THE ZINE WITH NO NAME
Welcome to the first issue of punkottawa.com - the zine!
This online publication came about after (g)rumblings on the punkottawa.com message board about the lack of local zines and in recognition of the fact that Ottawa has no solid outlet for music journalism, especially when it comes to local/punk/hardcore/indie music, relevant youth culture, or concert reviews.
This is 'by the people, for the people' to quote someone famous or literary I am sure, and YOU the reader - the kid in the pit smiling from ear to ear, the music fan who actually shells out $14.99 for a CD - are encouraged to contribute. You don't need a journalism degree from Carleton (that's actually a detractor in our eyes) or a resume of published work a mile long. This forum is all about learning and sharing, not entertaining or selling. All you need is a passion for music/culture and the willingness to share your thoughts.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get involved. We're looking for writers for live and recorded reviews as well as book/video/art reviews, previews, interviews and articles pertaining to music and youth culture. Our next deadline is December 15, 2002 for early January 'publication'.
If you'd like to submit CDs/LPs/7"s/books/zines/videos/etc for review please scroll down to the bottom of this page for our postal info. Thanx!
If you have an idea for a name for this zine, email email@example.com. If we go with your name we'll hook you up with some CDs, tickets or dinner at Ceylonta.
On with the zine, after a word from one of our sponsors...
Andrew Vincent and the Pirates, The Banditas, CB Radio
Zaphod Beeblebrox, September 25, 2002
We need more smoke to the stage on this one - and how. Anyone expecting Andrew Vincent and Pirates to be a quirky little experimental act is, if not gravely mistaken, at least a little misguided. They make white people dance unreservedly like nothing this side of The Beatles first trip to North America - or maybe Duran Duran's Relax video.
Even within indie rock's recent thrust of balls-out rock and roll, most bands have opted for a definite dose of ironic detachment in their return to the past. Not so with grizzly-bearded Mr. Vincent. He wears his Colt 45 mesh-back with a certain sense of pride, rather than a wry smile, and I somehow doubt his tight jeans had their faded look carefully engineered at some Taiwanese sweatshop. He just gets up and cranks out the rock. And judging by the tightness of his sound, has done so for a good while.
Lyrically, Andrew also knows what's he's doing. References to various Ottawa and Southern Ontario locales are somewhat of a cheap crowd pleaser, but, sad to say, it's very hard to go wrong with a countrified version of the Degrassi Junior High theme, very hard.
As for the rest of the night, The Banditas put on their usual good, if not spectacular performance. They seem to have a lost a member or two, if memory serves, and consisted of only the singer/guitarist, and the ever popular drummer/singer/keyboardist combo. They're an endearing enough opener, but I can't see them carrying a show any time soon.
By far the best surprise of the night, though, had to be the first act a gentleman known as CB Radio. I struggled for a while trying to pin down what exactly his style is, but try picturing a young Billy Bragg reinterpreting ideas from Wesley Willis, and you're getting close. A la Wesley, every song - barring one about a dead squirrel, and the essential closer about the Professional Bowling Association - was centered around one particular person or character. But more like Billy, there was many a clever little political and geographical reference laced throughout. Highlights included an ode to a Russian wrestler, and another to a small-town Ontario cult leader. Pure brilliance.
It was also nice to see the return of the electric guitar to the one man folk act. I can definitely see CB catching on in the pub scene, if not further. He's got the talent, the charm, and, perhaps most importantly, the groove. He got a few outgoing souls dancing on the open floor, and go his own freak on later at the front of the crowd for the headliner.
Good show all around, to the point where I quite literally forgot the cancellation of Hot Hot Heat, which had been the big pre-show buzz. Everyone went home happy regardless, which is what it's about.
words and lens: Matthew MacLeod
Operation Makeout, The Spinoffs, The Steve Urkel Jazz Band
Montgomery Legion Hall, September 26, 2002
Arriving late from my stint as a radical cheerleader at the Take Back the Night march, I raced into a show that was already in full swing. Seeing as I heard only one song from locals The Steve Urkel Jazz Band, I cant offer up a very well informed opinion, but I can say that there was a lot of screaming and a lot of rocking going on. The kids in the audience seemed enthralled and one of the band members Dads was there which proves to me that the band must be pretty upstanding young men. After the SUJB came Vancouvers four-piece punk harmonizers The Spinoffs, a band playing songs that could be measured in seconds, not minutes. Everything was extra fast and extra hard and somehow still extremely catchy. The lyrics were largely unintelligible, but this was likely due to the fact that we were all in the basement of a legion and the sound system was somewhat primitive. Maybe Im just a old punk nerd and no one really cares about hearing the lyrics anyway. The bands between song banter ranged from goofy and endearing to hilariously self deprecating, and I even managed to overlook them referring to women as chicks.
