Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quicksand to play NYC Friday, August 24th

I am beyond excited to find out that Quicksand are playing at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City Friday, August 24th.  Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Wednesday, August 1st) at noon.  Below is the entire Quicksand performance from the Revelation Records 25th Anniversary Showcase in Pomona, CA from June.

Monday, June 4, 2012

One Up - Behind This Wall from Positive Numbers Fest 2004

Unfortunately, I have no story to update the blog with this week.  Hopefully this video of my old band One Up playing Positive Numbers Fest in Wilkes-Barre, PA from 2004 will make up for it.  To me, this video is the perfect example of how much fun and active shows were in the early 2000's.  So many kids were up front our whole set singing along (not just for this cover), stage diving, moshing and just having a good time.  Every where I looked while we played I was surrounded by friends I have known for years, met through touring the US or just met that weekend.  When we pulled out our cover of Turning Point's "Behind This Wall" everyone just went bananas.  Towards the end of the song, you can even see me stage-dive with my guitar.  With out a doubt this was my absolute favorite time in my life.  Every time I watch this video it brings a smile to my face.  Thank you.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Jawbox - For Your Own Special Sweetheart

Jawbox - For Your Own Special Sweetheart
Released - 1994

Editor's note: Since this is an album on a major label, there is no download link available.

Story by T.J. Schilling, bassist/guitarst for Carved Up.

Hardcore was never something that jumped up and bit me when I was younger.  I'm still kind of uneasy around it as a whole (the culture, the music, etc..). Too big and too aloof… and I liked weed and beer a lot, so all that aggression kinda didn't make sense to me.  Why not just chill the fuck out and kill a couch or something?  Besides, most of the bands friends had shown me could hardly even play their instruments.  This was not appealing to me.  I wouldn't call myself a purist, but if you're going to make music that's life affirming, you could at least connect on the accents in your own songs, for fuck's sake.

Anyways.. I was 21 and I needed some records to bridge the gap for me.  This might have been the biggest one.

The first Jawbox record I owned was actually Novelty.  A pretty decent record, albeit a little monotonous.  Most of the songs were strong, but the production was super slick and it felt weird.  Even the most killer song on that album, "Send Down", felt a little croon-y, but it roared real good.  I was on the fence with this band, but I decided I'd take a chance on the next one.

I picked up For Your Own Special Sweetheart and I was floored.  The entire rhythm section pounds harder on this album than any other recording I'd ever heard.  Adam Wade was no slouch on Novelty, but Zach Barocas puts him completely to shame.  The songs vary in tempo, style, and rhythm set, but all feel cohesive.  I got through half this record and was pretty stoked.

The first time I heard "LS/MFT" it was over.  Up until that point, I had never heard a band execute something like it.  It's got almost a 2-step cowboy swing through the verse.  The chorus drops in with big harmonies, sawtooth-twang guitars and high-hat flams that make you want to throw every single piece of furniture in the room.  It's the first song on the album where you start to realize just what this rhythm section was capable of.

Moreover, for every track with an off-kilter rhythm, there's one that's straight ahead to match it, usually anchored by Kim Coletta's excellent bass playing.  She's got this fresh-string 'clank' throughout the record that just totally rules.  It's kind of like she sits in a class of bass players (Dave Curran of Unsane comes to mind) that just sort of 'got' how to make a J Bass always sound fucking awesome.  Kudos to her.  I still don't get it.

Growing up playing guitar, I always had this sort of code of ethics on how one should approach the instrument.  Obviously I was young and completely full of shit.  Everyone approaches things differently and that's what gives music it's individual quality.  However, as far as rock music goes, I felt that if you were going to play it, you should be exerting some physicality with your instrument.  Every song on this record is a testament to that. The line between punishing distortion and clean guitar tone comes straight from J Robbins and Bill Barbot's hands.  It completely reaffirmed all of my ideas on what I considered to be real and honest guitar playing.  To this day, I still try and attack the instrument in the same manner.  Jawbox (among other bands… Fugazi, etc..) are a good foundation if you find yourself getting away from it.

I'm not sure that any of the lyrics on this album make sense; and I'm fine with that.  It allows you to make your own imagery.  The delivery is there on all other fronts and as far as any of the projects I've been involved with or any that I plan to begin, this record always serves as a huge reminder on how to do things right.  Plug it in, get loud, play hard, get to the point.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Changes - Lost At Sea

New Jersey's best riffers, Changes, just released their newest album Lost At Sea online. In the coming months they will be releasing Lost At Sea on CD, Tape and Vinyl.  This is the heaviest and most concise Changes album to date.  If you have not heard of Changes before now you can download their entire back catalog by using the new search engine on the top right corner of the page.

Location:  Asbury Park, NJ
Genre:  Hardcore/Punk
Contact:  scz027@aol.com
For Fans Of:  Down, EyeHateGod, 108 and Black Sabbath
Year Released:  2012

Track List:
01.  Lost At Sea/Castaways
02.  Black Blood
03.  Like Northern Swells
04.  High On Cult

Crazy Town covering Refused

This video is another oldie, but a goodie.  What we have here is the god awful band Crazy Town covering the Swedish hardcore band Refused.  I honesty do not even know how a band like Crazy Town could be remotely interested in a band like Refused.  The only thing that makes sense to me is that they saw their video on MTV and were like "YO dawg, wez gotta cover dis band yo!"  Anyway, here is the byproduct of this ridiculous cover.

Monday, May 21, 2012

American Nightmare - Background Music

American Nightmare - Background Music
Released - 2001

Editor's note: Since this is an album on a indie label, there is no download link available.

Story by Mike McTernan, singer of Damnation AD.

