Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This Is Hardcore Photobook Teaser

Our friends over at This Is Hardcore are working on getting a photobook together titled "This Is Hardcore: Evolution Through Photo" together that cronicles the last couple of years of This Is Hardcore Fest.  The kickstarter campaign starts on March 1st, but here is a teaser trailer to give you an idea as to what they have up their sleeves.

This Is Hardcore Photobook Kickstarter [Launching March 1] from hate5six on Vimeo.

Monday, February 27, 2012

SSD - Break It Up

The Worst From The Best
By Greg Polard
SSD -  Break It Up
Download -
Released - 1985

Story by Greg Polard.

So when Don asked me to write about bands who once had illustrious careers and then ended up putting out questionable material, the first record and band I thought of was SSD and their final album, Break It Up, from 1985.

Like many people my age, my introduction to the almighty SSD was via a collection of theirs on Taang! called Power that was released in the early 1990s.   Somehow, they thought it was a good idea to put out a compilation that was not only not in any semblance of chronological order, but that also leaned heavily on their later, often maligned, records (How We Rock from 1984 and the aforementioned Break It Up from the following year).  So my exposure to Break It Up up until recently was the few tracks on Power that I found myself mocking at first listen and then skipping over after that.

I put the first two SSD records (The Kids Will Have Their Say and Get It Away) up there with my favorite hardcore 12"s of all time. What an incredible band they were on those first two....super-fast (for the most part), angry songs with cool straight-edge lyrics.  But then, like most of those early hardcore/punk bands, after that second album, something changed.   Longer songs.   Guitar solos.  Cleaner production.  Less "punk" lyrics.  Sometimes bands ended up defying all odds and still releasing good stuff when they made these changes (we'll get to that with some of the other records I'll write about later), but I have to say, to my ears, SSD failed miserably.

Final Rating (1 out of 5)
I figured the best way to start off this series of posts would be by listening to a record that I'd never actually heard in its entirety prior to writing, that way I could listen with fresh, unbiased ears.  I still have not been able to listen to the whole album.  I made it through Side A (1-5) and had to give up.   I really did try.  I swear.   But some things aren't meant to be.  Thing is, I wanted to give this one a fair shake, too.   I mean, it came out on Homestead in 1985, the same label (and year) that Dinosaur Jr. (known as Dinosaur at that point) released their classic debut album.   It seemed like if anyone was going to like this album, it would be me.   I am also a huge AC/DC fan and it's pretty common knowledge that Break It Up was SSD's attempt to sound like them, but still... I feel nothing.  Springa is no Bon Scott (or even Brian Johnson for that matter), and Al Barile and Francois Levesque are not Angus and Malcom Young either.

The songs are too long and go absolutely nowhere.  Hell, with one look at the running times when I imported the album onto iTunes, I had a feeling I wasn't going to be happy.  Not one song is under three minutes.   In fact, the shortest song is 3:19 while the longest is an agonizing (or so I'm assuming since it's on Side 2) 5:27.  It seems like while in the studio, they said, "Man, you know what would make this even better?  If we put some long, wanking guitar solo overtop."  So that's what they did... on every song.

Did I mention the lyrics yet?  Since I'm listening to MP3s and don't have the actual album (but really does anyone own the actual album?), I can't be 100%, but I swear it opens up with the line, "Twiddling your thumbs like little Jack Horner."  If I'm right, wow... that's horrible.  And if I'm wrong... well it's still hilarious, no?

The coolest thing about the record is the dated-looking cover art.  It screams 1980s.  Take away the SSD logo and replace it with RATT and it makes perfect sense.  A far cry from the Pushead art of Get It Away, for sure.

One thing I did notice while listening was that in a way, this record is the precursor to "grunge."  It features a slight touch of punk rock, but with classic rock and heavy metal influences abound.  It would not have sounded out of place on Sub Pop in 1988.   The difference is that those bands, for the most part, were able to write decent songs in that style.  SSD could not.

I genuinely have never talked to a person who likes this record.  When push comes to shove, I bet you that even Al Barile himself will, at least in 2012, acknowledge that this thing sucks.  And he said it was their best record in that Schism interview around 1988 or so.

But don't take my word for it, download the link and see for yourself.  While you're at it, let me know how awesome Side 2 is.

Final rating: 1 out of 5.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Heartwell - On Science, On Strings

Heartwell are an awesome four-piece pop punk meeds indie-rock band from New Jersey. The dual singing on the album compliments the music and really makes the vocals stand out from track to track.  On Science, On Strings has nice pacing from track to track with a mixture of up beat and driving songs like "Who Monitors the Monitor?" and "Almost Ohio, PA" to slower songs like "Milpool" and "Fertility Hollis."

