Friday, January 29, 2016

New Breed Tape Compilation 2016 Official Documentary Trailer Has Finally Arrived

The wait is almost over. The New Breed Documentary is slated to premiere in March at Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinema. Featuring interviews with band members that played on the comp, fanzine editors & record label heads that chronicled this influential period of NYHC's history circa 1987-89. There will be a simultaneous VHS(!), DVD & online release of the documentary to coincide with the screenings.
   A Q&A with the director, John Woods & editor Orlando Arce as well as the creators of the comp, Freddy Alva & Chaka Malik, will take place at Nitehawk.
  We welcome everyone to attend, it's not everyday one sees a full length documentary on such an anachronistic format as a cassette compilation!
Follow the Facebook page for updates:
Look up the hashtag #newbreeddocumentary on Instagram.

Holy City Zoo - No Bunting

I've been sitting here listening to Holy City Zoo's debut full length since it welcomed me home from Japan twenty plus day ago. Three weeks later and I still find myself struggling to find the appropriate words to describe my feelings in regards to an album I rooted so heavily for, but wasn't quite convinced would ever see the light of day. Doubts and fears caused by a year of deafening silence and inaction from a band that  has been featured here regularly since the blogs conception. If hindsight is 20/20. 2015 Was a year well spent for Frank, Joe, A.J. and Brian. Time spent creating an album that, by all means, is deserving of attention and praise from all angles of the music spectrum.

On their first full length "No Bunting" Holy City Zoo explore new territory musically without forgoing the ballsy nihilism that made them stand out in the first place.  The twelve song set opens curiously with "Memo" and it's Kraftwerk/ Devo / Revenge of the Nerds inspiring intro. A three minute jam that could fit easily on the space shuttles mix tape.The title track           "No Bunting" follows bringing the bands back to earth with that chaotic weirdness that always served them so well in the past. "We are the War", (This track is so fucking good.)             "Saw a Bush" and "Stan Lee's Cup" each highlight the bands gift for creative nihilism.      Tight and nasty with a flare for the eccentric.

Whereas HCZ have often found themselves navigating territory between the nihilism of           Rye Coalition and the more technical side of say, The Foo Fighters. "No Bunting"  shows the band exploring more of the technically savvy and experimental areas of their sound.           Most evident on "Even Steven gets the Blues." (My personal favorite.)                                     A song so eccentric and experimental. You would think there was a Fugazi like poltergeist lurking somewhere in the studio when it was recorded.
While I regret taking so long to write this review. I feel that it allowed me to thoroughly take in all the different nuances and elements the record has to offer. Overall, it had me scratching my head. Wondering, how could this possibly be the bands first full LP. As many of the acts that fueled the early days of this blog have faded ... Holy City Zoo continue to grow and mature musically, adding new and dynamic components to their sound without losing touch with what originally drew us to them. James Damion

Available Here

Monday, January 25, 2016

Archie Alone Post Two Tracks from Their Upcoming Spit 7 " Inch

New Jersey Post Core / Emo Gods Archie Alone  have posted two new tracks that will be featured on their upcoming Split 7" with a special (unnamed) West Coast band in the near future. You can download fit or free or donate  to their bandcamp at the link below.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Local and Touring Bands Highlight My First Show of the New Year

What better way to spend a rigid, below freezing night than in a cavernous dungeon called The Meatlocker? Strange how a basement club I once promised to never return to now provides me with a home base to catch local and touring acts. Many of which have grown to become favorites of mine. With each descent down to the cavernous basement. I find myself becoming more and more of a familiar face there. So much so that I feel myself becoming a part of what's happening there. So here it is. Without ado, the years first show review.
James Damion

New Jersey's Dutch Boys started things off promisingly. Having downloaded their recent self titled EP from their band camp just hours prior to the show.
I was curious to see if a live set would fuel my interest in a band that was already feeding my reasons for getting there in a timely manner. The Emo Punk trio more than made my early entry worth while. Musically technical,
Dutch Boys set served as a reminder that Emo (for lack of a better description) isn't  about eye liner and wetting your skinny jeans over a sale at the mall. Reminding me of old favorites such as Saves The Day and Texas is the Reason. Bands they may not have ever even heard of. The band's set put me in a good place.
Dutch Boys

