Thursday, May 31, 2012

Torchbearer - The Dirty Swagger (upcoming Lp 2012)

If I had to compare Torchbearer to anyone I would say my initial reaction was that there's a bit of a Burn, Deadguy feel to the music as well as bands like band like Botch and Converge. While Torchbearer doesn't necessarily sound exactly like any of these bands they definitely draw influence from the metallic side of hardcore and deliver a pummeling album of aggressive pissed off hardcore that will satisfy  fans of any of the above mentioned bands.

Torchbearer features Dan from the previously reviewed Altered Boy's on guitar, and the distinct difference in sound between these two bands is a testament to his talents...Dave G.

Torchbearer formed in New Brunswick, New Jersey in the summer of 2008. Members play or have played in bands like Nora, Ensign, Mother Night, the Low End Theory, For the Love Of, and Hellhole. The goal then and now is to create heavy, abrasive music that draws on a wide variety of influences, some obvious and some that are surprising even to us.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Altered Boys - Demo Tape

I went record digging at the Princeton Record Exchange a few weeks ago and they actually had a bunch of punk records in their new arrival bins which seems to happen less and less these days. Anyway, as I was digging I noticed the guy standing next to me was grabbing a lot of the punk and hardcore records that I was passing up so being the helpful record nerd that I am I began to pull all the punk and hardcore records and pass them on to him announcing the band name as I went, and when I announced Ensign the guy laughed and said " yeah I'm in Ensign" haha it's a small world.

Anyway, we got to talking and quickly  traded contact info and when I got home I had Dan's other bands Altered Boys and Torchbearer mp3 files waiting  for me in my inbox.

What you get from the Altered Boys is excellent infectious hardcore punk from New Jersey featuring at least one member of hardcore veterans Ensign. Everything you would want from a hardcore punk band is here...excellent vocals , quick tight drumming, nice breakdowns and memorable choruses.  Great stuff for fans of Wasted Time, Negative Approach, SSD etc...The more I listen to this demo the more it creeps into my head... I'm glad fate brought us together...Dave G.

Altered Boys Facebook

Listen Free

P.S. Torchbearer review is upcoming.

Hot Water Music - Exister LP

Eight years is a long time between releases. Time that often causes the chemistry and song writing ability of the best bands wear thin and fray. Luckily for fans of Hot Water Music, this was not the case. For those picking their brains and biting their fingernails; Wondering if the return of their favorite Post-Hardcore Floridians will produce anything worthy of their worship can put their minds at ease. "Exister" is a damn good record and one that should put to rest any questions about the bands return.

On "Exister" HWM seamlessly make up for lost time. The opening riff on "Mainline" is a wake up call to anyone who might have lulled themselves into any musical comas. The songs energy and energy have Chuck Ragan sounding like a man on a mission. Though Chucks vocals show a bit of wear largely due to eight years of recording and touring as a folky American troubadour;  I don't feel that the change took away from any of the records appeal. I found "Exister" is a solid record from top to bottom and a noteworthy return from of musics finest."Paid in Full" ends the record on a high note that can only leave the listener wondering how long before they'll be sinking their teeth into another HWM release.
James Damion

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Longshots - Kicker EP

On "The Kicker" EP, Fort Worth Texas' The Longshots come out of the barn like bi-coastal frequent flyers. The two tracks featured on the EP,
"Rhode Island Red" and "Me or California" each come in at just under three minutes and have a loose, jangley, Garage Rock meets Rockabilly vide. Add a little bit of an early 80's
Alt Country vibe and a production quality that leaves a lot to be desired and you've got The Longshots. "Kicker" didn't really inspire more than a few casual listens. I wouldn't go as far as saying it was a terribly bad record. The band is still in their early stages and certainly have time to grow. Texas is a big state so I'm sure they have lots of room too. The gentleman that heads up the bands label mentioned he couldn't stop talking about these guys. Perhaps I should have allowed him to expound on his feelings about the band.
I myself, am at somewhat of a loss for words. James Damion

The Longshots  Bandcamp

Direct Approach - Demo Tape 2012

This is the second demo from these Toronto ragers and I think it shows great growth from their previous demo tape released back in 2011. The songs on this sucker are short and seething with anger. The overall feel of the playing is fairly loose but it works well...This is yet another of what seems like an endless supply of excellent new school punk/hardcore bands that have thrown their hat into the ring lately...definitely deserving of your attention...Dave G.

Free Download

Friday, May 25, 2012

Matt Skiba and the Sekrets - Babylon

I'll be the first to admit it took me years to open myself up to and fully appreciate
Alkaline Trio. The combination of the bands dark, gloomy lyrics and painstakingly applied eye liner can be blamed; That or my overall hard headedness.
I pretty much avoided that entire style of music and the mall culture that seemed to inspire it. However, once I did I immediately realized just how good Alkaline Trio and in particular Matt Skiba's gift for creating pop punk excellence mixing hooky melodies with lyrics that, no matter how dark, strange or downright creepy, painted very vivd and often inspiring pictures.

