Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Archie Alone - S/T 3 Song EP

After seeing Archie Alone perform several time in a matter of weeks, objectivity didn't just go out the window.
It completely broke it on the way out. My only reservations with picking this up was it couldn't possibly live up to the  expectations their live performances had quickly created.

The EP opens with
"Living Like Kerouac". A track that almost immediately establishes a very credible presence with singer Nicole Mesce's passionate and urgent vocal delivery. The song, my favorite on the three song EP, kicks the emotions into high gear, reminding me of when emo still had muscle.
(Think Lifetime, Kid Dynamte) The lead guitar on these tracks is jaw dropping to say the very least. Adding bulk and muscle to the tracks while giving the music somewhat of a metal edge. The opening riffs on "Red-Staggered" serve as a perfect example of power and perfection.
"Waiting to Exhale" the Ep's closing track offers some tasty rhythms proving that Archie Alone are the complete package. Overall, this is the kind of band and EP that makes me wish that Me and Dave would expand and take the blog to the next level and start releasing records. So much for that objectivity thing. James Damion

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Deadverse - Carpet Burns 12" ep

On this brand new ep  Deadverse come across as Switzerland's answer to current american bands like Hot Snakes, The Bronx and Small Brown Bike. Though the band doesn't list Hot Snakes as an influence I hear a bit of the Hot Snakes and/or Wipers in the riff structure of these songs, actually the more I listen the more I'm leaning towards a definite Wipers influence.

 Overall, "Carpet Burns" is an excellent ep full of passionate uptempo post hardcore that begs for repeated listens...Dave G.

On a  side note, I would like to give some praise to Take It Back Records. I've only had the privilege of hearing a few of their releases, but everything I've heard has impressed me in a big way. If you like this Deadverse ep I'd recommend giving the labels other releases a listen as well.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bodega System - Taber-nakyl Jakyl

Over the last couple of days I've had Bodega System's "Taber-nackyl jakyl" with me on a pretty consistent basis.
Each time taking something different away from the experience.

Formed in 1995 and still kicking out a style that infuses the best of early hip hop, electro and lo-fi drone. Overall giving their sound a dark yet chill vibe that I found addictive.
"The Whorehouse McGuffin" plays like a midnight run into the heart of darkness. 
I can imagine hearing this on the soundtrack to my favorite movie. The part where the
anti-hero digs deep for  the strength he never knew he had in order to overcome or better yet, embrace his demons.

Bodega System reminds a lot of my early experiences listening to underground legends Dalek. It was undiscovered territory for me and though at first, I didn't really know what to make of it. I found myself wanting to dig deeper. It also conjured up vivid memories of hanging out with Patrick System during my mid teens. Hanging out in the school yard of P.S. 145, drinking 40's and perpetrating all sorts of shenanigans while discovering our love for acts such as Eric B. and Rakim, Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys. It was there that I feel Patrick was gathering the bricks that would build what was to become
"Bodega System".  James Damion

Friday, May 24, 2013

Boxed Wine - Cheap, Fun LP

Boxed Wine are a five piece indie pop act that have been featured on UBRS a handful of times in the past. The bands upbeat, get on your feat and dance rhythms have managed to transform the contributors here from old,bitter and jaded men to lighthearted and joyous ones.

"Cheap, Fun" the ten song full length follow up to the three song EP of the same name continues that trend with ten songs that are, much like the editors here, uplifting and celebratory. The LP opens with
"Into the Night" which immediately puts the listeners toes on notice. "Cheap Fun" quickly makes its presence felt with it's falsetto vocals and intoxicating guitar melodies. Qualities that made the band stand out from the crowd early on. Though "Cheap Fun" doesn't do much to break new ground for the band. It does more than it's part to allow us to dance on it. As a band, Boxed Wine reminds me that life is all about the little pleasures. Moments when we let go of our fears and allow ourselves to just live in the moment. "Cheap, Fun" spares no expense to let us do just that.
Enjoy every note... James Damion

Cheap, Fun LP  Download Here

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Recordettes - Debut 3 Song EP

On their debut EP the Brooklyn foursome known as The Recordettes deliver three campy as hell tracks that bring a slightly modern twist to some long gone sounds.
The band brings to mind everything from classic acts such as the B-52'a to current party rockers
The Everymen. Elements of Doo Wop, Surf, Garage and 60's Phil Spector girl group sounds all in short order.  "Candy Store" sounds a lot like it's namesake with 50's "At the Hop" meets 60's Phil Spector girl groups sound (Ronettes, Crystals) and the EP's best track."Shower Requested" is a "Back to the Beach" inspired romp that draws comparisons to Dick Dale garage/surf instrumental. "John Waters" by far the least likable of the three tracks that features a male lead that can only be described as a more campy
(if at all possible) Fred Schneider. Though the sound serves as a  a nice cheeky ode to the past.
The delivery fails to go beyond coming across as even slightly amusing. Just not my bag of magic beans. James Damion

Archie Alone, Polyphony and International Override play L.E.S. Stronghold ABC No Rio

While many of my friends and contemporaries were getting their groove on at either the Black N Blue Bowl or the countless other shows that were scheduled around the tri-state area. I decided to take the more relaxed approach and head to one of my old stomping grounds to catch a handful of Jersey locals play their first sets at the Lower East Side's Punk Rock holdout ABC No Rio.

I got to ABC around 3:00 (The time the show was listed to start.) and there was not a guitar, amp or snare to be seen. So with the help of ABC kingpin Escheider, I finally got the keys to ABC No Rio's zine library. Over the years I had heard of this massive archive of fanzines but having gone to shows there for over twenty years and having been friends with just about anyone and everyone involved in putting on shows there. I'd pretty much regarded it as myth. Likening it to that of Bigfoot or The Life cereal kid dying from an overdose of
Pop Rocks. As I stood amongst the endless bookshelves of zines I thought thought
"I can kill an hour or a decade up here." It was insane.

