Tuesday, March 26, 2013

TWO PORTLAND HARDCORE 7"s

TRAUMA - DEMO 7" (Bulkhead)
Another demo tape has been released on 7" format. It seems like demo 7"s have become the norm in the world of hardcore, but in this case it was done with good cause. I've already been into Trauma's debut 12" back from last year, but the ten tracks from their demo recorded in 2008 are even better. The songs sound rougher and faster compared with their 12" and that's just the perfect addition to Trauma's brand of straight blasting hardcore. The Scandanavian hardcore influence is obvious here. They combine the style of Swedish bands like Totalitär or Meanwhile with classic Finish and US hardcore. The result is comparable with other Portland bands like Warcry or Deathreat. "Soma" and "Fall In Line" two of the best tracks from the demo also made it on their 12" on Feral Ward. Trauma consist of people from from Tragedy, Final Warning, His Hero Is Gone, From Ashes Rise, Deathreat etc., but this 7" speaks for itself. (Listen to it here)

VA - PDX VOLUME 3 7" (Blackwater)
The third round of this great compilation series focused on bands from Portland, Oregon. This city produces countless of amazing bands and this piece of wax is yet another good example. Volume one was focused on Wipers influenced dark punkrock, the second volume featured goth and wave punk and this third volume is full of pounding hardcore. Bi-Marks contribute one track of their mix of catchy 80s US hardcore and 70s rock riffs. Portlland allstar band Trauma nail down two tracks of their crushing fast and straight hardcore with hints of Scandinavian hardcore. Both tracks sound like they've been recorded during their 12" studio session. Wild Mohicans play Poison Idea "Feel The Darkness" era heavy rockin' hardcorepunk. Last but not least Venas Abiertas offer two tracks of super raw Latino punk. This is a well done document of the current Portland hardcore scene! (Listen to it here)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

VIOLENT FUTURE - S/T 7"

VIOLENT FUTURE - S/T 7" (Slasher)
Hailing from Toronto, Canada Violent Future consist of members of Urban Blight. This four track 7" is already their second release after their demo 7" on Painkiller. They take the oi! and streetpunk influence of their former band and push it way into the forefront, while maintaining the heaviness and power of hardcore. The result are gruff midtempo songs merging the classic Boston and New York hardcore vibe of bands like The Abused, Antidote, SS Decontrol or Negative FX with highly authentic oi!-punk in the vein of Blitz and Iron Cross. Their songs are full of blasting riffs and pounding drums and they are both catchy and powerful. Violent Future's style sounds tough in it's most positive way, especially because of the brilliant throaty vocals, The lyrcis deal with obvious streetpunk topics: they are basically about the life on the streets. Not very original, but it fits well to Violent Future's mix of oi! and hardcore. This is really an amazingly great 7"! (Listen to it here)

Friday, March 22, 2013

NIGHT MARCHERS - ALLEZ ALLEZ LP

NIGHT MARCHERS - ALLEZ ALLEZ LP (Swami)
Five years after "See You in Magic" finally a second full lenght release by Night Marchers from San Diego, California. They consist of three Hot Snakes members and members of other San Diego bands. So if you dig the following bands, you'll probably also be digging Night Marchers, even if there are slight differences: They sound like Hot Snakes without a Wipers influences but with John Reis responsible for the vocals. They sound like Rocket From the Crypt without the horn section. They sound like Drive Like Jehu without the post-hardcore influence and they don't sound as straight as The Sultans. Nevertheless Night Marchers merge influences of the aforementioned acts and their music is not something completely new. This should not be regarted as criticsm. I really can't get enough bands sounding like this and this neglect of all current trends is just the great thing about this record. Night Marchers brand of punkrock is rooted in 50s rock'n'roll, 60s garage and 70s protopunk in the vein of Rocket From The Tombs, Death and Destroy All Monsters, but in the end it's this their own typical brandmark sound. The focal point of their numbers are John Reis highly characteristic vocals. In addition to that "Allez Allez" is distinguished by a perfect song writing full of catchiness, variety and plenty of fanatstic melodies. I had a lot of fun reading the lyrics to "Big In Germany", even if Bern isn't German at all, but yeah we Germans love John Reis related bands und this is yet another great addition in the collection. The artwork looks great too! (Listen to it here)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Interview with ROUND EYE

Round Eye consist of four Western emigrents living in Shanghai. They are one of the most amazing bands in the young history of the steady growing Chinese underground scene. Musically it's a hard to put them in categories. Their sound is chracterized by an experimental, open minded approach. Round Eye combine modern postpunk with 60s high energy rock'n'roll and easy-listening, but in the end it's their very own unique style. This interview gives an impressing insight into what's going on in China at the moment.
 

Who is who? When and how did you start playing together? What is the idea behind Round Eye?
Jimmy Jack: drums...we began last March or April....don't really remember.
Xiao Long Bob: Bob. Bass.
Lewis: ‘ello mate, English country yokel ‘ere. I play sax.
Chachy: Hey, Ni hao!  Chachy; I play guitar and sing lead.  We began sometime in late March, early April of last year. I constructed the band in order to help salvage what I had started several years before with “Full Circle”. The concept of “Round Eye” I guess would be a self deprecating / tongue and cheek jab at a foreign expat (ourselves).  China isn’t exactly the most considerate culture on the planet and pointing out obvious features on someone different themselves is seen as commonplace and unoffensive whereas in the states (and I’m sure in Aussie or UK) dem’s are fightin’ words!  So we thought it’d be funny to celebrate it. That’s the look and name, the sound came partly from my yearning for the replacement of saxophone into rock music and to fulfill a desire to play out after nearly two years out off the live circuit.

