Friday, March 27, 2015

Love Child - Migraine Music

Imagine my surprise when
I received an email from
Mayfly Records stating that the record I preordered back in October of 2014 was finally on it's way. As I arrived home today, "Migraine Music" was waiting to welcome me home.

Featuring a mere five songs, less than half of the eleven featured on their 2014 debut 7' "Everything is Fine, in Heaven". Lovechild manage do just as much damage, if not more on "Migraine Music".

The Boston MA. band formed out of the band Cerse in 2013 produce a venomous Hardcore Punk sound that ranges from a fast forward hyperactive attack to a stuck in cement, sludgy pace. The record opens promisingly with "Most Weekends" One of the three songs featuring spoken word samplings. "Colder Winter than Usual" perfectly sums up winter in Boston with it's metallic leads and psychotic vibe. The kinda of sound that could inspire the mental breakdown Jack Nicholson perfected in the horror classic "The Shining". Each of the five songs featured on "Migraine Music" work to cast a long shadow on this listener. In an admittedly short span of time. Lovechild have shown a great deal of growth and an ability to mature while staying true to their sound and overall style.

Aside the exorbitant amount of time it took the pressing plant took in producing this record and the fact that it arrived with noticeable damage to it's cover. This short, yet powerful blast of rage proved worth the wait.  This is a limited first press of 500 copies.
(400 Black / 100 Gold. So get them while they last. James Damion

Mayfly Records

Crumbsuckers - Life of Dreams Reissue

Reissued on Back on Black records just in time for the bands inevitable 30 year reunion at this years salute to Hardcore and Hardcore reunions. the Black N' Blue Bowl.
"Life of Dreams" the
Long Island bands 80's debut Metal Crossover  classic, along with it's ill received and thoroughly forgettable follow up "Beast of my Back" get the limited edition reissue treatment.

The band which featured former Krakdown singer Chris Notaro, Gary Meskil (Propain) and
Dan Richardson (Life of Agony) were synonymous
(for better or worse) with the mid 80's crossover that brought Thrash Metal to Hardcore.

Revisiting this 86' classic some thirty years later allowed me to enjoy "Life of Dreams" with a wider brush than I had when I was a mere 16 years old. A time when Crossover and Metal were making it's mark on a genre that was just beginning to change my life. While this reissue served as much needed upgrade to my original copy. The music and it's sociopolitical lyrics still ring true 'till this day.
Overall, "Life of Dreams" stands a timeless classic. One worth the reissue treatment. The album is limited to 999 copies and features an impressive gatefold cover with lyrics to each song.  This record does not include a download code. While I'm not sure about the varying colors Back on Black are offering. My copy came on milky white180 gram vinyl.
James Damion

Get it Here

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Banging the Drum with Matthew Cross of Detroit's Collapse

What started out in earnest as an interview with Detroit Hardcore act quickly began to focus on the band's drummer Matthew Cross. Since seeing the band perform live at a local dive in nearby Montclair. We had exchanged emails and social media. As these exchanges continued to grow began to grow more and more curious about Matthew's background, his time and involvement in New York's Hardcore scene and his life in general. As the progress of the interview began to grind to a halt. We decided to expand our exchanges in to somewhat of series of open ended conversations. Come to think of it. This could end up becoming the blueprint to future interviews. Open conversations about music, art  and common interests. Communication without the boundaries we sometimes put on ourselves.  James Damion

James: I was under the impression you grew up in New York.

Matthew: I grew up in Warren, MI, one of the many suburbs surrounding Detroit.
When I moved to New York in the early 90s, I first lived in Manhattan – lots of floors, couches, and illegal subletting – and later in Long Island City in Queens.

James: What was your introduction to NYHC? The bands, the people, the clubs you frequented.