After a couple of years of not seeing or hearing much from New Jersey's Polyphony I've been experiencing a renaissance of sorts with the band in 2013 with their recent series of shows at Montclair's hole in the ass The Meatlocker. The band plays a mix of screamo and hardcore that I really enjoy. Their live sets alway seem to always ignite the crowd and get everybody moving. Marshall and Cameron (Polyphony's singer and guitarist) provide energy and a sense of anything can happen unpredictabilty while drummer Wiggins and bassist Ariel seem to anchor the bands sound. It's really great to see the progress these kids have made over the past couple of years. After the show the band jumped in their go karts and headed south to Philly for their second show of the day. Impressive

Clifton New Jersey's International Override played an excellent set of punk that fused elements of soul, funk, punk and even 90's revivalist ska. They totally had the uplift mojo party plan in check. International Override

If you've been reading my recent show reviews you are well aware of how much I've grown to enjoy Archie Alone. The self desribed Pop Punk band from Jersey deliver their sound with a lot more kick and power than that sub genre might limit them too. The more I get to hear them the more I'm reminded of former Jersey noise makers Kid Dynamite. Their set had a ton of energy. Keeping everyone in the room on their toes.  Archie Alone

I was in a pretty bad mood due to a lack of sleep and an overabundance of clashes with local junkies in recent days. However, despite the weather, the turnout and the fact that I decided to forgo a huge Hardcore show in what was this years Black N Blue Bowl. I really enjoyed seeing some new favorites play a venue that for me, holds a lot of good memories. Thanks to Polyphony, Archie Alone and ABC No Rio for reminding me that life is always about the little pleasures. James Damion

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Red Hare - Nites of Midnite - 2013 Dischord Records

Red Hare is a new group featuring Shawn Brown, Jason Farrell, and Dave Eight - all formerly of Swiz and Sweetbelly Freakdown - and drummer Joe Gorelick (Garden Variety, Bluetip, Retisonic).  The bands excellent new full length Lp is currently available from Dischord and I would recommend that any fan of these guys former bands check this band  out asap.

The best thing I can say about Red Hare is that they have managed  to put together a brand new band that stands up all on it's own and doesn't need to rely on the band members past glories to help carry them along.  In other words, the new album "Nites of Midnite" is not a trip down memory lane or some nostalgia trip for 40+ year old's looking to relive their youth. "Nites of Midnite" is an urgent, energetic slice of catchy post hardcore that on one hand contains everything you would hope this collection of musicians would deliver, and on the other hand manages to deliver  music that is fresh and most importantly grounded in the  present day and not in the past...Buy Buy Buy...Dave G.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sick Sick Birds - Gates of Home

I was sitting in a Kearny Bar the other night about to order my first drink of the evening when Killing Horse Records Mike Sylvia appeared before me raising his hand to say
"This one's on me." It was only a few nights prior that I had seen his band
(The Life Eaters) a few blocks down at another Irish themed pub. Before Mike's band played that night he handed me the labels most recent release Sick Sick Birds "Gates of Home"

Mike Hall's voice seems to find inspiration from Superchunk's Mac McCaughan. Highlighted by an endless array of great hooks and melodies that bring to mind  how albums like Superchunk's
"On the Mouth" and "No Pocky for Kitty" made me feel. Much like the albums I just referenced. I can see myself speaking of "Gates of Home" with similar revelry years from now. Just as I have in recent days. I'm going to be revisiting this bag of magic beans regularly. The folks at Killing Horse records are doing a great job working with consistently praise worthy acts and producing quality releases time in and time out. James Damion

Killing Horse Records  Get it here

Sick Sick Birds  Facebook

Friday, May 17, 2013

Caught in an Altercation; Talking with Andy Guida Part I

In part I of my interview with Andy Guida I decided to focus on the reunion and history of the band Altercation. Saturday night the band will be taking the stage at Webster Hall for day one of this years Black N' Blue Ball. As far as reunions go, this will be one for the ages considering the band has not performed together in more than twenty-five years. 
Though they only had a demo, a handful of shows and a memorable WNYU set. 
They left a permanent mark on the first decade of the storied and oft misunderstood NYHC scene. In my mind the band always seemed to fit in perfectly with contemporaries such as Breakdown, Raw Deal and Krakdown. Good company if you ask anyone that was around at the time. This hopes to be the first of a trilogy of interviews I'll be doing with Andy. 
Thanks for the walk through. James Damion

James: Altercation were a special band for me back in the late 80's. I remember having an old army knapsack that had Altercation written with a big fat marker on it. The name Altercation looked perfect wedged between the likes of Raw Deal,
Breakdown, Krakdown and the NY Hoods. Can you tell me how the idea of bringing Altercation back to the present came about?

Andy: There were two near misses for Altercation reunions over the years. First, maybe 1989, we rehearsed at least once that I can remember. That was with AJ Novello on rhythm guitar instead of Myles. Then about ten years ago we thought of doing it. A promoter contacted me about doing a show. We even started rehearsing with
Scott Heatherly,
(Lament, Running Like Thieves) on bass. No second guitar. In the end we decided we didn’t want to do it. The band sounded great but we didn’t feel right about it. Over the years I’ve been approached a few times about releasing the demo as a 7”. I always resisted doing it for various reasons. But then we did the Absolution record with Ryan at Lushlife.
That went smoothly and he and I started discussing other releases we could do. Independently of that, I was contacted about doing the B&B Bowl this year. It made sense to reunite now. Myles can’t do it because of work commitments. Eddie wasn’t interested.
So it’s Paul, Jay and me for original members, and Dan Cav (Resurrection, Absolution) on bass. I think we sound great. I’m excited to get this band in front of people! We’ll see what else we do after the B&B Bowl.