Have you all moved to Shanghai? If yes: where are you originally from and why have you relocated?
Jimmy Jack: I moved to Shanghai 2 years ago to pursue my career in education. I am a History teacher at an international school. I am originally from New York.
Chachy: I’m originally from Florida; Bob and I went to school together there. I came here for the same reason many come here: a sharp change of pace.
Bob: I relocated for adventure, personal development and to gain a sense of the world.
Lewis: I got the opportunity to work in an architectural design studio in Shanghai once I had graduated from the UK. I flew over to China; 4 months later I was rehearsing with the then un-named Roundeye.

Tell us about the Shanghai and Chinese underground scene. Which bands are worth to check out?
Chachy: The underground here is pretty young to be honest with you.  Chinese Rock culture in general is extremely young compared to neighbors Japan or Hong Kong’s native scenes.  Bands to check out: Top Floor Circus, Second Hand Rose, Stalin Gardens, Duck Fight Goose, Pairs, Stegosaurus?, Death to Giants, PK14, Carsickcars, The Last Three Minutes, Street Kills Strange Animals, Astrofuck, Guo Shen, X is Y and tons tons more...actually, a bunch of us involved with the scene out here have contributed to a compilation that showcases what we’ve been trying to push.  It’s called “We Are Shanghail Vol. 2”  Here you go: http://weareshanghai.bandcamp.com/

Where do you recommend me to visit and eat when I go to Shanghai?
Jimmy Jack: This is easy. Stay away from clubs....these clubs are 'typical' if you go to one in a Western Country then it will be the same here. I recommend seeing the typical sites of Shanghai. It’s a really big city and it will be easy to get into any vice that you desire. Except strip clubs...no dice. And i suggest to eat the various types of Chinese food. Hunan and Sichuan food is my favorite (I like spice) also eat some hot pot. It’s great. There is food from all over the world here that are hard to come across in the West. And when you are good and drunk and your watch is reaching daylight hours, well, then its time for some street food.
Bob: Hang out with us! If you can still walk, go to the Shanghai Slaughter House, built 1933. It's a pretty cool piece of architecture, the building is an engine, a machine of halls, spillways, gutters, pools, docks, big doors and torture rooms.
Chachy: Disagree with Jimmy Jack; clubs are shit for music, yes, but are excellent places to secure a night stabbing the bearded clam. I’d recommend checking out Yuyintang, Shanghai’s best club for live music.  At any given night you’ll catch one of the dudes on the previously mentioned compilation puking in a corner or passed out on stage.  Eat?  Gimme a call, I’ll take to you the ‘smashed chicken Dong Bei place’.  (dong bei = Northeastern food)
Lewis: ‘Green Tea’ restaurant near the Hongkou Football Stadium – pukka.

What do you think is the main difference between underground music in China and Western countries?
Jimmy Jack: The West is full of bands and you have much more variety. But here, well, I think the music scene is awesome. There are good Western bands and a lot of great Chinese bands. Beijing is the real scene, but Shanghai is budding.
Chachy: You know, you’d think that there would be some huge cultural difference when it comes to our hemispheres’ respective undergrounds but in reality there are few dissimilarities; same scenesters, trendsetters, clubs and drugs and work ethic.  For me the biggest and most relieving difference was the complete supply of backline in every club in the country.  Gone are the days of lugging equipment in a van across a desert of truck stops (though I strangely do miss them).  Show’s lately have been trying to start earlier for the college kids due to their early dorm lockups. But other than that, when it comes to Shanghai, the west and east share a lot of traits with how to push, listen, and live music.

Tell us about the punk community in China. Are there many people involved and is it hard to buy records, zines, etc.?
Chachy: Physical zines are almost non-existent which is a shame.  There is an excellent Xerox zine in Hong Kong called Cloak and Dagger but I believe that is the only one out there. Most word round here is spread using online social media networks such as douban or weibo.  Facebook, myspace, google, and youtube are all banned in Big Red. People are starting to get hip to buying vinyl around here but it’s still a very new prospect, downloads run rampant.  There are only a few record stores in Shanghai that I’m aware of and keep in mind this is a city of over 20 million people.  The punk community, as small as it is, works incredibly hard and is super supportive.  The foreigners and locals all work together to find more bands to play and more clubs to put them in.  It’s slow going but rest assured, it’s going.  It’d really tough building a cohesive scene in a country with little to no background in DIY ideals and expiring Visas but as of the last 5 years it seems that things are really starting to cotton on a global scale. China’s not as obscure or isolated as it once was just under a decade ago.  Plus it helps to have dudes like Xiao Zhong of Pairs, Nevin Domer (Genjing/MaybeMars records), Pete Jackson (Shanghai 24/7), Pete Demola (Genjing), DJ B.O., Yivan from Twin Horizons and The Splitworks productions dudes busting their asses to get the music out there by sheer diligence.  Without some of these guys Round Eye would never have gotten off the ground.  They truly are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
Jimmy Jack: To be honest, I’m not that good at categorizing music when it comes to the various types of Rock music. Punk to you might be different than me. People have said that we are punk....I’m not sure I understand that.

