Eric had been after me to see this show, and as I enjoy taking in all things rock and brewed with him, I picked up a ticket even though OFF! would probably play 20 minutes tops. Brevity is the soul of punk and while I'm wholly in favor of bands not overstaying their welcome, the cranky old man in me hates dropping $15 for the privilege. My issues aside, Trash Talk had also come highly recommended, so it seemed worth ponying up.
I rolled in just as Trash Talk were going on. In my favorite turn of events, there was an unannounced lineup switch and they were in the midcard slot. Once I ascertained I hadn't missed OFF! in that switch, I settled in for the fracas. The party line on TT was that they 'fucked shit up'. I'm not particularly of a mind to act as such in my old age and don't mind that the young people choose to (most of the time) unless I unwillingly have to be in the thick of it. Santos is awesome for a lot of reasons, but its layout is not conducive to being out of the fray if the kids start to get frisky. While kids of all ages went apeshit from the jump for Trash Talk, the band was as active as the crowd. At not one, but two occasions at this show I took my eye off the singer (on stage) for maybe a second and he was literally on my head. Were I to have been up front, that wouldn't be so shocking, but I am 6'3" and was probably 20 feet from the stage for the duration. Trust me: Trash Talk give new meaning to working a room. And they fucking kill it, so buy all their records and go out of your way to see them if ever you get the chance.
OFF! rolled up right after, owing to the dance party that curfews a lot of Santos shows ala Europa. Their Brooklyn show was purported to be pretty bad-ass and the crowd was pretty antsy for being as old as it was in anticipation. Morris and Co. didn't disappoint, romping through their entire canon in about a half hour, even with Keith shooting off his mouth. In a bad ass encore turn, they returned and announced that they were just going to start the set over and play until they got cut off, garnering all who stuck around a good part of the set a second time. Props are due to the loveliest slash best-smelling woman I've ever encountered at a punk show, who tarried in our little enclave for a good part of the set before disappearing. It seems like some slumming was in effect, and I'm as shocked as you are that I don't have anything negative about her attendance. Statistics say it could happen. Either way, the frosting on the beater from one hell of a great show. Go out of your way to see either, but if you enjoy your hardcore with a healthy dose of power violence, step lively here and get yourself some Trash Talk.
I knew The Muffs were touring, and was pretty sure they didn't have anything new out. I was kinda right, Kaboodle is the previous Muffs singles comp Hamburger reissued with some newer b-sides and brand spanking new tracks to boot. It's good, although truth be told, even I find that there are few occasions when I need to hear thirty-some Muffs tracks in succession. Maybe you feel differently. Either way, get Kaboodle here from those lovable limeys at Cherry Red.
Austin Lucas has been a perennial at JS-NYC since he first came on the radar by way of his stellar 2009 release Somebody Loves You. Ceaseless touring has taken place since then, with a singles collection, a live record and some tour demos in its wake. Now, on the heels of the first single Austin flowed our way, we have the release of A New Home In The Old World, courtesy of your new best friends at Last Chance Records.
While some of the songs have more fleshed out arrangements ala first single Thunder Rail and The Grain with its rocked-up guitars, but long time fans can rest assured that there is still a healthy acoustic bluegrass influence. There are also healthy doses of female vocals in evidence, assumably from sister Chloe Manor.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Austin Lucas has a distinct voice, one that deserves much more notice than he is receiving currently. With songs as good as the ones on A New Home In The Old World, getting notice shouldn't be too much of an issue. Sleep Well and Feast look to be high points of future live shows and lucky for us, Austin is perpetually on tour. This spring will be on a higher than usual profile when he plays the Willie Nelson Country Throwdown Tour in May, part of a mostly-decent lineup that features Jamey Johnson. Click here for the tour dates and get A New Home In The Old World here for Last Chance in all the popular formats.