James: What's going on with the 7 inch? Why did you decide to re record it? This practice of re-recording
old material is becoming somewhat prevalent with a lot of older Hardcore bands. As someone who was raised on these bands. It comes off as somewhat of a cop out. 
Why do you think bands tend to tighten the screws on old recordings as opposed to writing and releasing new material?

Andy: The record is not re-recorded old songs. It is the old versions of the old songs. It’s a phase corrected, mastered version of the original demo. We don’t have plans for any new material or re-recording the old stuff. But, there is a new outro on one old song in the live set. Maybe a free download of a current rehearsal recording playing the old songs? We have changed some things in a few songs. Just extending certain parts, not adding new. People want to hear what they love the band for. They don’t want to hear it all fucked up. When I saw The Police on their reunion tour I thought they were weak. "Next to You", as a mid tempo laid back groove is not good. I didn’t want them to rearrange the songs I knew from studio and live recordings. They changed too many songs. It’s one thing for a band that is consistently together to morph songs. It’s another when you come back after 20+ years and songs sound completely different, however recognizable. Altercation, in it’s current state as a reunion band, wants to give people what they remember.
As far as old bands re-recording old songs I can see why it’s done. In the case of Absolution we did it because Gavin and Djinji felt strongly that the recording and performances on their 7” was sub-par. I have to agree. And I think the record we did destroys the old one. I haven’t listened to any of the redo records except for Exodus doing "Bonded By Blood". I don’t like it. The original was well played, well recorded and it was heavy as fuck, perfect to me.
So I can see both sides. Some fans want the original. But to me, if the original isn’t good it needs correction. It’s all about perspective though.

James: I recall seeing Altercation several times and remember the Crucial Chaos set rather fondly. 
The band had a certain vibe and energy about them that was dangerous and explosive.
As if to say, "Before this set is over, blood will flow." Was that reputation more perceived or earned?

Andy: Some of the guys in the band got into plenty of fights. Some of the friends of the band got into plenty of fights. Of course, 15-18 year old skinhead kids tend to fight.
And we were pretty damn pissed off skinhead kids. But we weren’t exactly the Cro-Mags.

James: I understand one of the bands girlfriends at the time wrote a lot of Altercations lyrics. I can only imagine that was a first in the history of NYHC. How did that situation present itself?

Andy: I don’t know how that happened. I must agree, it’s got to be a first. Bianca, then Paul’s girlfriend, wrote the lyrics. I don’t remember how that came to be. I don’t recall caring, I thought they were great lyrics. We all did. We were young and clueless. And very, very angry. Anger looking for a direction. The lyrics aided in direction, I suppose. Though I never noticed it back then. There was mention of borderline "racist lyrics". 

James: There was a lot of racial tension around that time. I was curious about how those ideas materialized and how they were received in the Hardcore community at the time.

Andy: There was a pretty big skinhead thing going on at that point so we were very well
received by a segment of the people going to shows. I’m sure there were plenty that
thought badly of us. Within in a year of being in Altercation I had regrets about aspects
of the band. I read something where Walter Schreifels said he saw us and worried the
dark side was going to win. That cracked me up. That’s a powerful reaction to evoke!
Though, not the one I want at this point in my life. There were definitely prejudiced and simply misguided lyrics. Also some stuff that’s not correct. Robert Chambers, who, “Getting Away with Murder” was about, did not get away with it. He went to jail. Although the sentiment, the rich “getting away with it”, still is true. But I can’t change what was said. The music is great, and we can change some lines live. If we were skrewdriver I couldn’t stomach doing a reunion. We were hardly that.

James: When recording the record did you make a point of changing them?

Andy: Live Jay is changing some lines. When he remembers. Hearing it one way for twenty six  years made an impression!

James: Can we expect new material and songs from the band in the future?

Andy: Don’t expect new songs from us. It could happen, but it’s unlikely

Altercation  Facebook

Atercation Blogged and Quartered

Six III Studio  Andy Guida

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sickoids - No Home Lp - Sorry State Records

Sickoids are a raw and powerful hardcore band consisting of ex members of Direct Control, Government Warning, Witch Hunt and Bad Advice. 

The band's brand new Lp "No Home" will hit you like a full on kick in the sack. The music is thick, tight and raging from start to finish. Sickoids somehow remind me of the incredible old school hardcore/metal band DBC (Dead Brain Cells), especially in the song "Empty Death". I am sure this is completely unintentional and probably something that is only heard inside my own head. The band compare themselves to Poison Idea, and I also hear a bit of an old school Boston sound, and even Dr. Know in these songs.

Anyway, another top notch release from Sorry State Records that you need to add to your collection...Dave G.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Christina the Astonishing - I am not the American Teen

After witnessing these kids perform an out of control set at Montclair's Meatlocker I half heartedly decided to take the bands CD home with me.

Turns out this was a lot better than I expected. Five songs of well played, well produced youthful anthems. Fast, driving and relentless punk with impressive musicianship.
Five songs that come in under ten minutes. "Bike",
"I am not the American Teen", "Null", "The Graak", and "Another Revolution" each pack  plenty of punk rock punch and aggression.

