Monday, September 26, 2016

WOTZIT - Demo - Tape - 2016


    Believe or not, sometimes I don't have a story or the reference points or the "members of" list or anything to go on. Every once in a while, I just get a tape that makes me stop what I'm doing and pay attention. This is that tape. Sometimes, I just think "What if Fred Frith played guitar in a punk band?" and this is what I think about. This is the band's second tape. They're from Tokyo.


Find other stuff by the band here 

Friday, September 23, 2016

MICHELLE HILL - Demo - CDR - 2006


   I used to live in a punk house in Chattanooga, TN where we had a house rule that the first person to wake up every day had to either play BLACK FLAG's "Nervous Breakdown" at top volume or EXCESSIVE DEFIANCE's classic EP "Yo Dicknose, Eat A Dick Straight Up, Yo" on the wrong speed. At the age of 23, this was (usually) kind of funny and not a bad way to start your day....whether it was 6 am or noon. Years later, I lived in a not-exactly-punk house in the Glen Park neighborhood of San Francisco and there was a period where my roommate Gaybob seemed like she had her own house rule of waking up every day and blasting this Michelle Hill CD in the kitchen while making coffee.  Sure, I liked these songs too, but by that time, I was 33 years old and really liked sleeping. I would get woken up by Michelle belting their voice into my head, usually accompanied by Bob's, and get SO annoyed. I have a hard time telling people how to live their lives, even when it impacts my own....so, I would lay there and just listen to it....and find that I really liked the songs a lot and the CD was pretty short....so I could usually just fall back to sleep. After a while, my other roommates were following suit and this was the usual soundtrack to our kitchen at any given time.
   Up until one week ago, that was the only times I had ever heard these songs, but I get to hear Michelle's voice pounded into my head all the fucking time now (albeit in a different context) because we're in a band together.
    Michelle recorded these songs at their house back in 2005 or 2006 and put it out on this CD-R in an edition of 30. Michelle apologizes for playing a banjo on one song. The songs are mostly led by an acoustic guitar and layers of their strong ass vocals. There are songs about loneliness and risque odes to inanimate objects. Two extra songs recorded in 2008 were sent over to be added to the download. "366 Days of Night" was written on a leap year and Michelle said that when they played it in a backyard in Olympia, WA, a dog howled along during the howling part. "Sexy Guitar Love Song" has to be heard to be believed and contains some of my favorite lines of all of these songs.


Michelle currently sings for SILENT ERA and has also played in TULSA, HONKY HORN & BAD MOUTH, SLEEPWALK and THE SLITS (touring guitarist)...and is also one of my best friends.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

YOUR HEART BREAKS - Tour EP - 2003 - CD-R


   This is not the first appearance of YOUR HEART BREAKS on the blog. For more info, you could look here or here or even here (kind of). This was my first introduction to the band though and I would blast it through my headphones while walking around in the cold of the small Midwestern college town where I used to live in 2004. I didn't know Clyde (the main songwriter and core member) that well then, but I agreed to quit my job and roadie for his other band for a month anyway. Sometimes I look back on that trip as a mistake, but most of the time I know that it wasn't because it solidified our friendship in many ways that might not have happened otherwise.
   On the tour, I would sit behind the merch table while oogles talked to me about their dog or people handed me a beer or a college student would hand me a check for a few hundred dollars. I would sell their band's music and sometimes people would pick up this YHB CD. I'd sit there and try to sell them on it while they looked at me skeptically. "Yeah, it's this broken hearted queer pop music...no, it's not folk-punk...no, it's not on Plan-It-X records....yeah, I know that Rymodee from THIS BIKE IS A PIPEBOMB is listed as a member but he only plays the harmonica on one song for about 45 seconds...but, anyway, YOUR HEART BREAKS is this really cool...huh? Yeah, I know Rymodee and his band..yeah, they're really nice....no...I, I don't want a CD-r of your folk punk bedroom project...yeah, I've toured with them.....so, anyway, this CD is like this cool pop band and....oh, yeah, there's a beer store right down the street. No, I don't have any extra beer for you but a tall can is only like $1.50 over there...okay, thanks, bye."
    Most of the time, kids would buy this YHB CD after seeing that Rymodee played harmonica on it and after I explained that he only played for a minimal amount of time. I would sit there and hope that they would get past that. I liked to imagine that we were coming into some of these small towns like Goldsboro, NC (where the band was asked to not use "curse words" at their show)  and passing along this nugget of queerness into a deeply religious military town. Like, maybe they listened to the words and discovered some new shit about themselves and didn't feel so alone. Maybe they started their own queer pop band and helped marines come out to each other while realizing that it's not really a bad thing to be gay around a bunch of really fit men. Maybe it helped them realize that they needed to get the fuck out of that town and never look back. Or maybe they just filed it away in a pile and never listened to it again.
   I like these songs a lot. I'm pretty sure it's the only time anyone has sang anything about the band NEW BAD THINGS.


