Friday, February 27, 2015

Sink Tapes - Creases

If it wasn't for Jersey Beat's Jim Testa and Holy City Zoo's Frank DeFranco I might have completely missed the boat on New Brunswick's Sink Tapes. The honest truth of the matter is, that with all the bands, shows and releases I take in. I find myself missing out on more than you might imagine.
Additionally, in helping create and sustain a music blog for almost four years. I've learned that, as much as I thought I knew about music, the scene and what's happening within.
I really know nothing.
Which ultimately brings me to Sink Tapes and their latest release 'Creases'. Recently named as one of the
35 NJ Bands We're Excited About in 2015.
Creases opens with the laid back and mellowed out
Maybe Gray. A song that more than lives up to it's title with it's melancholic jangle pop majesty. Bugs follows with similar results and by the time
Blow Me a Kiss, a personal favorite of mine, is done. You begin to understand and appreciate just where Sink Tapes excel. While the bands Lo-Fi approach and melancholy brilliance can easily bring praise from fans of the beloved Guided By Voices. I couldn't stop myself from planting my own "What if the Lemonheads, Jesus Mary Chain and
the Black Hollies had a threesome that produced a lovechild who possessed
uncanny super powers?" seeds as to where Sink Tapes sound took me.  
400 Mint Records and Sniffling Indie

If Creases 13 songs aren't enough to win you over. There are twelve bonus tracks that include demo and acoustic versions of many of the songs. 'Creases' is a perfect example of when an album takes you out of your usual comfort zone, only to put you in a new, unexplored one. I highly recommend exploring all of Sink Tapes catalog. Just make sure you start with 'Creases'. James Damion

Sniffling Indie Kids  Get it Here

Sink Tapes


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rediscovering Jawbox's Self Titled Gem

Like many of the bands that came out of DC and in particular Dischord Records. Jawbox had an instant and lasting impression on me. Through the years I've had the pleasure of interview the band (at Maxwells) and years later with co founder J. Robbins. (one of my favorite producers/engineers)
Over the last three decades the band has stayed with me. The albums, the songs and the opportunities to see them at the two clubs, CBGB's and Maxwell's, that remained the most consistent for me throughout my life. With that said, all of that pleasure has been derived from the albums 'Grippe', 'Novelty' and 'For Your Own Special Sweetheart'. That was until yesterday. 

For about two years now I've been on a mission to tame my overwhelming CD collection. During that two year period and maybe longer I've turned my attention and passion back towards exclusively collecting and listening to vinyl records. Having finally thrown out my old Yamaguchi CD player. Compact Discs have become useless to me. Yesterday as I went back to the well to purge more discs from my collection. I came across the self titled 1996 release on Atlantic Records subsidiary TAG. The bands fourth and ultimately final full length record. It was the same copy given to me outside of CBGB's in 1996. While I can't really recall the reasons I was entrusted with a copy. I know for certain, I have not given it a listen in almost twenty years now. Imagine the feeling pulling this promotional copy with it's obnoxiously stamped cover and broken case. Being the music hoarder / archivist I've become. I had to download it to my computer before even thinking of parting with it. 
As the opening track 'Mirror' came on. My ears tingled and my eyes widen. much like they did when I first revisited Jawbreaker's 'Dear You'.  The album that is often referred to as their most commercial endeavor sound like gold on the ears.  

Everything you loved about Jawbox is up front and present. The angst, emotion urgency and intelligence. All recorded just minutes from where I'm sitting at Water Music in Hoboken. Considering how I've been making up for lost time over the past two days. I thought it fitting to share some thoughts and praise. I highly recommend dipping in to the vault and give this one a thorough listen. Hell, I'm putting it right here so you can do so. What are you waiting for. Happy listening, James Damion


Brooklyn's Cinema Cinema to Headline European Tour

Brooklyn's experimental Noise Rock duo featuring Ev Gold Guitar/Vocals and Paul Claro Drums will be heading out for their first headlining tour of Europe. Their first in late 2013 opening for songwriter/producer Martin Bisi. We wish them a fond "see you soon" and a safe return. Viel Glück, James Damion


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

NGHTCRWLRS Debut Album!!!

New Jersey's NGHTCRWLRS are giving us all a sneak peak at their upcoming debut album on Sniffling Indie Kids. The band comprising of present and former members of
Holy City Zoo, Man on Fire, All Sensory Void, the Nico Blues and Washington Square Park. The band will have their record release party this Saturday February 28th at Jersey City's The Dopeness. Dentist (The Band), Cicada Radio and France ( The Band) will be joining the celebration.  For more information, as well as the address. Check the link Here. In the meantime. Listen, learn, love. James Damion

NGHTCRWLRS Bandcamp


Friday, February 20, 2015

United By Images; Ben Franklin

Featuring Billy Gray - Vocals/Guitar                     Eddie Garza - Vocals/Bass                                 Adam Copeland - Vocals/Guitar                               and Sarah Tomek - Vocals/Drums.
Ben Franklin were are unstoppable presence on the independent music scene from late 2008 until their break three years later in 2011. The bands fierce Killing Horse Records debut 'Urgency' and follow up 'The Optimist' helped spark the label and a resurgence of uncompromising, balls out Rock. In the two times I got to see them live
(The Brick City Sound Riot and later at the beloved Kearny Irish.) Ben Franklin pulled out all the stops performing as if it were their last days on this planet. Loud, fast, bombast with an unapologetic, in your face style that put everyone in the room on notice. Though their time together seemed short. They managed to win over the respect of fans, bands and promoters. While they are no longer. They're spirit and influence live on. You can still go to Killing Horse Records if you'd like to grab hold of 'Urgency' or 'The Optimist'. I highly recommend you do. James Damion