Next on the bill were Massachusetts Cherry Mellow. It's rare for me to look up a band I'm not  even vaguely familiar with before a show.  However, when the weather drops below zero and I find myself my questioning my need to venture out  It happens. After a glimpse at their band page and a quick listen to their band camp. (Yes, I cheated.)
I was pretty much convinced that Cherry Mellow wax not my kinda thing. A few songs in and I received confirmation of just that. While not terrible by any account. There just didn't seem to be a purpose or reason why they made the pilgrimage to New Jersey. Were they a jam band or a joke band? Did I need a reminder that light shows and strobes have a history of initiating me to have seizures or, at the least, make my eyes feel as if they haven't seen a good nights sleep in over a week? No, I did not. Cherry Mellow, while not bad. Proved to be exactly what I expected. Honestly, I was just glad when their set was over.
Cherry Mellow

Luckily, Archie Alone were there to put things back on track. Easily said, Archie Alone's presence on the Independent music scene and this blog speak volumes to just how much of an impression they made on us all over recent years. The band I'd personally choose to launch my own independent record label. (A man can dream.) and one I'd urge every existing one to take notice of have more than earned a place amongst the acts that have helped form and nurture my musical conscience.
On this particular night the band played what seemed like a criminally abbreviated set. Perhaps due to the single thought that every one of the bands sets to date have left me craving and yes, begging for more. Over the last year or so, they've tailored their sound from their heavier, say Metal tinged riffing to a more emotionally cathartic sound.  Cue singer/rhythm guitarist Nicole Mesce's lyrics and vocal delivery for inspiration. One can't go any further when describing the bands growth without mentioning the growth and overall confidence Nicole has made as a guitarist. She really seems to be coming in to her own in the department. On an extra side note. I think bringing Pete Clark and his drums to the front of the stage during shows works perfectly. Not only does it bring an interesting  visual element to their sets. Ultimately, it really goes a long way in putting a spotlight on his talent and what that skill set brings to the bands overall sound.
Archie Alone

While I can't remember any dates,  (last just assume a year ago)  the last time I got to see Massachusetts's Snowhaus was the key reason I felt it so important to head over to The Meatlocker on this particular night. As with the many of the touring bands I've latched on to over the years.
The chance to catch them play a show when passing through anything remotely close to home is too much to pass on.  I've found that in all of my years of going to shows, writing for fanzines and blogging.
The bands on the bill with your favorite local band often become personal favorites. Ones that, in hindsight, often turn out to be the bands you wished live closer or ultimately decide to pack up the homestead to relocate to your backyard. Snowhaus, for what it's worth, turned out to be one of those bands. Musically exceptional . Snowhaus tend to avoid being pegged down or thrown in to a ready made genre. What the band seem to tap in to is  a merging technical musicianship with a freeform style that is as fun as the bands unwound and fun stage presence. Needless to say, I like it. I like it a lot.

Closing the night on a high note were the three piece act Basement Beers. Being somewhat of an old dolt when it comes to dumb band names. I really didn't expect much than dick and fart jokes from  these guys. Having enjoyed many dick and fart jokes in my time. That's not a bad thing. However, it does tend to limit things a bit. As the band launched in to that set.
I felt as if a grade school teacher was popping like a quotation bubble in my subconscious. "What did I tell you about judging things by their cover?"
A reminder I sometimes need considering how much I loved them. The crowd, yeah. They loved them just the same. Only they seemed to know the words to every song. Thanks to Ana for the dance. I absolutely adore you. Now you know what everyone else already knows. I Have absolutely no rhythm.  Overall, I wish all the shows I went to were this much fun. I'm glad I'm finally starting to realize how much fun I can have if I let myself.
Basement Beers

As I close this long winded review out. I honestly can't go without showing my appreciation for Ana, Cindy and Nicole for the welcome back they gave me. It's people like them who make a scen worth participating in. Thanks

Monday, January 11, 2016

Leeway - Born to Expire (Vinyl Reissue)