YOUR HEART BREAKS is still a very active band and only gets better. 
Clyde made an amazing movie called Torrey Pines and he'll be touring the US with it this fall and winter. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

IT GETS WEIRDER - Tape - Compilation - 2015


   Olympia, Washington. Love it or hate it. For whatever reason, it's a small town that brings up a lot of different emotions for people, but I've rarely met anyone who feels indifferent about the place. I myself have been on both sides of the wall at different points in my life. Once, I went there for a week just to lay on a couch while it rained.
    It's gotten a lot of attention in the past because of K Records or BIKINI KILL or whatever-the-fuck and now they're maybe getting a lot of attention because of G.L.O.S.S. or K Records or whatever the fuck. I've come around to liking the place again (and I have for years now) but I'm not about to pack my bags and move on up. I think it gets a bad rap, but imagine fighting to live your life in new and interesting ways while being somewhere small enough to see real, actual results. I'm not saying it's easy by any stretch of the imagination. I'm mostly telling you this convoluted shit to bring light to the fact of all of the hard work that my friend Meg and a lot of other hard workers do in Olympia. They helped to open the Interfaith Works Overnight Emergency Shelter, which is a shelter for people living on the streets of Olympia. I can't get into the details of the whole thing because I don't really know them. What I can tell you is that I went to a party at the shelter while a hardcore fest was happening 2 blocks away and all of the interactions I had there were so genuine, real and positive that I had to walk around the corner at least 5 times and just fucking cry. I know it's not like that all the time and I know it's a lot of hard work and I just wanted to point that out. Going back over to the fest felt like a step down, even though I would literally kill someone to relive that CCTV/BIG ZIT/VEXX show again.
   Also, I like eating tater tots at the Reef...a diner downtown that has burned down like 2 or 3 times.

   Oh yeah, there's music here. This tape was compiled by Sadie (G.L.O.S.S./DYKE DRAMA) and Joey (a true genius/madman who is responsible for most of the sick recordings you like from Oly) to showcase the myriad of punk shit coming out of the basements and dives of this small town. I love that this tape is truly all over the map of punk...it's not just hardcore or pop-punk, but those things are there too. I think my favorite discovery from this tape is DEFACEMAN, who I'd never heard before...just true fucked, chaotic, messy, brilliant beauty. I want to hear everything by them now. Other heavy hitters featured here are VEXX, GAG, G.L.O.S.S., BROKEN WATER, CC DUST and NASTI. The entire tape is worth your time though and provides a perfect glimpse at all the new shit going on there...or at least what was happening in 2015. Some of these bands have broken up already. Get into it.


I don't think this tape is available anymore. 
I took a long break from the blog for many reasons and one of them was archiving makes me feel weird now. That's all I'm gonna say about it, but I'll keep doing it for the time being.
If anyone in the Bay Area wants to give or sell me a functional cassette console, please get in touch. I had 4 break in one week.
Thanks to Alex Turner for digitizing this one. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

MUGWORT - Demo - Tape - 2011


    Mugwort, the plant, is said to further one's psychic abilities, enhance your dreams and repel negative energies. If used in excess, it can prove to be toxic...so toxic that it has been used in herbal abortions. MUGWORT, the band, could probably also enhance your dreams and repel a lot of negative energy in your mind. I can't comment on their psychic energies or fetus-destroying abilities.
   I was at a basement show in Oakland last week where 2/3rd's of MUGWORT were playing in a new band (their name escaped me) that built off of the player's long histories in other bands like SHITSTORM and THE GOOD GOOD...bands that never seemed to fully get the recognition they deserved (whatever the fuck "recognition" means in your mind...they didn't get it), but succeeded in throwing out loads of incredible music and playing shows that will always stick with me.
   MUGWORT enjoyed a brief stint in the Bay Area queer punk scene, playing tons of shows in their SF house near 21st and Capp. I'm sure they played other places too, but I only ever saw them there. Wu banged out insistent lines on their bass while Sara worked around the melodies and just invented her own cool style. Peter drums in a way that is so inspiring to me...somehow effortlessly playing this wild style that is "missed" notes, propulsive cymbals and almost intentionally playing off the rhythms but still holding it all together. They all sing. It's an incredible tape. It's been by my stereo for years now.