Friday, February 6, 2015

Uniform Choice - 1982 Orange Peel Sessions

Nothing your listening to here sounds remotely close to the Uniform Choice you've come to know, love or hate. Not to say that's a bad thing. No, not in the least. What you get from 1982's Orange Peel Sessions
is a young punk band still in it's infancy.       A band yet to find the sound that made them so influential on the bands that followed their lead.
Though quite rudimentary, the sound itself reflects what was happening in their Southern California at the time.
More Punk than Hardcore and more Adolescents meet Agent Orange than
Minor Threat meets 7 Seconds. The four songs presented here Don't take the car, Non Forgotten Hero, Religion is Recruiting and my personal favorite, War is Here are a nice time piece. The insert included features lyrics, images and a detailed description of the bands early days. While these rough tracks aren't all that impressive. The liner notes themselves, really enhance the overall feeling and purpose of this trip through the past. The record comes on an unspecified  color vinyl. (My copy is orange.)  Get it while it's still old. James Damion

Rev HQ  Get it here.

The Problems - 2014 Cassette Demo

The Problems are a side project of sorts featuring former  Hello No frontman John Woods and some friends from Germany. The bands personnel originally crossed paths when John's band Hell No stopped off in Germany during their 1999 European tour. More than fifteen years later these friends have stayed close. Finally deciding to give their friendship a creative edge.

The demo opens with the song Drunk Again and while the opening skit/audio is absolutely unbearable. Problems Faced when Traveling. While Woods handles most of the vocal duties. You can easily detect a second vocalist on these songs.
It quickly moves in the right direction, ultimately winning this listener over with a sound that quickly recalls Soulside's
As for the previous mention of Soulside. There's no Dischord or Revolution Summer revival happening here. The rest of this tape seems to walk a line between the Killed By Death sound and that of early
Black Flag. Simple, raw and quite good. Not bad if you can get it.

Everything from the cassette format to the pedestrian cover art reads "No Frills" while recalling days gone long by and how, as kids of the 80's.
We'd scour our local indie record stores, fanzines and shows to get hold of the latest demo cassette before it was gone. So bust out the tape deck or dust off the old boom box and give this one a shot. James Damion

The Problems  Bandcamp
The Problems  Facebook

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dead Empires - Secret Snakes / Silent Serpent

Dead Empires is  a band  that has completely blown me away live on a handful of occasions and now I can say that they have floored me with their recorded music as well. Imagine how incredible it would be if a band combined  the aggression of Converge with the heaviness and melody of Torche, well Dead Empires have done just that and the results are absolutely stunning.

Did I forget to mention that Dead Empires are an instrumental act? It honestly doesn't matter one bit as the music has a nice flow from beginning to end, mixing in equal amounts of hook filled melodies with punishing riffs that will have you fully engaged  for the entire length of the album.  In closing, I just have to say that this album comes with my highest recommendation, and though it is early in 2015, Dead Empires are currently sitting at the top of my year end best list....Dave G.

Dead Empires.com
Dead Empires Bandcamp
Dead Empires Facebook

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Point Blank - 8 Song Demo

Hailing from Queens,New York. Point Blank are a relatively new band featuring a couple of Hardcore lifers with Danny Derella, a founding member of Underdog and NYHC representative Ken Wagner.

On their debut 8 song demo. The band delivers the goods with a mix of ingredients that give the early New York Hardcore sound a healthy update.
Point blank hit the mark straight from the opening bass line on the cd opener 'No More' to the all out verbal attack of
'Fuck Off' , and just about everywhere in between.
The demos forth entry
'Well Defined / It's Time' stands as my personal favorite with it's well paced delivery, anthemic vocals and break downs.
Point Blank's slow to mid pace sound brings Hardcore's past glories to the present righteously. And while listeners might find themselves placing Point Blank's sound somewhere in the mid 1980's.  Point Blank are in no way a nostalgia act. 

Point Blank's debut is a good one that leaves me wondering "What's Next?"
James Damion

Point Blank NYHC Bandcamp

Friday, January 23, 2015

D. Smith - Groping For Luna, Vol. 1

With the overwhelming amount of music we acquire on a weekly basis. It's become nearly impossible to gain a sense of intimacy with an album the way I used to.
That was until 'Groping For Luna' showed up in my mailbox.
On perhaps one of 2014's most surprising, out of nowhere releases of the year. D. Smith (Known to many as Dan Smith of Shirk Circus/The 65's)
gifts us sixteen songs that  give the singer songwriter bit a healthy kick in the gut.

'Groping for Luna Vol. 1' puts excellent songwriting, as well as a knack for storytelling in the spotlight. Each song shares a raw, honest and unflinching quality that is both haunting and real. It's hard to imagine songs that have this sense of darkness can also feel so beautiful and eloquent.

