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

Monday, October 27, 2008

OnGuard - This Has It's Price And That Price Has Been Paid

So when I initially heard about Red Star Records, and their mission to highlight tough-to-find demos, I thought, "Awesome! I love demos!" Then I promptly forgot about them for six months.

Imagine my surprise as I'm dicking around on punknews.org today and see that Red Star, now called Red Sound Records, has released their second record. And it's from Jay Shevchuk. At some point post-None More Black, but pre-LaGrecia/NMB reunion, Jason sat down and recorded some demo material under the name OnGuard. The verdict? It's pretty damned good, especially for a free record. I hear a lot of 90's singer-songwriter here: a dash of Fiona Apple, some Mike Ness, a little Billy Bragg. OnGuard also recorded "Give My Love to Rose" for the newly-released Johnny Cash tribute, All Aboard. I'll tell you...this is a damn sight better than the last None More Black record I spent money on. And that's a fact.

So, please visit the Red Sound Records website to pick this up...FOR FREE! It's worth your while, and the two minutes it'll take to download everything.

OnGuard - This Has It's Price And That Price Has Been Paid (demos)

RIYL: LaGrecia, free stuff, sad songs and waltzes

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mega City Four - Peel Session, 7/19/88

I had just written this moderately long screed about how you shouldn't trust hyped rock bands, and that's definitely true. But, in the end, it had nothing to do with what I wanted post today. Mega City Four is easily my all-time favorite Judge Dredd-related band. A lot of the kids here in Baltimore were/are totally fanboyish over MC4, or anything Wiz related. Two songs from this, MC4's first of two Peel Sessions, popped up on my iPod today, including "Clear Blue Sky", one of my favorite songs ever. I think this record had a different cover when it was in my dream the other night, but was definitely at the top of that stack. I can't believe this recording is 20 years old...

Mega City Four - Peel Session, 7/19/88

RIYL: white boy dreadlocks, sincerity, Ned's Atomic Dustbin

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The cutout bin dream

I just woke up from one of the craziest dreams I've had in a long time. I dreamt I was helping out at the old record store I used to work at, and Prince Charming Chaz came in with a huge stack of 7"s, CD's and LP's. The 7"s were all old Homestead, Gravity & No Idea releases. All the LP's were Dutch East India Peel Sessions releases. I don't remember much about the CDs, but, somehow, I got the entire lot for the $17 I had in my wallet. One of the 7"s had a vertical lap band with the Assuck logo on it, and was an 8-song comp with Naked Raygun on it.

Not that anyone cares, but it was a very good dream to wake up from.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Crude - Immortality

This is just a super quick one for all you hardcore kids. Besides, the good Senator stole all the vitriol I had stored up for his major screed below. I rediscovered this gem while cleaning my office the other day. When Deranged released Immortality a few years back, they also released a limited run of 300 CDs with a dope acetate cover. So that's where this is from. If you like Japanese D-beat, this is right up your alley. I feel like perhaps I should say more, like how this record had a major impact on my life, but I'd be lying. I found it in a stack of promo CDs, I ripped it, and I've been playing it loudly on my iPod for the past few days. And now I have to run off, since Mrs. Ape Mummy made cookies. Let the circle pit begin!

Crude - Immortality

RIYL: glue in your hair, adding studs to your leather jacket, hard cider

Live at Chaos in Tejas, 5/17/08

Monday, October 20, 2008

Special Comment: All the Young Punks.

Thanks to Sir Ape for the chance to guest blog.

"The kids grow up faster and faster these days." That's not just an aging punk's dismissal of younger kids in the scene, its meant to be as close to a literal statement as possible. I'm old enough to remember the invention of CD's, which makes me feel like a grandpa. More than that though, it means I had to work a lot harder to dig new music when I was in high school. Everything was harder back then; finding new music (before itunes), making a fashion statement (before Hot Topic), setting up shows or tours (before email). It goes on and on. Today it takes 4 minutes to drag and drop a playlist when it used to take 4 hours to fill a blank tape with just the right mix.

The new user friendly underground has been good in many ways, but has had its drawbacks as well. Its also had some unintended consequences which are somewhere in between, and its one of those consequences which I intend to discuss here on the record.

The kids are growing up faster because they're starting much younger. When I was coming up you needed your own car just to get to the record shop or the shows, which were all few and far between and located in the inner city, and sometimes in downright shitty neighborhoods. When I started at 15 and 16, being punk wasn't easy, and it sometimes even felt dangerous. (the Loft, the Virgin House.)

