Monday, December 23, 2013

"Best of Lists are for Pretentious Assholes" A.K.A. The Best of 2013

As our dreaded third annual "Best of" listed loomed closer. I decided to do something a little different by reaching out to some of my favorite musicians, artists, bloggers and record labels to see just what moved them in 2013. In reaching out I was hoping to get a wide array of lists from varied genres and styles. I had no idea just how diverse and varied they'd be. Nor did I have any expectations about the willingness and enthusiasm shown. Thanks to everyone who pitched in. I'll be tracking down a lot of the stuff I haven't, myself heard. Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to everyone. James Damion

James Damion - United By Rocket Science / Unite Fanzine / Damion Photo
Superchunk - I Hate Music
Savages - Silence Yourself
BoySetsFire - While A Nation Sleeps
Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart
Sound City - Real to Reel
Red Hare - Nights to Midnight
The Front Bottoms - Talen of the Hawk
Eastern Anchors - Drunken Arts and Pure Science
Blast! - Blood
Thinning the Herd - Freedom From the Known
Cinema Cinema - 50 ft. Queenie EP

Unwound - Kid Is Gone (Box Set)
Dangerhouse - Complete Singles (Box Set)
Isis - Debut s/t album (Reissue)
The Abused - Loud and Clear (Reissue LP)
Altercation - Demo 7 inch
Rival Schools - United By Fate

Cinema Cinema opening for Black Flag at Warsaw. (The rest, not so much)
Knapsack Reunion at Music Hall of Williamsburg
Stuyvesant's final performance at Maxwell's
Overlake at Asbury Lanes (I wept)
Anything the band Archie Alone has done in a live setting.

Dave Galgano - United By Rocket Science / Rocket Science Records
Blast! - Blood
Beastmilk - Climax
Superchunk - I Hate Music
Cult of luna Vertikle
Redhare - Nites of Midnite
Deadverse - Carpet Burns
The National  - Trouble Will Find Me
Pelican - Forever Coming
Wreaths - Wreaths
The Jealous Sound - A Gentle Reminder (Deluxe version)
Big Boys - Where's My Towel/Industry Standard  (reissue) Light In The Attic Records
Unwound - Kid Is Gone (Box set)
Cicada Radio - No Fate But What We Make
Eastern Anchors - Drunken Arts and Pure Science

Freddy Alva - Wardance Records / New Breed Compilation / Reconstruction Records
Villains "Never Abandon The Slut   Train" Lp
Sick People "Fakes Rule" 7"
Battle Ruins 2013 demo tape
Glam "Veneno En Sus Flechas" 12"
Altercation live @BNB Bowl & 7"
Raspberry Bulbs "Deformed Worship" lp
Inherit "Crushing Wheels Of Samsara" 7"
Bloody Hammer Lp
Echoes Of A Killing novel by Ted Gogoll
Don Juan Matus "Espejismos" cassette lp.
Criminal Damage "Call Of Death" Lp.
1981 "In The Dead Of The Night" 7"
Major Damage "Sheer Mayhem" 7"
The Abused reissue Lp
DHK "La Krudeza No Muere" Lp

Ev Gold - Guitarist / Singer / Cinema Cinema
"M B V" by My Bloody Valentine
"Fetch" by Melt-Banana
"Life is Too Short To Not Hold a Grudge" by Good For You
"Change Becomes Us" by Wire
"What The.." by Black Flag
"Oddfellows" by Tomahawk
"Amok" by Atoms for Peace
"Beautiful Rewind" by Four Tet
"Rat Farm" by Meat Puppets
"Surgical Steel" by Carcass

Chris Wynne - In Effect Hardcore
Down To Nothing "Life On The James" (no it is not about you James Damion)
Rotting Out "The Wrong Way"
Stigma "For Love & Glory"
World Eater "Worm Feast"
Take Offense - "United State of Mind"

Joe Gorelick - Drummer Garden Variety, Blue Tip, Retisonic, Red Hare
Released: The Human Rights Concerts - A Conspiracy of Hope DVD Box Set (various artists)
Bob Dylan - Complete Collection Box Set
Nick Drake - Remasters (Vinyl)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II
Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico - La Bataclan Paris '72
Cheap Trick - Live front row Westbury Music Fair
Sebadoh - Defend Yourself + Live
King Crimson - The Road to Red Box 24 CD/DVD/BluRay Box Set
J. Robbins - Live Acoustic at Cakeshop
Be Bop Deluxe – At The BBC 1974-1978
Volto! - Incitare
Chavez - Live at Tivoli (new unearthed bootleg from 1997)
OFF! - Live
Replacements - Live Archive (one of the most amazing sites ever created)

Christopher Skelly - Guitarist Dahlia Seed / Static is a City
Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
Chelsea Wolfe – Pain Is Beauty
Beastmilk - Climax
Iceage- You’re Nothing
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter At The Feast
Pissed Jeans - Honeys
Disappears – Era
Savages – Silence Yourself
Psychic Ills – One More Time
Wooden Shijps – Back To Land
The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow
Black Joe Lewis – Electric Slave
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
David Bowie – The Next Day
Holograms – Forever
The Besnard Lakes – Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO
Sigur Ros – Kveikur
Crocodiles – Crimes Of Passion
The Body – Christs, Redeemers
Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic
Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
True Widow – Circumambulation
White Hills – So You Are, So You’ll Be
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – 2
Grumbling Fur – Glynnaestra
Theologian – Some Things Have To Be Endured
The Black Hollies - Somewhere Between Here and Nowhere

