Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Abused - Loud and Clear

After years of rumors and talk of an official and definitive re-issue of The Abused epic 1983 release 'Loud and Clear'  Radio Raheem Records step up to make a true classic from New York Hardcore's early days available again.

'Loud and Clear' Collects 21 tracks which feature the "Loud and Clear" 7 inch, their 1982 demo and never before heard live tracks. If that's not impressive enough.
(And it very well should be.)
The album, which comes in all it's gatefold glory, is accompanied by an impressive 24-page, full color booklet containing photos, lyrics and the band's infamous show flyers drawn by their vocalist Kevin Crowley, as well as a sticker sheet replicating original Abused sticker designs. Classics like 'Wargames', 'Nuclear Threat', 'Blow Your Brains Out' and the oft covered 'Drug Free Youth' sound incredible. Essential listening for fans of early Agnostic Front, Cause For Alarm, The Mob and Urban Waste.

A lot of respect goes out to everyone involved with putting this together. The overall quality merits praise.Everything from the music to the art, layout, attention to quality and detail are so well done. It's great to see the band and it legacy get it's due. James Damion

Big Cartel  Get it Here

The High and the Mighty - "Crunch On" Demo 1984

For all you NYHC archeologists, Radio Raheem just dug up a sizable bone in The High and the Mighty.
The band, which featured former and now current members of Antidote played alongside some of the more notable bands of that rarely chronicled time, a list which includes, but is not limited to Urban Waste, Heart Attack, Murphy's Law and The Cro-Mags, The Psychos, Mental Abuse and Token Entry.

The record cover and title serve as the best description as to what
"Crunch On" Demo 84' offers. Fast, loud and raw first wave NYHC straight from the demo. Though originally purchased as more of an add on to my
'The Abused - Loud and Clear' order. Only 500 copies of this record exist, so get it while it's still available. Record comes packaged with a 12 page booklet featuring lyrics, images and flyers. Some seen here for the first and most likely, last time. This little addition has served me well. It's good to see that, even thirty years later, some of these recordings are getting their proper releases, packaging and respect. Let's keep that nostalgia train going strong.
Who knows what's still out there.
James Damion

Big Cartel  Get it Here

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ron Reyes and Black Flag Split

Black Flag vocalist Ron Reyes has parted ways with the currently revived incarnation of the legendary band. In a post to his Facebook page, Ron reveals that he was fired on stage at the November 24th date of band's Australian tour and was replaced by professional skateboarder Mike Vallely. Reyes goes on to make several scathing comments about
Black Flag guitarist and mastermind Greg Ginn and the overall effort put forth on the band's new album What The...:

"The writing was on the wall since before we played our first show. So many things went wrong from the start. I was into things like having a good drummer, rehearsing and spending time on things like beginnings and endings of songs, being a little less distracted with tour life and a little more on the ball.
You know things that would make our efforts worthy of the name Black Flag... Yes it is my opinion that we fell very short indeed and the diminishing ticket sales and crowds are a testament to that. However It was made clear to me that raising these issues was tantamount to a blasphemous stab in the back to Greg. How could I question him, his efforts and hard work? How could I dare be a fan of OFF! And or be friends and a fan of Flag? I was told that I had to chose sides. But I refuse to treat someone like an infailible  Pope figure. No guitarist deserves such unquestioning blind devotion. 
And so I have been excommunicated in a very strange fashion."

To say the very least. This whole Black Flag saga has been a complete circus. I'll forever look to the end of that crap movie 'American Hardcore' when Keith Morris laughs "It's over. It's been over for a long time." Save your money the next time they announce a tour.
Go see a Civil War reenactment instead. James Damion

Friday, November 22, 2013

Knapsack, Have Mercy and I Hate Our Freedom at Music Hall of Williamsburg

This past weekend I had the unique pleasure of getting to see Knapsack perform their one and only New York show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I had first heard about the short jaunt of reunion shows a few months back. Though quite excited at the time I completely lost track of time and like with many reunions, failed to get tickers.
When my buddy Chris shot me a text asking if I'd be interested in taking an extra ticket off his hands. I was more that happy to take the weight off the poor kid. Up until a few years ago I would have considered myself a casual fan of the band. They were one of many, many bands I had seen at Maxwell's during the 90's and I recall having one or two of their records in my collection at one time or another.Years later during a record store run with my buddy Dave. Suddenly, the song 'Saturday Side of the Street' came across the speakers like a jolt of electricity. "Who's this?' I asked. "Knapsack" replied Dave in his usual even tone. I was as if I had found my new favorite band, As usual, it was one that was long gone. Having the opportunity to see them again with a renewed love and appreciation is something I'm pretty thankful for.