Now after the incorporation of punk and the advent of the internet, there's no need to drive for an hour to pick through stacks of records. You can buy any record in the world online. There's no need to comb PP or MRR for new bands or record reviews. New bands come into your friend request folder, with reviews & mp3's posted on their page. This is not such a bad thing at all, but it has lowered the age of a 'young' punk from 15 or 16 to 11 or 12.

So what happens when kids get sold on Blink 182 and Fallout Boy from the age of about 10? You end up with bands like the Brace Face Mini Punx, who are 13 and already playing shows, and already jaded enough to be 'like so over' Against Me! (Who suck anyway.)

Now, I think myself, and most of my friends have made logical musical progressions, starting out by listening to The Misfits, Minor Threat, DK, OPIV, Black Flag, etc. and exploring other sub-genres like anarcho-punk, ska-punk, HC, et al, moving into some form of post-punk, and having an all around good ear for music, keeping an appreciation for the standards, and measuring new music against them.

What are the Standards? What wears well? What is good taste? If you read Primitive Offerings you already know what I mean.

After careful observation, I've begun to notice a new pattern emerging. With kids being plugged into music under 10 years old, and having hundreds of myspace friends and playing shows in middle school, more and more kids are having a sort of 'musical mid-life crisis' by the time they're old enough to move out of mom's house and go to college.

A crisis is serious. When you're in crisis, its not enough just have a song that you can relate to, with rhythm and melody and decent hooks. No. What you need is...


Looking around Baltimore scene, there's not a whole lot of originality. All the kids work the same jobs (at Rocket to Venus, as a sound guy, or a bike messenger). Everyone lives in the same places (Calvert Street, Hampden, communal houses), screws the same women (you know who you are), and even sell each other the same tired old used vans to tour in. There is nothing new under the sun.

So what does this mean to a jaded 22 year old (anti) hipster? It mostly means sitting around the practice space, smoking a joint, drinking untold amounts of Boh, staring at an exposed brick wall and trying to think of some new way to distinguish yourself as a musician. Which means


Let's be very clear about this... metal sucks. Speed, thrash, doom, drone, sludge, death... all of it. (Well, except Anthrax.) Ever since the beginnings in the 70's, metal and punk have been completely separate and distinct. Then a couple of things happened...

1. Rap divided popular music into two kinds; the kind with guitars and the kind without.

2. Mtv pandered to the lowest common denominator. Anyone with a leather jacket was percieved by the general public as a headbanger.

3. "Alternative" happened. And then it didn't happen anymore.

4. Mtv stopped playing music altogether, and myspace became the new Mtv. And everybody's friends on myspace.

There's more to it, but since the days of Black Sabbath and the Ramones the 'underground' or 'scene' has become less distinct and more of a mishmash of cross-pollenating styles and genres served up by nameless and two-bit bands and labels.

How many times have you, gentle reader, struggled to describe some band you saw last weekend? "Ummm they were kind of a proto-drone-sludge-noise-post- doom electro no-wave blasting degenerock?" ? (yeah. two question marks in that sentence.)

I will admit that it takes more and better musicianship to craft a metal song than a punk song. However... I am not a musician. And most consumers of music are not musicians. And we don't give a fuck how technical your song is, what your time signatures are, how long or short your compositions are, or the decibel ratio between notes and growls. Metal is fucking boring. Where punk is socially aware, metal is self-aware. Where punk is for everyone, metal still largely the province of white macho-men... just a different sort of macho man who doesn't play football. Where metal is always negative, hardcore and punk have always been a balance and contrast between the positive and negative; Hope and No Future.

But mostly, metal is so goddamn serious and punk is fun. What's a typical metal song? Grief, doom, armageddon, arcane metaphors that just sound creepy, and in growling lyrics you can't comprehend anyway.

What makes a good punk song? Your greedy landlord, that girl you like, your piece of shit car, your asshole boss... you know punkrock. I don't have to tell you.

So with more and more bands playing out who are un-genre-describable, and influenced by Motorhead and Celtic Frost I've chosen to go back. All the way back to number 3 on the bullet list above... to alternative.

If Baltimore bands are going to continue to serve me downtuned, metaphoric, hypnotic, noisy crap, I'm going to keep going back to the music I was just a little too young to fully appreciate when it came out, when i didn't have social networking to feed it to me, and when I was too naive realize what it meant when it was an 'alternative'... stuff like Steven Malkmus and the Jicks, Pavement, Archers of Loaf, Afghan Whigs, Sugar, Love Spit Love, the Breeders, Catherine Wheel, Charlatans, Replacements, Mudhoney, Buffalo Tom. etc. These bands had a good thing going before Pearl Jam sold them out.