Andy Stern - Drummer Feral Babies / Early Forms
Favorite albums/reissues of 2013
Future of the Left – How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident
Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart
Smith Street Band – Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams EP
Tiny Empires – Just Imagine 7”
The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk
Lemuria – The Distance so Big
Iron Chic – The Constant One
Off with Their Heads – Home

Best shows of 2013
Gorilla Biscuits – Chicago IL
Infest – Miami FL
Deep Sleep – Gainesville FL
Tiny Empires – Gainesville FL
Old Flings – Gainesville FL
Frank Turner – Orlando FL (In-store, Park Ave Records)
Cory Branan & Jon Snodgrass – Ybor City FL
Koo Koo Kangra Roo –  Atlanta GA
Broncho – Ybor City FL

Joe Lanza - Guitarist Holy City Zoo
Notable Releases/Shows of 2013
My Bloody Valentine - MBV
Haim - Days Are Gone
France - Remember Kids, Your Pigeon Is Sacred
Dolly's - EP1 Court Tavern
Humboldts - Blockhead EP
Vasudeva - Life In Cycles
Pearl Jam - Mind Your Manners (Single Release)
Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Single Release)
Sound City: Real to Reel
Chemtrail - Your Frequencies Have Been Missed

My Bloody Valentine: Hammerstein Ballroom
Sound City Players: Hammerstein Ballroom (adolescent dream show come true part I)
Blink 182 - Starland Ballroom (adolescent dream show come true part II)
Any France Show
Dolly's EP Release Show: Court Tavern
Mission of Burma: Maxwells
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead: Maxwells
Toe: Glasslands Ballroom
Chemtrail: Paradise Lost (best post-rock performance I have ever experienced)
Vasudeva Release Show: Court Tavern

Mike Sylvia - Killing Horse Records / Singer Life Eaters
Worriers - Cruel Optimist ( Don Giovani)
The Night Marchers - Allez! Allez! (Swami)
Neko Case - The Worse Things Get... (Anti)
Mikal Cronin - MCII (Merge)
Black Hollies - Somewhere Between Here And Nowhere (Ernest Jennings)
Savages - Silence Yourself (Matador)
Mount Moriah - Miracle Temple (Merge)
Far Out Fangtooth - Borrowed Time (Slitbreeze)
Vacation - Candy Waves ( Don Giovani)
William Tyler - Impossible Truth (Merge)

Dromedary Records Al Crisafulli Shares His Thoughts and Favorites from the Year 2013

That's Al with the Merge shirt and cup of mirth.
I'm Al Crisafulli.  For the past 20 years, much of my free time has been devoted to running Dromedary Records, a tiny micro-indie label that's been fortunate enough to release a bunch of fantastic literate, guitar-based pop records by a lot of like-minded DIY enthusiasts.  In the process, we've all been able to forge some spectacular friendships, help some needy people in New Jersey, and put on some fucking unreal shows.

Aside from getting married and having kids, curating this great music has been the highlight of my life, and being asked to compile year-end lists like this, in addition to being incredibly flattering, is a great opportunity for me to point at some fantastic records that people need to hear.

2013 was an incredible year for independent music.  The top of my "favorite records" list is, in my opinion, beyond doubt, but the next five or six are relatively interchangeable.  And I'd be remiss if I didn't recognize the fantastic local music produced this year by the likes of Wax Darts, The Everymen, Speed the Plough, Wreaths, and the Karyn Kuhl Band.  Despite the closing of the state's greatest music venue, there's lots to be optimistic about when it comes to New Jersey indie rock.

Tan Vampires - Ephemera (self-released): Home-spun, rhythmic, folksy indie rock from
New Hampshire, beautiful and captivating.

 Iceage - You’re Nothing (Matador): Equal parts noisy and melodic; this is on one hand a crushing punk record, and on the other a harmonic masterpiece.

Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana (Carpark): Give me dissonant, riff-laden math rock, and I’ll love it every time.

Deafheaven - Sunbather (Deathwish Inc): Ever wonder what it would sound like to mix brutal speed metal with mellow post-rock?  It sounds like this, and it’s awesome.

d.smithsucks - The End Of Everything (self-released): Anthemic, Mould-esque guitar rock with an obvious Lemonheads influence from a guy who dislikes the Lemonheads.

Earthless - From the Ages (Tee Pee): Massive guitar solos, ten minutes long, like they’re supposed to be.

Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell & Angels (Legacy Recordings): unreleased studio recordings initially intended to be the followup to Electric Ladyland. A fresh batch of Hendrix just reminds me of how important his contributions were.

Widowspeak - Almanac (Captured Tracks): Mellow.

Jesu: Every Day I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came (Avalanche Recordings) -
Not enough songs.  Not loud enough. Still brilliant.

Cheetahs - Extended Plays (Wichita Recordings Ltd.): Washes of distortion, powerful
pop hooks, like a 90s indie rock revival. I’m an old man, I love this shit.

Polvo - Siberia (Merge): If I didn’t love their last one so much, I’d say this one might be their best work.

Yo La Tengo - Fade (Matador): Just a brilliant record, from a band that makes very few missteps.  Musically, there’s very little I will miss more than YLT’s Hanukkah shows at Maxwell’s.  Hopefully, anyone who got to see one understands just what a special thing those shows were.

Bailter Space - Trinine (Fire): Bailter Space is one of the greatest (and loudest) bands ever; their new record does not disappoint.

The Night Marchers - Allez Allez (Swami): Loud, sweaty bar rock with enormous hooks and catchy choruses.  What’s not to love?