 From the muscular rock of Worst Case Scenario to the more restrained, folky
The Ballad of Squeaky Fromme. Smith approaches each song with enough grit, honesty and sin to earn the respect of anyone with  a soul to put on display. There were moments here where I felt Smith was channeling the great Bob Mould.  That somehow, there was a lost Husker Du album waiting to surface. From start to finish Groping for Luna felt like a record worthy of a sequel. Here is a record that makes me recall the days when an album, not just a song, but an entire album stuck with you and made for a conversation starter.
Not to be missed or overlooked. With the beginning of Al Crisafulli's Sugarblast Music..This very well might be the last we here from his long time label Dromedary Records for a while.
If that's the case. Dromedary may have left us with it's best release to date.
James Damion

Dromedary Records  Get it Here
Sugarblast Music  Also check out

No Other - Option C / Opaque

Another banger from
Negative Fun Records and their Singles Club. This one a lot different from the Hot Dolphin offering. The A side Option C brings to mind the Riot Grrrl era and bands like Bikini Kill with it's droning vocals and simplistic rhythms. The B side Opaque reigns as my favorite of the two. Perking up the ears with some instant gratification.
Melodic, upbeat and a step up in musicianship. The vocal delivery is more focused and enjoyable.  I love the bass line and fuzzed out guitars that run throughout. They give the song a psych meets surf rock vibe that really takes you in some nice directions.

There are a few remaining copies left at Negative Fun's bandcamp. Here You can also purchase it as part of NF's Singles Club box set Here or try contacting the band personally.
No Other present some really cool elements in these songs. Inspiring the listener to surf, party and start a riot along the way. This was quite an enjoyable listen. I'm looking forward to seeking out more music from this band. Until then. James Damion

Living Laser - Place on Earth

Simply stated, Living Laser is one of the very best Hardcore bands playing and releasing records today. While the upstate NY Hardcore act formed in 2010. Their sound and influences can easily be traced to the Hardcores early days and spirit. Inspired by bands such as the Bad Brains, Leeway, Chain of Strength and even more closer to my heart,
New York's Beyond.

On Place on Earth, Living Laser continue to establish themselves as one of Hardcore's best and brightest acts. Fast, energetic and electric. Smart, introspective lyrics.
Metalic riffs that give muscle to the songs Hardcore spirit. Jay's higher pitch vocals bring to mind that of Eddie Sutton of Leeway fame. Five songs that inspire, while feeding the listener with a caffeine like energy. The breakdowns and choruses are all up front and present. Place on Earth is just perfect from start to finish. A total must have for fans of the band and hardcore music alike.

Living Laser have become a personal favorite of mine for some time now and Place on Earth only serves to heighten my appreciation for what they're doing, which is enforcing my appreciation and love for Hardcore music more than thirty years after being introduced to the genre. James Damion

Frequency Deleted Records  Get it Here
Living Laser  Bandcamp

Hot Dolphin - 3 Song Single

I like the sense of mystery that creeps its way in when a nondescript record shows up in my mailbox. Catching the name Negative Fun Records on the mailer and iconic 45' record sleeve only fueled my curiosity. While helping to quench my thirst for more vinyl treasure.

What you get from Richmond's Hot Dolphin is a three song banger that feature a
fast and loose garage rock that has a sinister edge to it.
Body Snatcher, Cat Sweaters and Paint Dry are each solid in their own way.
The guitar assault on Paint Dry is particularly wicked and nasty. Making it my favorite of the three offerings.
With the garage rock revival racing past the decade mark like a drunken speed freak.
The style has produced it's share of sound a likes and copy cats. It's good to see a band with a name as silly as
Hot Dolphin do it justice. I recommend giving this a spin while checking out what
Negative Fun records and the Singles Club has to offer. You're bound to find something unique. James Damion

Negative Fun Get it Here

No For An Answer - You Laugh E.P.

While I don't make it a habit of reviewing reissues or represses of old records. This particular slab of vinyl shook the memory tree enough to warrant a few words. At the time it was released (1988) on Revelation Records. Hardcore had become my life's blood.

When Dan and No For Answer dropped their bags at the SXE house in preparation for the Free For All show and album recording at CBGB's. I took some time to interview them for the second issue of Unite fanzine,

I don't know why, but I did not think these songs would hold up well.  For as much as I love 80's Hardcore.
A lot of the music I listened  to back then has not aged well. Time just has a way of aging a record, a song or even a memory. Listening to this E.P. for the first time in close to twenty years immediately brought back a flood of memories. How, at the time  we waited forever Revelation releases with bated breath. Regardless of familiarity, you know that the latest release was going to satisfy your thirst for excellence. The release of No For An Answer's You Laugh was no joke. Powerful, smart straight edge Hardcore from California that  had a message and a purpose. Add to it an iconic cover image that brought to mind earlier bands such as SSD and DYS.

All these years later, the songs still hold up. The message still matters and the music feels as powerful as it did decades ago. Just Say No, You Laugh, When will it End, Liar and About Face were pleasing to hear again. Leaving me with the hope that their follow up A Thought Crusade will soon make the reissue rounds. Fans of band like Insted, Chain of Strength  and Unity take note. This  one's for you. James Damion

Rev HQ Get it Here

The Eulogy - S/T

Featuring former members of Agnostic Front, Madball and Mouthpiece.
The Eulogy sound like a band featuring former members of
Agnostic Front, Madball and Mouthpiece
set on making a record that sounded like Agnostic Front meets Madball.
While the bands sound seems to follow the lead of the members former bands.
The Eulogy definitely swim in the Metal end of the Hardcore pool.
The EP's 3 songs Pummel, No Matter What and The Plague do nothing to distinguish them from any other Metal Core bands that might have done the same thing in the 90's.