I saw Restorations play the Thorns Of Life show at the now-defunct? Disgraceland in Philly a couple years ago. They had a raspy Weakerthans kind of thing going on and featured 3/4 of Jena Berlin in their ranks, all of which was promising. Post that initial sighting, I missed them in Brooklyn a couple times and there have been a couple splits that I've heard in passing, but I've been generally bummed that I haven't been able to investigate Restorations properly. Luckily there's now a self-titled EP to be had for JS-NYC to sink its ears into. Had I been looking for this on the racks, I would have missed it, given the black metal meets emo logo and all, but all bitchiness aside Restorations is a nice 2011 Philly take on the midwestern emo scene of the mid 90s, with a dose of The Hold Steady for good measure. That works for me. It should for you, too. Get Restorationshere from the Restorations web presence.
It's well established that JS-NYC loves themselves some Jon Dee Graham. Having come late to the game with my adulation for his most recent It's Not As Bad As It Looks, there was much rejoicing when it came to light that there was a pay-what-you-will live record from JDG called Chupacabra to be had over at the Freedom Records web presence.
The Chupacabra set was recorded at the Saxon Pub in bucolic Austin, TX and features our hero backed by The League Of Entirely Ordinary Gentleman +1. The band, anchored by the mighty Michael Hardwick, is hot as hell. I'm glad I don't have to keep up with the likes of them on the local stages. You get sixteen songs in a little over an hour from the ripping four-piece band, with most of the high points of the JDG catalog touched upon.
While this is a great set, and I haven't done the forensics on whether this is truly the case, it seems Chupacabra is a wee bit light on the New West era of material. Or maybe that's just me stirring up shit. Either way, the man's got songs for days, and seems ripe for a John Hiatt-esque run of having his tunes covered by a crossover artist. Here's hoping. In the interim, take advantage of the sliding payment option over at the Freedom Records web presence and snatch up Chupacabra here with the quickness. Tour dates are a coming. Stay tuned and check out his Hobart Bros. project with Freedy Johnson and Susan Cowsill.
Molly and I saw a lot of Art Brut when we followed The Hold Steady around on their NME sponsored tour a couple three years ago. There's a pretty strong argument to be made for the two being two sides of the same coin. Both bands are archetypes of the rock of their respective homelands helmed by great singers who don't exactly sing so much as vocalize. Art Brut got a lot of notice with their last great record recorded by Black Francis. Singer Eddie Argos was in fine form there, but their second time with Francis behind the boards has yielded their best record yet.
Brilliant! Tragic! is very much the former, although the second element figures prominently in the songs here. Evidently Art Brut got more time in the studio this time around and wrote together much more regularly than they normally do. It's reaped dividends and they should do a lot more of it. This won't be out til mid-May, but it is well worth snapping up once it does. They've dropped the first track to the interwebs in the form of Lost Weekend, so check around a get a taste of what you're in for once Brilliant! Tragic! drops. There's another non-album track called Unprofessional Wrestling available if you pony up some e-mail or Facebook info. I do that and snatch up the record here from your friends at Downtown Records.
Mansions is the name Christopher Browder records his bedroom anthems under. He got a pretty big buzz from his releases on Doghouse (although precious little in the way of royalities, I suspect), most notably New Best Friends, but there are a slew of EPs and single stuff out there, a lot of which were compiled in last year's b-sides comp.
There's something fishy about the lack of bio stuff about Browder and Mansions that smacks of major label backed faux indie-dom, but that notwithstanding, his new Dig Up The Dead has got a ton of really great songs on it. The one sheet behind this makes much of this being recorded in houses and apartments, which given digital technology and home studios that are truly homes and studios could be a possibility, but seems a little suspect when you hear big radio friendly tracks like City Don't Care jump off the speakers. Lots of good tracks here, City Don't Care and Call Me When Its Over being two of the standouts in a really strong showing from Browder, aka Mansions. Not sure what the deal is with the pseudonym thing, but whatever you want to call it, Dig Up The Dead is worth checking out. Fans of early Death Cab would do well to check this out. Get it here.
Walter Schriefels is a man who gets around. Whether it be via (what I assume is still) his Some Records or his seemingly unending string of deals within the Island/Def Jam empire, your boy Wally is maximizing his potential. His recent solo record An Open Letter To The Scene was really good, Gorilla Biscuits have been somewhat active and the revived Rival Schools has been playing the Summer Euro festival circuit for the last couple years. Rumors of new Rival Schools material had circulated, but safe money was on it being a formal release of the odds ands sods tracks that had been floating around the interwebs for years.