Operation Makeout were the main attraction and the next to take the stage. This co-ed band of Mint Records rockers was a pleasant surprise. Tougher and more rocking than a lot of their label mates, they pounded through an enthusiastic set of songs from their two releases. I wasnt won over immediately, but by the time they kicked into their penultimate song, a powered up cover of Springsteens "Dancing in the Dark", I was hooked. Their arrangements were creative, their stage presence was sincerely impassioned, and their cuteness was undeniable. Seeing them live will entice you, buying their records will allow you to hear the lyrics. Those kids from Vancouver sure know how to have fun.
words: Jennifer Jane Whiteford | lens: Shawn Scallen
Sparta, Cave-In, Small Brown Bike
Babylon, October 2, 2002
Who knew that Babylon could hold so many people? Or that so many would show? The $14 price tag should have been a warning, but Sparta have definitely arrived. And the kids have noticed.
After 45 minutes or so of waiting in the rain, pretty much everyone managed to cram inside. Personally, my money was on openers Small Brown Bike to rule the night, and the dedicated few who had planted themselves at the front seemed to agree.
SBB is a band that is hard not to respect. The dual vocal attack of the brothers Reed rarely disappoints the introspective listener on a cold, damp evening, whereas the staccato drumming and technical guitar work keeps the math-rock contingent happily twitching. The only weakness in their set was the "too much new material" syndrome. This is especially noticeable in the case of bands that rely on catchy, fist-pumping numbers to carry their sets, as even the hardcore haven't had a chance to learn the anthems yet. The new material also tends to suffer from the same problem as a lot of Snapcase songs - incredibly strong, complex openings, which don't really pay off in the verses. But overall they still managed to leave the fans smiling.
Cave-In, on the other hand, seemed to disappoint everyone. While there was a fair bit of appreciative head-nodding during much of the set, their only interaction with the more excited members of the crowd was to tell them to "eff off" when they yelled out for some old songs. Of course bands should be allowed to progress, but when all fans new and old are left wanting, something has gone wrong. The band seemed pretty disinterested in the whole show, as they churned out their newly chosen brand of space-rock, sounding at times a little like rejected Primus B-sides. The weak point seemed to lie in the vocals, however, so if the band can ever liberate themselves from the verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus-bridge-chorus format, they may have some potential.
Any thoughts of disappointment were soon forgotten when Sparta took the stage. Although they started relatively slowly, this is a band that definitely knows how to build a crowd's energy - both within a song and over the set as a whole. All five members of the band were obviously having a great time, and the crowd fed off their energy, instantly setting the floor shaking as they happily bounced into each other. The only shadow hanging over their set was of course the ghost of At The Drive-In, but all thoughts beyond Sparta were quickly banished before the drummer had time to break a sweat. By the time they broke out the crowd-pleaser "Cut Your Ribbon", it was nothing but icing on the cake as the crowd cut loose one last time.
Judging by the fans' reaction and the enthusiasm of the band, they'll be back sooner than later. If you have even a passing interest, make sure you're at that show.
words and lens: Matthew MacLeod
Mass Appeal: The Art Object
and Hip Hop Culture
Gallery 101, August 29-October 12, 2002
Right off the bat, I shall admit, I am not an avid Gallery 101 visitor, nor am I an art gallery connoisseur in general. However, I was very intrigued with the idea of an independent hip-hop inspired exhibit. When my professor for my Gallery Tours college course explained that we, as a class, were going to visit said exhibit, I for one, was more than pleased.
When I broke the hymen to my Gallery 101 virginity and walked through its doors, I was surprised. I was surprised with the fact that there were very few works, but I had yet to be upstairs. As we, as a class, viewed the works on the 4 walls of the first floor, few cared. By which I mean that few showed interest in the pieces. A handful of us enjoyed what was offered, I was one of them.
Quickly recalling on the works, some very interesting, sadly the names of the artists and pieces have slipped my mind, as I was unaware that I would be writing a short review post-visit.
