Friday, February 28, 2014

Holy City Zoo - Grandview Terrace

Holy City Zoo's latest single 'Grandview Terrace' is now available on Bandcamp for a 
"name your price" option.
The single is also available through the band as a limited 
Compact Disc. Packing of the CD hand cut, hand/computer printed and wrapped. 
As an added bonus, each CD contains a unique "Zoo Fact." Mine was Zoo fact #17 
"Soap is not overrated. Shampoo, maybe." 
You know what they say, "Knowledge is Power."
James Damion

Not Blood Paint - Time to Deliver Available Now

'Time to Deliver', the new five song EP from Brooklyn's
Not Blood Paint is available for a "Name Your Price" option on Bandcamp. Mastered by
Kevin Blackler at
Blackler Mastering,
Brooklyn, N.Y. Cover by Booters Liebmann-Smith and
George Frye. 'Time to Deliver' marks the bands 6th release since their 2011 debut 'Tommy'. If the EP's artwork doesn't draw you in.
The bands glam rock guitar sound, prog rock genius and downright sinister delivery make for an interesting listen. Check it out.
James Damion

Not Blood Paint Bandcamp

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Sound is Fine - S/T EP

When a friend (Or someone who seems to be under the guise that your opinion amounts to little more than two cents.) decides to drop his latest project on your lap. The first thing that often comes to mind is "Oh God, I hope this doesn't suck." Lucky for everyone involved, The Sound is Fine more than lived up to their namesake.

Fuzzed out guitars battle bratty vocals while spacious melodies wash over the listener like cocaine on the set of
Two and a Half Men.
The opening track
'Big Dream Kid' immediately brings to mind 90's indie Rockers Archers of Loaf.
While 'Another Pup Kicked' and 'Blackout' swim in the deep end of the pool with a mix of 70's Hard Rock and 90's Alternative excellence. The EP's closer 'Running in Squares' has spacey and atmospheric characteristics that remind of the members former band
The Nico Blues. Although I miss the Indie sweethearts. It's nice to see its former members break new ground and explore new things.With a debut this good,
The Sound is Fine are sure to make a mark on the ever changing indie music landscape.
James Damion

The Sound is Fine  Get it Here

TV Sound - Amber Glass High

With an ancestry deeply routed in Kearny, New Jersey's infamous and secretive Punk Rock Mafia. TV Sound have resurrected their late 90's Rock Punk to stake a claim to the throne.
'Amber Glass High' seven song blast of high octane Rock n' Roll marks their second release on
Killing Horse Records and their first newly recorded material since the original release of
'Record Jacket Life' back in 1999. Review Here
Guitar driven Rock and working class anthems resonate throughout each song. Favorites like the rousing and anthemic
'Get Your Gear on' and
'The Girl You Never Got' highlight the band's blue collar appeal. While the live version of
'We Laughed at the World' cement the bands presence as a band of the people and for the people. In listening to TV Sound, I find myself drawing comparisons between label mates
The Everymen and Dromedary Records The 65's. 'Amber Glass High' serves as the soundtrack to dirty hands and scraped knuckles. A perfect fit on the jukebox of your local pub, tavern or watering hall.
James Damion

Killing Horse Records Get it Here

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Night of Releases, Debuts and Celebratory Hugs at the Court Tavern

Due to my hunger and the fact I spent most of the early part of my evening waiting for my food to come out of the kitchen. I managed to miss most of Darryl Norrell's acoustic set. The two or so songs had a laid back and cozy appeal that would have felt a lot more intimate if the crowd assembled had come anywhere close to the stage. Blame it on my empty stomach, but I was starting to picture myself sitting up on stage with the band roasting marsh mellows. Take it any way you want. It seemed a nice way to open the night. Say what you want, butI think that long bench at the back of the room serves as a Lazy-Boy for a lot of people who just aren't quite ready to fully commit to a good time.

