...the thing we do instead of the things we're supposed to do...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Botch - An Anthology of Dead Ends 10"

One of my best friends, shortly after reading these pages for the first time, griped that "you're writing way too much". Is that true, dear reader? You're here for the rock, right? But you stay for the chat, the rambling stories, correct?

Hmmm, a reasonably quick note about Botch. Members (in the guise of Roy) stayed at my Charles St. crib for a night after I threw the worst-attended show I ever put on at the Talking Head on a Monday. I liked Botch a lot more than I liked Roy. Who in their right mind names their band "Roy"? Anyway, the singer's now in Narrows, while the guitarist is in Minus the Bear. Pretty good stuff, I guess. That has fuck all to do with Botch, who, like any truly cool band, only received their due credit after they broke up.

I see this EP goes for pretty cheap on Amazon...maybe you should buy it if you like what you hear...but who am I kidding? This is the last studio release by Botch, and was released both as a CD & a multi-hued 10".

Botch - An Anthology of Dead Ends 10"

RIYL: Cave-In, Jesu, Envy, tattoos of razorblades

Sunday, September 28, 2008

American Nightmare - s/t 7"

I pull out records and play them for the first time in a while, and the memories come flooding back. F'r instance...

It shocks the shit out of me that it's been 8 years since I picked this up at Reptilian Records. This was the first HC record I'd bought after two years of being Ten-Yard-Fought-to-death. A bunch of holier-than-thou sXe kids beat the shit out Duncan Barlow for being a shittalkin' fag, so why wouldn't they roll over some nobody? I'll stick to my Heartattack and my Dischord releases, thanks a bunch!

It seems really silly now, but the self-titled debut 7" from American Nightmare was a revelation to me back then. Totally brutal riffs, heart on the sleeve lyrics, kids wearing something other than basketball jerseys and fat X's on their hands...it was fucking awesome. I asked Tony Pence to play this three times before I walked out with a copy that day. This is now available as part of Year One by Give Up the Ghost.

American Nightmare - s/t 7"

RIYL: Unbroken, moshing, skinny kids with messy haircuts, the halcyon days of 2000

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Skull Kontrol - Zzzzzz...

This is where our names come from...

It's been a little while, so I won't wax poetic. I wish I had been a slightly more hip person in my early 20's, instead of chasing whatever horseshit I listened to back then. I might have, instead of the obligatory Get Up Kids 7"s, rocked this record, even though I could never grow the mustache to go along with it.. This is totally bitchin' post-hardcore from ex-members of Born Against & the Monorchid. Skull Kontrol covers a Screamers track on this, their 2nd and final release. Still in print, available from Touch & Go and your local iTunes icon. Buy it.

Skull Kontrol - Zzzzzz...

RIYL: breaking glass, one testicle, the floor of ABC No Rio

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vivian Girls - s/t

So ever since I was a little kid, and my folks would play a lot of Motown, bluegrass, early 80's country and Phil Spector, I've been a sucker for girl groups. Naturally, I nerded out pretty hard for Kill Rock Stars as a label in my teens, I listened to more Yeah Yeah Yeahs! than most HC kids I know, and I booked a lot of bands like Tuffie & Karmella's Game when I still booked shows. When Fucked Up released another draft of their upcoming new mixtape a few months back, my ears perked up to the sounds of Brooklyn's Vivian Girls. Well...hello!

I don't have a lot of background to go on about Vivian Girls, except this record rocks my socks off, and you're totally blowing it if you pass on picking up their new LP in a couple of weeks. The Vivian Girls LP was originally released earlier this year in an edition of 500 by Mauled By Tigers Records, but the ever-awesome In the Red is repressing and releasing on CD as well. ITR is also releasing what looks to be a pretty rad 7" as well.

Vivian Girls are pounding the road this fall, putting in their bid for "Harding Working Band in Hipster Punk Rock and (supposedly) playing Baltimore twice in October. You can catch them on the 1st with Tyvek at the Ottobar, or go to Sonar to see them open for Fucked Up. Either way: DON'T DO WHAT DONNIE DON'T DID! Check them out when they come to your town, yo.

Vivian Girls, "Where Do You Run"

Vivian Girls, "Damaged"

Vivian Girls at South Street Seaport, NYC, 9/7/08

Oh, now this is funny

Mean Magazine on Vimeo.

Thanks, Org-Core!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Envy/Thursday split LP

I finished the Charm City Suicides post and noticed the pre-order for the Envy/Thursday split had been announced.

Someone be a pal and order me one...

I'll be your best friend...

I'll trade you cool comic book statues...

I got these cheeseburgers, man...