There was one piece, out of all, that intrigued and stimulated my mind the most. It was a pencil drawing with 3 illustrations and a caption of a 3-word column. Firstly, in illustration of the bust of Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking era) with a hand on his shoulder with the caption below it DEAD MAN WALKING. Secondly, another pencil illustration of Martin Luther King (or so it seemed) walking on a beach along side a mummy with the caption WALKING DEAD MAN. Thirdly, and lastly, there is an illustration of an ancient book with an unknown language to myself, nor did anyone else whom I had asked, with uneasy to text and drawings on the book to decipher. This piece made for interesting and extensive conversation and commentary. This was by far one of, if not my favorite piece.
Also, I must give my sentiments on the artistic video shown in the upstairs part of the gallery. As I first walked up the stairs the video was just beginning, as I entered the room all I heard was the classic and very memorable beginning to the instant classic Wu-Tang song M-E-T-H-O-D. The infamous torture threats done by, of course the M-E-T-H-O-D himself, Method Man. This skit is very well known and is an archetype to hip-hop culture. Also, I enjoyed how the artist played on the stereotype and as opposed to having the rugged black man all thugged out saying the above stated, it was a small Asian cheerleader. There was also a scene on the video with barcodes forming into assault weapons. Most people didnt get any ideas what-so-ever from this and found it pointless. With slight analysis, to me anyway, it showed that commercial media glorifying hip-hop in its stereotypical form of being violent. This presumption and over generalization keeps a lot of this stereotype running in real life.
Overall, the exhibit was quite the experience. I enjoyed what they had, which was not much. Dont get me wrong here, I understand fully that this is a small, independent gallery. However, the four basic elements of hip-hop were not present in this exhibit. To be brutally honest, it was not only lacking, but a disappointment. Initially I assumed that the four elements would be in place; DJ, B-Boy, Graffiti and the MC. In other words, the art of mixing and separating tracks, there was not even hip-hop playing in the gallery! There were no B-Boys, (or B-Girls
Ill just say B-Persons to be politically correct) therefore no art of break-dancing. There was no MC showing the art of rhyming street poetry neither written nor freestyle. Most importantly, what disappointed me the most was the lack of graffiti. If this was the only element of hip-hop present, I would have been fully happy. To be honest, I was expecting graffiti art. I thought it was going to be great to see it, especially if they had people doing it while we were there.
To conclude, although lacking, and initially disappointed, this was still worth a gander. Even if hip-hop doesnt necessarily interest you too much, you should check it out to see what they have to offer. Ill end this off with a quote by underground hip-hop masters, The Visionaries: I, I love hip-hop, I dont give a fuck cuz I love hip-hop.
words: Dan Hooligan | lens: Luke Lebrun
The Suplecs, Plasticmind
Zaphod Beeblebrox, September 23, 2002
Sad Songs ... Better Days
(This Dark Reign)
My interest in the trio known as Suplecs was sparked upon mention of affiliation to New Orleans and EyeHateGod. A quick trip to their site left me dazed; I detected a strange sense of humour in their Mexican-wrestler logo and song titles, but their audio clips were far from laughable. Determined to smoke out the truth, I rolled down to the dreaded Zaphod's "Free Music Monday" for a live sesh. (Don't worry, these ham-fisted puns are part of an analogy I'm cookin' up.)
Upon arrival at Beeblebrox, I spotted a van with Louisiana plates, but the grizzled dudes I had expected to appear through clouds of smoke in the back were no where to be seen. (I was later informed that they had their hands full at Bare Fax.) Meanwhile, on street level, people were getting driven away in drones, by the exterior speakers - an effect similar to the anti-goose horns on my local golf course. Inside, I discovered the source of agony - local openers Plasticmind - aptly showcasing a style so malleable from one song to the next as to incorporate ALL undesirable elements of popular rock spanning the last decade.
The Plastic's set was made bearable for a brief period by a bridge consisting of three consecutive solos, culminating in the bassist's stomp on an octave pedal and unleashing of a tapping storm in the upper register. But when the drunk lead guitarist, slobbering all over his XXL eyesore of a shirt, began applauding himself at the end of the ordeal, remaining on stage long enough to headbang in the face of the Suplecs' drummer during soundcheck, it was all I could do to stop short of shattering the bottle in my hand and lacerating his eyeballs with the shards.