I had been gone for a couple of years and was really out of touch.  These dudes just got up and destroyed the stage.  20 minutes later the singer walks off stage and it's over.  What the fuck just happened?  What had I been missing out on?  I really thought hardcore was dead.  Or my version of it had died.  I heard all the new bands, but I could not connect.  I hear the name American Nightmare and my immediate thought is a band with political leanings that I would probably not relate to.  But I had not seen kids react like this to a band in years or ever.

A few weeks later Background Music came out.  As I am listening to it I am completely in awe of the raw honesty of the lyrics.  How can someone take their inner most pain and put it on display for everyone to see?  It is easy to share your successes with others, but opening up about your fears and failures takes courage.  So many lines hit so close to home that I kept getting chills.  Then I hear “I want to open these veins and never fucking breathe again” and the tears start.  I cried for the next 6 months.  I listened to the album every day.  When I could not sleep I put it on.  When I felt alone it was on to keep me company.  When I wanted to die, it was there for me.  Someone else felt my despair.  I was not alone. That kept me going.

Silverchair covering Minor Threat

What we have here is a video of the horrible Australian rock band Silverchair covering a song by the legendary Minor Threat at a show in Montreal in 1997. Videos like this mainly upset me because I feel that horrible bands should not have any knowledge of good bands. I hope this video upsets you as much as it upsets me.


Friday, May 18, 2012

The Modrats - Huzzah!

The Modrats play self-described geek rock with a lot of early punk influence and passion.  Huzzah! is the third self-released album by The Modrats.  The vocals are very melodic without being polished or cutesy and are complimented well by the cleaner guitar tones.  I would even go as far as to say this sounds like a slower and less distorted guitar toned Husker Du at times.

Location:  Rock Hill, SC
Genre:  Nerd Rock, Punk, Indie
Contact:  ryan@kittylittercomic.com
Website:  www.facebook.com/themodrats
For Fans Of:  Nerf Herder, Jonathan Coulton and the Pixies
Year Released:  2012

Track List:
01. Cardboard Robot
02. This Sword
03. Onyx Unicorn
04. E minor Battle
05. Daredevil Girl
06. Poybius
07. Loneliest mouse
08. Luigi's Lament
09. I Breathe Fire
10. Henchman
11. Robot Cats
12. Last Taco
13. Adventure Forever
14. This World
15. Princesses and Rupees

Monday, May 14, 2012

Snapcase - Progression Through Unlearning

Snapcase - Progression Through Unlearning
Download:  www.mediafire.com/?zj2mvmizemj
Released:  1997

Story by John Lowe, guitarist for Rock Bottom.

I've liked some terrible music over the years. Growing up, my father had a couple of cool Springstein and Billy Joel records, but they were vastly outnumbered by Garth Brooks and Miami Sound Machine CDs.  My mom and sister were into classical music.  I was never lucky enough to have that cool uncle or family friend to show me hardcore records growing up.

Like many kids without musical direction, I depended on the radio and MTV to show me my options.  My developmental years happened to fall during the musical black hole better known as the late nineties.  Nu-metal was king.  I would cruise around school in my Lee Pipes blasting Sevendust and Taproot records like it was the illest shit.  Eventually I got into a healthy amount of Epitaph type punk bands from skate videos, but the nu-metal bug stayed with me for longer than I'd like to admit (we still listen to Coal Chamber in the van fairly often).

I forget what the heavy music show was on MTV at the time, but I recall it being on Saturday nights.   I would try to hide from my parents and sneak a peak at whatever Jonathan Davis was up to and hear the hottest new jams.  There were a few cool bands I got into this way.  I specifically remember seeing the Deftones "My Own Summer" video and almost banging my head off my shoulders.  Of course for every Deftones there were ten bands like Cold or Godsmack.

Nothing was more exciting at the time than seeing the new video graphic pop up on the tv screen.  It gave me this feeling that maybe I'd see something totally different and new, or perhaps I'd find a new favorite band.  The latter was true when that graphic led into the Snapcase "Typcast Modulator" video. It was the coolest thing I thought I'd ever heard at the time. It hit all the nu-metal notes I wanted to hear, but without the fruity singing parts. I decided it was the coolest thing ever and needed to get their record.

I got my mom to take me to the mall the next day to snag a Snapcase record. I was so excited I couldn't remember what the song I heard was called or what record it was on. It ended up being a fortunate accident, because I ended up picking up Progression Through Unlearning from The Wall instead of the not-so-great Designs for Automation that I was really looking for.

I tried to put it on in the car on the way home, but after about 20 seconds my mom turned it off. Thats how I knew it was going to be good. When I got home I really started to investigate my new purchase. "Caboose" is one of the best opening songs on any record, and it floored me. I probably put "Zombie Prescription" on repeat like eight times in a row to hear that sweet nu-metal flanger riff. It took me a ton of spins to finally realize that the song I heard wasn't on the record, but at that point it didn't matter. I was hooked.

My favorite track on the record is probably the last song, "Breaking and Reaching". The opening buildup and riff are heavy as hell, while being just nu-metal enough to see what attracted me to the band in the first place. The verses and chorus have that ninety's hardcore groove, which is probably my favorite element of that era.

It would be nice to say that my tastes in music completely changed at that point, but there was still a long road of shitty bands ahead. Sure, Progression got me into some other Victory bands of that era like Hatebreed and Deadguy, but I still listened to more System of a Down than hardcore at that point. Eventually I bonded with some friends over bands like Snapcase and Converge in high school and started playing in metalcore bands. Now I'm twenty six, and I still play in a borderline metalcore band… and I still kind of like nu-metal. But if I never stumbled onto that video and bought the wrong cd, who knows how the future would have changed. Maybe I would be a lawyer or something.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Single Mothers - Wild Party

Single Mothers play delay soaked rock/post-hardcore with the intensity of a punk band. My favorite aspect of the record is that the vocals are really up front in the mix.  The last song "Heaven (For The Weekend)" reminds me of an early Taking Back Sunday song vocally.  I am sure this is not something the members of Single Mothers want to hear haha.   They will be in the US on tour in a few months hitting both Sound & Fury as well as The Fest.

