Friday, April 17, 2015

Into Another - Omens

Whenever a band decides to go the reunion route I can't help but think of the scene from
The Blues Brothers when
John Belushi say's "We're getting the band back together." Followed by Akroyd's deadpan
"We're on a mission from God."

Since his days fronting Underdog. Richie Birkenhead has owned the most dynamic and impressive set of vocal chords to ever come out of the NYHC camp. A quality that has aged well and carries the songs with an impressive sense of emotional command.

Overall, Omens was somewhat of a surprise and a markedly excellent return to form for one of the 90's most uniquely rewarding post Hardcore acts. Still sounding dynamic, original and ahead of their time.
After listening to Ignaurus almost exclusively for over a decade. I've found myself dipping deeper and deeper in to the bands catalog, finding hidden treasure within every release.
Whereas many reunited bands from past eras seem perfectly comfortable continuing as nostalgia acts. Into Another have proven they are much more. A band that, years later,
still has something to say. One that is determined to follow through on unfinished business.
It's easy to say that Into Another stand as one of the most important acts to come together over the past three decades. James Damion

Find it at the following;
itunes
Amazon
Spotify
Rdio

Music Log Day 1; Orange 9MM - Dry (For Gina)

Welcome to a new feature on United By Rocket Science. One that I give full credit to my Aussie friend Ted Dougherty who recently started one under the same name on his Facebook page.  Each installment will feature a song, video or album. (Most likely a favorite of mine at one point or another) and a personal story or anecdote relating to it. Being that this is my first installment. I really can't say how this will evolve. There is no timeline or genre relation for these posts. I'll just post when the spirits are willing. You know, keep it loose. Thanks for the inspiration Ted. All proceeds go to a charity of your choice. James Damion

While I'm not sure if I was living in Hell's Kitchen or was still commuting to work from 
Staten Island.  At the time of Orange 9mm's debut release on Revelation Records I was working at a Jazz label that also booked floating Jazz Festivals with my best friend 
Gina (Last Daze) Lawson. At the time, we were both still heavily involved in the NYHC scene and major fans of bands like Absolution and Burn. On the rare occasions we managed to gain control of the offices stereo, we'd blast everything from Sick of it All to Sheer Terror to 
Eye Hate God. One one particular day, my lunch break took me over to nearby 
St. Marks Street where I picked up a copy of Orange 9mm's Revelation Records debut. 
The four song EP had some stellar tracks, with Dry being my personal favorite. 

My good friend Gina died some years back, but her spirit will always live on with me. 
Her smile, laugh, generosity and love for the music. How she used to call Sick of it All 
"My Boys" and how her burps always smelled like a mix of Heineken and Doritos. 
She left behind a son named Kyle whom I have not seen or heard from in years. She was loved by just about everyone, including my Grandmother Veronica. As far as Orange 9mm, the band went on to put out a number of successful albums. None of which resonated with me quite like that first EP. The records 3rd track Decide, is still in heavy rotation some twenty years later. 



Low Culture / Iron Chic Split 7' EP

I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned. Whoever it was that came up with the idea to make the first split 7' inch EP needs to have a monument erected in his/her honor. Most importantly, it should feature two completely different sides that show the differences... little or small and their overall uniqueness.

The idea for this particular split came like many before it. While two bands, Iron Chic and Low Control were out on tour. While the two bands shared bill along the east coast, southwestern desert and further north in Canada. The idea to not only make a split record, but to complicate matters further by turning it in to a split label release between
Mike (Iron Chic) Bruno's Dead Broke Rekards and Chris (Low Culture) Mason's Dirt Cult Records.

This split gave me my first taste of the band Low Culture. The mix of melodic Punk and southwest flavor is addictive. I was immediately drawn to the band due to this two week sample. I'm looking forward to hearing their demo,  s/t 7 inch and LP Screens soon.
As for Long Island NY's Iron Chic continue to raise the bar as one of my favorite "go to" bands for an uplifting energy buzz PMA booster that's helped me get through my day, my week, my month and even my year. The bands uplifting melodic punk always rates high on my list. Go pick on up now. James Damion

Dirt Cult Records Buy it Here
Dead Broke Rekards Or Buy it Here





Fury - Kingdom Come

Smashing, bashing, the drums they go crashing and within seconds the gates open and the dogs are running loose with the rabid tooth. And while that silly little intro may sound a bit silly. That perfectly describes how quickly Fury's highly anticipated debut EP.