Brooklyn's I Hate Our Freedom opened by not sounding remotely any other opening band I've experienced.
I've heard about these locals for some time now. This, however was my first taste, my first face to face. The band features former personnel of such notable acts as
Texas is the Reason, Garrison, Milhouse and God Fires Man and House & Parish. The bands energy and edgy post core sound had me wondering why it's taken me so long to make my way to one of their shows.
I picked up their album 'Seriously' a few days later and can't wait to give it a spin.
I Hate Our Freedom

In between set I talked to a few of the people taking pictures and had and somehow found common round with someone standing right next to me.
Being that he was from New Brunswick, the conversation quickly turned to the towns history of basement shows. Going to shows is such an amazing way to meet and connect. Turns out we shared many of the same friends and experiences. Within a matter of minutes Have Mercy took the stage. Though I had no prior knowledge of the Baltimore band I could feel an instant connection with the bands music. emotive vocals and melodic buildups. Impressive to say the very least. It's always rewarding to see a non headlining/touring band get  a rise and response from the local crowd and Have Mercy more than earned the praise.
Have Mercy

The night was already bordering on perfect with a fantastic sushi dinner with a friend, finding a good spot up front to shoot and seeing some excellent bands for the very first time.
My lazy Sunday afternoon on the couch morphed into an epic night with so many memorable moments.
It might have been hard to imagine it could possibly get better. But as Knapsack finally took the stage. I quickly realized that it was about to.
As the band finally took the stage you could feel the energy and pulse of the crowd grow and quicken. My eyes and ears perked up as one of the best shows I'd been to in months was about to reach it's peak.Imagine my amazement when the band opened their set with that same song ('Thursday Side of the Street') It was the perfect song to dust off my memories of my first and only time seeing them perform live. The perfect track to remind me why, years later, I fell in love with knapsack for the first time through 'Silver Sweepstakes' and their self titled Alias releases. The bands set reminded me of everything I love about the band and live music in general, The give and take from the band and the audience was palpable. singer/guitarist Blair Shehan was more than happy to share his feelings about having the opportunity to play, share the stage with such good friends and fans. After their long,sweat soaked set, the band returned for an encore before sending us home with smiles on our faces, good tunes in our ears and perhaps a few trinkets from the merch table. Not bad for a Sunday night. Until the next time. James Damion


Have Mercy
I Hate Our Freedom

Looking Back; Artwork Featured in Unite Fanzine

I was sifting through some boxes when I came across some old artwork from my zine Unite. Throughout the fanzines four issue print run and four to five year web existence. I had the honor of featuring some pretty special artists. Civ (Gorilla Biscuits, Civ) designed the logo featured in the first issue. Andrew Monserrate (Wolfpack, Stand Proud) illustrated the cover and much of the art for the second issue and Tim (G.AS.P.) Kucynda drew a number of pieces for the seldom seen third issue. During Unite's time online, a number of people contributed art including some possible T shirt designs from a Tom Farkas. (The Nolan Gate. Davenport Cabinets)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dangerhouse - Complete Singles Collected 1977-1979

It's been over a week since I laid down $130 dollars of my hard earned cash for this epic document of early L.A. Punk history.
Having past on it weeks earlier at Princeton's Record Exchange, due to it's hefty price. The music, it's history and the fact that it was a limited one time release loomed large on my mind. So a few weeks later when I brought my purchases to the counter at Double Decker. I saw that box sitting in front of the register in all it's historic glory. I thought for a few seconds, turned around in the opposite direction and like any mindful shopper, returned my records to their proper bins. It wasn't that the price that had changed.
(If I remember correctly, they both bore the same price tag.) The bands, the history and that eye gouging image drew me in. Though there were a handful of artists included that I had yet to hear. I was more than prepared for a get to know. Looking back, I made a very, very good choice,

'Complete Singles Collected 1977-1979' does exactly what the title promises,
Collecting each of the fourteen EP's Dangerhouse released during the labels short, yet historic existence. EP's featured
(each with original cover art ) are as follows. Randoms,
Black Randy & The Metrosquad,
The Avengers, The Dils, Weirdos, Alley Cats, X,
Black Randy & His Elite Metrosquad, Howard Werth, The Deadbeats, The Bags, Eyes, Rhino 39 and yet another
Black Randy
& The Metrosquad. The packaging is authentic and flawless. A true piece of art.
As  I carefully opened the box and began gently reaching for each E.P. I felt more like an archeologist than a music fan or blogger. I was reaching for Punk Rock gold. Each piece, unique and amazing. Listening to the each one from Alley Cats to The Weirdos. Each one unique and special. Quickly, I realized what a special time it must have been. The Box is limited to 1,000 copies. Snag yourself a copy before their gone forever. James Damion

