Thursday, December 29, 2011

Choice Tracks of 2011

I know I know...I haven't posted on this in a while. Between not having time and not caring it's been tough to write posts. I'd like to say the new year will be better, but I'm not going to make that promise. I learned a long time ago that this was a vanity project and I'm fine with it. With all that being said, I present to you the biggest blogger vanity project known to man, the "Best of Year X" list. These are my choice tracks from my favorite albums from 2011. No particular order is given. (All tracks are in one long mp3)

Mahria - Lights
(from s/t cassette)
I've already gushed about this band. You get it. Melodic and beautiful and technical and intense. Killer band set to do killer things. This song just sums up the band's sound so perfectly.

Daniel Striped Tiger - Ancient Future
(from No Difference)
This year I tried to make a better effort to wait for records I was really excited about. Downloading music is so easy and it's made music disposable. If a band took the time to press a record it only seems fair that we should try and enjoy that record for the first time the way it's meant to be heard. So despite this record being readily available on just about every blog, I waited (and waited and waited) for the 12" to show up in the mail. I chose the opener track because it so perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album. Unrelenting and intense. Now can we stop referring to Daniel Striped Tiger as a screamo band?

Long Weekends - At Long Last
(from Warmer Weather)
This band sort of came out of nowhere for me. I'm normally not a lover of garage punk and I guess that Long Weekends would sort of fall into that category, but for whatever reason this whole 4 song digital release stuck with me. Insanely catchy and covered in a thick layer of mid 90's fuzz. At Long Last is the opener track and just a really hooky and fun post punky jam. On top of this release, these fine gents also released a single from a compilation and a soon to be released 7", both of which could also sit atop this list. Band rules so much.

What's Wrong Tohei? - Steady Breathing
(from Sick Days 12")
What's Wrong Tohei? have been a band I've heard of for a long time...even a band I've been told to listen to on numerous occasions and I must admit I ignored it for a long time. My band was asked to play a show with WWT earlier this year and I was shocked by 2 things; 1. the singer, Joel Tong, was in Black Rice, an old favorite of mine and; 2. What's Wrong Tohei? are REALLY good. Perfectly crafted rock and roll with a bit of a Hot Snakes vibe. This song is a great example of what to expect and one of my favorites off the record.

Iceage - Collapse
(from New Brigade)
Admittedly I just heard this record a few weeks ago and haven't even had a chance to snag a copy yet. Shamefully I heard about this band through pitchfork. Ugh. I disgust myself. I don't know why I'm digging this band so much. I should hate them...the mushy mouthed faux British accent is almost cringe worthy, but after a few listens it's sort of grown to be almost lovable. While the title track is a banger, Collapse just really does it for me. Pummeling song with almost danceable undertones to it.

Self Defense Family (End of a Year) - I'm Going Through Some Shit
(from I'm Going Through Some Shit 7")
It's no secret that I love End of a Year. I personally think they're one of the most challenging and interesting bands playing "punk" right now. Their output is pretty staggering and difficult to keep up with...and I'll admit I don't actually even own a physical copy of this record yet. This 7" came out mid year on Deathwish and while both songs are killer tracks there is just something so good about the title jam. The vocals are more haggard and strained than ever and the moment when the instruments cut and he sings "You are your own man" kills me every time. Great song from a great band. (Their beef song with The Men, We Heard You Cowards Didn't Want Us on Your Show gets an honorable mention as well.)

The Men - L.A.D.O.C.H.
(from Leave Home)
This whole album is fucked good. Sure it doesn't TOTALLY make sense as a cohesive unit, but if I wanted to listen to a band that writes the same song consistently over and over and over I would still listen to Pennywise. It was a toss up as to which song to choose from Leave Home but in the end I had to go with the one that I kept coming back to all year. L.A.D.O.C.H. is one of the longest songs on the track and it is undoubtedly the most abrasive and absurd. Six and a half minutes of noise, feedback, guitar noodling and throat clearing. Pure rage.