What you get are five tracks Royalty, Reality Check, Holy, End is Nigh (It's Time) and Kingdom Come. Fast, fierce and above all thoroughly impressive. While these tracks move forward in the blink of they eye. Each leaves an enduring foot print.
While I definitely felt a big
Title Fight / Stick Together vibe here. California's Fury to me, sound even more original, if not more advanced. I could swear I'm hearing the ghosts of 80's Youth Crew bands on Holy. And while I wouldn't go as far as saying their ode to NYC legends Breakdown on the title track Kingdom Come was intentional. It certainly brought back memories for me. The record itself is released by Triple-B Records, comes on color vinyl with a digital download card and features a gatefold inlet with images and lyrics for each song. Being that this record was a mere add on to my recent order from RevHQ.
It's rewarding knowing just how good this is. Maybe I need to start playing the lottery again. James Damion


FuryHC Banndcamp
Fury RevHQ

Red Death - Demo 7' Inch

With the bands debut LP Permanent Exile already up for Pre-Order on Grave Mistake's page.
I did some hustling to finally pick of the 7' inch version of the bands incredible debut demo. The bands first recordings as infectious as they are powerful and ruthless. Reminding the listener of 80's crossover kings Corrosion of Conformity and their 1985 classic Animosity.
All comparisons aside, it's the sheer intensity and brutal power Red Death puts forward that now only draws but keeps the listener in a complete stranglehold. If you've already heard the demo, you'll know exactly what you're getting. Having it on vinyl only sweetens to pot. The record includes lyrics to each of the five songs as well as a digital download card. I'd suggest putting it in your cart with the preorder for their debut LP. You know what they say, "Better Red than Dead." Well, why not order Red Death and have both? The choice is simple. James Damion

Red Death  Band
Grave Mistake Records  Store

Siege - Drop Dead

I sometimes find it hard to digest that after 30 years involvement in Hardcore music as a fan, participant and fanzine editor.
There still seems to be a shit load of bands and recordings I've not even remotely heard or heard of. A truth that sometimes makes me wonder if I've had my head firmly place in the sands of an exclusive beach just off the shores of the east river.

Drop Dead celebrates the 30th anniversary of the original nine recordings, fully restored, with original outtakes as well as two bonus tracks from the 2006 reissue as well as bonus tracks from the 2009 reissue. Add it all up, this is the most complete collection to date. While Boston, MA.'s Siege and these nine 1984 recordings may not be known to the masses. The band allegedly was a major influence on classic bands such as
Drop Dead, Heresy, Infest and Ripcord to name a few. Raw, scathing and brutal.
While this was definitely not my thing. I would recommend this for both fans of the bands mentioned and hardcore archeologists alike.  The album comes on opaque green vinyl, features song lyrics and info on the back cover (There is no inlet included. Just the sleeve.)  and unfortunately does not feature a download code. James Damion

Deep Six Records  Buy it Here

THERE WILL BE QUIET - THE STORY OF JUDGE (PART 2)

Here's Part 2 of Noisey's documentary on legendary Judge Frontman Mike (Judge) Ferraro. As I watched this footage I clearly remember hearing the Judge demo tape for the first time at a party on Civ's (Gorilla Biscuits) parents block. How we all wanted a piece of it. 
We all begged Luke Abbey (Warzone) for a copy, but it was so secret at that moment. 
No one was getting a copy. As I watched this footage. I kept thinking how much the band meant to me and how, even today it stands as the most personal part of my time as a resident of NYHC. What you're about to watch is, to put it lightly, epically chilling. 
Having been to the shows, witnessing the violence and hearing the endless shit talking and rumors that involved the band and the straightedge scene as a whole. I found it hard not to shed a tear. I'm grateful the someone's finally taken the time to help Mike finally tell his story. James Damion


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

THERE WILL BE QUIET - THE STORY OF JUDGE (PART 1)

In the first part of Noisey's multi part series. The media outlet sits down with legendary and complex Judge frontman Mike Ferraro. Judge is truly one of the great Hardcore bands on the history of the sub-genre. Though short lived, the band and their powerful, yet self reflective lyrics made them one of a kind. The bands short lifespan, break up and the numerous rumors caused by the Ferraros' utter disappearance from the scene, the music and the overall landscape. "There will be Quiet" might be the most anticipated music documentary in decades. 



