Monday, July 26, 2010

Last Laugh - Disarray

Oh Canada! Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Last Laugh recently released a cassette on No Control Records. Aaron from the label was awesome enough to send me a copy for review, so I've been jamming to this one for the past couple days. Black pro tapes with black and white sticker labels, and a black and white screened insert in a plastic case are the eye candy on this baby.

Eight songs in less than seven minutes. When I say this five piece powerhouse isn't wasting any time, I really mean it. While for many bands this means playing blurring grind songs or powerviolence worship, Last Laugh mix in some different ingredients to keep themselves from sounding like a complete Infest rip off. Of course, there's still some strong influences coming from that era, but they aren't afraid to toss in some stomping breakdowns in between dizzyingly quick chord changes.

Super heavy distortion reminiscent of Dropdead reaches near fuzz-like levels during the songs, giving them a slightly metally edge throughout the tape. While songs like "No Idols" and "Hickkk" are complete blistering ragers, other tracks such as "Nowhere Near" or "Stranglehold" contain surprisingly infectious mid-tempo breaks. The vocals are pretty clear as well, making it somewhat easy to follow along with the angst-ridden lyrics. Even though Disarray is only about seven minutes long in the first place, the variations keep people guessing about as much as possible for their chosen style, resulting in a super short listen.

While they might write a pretty common style, Last Laugh pull this off better than some of their contemporaries, mixing in just enough attributes of hardcore, thrash, and punk to keep things interesting. The download link is directly from the label with lyrics and art included, so if you enjoy it as much as I did, please pick up a copy. Four bucks, limited to 100, you know the deal.

Last Laugh
No Control Records and Distro

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Natrual Law - Spring Trash Demo

So wait, this was recorded in what year? This year, seriously? Hailing from the New Jersey and New York areas, Natural Law cultivate a gritty, rough, superbly 1980s sound on their Spring Trash demo. Four songs which vary from frantic hardcore lunacy to floorboard rattling pounders usher in this tape for its rumbling six minute existence. Clear pro tapes with white print and fold out black and white inserts finish this baby off.

"Cheap Blood" lights the fuse on this pipe bomb of a demo, roaring at ideal speeds and culminating with a bone crunching breakdown. The tape seems to alternate between fast and mid tempos, as both of the lighting quick rippers are followed by a thumping, grooving track. "Spring Trash" almost approaches a level of infectiousness, as I felt compelled to air guitar with ferocity, even though there isn't a ton of variation in the riffage.

The crystal clear nods to hardcore elders drive this demo to its last gasp, which for some reason is something I usually can't seem to get enough of lately. Of course, there are some other queues taken here, as well as some contemporary flair, but it's pretty minimal. Natural Law is by no means complicated, but this is an excellent starting point, especially for a demo tape. Unfortunately this is sold out, although there could be some copies popping up at the Parts Unknown site (per the band's blogspot), so maybe check back with them every so often. Also be on the look out for a new release this fall. Play this one loud and often.

Natural Law

Friday, July 16, 2010

Deathbeds - No Funeral

I saw these guys open up the Mammoth Grinder show this week in Philly and felt compelled to pick up their tape. Even though there was only about 20 people in the room at that point, they delivered with some high octane energy and completely roaring vocals throughout each of their head banging songs. This is the cassette version of their already released 7" EP on Young Lungs Ltd., featuring three ripping tracks of doom-type metal with some hardcore influences. Pro white shell tapes, fold out insert, and high quality digital download are all included.

Combining slower tempo riffs with solid percussion and pleasantly demonic vocals, Deathbeds generate a sound that sludge/doom metal dudes can get down on (whatever that means), but still allow more prominent influences such as Entombed or Integrity to shine through. Part of me also gets a touch of old Life of Agony from a couple of the quicker moments, but only slightly (and definitely not in the vocals). Even better, the tape doesn't sound like it was recorded underwater with a Radio Shack overhead mic in someone's basement, so you can really attain a nice feeling for their thumping sound.