On Skiba's debut solo effort he's backed by A.F.I.'s Hunter Burgan and Jarrod Alexander of My Chemical Romance; excellent choices considering the style and overall feeling of the music.
Though "Babylon" is an excellent record from start to finish with Skiba's signature style of dark, macabre lyrics and powerful pop punk excellence. It doesn't really do anything to distinguish itself from anything he's done with Alkaline Trio. That isn't a knock on the album or Skiba. It's just an honest and obvious observation. Fans of the band will be thoroughly pleased with Skiba's signature song writing and delivery. Standout tracks include the opener "Voices", the delicate "Olivia" , "Falling Like Rain"which evokes memories of Gary Numan's best moments and the inspiring "How The Hell Did We Get Here". Overall "Babylon" is a record I'd highly recommend to just about anyone. Even the most casual of fans.
James Damion

Buy it Here

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tim Barry - 40 Miler LP

Imagine for a moment that it's 1992.
You're standing outside of downtown NYC's Wetlands with a bunch of your closest buddies about to see Avail perform with several of your favorite local bands. A stranger turns to you and says, "Have you heard Tim's acoustic demos?"
"He's doing a whole country-folk thing now." "You've gotta hear it." I don't know about you but I'd probably cock my head to the side with an inquisitive look, go into some speech about the effects of drug abuse on the mind and laugh my ass off. Lucky for us all twenty years is a long time. Time that allows us to grow and explore new ideas, sounds and ways to express our emotions.

Listening to "40 Miler" I can't help but think how much this mans music has moved me and for how long. From my first Avail 7 inch in 1991 to his first acoustic offerings on
"Laurel St. Demo" in 2005. His music and words have always inspired me and given me a sense of consciousness  that goes beyond music.

On "40 Miler" Tim Barry continues to establish himself as a great American troubadour.
The record has a more positive, uplifting vibe than past releases. There's a aura of strength and resilience  in the songs that wasn't present in past releases. The record is highlighted by his signature acoustic and steel guitar. Add some moving harmonics and his unique brand of storytelling and you've got a record you'll be going back to countless times. "Shed Song" is crushingly beautiful, a tear jerker to say the very least. "Bankers Dilemma" on the other hand, will have you shedding tears of laughter. The work of Tim Barry and artists such as Frank Turner are no longer guilty pleasures for me. When music is this good, there's no reason to feel guilty. James Damion

Buy it Here

Bukkake Boys st Lp (Sorry State Records 2012)

I first came across the Bukkake Boys  back in 2009 when they released a self titled 7" on Sorry State records  that I thought was a fine slice of angry straight forward hardcore.

I don't know what happened to these guys in the past two plus years but they have somehow managed to become an even angrier bunch of motherfuckers. Now I know you might think calling these dudes motherfuckers is out of line but this record is so filled with anger and emotion that I just can't seem to fight the urge to call someone a motherfucker, and I figure  it might as well be the guys that are currently  filling me with  rage through their music.

The whole record races by in a pissed of whirl of shouted vocals on top of hyper-speed riffing , quick drumming and squealing guitars...I highly recommend this Lp to anyone who needs a little anger in their life...Dave G.



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Secret Country - 7 Days a Week EP

Do you like hot dogs, beer,
fried chicken, bbq, hog calling, honky tonks and outlawed Outlaw Country? Well son, I got two songs that are gonna make you bust your belt buckle and make you want to party till the cows come home.
New Jersey's sexiest sextet has returned with their first recording since 2010's
"Hard White Snow".  This is the bands forth offering on
Killing Horse Records and will be followed by the bands second full length due in August of 2012.

The EP features two songs.
"7 Days a Week", a song about drinking 7 days a week and "Deep Fried Delight", a song about fried chick, a buxom lady and some sweet, sexy down home love. If this doesn't get those bible belts up in a
hee-haw. I sure as hell don't know what will. For all you Punks and Hardcore kids that don't quite understand what's going on here; They just might be to Country Music what Murphy's Law is to Hardcore. Order a copy now and tell 'em Johnny Cash sent ya.
James Damion
Buy it Here

Reese Van Riper - The Paper Mache Bandits EP

Reese Van Riper mix Bluesy Indie Rock and elements of Metal and a slight Alt Country vibe with impressive results. There's a dirty vibe about the music that's really appealing to the ears. As I listen I can't help but imagine myself in some dirty old New Orleans watering hole being served whiskey by some floozy in a corset while having my pocket picked by Tom Waits. Call me crazy but the sounds on
"The Paper Mache Bandits" are just that atmospheric and lofty.
Each of the five tracks have their own distinct identity and charm. With "Pitchfork" and "Whiskey Queens" being my favorites of the five tracks. The three piece consists of bassist Matt Kearns
(ex- Loreane Drive) drummer Greg Infante (ex- The Murder and The Harlot) and guitarist/vocalist Reese Van Riper. These road warriors spent a lot of time touring in recent years. Lucky for us they stopped long enough to make this record. Definitely worthy of a listen or three. James Damion

Reese Van Riper  Facebook

Obsessor - In Fear of the End (Tankcrime records 2012)

This is the 3rd and I believe final installment in the Obsessor cassette series. Hopefully, Obsessor will move away from the limitations of the cassette format in the near future and give us a 3 or 4 song 7" or Lp to sink our teeth into because these cassettes really leave me feeling like I need to hear more.