ABC No Rio to Host A Visual Retrospective Featuring Images and More from 1990 - 1991.

Coming this May, ABC No Rio will be hosting a visual retrospective feature photography, flyers, film and other visuals from 1990-91. The Retrospective will close on Friday May 18th with the screening of vintage footage of Citizens Arrest's 1990 ST. Patricks Day show. Created by Freddy Alva and John Woods. This is sure to be a must see event. 



Nude Tayne - Still Nude

By now we've all heard and hopefully learned from the term "Don't Judge a Book by it's Cover"
A term that has proven right time and time again. Well folks, it's time to go back and reinvent the wheel or at least admit the fact that, sometimes the cover should influence you to stay the fuck away. This, unfortunately for me was as clear cut a case as I've experienced in a long, long time.

While the Tampa, FL. trio come in first place when it comes to worst name choice, worst title for a release and the most juvenile and least appetizing album art. They won't win any awards for the music presented on "Still Nude". Scathingly frantic rhythms dumbed down by schizophrenic shouts and screams that sound like a promo for prison rape. If Yoko Ono had decided to start a power violence, electro screamo band in the mid 90's it might actually sound better than "Still Nude". James Damion

Nude Tayne Bandcamp




Friday, March 27, 2015

Love Child - Migraine Music

Imagine my surprise when
I received an email from
Mayfly Records stating that the record I preordered back in October of 2014 was finally on it's way. As I arrived home today, "Migraine Music" was waiting to welcome me home.

Featuring a mere five songs, less than half of the eleven featured on their 2014 debut 7' "Everything is Fine, in Heaven". Lovechild manage do just as much damage, if not more on "Migraine Music".

The Boston MA. band formed out of the band Cerse in 2013 produce a venomous Hardcore Punk sound that ranges from a fast forward hyperactive attack to a stuck in cement, sludgy pace. The record opens promisingly with "Most Weekends" One of the three songs featuring spoken word samplings. "Colder Winter than Usual" perfectly sums up winter in Boston with it's metallic leads and psychotic vibe. The kinda of sound that could inspire the mental breakdown Jack Nicholson perfected in the horror classic "The Shining". Each of the five songs featured on "Migraine Music" work to cast a long shadow on this listener. In an admittedly short span of time. Lovechild have shown a great deal of growth and an ability to mature while staying true to their sound and overall style.

Aside the exorbitant amount of time it took the pressing plant took in producing this record and the fact that it arrived with noticeable damage to it's cover. This short, yet powerful blast of rage proved worth the wait.  This is a limited first press of 500 copies.
(400 Black / 100 Gold. So get them while they last. James Damion

Mayfly Records

Crumbsuckers - Life of Dreams Reissue

Reissued on Back on Black records just in time for the bands inevitable 30 year reunion at this years salute to Hardcore and Hardcore reunions. the Black N' Blue Bowl.
"Life of Dreams" the
Long Island bands 80's debut Metal Crossover  classic, along with it's ill received and thoroughly forgettable follow up "Beast of my Back" get the limited edition reissue treatment.

The band which featured former Krakdown singer Chris Notaro, Gary Meskil (Propain) and
Dan Richardson (Life of Agony) were synonymous
(for better or worse) with the mid 80's crossover that brought Thrash Metal to Hardcore.

Revisiting this 86' classic some thirty years later allowed me to enjoy "Life of Dreams" with a wider brush than I had when I was a mere 16 years old. A time when Crossover and Metal were making it's mark on a genre that was just beginning to change my life. While this reissue served as much needed upgrade to my original copy. The music and it's sociopolitical lyrics still ring true 'till this day.
Overall, "Life of Dreams" stands a timeless classic. One worth the reissue treatment. The album is limited to 999 copies and features an impressive gatefold cover with lyrics to each song.  This record does not include a download code. While I'm not sure about the varying colors Back on Black are offering. My copy came on milky white180 gram vinyl.
James Damion

