Filtering by Tag: hardcore
Dead Trend is a fictional band. They were dreamed up in a novel, they were comprised of four fictional people, and they existed in a fictional Midwestern city in an imagined version of the 1980s. And yet, Dead Trend just…
Thanks to Rob at Yourband.info for this nice review of Dead Trend’s forthcoming longplayer “False Positive.”
Michael at Awkward Sound with a review of Dead Trend’s “Not My Future.”
Dead Trend debuts “Empty Threat” at Mathew’s in Portland ME 8/12/2012. Thanks to Katie for the vid.
“Slip It In,” the third Black Flag studio album, is (select any/all that apply):
1) The first featuring bassist Kira Roessler.
2) One of the best Black Flag records.
3) An obvious ‘fuck you’ to a punk establishment growing more orthodox in ideology as well as in fashion and sound. The original American and British punk scenes were free spaces for ideas and innovation. With the advent of hardcore, punk reached a younger audience hungry to latch onto something countercultural. Younger audiences tend to be more impressionable and eager to be accepted than their older counterparts, so what amounted to a dress code quickly came to the fore. Bands in the suburbs, relatively detached from the immediacy of punk scenes in cities, grew more orthodox in their sounds, as well, aping already-established bands releasing records. In terms of ideological content, things began to become politically correct through the release of zines like Maximumrocknroll – so left-leaning that they began to seem right-leaning. Black Flag wanted to rankle kneejerk fans who adapted the more PC ideology for the sake of fitting in – remember that punk was originally a place for people who didn’t fit in. Black Flag wanted to reinforce this. Releasing “Slip It In” fit the bill.
4) An extension of the band’s road-dog persona and general disrespectful attitude towards women. In the early days, they kept a running tally of the number of women they’d slept with in the van; stories of tour hookups abound. Songs like “Loose Nut” on later records confirm this reading.
5) One of the worst Black Flag records.
6) The first of a misunderstood series of songs designed to make people reflect on choices they make. The album’s title track lambastes hypocrisy – the band was setting a hard example through their constant work, practice, and touring. Of course, not everyone lives this way, so subsequent songs which also addressed what they perceived as the public’s weakness and stupidity, especially concerning not being able to control primal urges – “Loose Nut,” “Annihilate This Week,” to a less carnal extent “Drinking And Driving” – were made a little more obvious so that listeners wouldn’t misinterpret them as easily and as often as “Slip It In” was.
7) The first of several studio albums which drag because the material isn’t strong enough to sustain repeated listens. After MCA’s injunction against the band lifted, Black Flag released records quickly to accommodate their backlog of songs and their seemingly endless touring. With that said, some songs didn’t fare well outside of the live setting, and the best songs were evenly distributed amongst the many releases to level the killer/filler ratio.
8) An okay Black Flag record.
9) The beginning of the end of a band ruined by Henry Rollins joining.
10) The sound of Greg Ginn becoming newly comfortable with his role as the band’s only guitar player. For years he had Dez behind him to fortify his sound. Ginn hit his musical stride after the release of “My War” and the ridiculous practice regiment maintained by the Ginn/Rollins/Stevenson/Kira lineup. The strength of the rhythm section allowed him to be more out there with his leads.
11) A mediocre Black Flag record.
12) A continuation of the band’s ongoing infatuation with metal. The longer, slower stuff on “My War” reflects the band’s infatuation with Black Sabbath; the production on “Slip It In” and “Loose Nut” is an attempt to aurally pass on this infatuation.
13) The first of five LP’s, two live albums and an instrumental EP released between 1984 and 1986.
Side B of ‘My War.’
So: Dez shifts over to guitar, Henry Rollins is plucked from Washington DC’s State of Alert and installed as the singer, and Black Flag finally records ‘Damaged,’ their debut LP. And it’s amazing.
Then came the legalese which cast a shadow over the rest of the band’s recorded output and career: the Flag guys didn’t think floundering MCA subsidiary Unicorn Records was doing the job they had promised. Ginn and co. took things into their own hands, and were summarily served with an injunction preventing the band from releasing anything (1). When the injunction was lifted, it was two years later. In that time, the band had burned through:
Drummers Robo (who couldn’t get back into the US after playing overseas)
and Emil (ask Mugger about this one)
and DOA’s Chuck Biscuits
as well as bass player extraordinaire Chuck Dukowski,
and Dez Cadena set out on his own, leaving the band without a permanent rhythm section or a second guitar player.
There were a few times in Black Flag history when the band was in a lurch and had drummer Bill Stevenson of the Descendents fill in, as he already knew the songs. So, Bill was a natural choice to play on the new batch of material.
