Saturday, October 20, 2012

OFF!, The Spits, Double Negative @ Mexicali Live

Wednesday night Dave and I headed over to Teaneck's Mexicali Live to see OFF! play with one of our mutual favorites Double Negative. It was a night of firsts as we had never been to the club or seen any of the bands perform live. With Dave G.'s magical GPS system and Mario Andrete' driving skills we were able to locate the place within minutes before the show opened. There were lots of friends and familiar faces in attendance and the overall vibe was friendly and laid back. We were both impressed with the club. Big yet intimate with a sizable stage in the front, bar in the back, balcony and seating to the side. Good enough? Let's go! James Damion

Double Negative opened the night on a spiteful note. I've been listening and compiling records from this Raleigh, NC band for a few years now and was more excited to finally see them than anyone else on the bill. The band more than lived up to their reputation. Lot's of energy and stage presence. The band has just released a new Ep. Unfortunately for Dave and me, we were a day early and there was no copy to be snagged. Seeing them perform live for the first time rivaled my chance to see Deep Sleep earlier this year as highlights of my show going year. I only wish they would have played longer.
Double Negative

The Spits followed and to be honest, I didn't know the first thing about them prior to that day. The band took the stage each donning Ronald Reagan masks conjuring memories of the movie 'Point Break'.
The bands drummer Wayne Draves started things off by splashing his drums with lighter fluid and setting a small fire. Though the fire was about as  inspiring as the stone henge featured in Spinal Tap. It stunk up the place pretty bad. Moments later the fire was out, the masks were off and The Spits launched into their set. Earlier that night Vinnie from Mint Tone records described them as The Ramones playing Misfits songs or The Misfits playing The Ramones. I guess that's a pretty accurate description. Personally, they reminded me of a typical pub band. I liked their gritty, dirty vibe but can't say they interested me enough to listen any further.
The Spits

What was already turning out to be an amazing night of seeing old friends and enjoying stellar music in a pretty intimate setting was about to come to a head as OFF! made their way to the stage. I was feeling a sudden sense that I had come full circle as far as my Punk life was concerned. Some of my earliest memories as a young teen finding his own identity was hearing my first Black Flag album and putting the needle to the record and the life changing significance of having my mind blown back by the Circle Jerks 'Wild in the Streets'.

Whenever I think of OFF! I can't help but think of attending the opening night of 'American Hardcore'. Towards the very end of the movie Keith Morris wraps it up with "It's over." "It's been over for a long time." Honestly, with the massive amount of reunions, rockumentaries and masturbatory worshipping of the past. It can be debated. Regardless, the love for the music, the angst and aggression and angst refuses to go home.

As the band launched into it's apocalyptic set I felt the music wash over me and bring me back to a time of mosh pits, stage diving and wild abandon. The entire band was in great form and proving that the music and that sense of alienation and not quite fitting in with the accepted norm never leaves. No matter how old we get, we seem to maintain that universal bond. Keith was in great form walking a fine line between singer, entertainer and master of ceremonies. Putting every ounce of bitter passion into the set while engaging the crowd and making everyone feel as if they were part of the family. It was a great  set that topped off a great night. I can't wait for my next opportunity to see OFF! as well as my next show at Mexicali Live. JD


More Images from OFF!, The Spits and Double Negative

Here are some more images from the showing. Expecting the venue to be much larger and that I wouldn't be able to get up close. I left my wide angle lens at home and opted for the 28-135. Regardless of not having my trusted Canon 15mm. I was grateful to be so close to the action. James Damion

Double Negative set list
Double Negative's CC
Double Negative
The Spits Wayne Draves
Keith Morris OFF!
Dimitri Coats OFF!
Steven McDonald OFF!
Keith Morris channels George Carlin

Friday, October 19, 2012

Don Juan Matus / Oxido - Split Label Split EP

When childhood friend and Wardance Records ambassador of cool Freddy Alva sent this split band/label release. I was thinking about passing it on to the blogs resident Metal expert Dave G. As time passed and Dave and me hadn't crossed paths I realized the task rested solely on my shoulders.

Few splits offer each band the opportunity to display their personal artwork or unique covers.
This split more than accomplishes a sense of individuality by offering a two sided front cover. The artwork for both Don Juan Matus and Oxido are epic in nature and offer a glimpse into what any first time listener is about to experience.