As I watched Christina the Astonishing play live the other night. I remember thinking,
"These kids look as if their still working on their freshman year of high school."
The bands bass player looked as if he was pushing twelve years. But in listening to these five tracks I'm reminded of how that was the age me and my friends were getting into Punk Rock and Hardcore. Going to shows and starting bands. If this is any inclination into what the future holds for the band. We all have a lot to look forward to. James Damion

Christina the Astonishing  Official

Montclair's Meatlocker Offer Punk Rage for the Under Aged

Saturday night I headed up Route 3 to Montclair's Meatlocker to see These Branches, Polyphony and Archie Alone to name just a few. During the week I got two invitations to the show and though I didn't see Archie Alone on the bill with the other bands. I was assured they would be playing. As I entered the club I was greeted by the shows booker and Archie Alone guitarist Cindy Ward. I really enjoyed the bands set in Clifton and thought it would be the perfect time to tell her. I guess I was talking to long because I began to get a mouthful from the Meatlocker's tough little door enforcer Ana. Cindy introduced me and I paid my way before she had any chance to draw blood. I really liked her tough girl attitude and swagger. It got to a point where I wasn't sure if I wanted to smack her in the head or kiss her. I decided instead not to risk any broken bones and headed downstairs.

Eli were the first band I caught. It was also my first hint that I had unknowingly entered a costume party. There were a group of young teenage girls dressed as if they were returning from a cast party for "The Great Gatsby". One of them managed to step on each of my feet as I stood by the wall. (You know what they say
"Big feet, Big ...) As the band began their set I immediately noticed the guitarist was wearing a Grateful Dead shirt. The plot thickened. I began to hope for candy and heavily spiked punch.
Eli's set was short, stationary and underwhelming. A cover of Nirvana's "Breed"
I was a little disappointed when at the end of their set the guitarist threw his guitar down .
I couldn't help but think, "I bet his parents paid a lot for that shit."

Christina the Astonishing 
Next up were Christina the Astonishing. As the band began setting up their gear the costume party theme got upped a few levels when the bands singer took the stage looking like he just got off tour with the Casualties. The Reagan Youth jean jacket patch immediately caught my attention. Being that he was so young, I couldn't help but wonder if he knew much about the bands legacy and tragic ending. Or if he just recently caught the newer version that's playing dress up these days. Quickly the band launched into their set. Their all out singer racing around like a crazed teen. Launching himself into the crowd, jumping off amps as he sang wild abandon. The really stupid part came when he struggled to pick up a cinderblock that sat behind the stage. Barely able to lift it above his waste, he launched into the crowd. Lucky for us it only landed about three inches beyond his feet. "Hit the gym kid." I laughed. Amongst their own songs the band did covers of Green Day's "Basket Case" and The Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop". Regardless of any silliness and youthful hijinks on part of the band they were pretty damn good. It made me think of how I was once a fourteen year old punk. The truth is I wasn't cool enough to actually have a band.
Christina the Amazing took it up a notch.
Christina the Astonishing

Though I was quite disappointed having missed These Branches and Polyphony due to the fact that they played in some alternate show in an all to alternative room at the Meatcave.
I was really looking forward to seeing Archie Alone. I'd seen and heard the band for the very first time over at Clifton's Dingbatz a little over a week before and was thoroughly impressed with their set. See Review

While their set at Clifton's Dingbatz was certainly an eye opener for me. The bands Meatlocker performance was an absolute revelation.
Tony Mastrolia - Archie Alone
Continuing with the nights costume theme guitarist
Pete Lepore wore creepy skeleton makeup that reminded me of the dance scene from Karate Kid meets Heath Ledger's Joker role in Batman. However the unanimous winner of
"Best and most ridiculously sweaty costume would definitely have to go to
Archie Alone bassist
Tony Mastrolia's teletubbies suit. Wearing that suit was imaginative and ballsy to say the least. The mans tolerance for heat and for heat and discomfort should be taken to NASA for testing.

Archie Alone
The band describes themselves as melodic punk, an influence that can be found in Nicole Mesce's emotional vocal delivery. It's the guitar work of Cindy Ward and
Pete Lapore that really give the band a harder edge. Their set was was filled with an intense energy that took the entire show to another level. Giving it a sense of authenticity that I felt took things from a high school battle of the bands vibe to a gritty basement show feel. I found myself being transported to the days when I take the trek from Manhattan to some undisclosed basement show at John Hilt'z House (Born Against, Greyhouse drummer) or any random intimate basement setting. Seeing Archie Alone twice in such a short time span has been very rewarding.
Archie Alone

Aliens on the Wall
Aliens on the Wall followed continued the uplifting party vibe that seemed to be building with each band.
I really enjoyed the bands straight forward punk sound. Guttural vocals, an aggressive guitar and a rumbling rhythm section gave the band a cool edge I really liked. The bands sound was tight. They gave off a very positive energy. One which the crowd fed off. Their cover of The Killers
"Mr. Brightside" caught me by surprise considering it wasn't nearly as old as the others I heard during the show. I guess it could be attributed to both the bands taste and age. Regardless, it had everyone singing in unison.
Aliens on the Walls

By the time Aliens on the Wall were finished with their set. The Meatlocker
was in a celebratory mood I had never seen before.
That's when Cindy turned to me and told me how amazing the next band was.
Archie Alone's Cindy Ward with The Racer
It was one of those "Don't blink, you don't want to miss this." moments. Suddenly members of The Racer started to assemble the strage outfitted in full Cobra Kai (check Karate Kid) gear.
I kept thinking,
"Sweep the leg" "No mercy" and on and on. Then the music started and I got completely swept up in the frenetic energy of the music and the crowd. It was as if my feet were raised off the floor.
I wasn't caught up in something. I was a part of something. It was as if there were eight hundred people standing behind me. Each one sing, dancing and caught in whatever rapture I found myself caught up in. It was an amazing experience all around.
The Racer

A Boy Named John
Finishing the long night was
A Boy Named John.
The Parsipany five piece kept the uplift mofo party plan going just a little longer. Already exhausted from from a night of teenage angst I was more than ready to take my old ass home. Looking back I'm really glad I decided to say. The band played an excellent set of high energy pop rock that delivered just the right amount of energy to get home.
A Boy Named John

Thanks to Cindy for booking the show and being a great host. I had a great time.

