Friday, July 31, 2015

Sand in the Face - Music Made to Riot New Jersey Hardcore 1982-1983

Music Made to Riot collects the very earliest recordings of Montville, NJ's Sand in the Face. Largely recorded at Boonton, NJ's Mix-O-Lydian Studios. The same studio that had already given us The Misfits "Walk Among Us".
The demos within feature the pre-LP lineup of  Pete (Aaron) Wegele,
(bass, vocals) Paul Schraft (vocals, guitar)  and Mark "Munk" Lombardi, who sadly died of cancer in 2010 on drums.

I found this to be a fun and quick listen.
A good time capsule highlighting the first wave of  NJ Hardcore (Something I believe to be criminally overlooked.) Overall the tracks are what you'd expect from a young band getting to know themselves in the early days of Hardcore. A trio of high school kids getting to know their sound while working in the studio for the first time.  Snotty, mid to fast paced teenage anthems A sound akin to such contemporaries Adrenaline O.D. and Bedlam. Music Made to Riot compiles eighteen tracks in all and detailed liner notes written by Wegele himself. His dedicating the release to his departed friend and band mate is, to say the least, touching. Limited to 600 copies. My one complaint, if any, is that this did not come with a digital download. Something that would have come in handy when compiling my New Jersey Hardcore mix tape. James Damion

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Gillian - Colorize

To this day I still have a sincere affinity for the borough of Brooklyn. Having gone to school there and labored at my first suit and tie job there. Why wouldn't I? These days however, the borough seems to get more grief for it's slick, Pabst drinking hipsters than for the shining beacon of hope it's always been for music of all shapes, sizes and colors. A thread of consciousness that leads me to Colorize, the bands third and most recent release to date.

Warm and flavorful  instrumentals accent smart meets crazy vocal duos for a sound that is as eccentric as it is eclectic.
While Colorize features a mere five songs. (Freak Flag, my personal favorite returning from the 2013 release of the same name.) The band seem to have no problem distinguishing themselves as something that is uniquely special.
Possessing an approach and endearing quality that appeals to the masses while still feeling intimate and personal.
A very rare trait in a time where our attention spans have shortened and the demand for immediacy reign supreme.

Having recently signed a soul stealing deal with a publisher. Who knows where Gillian's music might be popping up. I dare not venture to guess. Regardless of whether it's the big screen or the small one. The Brooklyn quintet seem to be headed places. James Damion  Get it Here

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Lookouts - Spy Rock Road ... and Other Stories

Before there was Green Day, Gilman St. Project or Lookout Records. There was a young and scrappy young trio known as The Lookouts. Featuring a pre-pubescent Tre-Cool
(future Green Day drummer) Vocalist Larry Livermore (The boy who would go on to cofound Lookout Records) and Kaine Kong (Future forest ranger of all things) and guest appearances by Operation Ivy's Tim Armstrong and future eye liner model and voice of Green Day,
 Billy Joe Armstrong.

Spy Rock Road...
and Other Stories features twenty four songs of raw, spirited Punk Rock anthems. Songs that   give offer a glimpse of what was happening in the Bay Area at the time, while showing hints to the blueprint of what was to come.

When choosing whether or not to invest in Spy Rock Road... please avoid any comparisons to anything Green Day has done post Ker-Plunk.
Despite their current drummers history in either bands. These are not early Green Day outtakes or demos.
If you're a fan of bands such as Crimpshrine and what Lookout Records was producing early on. This is definitely for you. James Damion

All Eyes West - Doomer

One of the many qualities Chicago's All Eyes West possess is there uncanny ability to remind me of the bands I love, while remaining unique and special in somewhat personal manner. Like long time favorites Samiam,
All Eyes West have a knack for writing songs that one can immediately identify with while applying them to your own emotions and experiences.

On their twelve song LP Doomer. AEW continue to build on their gift for producing flawless rock n' roll with a definitive punk rock bravado and aggression.
Drummer Ronnie DiCola keeps the beat as Jeff Dean's titanic guitar attack meets
Justin Millers emotionally drenched vocals/bass  to create songs that feel vital and highly evolved.

All the key ingredients are present. Each coming together to make an excellent record.  Doomer is perfect on so many levelsProduced by the legendary J. Robbins along with the band at Baltimore's Magpie Cage Studios. Robbins also contributes additional vocals as well as instrumentals.  The record comes on both Black and Translucent Blue vinyl. So be sure to specify when ordering. Don't miss out on this. All Eyes West will head to Missouri to start their Summer tour. on the 22nd of July. You can find a lit of dates and places Here.  
James Damion

The Deafening Colors - Carousel Season

Carousel Season marks the second full length for New Jersey's The Deafening Colors. Music that reflects the duos upbringing in Ocean and Atlantic City with a sound that mixes ambient, shoe gaze and dream pop that grew on me as
I listened. While immediate comparisons to a sleepier, experimental side of
the Beach Boys are unavoidable. One could also reference New Jersey storytellers The Front Bottoms and the long running New Brunswick quintet Sink Tapes.