Get it Here



Saturday, March 21, 2015

Banging the Drum with Matthew Cross of Detroit's Collapse

What started out in earnest as an interview with Detroit Hardcore act quickly began to focus on the band's drummer Matthew Cross. Since seeing the band perform live at a local dive in nearby Montclair. We had exchanged emails and social media. As these exchanges continued to grow began to grow more and more curious about Matthew's background, his time and involvement in New York's Hardcore scene and his life in general. As the progress of the interview began to grind to a halt. We decided to expand our exchanges in to somewhat of series of open ended conversations. Come to think of it. This could end up becoming the blueprint to future interviews. Open conversations about music, art  and common interests. Communication without the boundaries we sometimes put on ourselves.  James Damion

James: I was under the impression you grew up in New York.

Matthew: I grew up in Warren, MI, one of the many suburbs surrounding Detroit.
When I moved to New York in the early 90s, I first lived in Manhattan – lots of floors, couches, and illegal subletting – and later in Long Island City in Queens.

James: What was your introduction to NYHC? The bands, the people, the clubs you frequented.

Matthew: My first introduction was Agnostic Front’s Victim in Pain LP, and Cro Mags’
The Age of Quarrel LP. I heard AF first, and there was something unmistakably different about their sound, it was so raw and real.
There’s a really exhausting and ridiculous rivalry between east and west coast punk and hardcore (and everything else), in which I refuse to take part. But for whatever reason,
I was always drawn to the east coast sound.  Maybe because it was so obviously influenced by Midwest bands like Negative Approach, but also because it felt like Detroit and New York had more in common than Detroit and Los Angeles, you know? Listening to surf punk in Detroit is cool, but listening to
Agnostic Front’s “Last Warning” feels right – like “yeah, this track feels like where I’m at right now.” The atmosphere of that music – the grit, the darkness, the urgency, and rhythms that felt like a factory falling apart around you – felt like home.
I know there were a lot of great punk and hardcore bands in NYC before 1984 like Kraut, the Mob, and Cause for Alarm, but that AF record was the first thing I heard.

I went to shows at places in Detroit – The Graystone Hall, Traxx, The Falcon Lounge, Paychecks, and so on – but missed most of the classic NYHC venues and show spaces from the early 80s. I did see and play shows at CBGBs, Wetlands, Coney Island High and
ABC No Rio.

So as an outsider, I came up loving New York Hardcore, but like kids in the 90s who loved Seattle’s grunge rock scene from afar, I wasn’t part of it and probably had a lot of misconceptions about what the scene was like. For example, I remember when I first met Sick of it All, and had to really brace myself to try to appear “hard” and serious, because their Revelation EP was the biggest thing in the world to me, and I just assumed these guys would be really intimidating. And as anyone can tell you, they are four of the sweetest, silliest people you’ll ever meet. As a kid, I was surprised, but also grateful. I didn’t have the energy, or even the desire, to maintain that kind of façade, and it meant a lot to me that they weren’t interested in it either.

As I age and evolve, I’m leaving a lot of that music behind. Part of that is natural.
We grow, and are not moved by the same things we were when we were 18, or not in the same way. It’s very rare that I feel like blasting Breakdown’s “Sick People” or
Sick of it All’s “Pete’s Sake” because that’s how I’m feeling in that moment, you know?
I might reach for other hardcore records, but more often than not I want to hear something else.

But part of it is also that I’m over the masculinity of hardcore. There is so much masculine posturing and posing that is part of hardcore, from the music to the lyrics to the style to the performance. I still love hardcore, and there were a lot of bands from that scene that took different approaches, like Gorilla Biscuits, Token Entry, and Nausea, and I still enjoy those bands today. Actually, the youth crew bands used to confuse me a little, because stylistically they just looked like preppies, or young Republicans. But in general, I think many sects of hardcore cling to really outdated, regressive attitudes about gender. So while I still love and enjoy hardcore, I’m more inclined these days to seek out bands and music representing a wider spectrum of humanity and emotion.

James: I picked up the vinyl reissue of Into Another's Ignarus a few weeks ago. It was the first time I had read the liner notes in over a decade. When I saw your name on the
"Thank You" list....it was like pieces of a puzzle. Can you tell me a little about your relationship with them and your connection to the band?