Frontier Records Get it Here

7 Seconds - First 3 E.P. 's Box Set

Holy Re-issues Batman. 2013 has been one hell of a year when it's come to great new releases and earth shattering re-issues and LifeLine Records is knee deep in the mix. Here they've taken on the task of re-issuing  the first three 7 Seconds EP’s:
‘Skins, Brains & Guts,’ ‘Committed For Life’ and ‘Blasts From the Past’. Each record released in their original 7″ format.
Each of these three  E.P.'s
have been out of print for many years and has seen there share of bootlegs over the years. Now that the records are being properly re-issued. You don't have to be a rich, pretentious record collecting snob to get your hands on these Hardcore classics.
Each release pays tribute to the original first pressing, using the original art and include the original insert that later pressings had lost. As a bonus, each record will include a retrospective of each release written by Kevin Seconds. I was able to pre-order these which rewarded me with the limited color vinyl. This is a must for anyone that loves Hardcore or Punk. 7 Seconds are a seminal band whose influence is still being felt thirty years later. Having this in my hands sent of volt of electricity through my clogged veins. Bringing me back to seeing them perform at CBGB's in '86. Thus transforming me from a snotty punk to a devoted positive youth (Well kinda.) File under "Essential" James Damion

Lifeline Records  Get it Here

From '93 to Infinity - A Dromedary Records Compilation

Local micro indie label Dromedary Records celebrate their twentieth anniversary with the release of
'From '93 to Infinity'. A clever and overall stellar collection featuring current and past Dromedary friends and family, putting the cover treatment on songs released in 1993.
The year Al Crisafulli followed his heart of hearts by starting his own independent record label.

'From '93 'til Infinity' features a hefty sixteen tracks delivered with quality and care. It's very rare when a compilation or tribute album resonates with the listener the way this does. Somewhat surprising, given the history of cover and tribute albums. Visit your local record store's dollar bin or Good Will store and you'll get a good idea. '93 'til Infinity' on the other hand, doesn't feature a wasted moment.

Picking the standouts from this album was like trying to decide what corner deli I want to pick up my winning Powerball ticket from. The quality and variety presented is astounding. Brixton Riot covering The Archers of Loaf's 'Might', Cinema Cinema's cover of PJ Harvey's '50 Ft. Queenie', Varsity Drag's take on Versus' 'Let's Electrify', Overlake's cover of
Yo La Tengo's 'From a Hotel 6' and D. Smith Sucks 'Fuck and Run' each shake the foundations. I'm also hearing a number of acts here for the very first time.
Riel, Dots Will Echo, Flash Flood, Picnic all deliver stellar covers. Other notable contributions come from the 65's, Stuyvesant, The Anderson Council,
Jean Homme & The Broken Telomeres, Guy Capacelatro and Tiger Saw. Add to that they eye popping cover illustration of Lauren Kelly and a few of my own photos thrown in for good measure and you've got a can't miss production that commemorates and celebrates the spirit and inspiration that was and is indie. James Damion

Dromedary Records  Get it Here

Huge - S/T Four Song EP

Huge, a band that features Underdog's Russ and
Dean Iglay along with
American Standard's
Matt Dolan seemingly come out of nowhere to deliver an adrenalin fueled four song EP that make the blood rush and the pulse quicken.
Fast, aggressive, fun and in your face. Huge features some devilish rhythms and heart racing leads but what's most notable is getting to hear Russ take on the vocal duties.
To put it best, I'd liken it to a
Pitbull taking on an intruder. Powerful and Relentless with a take no prisoners approach. Though some might expect a return to NJHC roots.
Huge represent a more Punkcore approach and seem more than at home with their Jersey Shore roots. Huge more than live up to their namesake. Thus leaving this listener hungry for more. "What's next Russ?" James Damion

Rev HQ  Get it Here

Thursday, November 7, 2013

D. Smith Sucks - The End of Everything

I was in the midst of telling some god forsaken Jehovah's Witness to get the fuck out of my building when a message came across my Facebook page. It was an old friend asking that I call him as soon as I got the chance.
As I began dialing the numbers I imagined what awaited me on the other end of the line. Perhaps payback for my review of his bands performance at Camelfest II. Calling them out for being "not that pretty" without the presence of former bassist Cindie Merklee.
Or referring to the bands singer as an "arrogant prick". Regardless of any punishment
I was about to receive, a friend had asked a favor and I was going to do my best to help.
As Dan picked up the phone
I immediately felt as if I was talking to an old and trusted friend. He began to tell me about his new record, the band and if I'd help get the word out about how all proceeds from the recording would be going towards supporting  a local dog rescue. A cause that is near and dear to our collective hearts. I wholeheartedly agreed to spread the word, listen and give the songs on
'The end of everything' a thorough listen.

'The End of Everything' features seven songs of brilliantly raw and honest songs.
Each with a sense of quick wit. D. Smith has always delivered a dark sense of humor that can often be taken out of context as something that it truly isn't intended to be. Parts Punk, parts  soulful Folk with apocalyptic results. This is so real, so authentic. It makes me want to gather the friends and family for a full on intervention. It's as if I met my own dirty little secret. Though this might garnish a whole lot of attention in the long run. It's these little under the radar gems that stick with you the longest. Leaving permanent scars on the listener. Promising to visit you in your nightmares much further down the road.
Drop some serious cash on this one. If not for the music or the fact that your contributing to a more than worthy cause. Do it for the simple fact that the cover art depicts God's greatest creation. 
James Damion

The end of everything Buy it Here