And as far as the division between punk and metal... If a great artist can make something new out of paint of clay, then your band should be able to make something new and fun out of the same 3 chords and rhyming words. Dead Mechanical and Deep Sleep can, and if you can't then why the fuck should I come to your show? I'm gonna stay home and listen to No Alternative and the Singles soundtrack.

All your jeans were too tight.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reactionary 3 - Euro Euro Y'all

So the full schedule for the Fest 7 got posted recently, and my jealously is in full effect...GO GET A LATE PASS...STEP! This year, I believe Baltimore is represented by two bands: Ruiner and Deep Sleep. If you're going, do yourself a favor and check out both. They fucking rule, and, contrary to what either band would have you believe, they're all swell cats. Saturday at the Venue looks really fucking sweet: D4, Coalesce, Atom & His Package, None More Black, Paint it Black, Municipal Waste...it's like it's 2002 all over again! Like I said, I'm rather jealous of anyone with the time and loose change to head down to Gainesville in a couple weeks.

In honor of the Fest, and all festing Festers, here's Gainesville's Reactionary 3. This CD was made in preparation for a European tour a couple of years ago. It's pretty fucking fast, amateur and all around awesome. There's also a Soulside cover. Highly recommended.

Reactionary 3 - Euro Euro Y'all

RIYL: Common Grounds, Minutemen, neckbeards, Nothing Nice to Say

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sense Field - Under the Radar

I'm definitely in "writing-for-the-sake-of-writing" mode. For one, I spent five minutes explaning the thought process behind this whole thing to my boss, who, as is his wont, proceeded to shit on it. Well, fuck 'im. And fuck a rock star posed picture, like you see above.

I threatened to post something about Sense Field about a month ago. The initial threat took place on a posting of the Fabric 7" on Zen and the Art of Face Punching (which is maybe the worst record I've ever downloaded...ever). Please. Let me explain something. Most of us are either young now, or were young not too long ago. There are a million musical skeletons in our collective closets. You could be Craig Finn or Ian MacKaye or some other god of rawk and you probably listened to some miserable, embarassing shit when you were 17 like E.L.O., 7 Seconds (circa '87), Madonna or the Spice Girls. Hell, Lemmy played for four years in Hawkwind. Well, I was 17 in 1994, and I listened to Sense Field. A lot of it. More of it than was good for me. And I fucking loved them.

I used to bomb around the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, back in '97, up by Conowingo Dam, blasting Building out of the shitty factory speakers of Ben Casey's Jetta. I was young, fer Crissake. I didn't know trite from a hole in my head. They were a pop band...no different from Journey to my ears. And I was stoked for their first record due out on Warner Bros. I waited 3 years for that record, which never came. The label didn't hear a single, or so I was told. And the decision was made 2 weeks before the release date! What the hell was that? A friend of a friend burnt me a CD of the promo that had leaked out. In those pre-Torrent days, this was a true coup. And the record wasn't bad? What was management at the WB thinking?

A few years later, long after the excitement of getting that burnt CD had worn off, I found a promo copy of Under the Radar in the dollar bin at the now-defunct Joe's Music Emporium on Harford Road. So the rip here comes from that. I've never felt so nerdy as to play this side-by-side with Tonight & Forever, the 2001 Nettwerk release that announced Sense Field's return to recorded media. Supposedly, T&F is a re-recorded version of UtR. I dunno...make up your own mind. It's weird to me how eminently forgettable bands who I once loved now sound...

Sense Field - Under the Radar

RIYL: the In-Flight Program sampler, alternative radio in 2002, emo as a slur

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ashes - Hiding Place 12"

Independent music is no different from the mainstream in at least one respect. There are records released that sound timeless after 25+ years (Damaged, the Faith/Void split), there are those that sound embarrassingly dated (Break Down the Walls...shit, most of the early Rev catalog), and there are those that make you shake your head and wonder exactly what the hell was going on. They are the proud products of the times...the Spice Girls, the Ray Stevens, the "One Night in Bangkok"s that you'll never be able to shake out of your head, the seemingly-disposable songs and the singers that, ten years since you last heard them, invoke a certain place and time unlike the "greatest" artists.