Luckily for all, the Suplecs had set up ahead of time and were set to go within minutes. Their Confederate Soldier aesthetic of beards and long greasy hair was in accordance with my expectations, but I found reason for disappointment in their gear; no vintage amps. I reassured myself that the multiple cabs would at least insure loudness. And loud they were. After a brief introduction, the riffing commenced and I let my hair blow in the amp wind for a solid 45 minutes. The band paused momentarily from time to time for some drug/drink/women banter, but kept right on trucking through what was, relatively speaking, a very concise set, highlighted by a Bonham-esque two-minute-plus drum solo.
In terms of musical approach, Suplecs employ a Sleep-like dual shout vocal technique, but bring a little more melody and anthemic quality to the table than the aforementioned. In the guitar department, the band stands divided from its Louisianian brethren, forgoing the requisite doom and rage quotients in favour of additional speed and swagger, with a sound more in keeping with the LA scene. The incorporation of traditional wah and delay lend a psychedelic touch and allow for branching out into more mellow moments. But the shining light in Suplecs is decidedly the drum work of Andrew Preen. Indeed, it is a privilege to watch this kid at work behind the kit, hair-whips and all. The versatility which he demonstrates from one song to the next combined with his utterly thorough repertoire of rock technique warrants an autographed stick, if not a hell of a lot of groupie sex.
So anyway... having had my head ripped off, I sauntered over to the merch booth. Left with only 15 bones post-parking, my purchasing power was limited to the repress of the band's latest full-length entitled Sad Songs ... Better Days
on the This Dark Reign label (the now OOP original having been released on Man's Ruin). With the understanding that it is impossible to replicate the gargantuan live sound of bands of this genre on record, Sad Songs..
. holds up pretty well, bringing some ballsy vocal performances to light, but poorly representing the full extent of the percussion side of the triangle. Song-wise, the album is surprisingly varied and dynamic in comparison to its contemporaries. As such, it's a little hit-or-miss, but the majority of tracks are pulled off in superb form. The only potential stumbling block arises in the form of select lyrics; plagued with a bizarre sense of humour that functions strictly in the land of the Weedian, they come off as awkward and moronic as my first paragraph (finally, the payoff). But this is the essential mystery of Suplecs - are they mocking themselves or are they just uncertain as to where to draw the line? The bonus track, a country twanger with overdubbed crowd noise, only fuels the fire of this burning question.
Whatever the answer, I'd suggest checking these southern baked fruitcakes out - preferably live.
words: Aaron Courtice | lens: Ima Stohnr
Feedback Is Payback
Despite being heralded as a blend of emo-art-whatever-core, South Bay, California's 1208 won't be blowing people away with this sound, because that isn't what their debut release, Feedback Is Payback, is all about. What they have created is a solid punk rock record that may take listeners back a few years. Musically comparable to Pennywise and H2O and vocally comparable to early Dexter Holland (The Offspring), this four-piece runs through 14 catchy, high-powered songs in just under 40 minutes. After listening to this record the mandatory three times I end up with mixed feelings about it. On one hand it left me feeling kind of nostalgic, while on the other it really didn't have anything new to offer. If you're looking for a record to bring back some old punk rock memories or just something to sing along to, this CD might be for you.
Vancouver, BCs The Accident aptly describes itself as new wave/punk. Its self-titled five-song EP is an effective mixture of distortion riddled guitar punches, whirring synthesizers, and a solid rhythm section of bass and drums. To round things out, The Accident infuses its lyrics with a bit of a political bite. The line if you give them a choice then you give them a voice and its better if they stay mute from the track "Just Relax" is a typical example of bands socially conscious lyrical fare. Musically, The Accident is tight and manages to come up with a couple interesting chord choices. The more observant listener will notice that these ideas are often used repeatedly and usually appear on more than one song. However, thats a minor complaint and one that most people can easily ignore if they care at all in the first place. The third and fifth tracks, "Perestroika" and "Stand Back" respectively, are the standouts of the EP. Both tracks play to the bands strength of full-out rocking. The chorus on "Perestroika", in particular, is so catchy that its hard to resist shouting along to the refrain if you want to go/ if you cant escape/ if you want to climb/ over the Berlin Wall. The only really questionable decision made was ordering two very similar tracks, "Emergency" and "Just Relax", one after another, at the beginning of the record. Both songs follow the same groove laden verse/punk rock chorus formula and would be better served spaced farther apart. All in all, The Accident delivers a solid EP and shows signs of promise that future releases might be even better.