While The Deafening Colors aren't what we're used to reviewing here at United By Rocket Science. It's definitely something I'd like to see/hear more of in the future. For Carousel Season was definitely something I found myself drawn to more and more with each song. From favorites such as Driving Horse's Ghost,
Waiting For The Axe and the expansive Part Time clocking in at a lengthy 5:30. I felt myself caught up in a moment. Caught up in the beauty of a song. James Damion

Bandcamp <<< Get it Here

Circle Storm - Character Assassin

While not a new release by any means. Character Assassin, Circle Storms 1996 EP is available again, this time on clear vinyl, for what seems like a limited time. I first heard of  Circle Storm when California's Chain of Strength flew into La Guardia Airport, dropping their bags in the Queens, NY living room of what was known as "The SXE House." At the time,
the bands Revelation Records EP was already gaining "Classic" status with it's straightedge anthem True Till Death.

As I got to know the Chain crew personally. I struck up a conversation with Ryan Hoffman where I can swear he talked up the idea of the band Circle Storm and how the name was taken from the D.Y.S. song of the same name.
While the dates between that encounter and the actual formation of the band don't exactly crunch. My memories of the record and the short lived band are strong.
Character Assassin, originally released by Ambassador Records, a label I seem to remember as a flagship label of Revelation Records. (I could be wrong.) Members of Circle Storm featured former and future members of bands such as Justice League, Chain of Strength and Collision.
In that respect, the overall sound reflects that of it's members work both prior and post Circle Storm.

In listening to these seven tracks for the first time in decades. I gained a sense of appreciation for this oft overlooked release.
One that matched the excitement I had when first hearing the name in that long forgotten exchange with Ryan. Good material that was worth revisiting.  James Damion

RevHQ  Order it Here

Rights of the Accused - Innocence (Vinyl Re-Issue)

Innocence revisits the legendary Chicago Hardcore act and their classic 1984 debut EP.
The long out of print and highly sought 7' is back on vinyl for the first time in more than you'll ever remember. While Innocence serves as the bands debut.
Rights of the Accused, known for their silly songs and high energy performances, existed in form or another for more than ten years.
With Guitarist Jay Yuenger going on to play in White Zombie.  Also worth noting is future Rights of the Accused contributor
Brian St. Claire (drummer 1988-1992) went on to form half of 90's grunge, noise duo Local H. The reissues five tracks revisit Hardcore's early punk influences with songs that are raw, intense and tribal.
A nice document of the pre crossover day of the genre and proof that Hardcore wasn't strictly a coastal thing. James Damion

RevHQ  Order it Here

Stand As One - Begin to Care 1991 Demo (Vinyl Exclusive)

If you're scratching your head as to why I'm reviewing a demo released in 1991.
Take into consideration the fact the Stand By One were just about to become the band we all came to know and love as Strife.
During the bands time as Stand As One,
the California Straight Edge band played with better known acts such as Infest,
Chain of Strength and Downcast before ultimately becoming Strife.
This is the first time this demo has ever been presented on vinyl and this is marketed as a one time only vinyl release. The four songs featured All from the Past, Question Mark, Move Towards and Dedication each have an introspective, positive vibe to them. Musically, it's what you'd expect from a demo.
Powerful, straightforward and anthemic songs featuring high pitched vocals that sound like a young teen looking to find his voice. While none of this was new or fresh sounding to me. I found it to be a nice document of a band in it's earliest stages. A nice document of time for sure. The record does not include a download card. So audiofile geeks beware. Available on color vinyl while copies last. James Damion

Indecision Records  Order it Here

Friday, July 10, 2015

United By Images; June 2013: Stuyvesant's Last Show at Maxwell's

I'm not really sure when or how I first heard Stuyvesant. Having lived in Hoboken for close to twelve years, it seemed inevitable. Having interviewed the band at nearby
Moonlight Mile Studios and having them over at my home studio for some promotional photos. Our exchanges might have cemented somewhat of a friendship with Ralph, Brian, Sean and Pete. However, it was their live shows at nearby Maxwell's that I'll always remember the most. Their energy, spirit and inspiring tunes always left me with a giant smile on my face. Inspiring me to name them Maxwell's House Band and "The only band I ever need to photograph." While there last official show at the old Maxwell's was a joyous one.
It was also a sad reminder that a chapter in our lives was suddenly coming to a close.
As silly as it may sound and look. I asked them to sign their set list later at the bar.
A little something to show the grand kids years from now. The four photos shown were each taken from that final show. One that I will remember for years to come. James Damion

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Jersey Beat and Maxwell's Host The Milwaukees, Eastern Anchors and the Bastards of Melody

It's been close to a year since I left Hoboken for the sunny shores of Jersey City. In the times I've been to Hoboken since. I see less and less of what first brought me there in 2001. 
The legendary club that first had me crossing the Hudson in the early 90's not only changed hands in ownership. It's moved on with the times and no longer provides music for local and touring musicians in the way it did for decades. Times change though and while that might be hard for many to emotionally digest, it's inevitable. So when Jim Testa invited me to his Jersey Beat showcase. I was more that happy to attend.