My only curiosity about this record lies in why a band that plays Metal and exclusively features members of East Coast acts considers themselves a Southern California Hardcore act. Did they decide to rent a place together near the beach? Was it a one year lease with an exit clause?
Let's hope this doesn't start a trend where NYHC starts outsourcing it's band members to other states. We may never recover. James Damion

All In Merch  Purchase
The Eulogy  Bandcamp


Forced Order - Retribution EP

The opening bowel adjusting vocal cry "ugggghhhh!" was the perfect description of what I was going to get from Forced Order and their four song EP Retribution.
(Actually, it sounds like three and a half.)  Featuring members of acts such as Tongues, Disgrace Harness and
Soul Search. The band are described as Southern California Heavyweights. 
A description that makes me think these guys spend a lot of time at the gym lifting weights and practicing their beefy metal riffs and growls. Along with the Metal onslaught you get lyrical terms such as "Revenge to Cleanse the Earth",  "Infernal Sanction", "Disperse the Disease" and my personal favorite "Annihilate the Weakness". If I ever decide to join a Dungeons and Dragons circle of hell, Forced Order are my dudes. When it comes to music, I'll pass. James Damion

Revelation Records Get it Here

Friday, January 16, 2015

United By Images; Archers of Loaf

While the 80's fueled my love for Hardcore and Punk music and the ethos I would come to live by till this day. I t was the 90's that expanded my taste in music while broadening my love of music and understanding and overall experience. Inspired by a long list of bands, including The Doughboys,
Big Drill Car, Velocity Girl, Small 23, Superchunk Mega City 4 and countless others. I was exposed to a world of varied music that, at the time and for me at least, went beyond the trappings of any set genre. One of those may bands during that time was Chapel Hill's Archers of Loaf. By the time I got wind of the band. I was already enthralled by what was happening in that particular college town of North Carolina. "Loaf" as I often called them, came at a time when bands like Superchunk and
Small 23 were already wearing out the reels of my tape deck. Along with the may flyers and posters
I had attained at Hoboken hot spot "Pier Platters" was my oversized one of the Archers playing live with their #1 fan Tracy Wilson rocking out all front and center. Looking back, I wish the original negatives I shot help up as well as my memories have. James Damion
The original poster I proudly displayed for years.
That's Tracy in mid Loafgasm at the bottom right.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Low Fat Getting High - S/T LP

While I won't kid you in saying
I have any idea what the name Low Fat Getting High eludes to. I will say that this is some of the best stuff I had the privilege to get a hold of as year 2014 came to a close. Having heard so much praise thrown upon this Brooklyn band in the last year or two. I was beginning to wonder if the hype machine had gone into overdrive. That was until I managed to get hold of a copy of the band's previous release 'Bad Yoga'. Those four songs were all the convincing I would need.

So when the band offered to send me a copy of their new LP.  I was more than willing to accept.
Raw, heavy and flat out noisy. This record makes me regret not posting a best of 2014 list on the blog this year. The self titled LP, which features twelve sonic tracks of post noise grunge rock validate all of the buzz that's been building around this band. While comparisons to grunge pioneers such as the U-men, Green River and Mudhoney can easily made. Perhaps a nod to Queens of the Stone age might suit those with short term memories or ones without music history degrees. Regardless of any genre specifications or trappings. I wouldn't go suiting up this Brooklyn trio in matching flannel attire anytime soon. Low Fat Getting High are perfect for what they are. Loud, raw and honest sounding. Overall, some of the best stuff out there. James Damion

Low Fat Getting High Get it Here

United By Images; Polyphony

My first taste of Polyphony came in April of 2011. That afternoon they played a rare all ages show in a disheveled room within the Court Tavern.
They were loud, abrasive and seemed to be in the throws of forging a sound that would guide them towards what they are today. In the three years that followed, I stayed in touch with Cameron, Marshall, Ariel and Wiggins through social media while getting the chance to see them play their first NYC show at one of my old haunts, ABC No Rio. There was an interview in the works for this blog at one time or another. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. The band is just now coming off tour and has played some local shows in the last week or so. Unfortunately for me, the flu has kept me from getting out to see them. Here's to hoping that 2015 offers new opportunities to see Polyphony again and again. James Damion

Polyphony Bandcamp
Polyphony Facebook


Donate to Help Nate!

I'm writing this with the sincerest hope that I'll be reaching as many people as possible to help.