...c'mon, baby, don't make me beg.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Charm City Suicides - s/t

There are strange doings afoot here in Bodymore. To be fair, the birthday post was already written, and scheduled to post, and, fuck it, why wreck the schedule just to put in new news? My boss approached me with a proposition Friday. Suffice it to say, it scared the shit out me. I have no idea how to react except to jump in a give this new thing a shot...soldier up, as one might say. But it's weird, someone you respect looking you in the eye and telling you they believe in you. I've always had a hard time hearing it, even if I was always able to say the same thing in total sincerity. "I'm proud of you." "I believe in you." "I trust you." We live in cynical times, where every commenter would rather drop a glib line than honestly state how they feel.

I watched Can't Hardly Wait tonight with the wife. We're both still full of the birthday buffet she put together for the family and I this morning. I feel like a big ol' fat ass, packed to the sinuses with creamed chipped beef and fresh cantaloupe. It gets harder to have true enthusiasm for these kinds of events every year; not due to the excitement of the event, mind you. Again, it's just hard to be truly joyful when life surrounds you with post-irony...insincerity...the wink and the nod.

But fear not, here's where the music comes in, kids. There was a band around these parts a few years ago by the name of Charm City Suicides. They were the band that made you fall back in love with a live show. Their screamy, trashy garage sound was equal parts Oblivians, Black Flag & Sam and Dave. They were the perfect teenage band. They were honest and wore their attitudes, along with their hearts, on their sleeves. They fucking rocked.

Like a lot of music, I talked mad shit on C.C.S. for the first couple of years I was aware of them. Then I saw them play a show in Fallston shortly before I was released, sometime in the fall of 2001. Like just about every other band I ever talked a bunch of crap about, Charm City Suicides knocked my dick in the dirt that night. Playing to a crowd of about 50 kids in a Republican-town V.F.W., they said a lot about the power of D.I.Y., of how proud and strong youth can be, and how it doesn't matter being cool, looking hot. It was angry and smart and I'm still stoked I got to see them three more times before breaking up in October 2002. During their last set ever, I pulled off the most perfect stage dive I've ever done. I haven't dove off a stage since.

The record known as Charm City Suicides, "I", was originally released as an LP by Vermin Scum Records in 2001. This quickly went out of print, and bookended Vermin Scum's long record as the best label for Baltimore & Annapolis-local punk. Mark McCoy heard the LP and released a version on CD on Youth Attack! in time for C.C.S. to break up. That's the rip to be found here.

Every town has a punk rock band full of piss, vinegar, three chords and the truth. For five years, Baltimore had Charm City Suicides. Enjoy.

Charm City Suicides - I

RIYL: Black Flag, Jay Reatard, the Stooges

Friday, September 12, 2008


The 14th of September has been my birthday as long as I can remember. Now, I rarely recall receiving anything I really wanted. The closest I think I came was for my 10th birthday, when my parents threw a scavenger hunt for me, and my big gift was a boom box and a copy of the Top Gun soundtrack. I remember my mom walking out of the garage in front of my friends, holding it to her ear like Gene Wilder in Silver Streak. My mom is always something else.

So in recent years, and most people who know me can attest to this, rather than getting lots of gifts (and who the hell said it was o.k. for a 30-year-old man (and what a handsome Mongoloid he is, to look at him) to get gifts [cuz, frankly, that's fucking creepy, and what kind of true ubermensch would I be, hitting my peeps up for schwag]), I give something back, throwing some sort of party. Last year, we had a big ol' barbeque here at the house. I think I ended up sticking overcooked hot dogs in my mouth, blackening my teeth. Do we have a clip? No, no clip? Oh, well. Please note the shot of the man-beast devouring yet another rib. Sorry, ladies, he's taken.

I've thrown shows in the past, tossed a humdinger* of a bar crawl, visited the ballpark (and been thrown out)...yep, birthdays are always a good reason to do nothing more than go to pieces. The plan this year? Saturday is for the friends: maybe a little cookout**, certainly more than a little booze, share some good times. For the birthday proper? The wife has planned a 16-person family soiree to some breakfast place on the Eastern Shore. She says the chipped beef is to die for...and, who knows? Maybe I WILL die, after ingesting 4000+ calories in waffles, sausage, Screwdrivers*** and syrup. But what a way to go.

So, for you, faithless reader, a 31st birthday mix. No podcast here...just one .zip file, 10 songs, about 35 minutes o' fun. Let's get to the tracks.