Location:  London, Ontario, Canada
Genre:  Punk/Post-Hardcore/Rock
Contact:  singlemothersparty@gmail.com
Website:  www.facebook.com/singlemothersparty
For Fans Of:  The Bronx and Hot Snakes
Year Released:  2012

Track List:
01.  Nice Dresses
02.  Runaways
03.  Heaven (For The Weekend)

This Is Hardcore 2012 full lineup announced

The full lineup for This Is Hardcore Fest in Philadelphia, PA was announced yesterday.  Here is a day to day breakdown of who is playing what day and were.  Tickets will be on sale May 17th at 12:00pm EST

Thursday, August 9th- Terror, Earth Crisis, Ringworm, Maximum Penalty, Mindset, Naysayer, Lifeless, Build & Destroy and The Storm.

Friday, Augusth 10th- headliner TBA, Cro-Mags, Cold World, 100 Demons, Death Threat, Harm's Way, Power Trip, Praise, Wrong Answer and Beware.

Saturday, August 11th- Gorilla Biscuits, Lifetime, H2O, Title Fight, Bane, Grey Area, Vision, Horrow Show, Rival Mob, Rotting Out, Skin Like Iron, Stick Together, No Tolerance, Twitching Tongues, Code Orange Kis, Oblivion and Empire Of Rats.

Sunday, August 12th- Blacklisted, Breakdown, In My Eyes, Floorpunch, Crown of Thornz, Negative Approach, Killing Time, Wisdom in Chains, Nails, Hard Skin, Gehenna, Soul Search, Will To Live, Agitator, Rude Awakening and Born Annoying.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dag Nasty - Field Day

The Worst From The Best
by Greg Polard
Dag Nasty - Field Day
Released - 1988

Editor's note: Since this is an album on a major label, there is no download link available. 

Story by Greg Polard.

Hi everybody!  It's been a while.  Welcome back to the second installment of "The Worst From The Best".  For my first piece I decided to write on a record that I'd never really heard before apart from a few tracks.  This time I'm mixing it up and I'm going to be writing about a record that I know inside and out, as I've been listening to it pretty steadily for the past 14 or so years.  That brings us to:

Dag Nasty's Field Day.  As you the reader may or may not know...I am huge Dag Nasty fan.  I easily can place them in my top ten hardcore bands of all time.  Since I  wrote about Minor Threat Out Of Step for this blog previously this should probably come as no surprise.  Despite getting into a lot of the Dischord stuff in my formative hardcore years around age 12, it wasn't until I was 15 that I first heard Dag Nasty.  I knew that Brian Baker was in the band so that was an added bonus, and finally got a copy of the CD that Dischord used to have in print with both Can I Say and Wig Out At Denko's on it.  I played the hell out of that thing.  So many melodic hardcore classics on there: "Values Here", "Under Your Influence", "Trying"...despite each album having a different vocalist and pretty different sounds I can still listen to all 20 tracks as one long LP and be completely satisfied. 

I had always heard that they had one more record after Wig Out before breaking up but had heard so many people tell me it was horrible so I put it out of my mind and just concentrated on the first two LP's (and the Shawn Brown demos on '85'-'86).  But one day, around 1998 I was at a show at the Church in Philly and Jamie from Double Decker had his distro table there.  As I'm looking over all of the stuff he had for sale I noticed a copy of Field Day on CD and thought to myself "why not?".  

Final rating (3.8 out of 5)
That night I got home and put it on my stereo and immediately I noticed the huge change during the first song, "Trouble Is".  Put this opening track up against "Values Here" from the first LP just two years earlier and it's night and day.  No more chunky power chords or yelled vocals.  Despite this...right away I feel like I "got it".  It was still catchy and still had elements of punk rock, just a lot different than the other hardcore bands I was listening to at the time.  In fact, I'll say the first three tracks on Field Day are perfect. After "Trouble Is" we get the title track, which never fails to make me want Mexican food and hang out on the beach (listen to it, you'll see).  The third song, "Things That Make No Sense" will get stuck in your head for days.  Especially in these three tracks I hear a lot of ALL era Descendents. 

It isn't until the fourth track "The Ambulance Song" that things take a turn.  This song has a straight clean guitar sound and a blues sounding solo that wouldn't be out of place on something my dad would be listening to while hanging outside at his grill in the summer time drinking beer.  To me this song is definitely a low point on the record and although I may not skip it, it's not a highlight.  (Sidenote: a friend and I would often challenge each other not to laugh during the over the top guitar solo.  Most times neither of us would win).

Moving on, after a nice cover of "Staring At The Rude Boys" and a few other tracks comes another album highlight with the song "Dear Mrs. Touma".  One of the more emotional tracks on the album with some really dark, weird lyrics that are actually based on some true events (discussed in this awesome interview on www.bigtakeover.com by my good friend Matthew Berlyant : http://www.bigtakeover.com/interviews/interview-peter-cortner-part-1 )

The mood then lightens a bit (a lot actually) with the song "Matt" which is super catchy and I always find the "what am I doing here?" hook in my head at random points.  It's the next two tracks where people really seem to get divided (and rightfully so).  The "I've Heard" / "Under Your Influence" medley or whatever you want to call it.  Both of these songs originally appear (in far superior versions) on the first LP.  For some reason they made "I've Heard" a 12 second track where the band is listening to the "Can I Say" version and essentially mocking former vocalist Dave Smalley over top.  While they drastically cut the time down for this track, for "Under Your Influence" they added a full minute to the end where the song goes off into a stoner rock type dirge or something.  While I'm not a huge fan of re-recordings to begin with, the actual music for the most part is not bad.  But the part about "40 ounces of courage and I'm feeling fine"?  C'mon.  But I guess in context of everything that was going on at the time with hardcore and straight edge (it was 1988 after all) I can see how they'd probably want to ruffle a few feathers. 

