Friday, January 22, 2016

NYHC Top 50 7" Of All (My) Time - Part Five: 1-10


Alright, here we are, the top ten of the top fifty...so exciting isn't it?
 


10. Youth Of Today - Disengage                                                                      
Label: Revelation 
Year: 1990
 
For those who had been keeping score with Youth Of Today, this, their final record, came as a (slight) departure from the fiery battery that their earlier records brought. It most certainly was leaning towards Ray Cappo's new Shelter project (which turned out not to be a project at all, but a full fledged job), it had a modified vocal delivery that stretched a few notes here and there to feign some type of "singing", and it was dealing lyrically with less "unity / brotherhood / scene" topics, and more about personal issues (again, a nod to the same Krishna consciousness that was driving Shelter). Musically though it has the same hallmarks of a good Youth Of Today thrash and bash approach, with a few...hold on..."more mature" elements creeping in ("mature elements" were a big thing in 1990).
When it came out, I remember thinking this record sounded super polished and different than what I was used to coming from YOT, which is funny because in retrospect it's very much in their lineage and aside from the previously mentioned points, basically sounds like a really great Youth Of Today record. Which is to say, a really great hardcore record. Youth Of Today caught so much flack for being the straightedge poster children that people overlooked how potent and vital their music was. It really does get you amped up and prepared to face the world with a physically strong, morally straight, positive youth kinda attitude!
Members:
John Porcelly (Slam) – Bold, Project X, Shelter, Ray and Porcell, Never Surrender, Young Republicans, Last Of The Famous, Judge, Youth Of Today
Walter Schreifels - Gorilla Biscuits, Moondog, Supertouch, Project X, Warzone, Youth Of Today, Rival Schools, World’s Fastest Car, Walking Concert, Vanishing Life, Dead Heavens, Pearl Harbor, Quicksand
Sammy Siegler (The Youth) – Youth Of Today, Judge, Project X, Side By Side, Rival Schools, Civ, Glassjaw, Nightmare Of You, Head Automatica, Shelter
Ray Cappo – Violent Children, Reflex From Pain, Youth Of Today, Shelter, Ray and Porcell, Better Than A Thousand

DL



9. Breakdown -The ’87 Demo                                                               
Label: Blackout!                                
Year: 1990
 
I remember getting a letter from Blackout! after pre-ordering this record alerting me to the fact that it had been delayed (again) and would be sent out "soon" and some other something about some other records coming out, which was all well and nice, but I was more amazed that Blackout! Records had fucking stationary! Big time!
We (I've) alluded previously in these entries that Breakdown were pretty heavy hitters, and that their style of hardcore involved a wall of huge noise coming straight at you. Nothing subtle, all crushing all the time. The groove of "Sick People" alone is one of the toughest hardcore stomps in the history of tough hardcore stomping. It's insane. We (I've) also alluded to the fact that demos reissued as 7"s are fair game, and thank Yahweh for that, cause this one here is goddamn essential.
This record seems appreciated, but I never hear it being spoken of in the same conversations as the Revelation bands, or bands like Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, and Killing Time, and I think it's better than a lot of that
Members: Jeff Perlin (Little Jeffrey) =-Breakdown, Slumlords
Anthony Drago (Drago) – Killing Time, Breakdown, Raw Deal
Carl Porcaro (Carlooch) – Killing Time, Breakdown, Raw Deal, Alone In A Crowd, Kings Destroy, Electric Frankenstein, The Arch Rivals
Rich McLoughlin (Rich Glock) – Killing Time, Breakdown, Raw Deal, Unholy Swill
Don Angellili (Baby Don) - Breakdown

DL



8. Side By Side - You’re Only Young Once                                                
Label: Revelation       
Year: 1988                       
 