Over and Out,
James Damion

Knife The Symphony/Swear Jar split lp - Phratry Records

In the press release for the Knife The Symphony/Swear Jar split lp they note their influences to be "Amphetamine Reptile's noisiest and most abrasive work, NoMeansNo, Shellac, Minutemen and Crucifucks." which is all fine and good, however the one band not mentioned as an influence  by Knife The Symphony is At The Drive In and for some reason they are the first band that came to mind upon hearing  Knife The Symphony, it's likely the shouted vocals that are drawing that comparison for me. The bass playing on the other hand has a definite heavy Shellac feel. Overall Knife The Symphony are an energetic unit that should appeal to anyone who is a fan of the bands stated influences.

Swear Jar remind me a bit of bands like Bastro and Rodan just for a reference point and they deliver their music with much of the same intensity and power that Knife The Symphony brought to the A side of this Lp.

Over the past few years I have often complained about the lack of bands who just blow it out in the 90's way that bands like Drive Like Jehu , ATR, Rodan etc did. It sometimes feels to me that there is a lack of bands who draw their influences from the heavier aspects of the 90's indie scene. Yeah there are a ton of punk hardcore bands playing the 80's style, but sometimes it feels like the kids of today only recognize and emulate the wimpiest aspects of 90's indie rock and they forget that there were actually heavy, aggressive, energetic bands releasing amazing records in the 90's...Thank you Knife The Symphony and Swear Jar for showing me that the best part of the 90's indie music scene hasn't been completely forgotten...Dave G.

  Listen and Purchase 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thinning the Herd, Cinema Cinema and Some Shots of Jack Daniels Highlight My First Trip to Brooklyn's Grand Victory

Each year as the weather gets warmer and the days longer I find myself escaping to Brooklyn. Though I was born in Queens, New York. Brooklyn holds a special place in my heart. How could it not? Having gone to school there and worked my first "Suit Related" job just a few miles away. (Hey, my Mother was born and raised in the storied borough...)
On this particular night my reason for getting on to the L train had nothing to do with nostalgia or family values. It was to celebrate the hell out of the fact that two of my favorite heavy hitters (Thinning the Herd and Cinema Cinema) were playing the same bill. A show that would bring together two very heavy bands that though similar in their decibel levels. Take different routes and speeds when making deliveries.

This would mark my first trip to Brooklyn's Grand Victory. (I attempted to drive there once last year to see Cinema Cinema and got completely lost.) When I first heard of the place, the clubs name had me thinking of a larger club the size of perhaps Bowery Electric or even the Bowery Ballroom. A place that would featured thick necked bouncers with form fitting black shirts and flashlights. Luckily for me, that vision was more of a hallucination. In truth, if it were not for the small crowd outside the bar. We would have walked right past it.
Though it is quite nondescript exterior, the venue itself quickly became my new favorite watering hole. As I headed to the bar I found myself surrounded by some friendly characters. When I told the shaved head next to me that he reminded me of a young
Jimmy Drescher. (Murphy's Law) He raised his glass to me and ordered us some shots of Whiskey. I'm glad he took it as a compliment. The night was officially off to a good start.

As far as first shows go Pocket Pool raised the bar pretty high. Their high energy set featured everything from dancing and sing alongs from the attending crowd to partial nudity from the band. While sitting at the bar earlier the bands drummer explained to me the hidden meaning of the bands name. "It's about masturbation" he said. I looked up from my glass shocked from this revelation. "Really?" "That's downright salacious." In every possible way, their set was a fun and upbeat start to the night.
Pocket Pool
If you're anything like me, when you find a band you really love you want to see them live as much as possible. When putting that plan into practice you often run the risk of burn out. Sure, you love the band, that's already a given. However seeing them perform the same set numerous times within a six to eight month period can wear down that favorite band status. Fortunately for me, Ev and Paul (Cinema Cinema) keep their sets fresh and somewhat unpredictable. Many is the time I've heard them perform the song "Lady Abortion." Funny thing is I feel I'm hearing it differently each time. In seeing them numerous times I find one of my greatest rewards is watching the reactions and expressions of the faces in the crowd. That in itself is an experience. Cinema Cinema is playing with the legendary Black Flag at Brooklyn's Warsaw. Go, get out, get fucked.
Cinema Cinema

The band has had its share of personnel changes and personal struggles marked by the death of their drummer and beloved friend.... They since soldiered on releasing a new album
"Freedom from the Known" and playing shows with new drummer Garth Mackaleavey.
The band played an excellent set featuring much of the new albums material.
Gavin Spielman makes for the perfect frontman. The singer/guitarist/founder has an incredible stage presence.
Focused and ferocious, I can see him easily winning a stare down contest with Metallica's James Hetfield. The songs from the new album sound incredible to say the very least. Seeing them perform made me realize how much I've really missed these guys in the past year. Upon hearing their set, I felt assured that it wouldn't be long before our paths crossed again. I'm really glad I had the chance to see these two bands play a show together.
Thinning the Herd

Closing the night were Bbigpigg. I had never heard or heard or heard of these guys and did not have the slightest inkling of what I was about to experience. As the band assembled, one of the band members placed a studio flood light just adjacent to the front of the stage. I thought to myself "Okay, this is going to get weird." Luckily for me and everyone present at
Grand Victory that night, it did.
Noisy, experimental, loud and unexpectedly excellent. The bands style and performance could be best explained as a tribal ritual, a possession of not only the ears but the soul. Influences ranging from the Melvins to Jesus Lizard could be felt but their sound and style was one that was really all their own.