Kvelertak - Meir (Roadrunner): Norwegian metal.  I can’t understand a fucking word they’re saying, and the cookie monster vocals fly in the face of everything else I listen to, but this is an absolutely amazing record, a collection of monstrous riffs and enormously melodic guitar work, and I’m fairly certain that if Kvelertak had existed when I was in high school,
I would have run away to Scandinavia.

There Will Be Fireworks - The Dark, Dark Bright (self-released): A powerful, dramatic piece of art, more mature than their debut but equally expressive.

Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze (Matador): When it came to Kurt Vile, I was not an early adopter, but now I’m working hard to catch up.  I love the laid back quality of his vocals, the reverb on the instruments, and the way his songs have a tendency to break somewhere in the middle before meandering off in a different direction, like a stoner with ADHD.

Bardo Pond - Peace On Venus (Fire): I’ve been fascinated with Bardo Pond’s melodic jams for 20 years.  Waves of massive distortion with beautiful, melodic flute passages over endlessly repetitive riffs create a complex brand of psychedelia that the term “stoner rock” simply doesn’t do justice.  When their music gets more accessible, as it does on this record, the result is always brilliant.

Bottomless Pit - Shade Perennial (Comedy Minus One): One of the best bands in America.

Radioactivity - s/t (Dirtnap): Blindingly fast guitar pop with brilliant hooks, like late 60’s garage pop, late 70’s skinny tie new wave, and mid-80’s punk rolled into one fantastic band.

Joel R. L. Phelps & the Downer Trio - Gala (12xu): Out of nowhere comes a new
Joel R.L. Phelps record, and it’s the most brilliant thing I’ve heard in a while.  Not even a contest, easily the best record of the year.

Favorite Reissues:

Frank Zappa - Apostrophe (Zappa): Finally, all the Zappa titles are being released digitally.  Apostrophe is one of my favorites, if only because “Uncle Remus” is my favorite Zappa song and I’m finally able to own a clean digital copy of it AND properly compensate the estate.

Come - 11:11 (Matador): Fuzz-encrusted blues.  One of the most beautiful bands, probably their best record.

Speed the Plough - The Plough and The Stars (Bar/None): A lavishly-packaged collection of songs from their first four out-of-print albums, rare live recordings, and some new stuff as well, released by New Jersey’s greatest record label.

Songs: Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co (Secretly Canadian): Songwriting.

Lemonheads - Creator (Fire): One of the best records by a band that’s been a massive influence on me and my little record label, it’s so great to see these records back in print again (and to hear the Lemonheads with Evan Dando and Ben Deily together)

Favorite Live Performances:

The Feelies - Maxwell’s, July 3: Saying good bye to the world’s greatest venue, Brenda Sauter singing the Velvet Underground’s “After Hours” to close the set.  Not a dry eye in the house.

Yo La Tengo - Boulder Theater, May 21: Catching one of my favorite bands from back home while in the midst of a long, cross-country trip took away some of the homesickness.

Overlake - Asbury Lanes, September 19: Watching a great new band coming into their own is an exciting thing, and this performance was tremendous.

Stuyvesant - Maxwell’s, June 26: New Jersey’s best band play their final show at their home base.

Stuyvesant/The Brixton Riot/The Anderson Council - The Court Tavern, February 9:
Just a great bill.  Loads of power pop.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Courtesy Tier drummer Layton Weedeman Shares his List of Favorites from 2013

Photo courtesy of Leyla Lacheri
Drummer Courtesy Tier / DJ Laytonic
When I first contacted Layton about contributing to this years Best of 2013 list.
I was more than confident he'd bring something completely unique and interesting to the table. Drummer for the Brooklyn's
The Courtesy Tier. A band whose EP
 'Holy Hot Fire' had me singing it's praises to anyone and everyone willing to listen. It wasn't until we started talking about his other passion that we bonded over vinyl records, soul music, hip hop and specifically, Detroit's own J. Dilla Layton's list and attention to passionate detail was more than deserving of his own post.
I can only hope we can drag him in from time to time to drop some key knowledge from the underground,  Here's to seeing that through. Thanks kid. James Damion

DJ Laytonic  Beats, Rhythm, Life
The Courtesy Tier Bandcamp

Joey Bada$$ x J Dilla - Two Lips (single)
I've been hearing about this young MC from Brooklyn, Joey Bada$$ over the year, and heard a few tracks that I really liked, but didn't go much further into finding more from him.
Just last week, he released a new track rhyming over an unreleased J Dilla beat and I instantly fell in love. Not only is the track lo-fi and fresh, the J Dilla Foundation pressed a limited amount of 7" singles with all proceeds going towards schools in low income communities paying for musical instruments and programs.

With a totally awesome marketing campaign through Stones Throw Records earlier this year releasing three cassette mixtapes, each borrowing artwork from three different popular American brands, Marlboro, Coca-Cola, and the first Apple iPod, artist-on-the-rise,
Jonwayne released his first full-length "Rap Album One" just a few weeks back with immediate underground and critical acclaim. True rap music at it's best. 

Busta Rhymes ft. Q-Tip - Thank You (single)
Veterans to the hip-hop world, Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip team up on this really fun and cool sample of the Alicia Meyers original with some help from Kanye West and Lil Wayne.
Keep an eye out for the new Busta full-length Extinction Level Event 2 scheduled for released early 2014.