On this latest release
"In Fear of the End" you get  2 tracks of metallic hardcore that speed by in the blink of an eye. I saw Sorry State compare Obsessor to later Poison Idea circa "War All the Time" and I think that's an accurate comparison on track 1 , however track 2 has a quicker tighter more thrash metal feel especially in the quick tight riffing.  Overall this is another solid release from Obsessor...I suggest you get all 3 cassettes and rip them to one folder or cd so you can get a real feel for what Osessor is all about...Dave G.     



Abortion Squad 1983 demo 12" Who Cares? Records

Great raw and nasty full speed ahead early 80's hardcore...I recommend you pick up a copy of this Lp before they are gone as Who Care's? releases tend to disappear very quickly and are very hard to come by...Dave G.

Bio from the label:

Formed in 1982, the ABORTION SQUAD was assembled from the remnants of two high school punk bands, The BY-PRODUX, and The FIZZICAL FITS.
Listen to “Stupid jerk”

Inspired by the early 80's international hardcore scene, they combined and wrote new songs and kicked up their punk sound a notch to HARDCORE.

In 1983 they hit the recording studio and put out a now "rare" cassette demo tape featuring many killer "hits" such as "You Make Me Sick" and "No Authority, No Rules" which earned them airplay on local Boston area college stations... not bad for a bunch of punk kids from Manchester NH !!

They enjoyed a good run of success in the 80's playing shows in Boston with other area hardcore bands, they enjoyed having had the pleasure of being on the bill with such notable acts as G.G. ALLIN and the JABBERS, G.B.H., and even Boston pop icons the NEIGHBORHOODS.

The ABORTION SQUAD were part of the few hardcore punk from the New Hampshire scene, among bands like the MURDERERS, the MIGHTY CO'S and AGROPHOBIC ARRAY... they are incontestably the most primitive and brutal band from this scene, playing intense and spontaneous hardcore with a real "fuck you" punk attitude.

28 years later, WHO CARES? records officially releases the 21 song demo on a 12" vinyl.
Limited as usual to 300 hand numbered copies : 50 first on limited edition and colored vinyl, 250 next on regular cover. 8 test pressings should be made. Test pressings will be made as usual with a special cover...Listen to Abortion Squad and purchase the Lp.

xxx All Ages xxx - The Boston Hardcore Film

Pre-order Available Here .

Available in a 6 panel DVD digipak for June 23rd shipping! 

      DVD Extras include:
  • 30 minutes of deleted scenes
  • The Springa Chronicles
  • Rat Hunting
  • Chip On My Shoulder Trailer
  • Audio Commentary by Director Drew Stone
    All DVD pre-sale orders include an official poster and card!

 'xxx ALL AGES xxx' DVD ($16.95 + $3 Domestic S&H)

Don't Upset The Bear - Take Your Vitamins LP

Every now and then a band or a record comes along that just leaves me scratching my head. Don't Upset the Bear and their LP "Take Your Vitamins" both had me scratching as if I were cast in a Head & Shoulders TV ad. The band has that loose Rock Sound that has a bit of a driving, jangley vibe. Creating a versatile sound that left me guessing, "Are they Rock?" "Are they Country?" "Are they on drugs?" The bands musicianship is notable featuring the impressive guitar work of Ryan Hardt and the praise worthy drumming of Glen Monturi. However, Hardt's vocal ability has a lot to be desired. His voice and delivery were the biggest drawbacks as far as I was concerned. While
"Take Your Vitamins" definitely had it's positives, "Why Me, What Luck, Where to?" It was tracks like "Gypsy Queen" that had me wishing I was temporarily deaf. The Midland Park NJ band will be playing Maxwell's this June 1st with Melissa and Paul and others. I just might have to go see them to stop my head from shaking. James Damion

Get it Here

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Double Negative - Hits 7" Sorry State Records

Hit's is Double Negative's final recording with the mighty KC on vocals and the first recordings with new drummer Bobby M.

The music on Hits is more of what you have come to expect from -/-, however to me everything seems a bit more in control on these recordings while still maintaining a whirling dervish of sound highlighted by Bobby M's quick tight drumming style and  plenty of swirling / bending guitar riffs that at times remind me of  the racket that Rick Fork and John Reis have been known to deliver over the years. I'm not comparing -/- to the Hot Snakes as they're apples and oranges, but at times the snappy drumming and even KC's voice brings HS to my mind.

I don't know what the future holds for  -/- considering they have a new singer in the fold , but I can only hope that they continue to release top notch material for years to come...Dave G.