There are more than enough catchy riffs littered throughout the EP, especially during the title track, "No Funeral," which had my head bouncing before I even knew what was happening. They continue a particularly grooving, catchy vibe in "Tyranny of Will," as the percussion rhythms seem to pair almost perfectly with the chugging guitar riffs. This is probably the peak of the tape, as Deathbeds' occasional infectious sensibilities strike a slick balance with their deliberate heaviness, resulting in a crushing, yet somehow pleasant track.

This is definitely a little off the beaten track from what I've been posting lately, which I'm happy to say is a great thing. Break up the frantic 40 song, 30 minute long powerviolence listening marathons, or two hour diatribes on various electro-indie groups with this three track behemoth. I found their live performance slightly more impressive, but this captures everything pretty nicely, especially for a cassette. The rip featured below is the official digital download, so there's no weird pops or blown out levels. Check out the label's link to pick up a copy, or grab one at an upcoming show.

Be at Peace Records

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Pile of Wax from React! Records

Finally! An exciting delivery of inspired, positive, energetic hardcore arrived at my door the other day after a preorder I placed a while back. Colored wax, stickers, screened patches, digital downloads, and even a screened cardboard mailer were included with these three records:

Get the Most - Together
Praise - Growing.Changing.Healing.
Damages - Unrequited

While each band establishes their own particular flair and affinity for hardcore, they remain within the distinct realm of React! Records' roster, which isn't always a negative point. Fast paced, heartfelt, and aggressive, all three of these groups blaze through their records with intense ferocity and pounding rhythms.

Get the Most rides the infectious wave of newer youth crew influenced bands, playing with wild speed which threatens to derail nearly every song. After a demo and three EPs, they finally drop their LP onto anxious fans, which continues in similar fashion to the material everyone has grown to know, whether they dig it or not. 10 songs in 20 minutes, you know the deal. These breakdowns will have you jumping around like an eight year old who found their way into a case of Pixy Stix. 

Praise tap into plenty of obvious hardcore elders, playing a particular brand of straightedge hardcore which mixes everything from Chain of Strength to Champion to Bad Brains all at once. The result is a captivating four track record (its not religious, despite the band's name, so relax) which rings true to React's impeccable roster.

Damages departs from the typical fast-slow-fast formula of their contemporaries, exploring further into the depths of rock whilst generating a darker, more ominous aura. Even though their EP only contains two songs, both are over three minutes long, ensuring listeners receive enough of their stripped down sound to effectively catch the vibe. 

If the descriptions alone aren't enough to drag your mouse over to the React! webstore to buy something, then the plentiful images should do the trick. Colored vinyl, stickers, patches, digital downloads, quality sleeves and packaging round out each of these records to ensure even the most obnoxious record collector freak is satisfied. New wax is always dropping and fresh bands are always joining up with this label, so stay alert. Sorry, no downloads on this one.

React! Records

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stick Together - Demo

This is a pretty new Wilkes-Barre band, joining forces with the recent wave of quality hardcore coming from this region in Pennsylvania. Five piece, straightedge (duh), straight up core, with no frills or filler crap. Three songs are presented here on a clear red pro tape with fold out, orange copied inserts including the lyrics.

I recently saw these dudes at a show in Philadelphia and picked this one up after checking out the preview tracks on their MySpace page. There's some classic youth crew influences strewn about, as with most xxx bands, but what catches my ears is their ability to blend this with some more contemporary bands. Taking cues from everyone including Turning Point and Outspoken, as well as Get the Most and Mindset, Stick Together strikes a nice balance between rehashing the old and over-emulating the new.

Their lyrics are overwhelmingly edge related, but I'm always stoked to see bands who avoid preaching and trying to force their personal choices on everyone else, especially through their music. "You're different from me, that's okay/Just don't get in my way," rings true during "X Treatment," as Hoodrack clearly explains the band's central theme, but uses a pretty simple, clear method. Don't expect any clever metaphors or weird imagery here, this is about as straightforward as it gets.