The freedom of opinion and expression and human rights are major issues in China. What's your opinion about it and have you ever had any problems with the Chinese state?
Bob: I think many countries try to find the bad points of other cultures to pipe themselves up as better. China is a developing society that has come a long way in 60 years and remains the world's oldest culture, which there is a lot to be said for. Every nation has dealt with a list of assholes, China is no different. And, while their speech about the government is limited, a person here has more personal freedom than an American. For this I could site many examples, but simply China has fewer laws than the US and unlike the US is not a controlled police state where every citizen is a possible criminal. Police in China are pretty nice guys and left alone they prefer drinking tea and smoking cigarettes than running around controlling and ticketing. People still talk about the government but keep the negative points behind closed doors. I saw an old woman screaming at the government outside Shanghai City Hall. No one cared, not even the armed guards at the door. I saw this as I was cross-walking on six a lane street. China and human rights is a very broad topic and worth inspection. But I've visited several factories across china and I've seen some pretty aesthetically bad working conditions, but nothing dangerous or compromising. Just junk that could be cleaned or organized in one or two days. Factories are often the result of one person in a rice village having great grades in school making it to a university and returning to their help their hometown starting a factory and providing better paying jobs. Once this happens anyone in the village is welcome to come work and earn more money than they would growing rice, By the way growing rice looks terrible... With the added income more children from the village will get better opportunities in life. Americans who work behind a desk (a desk made in china), would be appalled by seeing anyone work in a factory setting. But, an American who works in an American steel mill would not see any difference. In fact, the latter American would complain that china is stealing their jobs. Speaking restriction is not just a government idea it is imbedded in their culture. Much of the Chinese culture we see is an offshoot of Confucius. Confucius has been reinterpreted many times but the text remains largely uninhibited. One Confucian proverb says, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered first.” This is very logical but this sort of thinking has been understood to mean, don't stand out. Stay normal and you don't have to worry. In America, we say, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” So, stand out and get noticed. But just like up and down, ying and yang, black and white, stand in/stand out it's all the same and there is no right or wrong about its. It's just a different culture.
Jimmy Jack: Is this a trick question?
Lewis: We are yet to have any run-ins with the pigs. Unless you’re using the stage to openly peddle diatribe against the government then you don’t have to fear your visa being revoked and the rest. I think if we have something to say in the future that treads on such ground, we’ll utilize that well-known literary device, the metaphor, just to keep safe.
Chachy: Righteous, Bob.  I’ll let Nevin handle this one too.
Nevin Domer (Laoban /staff of Genjing Records/Maybe Mars in Beijing):  All records produced in China have to go through a censorship process before they can go to the factory. In general this isn't a problem for most releases but can be a headache during sensitive times, such as the National Party Congress. All labels, distributors, venues and record stores need to acquire the appropriate permits from the government which can also be difficult without guanxi--the personal connections important to all business in China. There are a lot of barriers here that keep underground music marginalized but a growing number of people that are willing to make the extra effort to seek it out.

Have you ever toured through China? Is it possible? Are there many venues to play shows?

Chachy: We’ve done short tours to Wuhan/Beijing/Hong Kong but our first real bout comes twice this Summer with New Orleans punk legends Masters of the Obvious (M.O.T.O.) and later with American surf monsters Daikaiju. It is definitely possible and it’s done mostly by train and plane.  All of the major cities of China have at least a club or two to play.  It helps if you know the language though, not gonna lie;)
Jimmy Jack: Yes we have been around the block here in China.
 
You've released a split full length with Libyan Hit Squad from Florida. How did you get in contact with them and why have you done the split?
Jimmy Jack: Luck and bribes
Chachy: I’m the link between the two bands. Libyan Hit Squad was/is an experimental hardcore band I’ve fronted from ‘99 to ‘13.  When I received word from Greg Ginn that he wanted to take part in the record I figured ‘well, ok now I have to get this out.’ So I decided to close the book on Libyan with the A side and open the book on Round Eye on the B side. It worked out awesomely.

I think your music is hard to be categorized and this makes it so unique. I think too many bands play music just to fit in a hip category. What's your opinion about it?
Lewis: I’m pretty sure that some do. I think that if you start out with that agenda though, writing in order to be ‘hip’ and to impress others, or start to veer in that direction, then you’re probably not going to be making something particularly interesting musically.
Jimmy Jack: yes
Chachy: Even with LHS I faced an uphill battle of going against conventions.  I dunno, I’ve worked with bands that were of that caliber and noticed how impersonal, shallow, and utterly ‘safe’the music they laid down was and knew that I never wanted to be associated with that adjective ever in my life in the arts; ‘safe’, man what a drag.  Music from bands like the Minutemen, Black Flag’s “Process of Weeding Out”, and dudes like Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, and the pop sensibilities of Alex Chilton and Doowop; those are the guys I really cottoned to aesthetically.  I dunno, I play with my gut and I like to think my gut will always points me in the direction I’d be happiest.  Full Circle was great because for me it’s an amalgamation of everything I’m a die hard fan of; hardcore, sax based early rock and roll, doowop, first wave English punk, etc.

What do you think about the evolution of punk at all und which current bands do you like? 
Chachy: I’m very picky. Bands these days that get tons of hype like Fucked Up, Gallows, Merchandise and many others I’m not particularly moved by but that’s not to say I’m closed to checking them out.  They probably put on a cool live show. For me living all the way out here in Shanghai, the value of a record’s sonic impact has taken on a whole new meaning because the chances of me actually seeing the gig live are slim to none.  However, with hardcore/thrash, I’m more of a fan of groups that make me wanna grab my dick, rip it off and kick it around the room like No Qualms, Holy Shit!, Knife Hits, early Municipal Waste, early Runnamucks, Magrudergrind without actually having to be at the gig but that’s not to say that live music isn’t a key point with me..  Current bands, yes, yes, I loved watching Thee Oh Sees (though I’m on the fence about their band name;).  Ice Age are interesting and I loved Duck Fight Goose’s and Stalin Garden’s new records. Check those out for sure. The evolution of punk, man what can I say? Haha did it really evolve and if it did how far from the beaten path did it go? Sure there’s a lot of experimentalists out there pushing boundaries and making some truly beautiful noise but there’s also a clutch of completely uninspired crap that is perfectly happy rehashing record after record of fucked facsimiles of bands and sounds long recorded and noted.  I suppose we could be seen as a point in that evolution but honestly I don’t really think of ourselves as a truly ‘punk’ band.  Maybe punk in the sense that we do exactly what we feel like doing and if that’s the case then I’m gonna say that my favorite punk idols were Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Captain Beefheart, Sun Ra, Instrumental Black Flag, The Fall, Wire, Devo, the Minutement, and the Flamingos.  Hmm I wonder if that answers the question at all haha.
Jimmy Jack: Well, this question is hard to answer. I just know that I don't like Blink 182