The Allligators - Times Up, You're Dead LP

East meets West in the oddest of couplings as Agnostic Front's Roger Miret teams up with 3/4 of California's Insted to  make an early 80's Hardcore classic for 2012.
Upon listening to this I couldn't help but think how this would have been the perfect follow up to Agnostic Front's 1984 classic "Victim in Pain". Though it's not as good by any stretch of the imagination. It would have been a hell of a lot better than the epically disappointing "Cause For Alarm". "Times Up Your Dead" features sixteen songs of early 80's Hardcore excellence. Most of which are delivered in under two minutes. Absent are the "blow your fucking mind out" kind of tracks on "Victim in Pain" of "United Blood but there's more than enough anti-establishment, anti-social rants and "F' bombs to make any Hardcore purist proud. Truth be told, I felt this was the best
Agnostic Front record in more than twenty-five years.  
James Damion

Get it Here

OFF! Self Titled LP

On their self titled LP the band OFF! picks up right where they left off with "Our First Four EP's".  The band doesn't rest on their laurels or try to cash in on past endeavors. They deliver in an old, bitter, jaded style that says "Fuck You, we're here and we're going to show you pussies how it's done." "You want sixteen songs in sixteen minutes?" "Fuck You!" "When do you want it?" "Fuck You!"
Keith, Dimitri, Steven and Mario form the perfect band as angry young men grow up to be angry old men. Vicious, stabbing vocals and chainsaw guitars come at you like a tsunami to a tin shack, leaving devastation in its wake. Unlike the countless other underwhelming Supergroups, OFF! completely live up to they're billing. Fast, pissed off, driving Punk that is just as good, if not better than anything they've done in the past. This record is so good and so impressive I honestly don't know where to begin when it comes to the praise I'd like to heap on this record. I know for a fact that by the time I finish reviewing this record I'll have listened to it three times in a row.

This is the kind of Punk your parents told you about. This is the kind of Punk your grandparents warned you about. There is absolutely no reason why you should not add this record to your collection. The perfect tonic for those with any brain injuries or attention deficit disorders. Like my buddy Tohm would say, "It's the fuckin' tits bro!"
James Damion
Buy it Here

Iron Reagan - demo tape 2012 Tankcrime Records

Iron Reagan can't help but bring Nuclear Assault to mind for me. IR play with a bit more of a punk egde than Nuclear Assault, but the vocals and the overall feel of these recordings definitely have an NA feel to them. Overall this is a good tape full of metallic rifs and punk rock energy...good stuff from this Richmond Va band featuring members of Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour...Dave G.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Jack "Choke' Kelly - Apology to New York

I found this video to be both interesting and entertaining at the same time. I always enjoyed Slapshot and Negative FX in very small doses. Through the years I've enjoyed Jack's rants and can go as far as saying the song "Fuck New York" made me laugh quite a bit. The fact of the matter is, being pissed off and angry all the time gets old really fast. Hating everything and everyone is the biggest waste of energy and emotion one can imagine. Karma has a way of getting back to everyone sooner or later. If it's bad karma, watch out. It'll bite you in the ass so hard your nuts will be screaming. Regardless, it's good to see the old man's mellowed a bit and can both admit and accept his fault. Owning up to one's mistakes and admitting you were wrong takes a lot of courage. Hopefully everyone can move on and just continue to make music. James Damion

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Torche - Harmonicraft

These dudes are a little on the more popular or well known side of things compared to the bands that we normally cover here at UBRS , but goddamn when a record is this good I have to tell the world about it or at least tell the 100 or so people who come to our humble blog everyday.

On this Torche's 3rd full length Lp  they have really outdone themselves. The production is big and full and beautiful while the music itself is big and full and beautiful ... haha seriously, Torche have always had a knack for writing heavy pop songs and they have really perfected their craft on this record. The riffs are huge, the drums are pounding, and the vocal harmonies and hooks are simply delicious.   

If you're a Torche fan then I think you will be happy with this record as it's their most fully realized record to date in my opinion, and also their most sonically pleasing from a production standpoint . If you have never heard these guys then do yourself a favor and give Harmonicraft a listen...Dave G.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Secret Country's Ryan Gross on "7 Days A Week" and Drinking

As Secret Country prepares to mosey over to Kearny's Donegal Saloon to celebrate the release of  their new EP "7 Days A Week".  We dispatched our own Jordan McAliden to go straight to the horses mouth and find out what just what our favorite musical misfits were up to. Her's what guitarist Ryan Gross had to offer. James Damion

Secret Country is:
Jay Monaco - Lead Vocals / Acoustic Guitar * Katelynn Siegle  - Lead Vocals * 
Matt Siegle - Drums / Vocals * Joe Hart - Guitars / Vocals * Ryan Gross - Guitars * 
Tim Siegel - Bass

Jordan: How did a bunch of North Eastern drunks get turned on to Country Music?

Ryan: We heard a Rascal Flats song and decided Country Music needed a kick in the ass.
Country music used to be incredible back in the Outlaw days when Country singers gained credibility from being in prison. We pretty much wanted to make Waylon Jennings proud… and we just like drinking…

Jordan: What is the origin of the name "Secret Country'?