Bâton Rouge - Ca colle ŕ la peau
(from Fragments d'eux męmes)
I'll let you in on a secret. I really don't like Daitro. Yeah, yeah, I know, everyone loves them, but I honestly never really got it. Bâton Rouge shares Daitro's singer, and I thought that would turn me off of them, but I just can't resist. Gone is the silly melodrama that bothers me so much about French emo and in it's place is catchy, straight forward rocking jams. No works.

Eeva - Ego
(from s/t 7")
This was a totally random bandcamp find, but I'm so glad I did find it. At the time this was just a 2 song digital release, but they've since put up the rest of the 5 track 7". I guess they would fall into the post-hardcore/skram sound that everyone is so amped on right now, but they're just a bit groovier than most. I know nothing about this band, but this song was one that got a lot of plays this year and deserved a spot on my list.

Stalwart Sons - Steady on the Plough
(from Stalwart Sons/Slates split 7")
Out of any song on any list anywhere, this is definitely the most meaningful. Without going into great detail about why I love it so much, this song of encouragement is one that I come back to quite often and it never loses it's sheen. These guys are some of my best friends and I will never apologize for nepotism. Every song they released this year was amazing and could have made it on to this list.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mahria - s/t Cassette

I don't usually post brand new material, but this is too good not to share and I fully expect this band to blow getting this album out is of the utmost importance! Warning...there is some serious love for my friends below. I don't even care. When your friends release an album this good everyone had better know about it.

Mahria has been playing shows for just about a year now and in that super short time have grown to be one of the best bands in Edmonton. The first time I saw them I wasn't immediately blown away. They felt like a band that had the potential to be great but just lacked a bit of focus. The guitars seemed all over the place washing out the vocals and the drums. At the time I felt like the most interesting parts of the band, the drums and vocals, were being left behind in the wall of noise. But then I saw them again, and again, and again...and each time it got better and better. Lealand and Mike turned down a bit, and there it was! The once noisy and heavy handed feeling guitar work was replaced by something so much more. Insanely intricate and beautiful melodies swirling around each other at break neck speed, incredible drumming and impassioned vocals.

When this band hit their stride, they REALLY hit their stride. Every show they play they play they kill. Look around the audience and you see the guitar nerds drooling to the right and left, the drummers looking astounded and amazed at Durrel's playing and everyone else in the audience staring wide eyed at the ferocious beast that Corby turns into with a mic in her hand. I don't like to make a big deal of the female presence in Mahria but it's definitely worth mentioning. Corby is legitimately one of the most confident and capable vocalists and I hope every girl who watches Mahria play is so proud and anxious to get involved in hardcore. Boys club be damned. Let's do away with that boring cliche.

This cassette kills it. An instant classic. Listen...and then listen again, and when you're done, give it another spin for good measure. Learn the lyrics and scream along! By the way, beautiful packaging done by none other than KS himself, Mr. Stebner. Snag this from Bart Records before it's out of print...won't be long.
(from Bandcamp)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Scrapbooker - Discography (so far)

I feel like I've had to defend Scrapbooker a lot. Straight up, lyrically they're offensive. But (and I hope I'm right) I feel they're doing something more than simply spewing violence. Part of their performance is to take on the voice of an exploitative police officer or a rapist or something like that - like an actual voice of horror - and just displaying it. OR I could be just way off. It's kind of like the Chicago noise-rock stuff from years ago. The things David Yow or Steve Albini spewed in their bands were pretty anti-social, but definitely an intriguing listen. I feel like Scrapbooker do something similar. I don't know if I feel good about what they do. The way they do it is definitely not the way I would go about it, but they definitely do challenge the listener. They've challenged me, and that doesn't happen often at all. But that's the thing, all that ambiguity makes them dangerous. Scrapbooker are the one band that's really restored that sense of DANGER to punk rock in Alberta. With all this down-tuned posturing going on, Scrapbooker are the ones that are actually making scary music. Because, (straight up) sonically they're incredible. A Scrapbooker show could be a disaster. Things could get broken, people hurt. Sean hits his drums harder than any band I've ever seen (no hyperbole), so half the time I expect the drums to be disintegrated by the end of the set.