When “My War” came out, the fan reaction was extreme. The ‘A’ side consists of some great stuff: the amazing “Forever Time,” live staple “Can’t Decide,” and the Dukowski-penned song which bears the album’s name spring to mind here. These songs are in the same vein as a lot of Flag’s other songs. But the flip—‘Nothing Left Inside,’ ‘Three Nights’ and ‘Scream’ – was close to twenty minutes of trudgery. And it’s infuriating.
But not because the material has changed: I love that the band’s confrontational attitude manifested in their refusal to adhere to their audience’s expectations, both physically and aurally, in a time when the hardcore scene was becoming more orthodox. And not because it’s long – remember that by the time “My War” was released, the Wipers’ “Youth of America,” featuring a ten-minute title track, had already been in release for more than two years, and the Subhumans’ “From The Cradle To the Grave” had been released shortly before. Long punk songs were nothing new.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, Black Flag are a frustrating band. My War is one of these times. I understand why the band recorded the album when they did – they had new songs to record, and were gung-ho to release them following the injunction being lifted – but the how is tough in this case. A lot of stories told about the band –their history, or at least the shorthand for it — revolves around the Black Flag work ethic, both in the act itself and at Ginn’s SST imprint. So I find myself wishing that they had applied that ethic and had waited until they had a solvent lineup that practiced for a zillion hours a day until the songs were perfect. This was the case on the albums that followed. On “My War,” Ginn played bass himself under the pseudonym Dale Nixon (2).
The popularity of the widely-bootlegged 1982 demos, with the Greg/Chuck/Dez/Henry/Biscuits lineup playing, hints at the greatness of the five-piece lineup. So do some shows from 1982 which recently surfaced as ‘Live At The On Broadway 7/3-24/1982.’ Listening to these makes the studio album all the more frustrating – the bootleg/live stuff sounds better than the studio recordings.
Yeah, we can argue that the b-side, with its three songs in nineteen minutes, is designed to be a trudge. The thin production adds to the effect (whether or not this was the intention). I would counterargue that it’s also designed to kick ass. And while the songs are great, the timing and execution of the recording don’t always serve them. I know times were tight, and I know that, like Raw Power, a new mix might make me appreciate the first one more. I wish things had been done differently is all. Yeah, shoulda/coulda/woulda. But still.
Check out this live video of the five-piece slaying “Nothing Left Inside” in Germany, 1983.
(1) They did, of course: “Everything Went Black” was originally released without the band’s name on the cover. Of course, it was released with a bunch of Black Flag songs on it, so Ginn and Dukowski were hauled to jail.
Something I forgot to mention yesterday: ‘EWB’ is a fascinating rec because it allows for some direct compare/contrast between the band’s first three singers and their respective takes on things: play ‘Depression’ and or ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ in three different iterations and see where you stand regarding The Singer Argument.
(2) Dale Nixon was credited on the Fucking Champs’ album IV, on some Campaign For Real-Time records, and, perhaps not surprisingly, as the photographer who took one of the author pix in my novel.
Until recently, the idea of the second act was inconceivable—artists and bands got one shot, did what they had to do, and that was it. That’s in the eyes of the big time, though. Fans of “indie”—whatever that means these days—know that bands can make a viable go of it without becoming blinded by limelight. But during the feeding frenzy that followed Nirvana, the idea of viability became skewed. Let’s face it: most artists, no matter their discipline, don’t make a living from their art. Doing so is a tremendous accomplishment. Yet the popular notion of success calls making a living into question, to the point where eking it out but not working a day job on the regular isn’t enough to qualify. There’s gotta be opulence, names in lights, articles, exposure—bullshit, basically.
The narrative surrounding Jawbox involves Making the Leap: they and DC brethren Shudder to Think both made the leap from Dischord to the majors at about the same time. I remember being really worried about these signings (and later, Jawbreaker’s) when I was twenty. Like really worried, to an extent that cracks me up, now that I’ve, you know, had a job and paid rent. I was worried because the party line told me I had to be. It was all part of the mythical land of Selling Out, which, honestly, is nobody’s business but the artist in question.
I’m sure we can all agree that the whole “sellout” discussion becomes less and less relevant as artists now have to acclimatize to a marketplace which is shifting its values— it’s now about the live show, and about selling songs where and when you can to make some dough. Commercials? No problem now—in fact, a target now, whereas in the past such behavior would cause frothing dissent from the crusties and the trusties alike. (We had scene unity the whole time and we just never knew it! X up, y’all!)