Ryan: We never intended it to be a band. We would just play covers in Jay's backyard, and as you know, Newark, NJ is not a huge "Country" town. So we decided to call the band "Secret Country".

Jordan: "7 Days a Week" comes out on May 18th. How was the music making process for you guys?

Ryan: It's been a while since we've released anything, so it's always great to get in the studio, throw a few beers back and get creative.

Jordan: How does "7 Days a Week" differ from your previous drunken releases?

Ryan: It has less songs and is being released on a dead format.

Jordan: Are there any surprise guests on the record?

Ryan: Well, it marks the final performances of Eric and Yan with Secret Country.
It was great getting one last one in before their departure from the band.

Jordan: What led to the departure of 
Eric "The Red" Munson? 

Ryan: He wanted to focus on his solo "Coke Rap" album. I believe it's titled "Fire Crotch".

Jordan: Secret Country walks a fine line between paying tribute to its Country routes and completely magnifying it's glorious stereotypes. How do you find a middle ground?

Ryan: That's a fabulous question. Stereotypes are generally based on truths. So, singing about them might seem clique; but we're also singing about the subject matter. As long as it isn't hokey like Rascal Flats. 

Jordan: Killing Horse Records seems like the perfect label/name for a Country band. Aside from you being a member of the band and half of the Killing Horse Records team. What has made you such good partners in crime. Have any horses been harmed in the process?

Ryan: The key has been infinite patience; And as far as we could tell, the horses liked it.

Jordan: We understand you have a full length on the horizon. Have you begun writing/drinking for it?

Ryan: Yes to both, it should be marginally good.

Jordan: What can one expect from May 18th's record release show?

Ryan: Drunken mayhem over the smell of burning incense.

Killing Horse Records  Buy the record here

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Go Deep - Counseling EP

After seeing Go Deep play a short, yet impressive set at the Stolen Sleeves Collective in Brooklyn a few weeks back.
I decided to investigate a little further to see what I could dig up about this seemingly unknown band.

The band plays an explosive brand of mid paced, positive Hardcore that has this relatively new band sounding more like seasoned veterans than new kids at the table. Go Deep's core revolves around
Kris Kneale and Danny Rico and hopes act as somewhat of a collective in the future with various players contributing.

On "Counseling" these Brooklyn vegans deliver the goods in short, distinctive bursts. Though each of the five songs featured come in at under two and a half minutes; they leave a lasting impression on the listener. The EP opens with "Late Notice" which rolls in slowly before delivering a devastating blow. "Elders" the EP's third track is, for lack of a better word, colossal. The songs tough riffs are insane and an apocalyptic feast. "Counseling" is currently available for download on their Bandcamp with hopes of being pressed sometime this summer. Regardless, Go Deep is off to an impressive start. I'm looking forward to hearing more from them in the future. James Damion

Counseling  Download
Generic Insight Radio Comp.  Download

Monday, May 14, 2012

Demo-Lition Exhibition Celebrates Cassette Demo History and Culture

Freddy Alva of Wardance Records and Eric Wielander from the late/great Village Noize Fanzine fame bring us DEMO-LITION which explores the artwork of demo tape/cassette releases from the Hardcore/Punk/Metal music scenes circa 1980s - early 90s. A variety of covers and full-sleeve art will be on display, along with anecdotes from a selection of bands and artists. This NYC exhibit will be featured at L'asso EV Restaurant in the month of June/July, with a preview party held on the night of Thursday May 31st, where requests can be made for special guest DJ's (John Woods from Hell No & Michael Scondotto from Inhuman/The Last Stand) to play the demos displayed. Baldy Longhair Records will also be having a demo tape trivia quiz and giveaways.

L'Asso is located at 107 1st Ave. in NYC and will take place on Thursday, May 31st at 8:00pm.  

Demo-Lition  Event Page

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nation On Fire - 2012 Demo

Nation on Fire, not to be confused with Southern California's Nations Afire come to us from New Jersey and play a ferocious brand of Hardcore that reminds this listener of mid 90's noise such as Rorschach, mixing elements of Hardcore, Punk and Dissonant elements of Metal. The entire demo comes at you like a tsunami of noise and hellfire that never lets up until everything in its path is decimated. The demo features six songs, five of which come in under two minutes.
Though I am quite fond of a lot of Rorschach's material,  i've never been a fan of this genre myself. Finding little to no balance in its sound or message.
Fans of Screamo and Powerviolence might want to check this one out though. I myself, was unmoved.
James Damion

Download Here

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cinema Cinema to Headline Grand Victory

After months of planning I finally got to sit down with Ev and Paul of Cinema Cinema for an in depth interview about their quick rise as one of the head splitting acts out of Brooklyn in years. The band has been recording, touring and rubbing elbows with some of Hardcore and Punks elite. The interview should be posted prior to this event, so keep your eyes peeled. This is one of the bands first headlining shows. It's a school night but it's an early show.
So there's no excuse not to come out and have your skull completely destroyed. See you there. James Damion

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Timeout Jimmy - Yourself EP

I'm a lot younger than I used to be. When I was older I would often muse about how good music used to be and lamented on how completely shitty and lame all these newer bands were sounding, spending all their money on tight jeans and goofy haircuts, yet forgetting the music. Luckily for me, all of that changed when I started writing this blog last year and started paying attention to what the present music scene was offering. It's been a rebirth in every sense of the word. Getting to fully indulge myself in what's transpiring musically in this neck of the woods has been an eye opener to say the very least.