Maybe we shouldn't be friends, maybe I should be more discerning. They probably are a bad influence in my life.

Find all their stuff, self-released, on bandcamp.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Long Weekends – Warmer Weather

Another great Bandcamp find for today. Seriously bands, if you're not on that site already, get on it. Myspace is dead and networking is for the idiot bands still trying to "make it".

Long Weekends are another band coming out of one of my favorite scenes, Halifax. Much like most Haligonian bands, Long Weekends have that pop sound on lock. Seriously, what is the water? How do all these bands write the catchiest hooks? These 4 tracks have a bit of a garagey feel with really nicely fuzzed out bass and jangly guitars. The songs are given a lot of breathing room, and songs like Quarter Sticks sort of amble along at their own surfy-esque, summery pace. The vocals on this 4-song release are so catchy and fun and you'll definitely be humming these jams all day. I can't really say too much else. This band is just super cool!

As far as I can tell this has never seen a proper physical release which is a shame, but thankfully the band is sharing these tracks for free on their bandcamp. Artwork is done by the always amazing Yorodeo, one of the coolest screenprint/design teams in Canada. Seriously...look at it. It's amazing!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reprobates - Stress 7"

It’s been a long while since I’ve contributed anything to GGS, so I would like to make up for it by gifting ya’ll with Reprobates. I lose my marbles every time I listen to this absolutely underrated band, which is usually when I’m biking by the downtown bars and jerks try to get up in ma grill. No conversation about Canadian hardcore should be undertaken without mentioning the brief existence of Reprobates, a Torontonian five-piece. Aside from a few contributions to various compilations, they only released a whopping eight-minute 7” EP through No Way Records and were the finest of bands amongst the many who continually reach back to emulate the trashiness and speed of 80’s hardcore, but in a way better than most. Very fierce and a complete rager!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Polina - s/t 7"

I had a hard time making this post, purely because I wanted to do it justice. First of all, it's no secret that I'm not a fan off noodle-y hardcore. So much of modern skramz (and yes, we can use that term now - it's been co-opted, bands legitimately identify themselves under that banner, it is now an identifiable style) draws from that, especially those hailing from North America, and these bands producing this stuff, while entirely dept and skillful, lack a rolling cohesion, lack that motion of spirit that should be apparent to anyone who listens to music like this. Ask me who I'm talking about in person. ~ Let me just say, Polina are miles above their contemporaries. They do indeed finger across the fret board, but the melodies are present, the rhythms are catching, vocals do not grate. Yeah, it's timely. But they're good. The music they make is real.

I had the great privilege of catching Polina play in an intense punk garage in their hometown of St. John's. Their thin moustached bravado was matched only by the graffiti on the walls. They were kind enough to take me to the ocean the next day, and watched nonchalantly as I was attacked by waves. We handbilled bros at the stadium where NOFX was playing. Chongos as far as the eye could see. Polina didn't care about that crap. They played again that night and killed it.

What you need to know: Polina are punker than NOFX.

Grab the tracks from the new 7" (or the rest of their jams) off their bandcamp and/or roll on over to Anteduvia and snag a physical copy along with other great stuff.
(From their bandcamp)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Logs - Hogz

Alright, here's the deal. These songs are in no way difficult to find, in fact a quick google search will find it on a number of blogs, but since it's likely this album will never see a proper physical release, I figured it wouldn't hurt to have it up another blog.