What I’m getting at here, of course, is that in Jawbox’s case, the jump forced a shift in narrative. Such fuss was made over their leap that their music was lost in the shuffle. For Your Own Special Sweetheart, their 1994 Atlantic debut, got some press, and rightly so—with an increased budget, the band was able to overcome the muddy production which marred the great songwriting on 1992’s Novelty and put out a record which remains one of the best records of the nineties, a perfect combination of melody, dissonance, and unexpected songwriting twists.
But the second act—or at least the perception of such an act—kept the band’s eponymous swansong from getting the recognition it deserved. Because Sweetheart did so well–because the band, the narrative went, Beat the Odds and Maintained Their Integrity in the Face of the Corporate Ogre—following up their major label debut wasn’t part of the story.
The fact of the matter is that nothing changed. Sure, the band got a budget, and yeah, Zach Barocas replaced Adam Wade before Sweetheart came out. That’s not what I’m talking about. Despite the deal and the weird-but-cool window dressings that came with it—remember that photoshoot in Details? Or when they played on Conan O’Brien?—all the band did, throughout their career, was progress. That’s the real narrative, despite the way that the deal is often framed as being End of Act One.
Chinese Fork Tie
Like I said, Sweetheart is a complete stunner, and how do you follow up a complete stunner? In Jawbox’s case, you keep doing what you did before: relying on expected shifts, jagged edges, and the mast of tunefulness that unites the disparate elements together. In most cases, this mast comes vocally in the form of J. Robbins, whose lyrics and vocal lines propel the band through the rough seas they joyfully inflicted on listeners. Nowhere is this more evident than on “Chinese Fork Tie,” a smorgasboard of riffs and textures bound up by Robbins’ off-time tirade. The dual guitars and backing vocals of J. Robbins and Bill Barbot interlock throughout, as on “Spoiler,” presenting a whole greater than the sum of already substantial parts.
Progression also comes in the band’s full integration of Zach Barocas’s beats. He’s one of the most consistently inventive ‘90s punk drummers I can think of (along with Amy Farina of the Evens / Warmers and Sara Lund of Unwound), and on Jawbox he puts on a clinic: the aforementioned “Chinese Fork Tie” boasts an amazingly odd and insistent backbeat which largely manages to avoid emphasizing the “rock” hits. “Desert Sea” is another such number, a prototypically explosive exercise in difficult dynamism made easy. Bassist Kim Coletta not only manages throughout to make sense of Barocas’s neo-jazz thwack, but acts, as all good bass players to, as the translator, teaching the listener how to hear the rhythm.
Jawbox is an album which gets nowhere near as much attention as it deserves, partially because its precedent was heaped with so many accolades. But part of it’s the false narrative, the idea that following up an amazing record with another strong effort isn’t important because of the slaying of the corporate dragon or whatever lame story idea the glossies foisted on the public. It’s more the arc than the story around the arc.
Read more: http://365aay.com/y3d188/#ixzz1suOhnP50
In preparation for our April and May shows. Out on vinyl soon on Save vs. Poison Productions
The most intense part of any moving day is inevitably couch-related: this familiar object, one whose multiple functions revolve almost solely around relaxation, becomes a monument to futility as its arms and feet transform into hindrances as a bunch of poor, exhausted saps try in vain to stuff the damn thing up (at least) one flight of stairs, muscles straining under both weight and unnatural angles. Then the process is forgotten until the next move. But afterwards, the requisite pizza and beer are awesome because the calories have been earned lugging and hefting and haggling and positioning—carbs be damned!
Legacies are like that: ultimately rewarding, but heavy, and largely divorced from process. Rather than concentrating on the process, how the current destination was reached, there’s a tendency to sit still, ignoring the twists and turns inherent in any stylistic trajectory.
1.6 Band doesn’t have a huge legacy—this LP, a few singles (including the excellent “The Checkered Past of All Things Present,” released in tandem with some recent shows [all of which I missed, dammit!]) —but what they left is indicative of this love of process and positioning. The music they play is instantly identifiable as hardcore punk, but that identification carries with it some stagnant signifiers: it’s a genre largely more interested in the post-move relaxation than getting the couch up the stairs. The tropes can be heavy and obvious.
What 1.6 Band does on their lone LP is take the hardcore signifiers and twist them in such a manner than their music, though familiar, becomes entirely their own. The most “traditional” member of the band is Kevin Egan, whose shouts throughout are strong and sustained. His lyrics, though, are much more sparse / way less didactic than the average Youth. Crew offering, leaving listeners enough space to plug in their own concerns over the provided framework. It’s impossible to discern what he’s talking about, specifically, when he sings, in “Plastic Bags” “who planted the seed? / inside my brain? / It’s gonna take a lifetime / I didn’t have to feel all this pain,” but that’s the point—specificity dictates, and dictation dates. Egan’s lyrics, because of their open-endedness, manage to evolve over time, maintaining relevance through their open-endedness.