And just like that, in a few more tracks the album is done, but not without another pretty funny guitar solo on "Here's To You" (see the above linked interview with Peter Cortner for more on that).  After listening for the first time I remember thinking "this IS Dag Nasty but at the same time it ISN'T."  I mean really, when listening to the previous year's Wig Out At Denko's LP  it shouldn't come as THAT much of a surprise that they went in this direction.  On songs like "The Godfather" and "When I Move" you can see the band had the desire to branch out beyond the confines of the hardcore scene at the time, for sure. Sometimes they were successful (first three songs, "Dear Mrs. Touma", etc) but there are definitely points on this album where they are not as successful ("Ambulance Song", "La Penita").  

One of the other things apart from a few of the weirder songs that does detract from this record is the production.  I've often wondered what a different producer or even a remix could have done for the album.  The closest we have is the far superior 12" remix of "Trouble Is" (download it and you'll see) that Ed Stasium (Ramones, Biohazard) remixed.  If the whole record sounded like that who knows, maybe people would talk about it in the same breath as other melodic hardcore/punk touchstones.  We'll never know though, will we?

Final rating is 3.85 out of 5

Friday, May 4, 2012

Psychic Teens - Halo

Psychic Teens recently released their recordings a few Nine Inch Nails covers they did to help test out the newly remodeled Red Planet Recordings studio in Clifton Heights, PA.  All of the songs on this recorded were recorded in one take.

Location:  Philadelphia, PA
Genre:  Noise/Rock/Shoegaze/Post-Punk
Contact:  psychicteensnetwork@gmail.com
Website:  www.facebook.com/PsychicTeensNetwork
For Fans Of:  Nine Inch Nails
Year Released:  2012

Track List:
01.  Self
02.  Pig
03.  Lie
04.  Wish
05.  Last

Late Bloomer - Demo 2012

Late Bloomer's are a power trio from Charlotte, NC who worship at the alter of SST/Dischord/SupPop.  The recording is a little too on the low-fi and on the reverb-y side for my taste, but that does not take away from the overall appeal of the band.   If you are a fan of the Husker's, you will definitely dig what the Late Bloomer's bring to the musical table.

Location:  Charlotte, NC
Genre:  Indie/Punk/Stoner Pop
Contact:  selfawarerecords@gmail.com
Website:  www.facebook.com/pages/Late-Bloomer/130628010387198
For Fans Of:  Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du, Jawbox
Year Released:  2012

Track List:
01.  Disappear
02.  Brother
03.  Man In Your Head
04.  Reality

Give Up The Ghost (American Nightmare) Reunion Documentary Trailer

Give Up The Ghost (American Nightmare) were the biggest band on the planet in the early 2000's.  A few months back, they decided to do a bunch of reunion show.  Below is the trailer for the DVD that is coming out in the near future on Bridge Nine Records.  My fondest memory of this band is actually something their roadie or Death Threat's roadie Big E said before the show.  After setting up the AN merch table he went outside for a couple of minutes.  When he came back in he said something to the effect of "Yo, pack up those S, M, L and XL shirts guys.  This is a strictly youth size crowd".

Monday, April 30, 2012

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
Released - 1994

Story by Larry Ragone, singer/guitarist for Psychic Teens.

Editor's note: Since this is an album on a major label, there is no download link available.

It was the Summer of 1994 when I, like many others, discovered Nine Inch Nails and The Downward Spiral.  After a sloppy, physical, and mud-covered set at Woodstock ’94, and a much publicized battle with Tipper Gore and the P.M.R.C. (remember them?).  NIN had become a much buzzed about popular music act by the time I was able to acquire the compact disc from BMG Music Club.

At twelve years old, I knew soon after tearing the shrinkwrap and removing the much-dreaded Parental Advisory sticker that I had my hands on something special.  Unlike any other disc I owned (I had maybe a dozen) there seemed to be a very distinct visual aspect to the packaging and layout.  A slimline CD case with little or no copy housed the disc – which itself – was a downward spiral.  HALO EIGHT was featured twice in the layout thus planting the seeds of a future record collector, begging me to collect every HALO from then on out. 

Upon further inspection of the oversized booklet inside the slipcase, I knew that I had something that would likely be considered pretty fucked up.  Jagged sentence fragments in lowercase blue type adorned white pages.  The letter “i” prominent throughout led me to believe that this was a personal record with a single narrator: a trait of early Nine Inch Nails that I still admire to this day.

Upon the first spin of the disc, I was immediately bludgeoned with confrontational vocal delivery, wall -of-noise guitars and keyboards, and pulsating, unrelenting percussion.  There was no doubt to me that I was in some serious heavy metal territory – my genre of choice. However, this seemed more metal than Metallica, Slayer, or Iron Maiden.  Perhaps it was the ever-changing dynamics of The Downward Spiral and the absolute depravity of Reznor’s voice which, when drilled into the psyche of a teenager, would be cause of unrest and chaotic emotions off the bat.  “Mr. Self Destruct” rips and tears while “Piggy” conveys a confident swagger.  Trent Reznor has total control of your every sense.