All Systems Go
Mon Chi Chi
(Bad Taste Records)
Success and recognition - the fundamental goals of any aspiring rock band. Success does have its downfalls though and no one knows this better than All Systems Go visionary and former Doughboys frontman, John Kastner. Having been part of one of the most successful Canadian alternative acts in the past two decades, expectations have been high for his latest project. Following a strong debut effort several years back on Coldfront Records, ASG are back with a brand new album, which is bound to silence any skepticism surrounding the band. After enduring more lineup changes than your average Major League Baseball game, ASG have solidified their sound with the addition of Carnations' bassist and lead singer, Thomas D'arcy. Not only does he play bass on this latest effort but he also handles a share of the lead vocal duties adding a new dynamic to the band. Although this album covers a lot of musical ground in terms of tempo, ASG are clearly at their best when delivering those mid-tempo, energetic, pop-oriented gems we've come to know and love. In a perfect world, this band would be huge... but for now they'll remain below the radar just waiting to be discovered.
Anomie/Piece of Mind
(Ape Records/World Upside Down Records)
Anomie is a splendid female-fronted French hardcore band. They play melodic emo-inspired music with screamed vocals. I'm no connisseur of this type of stuff, but I was rather impressed! They recently released a discography CD as well. Piece of Mind is a slightly raw melodic old-school punk band. The vocals are not screamed at all, but they remind me a tiny bit of Fleas n' Lice, maybe because of just how "raw" they are. At times the music is very fast-paced. They also cover "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister. (Ape Records: Gilles & Kathleen Simonneau, 80 rue des chaises, 45 140 St Jean de la Ruelle, France / World Upside Down Records, Göttinger St. 39, 37120 Bovenden, Germany)
This is a solid crust release on both sides. Bagger is a more traditional thrashy crust band with snarly male and female vocals, but not at all as sloppy as the genre can sometimes be. Lieselotte is a deathmetal-influenced crust band complete with thrashy parts and sludge-core breakdowns. They have a somewhat German hardcore sound. The vocals follow that style, with the traditional low-growl and high-pitched-screams. (Sorry Records, Tellstr.19, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland)
An Anthology of Dead Ends
Botch's final release doesn't really stray too far from what they're used to doing. This record features tight, crunchy, mathed-out, moshy hardcore. There are a few surprises here and there though. On this 6-track CD clocking at 21:48, "Spaim" is nothing more than repeating notes on a guitar used to introduce the record. It clocks in at under 15 seconds. The second last song, "Afghamistam", makes an attempt at something Botch has never done before, a quiet song. I guess it's an indie number that begins with vocalist, Dave Verellen, singing along to a subdued guitar, bass and drum accompaniment, which then blends into a repetitive piano loop accompanied by a string instrument. The song ends with layer upon layer of the singer reciting a passage of sorts until it becomes incoherent followed by a transition into a long noise intro for the last song, entitled "Micaragua", which has lyrics but are interestingly not included in the liner notes. Botch have used synths and unconventional noise more liberally on this record, than in the past where they used similar techniques, but tended to isolate them rather than incorporate them into song structures.
Furthermore, there's a cool Shockwave/Flash CD-ROM element to the CD that should be checked out. It features tour photos, a music video and some other garbage. Also, take notice of the silly song titles - country names where every 'N' has been replaced with an 'M'. As Botch's final release, this excellently closes the book for one of the most talented hardcore bands of the 90s and clearly the 'best boy band ever'! RIP.
I must start off saying this is the best Catch 22 album yet. For all you out there who want to hear a taste of them, then get this album because all the others are dim in comparison. The fast drum beats and totally sweet bass lines make this album perfect and the horn section plays at light speed. Its great high-energy punk-ska. The title track stands out as an amazing song with great group vocals. Go get it if youve got $20!