Matthew: That’s a great record. It’s funny you mentioned that; I had “Maritime Murder” in my head a couple weeks ago, and went and listened to that LP again for the first time in years.
I loved Drew and Richie’s previous bands Youth of Today and Underdog, and so I was excited to hear Into Another when their first record was released. Because I also loved metal and rock, I appreciated the new direction they were trying. Like many other kids, I bought the records and went to their shows, where I struck up an acquaintance with Drew. I worked at a drum and percussion shop at the time, we’d talk drums, and I helped him out from time to time when he needed gear. So my name on the record is because of that help and support. Drew also gifted me the Zildjian 20” ride cymbal he’d used on all those early hardcore records, including Into Another, which I thought was really sweet of him; he could have sold that thing for a lot of money instead. Hell, I would have bid on it.

James: How did the opportunity to join Orange 9mm come about? Had you been in any bands prior to that?

Matthew: I had been in other bands since high school, mostly punk and hardcore. Before I joined Orange 9mm. I was in a band with my brother that was quite different. It was metal influenced, and incorporated a lot of keyboards and industrial-style rhythms and arrangements. So Alan didn’t have a reference for me in terms of bands; in fact, I’m not sure he’d ever heard me play. He probably guessed I knew how to play because I knew a lot about drums, and the band was willing to give me a shot because of Alan’s recommendation, as well as my willingness to pick up and move from Detroit. At the time I was working a couple low-wage jobs in Detroit just to pay rent and bills. I didn’t want to do anything but be a drummer, and when the call from Alan came, I figured this was my chance to step up and do it.

James: It's funny you saying that about evolving and perhaps musically aging out of Hardcore. I've been feeling the same way for years. Honestly, most of that departure is rooted in all the endless nostalgia, reunions and constant reminders of what I've come to consider ancient history. I never cared for the knuckle scraping tough guy ideology that  went along with the music. However, your mention of acts such as Token Entry and
Gorilla Biscuits reminds me of the type of music and message I was always drawn to.
What originally drew my to the music was the fact that is was small, intimate and for lack of a better word organic. You paid your five dollars, saw five bands and made a bunch of new friends by the end of the show. Even if I wanted to see my favorite band play.
Chances are I'd have to buy advance tickets and day passes to see them play a festival with forty other bands I could give a shit about.
All rants aside, I'm curious as to how this evolution or change in tastes effects your being in a very good hardcore band. (Collapse) I wanted to get some of your thoughts on the subject and how or if that reflects in what Collapse is creating.

Matthew: I think you’re right about the message of those bands, and that meant as much to me as the music. When you meet someone who absolutely loved the Burn EP, it usually isn’t just about the music, which was phenomenal. It’s because that band, in the best spirit of punk, was about something. “Shall Be Judged” is about a certain kind of injustice, but it’s also about trying to make sense of one’s place in a society entrenched in systems and cultures of violence and oppression. And then that middle breakdown kicks in, Chaka’s doing a somersault off the stage, and you want to throw a chair at the wall.

And these bands also had a different energy onstage. Detroit was full of bands that carried and promoted really negative, hateful masculine energy – yelling at the “pussies” in the back to stop being “soft” and get up front. That shit makes me want to leave the room immediately. That stuff was all over the country in the late 80s and early 90s, it wasn’t just Detroit and New York. But you also had bands like Los Crudos and Nausea playing sonically aggressive, heavy music, yet it was more about healthy human anger, not masculine aggression.
At least that’s what I took from it.

I’m taking the long way answering this question, but this gets into Collapse, and why I’ve spent the past three years writing and playing with them.
I wanted to play aggressive punk, but I wanted to do it with…I guess the best way to say it is with feminists, with people who have a more complex understanding of power. It isn’t enough for me anymore to work at this level with someone who just happens to not be overtly sexist or racist; I want to work with people who are conscious of those dynamics, and intentional about minimizing their impacts. And with Collapse, that’s the kind of band we are; it’s reflected in our lyrics, and we try to live into that in our interactions with other people.