If you're familiar with this blog. Chances are you might know Nate Gluck. As a musician he's contributed to acts such as Ensign, Vision, The Fire Still Burns, Strength 691, For the Love of, Manalive, House of Others and more.
If you're familiar with
New Jersey's independent  music scene, been to a show or two in the area over the past three decades. Well, you've probably ran into Nate and noticed he's one of the best people on the planet.
Last night, I learned that Nate has just been diagnosed with stomach cancer. I understand, full well, that Nate has a tough battle ahead of him. And while I feel his personality and positive energy will go a long way. He's still going to need a lot of help. This is where the Hardcore scene and just about anyone can show the true meaning of family, friendship and dedication to a just cause. This is when we ask the Hardcore community to put their money where their mouth is and turn words to action. Every little bit counts and every little bit matters.
Our thoughts, prayers and positive energy goes out to Nate, his family and countless loved ones. Get well soon Nate. James Damion

Click the link below to donate.
http://www.gofundme.com/pma_por_vida

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Indecision - "What it once Meant" Docu. Trailer

Brooklyn hardcore band Indecision will be screening their documentary 
“ What it Once Meant “ on January 25th at St Vitus in Brooklyn, NY. Seating for the screening is very limited get advance tickets here http://alturl.com/addtd

MorseCode Recordings will be releasing the DVD which includes the feature length documentary, a multi camera show from The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, and deleted scenes. Pre-order the DVD Here http://alturl.com/itfub
DVDs will start shipping on Feb 27th

Indecision's “What It Once Meant“ documentary, directed by Derek Morse and edited by 
Rob Soucy ( The Alkaline Trio, Defeater, Vanna) , explores the life and times of the Brooklyn hardcore band with an inside look at the bands journey while touring in the 90's. 
Indecision started in 1993 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, touring full time until 2000 when the band imploded in the middle of the tour in the desert city of El Paso, TX. In 2006, the band reunited for a one off show at the Superbowl of Hardcore in New York and the band has been playing a few shows per year ever since.

Upcoming Indecision Shows
Feb 14th @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ
w/ E. Town Concrete, VOD, The Banner, Suburban Scum

April 18th @ Worcester Palladium, MA
New England Metal & Hardcore Festival 
w/ Testament, Exodus, Nails, Incendiary, Wisdom in Chains


Battered Citizens - Police Brutality (Demo) LP Reissue

My decision to give Police Brutality a shot was based entirely on nostalgia. Having secured a copy of the original demo through an elaborate tape trading network back in the late 80's. The name rang a somewhat familiar bell. Thus bringing back a series of good memories from the time. Being fully aware of their guitarists current Hardcore band Killer of Sheep only added fuel to my curiosity.

The albums cover features the original cassette inlet and artwork boldly displaying just what the bands name and demo title infer. The raw, stark artwork and the covers overall it's D.I.Y. feel draw the eyes in.  Included with the record is an amazingly detailed two sided fold out poster the includes numerous images, show fliers and detailed liner notes that vividly tell the bands story.  For added sentiment, Mind Cure Records includes a free download code that, along with the 12 song demo, features two live sets from the band. I haven't even gotten to the music and I'm already thinking this was a good acquisition.

However, it wasn't until the needle hit the record, that my feelings began to quickly change. Maybe this one wasn't what it was chalked up to be. While the topics are just as relevant today as they were during the time of it's original release. The songs themselves haven't held up over time.  Taking into consideration this demo was recorded more than twenty five years ago is one thing. However, it's hard to imagine these songs being considered anything more than primitive, elementary and generic in their day.  And while fans of the band or those connected to Pittsburgh Hardcore in the 80's might enjoy it's nostalgic value. I would be quick to point anyone in the Killer of Sheep.  James Damion


Snake Thursday - Iter 2014

Snake Thursday hail from Poland, but they play stoner metal straight out of the deserts of California.  I'm digging the heavy dirty riffs and over all vibe of this cd, and for me the vibe is the most important part of any stoner metal album. If a stoner band can make me feel like I am on a journey through a desperate lonely landscape then they have me hooked and Snake Thursday succeed at doing just that.

The other aspect of this cd that I like is at times it has a tiny bit of a doom feel, however, the band is also not afraid to pick up the pace and  rock the fuck out like on the track Beyond Aurora or even touch on a bit of that futuristic Voivod vibe on a track like Ego Trip.

Overall, Snake Thursday have delivered an excellent slice of stoner metal that isn't afraid to spread its wings beyond the normal confines of the genre , and I suspect that ITER will be spending an extended period of time near the top of my playlist in the coming months...Dave G.

Bandcamp
Snake Thursday.com 


Friday, January 2, 2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Off the Record with Ache Frontman Ryan Bland (Part I)

Whenever choosing an interview subject for this blog or any other outlet.
My approach has nothing to do with the agenda of a band, release date or approaching event. Honestly, it's never had anything to do with any deadline or time frame.
In doing United By Rocket Science, I've been given the chance to reach out and connect with people on a level that my own shyness or insecurities might not allow otherwise. Approaching Ryan was easy though. Having fronted bands such as The Bushmon, Home 33, Dead Serious and most recently Ache. Ryans aggressive stage presence and vocal approach are intimidating and downright animalistic. In person, it would be hard to find a more approachable, personable and real person. I originally approached Ryan about an interview shortly after I caught his band Dead Serious back in July 2013. For reasons unknown, I just never got around to it. In retrospect, I'm glad I waited. It's given me time to get to know him a bit. Time to step back, observe and learn. In Part 1 of what hopes to be a three part interview. I reached out to learn a bit about the music he's created both past and present. Here's what he had to offer. Thanks Ryan, James Damion

James: My first memories of you was your hanging from the ceiling pipes at The Pyramid Club with Home 33.
Can you tell me about how you became involved with New York City's underground music scene?