I wrote about your record "sounds like a lost SST release from the mid 80s". Do you actually like SST releases and what are your favorites?
Jimmy Jack: Chachy...help me
Chachy: My top five (well six at the moment):
1.    Black Flag “Process of Weeding Out”
2.    Minutemen “Why Man Starts Fires”
3.    Meat Puppets “Meat Puppets”
4.    Negativland “Escape from Noise”
5.    St. Vitus “Saint Vitus”
6.    I also like the Leaving Trains
This label was at one point the label everyone wanted to get onto because whatever was on there was certified as the underground’s high art and fucking killer. It was fearless expressionism, rage and reckless aesthetic (Pettibon) that lured me in.  Every record, every band for nearly a decade was a showcase of a totally new direction in musical thought and they all worked together and fed off each other.  It was the punk rock Borg.  It’s always been a dream of mine to have a release on that label haha, maybe I should ask Greg about it...

What are your most important influences, both musically and lyrically?
Lewis: Musically - everything. But jazz is the centre; coltrane, hubbard, bill evans, mingus, kenny garrett, brad mehldau… Lyrically: Nick Drake, Carole King, Jagger/Richards, Doherty/Barrat, Lou Reed.
Jimmy Jack: My influences range. I learned how to play the drums by Hip-Hop. early 90's rap mostly and from there I have been trying to find my groove. I am always experimenting with different types of drum styles. Round Eye is the first time that I have played this type of music. Imagine, playing every song with an open high-hat. Never thought I would be playing a more tom driven type of music. I just had a 3 year stint with 'southern rock band' So I'm always learning and growing. Lyrically, well, I like the emotional tarp of Pink Floyd and Fiona Apple as well as the everyday issues of Radio Head as well as the off the wall lyrics of Beck. Lyrics, for me, have to speak to me in some way. Or at least make me think in another way. A good artist leaves his/her art to be interpreted from viewer to viewer. Lyrics are the same for me but I have to be honest, I have no idea what Chachy is singing about. Nor do I even care. Sorry buddy.
Chachy: musically, I’m in line with the dissonance of punk rock and avantgard music like Swell Maps and Captain Beefheart mixed with the discipline songwriting of Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, or early 50s doowop.  Lyrically, I love Joe Strummer and Alex Chilton.  Strummer’s irony and word play and Chilton’s seemingly coy demeanor.

What do you prefer: music blogs or printed fanzines?
Jimmy Jack: I like to hold what I am reading.
Chachy: Probably digital for now being that I’m forced to read almost everything digitally (living in China). I see the benefits of both but there was a time when I went mostly to print solely for the fact that I could bring it to the toilet with me.  But alas, the kindle is in my possession and I’m riding the white porcelain once again.  So unless rapture comes and technology fails us in the near future, both are awesome with me.
Bob: Printed fanzines. They reach more people. When you find one it's like opening up a small unexpected present. Looking up anything online is an expected pleasure, plus the screen bothers my round eyes.

What are your future plans?
Chachy: Tour. We have a split 7” with Daikaiju (US) and a 3-way split with Guo Shen and M.O.T.O. coming out round summertime and I’m currently writing our first full length LP. But still, tour, tour, tour, tour!  Oh and our first music video (Carne Seca) will be premiering on the 23rd of March!  Look out for that!
Jimmy Jack: To not teach....just play music

Anything else people should know about Round Eye?
Bob: We are working hard to make the world a better place and only Jimmy Jack is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Jimmy Jack: We all like Lionel Richie.
Chachy: There’s a lot going on in China at the moment and we’re doing our very best (with Ride A Dove’s help too;) to bring it out of isolation. The bands here get crazier with every release and the scene is flourishing with ever new gig, blog, podcast, whatever. We’d love to have anyone/band come and visit to show them what we’re a part of. Thanks so much for the interview guys. Hopefully our tours will find their way to your neck of the woods!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

TACO LEG - S/T 12"

TACO LEG - S/T 12" (Fan Death)
The Australian underground scene has produced countless of amazing bands during the last couple of years and there's still no end in sight for this boom. Taco Leg are yet another good example. After two excellent 7"s this is their first full lenght release This trio from Perth plays primitive postpunk. Their one-minute songs are based on a single guitar riff, no frills drum beats and totally blank vocals with a heavy Oz accent. Everything including the recording is strpped down to the basics with a grubby, origin sound. The 12 songs tick down in under 20 minutes, so you know Taco Leg like it straight and they come to the point. They seem to follow the principle "less is more", so it is a record made by musical minimalists. Exactly this is the secret of Taco Leg's sound. If you need any references: They take influences of classic UK DIY punk from the late 70s and early 80s and mix it with The Proletariat's "Soma Holiday" masterpiece and punkrock in the vein of X (the Australian ones), while keeping it authentic and distinctive. Highly recommended! (Listen to it here)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