They also have a Bandcamp, but it's missing two songs from the tape. I don't know why.
You can also enjoy some of their songs set to video too. 
Maybe I'll remember the name of that new band so I can go see them more. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

SEXY - Demo - Tape - 2001


    Tapes like these are the reason I started the blog. Trying to track down these nearly ephemeral documents of a scream in dark warehouses and shitty basements is what this thing is about. I don't own this tape, but I thought that trying to get a copy of it would be a task that could be easily accomplished in a few days. Nope. The first post of this blog is dated June 23rd, 2011 and now it's nearly 5 years later. I asked the people who played the music, the people who loved the band, the people who hated the band, the punks who lived with them and I scoured Bay Area yard sales, free boxes and record stores (and their free boxes). Nothing.
    Baby Ian (we can just call him Ian now, right?) pulled a box of old stuff out of storage and came up with his copy of the demo...and here we are. I haven't heard this thing since 2001 or so and I forgot how goofy it is. If you're just hearing SEXY for the first time (and I'm sorry if you're just now hearing them) I would suggest starting with their first album (it's right here) because it's a completely perfect snapshot in time of an insane band at their absolute best. It contains all of the drunken abandon, the hooks and the trainwreck-style tempos. This first demo shows the band still trying to find their footing and swimming in drunken goofiness. A few of the songs that were later re-recorded for the LP are downright sllloooooowwww (check out "Purple Mini Van"). Half of the songs on here just got fucking dropped and were never heard from again. Maybe you'll enjoy it.


Technical notes: I'm sure you've come to expect a fair amount of tape hiss on this blog and I will tell you that there is a FAIR AMOUNT of tape hiss on this download. Ian sent over the tracks and I tried to mess with them to lower the hiss and it just sounded worse...so here we are....warts and all. You can even hear some of the tape it was recorded over. History isn't pretty and that's why we all need to keep moving forward. 
Thanks Ian. 
Thanks SEXY.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

INTREPID HEARTS - Demo - Tape - 2016


    Recently, a personal mission landed me in Minneapolis for a few days and I arrived with high hopes and too many plans. As someone who desperately needs a vacation, this was a stupid idea and I should've just sat in Powderhorn Park for 4 days straight. Instead, I fruitlessly tried to track down some long lost friends and rope unsuspecting fools into my dumbass ideas. Some old friends had time for porch hangs and others kindly offered up comfy sleeping spaces, but largely I was on my own to try and remember how to relax. I never really did. I walked all over the goddamn city until my legs ached. I saw the PRINCE memorial at 1st Ave N, went to the library, became familiar with the Greyhound station, went to karaoke at the Seward, looked at the old Medusa club, walked out to Extreme Noise, saw a gigantic rideable cock in a sex shop and read for hours in Hard Times.
   Then, I drove across the country with one of my best friends. When I got home, I found this tape in my mailbox and looking at the return address, I realized that I walked by this band's house (or one of them) at least twice in the past week. I could've just picked it up while waltzing by. It also would've been nice to have these songs blasting in my head while walking down the streets that inspired them, but I was happy with the S MPLS weirdo tapes I got instead (more on that in the future).
    I think I only know one member of this band and she (Britt) has appeared a few times on the blog in the bands B ARTHUR and BABE QUEST. Even though the BABE QUEST song "The Wait" can not be trifled with in any capacity, INTREPID HEARTS may be my favorite band that Britt has ever been in. I keep having a lot of thoughts about the songs and everything I think feels like a backhanded compliment, but it's genuine in my head!! Like, this band has cool "hot licks"!! Ya'll listen to metal, right? I truly like POISON (I know that's not metal) and I wanna say that the members of INTREPID HEARTS like POISON. Maybe they like THIN LIZZY. What the fuck ever. I don't know what they like. It's hook filled melodic punk that is truly tight as fuck. The vocals have the perfect amount of bite and rasp. I'm gonna go ahead and compare them to my ex-bandmate/current roommate Ivy (ALLERGIC TO BULLSHIT / MIAMI / BLACK RAINBOW) because Ivy's voice is great and Britt knows that because I once heard her tell Ivy that. There is no cowering in the shadows though because we're all just people doing our thing out there in the world and Britt has been doing her thing for a long time and it shows. This band sounds like they've been doing their thing for a long time too, but this is their first tape, as far as I know. It's a truly great tape. You should write to them and try to get one off of them because it has a lyric sheet and a lot more plastic than an ephemeral download.