The Basilica Records side features Peru's Oxido "El Angel De La Muerte" (Angel of Death)
A spirited battle cry with it's driving guitars, war machine drums, dark bass and dramatic vocal delivery. Listening to this track had me visualizing a Peruvian Ronnie James Dio riding a horse into a burning forest wearing nothing but a sword and a loin cloth. The songs delivery is just as epic and big as the subject matter. Impressive to say the very least.
The song and the lyrics provided within are in their native language. However, the power provided in the songs delivery does all the translating needed. After just a sampling of this band I immediately headed to the bands site to learn more.

While the Wardance side features a heavy psych, doom Don Juan Matus who slow it down and get downright muddy on the track "Kadath". Punishing riffs matched with dark, haunting drums and bass. Complimented by bluesy, mournful vocals. It's a trip to say the very least.

I never thought I would gain such an appreciation and interest for Metal at this age. If you told me I'd be bowing my head to devilish sounds from the valleys  of Peru; I would have told you to get off the drugs. This record is just the drug I was looking for. Check it out. James Damion

Get it Here

Friday, October 12, 2012

Debuting New Damion Photo Music Site

Come check out my new and improved music photography site featuring some favorite shots both live and in the studio. Images include links to interviews and reviews I've posted here and elsewhere. As A bonus, our good friend Jim Testa of Jersey Beat fame wrote a little bio for me. I'll be adding images on a consistent basis so be sure to bookmark it in order to keep up with what's new. James Damion

Click Below

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No Mistake - Connect the Dots...Complete the Puzzle

In the months leading up to
No Mistake's quick rise from unnamed project to full fledged band I was contacted numerous times by guitarist and old friend Mike Bromberg. (Mike Bullshit, GO, SFA) Being asked my opinion on everything from the bands name, sound and even art. Staying in touch with someone like Mike is always a positive. Being asked my thoughts on a project he deems important is well, pretty special.

California's No Mistake made a very lasting impression with this thirteen song gem. "Connect the Dots...Complete the Puzzle"is an out and out thrasher, featuring thirteen songs that come in just over fourteen minutes. Fast HardCore Punk that brings us back to the early ThrashCore we first fell in love with in the early to mid 80's. As I listen closely I'm hearing elements of Negative Approach, SSD, Crass and even New York's Straight Ahead.

Greg's verbal attack is amazing. Despite his angry, snarling growls. The lyrics lean towards the positive side. Something I miss hearing from a lot of my HardCore brethren these days. Surround those vocals with drumming that mirrors that of an artillery barrage, outstanding bass work and  Mike's impressive attack on the strings You've got an impressive debut on your hands.

The band is already playing alongside some impressive bands such as old friends
Citizens Arrest, Outlook and Night Birds. They've also rolled out production on some sweet looking gear. GO check them out now.  James Damion

No Mistake  Bandcamp

Victory and Associates - Plausibly Wild/ Wildly...

After watching a sweat drenched
Victory and Associates turn a small, yet intimate Maxwell's crowd into their very own army of devoted supporters. I was eager to get my hands on anything and everything the band had ever produced.
(Well, minus the tremendous pools of man juice they left on the stage that night.)

If "Plausibly Wild / Wildly Plausible" is any indicator to what this band can accomplish. Then I may have just found a new band to worship at the alter of Rock n' Roll.

Victory and Associates three song stinger mixes anthemic classic rock with punk rock aesthetics, energy, angst, bombast and balls out fun. "Plausibly Wild" is a feel good rocker with a chorus that would best be described as a power pop "Wild in the Streets". While "Wildly Plausible" slows is down a bit. A danceable ode that had this listener on the tip of his toes screaming every note. "Friend Rock City" (a bonus that comes with the download) is a rock anthem if there ever was one. To add to this already stellar record is cover art by the enormously talented Brian Musikoff from local heroes Stuyvesant.