FIVE GREAT LP REISSUES

BUSH TETRAS - HAPPY LP (ROIR)
This album has been lost in the archives for more than 15 years. "Happy" was originally recorded and mastered back in 1997, but it didn't came out back then, because Mercury Records was sold and that was the reason, why it has been held in major label purgatory. In 2012 ROIR finally secured the album rights and released it for the very first time. It features some of Bush Tetras very best recordings. First of all Bush Tetras are know from the early 80s, when they were part of the influental no-wave scene. I also dig their recordings from that era, but "Happy" is not any worse and it stands for a fully-devolped more complex and elaborate sound. It's not that funky as their earlier works. Instead of that they've pushed the heavy rockin guitars way into the forefront, while finding a good balance between dissonance, noise, catchiness and rather quiet parts. Cynthia Sley's vocals tend to be the most distinctive thing about this record, which does not mean, that the music is any worse, but they are made with their very own characteristic style. Musically the records shows a slight Dischord influence not unlike Fire Party, even if it's basically rooted in the history of New York punk and underground music. Bush Tetras merge the best parts of Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, Circle X and Theoretical Girls and at the same time it's their own unique, authentic and higly independet brand of music. (Listen to it here)

GERMAN SHEPHERDS- MUSIC FOR SICK QUEERS LP + 7" (Superior Viaduct)
Named after Hitler's favorite breed of dogs German Shepherds from San Francisco created some of the most bizzare and obscure electronic music during the early and mid 80s. Suicide and Chrome are currently on everyone's lips, but this two-piece from San Francisco took the weirdness one step further. Their music sounds like an audiotary horror trip in a mentally ill, drug addicted perspective and with their very own scathering sense of blackest humor. Equipped with synthesizers, a drum machine, guitar noise and a four track recording German Shepherds brand of electronic music is reduced to minimal song structures. It's all focused on ugliness and noise, conveying the impression of a world without a spark of hope and sense. This music frequently sets out to deliberately challenge standardized listening habits. The beats sound like anti-rhythms, that are nor dancabel neither supportive. It's just the total destruction of a groove. The most memorable track is "I Adore You" with it's scary spoken vocals and lyrics taken from a catholic prayer book. Also "THC" has to be emphasised: a sick synth mayhem ending up in a chaos of noise. Superior Viaduct did a great job making this overseen classic of electronic punk-related music available again. They've added a 7" with two more great tracks. I really cant't recommend "Music For Sick Queers" highly enough! (Listen to it here)
 
THE KICK - REEL AND REAL LP (Swiss Punk / Static Age)
The next instalement in the colaboration between Swiss Punk from Zurich and Static Age from Berlin, who have already brought us discography LPs by Bellevue and The Gluems. This LP is yet another brilliant reissiue of a true Swiss punk classic. The Kick are a hardly overseen band. They were active in the mids 80s, a time when most Swiss punk bands from the earliest days had already disbanded and Swiss underground music gained less attention especially in retrospectative view. This LP features 1 track taken from their promo 7" released in 1985, 3 tracks taken from their 12" released in 1985, 2 tracks from a studio session in 1986, 1 track from the movie "Dani, Michi, Renato and Max" recorded in 1987 as well as 4 live tracks recorded in 1986. The Kick took the classic Swiss punkrock vibe and merged it with British wave in the vein of Killing Joke, New Order, Siouxie And The Banshees and Bauhaus. They combine driving bass lines with straight beats and a dissonant yet rhythmical guitar style. The songs have a nice melodic and slightly dark undertone. The female vocals with it's variation between catchiness and coldness are really outstanding and characterstic for The Kick's brand of wave-punk. As a whole this a totally amazing and well done discography including liner notes in English and German language. (Listen to it here)
LYRES - ON FYRE LP (Munster)
Finally a reissue of The Lyres classic first full lenght originally released in 1984. After DMZ, one of Boston's earliest punk bands, disbanded, former members started The Lyres. While DMZ already had an slight 60s garage influence, it became the obvious influence for The Lyres. Back then they were one of the first bands reviving 60s inspired music. Soon later there were many other bands into 60s garage, but to me The Lyres have always been the most memorbale among them. Their songs show a soft spot for catchy melodies in the vein of The Kinks, The Sonics and 60s Rolling Stones records. They add the full blown rock'n'roll energy of band like MC5, The Stooges and Nervous Eaters to make it their own authentic style. It's just the perfect balance between raw energy and the kind of 60s hit-singles I've inherit from my fathers record collection. The LP comes with three page liner notes fulll of informations and storys about The Lyres. Munster also added several band pictures plus the LP is pressed on 180 gram. Really a well down reissue off this essential record! (Listen to it here)     

PLUS INSTRUMENTS - FEBRUARI - APRIL '81 LP (Poutre Apparente)
In 1980 Truus de Groot meet David Linton in her Dutch hometown Eindhoven. David Linton was touring Europe at that time and at the end of the night he invited Truus de Groof to his hometown New York. She visited him in February 1981 and they started jaming toughether in David Lintons flat. His roommate Lee Ronalda soon joined them. This was the beginning of Plus Instruments. They were heavily influenced by minimal European electronic music. While listening to the songs you can breath the pure creative energy this masterpiece is made with. David Linton was responsible for the pounding beats and the heavy groove. Truus de Groot added the vocals, bass guitar and synths. And Lee Ronaldo underlayed the songs with walls of sick guitar noise. They've played several shows and recorded this LP until they broke up two month later. Truss de Groot did several reunions of Plus Instruments with different musicians, but this LP is by far their most oustanding record. It documents the impressing interplay of three musical genius. Currently there are tons of reissues of average 80s minimal electronic music coming out, but this record is really something special and I dig it as hard as the mighty DAF! (Listen to it here)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