Well slap my ass and call me Charlie, as here we have ourselves a new record from Rival Schools. It's called Pedals and its pretty damn decent. I can't say I wouldn't have preferred a new Quicksand record, but all of the tracks on Pedals are really solid. It's got hooks for days and Ian Love and Walter have really done a great job with the recording. In an ideal world, tracks like A Parts By B Actors and Small Doses will get some notice. They certainly deserve it. Ignore the fact that 3OH!3 are the flagship artist and pick up Pedals here from your friends at Photo Finish Records.
This had been such a great weekend for rock shows that I was tempted to blow off this show. The weather was just warm enough to make me think it was a good idea, so I jumped on the bike and rode out to the rabbit warren of DIY spaces that is 538 Johnson. Shows there are always in peoples living spaces, which always seems like a bad idea, but always ends up being a decent time, provided you're not the first one there. This was another stellar Hardcore Gig Volume/Ian Dickson show in what I believe is the third space on the second floor I've seen a show in.
First band I saw was Foster Care, who are evidently local dudes and friends of the house. Decent four-piece NY hardcore punk, not to be confused sonically with NYHC. Wouldn't have gone explicitly to see them, but decent enough. Death First were up next, a five-piece with a lady fronting things. Good stuff ala Punch, and probably much better for being in a small (living) room.
Deep Sleep crept in and set it off with the Baltimore take on hardcore. Nothing specific to differentiate them from other scenes, but distinctively Baltimore and not DC. They have a great new record called Turn Me Off that is pretty fucking aces. Live they bring it, with jagged guitars and a pummeling rhythm section that bucks and rolls like an epileptic fit. Good in general, even better in an 8 x 10 living room. The gents piled into a car for the gig, after breaking two vans in as many days to play for maybe 20 people on a Sunday, but brought it as hard as if it were prime time. Kudos to the house, Ian/Hardcore Gig Volume and all the bands for a good time on an early Sunday evening.
Over the dozen or so Off With Their Heads shows I've seen, I've vacillated back and forth as to my enjoyment level. A lot of the shows on the unending tour behind From The Bottom got to be a little phoned in and I was less than enthused by the early shows behind In Desolation that had a five piece lineup with Ryan just singing. I heard about the ABC show at the last minute and figured as it was about three blocks from JS-NYC HQ, I'd try and make it. Fellow tourmates Against Me! were stinking up a matinee at Mercury Lounge at the same time, which worked out fine for attendance.
Rats In Rigor were on when I rolled in. By all outward appearances, these gents are no stranger to Leftover Crack shows. In fact, I'm still unsure as to whether I'm not aware of some crust punk pseudonym thing going on, as the singer guy looked way too much like Stza, but either way, they were your average crusty mid-card ABC band, playing an ok set and covering The Mob. All in all: meh.
Punk rock being punk rock, until I see band members on site, I'm always pretty much always thinking the band I want to see either has cancelled or the lineup has changed. I'm pleased to have been wrong. We're back to the four-piece Off With Their Heads, which is a very good thing. The kids only cared because it meant there was more room for shenanigans and crowding Ryan for singalongs. Ryan had the quote of the afternoon after the second or third song when he stopped and asked why no one was shouting 'Lets Go Murphys'. I love the Murphys, but they are second only to Slayer when it comes to fans that don't give a fuck about anything that isn't their boys. Ryan was openly (and vocally) pleased to be playing a smaller Alamo-esque show away from the big rooms Dropkick Murphys/AM! tour. It made for a much better show for all parties. OWTH are a small room band, props are due to them for remembering that and playing ABC for one of the last shows before they demo the building.
I like me some Samiam. A lot. To the point where it was getting to be a little bit absurd that I'd never seen them live. Sadly, as of late the JS-NYC travel budget has precluded travel to Brazil or Germany, the two places Samiam play with any regularity in this epoch, and frankly the last show was pretty shitty, so I played the scene card and Sergie threw me on the list.
Santos is weird. After a search that left me pretty sure I was dating the security guy afterward the first time I went, I got a cursory search and walked in without passing a ticket person or security or anything. I Hate Our Freedom were up in short order. IHOF have grown on me a bunch over the last six months or so. They have been on the lions share of the decent bills around town of late, to the point where I'm pretty sure I've seen them six times now without ever intending to. I wasn't crazy about them at first, but they have really grown on me. I think this may have been kind of the release party for their debut, Seriously and it was a pretty good showing. The record's good too.