Logs hail from Portland, OR, features members of Kidcrash and Carrion Spring, and play a style of emo fairly similar to their other projects. Post-hardcore with a bit of a mathy vibe...lots of quick time changes and start-stop rhythms. I think why I'm so drawn to these guys is their reliance on Shotmaker-esque bass lines. It gives the music a burly and pummeling quality which I sort of feel a lot of bands in this scene have lost. The riffs are angular and off kilter, but hooky enough to keep you bobbing your head (see: Track 3 - 1:30!!!!). In all honesty, the emo/skramz/post-hardcore scene that is so popular in the states right now has been producing some fairly lacklustre bands of late, so it's really refreshing to hear a record that actually gets me excited for a change. It's a shame this band is likely dead.

As much as I'd like to say support this band and buy their stuff, it's almost impossible to find their first 7" in physical form and like I said before, these 8 songs have never been formally released anywhere. I've heard rumblings of Denovali releasing a 12" but I doubt it'll happen. So for now, download, enjoy and share.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weed - With Drug b/w Eighty 7"

I ordered this 7" after seeing a review of it on Weird Canada. To be honest (and no hard feelings) but some of the bands found on Weird Canada are really not my jam, but Weed really stuck with me. It's a perfect mix of fuzzed out 90's style indie rock with a summery tinge. Vancouver channeling Halifax channeling 1996.

Although it's the b-side, Eighty is definitely the stand out jam for me with it's roll-off-the-tongue, slurred vocals chasing the guitars all over track and that chorus hook! Dang! Taking over my brain kind of hookage. The a-side, With Drug, is no slouch either though. Pure pop goodness. Grab your jean shorts and ray bans, you finally got a soundtrack to those lazy, hot Saturday afternoons.

I would also like to say that I ordered this record on a Thursday and had it in hand by Wednesday. Other labels take note! That rules. Nice work Cruisin' USA. This is available for name your price on their Bandcamp, so I'm going to link to that, but while you're there make sure you purchase a physical copy. Well worth it!
(From the band's Bandcamp)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What's Wrong Tohei? - s/t

Looking at the long list of bands Joel Tong has been involved in from from the Vancouver scene (Ghost House, Joel and the Neighbours, and especially of note, the quite good Black Rice), it's safe to say Joel is a productive guy. The Tong Dynasty reigns. I loved that scene growing up, one of these bands would inevitably be rollin' through any town that would have them, and they were always on the road putting the country under their feet. What's Wrong Tohei? is Joel's most recent project and, I dare say, the best. You won't find much as far as dynamics go, but that's one of the things I like so much about Tohei. No messing around, no pointless, meandering intros - just undeniable telecaster antics, driving rhythm, and wailing vocals. Doin' it how it should be done. Solid.

This is the first, self-released record by these guys, but there's a new one on the way. AND What's Wrong Tohei? are on tour across Canada right now - so do some research and go see them when they're in your town. (ie. Tonight!!! If you're in Edmonton)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Render Useless - The Relationship Between a 1/4 Note and a 1/8 Note

This 7" had a profound affect on me as a lad. I pulled it out of a distro and one of the few legit shows I saw when I was 18 or so (pretty sure it was a Corta Vita/Wolfnote shows if my memory serves) - even the idea of a distro was new to me at the time - but the kid who ran gave me some good advice: "Oh yeah, you like Indian Summer? Man, this is the real stuff right here" and stuck this 7" in my hand. I brought it home it was a revelation. Not just sound, but whole presentation. Enclosed was a zine - and I know now, since collecting hundreds of records like this, that this is common fare - and inside contained lyrics, explanations drawings - and not of it was esoteric or preachy - it all felt so sincere and personal (they included their phone numbers for goodness sake!!). I still feel like "Attention All Shoppers" is a classic.