This brings me to Timeout Jimmy and their EP "Yourself". It's a very rare occasion when a random band you've never hear immediately resonates with you on so many levels.
These guys did it in under ten minutes with a mere three songs. Impressive, to say the very least.

The beauty in these songs can be largely traced to Nick Santoro's complex, layered guitar sound and its relationship to Tom Etts soaring vocals. Rounding it all out quite nicely is Trevor Wright on the Bass and Daniel Patrick O'Connor on Drums. The music itself stands on it's own without any real alliance to any genre. For me personally, I got an immediate Saves the Day meets Thursday with some of the musician quality of Incubus thrown in for good measure. Regardless, this one hell of a sampling for this East Brunswick band. I've listened to "Yourself" numerous times, hearing different notes and elements during each sitting. "Explorer" "Nodules" and "Excitement" are all excellent offerings forming a very cohesive air throughout. Be sure to click the link below and download the EP. Book them some shows and throw money at them.
James Damion

Timeout! Jimmy  Bandcamp

"This is Hardcore 2012" Announces Lineup and Dates

"This is Hardcore 2012" lineup and dates announced. The event is taking place in Philadelphia and is scheduled for August 9-12. Tickets will become available May 17 at 12:00pm.  Get them early, go nuts!    This is Hardcore Fest

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rorschach, Converge, Indecision, Xaddax show at Le Poisson Rouge, NYC May 26th 2012

There are only fifty tickets remaining for this show. Get them before they are gone. 

Pilots in Orbit - Did You Grow Up Fast?

I've only been to Union a handful of times during my ten or so years in New Jersey. Whenever there I always felt somewhat unsettled. Understandable, considering that during each drive through I was in the midst of being completely lost. Maybe if i had known a little more about
Pilots in Orbit at the time.
I might have felt a bit more at ease. Perhaps explored the area a bit more.

On the bands debut EP,
Pilots in Orbit ask the question I've been asking myself for a very, very long time.
"Did you grow up too soon?"
The answer to that question, for me personally,
 is always and will always be a resounding "Yes". Lucky for us, these Union space travelers took their time crafting their sound and didn't rush honing their  sound. Lucky, because that time has produced one hell of a record.

The quartet offer a dreamy, ambient pop sound with guitar parts that are hooky as hell but aren't afraid to rock. Montero's vocals soar but never overwhelm you with any uninvited drama. Being one of the most uncoordinated people in the tri-state area didn't keep this listener from aimlessly dancing around like a wound up Peanuts character during a holiday special. Though not formally schooled in this particular format of sound I was instantly drawn in and comforted by the songs warmth. There's are lot's of interesting melodies and textures throughout and enough power to give it the muscle it needs keep the listener on their toes. "Past, Present, Future" just might be the perfect "rainy day" companion.
While the opening melodies on "As long as we got some…" are bright enough to wake the darkest of souls. They may not be the "Next Big Thing" out of New Brunswick;
But that's okay, because they're  from Union. Can't wait to hear more from these sky pilots.
James Damion

Get it Here

Screaming Females - Ugly

Though the band brought in legendary producer Steve Albini to produce the bands fifth album; it seems to serve as mere footnote for what is shaping up to be one of the best albums of this listeners 2012. Lucky for us, Mr. Albini knows when to tinker and when to just sit back and let a band work its own magic. That magic for me and just about everyone familiar with the band, has always been the amazingly unique  beautifully cutting voice of Marissa Paternoster.
A gift that is only matched by her amazing guitar wizardry. Not to take anything away from the band. It's just a matter of simple fact. "Ugly" is just so insanely great with all of it's elements of schizophrenic beauty. One just can't he;p but be blown away. There's not a wasted note on these fourteen songs. Not one loose note. I could go into so many details but that would just delay your running out and getting each and every one of this amazing bands five albums.  James Damion

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Melissa and Paul - Live Hard EP

Think of all the beautiful eccentricities of the White Stripes with female vocals and a more skilled and complex male drummer. That was the first thing that came to mind when listening to this beautiful six song EP. Melissa's soulful, haunting, banshee vocals and twangy guitar on top of Paul's loose, jazzy percussion are a perfect mix. The music is bluesy, soulful and instantly addictive. The lyrics on "Live Hard" speak volumes about the records title.  "The Suns gotta set to rise/Gotta be dead once to be alive" and "One things for sure - that I'm not ready to die" remind us how important it is to live every moment. Just as this record reminds us how powerful and important music can really be when it's done from the heart.