Location:  New Jersey
Genre:  Alternative/Indie/Punk
For Fans Of:  Mock Orange, Hot Water Music and The Lawrence Arms
Year Released: 2011

Track List:
01. Who Monitors the Monitor?
02. Almost Ohio, PA
03. Milpool
04. Bad Dates
05. Fertility Hollis

Casa de Diversion - Covers Vol 1

I feel that Covers Vol 1 is pretty self explanatory.  This is volume 1 of a collection of bands doing awesome covers.  Some of the covers are really interesting and may have you thinking "really???" while others are no-brainers that will have you saying "FUCK YEA!!!!".  My personal favorites are Masakari doing the Discharge EP Fight Back in it's entirety, Outlast doing "No Choice" by Outburst, Ill Intent doing "Watch Your Back" by Cock Sparrer , Casting Curses doing "Sex Type Thing" by Stone Temple Pilots and Raindance doing "In The Meantime" by Helmet.  Some of the more diverse/interesting covers you will find on here are Old Wounds doing "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane, Vestiges doing "Zombie" by The Cranberries and Plauges have a very interesting take on The Beatles song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)".

Casa de Diversion - Covers Vol 1
Download - here
Released - 2012

Track List:
01. Twitching Tongues - Gravitational Constant_ G = 6.67 X 10^-8 Cm^3 Gm^-1 Sec^-2 (Type O Negative)
02. Masakari - Fight Back EP (Discharge)
03. Heartless - Anthem For The Undesirables (His Hero Is Gone)
04. Wreck - Civilized (Rollins Band)
05. Colony - Loss Leader (Codeine)
06. Apart - Arcarsenal (At the Drive-In)
07. Merciless - Watching You Die (Buried Alive)
08. Outlast - No Choice (Outburst)
09. Ruckus - Mountain of Power (Grimlock)
10. Plagues - I Want You (She's So Heavy) (The Beatles)
11. Full Of Hell - Atmosphere (Joy Division)
12. Caulfield - Dive (Nirvana)
13. The Love Below - Mr. Suit (Wire)
14. Vestiges - Zombie (The Cranberries)
15. Withdrawal - Burning Inside (Ministry)
16. Sojourner - Beheaded (The Offspring)
17. Homewrecker - Bear No Shame (In Cold Blood)
18. Headwind - Girl Problems (SOA)
19. Ill Intent - Watch Your Back (Cock Sparrer)
20. Black Sheep Wall - Little Dipper (Hum)
21. Ancient Shores - Prayer to God (Shellac)
22. Doubledealer - Left Hand Black (Danzig)
23. Incendiary - Sabotage (Beastie Boys)
24. Skinfather - Casket Garden (Dismember)
25. Casting Curses - Sex Type Thing (Stone Temple Pilots)
26. Territory - Buried Dreams (Carcass)
27. Oblivion - Rio Bravo (Cky)
28. Losing Skin - Like Rats (Godflesh)
29. Beartrap - Wave of Mutilation (The Pixies)
30. Vanish - Wolverine Blues (Entombed)
31. Low Places - Deathcrush (Mayhem)
32. Raindance - In the Meantime (Helmet)
33. Old Wounds - White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
34. Villain - Fist Fight (Crisis of Conformity)

Donny James Dio - Holy Diver

Anyone I spend a reasonable amount of time with knows that karaoke is one of my newest loves.  For your enjoyment, here is a video of me performing the DIO song "Holy Diver" from last year.  This video was recorded by David Hayter, guitarist for Kingdom, who loves to sing Creed and Godsmack songs when we go out.  Adobe for life!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New column: The Worst From The Best

The Worst From The Best
by Greg Polard
My good friend, former One Up band mate and all around music lover Greg Polard will be writing a new column for Pizza Friends called "The Best From The Worst."  With this column, Greg will examine the worst albums released by some of punk and hardcore musics most legendary bands.   The first installment of this column will focus on the Break It Up album by SSD and will go live this Monday.

You can read the story Greg did for us on the Out Of Step album by Minor Threat a few months back to hold you over till the columns debut on Monday.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Lemonheads - Come on Feel

The Lemonheads - Come on Feel
Released: 1993

Story by Kyle De Ville, guitarist for Growing Stronger.

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

So when I was in elementry school, I got this album.  I must have been in third on fourth grade.  I remember listening to it on my big, bulky, yellow Sony Sports Walkman.  It was the one with the locking mechanism so your tape didn't fly out of the walkman if you bumped it.