I left fulfilled, exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time. Grand Victory is a great spot that seems to gather an excellent crowd of interesting and varied crowd. I plan on returning on a regular basis.

Until then,
James Damion

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Manipulation - ST Lp Sorry State Records 2013

This damn Manipulation Lp bursts out of your speakers like a bat out of hell and I'm not talking about that fatso from the 1970's. The bat out of hell I am referring to is the Manipulations who are one lean mean hardcore pummeling machine on this their self titled debut Lp for Sorry State Records. If you like raw unrelenting hardcore then this records is definitely for you.

I heard a lot of great things about Manipulation over the past few years and in all honesty I didn’t fully appreciate their previous releases, but this Lp changes all of that for me. I'm adding this album to my repeated listening pile right now...Dave G.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Filling in the Blanks; An Interview with
New Jersey's Eastern Anchors

Eastern Anchors had just wrapped up a rare Monday night show at Hoboken's Maxwell's.
At the time I was feeling kind of lucky getting to see a band whose recent album
"Drunken Arts and Pure Science" had become a recent favorite by a band I honestly knew little to nothing about. It wasn't until the bands singer/guitarist Walter Verde handed me two CD's from the band Aviso'Hara that the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place.
As I listened "Goodnight Sweetheart" and "Our Lady of the Highway" I thought to myself, "How did I miss this?" I mean I've lived in New Jersey for most of the 21st Century.
What could I have been doing with my life? So with more questions than answers I decided to go right to the source to fill in the blanks and find the answer to just what the hell is this thing they call "Dad Rock"? James Damion

James: Can you fill me in on lineage between Aviso'Hara and Eastern Anchors? What was time frame and evolution between the two bands?

Ken: We had all played in the same scene together for a while, but I think the link originally formed between Aviso Hara and a band I was playing in with Aviso drummer Benny Rodriguez called Clydesdale. We asked Walter to record some demos for us. Soon after we recorded our singer/guitarist Bill wanted to move to a pure vocalist role, so we asked Walt to step in and fill the guitarist spot. Clydesdale broke up about a year later and Walter and I decided to keep things going with a new band, which became Eastern Anchors.

Walter: To piggy back off Ken, it took a few years and lapses in activity till we came to this version of the band.  We were a 4 piece with Dave on second guitar.  Dave left for a while and we became a 3 piece, which is where we switched up our direction and I started using different tunings to make the new material work better with one guitar.  Then our bass player left, but by then Dave was available again, so he came back in on bass.  And that’s how we got here today.

Dave: It's a totally muddled path but somehow we came back together as this rock unit. When Aviso' Hara broke-up I had a band called The Slow Wire and put out two records and toured a little. Then when that fizzled out eventually it made sense to me when I got the rock-bug to look for something else. Not to mention after Aviso broke-up we played a bunch of re-union type shows up until last year with Ken on drums! So in reality it's been the same group for some time. Just different songs in different keys and tunings with years in-between.

James: You've been quite busy writing new music and playing shows. What inspired the rise in activity and creativity?

Walter: Well, we put out a record in October of last year, so the increase in shows was definitely in part to sell Cds.  When we did the record, it was basically everything we were playing live as well, so you start to want to be able to switch up the setlist, which leads to more songs.

Ken: As far as the writing goes, I think we get pretty restless playing the same songs over and over.

Dave: Yes, it's true we go through booking spurts and in turn writing sessions that sometimes manage to be super productive. I'm already thinking of the fall. Right now we're in that writing stage again because somehow we don't have any shows until end of May at Asbury Lanes. So we're taking advantage once a week to build up a "new" catalog of tunes so we can try them out and mix them in the set. We're constantly throwing down ideas at home and then when the time is right and we've done some self editing we bring a tune to practice.  Sometimes it's really just a miracle with our schedules that we can even fit a practice in before a show.

James: In writing songs, do you have a certain approach? What's the building process like?

Dave: We're trying to demo everything.
I think we officially have a back-log of songs we're trying to write this summer.

Ken: I think the writing process differs from song to song. Sometimes Walt or Dave will come to practice with a new riff and the song comes together almost instantly. Other    times, we could labor on a riff for months until something comes of it.         

Walter: It varies, sometimes songs come in pretty complete, sometimes we play through a bunch of ideas and see what works. I try not to be too precious about anything because I think we have a sound as this band, so not everything is going to work.  I probably dump more stuff than I keep in this band just because it might not work in the context of a really loud and noisy three piece.  But what ends up an Eastern Anchors song, could only be an Eastern Anchors song.

James: Can you offer a little insight into the CD's title "Drunken Arts and Pure Science? It sounds like an inside joke. Or the secret answer you have to give to get into a club or retrieve your online password.

Walter: It came out of a term that I heard during a city architecture tour, Drunken Architecture.  Then I was thinking about the whole process of writing, recording and finally performing an album.  So, it’s this blend between the science of how it all works, and the drunken art, which is the sense of abandon I think you need to let songs kind of write themselves.  Now that I look at my explanation, it sounds like a bunch of bullshit, doesn’t it?  Ok, it just sounds cool.