Between the guitar harmonics, the feedback, the dark aura of the music, and the lyrics...those fucking lyrics ("You're a disease, and we're the cure. One day, we'll take care of you, for sure"), this record is a beautifully ugly proposition. Jules had a way to make the audacious seem somehow ok, maybe even deserved. I suppose that if you were not of a certain age or persuasion at the time of this record's release, you would most likely find the over-the-top nature of the whole thing a little...uh, much. But damn if it didn't hit a sweet spot with me, and the viciousness by which the music was delivered is scathing.
I would also suppose that the fact Side By Side only had this one record (and the compilation track from "The Way It Is") also boosted their allure. They played a handful of shows, released one of the most intense 7"s of the year (and let's not let it go un-noticed that the year in question is the venerable 1988...a pretty significant vintage for NYHC) in or outside of New York, and then they were out. Nothing more. I think that builds a mythology of un-fuck-with-able-ness that elevates an already fantastic record to classic status. Or possibly it's just that good of a record. There's always that.
Members:
Jules Masse – Alone In A Crowd, Side By Side
Sammy Sielgler (The Youth) – Youth Of Today, Judge, Project X, Side By Side, Rival Schools, Civ, Glassjaw, Nightmare Of You, Head Automatica, Shelter
Eric Fink – Uppercut, Side By Side, Mind’s Eye
Alex Brown (Kid Hard) – Project X, Gorilla Biscuits, Side By Side, Inside Out (NY)

DL



7. Quicksand - Quicksand                                                                     
Label: Revelation                              
Year: 1990

Possibly more "post hardcore" than "hardcore hardcore", but this record was such a game changer when it came out that it is justified in it's placement here.
With an injection of fellow New Yorkers Helmet's stop/start staccato chug into his repertoire (and ostensibly some Absolution), musical juggernaut Walter Schreifels begins to fully realize his potential (which, kudos to Walter, he's still exploring and pushing). Quicksand jettisoned the punky feel good youth crew celebrations of his previous bands (not counting transitional pre-Quicksand project Moondog) and embraces bigger dynamics, chases the alternative music dragon. The hardcore landscape never looked the same after this 7" came out, with a million bands thinking that they were an embroidered gas station jacket away from a major label record contract. And maybe that was ultimately a bad thing, or maybe that was an inevitable thing and Quicksand was simply the first band to emerge from the hardcore underground with a legitimate shot at being played on whichever your local "X" branded alternative radio station was in 1991, but it probably would have happened eventually. Blame that on Nirvana rather than Quicksand.
But those other bands didn't have Walter's songwriting acumen, they didn't have TC3's mystical presence, and they certainly didn't have the powerhouse combination of Sergio Vega and Alan Cage ebbing and flowing into, around, and through the songs. Nobody had that chemistry.
Even with the throw away "Hypno Jam With Dan" tacked onto the end of this ep, it remains a cornerstone in the evolution of hardcore unblemished in any way. Perfect.
Members:
Tom Capone (TC3) – Bold, Shelter, Handsome, Instruction, Crippled Youth, Quicksand
Alan Cage - Beyond, Burn, Seaweed, Quicksand, New Idea Society, Enemy, Gardener, Cardia
Sergio Vega - Collapse, Project Kate, Deftones, Quicksand, Champions Of Sound, Moondog, Absolution
Walter Schreifels - Gorilla Biscuits, Moondog, Supertouch, Project X, Warzone, Youth Of Today, Rival Schools, World’s Fastest Car, Walking Concert, Vanishing Life, Dead Heavens, Pearl Harbor, Quicksand

DL


6. Supertouch - What Did We Learn                                                                       
Label: Combined Effort                    
Year: 1989

The band that ushered in the “mature” strains of post hardcore into the NYHC DNA. There's an extremely short list of bands in this scene as ambitious as Supertouch. To this day I can't pinpoint what exactly they were pulling from that resulted in this 7" (or the subsequent album for that matter), what confluence of inspiration was the wellspring for their sound. Nobody else dared sound like this, nor could they I imagine. Like most of the bands this high up in the rankings, they had such a unique sound, and like some of their peers in the 1989-1990 time frame, they were toying with what could or could not be considered "hardcore". It sure as shit was more challenging and creative than another Sick Of It All clone (I'll always appreciate an actual Sick Of It All though...big ups to the Kollers!), and it prevented the genre from stagnation.
What a weird band, right? On paper it shouldn't work, this weird warped sound, this half speed hardcore slough, but the intangibles of Supertouch not only make it work, they make it compelling and amazing (to be said in Drew Barrymore voice, "aaaaaaamaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzing").
Members:
Mark Ryan – Foreign Islands, Supertouch, Death Before Dishonor
Jon Biviano - Windfall, Absolution, Altercation, My Rifle, Running Like Thieves, Supertouch, World Indifference, Iron Lung
Andy Guida – Running Like Thieves, My Rifle, Real, Supertouch, Absolution, Altercation, Still Born Joe Graziano – Real, Supertouch