The first thing people might notice about this album is the great quality of the production compared to the previous effort It's A Shame About Ray.  Another difference is that Juliana Hatfield, who was their bass player, is no longer in the fold, however she makes plenty of appearances on the record doing back-up vocals.  In the first track, "The Great Big No," the ending showcases the great dynamic between singer Evan Dando and Juiliana's voices.

Like many albums, the commercial single is the second track, which is where "Into Your Arms" is placed.  This song is a very catchy, upbeat number and I remember the video was Evan and the band playing outside in the grass during a sunny day, which seems fitting.  If you were sucked into this song, I think you would have not been let down when you got the record.

A few stand-out tracks-- "It's About Time," "Paid To Smile" and "Big Gay Heart"-- have Evan Dando's appreciation for alternative country and there is a few steel guitar solos that really compliment the sound.  You can really appreciate how great of a voice he has on these tracks.

"Down About It," "Dawn Can't Decide" and "I'll Do It Anyways" are good pop songs.  A nice amount of distortion on the guitars and overdubs in the right places show that Evan Dando put some time into making the sounds of the instruments for each song appropriate.

"Being Around" and "Favorite T" bring out the great sense of humour of the Lemonheads.  Witty lyrics like:

"If I was the front porch swing would you let me hang?
If I was the dance floor would you shake your thing?
If I was a rubber check would you let me bounce
Up and down inside your bank account?
Would ya trust me, not to break you?
I'm just tryin really hard to make you,
notice me being around."

I recommend this album as their finest hour, but don't forget to check out the previous effort and the self-titled album, which came out recently, especially because it has a great Descendants vibe.

Apparently during the recording of the album, Evan was going hard on drugs, especially Heroin, which he has had battles with for many years.  Amazingly this album has been a desert island disc of mine and I have been listening to it consistently for about 17 years.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Captive Bolt - Rape, Slaughter, Slavery & Vivisection

Captive Bolt are a pissed off political/atheist/vegan band from Jacksonville, FL. The subject matter contained in the Rape, Slaughter, Slavery and Vivisection seven-inch deal with a range of topics from slaughterhouse atrocities and humanities blind eye to questioning the presence of a god/higher power when there is so much contradiction all around us.  The song "Justified Arson" has my favorite lyrical quote of the album "If meat is murder.  Then dairy is rape.  Fur is sadistic.  Burn the hate."  A very nice surprise comes at the end of the record with a cover of the Gorilla Biscuits song "Cats And Dogs".

Location: Jacksonville, FL
Genre:  Hardcore/Punk
For Fans Of:  Chokehold, Vegan Reich, Raid, early Earth Crisis
Year Released: 2011

Track List:
01.  Cogs
02.  Fight To Exist
03.  Non Believer
04.  Justified Arson
05.  Cats And Dogs

Debtor - Bloodseeds

Debtor play melodic, fast and passionate hardcore I can most closely compare to bands of the early '00s era of hardcore.  Musically, I hear a strong Verse influence mixed with a healthy dose of Shai Hulud at times.  The melodic leads and octaves layered throughout Bloodseeds really stand out and grab your attention.  From start to finish this is a solid hardcore LP, which is very rare for bands to pull off these days.

Location:  Philadelphia, PA
Genre:  Hardcore/Punk
For Fans Of:  Strongarm, Verse, Shai Hulud, American Nightmare
Year Released:  2012

Track List:
01. Job's Lament (Pt. 1)
02. Already Dead (Pt. 2)
03. Through Death (Pt. 3)
04. Resolve
05. Bare Heights
06. Sideways
07. Believe
08. Last Of All
09. Blue Bell
10. (Psalm 142)
11. Erosion
12. Bleed
13. Witness

Monday, February 13, 2012

Shai Hulud - A Profound Hatred Of Man

Shai Hulud - A Profound Hatred Of Man
Purchase:  LP (picture disc) or 7" (color)
Released:  1997

Story by Jay Pepito, singer of Reign Supreme.

The first hardcore records I ever owned were the Gorilla Biscuits 7" and Turning Point's It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn.   I liked both of these bands immediately and really started getting into some of their contemporaries: IE Youth of Today, Judge, Chain of Strength, and the like.  I took to the whole straight-edge hardcore thing really well, and I felt like it was an appropriate voice for how I felt at the time.