Drake - Nothing Was The Same (full-length)
With all the hype that surrounds this artist, I had to give it a listen and see what all the talk was about, and I was not disappointed. You can laugh and criticize if you wanna, but this album sounds incredible production wise, and lyrically can be relatable if you forgive the parts where Drake mentions money and how big his house is. If you're a sucker for love and stories of heartbreak, then you'll really appreciate Drake singing the blues.

Say what you want about Kanye West, dude knows how to make music and change the game. Always staying on the forefront of innovation musically, Kanye did not make an album you can listen to at the club. This is raw and hardcore music that is powerful and unsettling. Definitely a favorite of 2013.

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib ft. Karriem Riggins - City (single)
One of my favorite producers of all time next to Dilla, is Madlib. Pretty much anything he puts out I'm interested in. Gary, Indiana MC Freddie Gibbs has been in the rap game for quite awhile, but never hit my radar until he teamed up with Madlib for an upcoming
full-length. Here is a single released for the Adult Swin Singles Series.

Madlib & Freddie Gibbs - Deeper EP
A couple tracks here from the upcoming full-length with Freddie Gibbs & Madlib. Hardcore rap lyrics reminiscent of N.W.A. meets funky, soulful, beat making from one of my favorite producers. The sample based tracks alone will satisfy any hip-hip aficionado and
Freddie's hardcore rap lyrics make you feel like your cruising around on rims rolling through the intensity of the ghetto. Real music.

Steve Arrington & Dam-Funk - Higher (full-length)
On a lighter note, Slave front man and veteran to funk music, Steve Arrington teamed up with west coast groove-funk producer Dam-Funk for a powerfully fresh and fun collaboration called "Higher". Funky beats and positive words, this album will make you want to get high and move your body. A solid listen from beginning to end.

Homeboy Sandman - The Plot Thickens (single)
I really dig this MC from the Bronx, Homeboy Sandman, but sometimes his releases can be hit or miss in my opinion. I still check out everything he puts out, which I guess says something about the type of artist he is, but this track in particular is so good.
Beats by Brooklyn native Keith Edwards, I love the feel and flow of this track.

The Sixth Borough's Brian Macko Shares his Thoughts on the Year that was 2013 (Draft)

I was asked to do a year in review by good old James Damion of United By Rocket Science, and was more than happy to do so. When I asked him exactly what it was he was looking for, he replied "Just talk about new music from the past year, shows you attended and whatever moved you."

Well, the most memorable show for me this past 2013 was Judge reuniting for the first time in
'God knows how long'.  The band headlined two nights at Webster Hall in New York City last May for the Black N Blue Bowl 2013. I flew up from South Florida that Thursday to actually attend a wedding that Friday night. By flying up earlier guaranteed me extra time to spend with friends and family. The universe lined up in my favor for me on this weekend. What I mean by this is, that I was able to attend a close friend’s wedding and go to a memorable show in that same weekend.
I was only able to attend the Saturday show at Webster Hall due to me flying back to Florida that Sunday evening. That was good enough for me.
I can say the only thing that bummed me out, not attending the Sunday show,  was not being able to see Kill Your Idols. The last time that I saw them perform was during the days of Coney Island High. The highlights of the Saturday Judge show were AltercationBlack Train Jack, Breakdown and Judge. The lowlights of the show were the over priced beverages, the venue being too small for an event of this magnitude and  that is was too fucking hot inside. The "cherry on top" was being extremely hung over from the wedding the night before.  The best thing about that show obviously was getting to see Judge perform.  Almost everyone in that place was singing along with Mike as he brought those songs back to life. It felt like we were part of something special. Especially since this was the first time they have performed in years.

As far as new music goes; there are some bands, though not all that new to most, are to me. Bands I feel worth checking out. One group I'm really psyched about it is a Hardcore band from the West Palm Beach area of Florida called Old Habits. They currently have a record out on Eulogy Records titled 'Bury Everything'. Let's just say that ever since I picked up this album, it hasn't left my CD walkman. (Yes, I still use a CD Walkman.)

The second band that I can mention comes out of the Orange county area of California called Done Dying.  These Hardcore veterans put out an EP in 2013 on Reaper Records titles 'Dressed For Distress.  This EP certainly relates to people that are my age and older and that is because of  Dan O’Mahony's (No For An Answer, 411, Speak 714) singing about what's going on in his life right now at his age.  Getting older isn’t always pretty, but
Done Dying has put out a pretty damn good EP.

The third and final band I came across this year is  House of Others and I tell you, they are fucking rad. They have an all star line up of New Jersey’s Hardcore’s finest. Consisting of former members of Vision, Shades Apart, Ensign, Damn This Desert Air, and
The Fire Still Burns. House of Others  came to me from the bands guitarist Peter Tabbot. I had used it on the playlist for episode # 62 of The Sixth Borough Radio Show. Peter was the musical guest for that episode and at the time, on the show told me about his involvement in the film/documentary 'Riot on the Dance Floor'.  The film/documentary is about the legendary Trenton New Jersey club known as City Gardens. I was told it should be ready in the Spring/Summer for the film/music festivals.

Finally, what has moved me most is something James had asked me to talk about. I am not really sure that I can at this moment. What I will talk about is how I really miss being around my family. How having music, especially Hardcore, made making the transition a bit easier. So, as Raybeez would say, "KEEP THE FAITH". Because, no matter how much garbage music is out there, there is always something good or positive to help you keep that faith.