This music was indescribable to me.  Twelve years old – I recognized the huge distorted guitars, the tightly programmed drums, and the other-worldly ambiance that permeates throughout, especially on the disc’s 2nd half.  Now looking back, I am able to identify the influence of artists I have discovered and have grown to appreciate within The Downward Spiral. The record weaves together a tapestry of sound much like This Mortal Coil’s Filigree & Shadow and It’ll End in Tears by expressing deep emotional longing while using different voices and arrangements.  “Reptile” levels with Swans-esque dirge while “Heresy” brings to mind a pop sensibility and arrangement that could have been provided Simple Minds in their heyday.  “Closer” - the album’s most polarizing (and popular) track - could very well be what Joy Division would have sounded like in 1994.

The Downward Spiral was a gamechanger, bringing musicianship and art to the next conceptual level for me.  Green Day and Metallica were bands.  Trent Reznor was an artist. And at the top of his game – he was not to be fucked with.  The Downward Spiral remains a piece of living art.  Going back on occasion and holding the package and listening to the CD from front to back gives me the same feelings I felt the first time I heard it.  It reminds me that music can be more than just going into a basement with your friends and ripping riffs all day. Music can also purge emotions and allow for a better understanding of how using different sounds and utilizing studio space can create a cathartic experience.  From “Mr. Self Destruct” to “Hurt”, Trent Reznor takes you on a visceral journey to hell and back and then back to hell.  This powerful work of art remains inspirational to me and the other members of my band by reminding us that unfiltered anger and sheer emotion is as important to creativity as just musical prowess and songwriting ability.  The Downward Spiral possesses all of the above qualities and is a benchmark album made without conforming to anyone else’s rules.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quiet Arcs stream the new album I've Been Feeling Kind Of Temporary

For those in the greater Philadelphia area, Rita's Water Ice is an almost universally loved food, perhaps on its way to becoming its own distinct food group. One of the greatest things about Rita's, of course, is that you are permitted to sample a small portion of every flavor before ordering a full container of it.

And in the spirit of taste-testing, Quiet Arcs are currently streaming their newest album I've Been Feeling Kind Of Temporary for a limited time on their bandcamp page. In the very near future they will be self releasing a limited quantity of this recording on vinyl for you to enjoy on your home stereo.  You can stream the full album for free here now.

If you like what you hear and if you'd like to have a copy of your own, please stay tuned for more details about the vinyl release.

Track List:
01.  Constant Sutures
02.  Diving Bell Curve
03.  Palmer To Townsend

Days Of Rage In South Beirut

The following story was written by international man of mystery, Julio Pardo.  Days of Rage In South Beirut recounts his recent trip to Beirut, the military presence, a close call with Hezbollah secret agents and a few flight attendants.  Julio does a blog called Girls Got Limits where you can find more stories and photos of his life's journey.

Days of Rage In South Beirut by Julio Pardo.

When I was in Damascus, I heard that Hezbollah got to bring down the government of Lebanon so they will stop the investigations of Rafik Hariri’s death.  Beirut was already on my to do list and to be honest, I never thought it will be a big deal.  This is not the first time Lebanon was run with out a government and I didn’t think people would go nuts and rage around.

Well, I was wrong.  I got there a day and a half before the riots, Days Of Rage as they like to call them, and everything looked like a dream land.  Shit was mad expensive, rich ladies walking around in skirts, hot weather and I was kinda feeling the glamorous vibe of Beirut.

I was tired so I decided to chill for the night.  The next morning, I decided to walk to Hamra, the 5th Ave of Beirut, make it to the port and see the pigeon rocks, then take this cable car that takes all the way up on the mountain so you can have a sick view of Beirut.  It's around 10 am, I already had my breakfast and I’m trying to make it to Hamra.  There are a few more armed man than usual, but “hey this is Lebanon” is what I tell myself.  Then, while I’m walking between what appears to be some government buildings five military men walk toward me and hold the hand I had on my camera up to my chest and say “where are you going?”.  I’m like “well Hamra, am I on the wrong path?”, he looks down at me (the guy can play in the NBA no problem) and says “no, go straight and no pictures, hand out of the camera”.  I walk out of their way and didn’t really understand if I can't take pictures at all or if it was just the block.  Since they are the ones with the ak-47’s, I decided to not take any pictures until I reached a more populated area.  I eventually found Hamra, got to visit the caves and the pigeon rocks and did the mountain thing.

The day was quite dope and I made it back to the hostel around 7ish.  I took a shower and got to nap for a bit.  Around 10, I walk to the chill area to check my email.  I ran into four hot eastern flight attendants and a Jordanian pilot.  They were drinking Vodka and one thing lead to another, so I showed them my “I <3 kurwy” tattoo (I love bitches in Polish).  Somehow it worked and we all went out to feel the so called “Beirut night life”.  The adventure turned out to be a total fail.  The streets were taken by the military and every single pub, club and bar were closed.  We drove for over two hours till we finally found an Irish pub 20 minutes outside of Beirut.  We were the only people there other than an old man with a hooker in her 50’s.  The night ended up alright and we got back to the hostel around 4am.

I slept for a bit and since everybody told me about the riots, I cancelled my trip to the ruins and decided to go South Beirut to see the protest.  Shit was hell on earth, but everyone was quite friendly with foreigners.  There were tons of people taking pictures, but at some point these two men in black coats grab me and ask me to walk with them.  They show me their guns and I’m like “ok, sure you win”.  They take me to a corner and sat me down on a bench.  They asked me why I was taking pictures and what was I doing in Beirut.  At that point, I realized they were not police or military, but Hezbollah secret agents.  I played as smooth as I could, I showed them my passport and all my stamps.  I told them I travel and take pictures, nothing more, no newspapers, no nothing.  One of them got down to look me in the eyes and goes “listen, if you are Mossad you better tell me now, before its too late”.  I’m like “no man, I’m Spanish, I like football, sleeping and eating, that’s about it”.  They say they need to take my film which included the rolls from yesterday, the one of the protest and even the one that was not even used.  I tried to convince them to give them back so I could have them developed tomorrow and bring them somewhere and they can keep my passport until I show them the pictures.  They said if I want them, I have to go with them for questioning.  I have heard about those “Hezbollah questionings” and how you could be detained for up to two weeks with no civil rights.  I gave them the film and walked out of there.  It took me forever to get back to the hostel because there were tires on fire on every street.