Render Useless hailed from Victoria. Now at the time, early 90's, Victoria had some of the cream of the emo crop, as we've posted some up earlier (Republic of Freedom Fighters, Wrought: Ironsmile) and listening to all now once again, there definitely was a sound to Victoria. But I have to say Render Useless were the cream of the cream. Somewhat comparable to Shotmaker as far as tone and rhythm goes but every once in a while would delve into slightly more restrained bits (like Amber Inn perhaps?). Even after tracking down everything this band has done, I still find this 7" to be the best representation. Succinct, and every song good. Classic Can-emo jams.

If you dig this, I suggest heading over to Clue#2 and ordering yourself a copy of the discography cd.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Can Put My Arm Back On You Can't - s/t 7"

I uploaded I Can Put My Arm Back On You Can't's (from here on out know as ICPMABOYC) full length album a while's total ripper. I knew this 7" existed but had to be able to find a copy of it anywhere. When Titan came through town last week they had a small distro of mostly various I Spoke records, but sitting off to the side was a nondescript looking 7" in a white paper sleeve in a clear plastic slip. The slip had a small label in the top left corner with song titles and a brief description of the recording process. Printed in silver on the blue label was ICPMABOYC. Distro gold!!

Anyways, I'm not too sure what the story with this 7" is. Whether it was a teaser 7" of material the band was working on before they ultimately disbanded, or old songs that they wanted to release, I'm unsure. Both tracks on this are total bangers, and not far off from the full length tracks. Maybe a bit more raw in sound, but that's more a product of the recording. Regardless, this is definitely worth snagging if you ever come across it, especially if you're a fan of the band. All the web addresses on the 7" are dead, so I really don't know where you'd be able to get one online. If you're ever in Toronto check the bargain bins at your fave record store...I bet there is one or two floating about. (I'm told James Ternovoy has 2 copies of this in his distro. So if you're in Edmonton, make sure you grab this from him. Physical copies are always better than digital.)

Wilderness - Vessel States

When I picked up this album, oh say, 5 years ago, I hated it. I found the guy's vocals to be galling. But now... Oh now! I realize my error. Wilderness are awesome. I now find James Johnson's atonal hollers to be so compelling and perfect. It's become the dealmaker, I only just understood it now. It's just the way it has to come out. To sing "normally" would be a disservice to it all. You just got to give in.

If ever I read a review of Wilderness, I find Lungfish continually name dropped - which was the thing that got me to check Wilderness out in the first place. I never quite saw the connection at the time, but it's "the groove" & breath & space that both bands understand so well (and that so few bands do). Knowing when to step back and keep things slow and simple. Take an interesting line, and loop it over and over until it becomes a sort of musical mantra - and thankfully kept free from post-rock self-indulgence. "Beautiful Alarms" is an subtle work of art, the one that perhaps stands out as the track that is most obviously catching - one channeling "Hear the Children Sing" and stuffing it through a reverb tank.

If you don't get it right away, that's alright. Just let it be around. The day it finally takes root, that's a great day.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brief Weeds - A Very Generous Portrait 7"

This one is definitely for the collectors. Before Fugazi and Rites of Spring, Brendan Canty and Guy Picciotto played together in Brief Weeds. If you're expecting that 80's DC punk you'd better start looking elsewhere, because this really sounds nothing like the bands that would make the members of this band so popular in later years.

Brief Weeds plays pop music heavily influenced by the 1960s. Think bands like The Zombies, The Animals or dare I even say, The Monkees. At times it's hard to believe these songs were recorded in the late 80s. They feel 20 years older than they really are. I'm not really sure what else to say about this one. It's an interesting look at some of my favorite musicians favorite work and I'm definitely stoked to have it in the collection. I can guarantee that not everyone is love this, but give it a shot. I Dream To Dream has some definite jam worthy moments. The River Song (odd song out on this 7") actually reminds me of some of the weirder moments on Fugazi's Instrument soundtrack.