The Corta Vita
Communication Is Nothing Without Feedback
Its satisfying when you are so impressed by a CD, you play it a million times over to take in all of it. The Corta Vitas latest EP did everything I expected it to. After listening to the first song "Id Explain To You But There Is A Lot Of Math Involved", I knew the rest of the CD was going to be just as violent, just as psychotic, and just as powerful as you want it to be. Screamo fans would definitely dig this one. For something a little more on the mellow or groovy side, check out track four - "If You Were Drowning Id Stick A Fucking Hose In Your Mouth". If you are a fan of 'swallowing razorblades', be sure to take a listen to my favourite track on album, "Fire At The Paper Factory". I appreciate the beauty of the lyrics belted out by Tyson and look up to the rest of the band as beyond-talented musicians. Its a remarkable band that has been met with rumors, that have put them on the sidelines, for a while, until things are straightened out. Communication... clocks in at a little over 17 minutes, leaving me wanting more of probably one of the greatest Canadian bands of all time. As my favourite listen of the summer, this one lives in my discman.
Experiment In Terror
Who Will Survive And What Will Be Left Of Them?
Turn your volume up as high as it will go, sit back and enjoy the screaming-female introduction. Then take the next 13 minutes out of your day to enjoy one of Ottawas most thrashy, noisy and hard-rocking bands ever. This may not be a CD for everyone, but you have to appreciate the effort put in by this five-piece to create this musical onslaught. Lead singer Nelson belts out his words faster than anyone can imagine in both English and Spanish. The intro to "Human Consequences" starts off by showing the softer side to EIT, but then explodes to what has to be my favourite track on the record. They also get assistance from some friends (hearing Buried Inside guitarist and CD engineer Tweedy shout MOTHERFUCKER! is definitely a treat.) "Los Cuerpos Continuan" is definitely too freaky for words. The acoustic intro to "107 Steps" is striking. EIT is much cleaner sounding than Course Of Action - Nelson and Nicks previous band - and this is an implant in the Ottawa music scene. I definitely survived this record and was left with a newfound respect for a style of music I do not generally listen to.
Face The Fact
The Safe Place
This album starts off with a little electronic beat that quickly goes into a ferocious mix of metal and hardcore. The album, despite being very short, gets the point across in a hurry. The title track and "Portrait" have all the intensity that anyone would want in a hardcore record and FTF show their technical skills in the instrumental track, "The Mechanical Sound of the Heart". Musically, I am reminded of bands like In Flames or Soilwork mixed a bit with Converge. The best part of this album is definitely the double-layered screams by Josh, the main vocalist and Elina, the bassist. All in all, this is a great release out of FireFly Records in Italy. FTF also do not disappoint live.
Figurine is an electronic trio that is comprised of Meredith Figurine, David Figurine and James Figurine. They don't have any other gimmick besides sharing the same 'last name'. You also might want to add that each of their releases is on a different label. At first, Figurine were accused of being cheesy for indulging in 80s synth sound. At their worst, the music might be a little over the top but you can't deny that they are providing great melodies and are able to mix a modern electronic sound with an 80's tone. The result is electronic-pop bliss. Their latest release is appropriately titled, Discard. It contains 4 new songs followed by the 52 throw-away sound files that were used. The files were gifts from fellow electronic friends: Isan, Sutekh, Rechenzentrum and Yabe Milk. The idea is for you to create your own songs and immerse yourself in the world of electronic pop. Trust me, once you're here you won't want to leave.
Counting the Damage LP
Intestinal Disease is a grindcore/punk band with catchy riffs. They have multiple vocalists who are fairly solid, and the music itself is genrally tight. At times it reminds me of Québec grindcore with its Discharge-beat slow-downs and its raw vocals. This is certainly one of the better Belgian grind bands of recent times.(Uxicon Records c/o Burt Beyens, Vest 36, 3271 Zichem, Belgium / Bucho Discos, CX Postal 12, Centro St. Andre, SP-09001-970, Brazil)
(Ruin Nation/Skuld/Maximum Voice/Stachel/Pathetique Records)
This album contains hard-hitting crust of the apocalyptic, unhappy type. The guitars are slow but the drumming is fast and it sounds like simple Slayer-type stuff. The vocals were a bit too scream-y for me upon the first listen, but they seem allright now. I suppose there's a bit of Tragedy-type influence, but that style was invented in Europe anyways, wasn't it? (Jeniger, Hebebrandstr. 2A, 22297 Hamburg, Germany)
...another chance to pratice wasting your time...
This is the second release for Ottawa punks Moral Hazard. It features 14 plus tracks with lyrical opinions against the repetitiveness and predictability of everyday life. They're pissed off about work, boomers, parasites, Canadian Blood Services, and bad drunk sex, among other things. The band has a late 80s/early 90s sound, almost a crossover thrash sound in places with lots of musical breakdowns. The song "Come Here to Die" will strike a chord with any Ottawa punk. Who hasn't watched their friends, one by one, move to BC in hopes of something better? Old punks will surely enjoy this, but younger kids should give this a listen for a sound that isn't heard enough these days. Excellent album to throw in the discman, while you take a stroll past the bars on Elgin St. on a Friday night.