Around 3pm, I’m back, changed cameras and film and decided to walk to the National Museum.  I already checked online to make sure they were open.  It's was about a 20 minute walk, so it felt like a doable plan.  When I’m about three blocks away from the square I saw that it was surrounded by military and they stop me.  I’m like “really? Again?”, the man goes “go to hotel now, this dangerous.”  I’m like “look I just wanna go the museum which is right behind you.”  He tells me "it’s closed, go back home".  I know he is bullshiting me, so I try to go around it.  Five minutes later, a military truck stops in front of me and to my surprise it is the same man again and he says “hotel now!”.  I’m like “my hotel is that way man.”  He ask me the name of my hotel and I’m like “touché asshole”, you win I’m out.  Everything was closed and at night the same thing.  Luckily I was leaving next day to Amman and decided to be positive about the adventure.  I’m alive and well and this just means I’ll have to come back to Beirut again which isn’t a bad thing at all.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ten Yard Fight "The Only Way" Documentary

Since there is no story to update the blog with, I figured the Ten Yard Fight "The Only Way" documentary might make up for it.  I only got to see Ten Yard Fight play the songs off of their last album The Only Way one time and it was at the last In My Eyes show about a year after the last Ten Yard Fight show.  They were scheduled to play a show in New Jersey I was heading to when I found out that they were not going to be playing because they broke up.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Occult 45 - Grind Funk Railroad Demo

Occult 45 are a three-piece grindcore band from Philadelphia, PA.  In true grindcore/power violence fashion most of the songs barely break the minute mark if that.  The first two songs on the Grind Funk Railroad Demo are "Intro/The Farmers Daughter" and it seems like the Intro is the longest song on the demo.  That fact should neither disappoint nor discourage the listener because once the droning of "Intro" transitions into "The Farmers Daughter" you are getting non-stop blast beats from this point out.  The nasty guitar tone matches the brutal speed and jarring tempo changes from song to song.  The samples Occult 45 use on this demo for the songs "The Farmers Daughter" and "Passion For Ignorance" are perfectly placed.  "Tehran Desert Vampire" is the least grindy sounding song and has more of a Negative Approach meets Discharge with double bass kind of feel to it.

Location:  Philadelphia, PA
Genre:  Grindcore/Power Violence
Contact:  occult45band@gmail.com
Website:  www.facebook.com/Occult45
For Fans Of:  Napam Death, Brutal Truth, Rotten Sound, Nasum, Pig Destroyer
Year Released:  2012

Track List:
01.  Intro/The Farmers Daughter
02.  Body Melt
03.  Passion for Ignorance
04.  Tehran Desert Vampire

Real Cops - Demo 2012

Real Cops are a social/political hardcore punk hailing from New Jersey.  They kind of remind me of a weird mix of Jerry's Kids and The Circle Jerks.  All four songs on this demo tape have a specific topic or opinion conveyed in the lyrics ranging from global warming/overpopulation to America being on the verge of a constant police state.  I also want to point out the great cover art for this demo.  The images on the cover (a riot squad, a happy American family and a grave yard) could not be more different while still being completely intertwined in this imaginary American dream most people still cling to.

Location:  New Jersey
Genre:  Hardcore/Punk
Contact:  realcopsnj@gmail.com
For Fans Of:  Jerry's Kids, Circle Jerks and Tear It Up
Year Released:  2012

Track List:
01.  The Future Is Written
02.  It's Only A Matter Of Time
03.  Etched In Stone
04.  Death Squads

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sunburster - Two Songs

Sunburster are a brand new band out of Philadelphia, PA who will certainly make your head bang.  These guys are big fans of heavy riffs and hittin' spliffs and the music on Two Songs shows that.  Both of the songs "And Those Where The Horrors" and "Institutionalized" lock into a solid groove you can feel.

Location:  Philadelphia, PA
Genre:  Metal/Rock
Contact:  jaydost85@gmail.com
Website:  www.facebook.com/pages/Sunburster/356407564375908
For Fans Of:  Cavity, Kylesa, EHG and Coalesce
Year Released:  2012

Track List:
01. And Those Were The Horrors
02. Institutionalized

Tom Servo - Demo

Tom Servo are a Philadelphia based noise/rock band.  Musically, they play mellow guitar effect based rock in the vein of Sonic Youth with multi-layered vocals.  A few of the songs pick up the pace like the songs "Five" and "Four" for more of a driving/punk feel.

Location:  Philadelphia, PA
Genre:  Rock N Roll
Contact:  seamusg88@gmail.com
Purchase:  Free hard copies here
For Fans Of:  Sonic Youth
Year Released:  2011

Track List:
01.  One
02.  Three
03.  Five
04.  Two
05.  Four

Discourse - Demo 2011

Discourse are a Columbia, SC based hardcore band.  Musically, they play a very '90s inspired brand of hardcore with a few dissonant Turmoil style riffs and even a blast beat here and there.  The vocals are the perfect mix of yelling/talking/screaming which provides great clarity to the vocals.