Cheers and take it ease in 2014.
Brian Macko

Keep listening to The Sixth Borough Radio Show here at Sixth Borough Show

The Brixton Riot's Jerry Lardieri Shares his List of Favorites from the Year 2013

Jerry Lardieri - Guitarist / Singer The Brixton Riot
The Brixton Riot

My name is Jerry, and I play guitar in a band called 
The Brixton Riot.  We've been together for seven years, so we've lasted longer than a lot of marriages.  We're all pushing 40 and have full time jobs and families.  Our songs tend to be loud and uptempo, which finds us in the uncomfortable demographic of too loud for people our own age (they don't ever go out anyway) and too old and ugly for the young people who question why we're not at a Lowe's or watching UFC with the other dads.  We don't use copious amounts of reverb.  We don't sing falsetto.  We don't wear V neck t-shirts.  We don't have facial hair, at least not of pre-Civil War length.  We're about as uncool as you can get and we have a lot more fun then we probably should.  Our moms probably think we should have outgrown this phase.  Not happening anytime soon.

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the steady stream of best of lists by the music press.  They're always a good place to search for hidden gems that I missed over the last 12 months, or to be reminded of some of the earlier contenders that got lost somewhere between season changes.  But lately, there seems to be a lack of diversity in a lot of the more popular music blogs and websites, even the ones that claim to be "independent" (a term that has about as much meaning in 2013 as "alternative" did in 1995).  I knew when they were released that records by Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Daft Punk would be dotted across a lot of these lists.  And they were.  Of course they were. 

But not mine.  In fact, this isn't really a best of list at all.  It's a little silly ranking albums like basketball teams in a bracket.  Other than the actual notes and melodies, there's an emotional subtext that resonates with each individual listener, and trying to tell another person what they should feel is a fool's errand.  So this isn't a true "best of list" as much as it's a list of musical items that resonated with me in 2013.  I'm flattered that James asked me to write this, and since you made it this far, you might as well read the list now.

Favorite Album of 2013 
Superchunk's "I Hate Music"
Picking favorites may have been hard, but #1 was never in question. Superchunk's "Majesty Shredding" was my favorite record of 2010 and its follow-up tops my list this year.  Great songs, great production and great performances. Not a bad track on here.

Favorite Album That Avoided The Sophmore Slump
Veronica Falls' -  "Waiting For Something"
Loaded with jangling, chimey guitars and beautiful vocals, Veronica Falls' recalls some of the 90's New Zealand/Flying Nun sound perfected by bands like The Bats and The Chills.
Waiting For Something

Favorite Album By A Band From Brooklyn - "New Moon" by The Men
For the second straight year, The Men have produced an outstanding, completely unpretentious guitar rock record.  And coming from Brooklyn, that's quite an accomplishment.
New Moon

Favorite Live Album/Reunion of Sorts - The Chills' "Somewhere Beautiful"/"Molten Gold" single
"Somewhere Beautiful" serves two purposes - it's an excellent retrospective of The Chills' best songs in one package and it's also a "victory lap" of sorts for Martin Phillips'.  Not content to simply revisit the past, their new single "Molten Gold" was my favorite single this year.
Somewhere Beautiful

 Swervedriver - "Deep Wound" Deep Wound

Favorite Not-Quite-A-Reissue-But-Not-Quite-A-New-Album 
Eleventh Dream Day's "New Moodio"
This is the bizzaro world version of Eleventh Dream Day's classic "El Moodio", recorded and financed by the band back in 1991 and finally available to all thanks to NJ based Comedy Minus One.
New Moodio

Favorite Actual Reissue:
The Verlaines' "Juvenelia"
Having been very late to the party, I only discovered Juvenelia a few years ago, but it's become one of my favorite records.  Looking forward to getting an "honest" copy.

Favorite Album That Made Me Want A Baritone Guitar:
Bottomless Pit's - "Shade Perennial"
Despite being a Bottomless Pit fan since "Hammer Of The Gods", this was the year I first listened to Silkworm, the previous outfit of BP's Andy Cohen and Tim Midyett.  And I listened to them A LOT. If the rules allowed me to pick albums from previous years, 50% of them would likely be Silkworm records.  I've loved everything Bottomless Pit has put out to date and this is no exception.
Shade Perennial

Favorite Album From A New Jersey Institution:
Yo La Tengo's "Fade"
It's definitely on the quieter side of their catalog, but I really enjoyed the sound of this one.

Favorite Album Discovered Too Late For Summer:
Upset's  -  "She's Gone"
This reminds me a lot of some of my favorite female fronted 90's bands - specifically Velocity Girl and Sleepyhead.  And that's definitely a good thing.
She's Gone

Favorite Live Show:
Screaming Females at Maxwell's
Nobody really wanted to say goodbye, but I'm glad my final memory of Maxwell's will be watching this New Brunswick trio blow the roof off the joint - and watching my wife get completely blown away by her first Screaming Females show.