And while I never saw them live, D.C.'s Ashes is one of those bands for me. I don't know anyone who'd hold them up as some shining paragon of what HC was circa '93, or name them as an inspiration for some current leading light of the scene. Shortly after moving to the Baltimore suburbs someone played me a second generation tape of Hiding Place, and I really fell in love. In many respect, Hiding Place (and all of Ashes' limited output) is an impossible record to release today. Even the most amateur HC record released in 2008 has a global sensitivity that just wasn't present back in 1993. In my not-so-humble opinion, nobody's naive or sensitive or young enough to make this happen nowadays. This is emotive without turning melodramatic. It's fast enough to mosh to, yet you could still slow dance with your girlfriend to it (you know, if you weren't too self-conscious about it, and you didn't treat your significant other like a coat rack at shows). I'll let you decide for yourself, but this sticks in my brain unlike so many other records that came out around the same time.

Hiding Place was initially released by Network Sound Records back in early 1994, about a year before Ashes broke up. Guitarist Brian McTernan would later compile it with Ashes' s/t 7", demo and 2 unreleased songs on a CD entitled Wisconsin Avenue Tour. He would co-release W.A.T. with Revelation Records in 1999. Where singer Elena Ritchie disappeared to is one of the more interesting mysteries of early 90's HC. Word on the street is that she moved to Boston and started working in the film industry. A cursory Google glance reveals little. Maybe the most interesting fact about Ashes is that, between McTernan and drummer Matt Squire, they are responsible for producing a big chunk of the mainstream emo-pop currently populating the airwaves.

Ashes - Hiding Place 12"

RIYL: Farside, the Safari Club, chest tapping during a song, letters to HeartattaCk

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Fuses are Lies

The one positive thing about feeling sorry for oneself is that, when you're a music fan, you'll always have a decent tune to listen to in your headphones... The Fuses were, to me, a band out of time and place during their short-lived Baltimore heyday. Their angular, tense punk rock definitely struck a chord at the turn of the decade. But I don't recall the Fuses ever touring or playing any further afield than New York City. By the end of 2002, they had temporarily split up, with their singer moving overseas to study in England. The drummer had a series of short stays in other local HC outfits, but he was married, and was soon only seen for the occasional Buzzcocks show. The bassist gave banjo lessons. The guitarist altogether disappeared. Stories like these go back to the garage punks of the early 60's. No matter how hard you want to hold on to the glories and joys of your youth, one eventually grows up and moves on, with only a few photos left, and a ringing of the ears.

Are Lies was released by Reptilian Records and looks to be, shockingly enough to me, out-of-print. In 2005, Shit Sandwich released an LP and 7" of newly recorded Fuses material. Does it make you want to jitter? Yeah, it really does. Well worth spending money on, especially when the alternative is watching it drift away with your 401(K).

The Fuses - Are Lies

RIYL: too much amphetamine, the Proletariat, anything on KBD Records.com

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Unsane - The Peel Sessions

The devil told me listening to Chris Spencer's bands was good for me, and who am I to argue with fallen angels?

And, by the way, why hasn't someone come along and reissued all the Matador & AmRep Unsane releases (and, no, that greatest hits thing that Relapse released 5 years ago doesn't count in my book)? It's all brutally awesome noise rock that still sounds fresh to me. If you ever had a death wish, this is probably what would be playing when you carried it out.

Unsane - The Peel Sessions

RIYL: the L.E.S. circa '91, Tom Hazelmeyer's gun collection, Chris X's mustache

Soda Freak #1 - Boylan's Natural Cane Cola

I could make a list as long as my arm of vices and pleasures I've abandoned over the years. Weed, speed, cigs, loose women...as I've grown up, I've grown out. But there's one thing I think I'll have a hard time giving up. And that is a good soda. I'm no coffee drinker, so I generally have a soda in the morning, one in the afternoon and one at night. But sodas are a funny thing. I'm just old enough to remember when one could regularly purchase soft drinks made with real sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. I pretty much went full diet soda to avoid HFCS until my doctor mentioned that I was tumor bound with how much diet soda I drank. What was I to do?

Luckily I found Boylan's Natural Cane Soda, which is the soda equivalent of an 18-year single malt, or a pre-embargo Cuban cigar. This is some good stuff. There's a well-rounded flavor here. I detect hints of vanilla, whiskey and lime. The label notes that there's not a lot of bullshit going on here; it's just a fantastic flavor whether you were raised on Pepsi or Coke. It cost me $3.99 for a four pack, which makes this more of a treat than an everyday drink, but I feel it's well worth the price.

