Tuesday, October 21, 2014
It takes a lot for an instrumental band to get me, since my tastes are at best "meat and potatoes", or at worst "Philistine". So my simian brain tends to need the vocals in order to complete the synapse connections that allow for enjoyment. I is dummy.
Luckily for me, 5ive ease me into their instrumental version of driving drone (is that possible?) by providing some occasional vocals on this release. Better yet, those vocals come from Jonah Jenkins of Milligram/Raw Radar War/Only Living Witness/etc. which is always a good thing.
Even without the vocals though, 5ive have an uncanny knack for pulling you (I...we...us?) into the song and taking you along for an extended ride through big, warm, undulating jams of overdriven fuzzed out power throttling. Most songs extend out well beyond the 10 minute mark, which again, to my simple thought process is a huge red flag, but in the capable hands of this band you wouldn't want them to end any earlier. They build perfectly on the back of a slow avalanche of a riff rumbling down the side of mountainous drumming, gaining speed and energy as it rolls towards the unsuspecting ski chalet in the valley below. From a distance the destruction is in slow motion, beautiful in it's massive fury, but up close, inside the tumult, it's a swirling, choking, overwhelming haze of noise and bombast.
This record was recorded and engineered by Andrew Schneider formerly of Slughog, Pigs, and Barbaro, and the current co-owner of Coextinction Recordings, which I mention because the sound on it is just humongous, perfectly relaying the giant wallop this band delivers.
5ive is a two piece guitar/drums duo, but on this outing they are helped out by the aforementioned Jonah Jenkins and Mike Hubbard (of Warhorse).
Friday, October 17, 2014
A six round handgun of violent, blown out, and noise damaged hardcore. Boot on the throat kind of stuff. Flecks of blood broadcast indiscriminately across the back wall kind of stuff. Head ringing for 48 or so hours after the fact kind of stuff.
Essential shit. Claustrophobic attack to the medulla oblongata. Hate is the great motivator.
Personnel from Power Take-off, Young And In The Way, No Power, Wymyns Prysyn, Double Negative, GG King, and your nightmares.
Label: Whoa! Boat
Did you happen to miss this record when it was released five years ago? I did.
But, in all fairness...there's like, a billion records that have come out in the last five years that I've also missed. Being a hermit means I don't get out much.
Since then, The Ax has released a couple more records, and they seem to be getting increasing less jarring, and veering into a more sinister Krautrock (but loud) direction. I'm still digesting the newer stuff.
This, their first full length, is super easy for me to digest. It's the proverbial "right up my alley" type shit. Loud, loose, swinging, full of distortion and big riffs. What's not to like? If you're a child of the Midwestern school of noise rock (Class of '90) you shall definitely feel at home. If you tooled around in Los Angeles at the Jabberjaw (not on rave nights), or maybe later on at The Smell, then you will appreciated the dark dirt of The Ax. You can hear a band like Slug (from your nights at Jabberjaw) meeting up with a band like Wires On Fire (from your time at The Smell) meeting up with a band like Lustre King (from your classes at the Illinois Institute of Math Rock). It's dirty and heavy like Slug, catchy and noisy like Wires On Fire, and cyclical and angular like Lustre King. Chances are you can connect the dots as to what makes this record so good.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
For a bootleg, the sound quality on this record is aces. Which, for a band like Oxes, is imperative in order to make out the intricacies of their math-noise-rock-instru-metal hybrid. And they do get intricate when weaving together knotted riffs into winding melody into bursting energy. What sounds impenetrable is actually a celebratory ode to the pleasures of guitar-based music. Sure, they have their pranks and shtick and all that, but behind the "rowdyism" is simply a band who are having fun taking the piss out of a Don Cabellero/Shellac brand of rock.
In case the song titles don't translate in the files (and please feel free to correct the song titles if I get them wrong. Oxes have a way of altering their compositions in a live context, but I think I have them identified correctly) here they are:
1. And Giraffe, Natural Enemies
2. Boss Kitty
3. Your Street vs Wall Street
5. Take and Free Miami
6. Half Half and Half
7. Bees Won
8. Kaz Hayashi '01
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Misnomer alert: this is not actually a radio broadcast, it's a live show recording. A live recording of a hardcore band in what was most likely a house show or the sonic equivalent, mind you. I think in Cleveland.
So, if you were or are a fan of the oft-dubbed "noisecore" strain of hardcore, then this one is ripe for the pickings. If you're unsure of what it is I speak, then you undoubtedly will cock your head to the side and glaze over when I explain that "noisecore" was the result of Converge taking notice to Deadguy saying "we should sound more like Today Is The Day", and thus spawning a wave of bands who (to varying degrees of success) married noise rock, hardcore, and metal with a usually smarmy frontman, and a penchant for apoco-revolutionary rhetoric. Think: Burn It Down, Time In Malta, (old) Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, Anodyne, Drowningman...and such. It came and went.
The National Acrobat was notable for some pretty grating, off-kilter attack that leaned more in the direction of the on-coming San Diego sound while keeping a foot firmly planted in the contemporary Washington D.C. sound. Which, if you know what I'm talking about, then you're stoked, if not...you're wondering why someone could give such a shit about such shits.