You know, thinking of that Burn song makes me think of other hardcore songs I still love. “Regress No Way” by 7 Seconds, “Sink with Kalifornia” by Youth Brigade, or with punk, “We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now” by Dead Kennedys or “Poison in a Pretty Pill” by Crass.  Those songs are full of meaning and vision, and questions about what kind of world we want to live in. For me, being in Collapse is an opportunity to be a part of that legacy. So many of the issues those bands were addressing – racism, misogyny, militarism, and consumerism – are just as prevalent today as they were in the 1980s. It feels good to be in a band following that tradition of speaking out about injustice and oppression. Our task, and I think it’s the task of every artist who takes these issues seriously, is to move beyond expression to intentional action in community with others.

Collapse (Detroit) Facebook  
Collapse (Detroit) Bandcamp




Friday, March 20, 2015

Agnostic Front - No One Rules

The past is on a crash course with the present with a slew of documentaries, books and what feels like a continuos archeological dig for long lost and often forgotten material from both obscure and celebrated artists.

"No One Rules"a collection of 34 songs recorded over two sessions. The first predating their classic debut 7' "United Blood". The second,  just prior to their first full length
"Victim in Pain".
A time that, for many, saw the band creating, defining and ultimately, placing NYHC on the map. Rightfully earning them the title as the Godfathers of NYHC.

 "No One Rules" just might be the best collection of resurrected material I've heard to date. The overall sound and delivery brings the listener back to an essential period in both Agnostic Front's and the often overlooked early New York Hardcore scene. A record that fits neatly between "United Blood" and "Victim in Pain". Records considered by many, including myself to be the bands most vital and raw.

Radio Raheem Records deserve a great deal of credit for their hard work in getting this long lost, never before released material on Wax. There's an astonishing amount of detail to the history of these tracks, the early years and days of Agnostic Front and the
New York Hardcore Scene.
The massive 48 page full color booklet that comes with the record is worth it's weight in gold. Featuring more than
150 archival images tracing the bands humble beginnings in 1982 until the end of their first nationwide tour in 1985.
There's also additional commentary and anecdotes from the band and members of the early NYHC scene.
An absolute can't miss for fans of the band and hardcore alike. James Damion

Radio Raheem Records    Get it Here



NGHTCRWLRS - Self Titled Debut

There's a scene in the movie Goodfellas where Tommy DeSimone comes to visit Stacks Edwards. As Tommy puts his pistol to the back of Stacks head he says "You're always late. You're gonna be late to your own fucking funeral." However violent, that statement sums up my history with reviewing new releases. Regardless of opinions, good, bad or indifferent. There's always a bit of room needed between my catch and release moments.
So with a recent record release show at Jersey City's latest venue The Dopeness still ringing in my years. I began to double down on NGHTCRWLRS self titled debut album.

Though somehwhat new to New Jersey's music landscape. The bands personnel have been making noise for years in acts such as All Sensory Void, Holy City Zoo, Lake Effect,
Nico Blues, Man on Fire and Washington Square Park.

On there 8 song debut the band does an excellent job distinguishing themselves with a variety of styles and approaches that allow them to escape the trappings that many bands seam to be falling into these days. Upon first listen you get a feeling that NGHTCRWLRS were hell bent on creating songs that each had a unique feeling and personality. And while the name NGHTCRWLRS might illicit thoughts of axe wielding serial killers or knuckle scraping Hardcore bands of the past. The bands sound and approach is more harmonious than such imagery could ever accomplish.

The album opens with "Smiling". A song that is spacious, spacey and all together spaced out. It's "Turn on, Tune in, Drop out" vibe feels as if it were born out of a 60's inspired LSD trip. Lasting side effects aside. It introduces the band properly. A mission that lets the listener know they're in for something different from what they might expect. "You're Living the Life" follows with it's repetitive, yet addictive chorus. Upbeat and uplifting to the point where I found myself singing the chorus long after the song and album were done. And while there are several other favorites Red "Beans and Rice", "The Amish Don't Wear Jordans" and the flat out weird "Homies".  It's the overall product that sticks out most. In order to surrender to the trip. You have to be up for the entire ride. In closing, NGHTCRWLRS debut was nothing
I ever expected. Yet, everything this listener could ever hope for. Get weird. Stay weird. James Damion