But something was missing from the sound of hardcore present on their records.   They were certainly intense and urgent, as I think all music really should be, but they lacked pure, unadulterated anger that made sense to me in a modern context.   They sounded dated.  As mad as they were, as much as they taught me that straight edge and punk rock were about spitting in the face of the world that rejects you, they didn't SOUND as pissed off as I felt.   So I got out my trusty Revelation Records catalog, which I had taken home from the Alive and Well festival in Asbury Park, and began ordering stuff in search of other types of "hardcore."

I saw some band with an unpronounceable name (Shai Hulud), and decided to take a chance on both of their records, which was a 7" and a full length.  From the first time I heard "Hardly," I was mesmerized.  This band GOT me.   They KNEW how I felt.  And when I put on the LP, it was like an entire world opened up to me.  No longer did I just see in the black and white lines of what hardcore SHOULD sound like.  I knew right away that there was room for experimentation, and if you were musically competent, you could create something absolutely brilliant within the confines of the sound.   Shai Hulud did that well over a decade ago, and they continue to do so today.

I've heard it said that it's ok to do something that other people have done before, as long as you do it well.  That you somehow honor the past and carry the torch by usurping the brilliance of others and pretending it's your own.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.   You honor the past by respecting it, and knowing that it's not yours to mistreat, steal from and disgrace.   In a world permeated by far too many posers, fakes, trend-hoppers and mental midgets who couldn't write a riff or a hook to save their lives, Shai Hulud stands out.  They'll be remembered the same way Burn, Converge and other bands who took something and used it as a starting point to create their own new sound will be remembered.  As innovators, and not recyclers; as leaders, and not followers.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Changes debute the new song "Lost At Sea/Castaways"

New Jersey's Changes are streaming a new song titled "Lost At Sea/Castaways" from their forthcoming EP Lifting Of The Veil.  "Lost At Sea/Castaways" showcases two noticeable shifts in Changes approach to their brand of hardcore.  The first being the lower tuning of the guitars and bass, which captures a heavier and more ominous vibe in the music.  The second being Shawn's deeper vocals, which compliment the shift in guitar tuning perfectly.  After a few listens, I have to say this song absolutely slays everything they have done up to this point musically.  When Lifting Of The Veil comes out in a few months I am predicting now that I will not shut up about it.

A true look into band life

While surfing the interwebs, I came across this picture created by Richard Sheehan.  I do not know the man who created this image, but I am very familiar with the content of said image and wanted to share it with the world through Pizza Friends.  Enjoy.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Girlfight - Defamate

Girlfight play nasty sounding hardcore from Pittsburgh, PA.   Down tuned guitar, pounding drums, distorted bass and gut-wrenching vocals make Defamate a killer EP.  The song "Smear Campaign" kinda has a Motorhead feel to it which is definitely not a bad thing at all.

Location:  Pittsburgh, PA
Genre:  Punk/Hardcore
For Fans Of:  Converge, Every Time I Die, Breather Resist
Year Released:  2011

Track List:
1. Asthmatic
2. Swollen Lamb
3. Smear Campaign
4. Trash Star

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

One Up - Demo 2002

Story by Greg Polard, singer for One Up.
You can find the complete Demo 2002 vinyl pressing info here.

The first One Up practice occurred on February 7, 2002. Ten years ago. Ten years. Despite that being a long time ago, I remember it like it was yesterday.

Without going into too much back story, I had known Donny for about two years at this point and we were hell-bent on doing a straight up, no frills, straight edge hardcore band. He and I had talked about how awesome it would be to have a band that combined the music of Chain Of Strength and Floorpunch, so Don went to work and wrote the music that made up the 2002 Demo tape. I had met Jude, Fidge and Brian the summer before at the Equal Vision Records showcase at the Rotunda in Philadelphia because they were handing out demos for their band Straight To The Point. They were a few years younger than I was, but they were straight edge and psyched on hardcore, and that was good enough for me.

I was so excited, but also nervous as this would be the first time I’d ever be “singing” in a band setting. For a few weeks before, Don would come over to my parents' house and we’d work on the songs and vocal patterns. When the day finally came, I felt like I was gonna bounce off the walls with excitement. Since it was our first time going there, Don and I decided to car pool and make the trek to Jude’s parents' house in Sicklerville, NJ.

As we pull up to the house, some random guys came out and said something like, “I hope you guys aren’t planning on playing those instruments in the basement because you can’t.” It turns out they had some work done last minute that day down in the basement and we were unable to rehearse down there. My heart sank as we’d just driven an hour to get there. But of course, at this point, I did not realize that Jude Miller has two of the coolest parents ever who were more than happy to let us haul the guitar amps into their living room and practice there.