Members of: Black Cross, Young Widows, Tusk, By The Grace Of God, Enkindel, Breather Resist, Black Widows, Automatic, Coliseum, Black God, Christiansen, Lords, Metroschifter, Standard Issue, Whips/Chains, The Slow Suicide, Irina, Bad Secrets...phew...did I leave anyone out?
The songs are:
1. Of Jeffersonian Thought
2. The Prophecy Of Old Sage
4. Confederate Movie Stars
5. Eyes The Size Of Organs
6. Don't Forget To Write
7. Damn Asplundh
8. Riffs Get Cheaper
Motorhead by way of Kyuss. Done.
But that's too easy. So, in case I hadn't mentioned it previously, in other posts, the singer of Milligram is a personal favorite of mine, Jonah Jenkins. Much like Kyuss, if you like the vocals then you'll love the band. If the vocals are too "rocknroll" or something, then you're going to hate it.
Members of: Miltown, Only Living Witness, 5ive, Raw Radar War, Stompbox, Slapshot, Juliana Hatfield(!), Blue Man Group (also!), Roadsaw, Blackwolfgoat, Cracktorch, Chevy Heston, Quitter, and a million more Boston area bands. The record was released on Hydra Head stepsister label Tortuga (a woefully underrated enterprise in it's own right), and the cover was designed by Aaron Turner and the band. So...context.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Total Nirvana worship, that I'm totally ok with. And maybe that has to do with the passage of time, because the bands that aped Nirvana back when Nirvana was still walking the Earth generally did a piss-poor job. They embarrassed themselves, and they soiled your local "alternative radio station" with their clumsy dynamics and faux-angst-sincere vocals.
War Baby sidesteps those pitfalls by taking what worked the first time around, and adding modern touches to it. The band Mannequin did the same thing, they too took the dark power pop of Nirvana and played up the messiness and noise. Mclusky did it as well, they played up the humor and playfulness of Nirvana and rode it all the way into the sunset.
So, not to belabor the whole Nirvana comparison (it's pretty hard not to), because War Baby deserve their own due, but if you find yourself waxing nostalgic for the glory years of Sub Pop and the "grunge sound" or maybe the big, fuzzed out sound of a band like Chavez, then you can't do much better than this one. It's warm and full and catchy and just the right amount of loud and ragged around the edges.
Somewhere along the line, Muuy Biien traded in their Black Flag records for Wire records, and consequently their sound has more of a post punk jitter to it than the slashing hardcore aggression of the older records.
It actually harkens back to the San Diego bands circa 1998 or so, after the spazzy grindcore noise had been superseded by arty, asymmetrical riffs and all black everything. Which I guess is "old school" to someone of a certain age, and maybe that style is making a comeback? The title track even flirts with some later period Dead And Gone, when they too ratcheted up their darkened post hardcore noise with some Christian Death spookiness. I could support a renaissance of that sound. I'm in.
The band has released a few instrumental droning ambient type records, and occasionally employ those sounds as folly to the more rocking numbers, but it's nothing to get too worried about. Merely a sorbet palate cleanser prior to the scallops course.
I wasn't expecting this sound from this band, but it's really not any wild deviation in evolution really, and after a few listens (Without Prejudice vol. 1 - George Michael) I could appreciate it on it's on merits. There are some really strong songs on here, the urgency and intensity is still there, just now it's dipped in India Ink and sneers rather than spits on you.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Bands in the early 90s who had the gall to release double 7"s are few and far between. And by taking the longest word in the dictionary (not technically...technically that word is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovovolcanoconiosis) and then adding MORE letters to it just to do it...well, that sorta tells you what kind of people you're dealing with.
Off kilter post hardcore, or maybe just hardcore, that pays homage to their neighbors to the north in Baltimore and D.C. (the Great Unraveling repost below made me think of this one...just to give you an idea). Unheralded in their time, but well worth your investigation now as trailblazers in the cause to liberate hardcore from the tough guys of the world, but keep it acerbic and wry. You can hear why Sam McPheeters would want to relocate to Richmond, VA to get in with bands like this one taking the approach Born Against did and marrying that with the math-y tendencies of Universal Order Of Armageddon. But, you also can't deny the hometown Avail influence on the final track of the record "Fill Up", and that ain't a bad thing either.
Sorely underrated. Highly enjoyable.
Label: Kill Rock Stars
Back from vacation, back in action! Thought I might have contracted Lyme disease on the way, but turns out I'm just a puss who can't handle New York City walking and heat waves. Summer can suck it, the heat is for the birds.
So back to blogging.
The Great Unraveling was great, just what you needed after Universal Order Of Armageddon broke up, more of that tense, dynamic, weird, scratching rock. Can't get enough of that shit. Getting Steve Albini to produce it? Nice touch. This was a fertile time in post punk, post emo, whatever you "post" you decide, the amalgamation of DC emo, Louisville noise rock, Flipper, Black Flag, Wire, and most other good, good things.
*Originally posted 07-08-10, reposted 10-8-14