As much I enjoyed I Hate Our Freedom, Samiam were the reason for the evening. I was really hoping for a marked improvement (read: lower blood alcohol level in Jason) in the set and was pretty pleased. Man, do Samiam have songs. They've got enough records that cherry-picking from them makes for one hell of a set. Jason was in better form, although the second show I've seen from the Samiam made obvious the fact that in addition to being time keeper, a big part of Charlie's gig is to start the songs when Jason starts talking for more that ten or fifteen seconds between songs. As Jason seems prone to spouting inappropriate Asberger-isms given any opportunity, the set moved along pretty quickly but still garnered us a solid eighteen quality songs before things shut down for a disco party. Evidently the gents are playing a couple shows to get some cash together to cover overhead for a songwriting session for a new record. Don't recall hearing any new tracks, but stay tuned to JS-NYC for info on the new record as it arises.
Santos is a good place to see a show. If you have the chance, budget extra time for the strip search and see a show there. Thanks to Sergie and Tony from Southern Lovin' for making the guest list happen.
I've seen a handful of I Hate Our Freedom shows over the last year or so and they have grown on me a good deal. Initially I liked them a lot more on paper. Of all the ex-bands the members of I Hate Our Freedom tenured in (including Texas Is The Reason, Thursday and Milhouse), I was the biggest fan of Garrison, and their singer Joe fronts IHOF (do I smell t-shirt logo rip-off) so things bode well. They were the best I've ever seen them opening for Samiam at Santos, so I picked up Seriously and its been getting more than average play at JS-NYC HQ. I think mostly because its just short of twenty minutes long. That's not a diss. In fact it's pretty refreshing to hear some older guys who know that there is no need to overstay their welcome. The closing track stretches things out a bit into a Jawbox meets Bluetip rideout that is pretty bad-ass, but the lion's share of the tracks are under two minutes. I Hate Our Freedom certainly seem to play their fair share of solid bills with bigger touring acts, but if one doesn't arise, Seriously looks to have me seeing them headline next time they play. Keep track of their whereabouts here and pick up Seriouslyhere from Mightier Than Sword Records.
How I couldn't have fallen for Teenage Bottlerocket when I first encountered them still confounds me, but as I saw them at the ill-fated Chixdiggit show I can't shut up about, perhaps I will leave all that negative energy in the sub-basement of what used to be the second Knitting Factory. Eight years on from the release of their first 12", Red Scare has re-released Another Way in remastered form, along with their debut EP A-Bomb and the track from their split with Bob The Welder. It's a neat package that wraps up the early Teenage Bottlerocket years nicely. Personally, I would snatch this up just for a remastered version of Mini Skirt, but lovers of new school Ramones jocking would do well to snap up the reissue of Another Way. Here's a link.
Social Distortion are pretty close to being an evergreen in the punk scene of today. Having embraced more of a rock and country sound in the last 20 years, they have avoided the '50 year old dude with liberty spikes' phenomenon that plagues so many older punk bands.
It would be wrong not to point out that Social Distortion is pretty much Mike Ness. As the only original member post-Dennis passing, he wisely added Matt Freeman to the fold (now replaced by Ness solo bassist Brent Harding). Atom Willard bailed over the five or so years it took to get this out, being replaced with David Hidalgo, Jr., although the ubiquitous Josh Freese was the hired hand for Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes. The record splits the difference between Stones-y tracks like California and Cash-ier tracks. Gimme The Sweet And Lowdown and Diamond In The Rough bring a real polish to the SD sound, perhaps a bit too much, but they are really great tracks that should go over pretty well live. Much like the recent Screeching Weasel record, there is nothing here that is particularly groundbreaking, but Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes should sate 21st century fans of Social Distortion nicely.
Ah, Screeching Weasel. Aging mercurial frontman Ben Weasel has effectively shit the bed on anything good being associated with the SW name post punch-up with some ice-spitting female at SXSW, but First World Manifesto is a decent enough record. It is far from groundbreaking, but I'm pretty sure no one is really checking in for this to be a contemplative acoustic or ska record.