CUNTZ - ALOHA LP

CUNTZ - ALOHA LP (Homeless)
Second release on Homeless records after Bits Of Shit's debut full lenght and it's yet another winner record. Hailing from Melbourne Cuntz merge sludge with dissonant noise-rock and 70s punk. Many current bands play a simular brand of music, but Cuntz unique and authentic style set themself apart from the common noise punk. "Aloha" is characterised by it's sheer ugliness without a spark of hope both lyricaly and musicaly. Massive drum beats, that sometimes seem to break together are paired with powerful bass lines and a excellent mixture of straight blasting punk guitar riffs and manic squeaking. In some songs they also use alien-sounding synth-parts, making it even more weird. The super harsh vocals are modified with reverbs. They sound like they were recorded in cold echo cave. Of course Flipper are a obvious reference. Even if currently everything noisy seems to be compared with Flipper it's appropiate here. Add some Jesus Lizard like noise-rock and classic Aussie punk vibe in the vein of X and Psycho Surgeons and you might get a idea, how great this record is! (Listen to it here)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Interview with CANDELILLA

Candelilla from Munich have restored my faith in German underground music with their unique, creative, independent and authentic style. That's why I'm really glad, that they were so kind to answer my questions.


The standard question: Who is who? How and why did Candelilla get started? 
Rita Argauer (Piano, Vocals) Sandra Hilpold (Drums) Lina Seybold (Guitar, Vocals) Mira Mann (Bass, Vocals). We played in a lot of different formations since 13 years. Candelilla exists - like it is today - since 6 years. We got startet because of friendship and the joy of playing music together.

You're back from a two week tour through Germany. What was it like? Best shows, worst shows? 
The tour was such a pleasure. We love touring and we met a lot of nice people on that past tour through germany. The gig in Giessen at Ludwigstraße 6 was great, because of the powerful and feministic audience. Jena was great to: A sold out show on a monday. And we loved to play in Esslingen (a small town near Stuttgart) because the All-Boy-Band Die Nerven put it up for us. They are great!

Any wild, funny, weird or extreme tour experiences, you want to share with us? 
Drink Hard. Don‘t Sleep. Love Music. 

How did you get in contact with Steve Albini? Please tell us about your recording session in Chicago. 
It was very easy to get in touch with him: we just wrote an email. That’s one of the good things: He still does small underground productions. The session was a great experience from many reasons: First it was really good to record live and all together, which makes a huge difference to all the overdubbing. And the analogue sound fits very well to our music. Then there were great amps and instruments, so we could really work on how the music should actually sound on the record. And after all, Steve Albini has a very special sense of humor and is a really great guy. 

"Heart Mutter" was recorded in September 2011 but it came out in February 2013. Why took it such a long time until it got released? 
We had to find the right label for this record and for us it was quite a hard decision. We put a lot of work and heart in this record and we wanted to make sure that it is in the right hands.
  
Why do you number your songs in chronologic order instead of giving them names? 
We number our songs since 6 years. We don‘t want to reduce our dialectical form to one sentence. And - with the numbers - we get kind of an impression of an experimental setup. We try to find the essence of the song in each number. 

Are you sometimes bored of reading "all-girl band" in each of your reviews? I mean nobody writes "all-boy-band". 
That‘s not true. In one of the reviews about our band, you can read about the all-boy-band Die Nerven - we mentioned them already! http://www.taz.de/!111523/ And of course: We‘re bored of this kind of question. 

How did you get in contact with ZickZack? Is it something special to be part of the ZickZack history together with bands like Abwärts, Einstürzende Neubauten, Blumfeld, Die Krupps, Xmal Deutschland and Andreas Dorau? 
We met ZickZack at a show of ours in Hamburg, we had some rough nights and one breakfast together and after that we fell in love with each other. It‘s so good to be there and we‘re honoured to be on the same label as the bands you mentioned. 

A question about your lyrics: To me it seems like a stringing together of sentence-fragments. To be honest I only have a rough idea what most of your lyrics might be about. Have you intended it that way? Or am I just not smart enough? 
You`re right about this! We don´t intend to picture straight opinions. We like discoursive songwriting and lyrical work. But we think we have a few statements (well, they get broken through the song), which can be understood easily like: „We choose the truth“ (28),  „Was uns noch zusteht ist uns selbst wieder zu finden“ (30) or „The right thing is the right thing, What‘s the right thing to do?“ (26). 

Why do you merge German lyrics with English lyrics and who came up with the idea to mix both languages within your songs? 
It came naturally: Lina and Rita like to write in english, Mira in german. As we wrote the songs for „Heart Mutter“ we tried to merge up the two languages in the best way. It‘s a fascinating playground if you have more than one language to write in! 

While listening to your songs, it sounds like you first have an idea for the vocals and then add the music. How do you usually write your songs? 
Thats funny! It usually works the other way round. We write songs together. The four of us are experimenting with the songfragments and with every song it’s a new voyage (in an non natural speed). 

Reviews of your new record have been covered in several big German newspapers. Do you care about the interest of German mainstream media and what is your opinion about comercial success? 
First of all we don’t think that we can be commercially successful with that kind of music. But of course we are happy, when we earn a little money with touring and selling our records. We all have jobs in Munich, so sometimes it’s hard to get it all done and to have a lot of time for music and touring (and all the other stuff that’s needs to be done, when you’re publishing a record). The mainstream is kind of split up into many different styles and genres – so all we can say about promotion and the interest of the media, that it’s great for us when they are interested in our music. And that it kind of gets boring when they only write or ask about our gender/sex or our uncool hometown. 