Ryan: I became involved with NYC Punk underground around 1988. My first real band was called Bushmon. We were basically a hardcore & Ska band. We were CBGB regulars from late 1991 until we played our last ever show at CB's in 1993 to a sold out crowd.
One band that always played with Bushmon was a Brilliant hardcore band called Opposition. When Opposition & Bushmon broke up some members from each band formed Home 33. Home 33 was where I really cut my teeth in NYHC. Sharing stages at early shows for bands like H2O, Earth Crisis, Candiria, V.O.D., 108, Downset, Madball, napalm death, NRSV, Fahrenheit 451 & many other greats! It was the 90's and the NYC underground was killing it!!!

James: There's been talk of a reissue of Jody's Coterie. How did the opportunity come about? Will there be bonus material or fun surprises?

Ryan: Yes!! Roger Lian
(who was the original guy who mastered the Home 33
"Jody's Coterie" album in 1995) & Me got into a conversation on Facebook. He told me my old band Home 33 was his first job. He got a lot of work after working on that record. He went on to mastering albums for Slayer, Candiria, Joan Jett, Pantera & countless crazy dope albums. I told him I wanted to make Jody's available as a free download to any one who would want it or remember it. So Roger offered to remaster The album. It's done & it sounds better than ever.
I'm super busy with my current band ACHE so the Jody's Coterie project is slowly but surely going to bleed some ears in the future. I also plan on a few other Home 33 recorded surprises when I get the time.

James: I remember how floored I was the few times I saw Dead Serious live.
The band seemed to have a lot of potential. What led to the demise of the band?

Ryan: Thank you very Much!! I was floored by Dead Serious too! I mean bloody on the floor in the pit!! Lol That was a blast! Raw & Punx as fuck. After the Guitar player Mark had to leave the band & eventually he moved from NYC. It wasn't really the same after that in my opinion. Mark took some of the fun with him. I also think after he left the remaining members started moving in different directions Musically. So we decided to do other bands.

James: While the demise of Dead Serious seemed a bit premature. It was the quick rise of Ache that seemed to take a lot of people by surprise. Can you tell me how the bands personnel came together and how quickly you were able to build the chemistry you seem to share?

Ryan: The Dead Serious drummer Ryan Seit & I wanted to stick together. Mattakins, my Ache guitar player was playing in NYHC band Abject! Matt & I were friends from hanging at his shows. He offered to help out Ryan & I until we found members for a new band. It just so happens Abject! breaks up soon after and Matt decided to stay with us & we all started ACHE. Rey Brutal our bass player has another band. He is the lead singer & guitarist for NYC Thrash band Bomb Scare. Rey & I became friends at Bomb Scare shows. I'm a huge fan of those dudes. So I feel super lucky to be playing with all these dudes in Ache.
All of us are real friends & it's nothing like making music with your real friends.

James: The demo received it's fair share of praise from numerous outlets. How do you feel about the bands official entry into the fray?

Ryan:  I think it's solid.
Stoked some people liked it! Hands down any credit for the demo goes to our Drummer Ryan Seit. He recorded & Mixed the demo. Not only is he a bad ass drummer but he's the man in the studio too.
He's currently preparing to record other bands so tell your friends and all that stuff. Word.

James: Is there a chance we'll see an Ache EP or album in early to mid 2015?

Ryan: Yes! We are writing an album & as of right now plan on tracking in January & February of 2015.

James: Unlike a lot of younger bands on the scene. Ache got out of their area code early on and played out of state with some pretty impressive bands. How did those opportunities come about?

Ryan: Mattakins, our guitar player booked us out of state. hands down my Favorite thing out of town so far was Boston for two shows. We played Boston Wreck center with
Opposition Rising & Foulmouth. They were all super nice dudes & everybody danced hard there. I appreciate the energy of the pit. It was a crazy bloody pit at one point. Females too, fucking shit up in the pit. I'm positive this one girl broke her nose. There was a lot of blood on the dance floor. Sick show.

James: Whenever the term Hardcore gets put into use.  The talk of family soon comes into play. Can you better explain that dynamic and how it's formed?

Ryan: Hardcore is absolutely my family. They excepted me as family. I was able to grab a Mic say anything on my mind. I had The chance to see other people express themselves in the same way. All the people I met in NYHC early on most of us didn't have a real home or a place that felt like home. We were truly angry outsiders making a home together.
These people became my sisters, Brothers so It's a feeling that you get in the community in the hardcore scene. It feels like family or blood relatives. I think if you haven't had that feeling at least once. I question you being a punk!!! Lol

ACHE NYHC

Cicada Radio - Crime Waves EP

On Crime Waves, the bands third release to date. Kearny New Jersey's Cicada Radio continue to grow and evolve musically. The band, featuring brothers Patrick and
Michael Keefe, (Guitar/Vocals) Brandon Barren (Bass) and Josh Bartsch (Drums) have built a foothold in the New Jersey indie scene since 2010.

The EP features six songs that offer rewarding melodies and textures that sweepingly compliment and shape atmospheric, dreamlike vocal landscapes. There's a certain vulnerable urgency about Keefe's voice that makes Cicada Radio feel vital, yet easily accessible. Giving these songs a sense of intimacy while still remaining accessible to the listener. In each of the times I've listened to
Crime Waves. I've found myself drawn to a different song. While Carcosa opens the set with promise. The EP's fourth track Tomorrow is an absolute joy that brings together some of the bands best songwriting qualities.  The closer Mercenaries, which clocks in at a lofty 4:46 is as beautiful as it is boundless.