Calvin Johnson's label, K Records (See Kev's post on Johnson's mixtape, We Will Bury You) put this out in 1991 and I'm sure is long out of print. Check it out. Listen with an open mind, you might find yourself loving it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kids Return/Bail - Konsortium split LP

Kids Return hail from the UK - I'm sorry to say I wasn't on the ball with Kids Return right off the bat, since it seems I missed their really great LP when it came out. It has this driving rhythm that is unmistakably influenced but early 90's emo - initially the vocals killed it for me, but after repeated listens, I've come around, I'm maybe a little more forgiving. It's still got that juice, that drive, that in the end, is all that's needed. "This is not a Plastic Bag," for instance, begins as a rolling-plodder and builds into something of a shouted anthem. All the tracks pretty much run together, and this makes sense; thematically, the songs all run a similar vein into one solid side of wax.

On the flip, even though I'd say this split is almost a perfect pairing of bands, Bail nevertheless have this sound that is most certainly "German" - I don't know how quite to articulate it, but it has the same sort of (only-slightly) off-kilter tendencies that are present in bands like Shokei or Solemn League. Indie rock played by dudes who are well versed in hardcore movement. Smart but still playful, intricate but easily palatable. I've been most taken with "Triangle #2" - a super understated track that somehow even the spoken word vocals and drum machine (both normally bad ideas) actually offers a great lead into the controlled feedback of the climax. Even being this style that we've all heard a ton (albeit the sound I obviously love) Bail still come off as super unique.

Thumbs. Thumbs up.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Veneers & L/P Split 7"

~AB - Big absence on my end. Sorry sorry sorry! To make up for it I took a picture of this record next to a big scary knife. 'Street Cred'.

Bought this record on a total whim...well sort of. Mr. Stebner recommended it to me, so I guess that's reason enough to purchase a record. This 7" contains offerings from two rad new eastern Canadian bands, Veneers from St. John's, Newfoundland and L/P from Truro, Nova Scotia. Like Alberta, the maritime provinces are raised on a healthy diet of isolation and long, cold winters, and like Alberta produces some kick ass bands because of it.

Veneers was a bit unexpected. The band contains members of Polina so I was expecting something a bit heavier, full of screams. Instead I got slow plodding post punk with just a bit of swagger and snottiness. Even though I don't jam the Haram record nearly as much as Kevin does, I immediately thought of it while listening to the Veneers songs. This may turn some people off, but some of the vocals have a bit of an older Mae Shi vibe to them, but maybe that's just me. A good mix of attitude, urgency and frantic shouting. I really dig both songs a lot and I'm super excited to see what they do next. I guess there is a tape floating around somewhere, so I'll have to get my hands on that soon.

On side B, 3 songs from L/P. Really fun and fast punk rock with a bit of a garage pop edge to it. Like a bunch of east coast pop kids who grew up listening to that Halifax pop sound doing their best Stooges impersonation. Toss in a bit of Bad Brains rippin' hardcore punk style for good measure and you have a pretty decent idea of what to expect. I figured I'd like this side of the record a lot less than the Veneers side, but in all honesty it's grown on me quite a bit. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on, and they're really fun tunes.

I really like when a record surprises me like this one did. 5 solid jams from 2 solid bands! Lesson learned? Always listen to Kevin Stebner.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eamon McGrath - 13 Songs About Whiskey and Light

"Oh, you're cursin' through your lips"
Add Image
I've written about this record before but I don't know if I've pushed it on my hardcore homies enough. I suppose it's no secret that I have a deep seeded love of Can-rock, not that hardcore exhausts itself, but rarely does it hit all the themes and sentiments I recognize around me and look for in songs. Yes, Can-rock will always get put unashamedly on my mixtapes, and this Eamon McGrath recording sings like a friend from the past.