Munich is not really famous for it's hot underground scene. Is the city underrated? 
There we are. Three of us grew up in Munich. We lived here, we started playing concerts here, we heard actually a lot of concerts here – so it’s not as peripheral as some people are thinking. The main problem in Munich is space and money: Space is so expensive, that it is sometimes hard for underground culture to establish themselves without thinking too economically.
  
I actually like the way you combine your various styles. Which bands had an major influences on Candelilla, both musically and lyrically? 
We all listen to a lot of different music. We think the form of the songs is as important as the style, the genre, the harmonies. Especially when form and content kind of support each other and are merged together. And interesting forms are in many different songs. Second: You’re always kind of connected to the music you listened to in your adolescence. So that for Sandra: all the straight 80ies beats. And for the others grunge and riot grrrl. 

What do you prefer: music blogs or printed fanzines? 
Print is great and nicer to read (we kind of like all the handmade and highly valuable stuff (like the whole screenprint-thing). Blogs are great because it can be spread wider and you can discover more obscure things on them. 

What do you do when your're not playing with the band? What's your life like? 
Like we said – we all work in Munich. Lina is still studying. 

Any last words? 
Thanks for your interest.And this is just a romantic concept und trotzdem ist das was uns noch zusteht uns selbst wieder zu finden.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

FOUR MORE NEW 7"s

BLANCHE BLANCHE BLANCHE - SCAM 7" (Adagio830)
The great think about the Berlin based Adagio830 label is it's musical variety. The label roster ranges from hardcore to emo, indie, screamo, electronic, minimal wave, folk, punkrock and almost everything else. I totally dig the idea of giving a fuck about a typical label sound. This Blanche Blanche Blanche 7" is perhaps one of their most unconventional releases. The horrible multi-color cover art already suggests, that is not a record for the common taste. This two piece from Brattleboro, Vermont cranks out two bizarre tunes, heavily influenced by 80s electronic music and minimal wave. But Blanche Blanche Blanche are not another 80s retro style band. They have developed their very own style of weirdo-pop. "Scam" is a good example. It's made with minmal keyboard tunes, simple over driven drum loops, blown-out guitar solos and odd repetetive vocals. A type of music that sounds like it's made in another galaxy. Imagine Throbbing Gristle were playing pop songs and you'll get a rough idea of Blanche Blanche Blanche's genius. (Listen to it here

CCR HEADCLEANER - S/T 7" (Caesar Cuts)
The third release on the Caesar Cuts label after Leather's smashing debut 7" and the Bloodhouse single from 2011. And it's yet another winner record. CCR Headcleaner sound like they were paying two different brands of music at the same time. At the surface they nail down hook filled early 90s indie and grunge with a sense for poppy meldodies. This four track single shows influences of bands like Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. or even Superchunk. On the other hand they throw in a heavy dose of alien-sounding noise, based on surreal and blown out wah wah guitars and walls of anxious drowns. The vocals vary between ugly screams and a jaded, distant style. Altogether CCR Headcleaner create their very own style of blown-out weirdo-noise with a early 90s indie feel. This 7" fukin' rules! (Listen to it here)
 
GOOD THROB - S/T 7" (SuperFi)
Good Throb are a yet another great new UK based band. If you care about name-droppings: They are featuring members of The Spectres, The Shitty Limits, Tortura and others, but this debut 7" definitely speaks for itself: Good Throb nail down four smashing punk blasts. Snotty blown-out guitars with a out of tune sound are paired with powerful bass lines and furious shouted vocals. The drums balance between being totally supportive and breaking together. Good Throb are heavily influenced by both primitive 70s punk and dissonant uncut postpunk. They've been compared with Kleenex and Swiss postpunk, even if I think the only link between both are their female vocals. So if you need a reference, I think this single sounds like a mix of Crass ,The Proletariat and snotty fucked up three chord punk. It's got a totally authentic no frills attitude and it's just brilliant anger filled punkrock. (Listen to it here)

PINK REASON - ACHE FOR YOU 7" (Savage Quality)
Pink Reason is primarily Kevin's project. He's joined by different musicians for his studio recordings and live performances. This time there are people from Psychedelic Horseshit, Televison Ghost and Eat Skull involved. You never know, what to expect from a Pink Reason record. It could range between dark psychedelic jams or straight punk blasts and that's just the great thing about Pink Reason The only constant is their unfussy style with a sense for catchy melodies. This is already Pink Reasons 12th 7" release and it's yet another winner record. The titletrack "Ache For You" is a heavy rockin tune based on a simple riff and a catchy vocal line. It's shaped by a brilliant guitar solo lasting the whole song and I think both Kevin's vocals and the guitars are modiefied by reverb effects and those echo effects make it sound like it could have been recorded in the late 80s. The song merges garage with early 90s indie and 70s punk. "Darken Daze" on the b-side is slower rock number strapped with an arsenal of dark guitar undertones, a blues groove and a moody feel. A silght Velvet Underground influence becomes obvious  here. This is the kind of single, you want to listen to over and over again! (Listen to it here)

Monday, March 11, 2013

THE MEN - ELECTRIC 7"