Whoa...BIRTHDAY! (to be said in the fashion of Married with Children's "Whoa...BUNDY!")
  1. Pageninetynine, "Punk Rock in the Wrong Hands". A little screamy HC to kick off the mix. More on these guys to come. This is one of those songs that pops up in the beginning stages of any shuffle, no matter how I stack my iPod.
  2. The Oblivians, "N&%@er Rich". Hate the title, but the beat is totally trashy...a sweaty, sleazy stripclub jam. And the lyrics...well, they speak to a man who just went broke paying the mortgage on his birthday.****
  3. The Nerves, "Hanging on the Telephone". Downloaded the s/t EP from Killed by Death a few weeks ago and, like Pageninetynine, this power pop gem pops up all the time on my iPod. Peter Case howling is awesome. I turn it at work and lock into whatever I happen to be doing.
  4. Leatherface, "Springtime". I love when it gets cold, but I miss those first couple of weeks when the sun gets a little closer to Maryland, you break out that old pair of cargo shorts for the first time in months and get to sip whiskey on the front porch with a couple of old friends in a zip-up hoodie. "Springtime" always captured how magical that time is for me.
  5. Mates of State, "Get Better". Can You See the Sunset just did a great review of the new record from Mates of State. Eric is right: this is the pop album of the year. "Everything's gonna get lighter/Even if it never gets better." There's nothing better than hearing a song for the first time and hearing something in it that sums up where you are, right then.
  6. Johnny Cash, "Cocaine Blues (live)". I woke up out of a dead sleep two days after quitting smoking singing the first lines of this song. I hadn't listened to it in a few months. I can't stop listening to it now.
  7. Justin Townes Earle, "Can't Hardly Wait". I love the Mats. Rhino's reissuing all the Sire records in about 2 weeks. I'm totally stoked, especially in light of the job they did on reissuing all the Twin/Tone product. Daytrotter writes a lot more eloquently (as normal) than I ever could about Justin Townes Earle. All I know is his daddy is Steve Earle, he writes a mean song and this cover kept my wife from housework for 3 minutes. That's talent.
  8. Tom Waits, "Martha". I've been sick with bronchitis and kinda withdrawn for the past week, so while writing I've had my door closed and been rocking the shuffle on iTunes. This came up and, having not listened to "Martha" since I ripped the CD a couple of years ago, I sang along to every word. It's a good one for winding down the evening, or missing your girl, or just watching the rain streak down the window in the wall.
  9. Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), "IDK, My BFF Jill". Yeah, I totally gave up on maintaining any sort of flow on this mix at this point. But I'm a total sucker for this early 90's emo comeback. So sue me. Then tap your chest while you grab your backpack straps to this one.
  10. DJ Million Dollar Snake Babies, "All My Friends (LCD Soundsystem v. John Cale v. Franz Ferdinand)". Part the Culture Bully year end mix from 2007. I'll end up listening to this a few times this weekend.


*=Yep, I used the word "humdinger". I wrote it right after checking this dame's gams, then I went down to the shine boy for a tip on the ninth at Saratoga.
**=Not a chance of a BBQ tomorrow night. Why? Because it's currently pissing down rain here in Baltimore. Will it stop in time? Probably not. This is why you build contingency plans, people.
**=Because nothing says "I'm proud to be your son/husband/brother/pal," like drinking vodka and orange juice until you shittalk the Republican Party and your dad tells you you can pay for your own goddamn birthday breakfast.
***=I'm totally a pussy for not spelling out the N-word in my blog, but what kind of element do you want me to draw over here? And it's funny, because it totally bugs me when people don't spell out Fucked Up, choosing instead F'ed Up, or F#cked Up. Seriously, who are we fooling here? Yet, here I am, taking the PC way out. But screw it: you want to drop N-bombs, start your own goddamn blog.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A few style notes

After getting a few notes from friends and well-wishers alike, I've added some stuff to old entries and the newest one.
  1. Where applicable, I've posted a little .jpeg of album art. It should also be embedded in the .zip file you download (if you so choose). With demos, if I was given cover art, you shall have it. If not...c'est la vie.
  2. RIYL. It was the only thing I ever loved about the old CMJ Magazine (even their sampler CDs usually only had 1 or 2 good tracks). You read 1500 words of "on and on and on" about some band, but you never find out what they actually may sound like. Allow me to cut the fat for you.
  3. Updated a couple of the tags. If you're looking just for demo posts in 3 months (assuming I make it that far), it should be easy to find them.
So, yeah, that should help make this a fun experience for everyone. And even though it says it up in the upper right, if you see a record you recorded or paid for up here, and that really pisses you off, let me know, and I'll yank it. I'm a fan, and I'm not trying to fuck anyone over(even dose mean ol' record execs, what with dere gol'-plated rocket cars and their invisible American Express cards) for money or credit. I just like to write about shit I like.