James: The album art "Robot in the woods" looks vaguely familiar. What was the idea behind it?

Dave: This is a actual color by numbers painting by our good friend Neil O' Brien. who used to play drums in The Van Pelt and now has a band Ribeye Brothers with Tim from Monster Magnet. Neil also plays in a more experimental group called Wands. I actually won a copy at a benefit auction years ago and when i rediscovered the piece I proposed it to the band as the album art. I think walt came-up with the title as he was ease dropping on a conversation on a train or something.

Ken: We actualIy kicked around a lot of ideas for the album art. But, we all knew as soon as Dave showed us the painting that we should use it as the cover. We also used artwork from Neil O’ Brien for our first CD.

Walter: I just want to add that in addition to Neil’s awesome painting, the rest of the design and layout was done by Stu Wexler at Meat + Potatoes.

James: Can we expect a new record soon?

Walter:  I can’t say how soon, but we’re definitely writing.  I’m finally to the point where I can record the band at home.  We just did a track for a tribute comp to benefit the family of Jason Molina (, which is the first full band track we recorded completely in my house.  Unlike the last record, where we recorded everything we had, I want to demo a lot of songs on our own this time, and then go into the studio to record the actual album. That being said, I plan on making the demos release quality, so that whatever does not make the record can be used for comps, b-sides, etc.

Dave: I would love for us to start tracking in the fall but first we need a big swath of songs to choose from and we're 1/4 of the way there. Which is a good start and we just need to put the blinders on and keep writing. I'm pretty sure we'll have another record out before the Wrens do. We challenged them last year when we heard there was movement in their camp that would get a record out before them. Charles conceded and we won the gentlemen's duel.

James: I had the pleasure of watching the documentary on the band. How did the idea to do the doc come about? Do you think it paints a good picture of the band in general?

Dave: I just had finished doing a web documentary series for Ogilvy & Mather  where I was recently working for the past four years and they asked me to make another piece of original content for the One show awards. So I decided to use some of those resources and all my producing skills i learned over the past couple years and apply it to a story I wanted to tell. So luckily it lined up with the release of our record. So many bands have regular rock videos and in the spirit of documentary film making we wanted toe true about the story and not be all glory. Some of the dark side I left on the cutting room floor and you'll just have to ride in the van with us to hear those stories.
I do have a follow-up planned but we're gonna have to track down all our old drummers and some old band mates to make it happen. Who knows maybe with the next record we'll do part two!

James: Did you have to bribe Jim Testa to say all those nice things about you?

Dave: I've known Jim since 1991 or so. He really does not need too much coaxing; if he has fond memories or at least what his subconscious might not of wiped out. Cool, because our old band certainly had our shitty nights and for some reason those are good memories. He seriously is a pro though. He was saying off camera to me when we were shooting that he had just taken part in a Yo La Tengo documentary and some other one and was not sure if they would ever see the light of day. If it weren't for people like him we would have no idea what it was like as a fan. He wrote about aviso at least a dozen times. He did ignore the first Eastern Anchors record and came through solidly on Drunken Arts like a champ. Although he did see us play he has not been able to catch this version of the band live as of yet but he will.

James: I was living in New York City in the 90's and apart from the occasional Hardcore show or touring band playing Maxwells. New Jersey Rock was pretty much a mystery to me. Can you paint a picture of what the Jersey scene was like then. The bands, the venues, the energy?

Walt:  Wow, early 90’s and late 90’s feel like two different lifetimes for me. Maxwells was always a major spot, and that is where I saw most of the shows that really influenced me.  Well, there and City Gardens in Trenton.  We were mostly associated with New Brunswick, which was great, from the city, to the venues, to the bands and labels that were active at the time, all great.  Then there was the shore scene around the Brighton Bar, where you had Monster Magnet, Godspeed and a ton of other great bands, as well as Heat Blast Records documenting the whole thing (I recommend the Holier than Seattle Comp, if you can find it). Oh yeah, and the Fastlane in Asbury!  I think people might forget how most great indie bands used to actually play in Asbury Park at that time.

James: Tell me about the term "Dad Rock"

Dave: For the record I'm the only dad in the band. Although Ken has cats. It's another way to say we're "experienced".
In term "Dad Rock" made me think of age and playing in bands as we're older and have more responsibilities.

James: Does it get harder to get out and play with the responsibilities of adulthood. Does it make it a little harder to sell and promote your record when you can't play out every week and don't really tour?

Ken: I think it takes a lot more planning in terms of scheduling things like shows and recording time. Even getting together to practice can be a challenge. As far as being able to promote the record goes, I think that using social media and having our record available on sites like "Bandcamp" and "Spotify" helps to make up for the lack of touring.

Dave: I would add to this that our Tumblr site has led to new fans and sales as well. It's basically part of our virtual store-front along with twitter and Facebook we use it all when we can to help promote us and our friends.

Walter: Touring isn’t a good option for us, we just do not have that time anymore, but I do think we can and will do some quick weekenders. We just have to make sure that when we do, that it is worth the time. As far as the internet and social media, etc., I do not think it makes up for not touring. But it does offer a ton of possibilities that were not there in the old days. We put this out on our own label, so I see everything that comes through.  I was really surprised by the amount of foreign sales we have, mostly Europe.  I don’t know where that comes from.  Maybe from the Rolling Stone thing helped some, but we were getting them before that.  So, thank you Internets!