Matthew: My first introduction was Agnostic Front’s Victim in Pain LP, and Cro Mags’
The Age of Quarrel LP. I heard AF first, and there was something unmistakably different about their sound, it was so raw and real.
There’s a really exhausting and ridiculous rivalry between east and west coast punk and hardcore (and everything else), in which I refuse to take part. But for whatever reason,
I was always drawn to the east coast sound.  Maybe because it was so obviously influenced by Midwest bands like Negative Approach, but also because it felt like Detroit and New York had more in common than Detroit and Los Angeles, you know? Listening to surf punk in Detroit is cool, but listening to
Agnostic Front’s “Last Warning” feels right – like “yeah, this track feels like where I’m at right now.” The atmosphere of that music – the grit, the darkness, the urgency, and rhythms that felt like a factory falling apart around you – felt like home.
I know there were a lot of great punk and hardcore bands in NYC before 1984 like Kraut, the Mob, and Cause for Alarm, but that AF record was the first thing I heard.

I went to shows at places in Detroit – The Graystone Hall, Traxx, The Falcon Lounge, Paychecks, and so on – but missed most of the classic NYHC venues and show spaces from the early 80s. I did see and play shows at CBGBs, Wetlands, Coney Island High and
ABC No Rio.

So as an outsider, I came up loving New York Hardcore, but like kids in the 90s who loved Seattle’s grunge rock scene from afar, I wasn’t part of it and probably had a lot of misconceptions about what the scene was like. For example, I remember when I first met Sick of it All, and had to really brace myself to try to appear “hard” and serious, because their Revelation EP was the biggest thing in the world to me, and I just assumed these guys would be really intimidating. And as anyone can tell you, they are four of the sweetest, silliest people you’ll ever meet. As a kid, I was surprised, but also grateful. I didn’t have the energy, or even the desire, to maintain that kind of fa├žade, and it meant a lot to me that they weren’t interested in it either.

As I age and evolve, I’m leaving a lot of that music behind. Part of that is natural.
We grow, and are not moved by the same things we were when we were 18, or not in the same way. It’s very rare that I feel like blasting Breakdown’s “Sick People” or
Sick of it All’s “Pete’s Sake” because that’s how I’m feeling in that moment, you know?
I might reach for other hardcore records, but more often than not I want to hear something else.

But part of it is also that I’m over the masculinity of hardcore. There is so much masculine posturing and posing that is part of hardcore, from the music to the lyrics to the style to the performance. I still love hardcore, and there were a lot of bands from that scene that took different approaches, like Gorilla Biscuits, Token Entry, and Nausea, and I still enjoy those bands today. Actually, the youth crew bands used to confuse me a little, because stylistically they just looked like preppies, or young Republicans. But in general, I think many sects of hardcore cling to really outdated, regressive attitudes about gender. So while I still love and enjoy hardcore, I’m more inclined these days to seek out bands and music representing a wider spectrum of humanity and emotion.

James: I picked up the vinyl reissue of Into Another's Ignarus a few weeks ago. It was the first time I had read the liner notes in over a decade. When I saw your name on the
"Thank You" was like pieces of a puzzle. Can you tell me a little about your relationship with them and your connection to the band?

Matthew: That’s a great record. It’s funny you mentioned that; I had “Maritime Murder” in my head a couple weeks ago, and went and listened to that LP again for the first time in years.
I loved Drew and Richie’s previous bands Youth of Today and Underdog, and so I was excited to hear Into Another when their first record was released. Because I also loved metal and rock, I appreciated the new direction they were trying. Like many other kids, I bought the records and went to their shows, where I struck up an acquaintance with Drew. I worked at a drum and percussion shop at the time, we’d talk drums, and I helped him out from time to time when he needed gear. So my name on the record is because of that help and support. Drew also gifted me the Zildjian 20” ride cymbal he’d used on all those early hardcore records, including Into Another, which I thought was really sweet of him; he could have sold that thing for a lot of money instead. Hell, I would have bid on it.

James: How did the opportunity to join Orange 9mm come about? Had you been in any bands prior to that?