I have some more OOP stuff coming, plus some hype for new records coming out, so keep checking in. Or use the RSS button, as recommended by my good pal Esti Gerson.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Kind of Like Spitting - Nothing Makes Sense Without It

I thought it'd be a lot tougher coming up with things to talk about, and yet, here I am, coming at ya with another mediocrity from the 90's. I kid, of course. Nothing Makes Sense Without It is, to put it mildly, an odd entry in the prolific output from Kind of Like Spitting. It's also probably the most fondly remembered (or at least home to the most requested songs) in my recollection. While this album is still available via iTunes and the Liberation Records webstore, I recall Ben Barnett telling me that he had some serious royalty issues with the label who released the CD initially. As in, he hadn't seen a cent in royalties. But I hear that was a constant issue with releases on the Liberation family of labels.

Enough gossip and shit talk. I always felt like Ben Barnett was one of the few unrecognized greats to come out of the Great Emo Revolution of the late 90's. Every record he recorded is unarguably great. However, outside of opening for Braid on their last tour, a later fantastic record that came out on Barsuk and an opening slot with Saves the Day on their first headlining tour, I think a lot of the listening public just missed the boat. Could it be due to the somewhat-schizophrenic nature of Ben's releases? After all, the follow-up to Northing Makes Sense..., Old Moon in the Arms of the New, harkened more to Karate & Low than the Get Up Kids. Is it possible that relative commercial success and a spot in Alternative Press eluded Mr. Barnett due to him following his muse, no matter what the path? Is Kind of Like Spitting the Raging Bull of emo? Or did I just stay up way too late last night?

Here on Nothing Makes Sense..., the Braid & Mineral influences meld neatly with Ben's obvious singer-songwriter
talents. Tip of the cap goes to Jamie Arthurs for the initial play of the Birds of a Feather 7" (released on Bob Nanna's Grand Theft Autumn label), which made me go apeshit before some St. Andrew's show back in '99. I felt like this had a chance to be a great crossover...it felt so goddamned important and adult. And this kind of heartbreak...well, it actually felt more approachable than a Smiths song. Plus I'd never heard violins used to such great effect on an indie record. Like some future stereotype, Nothing Makes Sense... is maudlin and beautiful.

I'm sure I'll write more about Kind of Like Spitting in the future. But, for now, listen and enjoy.

Kind of Like Spitting - Nothing Makes Sense Without It

RIYL: Billy Bragg, Belle & Sebastian, Death Cab for Cutie

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Hold Steady - demo

(Editor's note, 9/11/08: I changed the title of this post. Why? Do you have any idea how many goddamn people beat me to the punch when it can to referencing "Certain Songs"? How dumb do I look? Pretty goddamn dumb. Oh, well...on with the show.)

I can't talk about the Hold Steady without talking about Craig & Tad's former band, Lifter Puller. I'll go more in depth on Lifter Puller at some yet-to-be-determined date, but, simply put, I was and still am totally gay for Lifter Puller. While I thrilled to get to see their penultimate show at Brownie's in NYC, it broke my heart to know that I'd never get to see them again. I listen to Lifter Puller now, 5 years after they broke up, and it still sounds fresher than most everything out there now. What a gang of total, complete fucking bad asses.

A few months after L.P. broke up, Dave Voyles told me he'd gotten ahold of the demo for the new project. Said he'd burn me a copy. So what you have here is what he handed me at the Ottobar sometime in the fall of 2002: the Hold Steady demo. I haven't really seen this online to date, but I really haven't been looking. The thing I like most about this recording is that it's recorded as a 4-piece. Franz Nicolay doesn't play keys here, so the E-Street Band influence isn't quite as pronounced. I kinda dig it more that way. Also of note is the appearance of Choking Songs (for Smoking), also known as Milkcrate Mosh. To the best of my knowledge this only appeared on a 7" released by Empirical Recordings, but, again, I could be wrong. What the hell do I know?

Oh, yeah, below's a picture of the Hold Steady at their second show ever, playing to about 100 people at the old Talking Head in Baltimore. I was there, up front and singing along, acting like some hipster scumbag. The Hold Steady smoked my ass. The Oranges Band played that night, too. They also smoked that ass. I figure this show is top-five all time, easily. Do you remember that Simpsons quote, "They'll never know the joys of a monkey knife fight."? Yeah, you'll never know the joys of Craig Finn sweating whiskey onto your cheapo digital camera. And if you do, well, god bless ya.

Yes, what I'm implying basically is that I'm better than you, in this one, insignificant thing.

The Hold Steady - 6 song demo

RIYL: Lifter Puller, Bruce Springsteen, Ellen Foley, Dillinger 4

All the world needs now, is another music blog...

...just like we need a hole in the head.

So it's less than a week before my 31st birthday, and I figured now I'd actually start that blog I've been promising myself I'd start. So here goes. Maybe it'll be kinda fun.

The plan? Write about some of the cool bands I've heard over the past 15 years. Get excited about new stuff. Maybe learn a little something along the way. I think the key here is to keep these idle hands occupied and not fidgeting for a smoke. So, there you go.