Thanks to Cobs for mailing me a tape. I'll knock on the door next time.
Oh, the other thing that felt backhanded is that the verse part of the first song sounds like it was ripped off from "The Descent" by BOB MOULD, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that and I'm sure it was unintentional and, like, Bob Mould doesn't own the rights to those chords or anything. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

SNUGGLE - Lost LP Demos 2008?


Today's post is brought to you by frequent contributor and friend of the blog, Alex Turner.

   SNUGGLE is one of those bands, the bands you love that nobody else gets. I've seen them play in the basement of the FBK so many perfect times, the best times, the worst times, the drunkest times. Mad Dog 20/20 and shotgunning Sparks is what happened. A long time ago, SNUGGLE thought they might get paid to play a show or maybe they were surprised by getting paid? Regardless, they spent all that money on Mad Dog. I'm sure they got paid a few times on tour and didn't buy all their friends booze with the money, but that's the way it goes. They recorded this and lost it. like really fucking lost it. They had to re-record it because everybody they had given a copy to had also lost it. A real time and a place band. The 2000's in the basement of the FBK was SNUGGLE's time and I'm not sure why I have a copy of this lost recording, but if you'd like you can too.

     Rumor has it that Robert 'found' this at a coffee shop in Philly a year after it was considered a lost cause. I dunno. I guess this is like the demos for the LP that finally came out eventually on 1234 GO, Don't buy that, just download this.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

JACOB THE TERRIBLE - "Sings Songs of It's Complicated" - 7" EP - 2014


    When I wrote about JACOB THE TERRIBLE's demo, I said just about everything I could possibly say about the band. By the band's account (not mine), that demo sounds like dog shit, but I like to go back to it to listen to the timeless and now-classic songs that didn't make the cut for the jump to vinyl. So first off, I'll tell you what you're missing with the vinyl. Oh, you wanted to sing along to "Twin Elephants" in a well-produced, studio-recorded fashion in the privacy of your own bedroom? Nope. Sorry. You'll just have to imagine the chunky guitar and pounding drums as you scream out "The world can be so fucked!! But there's only so much shit you can shit....ON A FACE!!!"  You're also missing the gripping story of waking up in the morning to face another day of working at the Hello Kitty factory. Look, every JACOB THE TERRIBLE song is a perfect fucking snowflake but you can only cram so much music onto a 7" record before it starts to sound like a 9th generation Misfits dub from 1982.
   I'm gonna assume you didn't click over to the demo since I said the band said it sounds like dog shit. JACOB THE TERRIBLE is a band from Providence and Worcester. THE TERRIBLES are a pre-existing band. Jacob is a pre-existing human. They all got together to make full rock versions of Jacob's pre-existing songs, which had previously existed in more minimal forms. They ended up being one of the most charismatic bands I've ever seen. Any band can write a good song (JTT has many) but not many can engage you in their live performance in ways that feel real and inviting to nearly everyone in attendance. They also write good songs. Some are anthems in ways that I didn't perceive when I was first hearing them. Nary a week passes when I'm not singing "Things mean things! From Milwaukee to Osaka, does the postman know the joy he brings?"...usually in the post office. As I said in a print review, Jacob manages to fit ten pounds of words into five pound word-capacity songs. In other's hands, this might sound clunky and awkward, but Jacob lets it flow out of his lungs with an ease that sounds nearly effortless. I love the way he bends the word cigar to make it rhyme with roar. The song title "What I Love About You (I Hate About Myself)" is an easy comforting genius line and the song can fit that description as well.
   Okay, I'm done babbling. The record is great. I like all of these people who wrote it. It's not leaving my head anytime soon. I'm gonna go over to the bass player's house and screen print in his living room while listening to this to annoy him. You should order this record so that you can play it on your turntable while gazing into the beautiful Mike Taylor-penned art. I'm not sure where to order it though because the record label's site is down. Maybe try here or maybe here or just send some cash in an envelope to Corleone Records at P.O. Box 65, Providence, RI 02901 and hope for the best. I know that I could go back and erase that stuff I just typed, but I just got a text that said that the record is SOLD OUT, so don't send money anywhere for anything ever, okay? Okay. Enjoy this digital file instead.