Though immediate comparisons to the White Stripes and the Screaming Females are inevitable; Melissa & Paul always come off sounding fresh and original. They are a
"Dynamic Duo" in every sense of the term.

"Live Hard" was recorded during a weekend in October 2011 which would otherwise be a side note if these songs didn't exemplify the mood of that particular month. With this release and the release of Those Mockingbirds "Fa So La", Star Beat Music is definitely making a name for themselves as a powerhouse in 2012 and beyond. The attention to quality on the music is matched by the detail and beauty of their packaging and the artwork within.
James Damion

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Melissa and Paul

Monday, May 7, 2012

Iron Cross - Est. 1982 7 inch EP

"Holy 1980 Batman"
When I saw this Iron Cross EP I was transported to my long lost Tweens. A time when skinheads spent a lot of their spare, working class, time trying to convince anyone and everyone that they weren't racist nazi's and that they listened to Skrewdriver because of the bands awesome music, not their horribly racist homophobic lyrics. All kidding aside, I first learned about
Iron Cross when Agnostic Front covered their anthemic "Crucified" on their somewhat forgettable "Liberty and Justice for…" Soon after realizing that there are rare instances when a cover song betters it's original.

All that aside Iron Cross are an iconic band that are often sited as America's first
Oi band and somewhat of the misfit of the Dischord family. Though their lyrics were often combative and contained racist and homophobic diatribes; The band has forever stuck to it's "We're not a Racist-Nazi band" stance.

On their first proper release since 1983 Iron Cross haven't really changed a thing sound wise. "Est. 1982" is hard as fuck and just as pissed but not really any better than what they were doing over thirty years ago. The listener can take that any way they want.
Be it positive, negative or just plain apathetic. For me personally it just sounds like something that would be best left to drunken banter amongst old friends. In somewhat typical fashion for bands that are trying to re-ignite their original fan base; There's a revised version of their most recognizable song "Crucify". Unfortunately, "Est 1980" is best left for die hard fans of the band and the tragically nostalgic.
As a saving grace, the record comes on yellow/gold colored split wax. James Damion

Skin Flint Music  Buy it here

Break Away - For Life 7 Inch EP

Richmond's Break Away surely won't win any points for originality on their debut.
The bands 1989 straight edge gear, prominently placed X's, Youth Crew lyrics might win them points on a
Youth of Today tribute tour. Taking their name from the legendary Straight Ahead's sole EP might win them extra points if it were for the simple fact that another straight edge band recorded under the name Breakaway in 1990. That said, they might just knock that beer out of your hand while schooling you on the hazards of ink poisoning caused by routinely X'd out hands.

On "For Life" the band Break Away school  us on the ills of drinking and substance abuse while lamenting about how hard it is to cope on this long, straight path we call Hardcore.
It's fast, furious and if you stick around long enough, the band will grant us all a mosh part or two. Thanks Ace, your vocals and swell lyrics really changed my life. (Sorry, but this record really is funny as hell.)

Luckily for us they treat us to a long "Thanks List" on the lyric sheet which luckily, doesn't leave out the Wu Tang Clan. Thanks for the laugh. Available on clear vinyl with a big red X in the middle. Just in case you forgot they were Straight Edge. James Damion

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Nico Blues "Die Happy" with Frank DeFranco

"Hi, my name is Frank DeFranco and despite being the guitarist for Holy City Zoo and an active member of  The Tiny Giants Artist Collective; this is the first time I’ve ever interviewed anyone. Through playing in bands, and having a shared obsession over Nirvana and other 90’s alternative music, I became good friends with the guys in the Nico Blues before the band  even existed.  So when James Damion asked if I’d like to interview the band about their recent release of  "Die Happy".  I couldn't possibly turn down the opportunity. Frank DeFranco

Frank - First things first, you guys have this new record out called Die Happy. Plain and simple, what would you like to say about it?

Reed - Only thing we want people to do is to listen to it. We’re not going to beg them to like it, we’re not going to try to shove it down their throats too hard. We just want them to take the twenty seven minutes and hear the new stuff we made. We worked pretty hard on it, and we recorded it ourselves in our basement studio.
We just want you to hear it.

Frank - Now,
"Blame the Boredom, Blame the Basements". It had this feel where you travel through different genres.Where as this EP I’ve noticed that you’ve taken a lot of your influences and kind of converged them more into a unified sound. Like instead of playing songs of different genres, you’ve found ways to combine the genres into one. Is this the case, or am I just talking out of my ass?

Eric – That’s pretty accurate. I think we just kind of figured out what we wanted and we’re writing better songs and arranging the songs better too, so that’s making a big difference. Like literally, "Blame the Boredom" is just everything through a bass big muff. We didn’t know what we were doing as far as what we wanted to sound like, and it’s always a learning process, but this time we had much a better idea of what we wanted going into it.
At least we thought we did.

Reed – I think the sound of the new record just comes from playing as this band for longer because when you play with the guys for a while, you all just kind of click. Instead of jumping around from genre to genre, we don’t have to make a song a folk song or make a song a punk song, we can just kind of find that middle ground where we use our folk influences, use our punk influences, use our alternative influences, and just kind of make them the Nico Blues.