Eastern Anchors  Band Site

Upcoming Event Asbury Lanes Show Details

Moon Tooth and Archie Alone Play Dingbatz

After an early night of sushi with my old buddy Chris we headed up to Clifton's Dingbatz for a little a little live music and a what we imagined would be full blown inebriation on our parts. As we headed to the club Chris recalled the last time we ventured to the Clifton dive bar together. It was to see the Reverend Paul Bearer's Joe Coffee. On that particular night the Markers Make was flowing like the Niagara Falls and we had to cool our heals late into the morning at a local Dunkin' Donuts in order to clear the cob webs from our drunken noggins before attempting to head home.

Moon Tooth Guitarist Nick Lee
As we arrived it seemed we could get no attention from the waitress behind the bar.
Funny considering there were less than ten people in attendance at the time. Dingbatz can be really hit or miss on most nights. I've been to Dingbatz at times when the place was filled with music loving party goers. Where as at other times the bands would have to make a long distance call to the bar in order to get the six or so attendees to come enjoy the music they just may have paid to come see. On this particular night the latter seemed to be the case.

It had been over a year since I had seen
Nick Lee perform with the bands Thinning the Herd, Exemption or Rice Cultivation Society.
So when I heard his newest music endeavor, Long Island's Moon Tooth were coming to a town anywhere near my zip code. I knew if was time to gas up the car and get my ass to their show. The band, like any other Nick's been involved with has been playing a storm of shows throughout the five borough and beyond.
As we headed past the bar I had caught a glance of Nick and reintroduced myself. I noticed the much shorter hair and found myself asking "Has Nick Lee gone soft on us?" Lucky for me and anyone else in attendance, that was not in the cards.

As the band took the stage and began setting up to an almost empty venue. I couldn't help but think of how much hard work it goes into playing in a band. Jawbreakers "Tour Song" began playing in my head. The lyrics "Two cool people came / they're hiding by the door" came to mind. It mattered not because the band was there to play. People started to move forward to see what was about to happen...
and then it happened. Moon Tooth launched into their manic set as singer John Carbone seemed to roll himself into a barrel and launch himself onto the dance floor and the unsuspecting crowd. It was like all hell breaking loose at the church congregation's annual picnic. Bodies scattered and ran for cover as the band put Clifton on notice. It was a jaw dropping set that took my jaw right out of it's proper place and to the clubs unwashed floor. As I was watching I couldn't help but think "I wish more people were here to see this, to hear it and to be fully involved in it. I really appreciated the chance to finally see the band and will definitely be more inspired to head out of my area and my own little comfort zone to see them next time they play even remotely close to my home base. Be sure to go check out their site Here
Guitar Hero Cindy Ward of Archie Alone

Having never heard of Belleville NJ's Archie Alone
I came in with zero expectations. Pretty cool for me considering the simple idea that the one of the best things about going out to shows is having an band (unknowns to your ears) completely blow the fucking screws out of the hinges.
I've been having this experience a lot lately and I'm happy to say I've got a new band to follow around and occupy my time. The self described Melodic Punk five piece played a energetic set that, at least to my ears blended a lot more musical elements than their Facebook bio offer us. Nicole Mesce's shows a lot of emotion and range as a singer. One can only hope that I'll be seeing her step away from the mic stand more in the future. Though, in the meantime it does nothing to take away from her ability or performance. AA's Cindy Ward looks and plays as if she's channeling the ghost of recently departed Slayer guitarist
Jeff Hanneman. I noticed a lot of people cocking their heads in awe as she delivered riff after tasty riff.I was really impressed with this band and look forward to seeing them again in the upcoming weeks which include tonights show at Montclair's Meatlocker.  Click Here for info and next weeks show at my home away from homes ABC No Rio. Click Here for more info on the band.

Until the next time.
Yours Truly,
James Damion

Additional Show Images of Moon Tooth and Archie Alone at Dingbatz

Here are a few extra shots you might enjoy from theDingbat'z show 

Archie Alone's Tony Mastrolia and Nicole Mesce
Moon Tooth guitarist Nick Lee
Moon Tooth bassist Vin Romanelli
Moon Tooth vocalist John Carbone

Friday, May 10, 2013

Barge - No Gain EP

Since starting the blog  a few years back,  Dave and I have savored each and every release from the VA's Grave Mistake Records label/distro. Bands such as Deep Sleep, Big Eyes, Government Warning,
The Shirks and
Sectarian Violence went from complete unknowns
(at least to us) to earning permanent residence on our turntables. The labels consistency and penchant for releasing some of, if not the best Hardcore and Punk out there.

Richmond, VA's Barge add to that lineage on their debut EP "No Gain" with eight songs of blistering Hardcore. If you love raw, fast and uncompromising Hardcore this EP is right up your alley. Eight songs delivered in just under nine minutes. It's no frills, no bullshit style reminded me a lot of early eighties Hardcore and particularly Infest. Though each of the eight tracks here were quite impressive. It was "Plague Me", the records last track that really had me shitting my pants. The breaks on this one had me running for cover. With this kind of raw intensity it will be interesting to see where Barge take things in the future. Better wear a diaper kids. James Damion

Grave Mistake Records  Get it Here

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Night Birds - Maimed For The Masses

On "Maimed For The Masses" the Night Birds continue to churn out uptempo old school Cali style punk rock. Actually, very little has changed in their sound since the release of their full length Lp "The Other Side of Darkness", so here's what I had to say about the Lp...Hey, if the shoe fits wear it, and this shoe still fits.

"To my ears the Night Birds have always sounded like a modern day hybrid of Agent Orange and the Adolescents, and on their first full length album "The Other Side of Darkness" they have done nothing to change my opinion. In fact, they have maintained the surf punk twang of Agent Orange and upped the speed, catchiness and snottiness that always brought the Adolescents to mind, however they have modernized everything and thrown in so many hooks that it will make your head a good way." ...Dave G.