Holy City Zoo's Frank De Franco Reflects on his Personal Favorites of the Year 2013

After a few years of posting our annual personal "best of" lists. We decided to do something a little different by enlisting some of our favorite artists. Asking them about what moved them in 2013. The releases, the bands, the shows? There were no real boundaries set. 
"Got a ten best list for us? That's fine. Thirteen? Go for it." At the time, I honestly wasn't expecting many returns. Let alone, detailed lists with personal stories and well searched links. The overall diversity was overwhelming yet welcomed. In order to refrain from overwhelming anyone with an endless list of lists. I decided to break them up a bit and filter the posts. Thanks to Frank and everyone who took the time to put together and ultimately share their favorites. Happy New Year. James Damion

Holy City Zoo  Bandcamp

Hi. I’m Frank DeFranco. "I dig music."For the past several years I’ve played guitar and sang in a band with some of the best friends I’ve ever had called Holy City Zoo. I now also play guitar and sing in a another band called NGHTCRWLRS,
comprised of people I’ve became friends with through playing shows together with Holy City Zoo and their existing/previously existing bands.  Below is a list of my top 9 (nine is my favorite single digit number) releases of 2013.  No specific order.  
All excellent listens (I’d say “scout’s honor” but I was never a boy scout).  I don’t know everything there is to know about music (no one does), but I do spend a large amount of time every year exploring the realm of “new releases.”  
I’ve been fortunate enough to have played, or at least seen live a number of the bands in this list, all experiences I will never forget.  Enjoy (or don’t and hate my guts for wasting your time)!

AM by Ovlov (Exploding in Sound Records)
Ovlov’s debut full length AM has no weak points.  Period.  Although they are commonly bucketed with many bands that are playing a “90’s revival” type sound, they are so much more than that.  Every song on this record is a well-crafted alternative rock track.  It’s a lo-fi, noisey, catchy, emotional, power-packed record made by a band of three biological brothers – and that’s not the only way in which this record is a “family” effort.  Featured on this record are multiple members of the Exploding in Sound family including Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz), Andy Chervenak (Grass is Green),
Devin McKnight (Grass is Green, Badknight), and Michael John Thomas III (Grass is Green, SuperVolcano).  The record was also produced, engineered & mixed by M.J.T. III.

m b v by My Bloody Valentine (Self Released)
22 years after releasing the legendary album Loveless, one night sitting in my house, my facebook newsfeed blew the fuck up about the new My Bloody Valentine record being released. There was no press hype or any of that…they just kind of dropped it on the public out of nowhere. The surprise turned out to be one of the best of the year. The songs flow and drift as spacey moving passages, creating melodic walls of noise that are undeniably beautiful. 
 This record caught so much hype and has had a bagillion reviews written by a lot better writers than myself, so it’s really hard to say something that hasn’t been said about this album. All I can say is that you are doing yourself a complete disservice if you don’t check it out.

Days Are Gone by Haim (Polydor Records)
One day I was walking around Hoboken on my lunch break and was chatting on the phone with my band mate Joe about random HCZ things we needed to do and mid conversation he asked me if I had ever heard of a band called “Haim.” 
 I told him no. His immediate response was “DUDE! Okay picture this…80’s styled pop music with 90’s R&B styled vocals with 2000’s production…and they play their own instruments.” Obviously I had to go and listen to this immediately when our call ended. Joe’s description = spot on. Three sisters from Cali, totally killing it. Every song is so damn catchy, I’m constantly flip flopping on what my favorite song on the album is. Easily my favorite pop record of 2013.

New Colors by ex wife (Evil Weevil Records)
This New Brunswick, NJ based band is one I’ve been following for some years now. After evolving from a two-piece band to a three-piece band, releasing several EPs and exploring their sound stylistically, New Colors is ex wife’s most mature release to date. This record in specific, shows a much stronger 80’s indie alternative influence that was not shown as much in their past releases. Also what is interesting about this record is that the bass riffs shred quite thoroughly throughout the record, carrying many of the songs, while the baritone guitar and vocals create a spacious wall of sound, all while locking into driving, perfectly fitting drum beats. These things, along with the way the bass and baritone guitar harmonize with one another, 
ex wife have surely found their sound with this record. The record was also recorded by the band’s own Nick Bolton. Can’t wait to see what they got up their sleeves with their next release.

Sunbather by Deafheaven (Deathwish Inc.)
Without question this is the most brutal record on this list. Typically I’m not really into the whole death metal thing (I tend to prefer old school thrash metal), however this record blew my fucking lid off. Sunbather takes metal to a place that I’ve never heard it been taken to before. The only way I can really describe them is that you should imagine that Explosions in the Sky took a bunch of acid, had a bad trip and decided to become a death metal band. 
 They thrash suuuupppeerr hard, but while doing so, they are playing some of the most beautiful melodic alternative/post-rock esque progressions. I’m still convinced their drummer is either a robot or from another planet, because no human should be able to physically play that fast. If you want to listen to a metal record that will be unlike anything you’ve ever heard…go listen to this record now.

X’ed Out by Tera Melos (Sargent House Records)
Well I got to say that it is always wonderful news when I hear that Tera Melos is making a new record. Watching them evolve from a 4 piece instrumental math rock band into a 3 piece whacktastic, psychedelic, mathish, alterna-punk band with surfer-pop styled vocals has been a complete listening adventure. This record continues the journey of 
Tera Melos seeing where they can push the limit to. Of all their releases, X’ed Out definitely contains the most traditionally structured songs they have ever released. That being said…nothing about this record is typical or traditional sounding. Although many parts in these songs may be a bit simpler instrumentally than in past releases, the band they’ve become could never have written the songs they are writing now in their past years. With this record they have truly created a unique sound of their own that has never been explored before 
(and I would love to see someone attempt to get close to sounding like it…it’s not going to happen).