Thanks to Jacob for the digital files
Thanks to THE TERRIBLES for not being terrible.
 

Monday, March 7, 2016

HEX - Demo - Tape - 2007


Today's post is brought to you by Erik Ruin, who previously contributed a top ten list to the blog a few years ago. I think this tape is incredible, but wanted a different perspective on it, so I asked Erik for his take. Many, many thanks to the members of HEX for sending over the digital files when my machinery was having issues. 

   Heavy music on non-traditional instruments has a seriously mixed track record. It can tend toward simple novelty- (think APOCALYPTICA or even worse) but it can also lay bare nuanced dynamics and complex compositional structures that are often obscured to those- like me- who have trouble looking beyond the standard genre tropes (wailing guitars,machismo, long hair, etc.). It’s into this latter camp I’d put viola/tuba/drums trio HEX, alongside luminaries like Portland’s DISEMBALLERINA and Providence’s BELLOWS.

  According to violist Jackie Beckey- “Andie, Aaron and I were all hanging out around this time and interested in creating heavy music on nontraditional instruments. I'd been experimenting with this for awhile and was hoping to start a project with someone who shared this vision. Aaron--a fellow classically trained orchy dork punk on tuba--was the obvious choice for a bandmate. We were both interested in creating heavy music influenced by non-western music, such as African drumming. Aaron and I were also into geeking out about poly-rhythms, exploring tonality by amplifying acoustic instruments and using instruments with incredible amounts of sustain to play heavy music.”

   The first and last songs of this tape begin with lengthy tuba drones rich in texture and atmosphere. From there it gets more rocking, with Jackie alternating between heavily reverbed pizzicato plucking (kind of a trademark of hers) and sawing riffs. At times, it reminds me of stoner rock transcendalists like SLEEP or even 70’s Swedes PARSON SOUND (a direction Jackie and Andie would take further with their project MYRRH) but it also breaks out into galloping sections that are not too dissimilar to their Minneapolis contemporaries COUNTY Z (ed. note: there is so much CZ on this blog and you should definitely seek it out) and ROTTEN LIVING. The cover sports paper-cut artwork by “Dragon-face” Dan Nelson, virtually de rigeurin the scene at the time (see also DOGS, THIEVES, DANGER BOY & THE ROAD VULTURES, etcetcetc….)

   HEX was relatively short-lived, beginning and ending in 2007. As far as I know, this is their only recording. They did go on a two-month tour, which Jackie remembers as “the best tour I've ever been on. Luke Holden toured with us the entire way and performed at every show as the hilarious "Body McFartin" human fart machine opening act. Because we kind of didn't fit into any specific musical genre, we played a lot of weird shows--opened up for a D-beat band in Dallas, performed with the art-punk band TEENAGE WAISTBAND in Providence, and performing during an intermission for a psychedelic play in Kansas City.”

    They so impressed my friend Dan Schleifer at their Providence show that he formed his own tuba-drone metal band, the aforementioned BELLOWS (who also ruled and are also sadly broken up)

    All the members of HEX have gone on to do a bunch of stuff– Jackie formed the more melodic yet still driving BRUTE HEART and is now mainly focused on soundtrack work. Tuba player Aaron moved to Pittsburgh where he’s playing in two great bands- tuba with brassy LUNGS FACE FEET  and bass with heavy weirdos COME HOLY SPIRIT(alongside Gina Favano of the much-missed JOHN DENVER'S AIRPLANE). Andie went on to play drums in the brilliant MOTHER OF FIRE, then in a variety of scrappy punk bands and is a brilliant painter.