Growing up in Jackson Heights Queens. Astoria was our first right of passage as far as escaping the invisible borders of adjacent Elmhurst were concerned. In reality, the same thing could be said about New York Hardcore. While my first High School Msgnr. McClancy had it's small, yet tightly knit fabric of Hardcore kids to show me the ropes. It wasn't until my excursions in to Astoria with them when I was able to see and hear the real thing up close and personal.
Bands with names like
Token Entry whose fast and aggressive approaches to Punk and in Leeway's case "Crossover" would eventually bring me to the haloed doors of CBGB's, the Sunday Hardcore matinee and eventually
The Rock Hotel shows at the Ritz. Then, just as I had begun to find a home and an extended family in CBGB's and the clubs that were inviting this strange and sometimes dangerous form of street music in to their doors. Things seemed to change overnight. Crossover came and sucked away many of the bands. I hated it, with one glaring exception, Leeway.
The reason, Leeway were always a Crossover band. Even before Crossover became part of my vocabulary. For Leeway, owed more to Thrash Metal than they did to bands like Antidote, Agnostic Front or any other Hardcore band that may have come before them.
As 1985's "Enforcer" demo were a combination  calling card and wake up call. 1989's "Born to Expire" served as a perfect time capsule for the era and a landmark release for Leeway. One that would go on to define them as a band.

Upon hearing about a vinyl reissue of "Born to Expire" as well as their later releases began circulating. I knew that the redemption I had been seeking since deciding to sell all of my records in the year 2001 would finally arrive. Listening to old favorites like "Rise and Fall", "Mark of the Squealer", "Be Loud" and "Enforcer" on vinyl for the first time in over decade brought back my love and appreciation for the band. Recalling the first time I saw them live at the Ritz and getting my hands on a copy the day of it's original release in 1989. Listening to it this week with new ears, discovering a new favorite in the albums final track "Unexpected" only sweetened the pot. And while the live bonus tracks are great. I'm pretty confident in my belief that even the most pedestrian fan of the band would be happier with the incredible 1985 "Enforcer" demo. Overall,  this is an essential re-issue that satisfies on many levels. Whether you love Hardcore, Metal, Crossover or all of the above. This is a must have. One that will most likely go out of circulation before long.  The album, as well as Leeway's "Desperate Measures", "Adult Crash" and "Open Mouth Kiss" are available in various vinyl colors as well as CD format from Reality Records.
 James Damion

Available Here

While We Wait - S/T 7' Inch EP

While the name "While We Wait" might read like the perfect handle for two guys waiting for the next thing to come along. The bond between Andy Guida (Altercation, Supertouch, Absolution...)  and Matt Warnke (Bold) go back to their time together in Running Like Thieves and more recently The Mistaken.

Less Bluesy and more connected to their Hardcore past than
The Mistaken were.
While We Wait's approach to Hardcore is more melodic and for lack of a better description, subtlety pronounced.

The EP opens with
"Kings Ransom". A song so ambitious with it's revved up guitar part, up front drum leads and emotionally drenched vocals.
The epic nature of
the song bring to mind the long lasting effects of Hardcore greats Supertouch and their landmark song "Searching For the Light" (A band for which While We Wait's Andy Guida played. a key role.) To even attempt describing the deep pull of the "Kings Ransom" without mentioning the emotional grip of Guida's backing vocals would be damn near criminal.
"By Now You Should Know Right From Wrong" follows respectfully with similar results before "All the Plans You Made" finishes the three song sample like a statement of purpose. It's all systems go with Matt's deep and soulful vocals belting out lyrics with both authority and purpose. Having listened to this a couple of dozen times  continually over a twenty four hour period is without pause, the highest recommendation I can possibly give.

Released on Freddy Alva's Wardance Records and available through Big Cartel. The record was produced, recorded and mixed by Andy Guida himself at Six III Studio. Matt Warnke wrote the songs, sings lead vocals and plays rhythm guitar while Andy Guida handles the drums, lead guitar, backing vocals.

Maybe it's time we move on from familiarizing ourselves with artists by mentioning or comparing their work to what they accomplished decades ago. Leave your preconceptions of what Hardcore kids can do as adults in the past and just listen. You might like what you here. I know I did. James Damion

Available Here

Youth Brigade - Complete First Demo

Dischord Records continues to do an incredible balancing act. Releasing new and vital music while finding time to honor it's much celebrated history. In addition to a steady stream of praise worthy reissues. The label has managed to conduct some successful archeological digs that have unearthed never before pressed demos and studio sessions from storied acts such as Fugazi and Rites of Spring to their earliest and perhaps most sought after icons 
State of Alert, Void and Faith to name a few. DC's Youth Brigade (Not to be confused with the California act of the same name.) came in to existence upon the break ups of Washington DC area bands The Teen Idles and The Untouchables. Nathan Strejcek 
(Teen Idles Vocalist) and Danny Ingram  (The Untouchables Drummer) formed 
Youth Brigade. Soon after becoming part of Dischord Records first four 7' inch EP's with their eight song offering "Possible".