There’s a subsect of folks who don’t listen to heavy music for the lyrics, granted. Luckily, everyone in the band is great musically. There isn’t a simple way to explain the band’s music because there’s no one blueprint that they follow. Guitarist Mike Yanicelli often leads with atonal stutters and bends, hiccups full of purposefully placed wrong notes, shrill harmonics. On “Threads,” his quick three-note progression sounds almost metal in delivery before yielding to a more traditional power-chord chorus before the bridge slows and groans under its own weight. Meanwhile, virtuoso drummer Vin Novara (who later played with some ex-Hoover dudes in the underappreciated Crownhate Ruin) puts on a clinic of 32nd notes, fills and rolls which expertly spackle the space left by bass player Lance Jaeger, whose gymnastic playing sometimes drives the song forward and sometimes adds color. Again, there’s no set pattern: at the onset, “Keeping Me From Killing You” is Jaeger’s bass’s show, just as “Threads” was Yanicelli’s. But songs like these, in which one guy seems to be driving, there are shifts—no bogarts here!—and spaces for argument.
The songs are largely in four or eight, but are sufficiently mathy to tilt heads in the pit and, after a few listens, induce new rhythms. In other words, the 1.6 Band wants listeners to be aware of the twists and turns in their heaviness before settling into them. In other words, get ready to do some work before you eat your pizza.
Read more: http://365aay.com/y3d139/#ixzz1oGpcKDKO
I got home last night at five—less than 48 hours after leaving for New York—and was stunned to see the detritus of my trip planning scattered around the office: book boxes open, drawers, spindles of CDs yet to be burned. It wasn’t the mess that surprised me as much as what comprised it: again, less than two days before I had been prepping for my trip by packing my courier bag full of stuff. And I was back to see the remnants of my post-work haste scattered about as I had left them.
It seemed much longer than two days was the thing.
Sure, I had only spent two nights away, on a couch in a Greenpoint loft which offered an amazing view of the city and a cache of fanzines, of both the paper and VHS varieties. But the relatively glacial pace of the pastoral blurs the time and the perception of it. In the two days, the frantic race to see everyone and do everything taxed me with its pace. Okay: gotta hit all these spots, visit x number of people—and not just hey how’s it going, but like spend quality time—and get from place to place with a minimum of fuss and /or getting lost. Which I feel, largely, was a success, even though a) I completely understand why everyone in the city had an iPhone now—to maximize effectiveness / minimize inefficiency, because efficiency and effectiveness are the dual nature of the beast, even if there’s no art or project of any kind at stake, no career-minded networking, active or passive, and b) the perpetual juggling of priorities and engagements is enormously taxing and takes up a great deal of energy and headspace, despite the fact that everyone around shrugged when I mentioned it and was like “well, that’s how it is.” There was an innate sense of pace, of timing, from my friends in town: a thorough investment with an immediacy dictated by the demands of the calendar: we’ve got two hours, so step on the goddamn gas, man, and fast! There’s ground to be covered before the next engagement!
It’s an immediacy I appreciate, but one that takes a bit of time getting used to.
Which is why I’ve been listening to Off! since my return home.
Scene fans rejoiced when the band started playing: Keith Morris—Black Flag’s original singer, the frontman of the Circle Jerks—has never had time for bullshit or idiocy. The form—raw, stripped of all pretense and fat—has always been a perfect vehicle for his bilious attacks. And his musical compatriots, no slouches themselves, have only been too happy to provide a musical background for the man’s aggressions. Off!’s stuff has been released incrementally on 7”, the perfect medium for such bombast. The perfection of the medium is emphasized by the collected work, which doesn’t sound like it’s going to be much—under a half-hour—but is: In the same way that my two days were so packed that it feels like I’ve been away for longer, the honesty and anger that shines so intensely in each of the band’s songs, when listened to as a lump sum, makes the appreciation of the band the more remarkable. In addition to feeling all this, and recording all this, Off!, live plays all this, night after night. They sustain their incredibly potent and direct attack, without devices or effects to aid them: incredibly honest, forceful and in-your-face, a rewarding but exhausting experience that feels much longer than it is in the best way possible because so much is packed into so little time. Morris has been at it for longer than many of his fans have been alive, and remains one a touchstone of how it’s done. He sure as hell doesn’t need an iPhone, that’s for sure.
Read more: http://365aay.com/y3d118/#ixzz1mI3Sw1kB