Location:  Columbia, SC
Genre:  Hardcore
Contact:  kylejacksonphoto@gmail.com
Website:  www.facebook.com/discoursehardcore
For Fans Of:  Foundation, Turmoil, Earth Crisis
Year Released:  2011

Track List:
01. Condemn
02. Carved In Stone
03. Follow
04. No Heroes

Friday, March 23, 2012

Scuzbot - Shapes And Trends

Scuzbot are a pop-punk band from Bensalem, PA.  When I say pop-punk, I am not referring to the whinny garbage with wanna be mosh parts that is passing for pop-punk these days.  Scuzbot could easily have been on Lookout! Records fifteen or so years ago if it were not for the fact that all the members are only twenty years old.  The music on Shapes And Trends is melodic and the vocals are a perfect fit to accentuate the mood of the songs.  The second song "Send In The Clowns" has a lot of Weezeresqe guitar melodies.  The dual vocals in the chorus of "Washed Up" weave in and out of each other in solid harmony.

Location:  Bensalem, PA
Genre:  Punk/Pop Punk
Contact:  Rrispo7@rocketmail.com
Website:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Scuzbot/105700902842643
For Fans Of:  Plow United, Fugazi, Husker Du, Weezer
Year Released:  2011

Track List:
01. Shapes and Trends
02. Send in the Clowns
03. Washed Up
04. In Space

The Storm - Born To Survive Demo 2011

The Storm are a new heavy hardcore band coming out of Syracuse, NY.  I hear a strong Trapped Under Ice, Madball, Terror and even Ringworm vibe in the music.  For those so inclined, there are plenty opportunities to bring the mosh.  Born To Survive starts out with a brutal intro which goes right into the title track which will have you pittin' in no time.

Location:  Syracuse, NY
Genre:  Hardcore
Purchase:  Demo CD
Website: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Storm/195693333852632
For Fans Of:  Trapped Under Ice, Madball
Year Released:  2011

Track List:
01. Intro
02. Born To Survive
03. Warrior
04. Ratcage

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chain Of Strength - True Til Death

First press
Chain Of Strength - True Tili Death
Download:  Original mix here
Purchase:  CD or LP here
Released: 1989

Story by Tim McMahhon, singer of Mouthpiece, Triple Threat, Hands Tied and co-founder of Double Cross Webzine.

In the very near future, Double Cross Webzine will be re-launching their website on a new server. Expect a few minor changes that will help make the site more user friendly.  Their new url has not gone live yet, but you should bookmark http://doublecrossxx.com for when it does.

Starting back in 1987 and on through 1989, my friends and I would skate on down to the West Trenton train station and catch a train into Philadelphia. Once we got to Philly, we'd skate, hit up South Street, go to all the record stores like Chaos, Philly Record Exchange, 3rd Street Jazz, shop at Spike's Skates, Skinz, Zipperhead and round the day off with some pizza. For us, Philly was our version of NYC. We'd hear all about everything going on in NYC, Some Records, Venus, Bleecker Bob's, CBGB's, the Brooklyn Banks, etc., but for whatever reason, at that time, NYC just seemed so much further away and a bit overwhelming to us. So the much smaller and condensed Philly did the trick for us.

When new records were released and more specifically, new Revelation records, there really weren't a lot of options as to where I could pick them up. I could obviously order from Rev, but at that time, ordering anything from them was a total crap shoot and it could end up taking 6 months to receive your order. I did have a couple local record stores that carried Rev releases, but they were inconsistent and didn't always get the releases on the anticipated release dates. Also, with the local shops, I'd have to rely on my parents to drive me out and that wasn't always a sure shot deal.

In 1989, at the time that the Chain Of Strength "True Till Death" 7" was released, it came in the wake of some pretty epic releases from Revelation, so the bar was set high and I was excited to say the least. My first memories of Chain Of Strength probably revolve around an ad that Revelation Records put in Maximum Rock N Roll for the "True Till Death" 7" and a MRR Southern California scene report that they were mentioned in. There was definitely some hype, I knew some of the members played in Justice League, I somewhat knew there resume and the bottom line was that I knew I had to get my hands on the record.

Tim wearing a Chain Of Strength
shirt in his high school I.D. photo
So my friend Scott and I skated on down to the West Trenton train station and caught a train to Philly like we had done in the past. I was focused, I knew Chaos Records always got the latest Revelation releases and usually even colored vinyl, which was an added bonus. Chaos seemed to be the equivalent to what I was always hearing about with the shops in NYC. Chaos always had the most recent releases, a wall of rare records, demos, fanzines, the owner was punk, it just seemed perfect.

Once we got into Philly and skated on over to Chaos, we both walked in and started thumbing through the box of 7"s. There was no question about it, between me and Scott, I was definitely the guy that had the "True Till Death" 7" in my cross hairs. Scott undoubtedly wanted the record as well, but just not with the same eagerness and enthusiasm that I had. Then it happened, Scott found it first, but my initial nervousness quickly turned to optimism that Chaos would naturally have another copy, so I continued to dig. The 7" that Scott found, was of course the coveted green vinyl, which made me slightly worried that his copy might have been the only green vinyl, but I continued to dig. Maybe another copy got misplaced, maybe they had more copies behind the counter. I asked the guy at the register, "Do you happen to have another copy of this Chain Of Strength" 7"?", to which he quickly respond, "Nope, sorry man, that's the LAST ONE". Boom, I was devastated. I turned to Scott and asked if he'd let me buy the one he found, but he refused. All of the sudden, Scott became the biggest Chain Of Strength fan and had the biggest smile on his face.

We left Chaos and headed out to the other record stores, all of which left me empty handed. Chaos was the only record store in Philadelphia that had the Chain Of Strength "True Till Death" 7", how could that be? I was beyond bummed and beyond jealous that Scott virtually stumbled upon his copy. I tried once again to rationalize with Scott and beg him to sell me his copy, but he wasn't having it. I offered to order him a copy, but again, it wasn't an option. It looked like if I was going to get myself a copy, I'd have to order one and play the waiting game.