One Time Angels
To All Trains 7"
Well, what can I say? This has probably been one of my most anticipated releases, and it was worth the wait. With his raw and powerful vocals, Doug Sangalang (Screw 32, Limp, Big Rig) fronts the band and is backed by Mark Mortensen (Samiam, Screw 32), Mickey Dunegan (Fury 66) and Travis Dutton (Black Cat Music). Included here are Mercury, an original, and Soldiers Requiem, a Naked Raygun cover. Recorded at Nu-Tone studios with the great Willie Samuels, the songs are energetic and give us a taste of what to expect from their soon-to-be-released full length. If you like any of their earlier bands, this will rock your world.
Planes Mistaken For Stars
Fuck With Fire
(No Idea Records)
Great band. Great name. What else can you ask for? Well, how about a great record too! This album totally kicks ass. The vocals are distant and screamed, the guitars are loud and distorted, and the bass and drums are just perfect in the mix. For a band that I hadn't heard much about prior to this release, these guys seem to finally be getting some well-deserved attention. Let's hope that they keep making records as good as this one.
Queens of the Stone Age
Songs for the Deaf
...'Holy shit! And I thought The Vines rocked! ROCK IS BACK!'
As the current wave of guitar fueled Rehash 'n Roll continues to gather into a full-blown shit tsunami, lesser bands begin to shuffle their feet nervously in the sand. The challenge is out on the beach: 'What, you think you can surf it for real!?' The emphatic reply from the Queens and their new, excessively hyped record ... 'You know it!'
Leaving the Swedes to fight their own civil war in the kitsch market of retro fashion and cutesy lyrics, the Queens keep their eyes on the prize - sex, drugs, and big guitars. Produced in part by principal songwriter Josh Homme, Songs... sounds pretty much like you'd expect; the frontman's torch wielding guitar lines up front, iced with the scum-bag allure of his melodic croon. Homme's guitar work is admittedly quite spectacular, as he steps wide of the pitfalls which commonly belay the genre - reliance upon monstrous tone (see: Sleep) and ever painful pentatonic based riffs (see: The Hellacopters) -- walking a fine line between Hendrix and Greg Ginn. Recent inductee Dave Grohl strains to subdue his thunderous tendencies, taking the time to showcase his classic rock chops, and drop a few clutch fills that boggle the mind in their sheer aptness. The addition of some Halloween-ghost-ornament wailing from backup vocalist Mark Lanegen and eerie warbling from the lapsteel and keyboards of Brendan McNichol lends a sufficient amount of gloom to the material. Unfortunately for co-songwriter Nick Oliveri, the mix is pretty much full at this point, and his blood, sweat, and tears on the old four-stringer take a back seat. Overall, the production on Songs... has made leaps and bounds from its predecessor R, while the Queens' approach to writing takes a turn away from the more laid back, dreamy tracks of the latter, towards darker and noisier constructions. On a questionable call, the pleasantly oppressive load is lightened through the introduction of skits (that's right, skits) making a bold crossover from hip-hop to stoner-rock. The infusion of haphazard comedy into music is often enough to lose a lunch over, but it's pulled off as well as could be expected here, without detracting too much from the flow of the record.
If the marketing onslaught surrounding Songs... is all that's stopping you from checking out the album, consider the following: Homme has been wanking in the canyons of the mid-west with a generator for the better part of a decade (see: the "Desert Sessions" series), and Oliveri is a confessed Cro-Mags lover (see: his list on pitchforkmedia.com). That is to say, their background checks out, with bells. The Queens deserve all the cake coming to them at this point. And with a band of their caliber haunting the dunes, the warning to all trend-surfing frauds is clear: 'out here, you don't just get crushed ... you die.'
In Recognition of Your Significant Accomplishments
Tekulvi is a Chicago-based post-rock band that sounds exactly like something youd expect to come out of Chicago in the late 90s. The charged and heavily intertwined guitars of Chris Almodovar and Phil Naumann give the mathy quartet a definite semblance to bands like Sweep the Leg Johnny and Haymarket Riot, while their quieter parts are reminiscent of Garden Variety or Dianogah.