Matthew: I had been in other bands since high school, mostly punk and hardcore. Before I joined Orange 9mm. I was in a band with my brother that was quite different. It was metal influenced, and incorporated a lot of keyboards and industrial-style rhythms and arrangements. So Alan didn’t have a reference for me in terms of bands; in fact, I’m not sure he’d ever heard me play. He probably guessed I knew how to play because I knew a lot about drums, and the band was willing to give me a shot because of Alan’s recommendation, as well as my willingness to pick up and move from Detroit. At the time I was working a couple low-wage jobs in Detroit just to pay rent and bills. I didn’t want to do anything but be a drummer, and when the call from Alan came, I figured this was my chance to step up and do it.

James: It's funny you saying that about evolving and perhaps musically aging out of Hardcore. I've been feeling the same way for years. Honestly, most of that departure is rooted in all the endless nostalgia, reunions and constant reminders of what I've come to consider ancient history. I never cared for the knuckle scraping tough guy ideology that  went along with the music. However, your mention of acts such as Token Entry and
Gorilla Biscuits reminds me of the type of music and message I was always drawn to.
What originally drew my to the music was the fact that is was small, intimate and for lack of a better word organic. You paid your five dollars, saw five bands and made a bunch of new friends by the end of the show. Even if I wanted to see my favorite band play.
Chances are I'd have to buy advance tickets and day passes to see them play a festival with forty other bands I could give a shit about.
All rants aside, I'm curious as to how this evolution or change in tastes effects your being in a very good hardcore band. (Collapse) I wanted to get some of your thoughts on the subject and how or if that reflects in what Collapse is creating.

Matthew: I think you’re right about the message of those bands, and that meant as much to me as the music. When you meet someone who absolutely loved the Burn EP, it usually isn’t just about the music, which was phenomenal. It’s because that band, in the best spirit of punk, was about something. “Shall Be Judged” is about a certain kind of injustice, but it’s also about trying to make sense of one’s place in a society entrenched in systems and cultures of violence and oppression. And then that middle breakdown kicks in, Chaka’s doing a somersault off the stage, and you want to throw a chair at the wall.

And these bands also had a different energy onstage. Detroit was full of bands that carried and promoted really negative, hateful masculine energy – yelling at the “pussies” in the back to stop being “soft” and get up front. That shit makes me want to leave the room immediately. That stuff was all over the country in the late 80s and early 90s, it wasn’t just Detroit and New York. But you also had bands like Los Crudos and Nausea playing sonically aggressive, heavy music, yet it was more about healthy human anger, not masculine aggression.
At least that’s what I took from it.

I’m taking the long way answering this question, but this gets into Collapse, and why I’ve spent the past three years writing and playing with them.
I wanted to play aggressive punk, but I wanted to do it with…I guess the best way to say it is with feminists, with people who have a more complex understanding of power. It isn’t enough for me anymore to work at this level with someone who just happens to not be overtly sexist or racist; I want to work with people who are conscious of those dynamics, and intentional about minimizing their impacts. And with Collapse, that’s the kind of band we are; it’s reflected in our lyrics, and we try to live into that in our interactions with other people.

You know, thinking of that Burn song makes me think of other hardcore songs I still love. “Regress No Way” by 7 Seconds, “Sink with Kalifornia” by Youth Brigade, or with punk, “We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now” by Dead Kennedys or “Poison in a Pretty Pill” by Crass.  Those songs are full of meaning and vision, and questions about what kind of world we want to live in. For me, being in Collapse is an opportunity to be a part of that legacy. So many of the issues those bands were addressing – racism, misogyny, militarism, and consumerism – are just as prevalent today as they were in the 1980s. It feels good to be in a band following that tradition of speaking out about injustice and oppression. Our task, and I think it’s the task of every artist who takes these issues seriously, is to move beyond expression to intentional action in community with others.

Collapse (Detroit) Facebook  
Collapse (Detroit) Bandcamp

Friday, March 20, 2015

Agnostic Front - No One Rules

The past is on a crash course with the present with a slew of documentaries, books and what feels like a continuos archeological dig for long lost and often forgotten material from both obscure and celebrated artists.