THE MEN - ELECTRIC 7" (Sacred Bones)
You never know what to expect from a The Men record, since they are one of the most convertible bands around. Their influences range from postpunk to indie, 70s punk, drone, shoegaze and psychedelic rock. On this brand new two track 7" they've pushed their punk and and indie influences way in to the forefront. Both numbers are filled with plenty of melodies and super catchy riffs and vocal lines. It's comparable to early 90s indie in the vein of Dinosaur Jr, Pavement and Sonic Youth, even if it's more on the punk side with a excellent old fashioned production. It sounds like the way the songs are recorded intends to be a homage the New York 70s punk history. Both tunes capture a style of production that's comparable to the first Ramones records. It's pretty much  focused on the crushing guitars and I dig it very hard. As I type this The Men have released their fourth album on Sacred Bones and this double a-side single is more than just a nice appetizer! (Listen to it here)

BAD RELIGION – TRUE NORTH LP

BAD RELIGION – TRUE NORTH LP (Epitaph) 
Ok this might not be the kind of record review, you expect from my this blog. Honestly I also wouldn't have thought, that I write about Bad Religion's new full lenght, but it's a lot better than most of their previous records since the mid 90s. As you might know Bad Religion are a punkrock allstar group featuring Brian Baker (Government Issue, Minor Threat, Dag Nasty), Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks, Red Cross) as well as founding members Greg Gaffin, Brett Gurewitz and Jay Bentley. On "True North" they've reduced their music to the essentials. The 16 songs are fast, straight and pretty simple without exception. This musical reduction is the main reason, why Bad Religion succed to reanimate the best moments of their band history in the late 80s and early 90s. They find a good balance between melodies and the necessary heavyness. Of course they do not negate their overdone anthem-like refrains full of "aaahhs" and "ooohhs". Yes they are pretty cheesy, but they are part of of their typical trademark sound and this kind of refrain are just something a Bad Religion record needs to have. Try to forget all the crap Bad Religion has released in the last 20 years and give this record a chance. It's worth it! (Listen to it here)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

FIVE NEW HARDCORE 7"s

HOAX - CAGED 7" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
This is already Hoax' fourth 7" after releases on Deranged, Painkiller, Youth Attack and Katorga Works and it's yet another smashing record. This four-piece keeps it primitive and they reduce their brand of hardcore on it's most origin essentials. Both tracks are heavily bass driven. They've developed their very own unique style of a full distorted bass and guitar sound. The result sounds extreme, monstrous and powerful. Crushing mosh parts are paired with super ugly gruff vocals and pounding straight drum beats. It's all made with a Youth Attack mysterious guy vibe, never appeared artificial or awkward. I saw them on their European tour and it was a devastating ten minute blast. Really a great band and a great 7". (Listen to it here)

INSERVIBLES - UNA VIDA DE TRISTEZA 7" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
To be honest I think this my first record by a Mexican band. I guess I've missed many great records. At least Innservibles are fuckin awesome, but I've overseen their previous four 7"s and one full LP! They nail down five manic blasts of super noisy hardcore. Their songs are based on sick echo vocals, squeaky guitars and frantic drum beats. It's got this slight metallic edge of Danish bands on Posh Isolation, but Inservibles are also heavily influenced by classic Italian hardcore in the vein of Wretched and Cheetah Crome Motherfuckers. It's all made with plenty of reverbs, feedbacks and distortions. The result sound like a mess of super wild and brutal hardcore. Top notch stuff! (Listen to it here

MAUSER / POST TEENS - SPLIT FLEXI 7" (Sound Study)
Post Teens are featuring members of Asshole Parade and Torche, but you're completely wrong, if you think they would merge fastcore with sludge and stoner. Instead of that Post Teens play fast catchy punkrock with a slight hardcore edge and a undercurrent of great melodies. Think of The Marked Men meets early Fucked Up. Great Stuff! Mauser contribute a Bombananfall cover and it's just another good example, that they're probably the best current band within the noisy hardcore genre. A super tight assault of feedbacks, reverbs, distortion and raw power. Of course two songs are pretty short, but they are both great. So this two minute blast is definitely worth it! (Listen to it here)

VAGINORS - TOTAL NONSENSE 7" (Video Disease) 
"No Political. No Message. Love Noise" says it on the frontcover and this sums it up very well. Hailing from Adelaide, Australia The Vaginors take things not too serious. This is noise made by a bunch of reatards. Musically it's a total Confuse & Gai worship based on ear-bleeding distortion, primitivity and raw punk energy. They add some melodic hooks for good measure. Lyrically the record title is fuckin' true: "Total Nonsense". You need an example? Here we go: "Nonsense on my mind. Loud music all the time. Total total nonsense. More more more. No more bolognese". The vocals are screamy and high pitched comparable to Mickey Mouse. This is so sick, stupid, reatarded and primitive. I totally dig The Vaginors sense of humour. I think the message is: Don't take yourself too serious - an important one in the world of hardcore. A true winner record! (Listen to it here)

YACÖPSAE - KRANK IST NORMAL 7" (Vulgar)
Have you ever asked yourself, how a band's debut release would sound like, if they had recorded it years later? Yacöpsae from Hamburg, Germany give you an answer to this question. They've recorded their first 7" again, 21 years after it orginally came out. They write: "this is how this crap should have sounded like back then". They nail down 21 tracks(!) of grinding fastcore and yes it sounds a lot tighter and faster than the original ones. It's made with their brandmark sound of screechy distortion, but their manic stop and go's, well known from their later releases, are missing here. The 7" includes a great Nirvana anti-cover called "Smells Like Shit" and cover of "Boys don't cry" by The Cure. So not the kind of cover songs, you would exspect from a fastcore band, but it's great that Yacöpsae give a fuck about punk conformity. They are probably the best German band, playing extreme music and it's amazing that they are still around after almost 23 years. This 7" is a great tríbute to their own earliest days! (Listen to it here)