If you're looking to pick some up, give Trader Joe's or Safeway a look (I found it at eye level in a Safeway in Howard County). Otherwise, hit up Beverages Direct to get some delivered to your door.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Amber Inn - All Roads Lead Home

This wasn't the first record I bought that was released by Ebullition Records (that honor goes to the Downcast 12"), but it still ranks as one of my favorites. Staffed by ex-members of Sinker, Amber Inn existed during one of the great stylistic schisms in hardcore. The summer this came out, almost every kid I knew went straight edge, started listening to Floorpunch and Ten Yard Fight and called anyone who disagreed "a fake-ass faggot". Good times, right? 1998 was the year I where I went off the deep end. I drank too much, shit all over most of my friends and went batshit crazy one night on my radio show after some Xed up thugs showed up with ball bats. But Amber Inn was the band that kept me listening to the underground. It led me to Yaphet Kotto, Orchid, Sweep the Leg Johnny, the Ottobar, the Fuses, League of Death, out of the north Baltimore suburbs and into my twenties, which were roaring indeed.

This rip comes from the Amber Inn discography CD, All Roads Still Lead Home, still available from Ebullition Records. The CD is a must own for folks who still love emotive hardcore, or for people who weren't around during a time when Goleta was ground zero for a lot of great music.

Amber Inn - All Roads Lead Home LP

RIYL: Indian Summer, Navio Forge, HeartattaCk

Sunday, October 5, 2008

SCRM & the Tim Version Go Halves on a Bastard

And so we come to the end of our half-assed feature on Superchinchillarescuemission. A.D.D. Records must not have lost any money on their 4-song EP, so they grouped SCRM together with Tampa's the Tim Version on this 9-song CD. For me, the Tim Version was the revelation here...I hadn't heard them before cracking the plastic, but I kinda got a big ol' .org-core chubby for 'em. If memory serves, you can still find this 5" slab o' plastic fairly easily, although the ADD Records site says this is out-of-print. Definitely worth owning the genuine article...

As a side-note (and this is the really fun part of research): were you aware that the saying "go halves on a bastard" refers to two unmarrieds copulating for the purpose of conceiving offspring? Ha, I love a good euphemism on a Sunday night!

SCRM & the Tim Version Go Halves on a Bastard

RIYL: PUKU13, fishing, the dried-up smell of PBR

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life

I've been super psyched for the release of The Chemistry of Common Life, the 2nd full length by Toronto's Fucked Up, this coming Tuesday. Matador Records & Fucked Up are going full out to promote the record, which, whether you are patiently waiting 'til New Record Tuesday to listen to or you've had the leaked record for a month, is fucking FAN-TAS-TIC. Lots of guest stars, lots of circle pit madness...it's a great rock record. So, take the opportunity to check out these three tracks, then go spend $15 on Tuesday.

Fucked Up, "Days of Last"
Fucked Up, "Black Albino Bones"
Fucked Up, "The Chemistry of Common Life"

RIYL: Negative Approach, Pink Floyd, reading Vice Magazine

"Dance of Death" video

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Superchinchillarescuemission - s/t 10"

Quite frankly, I'm fresh out of give a fucks. I'm sitting in my office upstairs right, and Sarah Palin's voice occasionally wafts upstairs from the ongoing VP debate. I'm getting steadily more depressed every time I hear someone say they're voting Republican this year. Work is not going as well as I'd hoped when I got this promotion. I'm worn out with performing tasks that tangentally apply to what I'm theoretically supposed to be doing on a daily basis. That said, our webmaster asked me to start a toy blog. So maybe I'll get to talk about the badass Kozik & Dunny stuff I'm buying. That might be cool.

At some point in my misspent past I mislaid about 30 gigs of pictures I took between 2000 and 2003. Had this not happened, you would see quite a few pictures I took of SCRM in their last year of existence. That said, here is the 10" released by ADD Records out of Tampa back in 2002. I say 10", although I'd be remiss to not acknowledge that this is a rip of the CD. I try to lie to you, my sweet, but I cannot.

Superchinchillarescuemission - s/t 10"

RIYL: yesterday's post

Superchinchillarescuemission - demo

Tell me about your first love.

Tell me about the one that popped your cherry. The one that made you dance the hardest and scream the loudest. The one that only a small circle of friends knew about. The one that lived "What We Do Is Secret" hardest of all...

For me, it was Superchinchillarescuemission. This D.C. quintet had more in common with Hot Water Music than Q & Not U, barely toured and broke up to little fanfare sometime between the end of 2002 & middle of 2003. When they formed, it was three of the guys from De Nada, the old singer from Latebloomer and a Florida transplant named Jimmy the Truth. The highlight might have been the cover story in an early issue of Razorcake.

More to come. But, in celebration of Fest 8, enjoy SCRM's 2001 demo.

Superchinchillarescuemission - demo

RIYL: Panthro UK United 13, the No Idea catalog, cheap beer and fast songs