"No One Rules"a collection of 34 songs recorded over two sessions. The first predating their classic debut 7' "United Blood". The second,  just prior to their first full length
"Victim in Pain".
A time that, for many, saw the band creating, defining and ultimately, placing NYHC on the map. Rightfully earning them the title as the Godfathers of NYHC.

 "No One Rules" just might be the best collection of resurrected material I've heard to date. The overall sound and delivery brings the listener back to an essential period in both Agnostic Front's and the often overlooked early New York Hardcore scene. A record that fits neatly between "United Blood" and "Victim in Pain". Records considered by many, including myself to be the bands most vital and raw.

Radio Raheem Records deserve a great deal of credit for their hard work in getting this long lost, never before released material on Wax. There's an astonishing amount of detail to the history of these tracks, the early years and days of Agnostic Front and the
New York Hardcore Scene.
The massive 48 page full color booklet that comes with the record is worth it's weight in gold. Featuring more than
150 archival images tracing the bands humble beginnings in 1982 until the end of their first nationwide tour in 1985.
There's also additional commentary and anecdotes from the band and members of the early NYHC scene.
An absolute can't miss for fans of the band and hardcore alike. James Damion

Radio Raheem Records    Get it Here

NGHTCRWLRS - Self Titled Debut

There's a scene in the movie Goodfellas where Tommy DeSimone comes to visit Stacks Edwards. As Tommy puts his pistol to the back of Stacks head he says "You're always late. You're gonna be late to your own fucking funeral." However violent, that statement sums up my history with reviewing new releases. Regardless of opinions, good, bad or indifferent. There's always a bit of room needed between my catch and release moments.
So with a recent record release show at Jersey City's latest venue The Dopeness still ringing in my years. I began to double down on NGHTCRWLRS self titled debut album.

Though somehwhat new to New Jersey's music landscape. The bands personnel have been making noise for years in acts such as All Sensory Void, Holy City Zoo, Lake Effect,
Nico Blues, Man on Fire and Washington Square Park.

On there 8 song debut the band does an excellent job distinguishing themselves with a variety of styles and approaches that allow them to escape the trappings that many bands seam to be falling into these days. Upon first listen you get a feeling that NGHTCRWLRS were hell bent on creating songs that each had a unique feeling and personality. And while the name NGHTCRWLRS might illicit thoughts of axe wielding serial killers or knuckle scraping Hardcore bands of the past. The bands sound and approach is more harmonious than such imagery could ever accomplish.

The album opens with "Smiling". A song that is spacious, spacey and all together spaced out. It's "Turn on, Tune in, Drop out" vibe feels as if it were born out of a 60's inspired LSD trip. Lasting side effects aside. It introduces the band properly. A mission that lets the listener know they're in for something different from what they might expect. "You're Living the Life" follows with it's repetitive, yet addictive chorus. Upbeat and uplifting to the point where I found myself singing the chorus long after the song and album were done. And while there are several other favorites Red "Beans and Rice", "The Amish Don't Wear Jordans" and the flat out weird "Homies".  It's the overall product that sticks out most. In order to surrender to the trip. You have to be up for the entire ride. In closing, NGHTCRWLRS debut was nothing
I ever expected. Yet, everything this listener could ever hope for. Get weird. Stay weird. James Damion


United By Images; Melissa & Paul

Melissa & Paul were an edgy New Jersey rock duo who's sound featured a brooding mix of Garage Punk and the Blues. During their short, yet fruitful existence. The duo had several highly regarded releases on Bedside Manner, Star Beat Music and Gruff Beard Records. And while Melissa & Paul certainly left us with some memorable releases. It was their emotionally charged live sets that earned them their following and respect of show goers and the press alike. Time can only tell if Melissa & Paul will resurface for a show or recording. What's important is they left us with a lot of unique and special memories. Three of the five images featured were taken at Montclair's Meatlocker the fist time I caught them live. The energy coming from both the band and those in attendance mad it feel as if there were over a thousand people in the crowd. An epic event. James Damion