Just as expected, the sound is raw, unhinged and rudimentary. Displaying what you would expect from a young band playing  and in essence, helping to create a style of music that is essentially, still in it's infancy. Eight quick and sonic outbursts of impassioned anger and alienation. One of which, the aptly titled "Waste of Time" fails to even clear the one minute mark. 

Youth Brigade's complete first demo, recorded by the now legendary Don Zientara and Skip Groff at Inner Ear Studios in the Summer of 1991. Thus making it older than many of our readers. The edition of the single reviewed here was pressed on orange vinyl. 

It really speaks volumes about the power of Punk, Hardcore and the original D.I.Y. ethos when material recorded more than a quarter century ago can feel so vital and easy to relate to. Music is funny that way. James Damion

Available Here

Brain Slug - Live in Power Promo Tape

Long Island's Brain Slug first came on my radar when they played a rare Hardcore bill at Steven's Institute of Technology in Hoboken. On a night when I was on a mission to see a personal favorite of mine in Living Laser.
My eyes and ears were opened to a score of bands, including
Brain Slug, that would more than earn favorite status through their blistering performances that night.

Dirty, grinding and ugly. Three elements that initially drew me to Brain Slug's sound nihilistic approach. Three key ingredients that keep me interested. There approach to Hardcore brings to mind bands such  as Straight Ahead, Rorschach, Citizens Arrest
(There's a cover CXA's "Serve and Protect on here.) and power violence kings Man is the Bastard. Amongst these six killer tracks there is also a cover of The Beastie Boys "Ode too..." from the bands 1982 Hardcore EP "Pollywog Stew".
The six song promo tape serves as an appetizer for the upcoming full length album where each of the four original songs will make an appearance. If "Live in Power" is any indication of what's to come in the near future. Fans of Hardcore will have one hell of a record to look forward too. I, for sure, can't wait. James Damion

Order it Here

Dead Blow Hammer - S/T 7' Inch

I was trolling the aisles of  my somewhat local record store the other day when my eyes were drawn to a vaguely familiar name on a very nondescript looking EP priced suspiciously lower than the small gathering of
7 inch records in the stores racks. Whether or not it was the discounted price or odd familiarity that had me take it to the counter along with my much anticipated vinyl reissue of Leeway's "Born To Expire" is unbeknownst to me. I was quickly reminded later that night that it was the band my Hoboken friend Adriano Garcia was fronting with old band mates from the 90's Hardcore act Against the Grain.

The opener "Not Tonight" doesn't really serve as a very good introduction to what turns out to be a generally good first offering from these old timers . "Transporting " follows authoritatively upping the skill level while ranking as my favorite of the five offerings. With "Controllable"  following as a close second. Dead Blow Hammer's sound runs in the "Loud Fast Rules" territory of Hardcore. Yet still finds room for some mid paced fun in it's two plus minute warnings.

While Dead Blow Hammer didn't  grab me initially. A few thorough listens had me finding more and more to like, appreciate and ultimately win me over. The bass lines of Kabula (Cause For Alarm, Agnostic Front) and the out of the box vocal charge of Mr. Garcia really put their hooks in me. Ultimately, serving serving as the EP's most distinguishing elements. And as I find myself losing interest in Hardcore. It's bands like
Dead Blow Hammer that bring me back due to a slightly different approach and delivery that keep me returning to the fold. James Damion

Order it Here

Friday, January 1, 2016

Holy City Zoo Debut New Single "No Bunting"

2015 was a quiet year for New Brunswick favorites Holy City Zoo. That's why I'm so exited to report the band has a new single "No Bunting". Word on the streets is the band is set to release their debut full length in early 2016. Let's keep our fingers and toes crossed that it's earlier than later. Stay tuned for more.

New York's Brain Slug Release Limited Cassette Tape


Living Laser return with 3 song EP

New York favorites Living Laser have returned with a new three song EP cassette that's being made available through Frequency Deleted Records and online via stream. Living Laser have been a long time favorite of mine and Dave's. Having been featured here numerous times in the past. If you're into bands such as Bad Brains, Leeway, Burn, Cro-mags, Beyond or anything that's full of boundless energy and intensity. You'll surely love Living Laser.