Above and beyond the furor revolving around the Emo's show, there has been a hilarious thread on the punknews about the lyrics of a couple songs that talk shit about the punk scenesters and stuff like The Fest and Punk Rock Bowling. Why people care about a 50 year old Weasel whining about these things is beyond me. Do we not forget that this is a guy who wrote Jeannie's Got A Problem With Her Uterus? I'm not sure anyone expects him to be Bob Dylan.
If you liked Screeching Weasel before, you should probably be ok with First World Manifesto. It comes courtesy of Fat and feature(d) Danny Vapid back in the fold, pre-entire band diaspora. Maybe your politics will keep you from picking this up. Wiser people might be better off just cutting to the chase and buying one of the new school of SW post-Ramones bands out there.
While JS-NYC has a lot of love for music, there are few artists that we'd like to actually be: Graham Maby is a given, but beyond that Jon Dee Graham is one of the few on that short list. Hadn't made the Graham connection until I typed that, but JS-NYC is very fond of both those crackers.
I haven't seen Jon Dee since he got dropped by New West at SXSW and was well pleased to hear that he had a new band called The Fighting Cocks, as well as a new record called It's Not As Bad As It Looks. It's been out for a bit, but don't think that JS-NYC lagging on getting to it means that it is anything less than great. Both Jon Dee and Alejandro Escovedo have been putting out some of their best material recently and its great to see. And hear, for that matter. There's an air of melancholy about It's Not As Bad As It Looks that suggest that things haven't been especially rosy for JDG of late, but it has fostered a pretty great bunch of tracks. Get it (and the lion's share of the recent Jon Dee back catalog) here from Freedom Records. While you're there, check for the pay-what-you wish live Chupacabra record with Jon Dee and the band at the Saxon Pub in Austin. Don't forget about the Hobart Bros, either.
I'm always tempted to shit on Blink 182, despite them having crashed on the floor of the JS-NYC HQ and being generally decent dudes. Of course, this was pre-Travis Barker arrival. Barker is probably the best drummer this side of Josh Freese in the scene and always seemed like a stand-up guy, shitty taste in females excepted.
The idea of drummer curated records is a phenomenon that has very limited avenues for success, but throw the Dave Grohl or Travis Barker name on the front, perhaps with some Pushead artwork, and you might actually have a fighting chance.
Give The Drummer Some came on my radar when I ended up seeing the gents on Conan doing what may be the first single. Poke around and you can find a clip. It's the track with Transplants. It really begs more questions than it answers: 1. Skinhead Rob is still around? 2. Are bright red liberty spikes really a good idea in 2011, 3. Do we need more punk hip-hop amalgamtions, even if it puts Lint and Barker in the same band? I'm not sure, but I am pretty sure I never want to hear that track again. Warped Tour aficionados may feel differently.
The single is also weird, as it's the only track on the regular release that doesn't feature a hip-hop focus. The guest list is as good as you might surmise: Snoop, Luda, RZA. Raekwon and they all bring it pretty good. The Cool Kids represent nicely for the new school, but I could live without the Cudi track. Bonus tracks feature appearances from Corey Taylor and everyone's favorite GB tattted silly DJ Steve Aoki. Give The Drummer Some should sell well, and is pretty deserving of doing so. Barker has put together a solid roster, better than most of today's hip-hop record certainly, and his beats are way solid. Much more RZA than I would have expected, but pretty damn good. Backpackers and punks will both enjoy this a bunch.
Eric got us tickets for this months ago and it couldn't have come at a better time. It had been the kind of week where a Paint It Black show was pretty much the only legal (read: unincarcerable) antidote. Yemin's got a kid now, so Paint It Black play in fits and starts, but this was one of three or four over the weekend. Luckily for us, we got Iron Chic and Punch on the bill as well.
Eric and I rolled up at Death By Audio way early and posted up beerside for a couple of beverages. It made for a better atmosphere for seeing Zombie Dogs, a band that has at least one member of Bridge & Tunnel in its ranks. Fun, but not a hell of a lot of what you'd call solid songs from where I'm sitting. I'm pretty sure they are just getting off the ground, so maybe things will come together a bit for me. Nothing world-rocking, but I've heard far, far worse.