Remember Kids, Your Pigeon is Sacred by France (Self Released)
So this is the only release in this list that is not a full length album. At the same time, I have listened to the two songs on this release more times than possibly any other songs in the past year. France, a 2-piece band from New Jersey, is everything that the Black Keys wish they could be (yes I’m going there, yes this band is that good). The first track “Big Kids” is a straight forward rock n’ roll song, pure driving, pure awesomeness. And though traditional sounding rock n’ roll songs have existed for decades, France is a breath of fresh air, purely authentic, filled with genuine angst. The second track “Honey” is a ballad. But not just any damn ballad. It has one of the most bad ass rock riffs that’s been written since the heavy rock n’ roll heydays of the 1970’s. Completely badass. Completely authentic. If you love rock music and want something that sounds familiar but totally its own, filled with passionate lyrics and an overall emotional rush, France is for you.

In Utero (2013 Albini Mixes) – Nirvana (DGC Records)
So In Utero is far from a new album. In fact, this year was its 20th Anniversary
and is a record that dramatically shaped many things about the way I look at music.
 Nirvana is the reason I dropped the Saxophone and picked up a guitar in the 8th grade.
Nirvana is also the only band that I have lyrics of permanently drawn into my skin (also the only ink I have in general). So when I heard this was coming out and that Albini was sitting in with the living members of the band to do a remix for 2013, I got a little bit excited. Do I like the new mixes as much as the original? Definitely not. As a Nirvana fanboy, am I totally stoked that different sounding versions of these recordings exist? YOU BET YOUR ASS I AM! Little things such as the use of an alternate take of a guitar solo on “Serve the Servants” or the originally excluded additional acoustic guitar in “All Apologies” or the extra feedback in the beginning of “Very Ape” were all things that allowed me to have a new listening experience of an album that I know better than most. Happy this made me very much.

Dollys – EP1 (Self Released)
Okay, so I lied. There’s another EP in this list, but deservingly so. Out of the ashes of Green Paper, a band I used to love (and loved playing with) is Dollys. All I can say about Dollys is WOW.The harmonies. The melodies. Every instrument on every song. Just WOW. Melodic, psychedelic, alternative pop-rock that is sensational. Closing your eyes and listening to this EP is like traveling through a psychedelic dream. The alternating of lead vocals and their choice of melodies are near magical. The guitar solos are a journey through intergalactic space. There definitely is some kind of a throwback feel to the record, but like other records on this list with a throwback feel, it does not sound like they are trying to be another band. Instead they totally their own thing, and their own thing is pretty damn awesome. Not to mention they self-recorded, mixed and produced the record too. Dollys. 
Do it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mothman - Proboscis 5 Song EP

Before, or even instead of reading my review of this submission. I'd like to direct you towards Dave G.'s. One which he rightfully decided to post on his original blog, which by the way, was the name of his record label. The same one that released the orignal Mothman's 7 inch EP in 1996. JD
Here's the link; 

I really liked the band Mothman (now know as The Nolan Gate.) back in the earlyto mid  90's.
My buddy and blog partner Dave G. liked them so much he put their records out on his label Rocket Science. Personally, I have a picture of some graffiti from the bathroom wall of the long gone
East Village venue Brownie's that reads
"Mothman frightens my urine." (and they did.) Well, this isn't that band

Fucking unlistenable, unbearable and intolerable.
If I had any advice for this band, it would be to change the name to one that has been recorded on, become an instrumental only outfit and teach your singer how to be a roady. This five song screamo EP is five songs too much.
It's like listening to a chick in a fucking blender.When they actually do try to sing. You realize why they were screaming in the first place.

Being that the band are just starting out (Proboscis was just recorded this month.) and they seem kinda young. I'll try to cut them some slack. However, with the world wide web at their disposal. It might be a good idea to do a little research on the band name you pick.
Call me a dick, but I've seen this happening a lot in recent years and I see it happening a lot in the same genres. Up your game kids and good luck in the future. 
James Damion

Mothman Bandcamp

Postive No - S/T

Dreamy uplifting pop that reminds me of a lot of the great acts that sprung up in the early 90's and at times, even
April March. Richmond's Positive No allow the tongue to release the term "Indie Pop" without ever having the urge to bit it. Tracy's voice is a pure slice of heaven.
Warm, summery and downright positive. Hinting at a sense of hope and optimism that lifts the spirits. Each of Positive No's five tracks invite themselves in. Perfectly melding dreamy pop with elements of shoe gaze. For those familiar with
Tracy Keats Wilson.
Positive No is more akin to what she produced with Dunebuggy than her work with her work with Dahlia Seed and as Ringfinger. Though recorded just as the arctic apocalypse began to roll in. Positive No is about as warm and summery as they come. Recorded by the legendary J Robbins at his Baltimore studio Magpie Cage. Isn't is cool when one of your favorite records of the year comes just as it seems to be coming to an end? James Damion

Bandcamp Positive No

J Dilla Documentary

I was sitting in Dalek's Union City studio interviewing MC Dalek and producer Oktopus a few years back. Sitting amongst the mountains of vinyl, turntables and mixers, the band spoke of their musical journey and wide array of influences. The conversation flowed as Alap Momin (MC Dalek) traced his routes and musical journey. I felt an almost immediate connection having shared  many of the experiences and mutual friends. It wasn't until he brought up his biggest influence that I drew a complete and total blank. That influence was Detroit's own J. Dilla (James Dewitt Yancey) I found myself scratching my head, curiously wondering just what I had missed. Sadly, Dilla had already passed. His death in 2006 at the age of 32 due to a rare blood disease (and possibly kidney failure) left us with an incredible music legacy and reputation as one of the most influential and respect Hip Hop artists and producers in the industry. Since that conversation with Dalek and numerous ones with D.J.'s and fans alike. I've fallen in love with the mans music, finding one gem after another on vinyl. In recent months I've picked up seven of his albums. Listening closely to each track with mindful ears. 
James Damion