The band is just finishing up their tour and will be heading back to sunny San Francisco where they will be opening for the legendary Mike Watt. One can only hope they'll be back again soon. James Damion

Get it Here

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind

The first thing that caught my ear about the new Converge record is the slightly broader use of clean vocals which brings a new dimension to Converges' ferocious sound  that was needed in my opinion, as my ears had become numb to their brutal full on assault a few records back. In my opinion the use of clean vocals gives the gruff vocals all the more power and effectiveness, like being lulled to sleep and then awoken with a hammer to the temple.However, 98% of "All We Love We Leave Behind" is still dominated by the full on brutal vocal style you have come to expect from converge.

Musically Converge is as sick as ever, the music is tight, the drumming is spot on, the level of brutality is high, and the heaviness is down right intense...I have a headache after one listen, but I'm popping a few aspirin and going back for more...Dave G.

Epitaph order CD or Vinyl
Deathwish order Vinyl

Thursday, October 4, 2012

No Tomorrow - Nuclear Exposure 7" (Sorry State 2012)

Wilmington North Carolina's No Tomorrow unleash 2 brutal songs on this their debut 7" for Sorry State Records. The music is mid to uptempo with a nice  thick production and guttural vocals from hell.

Though the music could come across as heavy handed...the production, sneaky hooks and interesting melodic lead guitar work save the day and help move this 7" into the keeper pile ...Dave G

Sorry State Records
No Tomorrow

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Man on Fire - Strange Days Have Found Us

Man on Fire's
"Strange Days Have Found Us" shows a band evolving and coming into it's own. All while maintaining the raw, dirty energy that made it work so well from the beginning.
The new EP build on the promise of  "I Thought All My Friends Were Punk" mixing the Revolution Summer musicianship of bands like Rites of Spring and Embrace with a later, just as influential Moss Icon. To contrast the beauty that is displayed musically on these six tracks are scathing screamo vocals with a more narrative approach than what you might here from other bands representing the genre these days. Brian Goglia's voice is a cocktail that is part whiskey, rusted nails and broken glass. All of which blends perfectly with the more melodic, sweeping tones of the music. Thus making for the perfect cocktail.

Overall, I felt the record left a far more lasting impression than the bands previous work. Each of the six tracks clearly resonates with this listener. With "I don't think she likes the special sauce" and "it brought us together" leaving permanent scars.
A most impressive document, to say the very least. James Damion

Get it Here

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lionel Pryor - Siam

Lionel Pryor are an instrumental trio (guitar, bass, drums) hailing from Hasbrouck Heights
New Jersey. Though  their music has been linked to genres such as Metal, Progressive and even Hardcore. Their sound and overall range make them a relatively hard band to describe or generalize. The simple fact that they are void of a  singer makes it even harder to comfortably generalize their sound.

Though I've never been a fan of purely instrumental bands I was very open to hearing what Lionel Pryor's "Siam" had to offer. Having seen them perform live earlier this year. I felt confident that, at the very least,
I would not hate what was about to invade my ears.

"Siam" opens with the ambitious 8:29 track "Nebraska". Musically living up to its title in that it sounds just as I would imagine living there would feel. Cold and isolated, yet beautiful and picturesque. Though Lionel Pryor work without a vocalist in the general sense. There are many moments when the instrumentals seem to cry out and speak in a lost, ancient language. As "Nebraska" came to an end. I sat surprised and somewhat bewildered.
"I just listened, unflinchingly to a song that doubled that of my normal attention span." (Impressive considering my history of ADHD)

"Apex Being" follows, playing on a  similar course.  This time a with a darker, more punishing affect and somewhat winding delivery. "Castor Troy", a villain if there ever was continues down that path while, perhaps building on that strength. Just when you've got the bands sound pegged "White Panther" throws us a Prog. Ambient curve. However, if there was ever a song that was written to be the soundtrack to the epic battle between
Heaven and Hell. It would be reserved for the ninth and second to last offering
"America in the 1980's" Closing the set is the epic and beautiful "Blight Dragon".

"Siam" reminds me that we are in a constant battle; Whether it be with ourselves, others, or the universe itself. We are in constant flux and we need to be if we are find balance in our lives.
Lionel Pryor is a trio really has to ask themselves "Do we really need a singer?"
After listening intently to "Siam", I really can't be convinced they do. I came into this convinced that a strictly instrumental act could neither keep my attention or fill the void that a vocalist fills. "Siam" and Lionel Prior proved me wrong twice. Whatever their choice;
I hope they take their time deciding it. James Damion