I could be wrong, but I feel pretty confident in remembering that the first thing we all tried to play together just to warm up was “True Til Death” by Chain of Strength since both Go Time and Straight To The Point had covered it prior. The first piece of original material we worked on was either “Rally The Troops” or “One Up,” but I can’t really remember. We also practiced “To Lose” by Turning Point that night so that we had a cover song to play live.

After that night, I had a feeling we had something special going on. A little over a month later, we played our first show with, which made it official: we were a real band. About a month after that first show we made the trip to Basement Screams in DC to record our demo with Mike Stankovich of Striking Distance.  This got the ball rolling for more recordings, shows and eventually a couple of tours of the full U.S.

This band was my life for over three years. When it all ended in September of 2005, it took a while to get used to the fact that I no longer had to make the drive to South Jersey on a Thursday to practice, or write lyrics at the last minute so that Don didn’t yell at me, or pack my bags for a week on the road. Yet, like the record said, ”The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I’m writing this piece for Don’s blog, whom I’ve now been friends with for over a decade. I have a five-year-old son now named Jude and believe me, this is no coincidence (“Uncle Jude” is also his godfather). I still text message Fidge every time I listen to 7 Seconds. I think of Brian anytime I see someone wearing a cast on their foot. I got to do all sorts of things because of this band that sometimes I feel I took for granted and I owe it all to that day in February of 2002. Thanks guys. XXX

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Peace - Peace

Peace are an awesome new band out of Baltimore, MD with Stephen St. Germain (The First Step) on vocals and Andy Norton (Praise) on bass.  I got the chance to see them last night at The Barbary in Philadelphia with Stick Together, Beware, Clear, Sabotage, Our Side and Outlast.  The obvious comparison I can make here is that they sound like The First Step. This is only because Stephen has such a strong and distinct voice and presence when he is on the mic.  The music is fast, energetic and sincere hardcore that reminds me of the early 2000's.  The Peace bandcamp page only has two songs posted right now and below you can listen to the song "Be Here Now".   The download link for the full five-song EP is posted below in the information section.

Location:  Baltimore, MD
Genre: Hardcore
For Fans Of:  Mindset, Praise, Free Spirit, Give
Year Released:  2011

Track List:
1.  Be Here Now
2.  Let Go
3.  Free
4.  Nothing Is Broken
5.  What Else Can We Do?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Boatrocker - Delicious Jams

Boatrocker are a Wilmington, DE based post-hardcore band that play very melodic and driving hardcore.  The music is well written and showcases the two guitar player dynamic quite nicely.  The "Black Metal picnic" cover art is absolutely incredible.

Location:  Wilmington, DE
Genre:  Indie/Punk/Post-Hardcore
For Fans Of: Thursday, This Day Forward, As Friends Rust and late '90s post-hardcore
Year Released:  2011

Track List:
1. The Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard
2. Busman's Holiday
3. Winter Kids
4. Shortchanged
5. I'm an Idiot
6. Adam and Steve
7. Jaded Engineers
8. The Caring Continuum

Friday, February 3, 2012

Surprise Pizza Party - Bad Etiquette

Surprise Pizza Party are a band after my own heart.  The song Pizza Power says it all with the lyrics "Cheese and sauce, the body of christ.  Tonight we dine in paradise."  The music and vocals remind me of the Gorilla Biscuits 7" with a dash of Descendents both musically and vocally at times.  SPP are a good humored melodic hardcore band, which is a refreshing change from the norm.

Location:  Virginia Beach/Richmond, VA
Genre:  Hardcore Punk
For Fans Of:  Black Flag, Minor Threat, Gorilla Biscuits, early Descendents and early Bad Religion
Year Released:  2012

Track List:
1.  Be Ok
2.  Conformity
3.  Bad Etiquette
4.  As Time Goes By
5.  Pizza Power

Ugly Parts - Demo Tape

Ugly Parts hail from New Brunswick, New Jersey and play fast/old style punk hardcore. The music is very reminiscent of bands like The Adolescents, Circle Jerks, The F.U.'s and other '80s punk/hardcore bands of the era.

Location:  New Brunswick, NJ
Genre:  Hardcore/Punk
For Fans Of:  '80s hardcore
Year Released:  2012

01. Drain/Closing In
02. Good Job
03. Waste
04. Big Man

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cop Problem debuts new song/pre-orders

Album art by Jason Angst
Today is a very exciting day for me.  My band Cop Problem just debuted the song "Monuments" from our upcoming self-titled album on the world renowned metal blog

War Torn Records will be releasing the album here in the US and Prejudice Me Records will be releasing the album in Europe.

Stream "Monuments" at here.
Pre-order the self-titled Cop Problem EP here.