ILVCIA - Nature of Reason

Formed in Barcelona Spain in 2010 ILVCIA offer something a little different from what this blog is used to posting.
Though I've been a bit hesitant to open submissions these days. A good amount of rest and some strong coffee had me feeling a bit more optimistic and open minded on this particular snowy morning.
Self described as
Progressive Rock, my ears would liken their sound to a classical music platform.
Six beautifully orchestrated and composed songs, most of which are instrumentals.
When vocals are added, such as on "Sir T. Weaver", they are lush and expansive.
"The Nature of Reason" really threw me a curve as far as what I'm used to hearing. Though this really isn't my cup of joe, I'm glad I had a chance to give it a listen and share it's merits with you guys and dolls. James Damion

ILVCIA  Bandcamp

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dahlia Seed - Full Sets

Whenever the conversation of "best bands of the 90's" or "What bands left the most lasting impression on you over the years." comes up. Most of the people I've spoken to will pull a large and inflated name out of their hat and drop it as if it was scalding pan of grits. 
Bands they discovered through Billboard charts, MTV or a Rolling Stone cover story. For me personally, it was always about the smaller local bands. The ones I had the opportunity to see in local clubs, bars, basements and random holes in the wall. One of my absolute favorites was a Rockland County band known as Dahlia Seed. I first met Tracy in 92/93 during a trips to Maxwell's and Flipside Records. Having seen them at Maxwells, 
ABC No Rio, Tramps and a handful of other holes. At the time, I knew for sure I was witnessing something special and very unique. Their performances ran the gamut of raw, emotions and unbridled energy. I often recall how Tracy's cathartic performances often made the hair on my arm stand on end. Needless to say, they left a lasting impression on this idealistic twenty something. 
These days I still call Tracy a friend and since moving to New Jersey at the tail end of 2000. Have developed friendships with Darin (Drummer, Chris (Guitar) and Jon (Second Guitarist) and continue to view the band as one that left an indelible foot print on my life. Enough of my rambling. I hope you enjoy these two full sets I've posted. Until the next time. 
James Damion

Last FM Dahlia Seed

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Rough yet hooky punk rock from Vancouver Canada with a vocal approach that brings Hot Water Music to mind and a looseness that brings Operation Ivy to mind, minus the ska tendencies of Op Ivy. Overall, a promising demo tape from a band I would be curious to hear more from in the future. Keep an eye out for a couple future split releases...Dave G.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Heavyweight Champion of Record Blogging

In 2013 and going as far back as 2012 I quickly became obsessed with you tubes bottomless pit of record diggers, vinyl junkies and just about anything involving record collecting. There are many, many people who share the love, passion and obsession of crate digging and vinyl hoarding. After over a year of searching and viewing numerous people talk about and share their record collections. I finally struck video blogger gold. After watching a single video post from this gentle giant I was hooked. His laid back nature, natural vibe and selection of diverse music from various genres led me from one post to another. Here is a man who seems to have a unique and interesting story to tell. One I'd be very interested in hearing. Without further ado, I give you, Dereck Von. James Damion

Friday, December 6, 2013

Black Flag - 'What The..."

Black Flag is back with their new album "What The..." featuring founding member Greg Ginn with the band's second vocalist Ron Reyes. "What The..." is a musical return to form for Black Flag, it's tight, fast and aggressive despite the fact that it sounds like they're repeating themselves.
Redeeming moments are found in'The Chase', 'It's So Absurd' and 'No Teeth', but the album as a whole is very disappointing.
Greg Ginn's guitar work is snarly and satisfying when he makes it scream and Ron's yelling sounds as good as ever. The quality is alright, everything is audible, however the songwriting is lackluster.
'My Heart's Pumping' would be more powerful if
'Slow Your Ass Down' was omitted. It's the same deal with 'Down In The Dirt' and 'Blood and Ashes.'
Also, "What The..." has the weirdest cover artwork I've ever seen on a Black Flag record.
It looks like a South Park character rendered in MS Paint in 1996.  All in all, I wouldn't recommend picking it up unless you're really clamoring for some new Black Flag.
Paul Loza

Find it Here

Thursday, December 5, 2013

High on Fire Video for "Slave the Hive" Posted

High On Fire have posted a video for "Slave the Hive." The song, available as limited edition 7-inch at every stop of the group's current headlining tour, marks the first new music from the California metal band since the spring 2012 release of De Vermis Mysteriis . 
James Damion

You can also check out the free download below.

Fred Hammer's 'Take the Manic Ride' Book Available for Pre-Order on RevHQ

Take the Manic Ride a title taken from Blast's well known album of the same name features the photography of Nardcore legend and hardcore/punk photographer Fred Hammer. The 8.5" X 11", 100 page perfect bound/soft cover book features 200 photographs and includes a free 18" X 24" poster and sticker. One can only imagine what memories and stories these images will inspire. Having seen Blast on that 'Take the Manic Ride' tour. I can only imagine. Go over to RevQ and pre-order to secure it's spot under the Christmas tree.
James Damion

RevHQ  Pre-order it here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Happy Birthday to Agnostic Front's Vinnie Stigma

What kind of blog would we be if we didn't wish Vinnie Stigma, the godfather of NYHC a happy birthday. Sure, I haven't seen Agnostic Front since their 'Live at CBGB's' album way back in 1989. But I feel I need to pay my debt to a man who helped shape my early years on the Hardcore scene. Happy Birthday and thanks for the memories. James Damion