goliath welcoming the winter's first great storm. Featuring personnel that have served in acts such as Snag, Dahlia Seed and most recently Davenport Cabinets to name a few. The Nolan Gate have been an under the radar force in heavy music for decades.  Take a listen, download the tracks before passing the link around like stuffing at a Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe it will inspire them to play out more frequently. Only time will tell. JD

https://thenolangate.bandcamp.com/album/serpentus



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.








Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Poor Lily - Dirt On Everyone 2016



Sorry James, but I got a record in the mail from Poor Lily a few days ago and I need to review it because it is a ripper.

Poor Lily first caught my attention a few years back with their Lp Vuxola which was a whirling dervish of what sounded to me like the Minutemen and Dead Kennedy's getting together for a heavy jam session. On "Dirt On Everyone" , Poor Lily keep that same intensity going but to my ears they sound even heavier and meaner, and I like it.

Anyway, click the link below and check Poor Lily out asap, they kick ass and deserve your attention....Dave G.

Poor Lily

I'm dating this post August 3rd in order to put the blog back to sleep, however Dirt On Everyone is available as of 10/2016 at the above link so check it out!