First impression of Maxwell's rebooted were good. Getting carded at the door as a forty something was a good start. Being on the guest list, pretty cool. The back room looks really sharp. The moved the bar and make the room look a lot brighter, deeper and wider. 
The overall feel of the crowd was great and it was a pleasure to see so many familiar faces.
James Damion

Bastards of Melody opened the show on a promising note. Formed way back in 1998.
The trio featuring Paul Crane, Paul Gil and Scott Treude.... gave the intimate crowd a rewarding set of power pop that quickly reminded me of bands like Sloan, Big Star and the Replacements. Lead singer/guitarist Crane loomed tall over the crowd boasting a pretty impressive Hank's Saloon Tee. One that reminded me of may a wild night in Brooklyn.
For their swan song, the band was joined by host Jim Testa of Jersey Beat for a cover of
Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane. Afterward, I headed over to the merch table in the back and grabbed copies of Breakup, Fun Machine and Hurry Up and Wait. Good stuff I thoroughly enjoyed listening to. Bastards of Melody

In the days leading up to the show host and Jersey Beat founder Jim Testa asked me if I was familiar with The Milwaukees. "Sure, if you mean hearing about them from you countless times." The truth was, despite hearing the name and having a couple of CD's I had never listened to taking up space in my bookcases." Regardless, the chance to finally see and hear a band that had ben talked about so often in Jersey Rock lore was much needed.
From the first song to the last. The bands energy and connection with with the crowd was praiseworthy. I felt my body move in places that seemed forever cast in stone.
Singing along to songs I had never heard and enjoying the charisma and chemistry of a great band. If all goes well, I will be both seeing and hearing out this Jersey City band for years to come.
The Milwaukees

To be painfully honest. If it were not for
Eastern Anchors inclusion on the nights bill.
I would have never made it off the couch.
With the keys changing hands at Maxwell's in 2013 and my purchasing a home in Jersey City in 2014. I've had little to no reason to return to the town I called home for over ten years.
The somewhat rare opportunity to see
Eastern Anchors anywhere near my zip code was all the gas I needed to get on to RT. 139 and in to the biggest collection of potholes in all of New Jersey. While my exposure to Eastern Anchors stated in 2012 with a handful of shows and the release of the outstanding
Drunken Arts & Pure Science. The bands membership, music and footprint on New Jersey rock goes back to the 90's with Aviso'Hara,
Mr. Thumb and Tow. These days I find myself listening to Eastern Anchors more and more while getting familiar with Aviso'Hara. What I love most about this band is that, while they remind me of long time favorites Husker Du. It's the overall sound and performance of  Eastern Anchors that I love. Imagine, if you will, a band that sounds like themselves. That's what I feel I'm getting when in the midst of an
Eastern Anchors song or live set. Great seeing these guys again and again and.......
Eastern Anchors

United By Images; The Milwaukees at Maxwell's 7/2/2015

Milwaukees guitarist Jeff Nordstedt asked if I would post some extra pictures from this Thursday's show at Maxwell's. So I decided to add some additional ones to go with the show review I posted. Included is the set list I snagged from Jeff. James Damion
The Milwaukees

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Walk Proud - Too Much is Never Enough

I was rifling through some boxes of 7 inch EP's at a friends house the other day when I pulled Walk Proud's Be Yourself. Quickly, the memories of how positive and in particular, straightedge Hardcore had such a major impact on my life. For better or worse, bands such as Unity, Brotherhood and Insted (To name just a few.) payed countless visits to both my turntable and tape decks. Amongst those bands were many, less than original and downright formulaic bands I gave a pass due to their positive message and mosh worthy breakdowns.
In recalling Walk Proud, I can easily trace Be Yourself as the most generic and underwhelming records I had heard to date. Years later, as much as I personally disliked it. That same record became, for many fans of mediocrity, became a classic, milestone record. Most notably, the first release on the very influential New Age Records. 1990's RIP LP and 1991's One More Time EP followed on Nemesis Records before the band called it quits and inevitably reunited for 2003's Furious World compilation on basement records.

Fast forward to 2014 and an older, angrier and if musically possible, more generic sounding Walk Proud reappear on Hardcore's 40+ landscape. With a grand total of thirteen songs.
Too Much is Never Enough proves to be thirteen song too much. While die hard fans of the band might take a liking to this. Most fans of this style of music would do better with other dinosaurs of the genre such as Agnostic Front or Suicidal Tendencies.
James Damion

Know Records  Get it Here