For the most part, Eamon's stuff has always seemed pretty hit and miss to me, but maybe that's what makes 13 Songs so good - that even he would recognize that not every song penned is a winner, and so why not write a hundred songs and pick the 13 best - thus, you've got a perfect album on your hands. And yes, the recordings here are often shakey, uneven first takes, tape hiss all over, voice cracks galore - but in the end, what matters is just how immediate and honest it sounds. The characters that appear in his songs (auto-biographical or not) are ones that are familiar to me here in Alberta. "Desperation, Alberta" could be anyone I knew growing up in Red Deer. I know these people, I recognize their voices. I know the style isn't exactly breaking new ground, but that matters little. I understand the desire to sing with the voice in which people understand how to hear. I adore how his voice grows more and more hoarse on "Chained to My Love" as the song continues. It essentially becomes more difficult to sing as it rolls on, but it implores even stronger for us to listen. "Ecstasy Railings," in particular, could likely be one of the most harrowing and crushing songs I've ever heard, and the truest stories are the most difficult from which to turn away.

Take it how you will, but to me this record sounds like home.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

American Geography - s/t

American Geography were one of those bands that slipped under the radar, it seems. They were from Victoria and active in the early aughts. They managed to tour the whole country and, needless to say, they were a powerhouse live. They were huge; I seem to recall the guitar and bass players were both over 6 feet tall and well over 200-pounds - and their sound only matched their stature. They've got that Touch and Go-style down pat; it's obvious they had listened to their fair share of June of 44, but were also aware of their share of Victoria pedigree of the past - in fact, one of the members was in Wrought: Ironsmile!!

I had the pleasure of playing with these guys back in my totheteeth/tothehilt days, and recall it fondly. I felt pretty lucky to have been able to have these guys in Red Deer, and it's a crying shame that it didn't keep building. Major hidden gem.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Twelve Hour Turn - Live Set 1998

GGS has been a bit of a ghost town as of late...apologies for that. Mr. Stebner is back from tour and has a backlog of goodness to post, so look out for that. For today, I've got another short little post. I found this on a pal's Facebook wall the other day, Twelve Hour Turn live set! Yes please!

If you read this blog you'll probably already know that Twelve Hour Turn is a fave, so finding this amazing live recording was definitely a treat. It's hard to believe this is almost 15 years old. It still feels incredibly relevant! Anyways, if you like Twelve Hour Turn download this right now, if you haven't heard them, this is a pretty good start...and when you're down, go download Perfect Progress, Perfect Destruction.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Milkwede - s/t 7"

Just a quick post for today. I've had these tracks (Sadly no physical copy) for a long time and I find myself coming back every few weeks and jamming them hard for a few days, and then don't revisit them again for a bit. Nevertheless it's a cool record worth checking out.

Milkwede was an emo band from Lancaster, PA that was active in the mid 90's, according to this 7" came out in '95 and was the bands last release. You can definitely hear the East coast emo/punk sound in these songs, drawing heavily from the DC Dischord scene that is so influential. What I find sort of interesting and different about Milkwede is the other influences they managed to work into their sound without feeling out of place. The whole 7" has a bit of a snotty punk rock edge to it and you can almost hear a metal side of the band in the song Grace.

The songs are pretty roughly recorded and it may not be the most groundbreaking or essential album, but in my opinion the first 2 songs (Innocuous and More Than Me) are definite jams worth getting into.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wrought: Ironsmile - s/t 7"

Sometimes when you dig things out of dollar bins, you end up with gold - not most of the time, rarely really, but it happens. I pulled this 7" out long before I knew what it was. I bought it 'cause it looked emo - little did I know it was one of the best pieces of Canadian emo ever put to wax.

Wrought: Ironsmile came from the same scene in Victoria from the early 90's that also spurned Render Useless and Republic of Freedom Fighters, and while those contemporary bands are certainly more notable, and Render Useless likely a better band as a whole, I'm still convinced this is the best recorded moment of that entire scene. Wrought: Ironsmile play that sort of style of emo that begins on picked guitar chords and spoken vocals that builds into epic climax punctuated by tortured screams - similar to Indian Summer or early Policy of Three. No, they might not have been the only band playing this style, but dare I say, at least on this 7", they do it better than the touchstones. There's this moment on "Valentine's Day" where there's this somewhat failed attempt at harmonies that end up being off-key and perfect. "Twenty-one and Counting" has long been a mix-tape staple for me, one that every few years gets dug out - scream and scout interplay over this interesting chorus melody.