Sink Tapes followed and though I had no prior knowledge of the local New Brunswick quartet. I found myself immediately drawn to their melodic and seemingly effortless approach to Indie Rock. Their set quite impressive musically. I felt drawn to
drummer / vocalist Gabe's delicate vocal delivery and easy approach to the drums.
I created an imaginary line a few feet from the stage. Not wanting to disturb the intimate setting their set created. My one regret of the night was not bringing enough cash to properly ransack Sink Tapes merch table. I hope to get the chance again soon. Only time will tell.

Considering how much time I've spent lending my ears to Modern Chemistry's
'We'll grow out of this' Review Here
and 'An Introduction' Review Here.
It's hard to imagine this was my first opportunity catch the band live. Lucky I caught them on this particular night, considering this was to be the bands last local show for some time.
Their uplifting energy and spirit moved the laid back and somewhat stand offish crowd away from the bar and the comfort of the bleachers within striking distance of the stage.
Lead singer / guitarist Brendan Hourican grades high in the frontman department. A mix of energy, charisma and the ability to perfectly engage in onstage banter without it sounding forced or phony. The band's set included  songs from both EP's along with a couple of new ones.
Considering Modern Chemistry list 80's
Power Pop band The Outfield as one of their key influences. I shouldn't have been the least bit surprised when they rolled out a cover of the bands sole hit 'Your Love'. Regardless, my jaw dropped so low. I can accurately relay the the floor of the Court Tavern tastes like a combination of rubber and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
It really raised the eyes and ears of the already involved crowd and put a nice ribbon on an excellent set.

Being that it was their very first show. The Sound is Fine landed a pretty sweet spot on the bill. The Wayne, New Jersey natives whose members comprise of two sets of brothers (Reed and Skyler Adler and Evan and Colin Campbell) are no strangers to the New Jersey independent music scene. Reed, Skyler and Evan comprised 3/5 of the now defunct
Nico Blues. Truth be told. I may have never made it out if it were not for Reed personally asking. It's hard to believe it's been over a year since I've seen these guys. The band played a tight set of celebratory Rock n' Roll  that included songs from their debut EP. One so good, I knew the words and hooks to each song before they even plugged in. Life their predecessors The Nico Blues. I can see The Sound is Fine making a big impression on the current New Jersey music scene and beyond. Be sure to check back in Friday for my review of the EP.

With their new single 'Grandview Terrace' in tow. Local heroes Holy City Zoo closed the night on a high note. The band and personnel have been favorites of mine since the inception of the blog in 2001. Earning a special place in my heart and partial credit for my continual hearing loss. While The New Brunswick noise makers provide the energy and intensity of the areas best Hardcore our. They've grown to become on of the most musically proficient and technically smart band I can think of. Think Rye Coalition meets the Foo Fighters in a dirty New Brunswick basement. I can't think of four more laid back and chill people to hang out with. Interesting, considering the brutal savages they become when plugged in.
It wouldn't be a Holy City Zoo gig if Frank didn't remove his shirt to revel his werewolf lineage. Like Modern Chemistry, they mentioned this would be their last local show in quite a while. They plan on following the new single with an extended lockdown in the studio.
One can only hope the time spent will help produce the bands first full length and big big spot for me on the "Thank List." Only time will tell. James Damion
This was only my second time back since the Church St. landmark reopened and it can't go without saying the new owners have really done a great job with the place. I look forward to more shows, warmer weather and a few games of pool in the near future.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Gaslight Anthem - The B-Sides

When a band or record label decide to release a B - Sides collection. It's almost a sure sign of either a band in decline or one long gone. In this case The Gaslight Anthem's latest 'The B-Sides' appears to be a small offering to fans clamoring for a new album from their beloved band.
'B-Sides' features eleven tracks, six of which are acoustic and one live. Noteworthy is the moving cover of Pearl Jam's
'State of 'Love and Trust' (Recorded live at NYC's
Webster Hall.)  Side B's
'Songs for Teenagers' and the acoustic 'American Slang' also earn favorite status on this overall underwhelming collection of songs. While not a bad album, it's moments, like on the bands uninspiring cover of The Rolling Stone's
'Tumbling Dice', that reminded me why B Side albums and Box Sets have earned their reputation as disappointing and ultimately unnecessary.