NGHTCRWLRS Bandcamp
NGHTCRWLRS Facebook



United By Images; Melissa & Paul

Melissa & Paul were an edgy New Jersey rock duo who's sound featured a brooding mix of Garage Punk and the Blues. During their short, yet fruitful existence. The duo had several highly regarded releases on Bedside Manner, Star Beat Music and Gruff Beard Records. And while Melissa & Paul certainly left us with some memorable releases. It was their emotionally charged live sets that earned them their following and respect of show goers and the press alike. Time can only tell if Melissa & Paul will resurface for a show or recording. What's important is they left us with a lot of unique and special memories. Three of the five images featured were taken at Montclair's Meatlocker the fist time I caught them live. The energy coming from both the band and those in attendance mad it feel as if there were over a thousand people in the crowd. An epic event. James Damion




Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Unofficial Guide to Rare + Unheard NYHC

Thanks to the good folks at In Effect Fanzine for posting a link to this incredible and downloadable zine that looks back at releases, both real and rumored that had great potential to remain as classics more than twenty years later. During my years on the Hardcore scene and beyond. We all heard rumors and even saw ads promoting 
releases that never managed to see the light of day. Imagine the impact of Guillotine's 'United Scene' cassette release would have made if it were to be put to vinyl. 
The lost Token Entry LP with original singer Anthony Comunale on vocals recorded for 
Rat Cage  Records or the often rumored Krakdown/N.Y. Hoods split LP. The list brought me back to my teens and even my elementary school comic book collecting days with 
Marvel Comics series "What if?" As I read each of the entires I began licking my chops searching for links with announcement that each of these rumored treasures were finally making their way to slabs of vinyl that accompanied by extensive liner notes, images and anecdotes about how and why these treasures weren't released in the first place. 
These things can still happen, right? An old man can dream the dreams of a teenager, right?




Friday, March 13, 2015

Revelation Records Reveals Several Exclusive Record Store Day Releases

Revelation Records has just announced it will reissue several classics from their back catalog for this years Record Store Day. Better Than A Thousand, Dag Nasty and Gameface will each get the Record Store Day reissue treatment. The label asks that you check your local record store for details and availability. This year's Record Store Day takes place on Saturday April 18th.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sautrus - Reed: Chapter One

When I was first received an email from the Sautrus camp about reviewing their album 'Reed'. I was immediately transported to the late 80's when I was heading up a fanzine called Unite. 
At the time, Unite was beginning to get some attention outside of the U.S.
One particular correspondence stuck out for one reason or another. It was a kid by the name Pawel. (Paul for all you stateside types) Though we only exchanged a handful of letters and photographs. It was my first exposure to lesser known HXC bands outside of the states and the knowledge that the Hardcore scene and music I had become very intimate with was effecting kids like me worldwide.

So when someone from the band Sautrus contacted me about reviewing their music on United By Rocket Science. I was particularly happy they were willing to trust the
U.S. Postal Service to securely deliver their labour of love.

On 'Reed: Chapter One' Northern Poland's Sautrus give fans of heavy music more than they bargained for and much more than they could ever hope to get. Taking a sound that as crafted in the late 1960's and giving it somewhat of a facelift. Heavy Doom Rock/Metal with a strong foothold in the Stoner Rock. An overall sound that immediately brings to mind the early days of Black Sabbath with it's Murky and flat out evil approach. Inspiring leads, dark and dirty bass lines and convincingly evil vocals that feel as if they're calling out from the seventh layer of hell.

One of the most surprising and rewarding offerings of the early year. A must for fans of Sabbath, Kyuss and even Kylesa. Very impressive, to say the least. James Damion

Sautrus  Bandcamp

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dark Ages - Vapor


There's something disjointed and unsettling about this new LP from Dark Ages that I can't quite put my finger on.  The vibe of mid west hardcore bands of years gone by is present, but DA has added some odd rhythms and off time syncopation that make this Lp a tough one to pigeon hole.

 In all honesty, it has taken a few listens for this record to start making sense to me, but I have found that  the records that become long time favorites are often times the records that leave me a  bit confused upon  initial listen, but for one reason or another  keep me coming back for more.  I'm thinking that Vapor is going to be one of those records. Now excuse me, I need to go spin this Lp a few more times...Dave G.


Purchase


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Songs For Snakes - I bring You Obscurity

Here's a new song from one United By Rocket Science's favorites Songs For Snakes. This is the last track recorded with Paul Furusho and Chris Heifner. It is the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Musically it's a strong track. If your a fan of melodic punk rock with hooks and catchy vocals then take notice...Dave G.

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