While the bands name and EP title might remind you of some of the punker leanings of many of the current Jersey acts. Cicada Radio seem to offer so much more. Being that this blog just around the time of Cicada Radio's first release Imposter. I feel as if i've grown up alongside of the band's sound and overall development. Looking back, it's easy to say they've taken a major step forward with each release. James Damion

Get it Here Killing Horse Records

Life Eaters - S/T (Killing Horse Records)

On Life Eaters impressive debut. The Jersey based five piece take the bull by the horns with hard rock bombast and punk rock intensity. The bands personnel, which reads like a who's who of the Jersey indie and underground music scene, forge a tight alliance that, from the outside, seem to possess great chemistry. Featuring Michael Sylvia (Killinghorse Records)
– Vocals, Romel Espinel ('¡No pasarán!')  – Guitar, John Gonnelli (The Rye Coalition,
The Black Hollies) – Guitar John Feuerbach –  (Décir Decir)  - Bass/Vocals and
Gregg Leto (The Rye Coalition) Drums/Vocals. These guys come to the table making a lot of fucking noise.

While the bands sound, approach and delivery can easily be traced to 60's/70's
heroes such as The Stooges, The Dead Boys and even The MC5.
More current acts such as
The Rye Coalition and Cold Fur seem to have heavily influenced the bands overall blueprint.

The twelve song banger opens with the screamer
I'm the one you Wanted. A song that enforces the Loud Fast Rules ethos of Punk Rock.
Searing vocals accompany relentless guitars and savage rhythms. The Life Eaters impress on all levels.
The pummeling continues throughout delivery scorching favorites such as Salt City, Lock it in, Atom Bomb and Government Kids. Overall Life Eaters deliver a perfect debut that stands as one of 2014's best, brightest and downright hardest. Lets hope they stick around for a long time. James Damion

Get it Here Killing Horse Records

Stuyvesant - Shmyvesant

Is it me, or do bands these days seem to take themselves way too serious. With all the competition, grabbing for press and campaigning for votes. The indie scene is beginning to look like it forgot to have fun.  Lucky for us we have Stuyvesant to balance things out by reminding everyone that making music is supposed to be a fun, creative outlet that makes everyone involved feel good and not worry about the daily pressures and bullshit life sends our way on a fairly daily basis. Like a reliable friend or a good, stiff drink. Stuyvesant never seem to let us down. Their music sticks with us through both the good times and the bad. They're always there to remind us of the good things. The simple pleasures. Whether it's through their hook laden melodies, their uplifting singalong choruses or maybe their incredible ability to allow us to be silly and just have fun, even it it's at their own expense. Each one of these qualities go a long way towards making Stuyvesant so accessible and endearing to those to us.

The bands latest, Shmyvesant marks Stuyvesants third full length release and the debut release for Al (Dromedary) Crisafulli's new label, Sugarblast Records. The record opens with Baby Bear.  A song that immediately puts the spotlight on those aforementioned hooks and melodies. More than ever before, I'm instantly reminded of how vital the combination of Sean Adams and Ralph Malanga's are to what makes this band so loved. As much as I've come to love their former bands Friends, Romans, Countrymen and Footstone.
It's nearly impossible to measure the improvement made when bringing the two together.
To say that they compliment one another would be, at the very least, an understatement.
The album seamlessly flows from one song to another, with tracks like Hellbent for Heather, Oatmeal Song, Shhh and Until You Came Around leading the way. Stuyvesant's effortless ability to create punk infused power pop melodies, hooks and sing along choruses make even the most jaded old curmudgeon sing along and dance with uncoordinated, wild abandon. Overall, Shmyvesant closes out a tough year on a high not and reminds us we we shouldn't rush to deliver those "Best of" lists. The more I listen and experience Stuyvesant. The more I realize how they are to the present what bands like Superchunk, Big Drill Car and ALL were to me in the 90's. Not a bad class to be included in if you ask me.
James Damion

Sugarblast Music  Get it Here

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Twas the Night After Christmas and Archie Alone was in the House. (AKA) A Show Review

I got to the Meatlocker just before 10:00 and as usual was greeted with a big hug from Ana. Talk about a good way to start the night. Since beginning this blog with Dave in 2011.
I've often questioned whether what I was doing was in anyway fruitful and whether what I was doing was... in any way, making a contribution. Thanks to people like Ana and many others. I've learned to never again feel that I'm not. I also feel that my being there lets the people who put on shows and the bands who play shows know how far their hard work goes towards fueling my passion.

This was my second time back at the Meatlocker since they've reopened and I think it's easy to say, I really missed it. While my initial feelings about Montclair's cavernous haunt were less than warm and fuzzy. I've come to realize how vital it is to bands both local and touring. Add to it the music scene that has thrived within it's concrete walls and you'll get nothing but praise from me. While the invitation had the show marked as 9:00 pm. I knew damn well that getting there any time before ten would be fruitless. By ten o'clock, the opening band was just beginning to set up. I couldn't help but notice the monstrosity being built before me.
By far, the biggest cabinets and amps I've seen outside of any club smaller than Irving Plaza. While I had never before heard Forever Losing Sleep. I was quickly wondering if leaving my ear plugs home was an epic mistake. By 10:40 the band finally realized they were actually there to open a show and things got started.