Frank - I know you guys have a very wide range of influences over many years of music.
Who were you guys listening to most during the song writing process, and who really stands out as the major influences behind this record?

Eric – Jim Testa pretty much guessed all of them with an interview we did with him.
The Replacements, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr.
He compared us also to Soul Asylum which none of us listen to, but I can definitely see what he means. Mainly he compared us to these bands who really don’t sound alike, so I feel like…

Reed – …that was a victory.

Eric – Yeah like, Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. are obviously very different bands, but both Indie rock.

Reed – I think any sort of band that has the songwriting at the center of everything was what we were listening to. Anybody who was catering a production to a song was important for us to hear.

Eric – One of our biggest influences ever is probably the Chili Peppers, and that’s what they did. Everything they did served the song.

Reed – Yeah, Chili Peppers, you can call them funk, you can call them punk, you can combine them, but at the center of all the genres is just the song, and a really good song. So that’s what we wanted to do. Raconteurs was also something new and cool that influenced us, and of course the white stripes too. Every cool rock band with a good song has had some influence on us.

Frank - What are some of the techniques you’ve used behind the promotion of this release.
It’s a self released record, that you’ve made yourselves from scratch. How has that affected
how you’ve promoted it?

Reed – We emailed, we flyer, we host it on bandcamp for pay-what-you-want, including free.

Evan – When we released Blame the Boredom, everyone who downloaded it had to enter in an email address. So we just saved all the email addresses, and when we released "Die Happy" we sent a short message to those people saying something like, “we just released this, come check it out if you liked our first record.”

Reed – Social media too, we’re all over facebook, twitter…but the reason for doing it, as you mentioned, we made it ourselves which is all the more reason to want to push it yourself, and do the leg work, and hear person by person who likes it. When we hear back from other Tiny Giants like “oh, you guys made a great record,” that’s the most important thing to us. Hearing from other musicians, and getting it them, and having them get it to their fans. That’s pretty important right now, because we’re all on the ground floor right now and it’s fuckin’ crowded.

Eric – Plus it’s cool to up the ante, like you hear someone else you really like, and you want to one up them, and then they want to one up you. That way,

Frank – it’s healthy, friendly competition.

Eric – Yeah, you’re pushing yourself to be better, because your peers are getting better. That is a very important thing as well. There’s a bunch of cool bands, and everyone is going to keep growing as long as they don’t break up.

Frank – Speaking of "Tiny Giant", when you guys put out
"Blame the Boredom, Blame the Basements" it was before the Tiny Giant Artist Collective existed. How has Tiny Giant existing had an effect on your new release?

Eric – It was just a group of people willing and ready to take it in immediately, and that was the coolest part. When we released "Blame the Boredom", there was nothing like that.
There was no fuckin’ community we were releasing it to, there was nobody. Now there’s this group of people that are interested enough to listen to it and give it a chance, so that’s really the most important thing.

Reed - There was just a community that was ready to fuckin’ hear it, and promote it. All the things you would want a person to do, we had a hundred something people that were just ready to do it, and that’s amazing.

Frank - "Die Happy", interesting name for the EP, though after listening to it, I find it pretty fitting. I’m just curious with how you came up with that and decided on it, and if there was anything else you were tossing around before picking that.

Reed – Eric text me just one random, frustrated day “I just want to die happy.” He said it, and it sounded like an album name. Die Happy sounded like it encompassed the vibe of all the songs. On the surface it sounds negative, but when you dig a little bit deeper, there’s an actual positive meaning to it. That’s kind of the genesis of it, and we kicked around tons of names.

Eric – It faces a positive in a negative way, it’s only two words and I feel like it hits home. I’ve noticed that people say die happy more often than they probably noticed. It’s just two words that go against each other that say two seemingly opposite things but if you think about it, they actually do go together in a positive way.

Reed – There were some other front runners, I can’t honestly even remember them.
Do you remember any?

Eric – "Mommies and Daddies"

Reed – What was it?  "Relax Man"?

Eric – Yeah, "Relax Man".

Reed – We had a few we were just kicking around that weren’t album worthy, and then we came up with this one and it stuck, and we liked it, and it felt like the songs, which is the most important thing in an album name.

Frank - What’s next for Nico? I mean I personally know what’s next, but I’m asking for the sake of this interview.

Reed – We have a new EP coming out that’s not "Die Happy" that will be released sometime within the next year. That’s a pretty broad timeline, but we’re just trying to play it by ear because we don’t have to set a deadline. We recorded thirteen songs, not just six when we went into the studio, so we have seven on the back burner that are just dying for your ears.

Eric – More songs, more shows, and probably will start working on new material soon too. We recorded all the tracks for the next EP, but we might redo some of it, and yeah play more shows and,

Reed – do all the things that bands do, is what we will be doing over the next year, just twice as hard.

The Nico Blues
Killing Horse Records