When we got back to my house, Scott did sympathize enough to let me throw his Chain record on my record player and at least make myself a cassette copy. I guess a taped copy was better than nothing, plus I'd be able to listen to the record and study the lyric sheet while it taped.

I remember hearing those drums ring in "Just How Much?" and I remember hearing Curtis yell, "Hey listen up, yeah, I just got one thing to say, I wanna talk about… something that means a fucking lot to me" and I was sold. Everything just came together so perfectly. Yeah, Curt's vocals were a little understated and low in the mix, but it didn't take me long to completely accept it and embrace it. Chain Of Strength were just the band I needed at that time. They were fast, tight, the mosh parts made you want to kick through walls, the lyrics spoke to me and felt like something I could have written myself. I thoroughly connected with Chain Of Strength and that "True Till Death" 7". at the time, I could sense things starting to slightly shift and change in the hardcore scene and some bands weren't being as vocal about straight edge as they had in the past. Some bands were going metal, some were going rock and slowing down, but Chain Of Strength were an onslaught of first-rate straight edge hardcore. Aestheticly, Chain Of Strength also hit the nail on the head. While many were criticizing Chain for being too "surfer" looking, that was something that never bothered me. All the BOLD shirts, X's, bleached heads, X Swatches, etc., were things I was down with and again, felt a connection to.

Really, every single song on the "True Till Death" 7" is perfect, both musically and lyrically. The song "True Till Death" is about as much of an anthem as you can get, "Let Down", "Never Understand", pure betrayal, pissed, to the point and in your face, "Best Of Times", a virtual word for word summary of the experiences of me and my friends, growing up. Twenty three years later, this record is still one of my favorites and still hits home, just as hard as it did way back then.

In the end, I did order the record directly from Revelation and I did have to wait longer than I wanted to, but still, I got my own copy. My mail ordered copy came in black vinyl, so I had to hunt down a green one, but at least I got one and still have that copy to this day. Scott on the other hand, I'm not sure if he still has his, probably not if I had to guess. I will say though, at least that taped copy from his record, got me through until I got my own.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chumps - Chumps

Chumps are a Brooklyn, NY based band who play a noisy and distorted hybrid of rock and punk.  Their music has a unique vibe to it, as if Sonic Youth were to have recorded Dirty in the same studio Black Flag recorded My War with an only slightly intoxicated David Yow on vocals if that makes any sense.  "Shivist" and "Dirt" are great examples of Chumps heavier, more grooving side where as "Swamp Rats" and "1-800-267-7468" pick up the tempo for a faster punk feel.  I hear a lot of musical influences on this record ranging from The Jesus Lizard to Failure which make this a solid album from start to finish.

Location:  New York City
Genre:  Rock/Alt Rock
Contact:  smackheadmuppet@forgerecords.com
Purchase:  LP or CD here
Website:  www.facebook.com/Chumpsmofo
For Fans Of:  Jesus Lizard, Fugazi, Quicksand, Donnie & Marie
Year Released:  2011

Track List:
04.  LUPO
05.  DIRT
06.  1-800-267-7468
07.  BLACK
08.  HLLWN

Poison Planet - Boycott Everything

Poison Planet are a politicaly/socially aware Hardcore Punk band from Chicago, IL. Boycott Everything sounds like it could be a an early Discharge album with a few blast beats thrown in here and there.  The title track "Boycott Everything" is a classic sing along anthem with the chorus "We can fight, we can win.  We can fight, we can win.  Boycott everything."  Poison Planet also have three other releases available through their Bandcamp and Big Cartel websites.

Location:  Chicago, IL
Genre:  Hardcore/Punk
Contact:  thirdxparty@hotmail.com
Purchase: LP available in April here
Website:  www.facebook.com/pages/Poison-Planet/177658082939
For Fans Of:  Minor Threat, Cro-Mags, Discharge, Dead Kennedys, Void
Year Released:  2011

Track List:
01. Liquor Flesh Trade
02. Boycott Everything
03. I Hope You Choke
04. Border Fences
05. Tidal Leveling

Monday, March 12, 2012

We Jam Econo - The Story of The Minutemen

Unfortunately, I do not have a story to post today.  To make it up to everyone, I am posting the We Jam Econo - The Story of The Minutemen documentary.  I recently read the Minutemen chapter in Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 written by Michael Azerrad.  I was previously unfamiliar with the bands music before reading about them.  To be honest, after reading about them, they are probably the most inspirational punk band on the planet.  Their DIY work ethic and "econo" mindset is pure punk rock in its finest and most basic form.  I highly recommend anyone who plays in a band or wants to play in a band to watch this video.

We Jam Econo - The Story of the Minutemen is a full-length documentary about the influential 1980s punk rock band The Minutemen, created by director Tim Irwin and producer Keith Schieron in association with Rocket Fuel Films. The film premiered on February 25, 2005 at the historic Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, California, after two years in production.

Poignant recent interviews with the band's two surviving members Mike Watt and George Hurley, as well as first-person anecdotes from notable musicians including Flea, Henry Rollins and Thurston Moore, complement the archival concert and interview footage of the band, creating an informative and moving film for those interested in the band or punk rock in general.

The title is a lyric from their song "The Politics of Time." It's also referred to in a comment made near the end of the film by Mike Watt, in a 1985 interview, when the band is asked if they have anything else to say. He answers for them: "We jam econo." Econo was local slang for economic and described the band's dedication to low-cost record production and touring. It also describes the band's (and burgeoning underground independent music scene's) do-it-yourself attitude and philosophy.

Please Support the filmmakers, the band and everyone involved if you enjoy this!