Definitely check this one out, as these guys are flexing some awesome potential which quickly excites me to hear more. Back to Back Records pressed 500 of the tapes, so I wouldn't expect these to run out super quick, but definitely pick one up at a show or from the webstore if you're jamming to this as much as I am. DO IT.

Stick Together
Back to Back Records

Sunday, July 11, 2010

An Unlikely Source

So the Stone Pony hasn't had many hardcore shows since the debacle that was the Gorilla Biscuits reunion show, and part of me can't really blame them. While that was an amazing night, the venue suffered the brunt of all the completely unchecked enthusiasm, and I wouldn't of had it any other way. I'm undeniably skeptical of this show but all of me really wants to believe this is going to be a completely blockbuster, wildly entertaining evening. Either way, Underdog is playing, so whatever I've said is pretty much irrelevant. Go to this show.

7/31/10 @ The Stony Pony in Asbury Park, NJ
Underdog - OG 1980's NYHC
Cold World - Wilkes Barre HC
OS101 - NJ old school hc punk
Darouge - NJ dudes playing something
Night Birds - surf punk and hc blend from NJ

Friday, July 9, 2010

Seasick Weekend

Bid farewell to the mighty Seasick on their LP release weekend with two ridiculous shows. One, of course in New Brunswick, and the other at the burgeoning Warren American Legion Hall for RTFest. Boatloads of great NJ bands on these, so be sure to check it out.

7/23/10 - 5 p.m. @ Ask-a-punk in New Brunswick - $5

I Object!
Zhenia Golov
Long Pigs
Sick Fuck

7/24/10 5 p.m. @ Warren American Legion Hall (RTFest) - $7 before 5 p.m., $10 after

The Banner - you already know
Seasick - last show before hiatus
Pellinore - loud, fast hardcore
Zhenia Golov - last show ever
Black Kites - LP release

Fleshtemple - Registered Sex Offender tape release
Incendiary - long island
Troublemaker - new LP soon on RTF
GDP - hip hop

Sick Fuck - new tape soon
Big Eyes

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Picked Clean - Tape EP

So it would appear my recent obsession with the Midwest is continuing. Although, if bands keep dropping tapes like these I'm going to continue buying them and consequently annoying my neighbors. Another quality release here from Not Normal Tapes by Indianapolis' Picked Clean. Fast, crunchy hardcore with gritty recording and some sweet old school flavor. Black pro tapes, stickered labels, blue case, and a j-card with lyrics complete the packaging.

Oddly enough, the vocals are some of the cleanest I've heard on a tape recording lately, despite the less than stellar quality. The bass drum approaches the blown out level at points, although everything seems to meld together during the wild 60 second songs, creating a chaotic, rough vibe. People are flying side to side during this rager for sure.

Somewhat similar to other Midwest bands, there's a boatload of 80s hardcore influence, as Picked Clean blast through their six songs in a shade under 7 minutes. Borderline uncontrollable feedback squeals in between the tracks while the music almost never ceases its assault on your ears. Expect plenty of distortion, thumping percussion, as well as some socially and politically conscious lyrical content.

Not Normal Tapes continues its reign of hardcore dominance, churning out more quality tunes with each blistering cassette. I wish the quality was a touch better, but that's my only real complaint about this release. Pick it up for $3 today or regret it later, as this is a one time pressing limited to 100.

Picked Clean
Not Normal Tapes

Friday, July 2, 2010

Weekend Nachos - Bleed EP and Interview w/ Snyder

Welcome in with open arms the latest crushing release from Chicago's Weekend Nachos. A two song devastator of mammoth proportions, served up on a platter of black wax capable of making your turntable spontaneously combust. The brutal four piece stray from their oft-utilized blazing fast, super short song formula, penning two tracks which clock in at over thirteen minutes total.