Judging from the time to prepare and rather colossal size of their gear. I guess I was expecting some ear shattering Motorhead meets
The Melvins ear drum torture. The truth however, would be found elsewhere. To say my first taste of Forever Losing Sleep left a lot to be desired would be the understatement of 2014. A forty minute set up time for three or four songs seemed to be incredibly unnecessary. And while a lot of people there seemed to like them. I myself, was underwhelmed. Being an old fucking man.  Chances are I won't have the same musical tastes as the teenage girls in the room.
To each their own. What seemed to lessen my appreciation for the band was the fact that the lead singer often kept his back to the crowd while the rest of the band seemed to face the walls.
As their set came to an early end. I quickly reminded myself it could have been a lot worse.

Thank God for Control, because they were the wake up call I needed most at the time.
Another band I had no prior knowledge of.
This one, however, took things to another level. Bombastic, kick out the jams music with a lot of energy, intensity and stage (okay, dirty concrete floor) presence. The Jefferson, New Jersey play chaotic, yet still melodic post core with efficiency and a great deal of energy. Mike and Michelle do a great job sharing both guitar and vocal duties.
While Paul and Kathleen steer the bands rhythms with a certain fierceness that kept everyone in attendance happy they showed up.
Though this was my first taste of Control. I wholeheartedly hope it's not my last.

Next up was Philadelphia's Glassgrade. To watch them setting up on stage you would think they had taken the wrong exit on the garden state and somehow decided to stop in at the Meatlocker for directions.
To say these kids didn't look the part of your average Punk band would be an understatement. Chess club? Yes. Yearbook staff? Yes. Insanely good Punk band? Not a chance. Lucky for myself and  everyone involved, My assumptions and prejudgements were about to become historic buffoonery.  The band almost immediately put the crowd on notice. Like the band Control and Forever Losing Sleep before them.
The band stepped off the stage and into the crowd. The whole scene made me feel as if I was in a DC basement in the mid to late 80's watching the Revolution Summer being born. Though most attending might have little to no idea of just what the fuck I'm talking about. Let's just say it's was special, real and tight knit. Much like Amhurst's Shakusky sparked something special in me earlier this year. Glassgrade wrapped up my years end in a big fat bow. The energy this band gave mixed with the crowds reaction was pure gold.
The kind of thing that takes you from the bottom of your heals to the tip of your toes.
Great stuff.


Closing the night was the newly reconfigured Archie Alone. The Sussex County Punk act has been a solid favorite since the Spring of 2013 when they played alongside the band
Moon Tooth at Clifton's Dinbatz. Since then Archie Alone has become a permanent feature on this blog due to countless shows and  emotive, high energy sets that fuel and passion to get off the couch and feel alive. When I originally heard the phrase
"This will be our last show in a long time." a while back. I couldn't help but wonder if the band was about to call it quits. Imagine my glee when I learned that the break would not translate in to a break up. Instead, the band is moving towards a more defined sound.
Perhaps the most notable change sees the departure of rhythm guitarist Pete Lapore.
The band will move forward with the bands singer
Nicole Mesce becoming
singer/ guitarist Nicole Mesce. Often time, when a band changes personnel or it's singer suddenly gets straddled with an instrument. The change can take time to coalesce.
Often time failing to do so.
On this particular night.
The band didn't seem to miss a step. While their set followed the somewhat abbreviated nature of the bands it followed. Things sounded great on these ears and those in attendance. Things are looking good for Archie Alone. One can only hope that enough people take notice and make an album a top priority for early 2015. Here's to looking forward to good things. Until then. James Damion




Friday, December 26, 2014

United By Images; Chambers (Old Love)

I was standing outside of ABC No Rio when I managed to start a conversation with Jim Testa of Jersey Beat. For whatever reason Jim seemed to know me. So when I enquired about the possibility of becoming a contributor. His response,
"We'll, I don't really cover much Hardcore."
though predictable, irked me. Looking back, I felt that somehow, a lot of people saw me as this one dimensional "Joe Hardcore" character more than twenty years after I last produced an issue of my short lived fanzine. One who was still referred to by many as James Unite. 

Regardless of any preconceived notions Jim might have had. I assured him that my interests in music lay far beyond that of any genre or sub genre labeling. Before long, my pestering paid off and Jim handed me my first assignment.
An interview with New Jersey Hardcore Metal act Chambers. While I had no prior knowledge of the band. I had their brand new album "Old Love" and two consecutive shows to help me get familiar. The first night I headed to Clifton's Dingbatz to see the band perform with the mind blowing
Tiger Flowers and a host of others.
What impressed me most about Chambers and singer Dan Pelic in particular, was how they took on the lazy son of a bitches who were too busy to leave the comfort zone of the bar. Chambers were one of the rare acts there, or anywhere else for that matter, to bring it to the crowd. Dan leaped from the comfort of the stage and got in the face of everyone while challenging those at the bar to make the price of admission worth a damn.
Before the end of the night. I had two new bands to cheer for and an interview set up for the next at Maxwells.

Aside from getting to experience some new music. The guys in Chambers were aces and the interview turned out to be the first of many collaborations with Jersey Beat and Jim Testa.
I also look at my interview with the band as a moment where my exposure to music and in particular, the NJ music scene began to broaden. Great thanks to Dan Pelic, Gregg Kautz and Vinnie Fiore for making my first assignment so enjoyable.
James Damion