DL

 

5. Judge – New York Crew                                                                         
Label: Schism
Year: 1988

A two man wrecking crew of righteous straight edge fury. Outside of Project X, I don’t think there has been a band with this total a commitment towards a straightedge agenda (with apologies to Crucial Youth and Grudge). Everything from the crossed hammer logo down to the hammering riffs were scientifically designed to encourage irresponsible moshing from a supposedly responsible fan base.
My thought is that Judge was the genesis for the heavier, breakdown obsessed bands that started showing up in the late 90s and continue on through today…not that they would want that distinction. And to be fair, this 7” is less mosh-tastic than the album that followed it, but it’s still plenty muscular and imposing. Riff machine personified, John Porcell really outdoes himself with this assemblage (and this band). Steamrolling goodness. The hammer hits hard.
Members:
Mike Ferraro (Mike Judge) - Old Smoke, Youth Of Today, Supertouch, Judge
John Porcelly (Slam) – Bold, Project X, Shelter, Ray and Porcell, Never Surrender, Young Republicans, Last Of The Famous, Judge, Youth Of Today

DL

 
4. Absolution - Absolution                                                                      
Label: Combined Effort                    
Year: 1989

Much like our buddy Walter, Gavin Van Vlack shows up multiple times in this countdown, which could just mean that I have some sort of crush on him. Maybe? Or, it could mean that his particular take on reshaping hardcore riffs into something recognizable as his own signature sound is worthy of repeated praise. Either way you want to look at, I don't think it makes too much of a difference.
What's important here though is that we give due respect to the manner in which Gavin's guitar style steers this short lived band into some of the most creative and exhilarating NYHC ever. It's also important to note that just as unique as the guitar style was, Djinji Brown's vocals are equally distinctive in both cadence and timbre and make the record stand apart from their peers. Like them or not.
Another band who's existence was brief but vital, with only this 7" and tracks on three compilations to their name, Absolution created a sound that laid the groundwork for Gavin's next band (which also had a dynamic and unique frontman) Burn, as well as Quicksand, Mind Over Matter, and anyone else who wanted to twist and warp the boundaries of hardcore into something with a pulsing swing, something that roils and undulates.
I would also like to mention that I have always loved the bold simplicity of the cover graphic, which like the music contained inside, was ahead of it's time.
Members:
Greg Johnston - Absolution
Alan Peters - Crawlpappy, Agnostic Front, Absolution
Gavin Van Vlack - Burn, Die 116, Big Collapse, N.Y. Hoods, Pry, Absolution
Djinji Brown - North East Sound System, Absolution

DL

 
 


3. Born Against -Born Against                                                                   
Label: Vermiform  
Year: 1990

Voted (by me) as the band “Most Likely To Be Pissed They Are Included On A ‘NYHC’ Countdown”. I booked Born Against to play a show in my hometown in 1990 (they brought Rorschach with them; bonus), and they took issue with me listing them as “NYHC” on the flyer (hand drawn of course…don’t fuck with no desktop publishing!) and announced prior to playing their feelings on the whole concept of “NYHC” (hint: not favorable). That being said, they were perfect gentlemen before and after the show, and played a blistering set which I used to have on cassette, but have since lost.
This record changed the way a lot of people thought about contemporary hardcore music. Musically it was brutal, which is great, but just as important, the band embodied a philosophical ideal that included everything from DIY to personal politics, to social justice, to provocation, to humor and the ability to laugh at one’s self. They wanted to make the average listener uncomfortable, to think about what the band was saying or doing, and why.
They left a trail of hand screened patches across every corner of this great land (their patch distribution was second only to Avail based on my super scientific research), and as Born Against shifted and refined their approach, countless bands tried to mimic those changes.
Born Against had a pretty flawless discography (not completely flawless mind you), but this debut 7” has to be the cream of the crop. Total annihilation from start to finish, and the template for a new perspective on hardcore and what a band could do by wielding it.
Members:
Sam McPheeters - Men’s Recovery Project, Wrangler Brutes, Born Against
Javier Villegas - Our Gang, Iabhorher, Cattlepress, Kylesa, The Ladybug Transistor, Born Against
Daryl Kahan - Abazagorath, Assuck, Disma, Forced Expression, Gorebitch, Power Of Expression, Voice Of Hate, Born Against, Citizens Arrest, True Colors, Taste Of Fear, This Means War, Funebrarum,
Adam Nathanson - Born Against, (Young) Pioneers, Life’s Blood