Igniting with the title track "Bleed," Weekend Nachos ominously grinds their way into a slow, brooding riff before Snyder's vocals burst from the speakers, dripping with grit and rage. The methodical heaviness of the song is so epic it almost reaches a level of ridiculousness, but I'd be lying if I tried to deny how much head banging I did the first ten times through. After about two and a half minutes, they pick up the pace a little, chugging along with fuzzy distortion, super thick bass lines, and thumping percussion. While the walls in your house begin to shake as if a space shuttle is about to land in your backyard, they explode into another sludgy, destructive riff just before the five minute mark, which carries out the song to its final gasp.

Flip this monster over, and the B side continues the madness with "Observer." A seven minute opus which consistently returns to the opening pounding, lumbering riff, causing you to think the record might be skipping. If it's even possible, the vocals sound as harsh and vicious as they've ever been, possibly one upping the venomous style used in "Bleed." An ideal soundtrack for smashing your worst enemies' car with a sledgehammer, Weekend Nachos establish themselves as one of their heavier bands in Chicago with the Bleed EP.

This record might disappoint some people searching for more lightning fast forty second songs, but it's exciting to see bands try something different once in a while. It's even more impressive when they pull it off as well as Weekend Nachos did with Bleed. The title track is a little more listenable than "Observer," but I sincerely doubt the band cares about something like that. Snyder was nice enough to answer a few questions about the new record, so check it out, and if you like the download, please BUY THE RECORD. It's $8, people.

Play it Loud: How was the experience recording the new EP, Bleed?

Snyder: It was great, I love recording with W.N. because our guitar player, Andy, has his own studio and he's really good at what he does. There's a specific sound that we always get that I'm not sure we could get anywhere else. Recording is always a good time cuz we always order food and just chill in between the serious stuff. It's a comfortable and fun environment. As for the actual recording, that's awesome too because we get new and heavier sounds every time we go back in to the studio. It's pretty fun coming up with new ideas on the spot, too.

PIL: What inspired the band to write such lengthy songs?

S: When we got asked to do an EP for Relapse, the idea of doing another 7" with a bunch of our regular length songs on it just didn't appeal to me, I wanted to do something different. Not different as in no one's ever done it before, but different as in WE had never done it before. So writing a long song for side A, and a long song for side B seemed like a great idea to us and I knew that we'd come up with some heavy, epic sounding shit. The actual song "Bleed" is a total masterpiece of heaviness, in my opinion.

PIL: Is there a central theme or idea behind the record?

S: Our themes don't really ever change because all I ever want to express is negativity and hatred for everything, because that's how I feel most of the time. It's a good way to get it out through this band. We have songs about other stuff, obviously, but this EP is definitely what anyone would expect from us. Lyrically, at least.

PIL: What is going on with that insert photo?

S: Brian likes to be abused, sexually. He always said his dream would be to get it from his bandmates. We figured we'd strip him down and torture him as a belated birthday present, since 2 out of 3 of us completely forgot to wish him a happy birthday a few months ago. He was so fucking stoked! That picture captures the 4 of us just after it happened.

PIL: Should people expect more of this type of material from Weekend Nachos in the future?

S: Musically, no one should expect anything except more heaviness in different ways. The next full-length we're working on will be different than Bleed, Unforgivable, Punish & Destroy, Torture, etc. but it will have the same elements that make us Weekend Nachos.

Relapse Records
Weekend Nachos

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Smutlife Columns

I've been doing some reviews and columns on recent shows and records for this site Smutlife, based out of NYC. Take a minute and check it out if you'd like, all links are below. The site is somewhat NSFW though, just in case the name didn't tip you off. Music, interviews, tattoos, movies, unusual news, and some adult content as well. A little bit of everything, if you will. There's plenty more coming as well, including a write up on the recent Floorpunch show. Thanks.

Piece by Piece - LP review and interview with Nick Jett
Bitter End - Guilty as Charged review
Rock Bottom - Born II Hate review
Skin Like Iron - Descent into Light review
Nails - Unsilent Death review