Tekulvi blends angular guitars and eclectic bass in a constant rise and fall of beautifully layered sound. The disquieted vocals of guitarist Chris Almodovar and bassist Josh Browning add depth to the intensity of their music, while drummer Greg Sharp admirably combines delicacy and drive into a seamless wave of music.
Tekulvis latest EP, In Recognition of your Significant Accomplishments, which has been released by Chicago-based indie label Divot Records, is a step forward in the bands attempt to explore an already established sound spearheaded by bands like Rodan and June of 44. Recorded by Mike Lust, (Lustre King, The Vidablue), and featuring musicians like Steve Sostac (Sweep the Leg Johnny), this is Tekulvis third album, after their self-released debut Who Knows Where We Are, (later re-released on Loose Thread Records), and a split 7 with Zenienople, also out on Loose Thread Records.
Are These Our Lives
(Equal Vision Records)
Why does no one ever talk about this band or album? I have never heard of them mentioned anywhere, so when someone suggested picking this up I was a little worried I wouldnt like it. Trial is now defunct and this is the Pacific Northwest straightedge hardcore band's last release. They play a brand of heavy hardcore with the hardest breakdowns I have ever heard, alongside politically charged lyrics. The drummer of Trial is mind-blowing, and I love everything about this band. They even do a couple of tracks with a cello and a violin, which adds a mellow setting at the beginning and the end of the album. The production on this album is near perfect, with everything fitting together so tightly. This CD is a must for anyone who loves the sounds of Hatebreed, A Death for Every Sin, or Figure Four.
The Changing of Times
This album marks a move for Florida's Underoath from the smaller Alabama based label, Takehold Records, to the more established Tooth and Nail metal/hard sub-label, Solid State. I love the way Underoath mix weird drum loops with keyboards to their particular brand of metal hardcore. Tracks like "When the Sun Sleeps" and "Never Meant to Break your Heart" really stick out as personal favorites. Vocals go from singing melodically on some tracks, to deep screams on others, so there is a lot of contrast to this album. I think you could describe Underoaths sound as being similar to Grade with keyboards/synths. This record is awesome from start to finish and with not a boring track on the whole album, it leaves me completely satisfied.
Where to start? Well, this four-track mini CD from Boston metallic hardcore act, Unearth consists of three new tracks and a redone version of "My Desires". This album shows the bands metal influences a lot more than previous efforts. From start to stop, incredibly intricate guitar riffs coat the song "Endless", with metal. While the metal is quite evidently present on this album, Unearth never strays far away from keeping the hardcore mosh in their songs either. Heavy breakdowns are found on each track, so you still have something to practice those dance moves to. And, contrary to much of todays metal, the lyrics, as on other Unearth records, are extremely positive, and uplifting. If youve liked earlier Unearth material, then go out and pick this one up.
Internet Dating Super Studs
(Kung Fu Records)
The Vandals are back with their sixth studio album. They stick to the same formula as Live Fast Diarrhea and Hilter Bad, Vandals Good. The tracks "I'm Becoming You" or "43210-1" would fit in just fine on any of their previous releases. Humour has always played a big part in The Vandals style. Lyrics like "throw your dream journal in the urinal" and " I'm exploding in my pants, with the spirit of the lord of dance" are sure to crack a smile. They have branched out a little on songs like "Where's Your Dignity?" which has a sort 50s ballad vibe to it. The most interesting song, lyrically speaking, is "My Brother is Gay" which deals coming out to family on Christmas day. It's a touching and thoughtful story about confronting one's own homophobia. If you're a Vandals fan already this will fit nicely into your collection. You will know where the album is going the whole time, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. New fans might want to go with an older release to catch them the band at its peak. Regardless, this is a solid effort and the band is always entertaining live, so catch them if you can. (Note: I reviewed the promo copy. The final version includes footage for PC and Mac of an internet contest to win dates with the band.)
Never Kill The Boy On The First Date
This is Waterdown's first release on Victory Records, and let me say that I hope that there are many more to come. These guys are great. This CD is a perfect example of what emo and hardcore should sound like when fused together. The two very distinct vocals on the album, accompanied by explosive music, make for a great listen. I've heard these guys compared to both Grade and Boy Sets Fire, which I think is fair since they are similar to both, yet with a sound all of their own nonetheless.
THE FINE PRINT
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