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Unofficial Guide to Rare + Unheard NYHC

Thanks to the good folks at In Effect Fanzine for posting a link to this incredible and downloadable zine that looks back at releases, both real and rumored that had great potential to remain as classics more than twenty years later. During my years on the Hardcore scene and beyond. We all heard rumors and even saw ads promoting 
releases that never managed to see the light of day. Imagine the impact of Guillotine's 'United Scene' cassette release would have made if it were to be put to vinyl. 
The lost Token Entry LP with original singer Anthony Comunale on vocals recorded for 
Rat Cage  Records or the often rumored Krakdown/N.Y. Hoods split LP. The list brought me back to my teens and even my elementary school comic book collecting days with 
Marvel Comics series "What if?" As I read each of the entires I began licking my chops searching for links with announcement that each of these rumored treasures were finally making their way to slabs of vinyl that accompanied by extensive liner notes, images and anecdotes about how and why these treasures weren't released in the first place. 
These things can still happen, right? An old man can dream the dreams of a teenager, right?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Revelation Records Reveals Several Exclusive Record Store Day Releases

Revelation Records has just announced it will reissue several classics from their back catalog for this years Record Store Day. Better Than A Thousand, Dag Nasty and Gameface will each get the Record Store Day reissue treatment. The label asks that you check your local record store for details and availability. This year's Record Store Day takes place on Saturday April 18th.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sautrus - Reed: Chapter One

When I was first received an email from the Sautrus camp about reviewing their album 'Reed'. I was immediately transported to the late 80's when I was heading up a fanzine called Unite. 
At the time, Unite was beginning to get some attention outside of the U.S.
One particular correspondence stuck out for one reason or another. It was a kid by the name Pawel. (Paul for all you stateside types) Though we only exchanged a handful of letters and photographs. It was my first exposure to lesser known HXC bands outside of the states and the knowledge that the Hardcore scene and music I had become very intimate with was effecting kids like me worldwide.

So when someone from the band Sautrus contacted me about reviewing their music on United By Rocket Science. I was particularly happy they were willing to trust the
U.S. Postal Service to securely deliver their labour of love.

On 'Reed: Chapter One' Northern Poland's Sautrus give fans of heavy music more than they bargained for and much more than they could ever hope to get. Taking a sound that as crafted in the late 1960's and giving it somewhat of a facelift. Heavy Doom Rock/Metal with a strong foothold in the Stoner Rock. An overall sound that immediately brings to mind the early days of Black Sabbath with it's Murky and flat out evil approach. Inspiring leads, dark and dirty bass lines and convincingly evil vocals that feel as if they're calling out from the seventh layer of hell.

One of the most surprising and rewarding offerings of the early year. A must for fans of Sabbath, Kyuss and even Kylesa. Very impressive, to say the least. James Damion

Sautrus  Bandcamp

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dark Ages - Vapor

There's something disjointed and unsettling about this new LP from Dark Ages that I can't quite put my finger on.  The vibe of mid west hardcore bands of years gone by is present, but DA has added some odd rhythms and off time syncopation that make this Lp a tough one to pigeon hole.

 In all honesty, it has taken a few listens for this record to start making sense to me, but I have found that  the records that become long time favorites are often times the records that leave me a  bit confused upon  initial listen, but for one reason or another  keep me coming back for more.  I'm thinking that Vapor is going to be one of those records. Now excuse me, I need to go spin this Lp a few more times...Dave G.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Songs For Snakes - I bring You Obscurity

Here's a new song from one United By Rocket Science's favorites Songs For Snakes. This is the last track recorded with Paul Furusho and Chris Heifner. It is the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Musically it's a strong track. If your a fan of melodic punk rock with hooks and catchy vocals then take notice...Dave G.