DL



2. Burn - Burn                                                                                            
Label: Revelation
Year: 1990

Man, I’m telling you, this one could easily be number one on this list. It was tough relegating it to the runner up spot, cause it’s not only an NYHC favorite, it’s an all-time favorite. I mean, to this day, this record gets the same reaction out of me as it did the day it showed up in the mail (pink vinyl first pressing, no less) in 1990; righteous and reckless abandon.
The term “new school” has been mentioned prior to this entry, but Burn were the epitome of “new school” for me. Sidebar: shout out to Rob-R-Rock who had a cassette compilation in his car at the time entitled “Rad New School 7”s”, with Burn, Quicksand, Inside Out, and….somebody else I’m forgetting. Supertouch, maybe?
Anyway, Burn sounded like they were from another planet when I first heard this. The meshing of big, chunky off-kilter riffs with the groove heavy rhythm section and Chaka’s distinct vocal delivery was unparalleled. It’s still unparalleled! The music was swinging and punching, the lyrics were different and interesting, the whole deal was powerful and consuming.
Burn were one of a kind, and this record left a huge footprint in hardcore and beyond. You can hear a million other bands who tried to take cues from Gavin Van Vlack’s style, or Chaka’s style, but nobody ever came close.
The only thing that bums me out about Burn, well two things actually, is that first off, I never got to see them, and secondly they put out those inferior records in 2000 or so. It would have been great had they followed up this record with the same lineup in the same era, but  the later day material  hanging out there puts an asterisk by their legacy. It's a super small asterisk, but you know, it would have been more special (grammar alert) or something had they walked away after this sterling slab.
Members:
Gavin Van Vlack - Burn, Die 116, Big Collapse, N.Y. Hoods, Pry, Absolution
Alan Cage - Beyond, Burn, Seaweed, Quicksand, New Idea Society, Enemy, Gardener, Cardia
Chaka Malki - Orange 9mm, Burn
Alex Napack - Burn

DL



1. Life’s Blood  - Defiance                                                                                  
Label: Combined Effort          
Year: 1988

Yes, number fucking one! U-S-A! U-S-A!
All hail Adam Nathanson’s guitar, and Life’s Blood’s ability to wrench something so ugly and pure out of this musical form which has died a hundred deaths. Pure hate and contempt channeled through some of the noisiest and gnarliest hardcore ever documented. Scathing to the max.
How does this record end up at the top of the heap you ask? Or had you fallen asleep 37 entries ago? Well, wake up, and I'll tell you.
From the opening screech of feedback, Life's Blood have distilled all the elements of hardcore into a brutal hulk of a record. It's noisy and messy and heavy and fast and biting and invigorating and raw and mean and murky and menacing and fucked and direct and most of all, lacking any and all pretension.
In my opinion (and that's really what counts, am I right?), this record has amalgamated everything about NYHC into a perfect exhibit. There is absolutely nothing about it that you could change to make it better, it is delivered fully formed and unbreakable.
What did you expect? "This is not a game, and it's not for the weak"
Members:
Neil Burke – Clenched Fist, Men’s Recovery Project, Sinking Body, Landed, Krap, Danse Asshole, Life’s Blood, Human Head
Jason O’Toole – My Rifle, Factory, Life’s Blood
John Kriksciun - Collapse, Project Kate, Life’s Blood
Adam Nathanson - Born Against, (Young) Pioneers, Life’s Blood

DL

 

4 comments:

Tore Nielsen said...

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

this is an excellent 10, except for judge. i am a very nice person who never understood the judge fascination. NOT A FAN SORRY. love, your friend, phil.

andrew tikkanese said...

born against, absolution, and life's blood in the top 10??? you just made my day! ♥♥♥

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