Iron Chic I have no ambivalence whatsoever about. I was well-warmed up by the point they came out and kicked things off with a double-shot of the best tracks off their most recent Not Like This. In poking around trying to find the flyer for this show, I found a funny review that called them old, which makes me just this side of Larry Livermore. Relative age aside, they attract a pretty feverish young crowd that romped for the duration of their half-hour or so set. I'm pretty sure IC are laying low in anticipation of a European junket, but check out their web presence here and make sure. Buy their records and merch.
Punch cancelled a month or so before, owing to the singer having broken her foot, I believe. I thought I'd like them more, but they brought out a lot of ladies and the crowd really ate them up, so I should probably listen to Eric and check out the record before I see them again. The same review that called IC old also claimed their was a 10 song punk medley that I'm not sure how I missed, but then again I had consumed a lot of beer at that point. Either way, I'm getting the records currently, so perhaps I'll be eating some crow down the line.
Paint It Black wrapped things up with their usual fervor. They really are the East Coast post-modern Descendents. Every release is hardcore as hell, but more and more Jawbreaker melody insinuates itself into the mix with every EP. They are also some fucking nerds, but lets not dwell on the obvious. Yemin dropped science and talked some shit, kids went batshit and I grinned the whole time. Philly hardcore is a nice happy medium between NYHC and DC and it is always a pleasure when Hardcore Gig Volume and Ian bring it to NYC. I felt like ass the next morning, but its shows like these that remind me why NY has the best shows around.
Jim Norton has made quite a career out of a being a likeable scumbag. His naked candor about sex, masturbation and transsexual prostitutes is something that probably won't have you throwing Despicable Me on next time your Mom comes by. In fact, the bit about raping Emperor Penguins may very well rule out enjoying this in groups. You may feel differently. A pretty good bit of this has been part of Norton's live set for a couple years now, but it's still pretty decent. Get Despicable Me from iTunes or from Jim here.
I can't say I ever thought I'd see Coliseum and Superchunk sharing sides of wax, but then again, JS-NYC is rapidly becoming too old to argue. I guess it makes a little more sense with it being a limited release for Record Store Day. Both parties bring Misfits covers to the table, with the Chunk finally recording Horror Business and Coliseum offering up an old recording of Bullet. I'll save my feelings on The Misfits in the interest of retaining what little scene cred I have left and report that the 7" has art by Ryan Patterson. Comes as a joint release between Merge and Temporary Residence and almost makes up for (or perhaps more accurately: is paid for by) Arcade Fire.
All sorts of awesomeness is brewing in the Superchunk camp. The new record Majesty Shredding is staggeringly awesome on a level that is even surprising for the mighty Chunk. Even I won't see them with that shitty Bright Eyes, but I will take small consolation in the acoustic live set that is currently available at the Superchunk web presence. Just Mac and Jim on this one, featuring three from Majesty Shredding with two other evergreens for good measure. Get it here, for a limited time.
JS-NYC loves anything associated with Jon Dee Graham. Combine that with a general enjoyment of Freedy Johnson and one of my first records being a Cowsills record and you've got a pretty good amount of excitement about the new Hobart Brothers project the three are undertaking. They have undertaken themselves a Kickstarter campaign to fund their debut release. There are a couple songs at the HB web presence to stoke the fires, but why not just cut to the chase and kick a couple bucks their way. You'll find their funding engine here.
Baltimore is a weird place. Not that that is an out and out bad thing. Lungfish and Wilderness both hail from Charm City and the crowd-pleasing Insubordination Fest continues to be a Northern alternative to The Fest. Baltimore hardcore is a little more esoteric. While I'm sure there is more than one hardcore band from that neck of the woods, it would be a hell of a surprise if they were better than Deep Sleep.
These boys bring it.
Turn Me Off comes courtesy of RVA purveyor Grave Mistake, adding to a stellar roster of recent releases like the Coke Bust 7" and final Government Warning LP. 10 songs in 13 minutes pretty much guarantee that you'll play this more than once, but anyone with anything close to a working auricular organ will eat this burst of post-Dag Nasty-ness up with a spoon. Get Turn Me Off here from the GM web presence.