When investing in a bands B-sides or unreleased songs. You'd be wise not to have the highest expectations you'll be hearing the artist's best work. You're most likely going to get exactly what's presented here. With that said. 'B - Sides' shows a band that appear to be losing their luster. As someone who once sang their praises as much as their choruses.
The Gaslight Anthem have slowly become just another band to me. Granted, Brian Fallon remains a gifted song writer and storyteller. I just wish he'd use a fresh brush every now and then to paint his landscapes. I might stick around longer to enjoy the view. 
James Damion

Side One Dummy  Get it Here

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Breakdown - Runnin' Scared LP

Breakdown's 1987 demo served as a benchmark for what was to shape New York Hardcore for years to come. As many consider 1985 / 1986 as years that shaped the second wave of NYHC. Their demo along with Raw Deal's entrance into the fray, set the bar higher than most bands could ever dream reaching. Just as
Youth of Today and select acts from the Revelation camp created an army of cookie cutter straightedge, posi-core bands. Intended or not, Breakdown opened the gates for just about every tough guy Hardcore act to follow.

Considering the impact and and downright icon status of that 87' demo. I didn't come close to breaking a sweat when it came to acquiring 'Runnin Scared', but once a the needle hit the record. I was transformed. In listening to "Dissed and Dismissed' and 'All I Ask" I came to realize that, as much as I love, support and respect Hardcore music and the community it's created. Bands have very seldom come remotely close to what Breakdown created.

'Runnin Scared' features the 1988 demo of the same name. Recorded in The Loft studios in Bronxville, near the parkway, and previously unreleased versions of 'All I Ask' and
'Hold Me Back'. The latter basically a new Breakdown song that you can’t get anywhere else but here. Also included is their second WNYU session from 1989. The record contains eighteen tracks in all and includes a 12" X 24" with rare photos and flyers as well as new liner notes by Jeff Perlin himself. First pressing of 1,000 black vinyl. Go get yourself a copy before they're gone. James Damion

Get it Here  Painkiller Records

Muphy's Law - S/T Debut Album Reissue

Founded in Astoria, Queens, NY in 1983, Murphy's Law was at the forefront of the burgeoning NYHC scene of the 1980s but infused an element of humor and
light-heartedness. This debut album was originally released in 1986 but has been out of print for decades until now. CD includes one additional track.
Vinyl version includes full digital download of album and one additional track.

In listening to the bands 1986 debut album, I was returned to my early days on the Hardcore scene and how important a band Murphy's Law was to everyone involved in the music. Walking into West 3rd's Bleeker Bob's and putting my name on a list to secure a copy prior to the records arrival. The band and songs 'Beer", 'Crucial BBQ',
'Sit Home and Rot' and 'Care Bear' became integral parts of my vocabulary. Along with Agnostic Front and Token Entry, Murphy's Law drew me into the N.Y.H.C. community before I could even talk my way in to the doors of CBGB's. Listening to these songs, some for the first time in years, brought back some great memories while firmly planting a lasting smile on my face.

Along with the bands Debut record (featured here) I Scream Records will be reissuing Murphy's Law's entire back catalog, including 1989's 'Back with a Bong',
1991's 'The Best of Times', 1996's Dedicated' and 2001's 'The Party's Over'.
The reissues will feature new artwork and bonus tracks, and will release the albums digitally for the first time ever, as well as on CD and vinyl. The label will also be releasing a new studio album from the band later this year. Kind of cool if you ask me. Until then.
James Damion

I Scream Records  Get it Here

Bad American - American Dream

Bad American's new album "American Dream" is a full on no nonsense ass kicking of a record from start to finish. The guitars are noisy, the bass is thumping and Ray's vocals are pissed to the 10th degree.
 In the past I have compared BA to Black Flag but I can honestly say that I no longer hear  Black Flag in their sound at all.  On American Dream, Bad American  sounds like a band who has found their footing and is moving forward with their own take on modern hardcore music. If I had to draw comparisons to any band it would be to a  new school band like Total Abuse, and I mean that as  a compliment. I've seen Bad American live within the past 12 months as well and I have to say that their live show is total insanity. If they come to your town I would recommend you do not miss them...Dave G.