I'm astounded that this band is never cited or used as a touchstone for people - or even rediscovered in a way that Render Useless and Republic of Freedom Fighters has been. Lost Classic.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Catlin Elm - s/t

A few weeks ago Kev posted Hawkes' self titled EP. As it was totally new to me, I jammed the hell out of it and grew to love it quite a bit. I was super bummed when I found out that they didn't exist any more—thankfully with most punk rock bands, a band break up is just an opportunity to try something new.

The vocalist (I'm not sure if that's the only member) from Hawkes moved onto The Catlin Elm and I'm really happy to say it's definitely as jam worthy as Hawkes is. The distinctive voice is still there and the songs are still just as urgent, but I feel like The Catlin Elm has a bit more of a mid 90's vibe going on, calling on influences like Heroin or Portraits of Past. The songs are melodic and driving and played with a sense of importance and honesty. I really don't know what else to say about it...this is the kind of stuff that makes me love the genre! It's well written and played with a great deal of passion. Not much else you can ask for.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Eeva - 7"

Ghost Throats is done! Huge success. Thanks to all the bands that played and all the people that made it happen. This means it's time for some new jams on GGS. I hope people dug hearing about some of Western Canada's raddest bands. I apologize for the poorly written post below...I seem to have forgotten how to do this.

I came across Eeva a few weeks ago while browsing around Bandcamp (by the way...that site is great. Bands, get with it and get off myspace). Eeva is a Russian band I don't know too much about, but I'm really digging what I'm hearing. Russia seems to have a pretty decent scene, but everything I've heard coming from there is very heavy and chaotic so it was nice to find something with a bit more groove to it. This 2 song EP (called a 7", but I can't find any evidence of a physical copy) is super solid. Musically it reminds me of Birds & Wires or possibly newer Daniel Striped Tiger but with more of a shouted/yelped vocal style. The bass and drums work really well together and give the album an urgent feeling without being too frantic. All in all just a really enjoyable 5 minutes of tunes. Download from the band's Bandcamp.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ghost Throats #11: Todos Caerán - After Dark

"I would rather hide everything inside than go out and face the world."

I'm honoured to be involved with Todos Caerán. I'm honoured to have even heard Todos Caerán. I have watched this band grow. Once completely unsure of their instruments, unsure of voice, unsure of sound. But almost out of sheer force of will, Todos have risen to something special. In a years' time they have become powerhouses. This band has a work ethic unlike any band I've seen and their recent output is astonishing, both in volume and quality (high in both aspects). I could speak of the Murakami love, I could speak of individual tracks at length, the patient build in "Dance Dance Dance," the intricate melody in "Wind-up Bird" - but in the end, the thing that does it is purely the aural weight of it all. I suppose one could accuse Todos Caerán of copping Portraits of Past, and I doubt the band themselves would dispute it.- emo epics of weaving guitars that crescendo into ebullistic explosions that soon fade down into whispers - and Todos Caerán are world class at it. They rival the best. Indeed, once you've exhausted The Underdark, After Dark is truly the next step.

I wanted you to wait for the LP. The actual, physical LP should be out in about a month or so - but Todos have giving hearts, and know how the internet works. They want you to have it now. So jam it hard in the meantime. It'll dig in and stay trenched.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ghost Throats #10 White Ribs - s/t

When I first has the pleasure (re: rude awakening) of witnessing (re: being assaulted by) White Ribs, I had no idea what to expect. They we're playing in their cellar in Nanaimo (where they originally hail), the floor of which resembled something more like waves frozen rather than solid ground. The uneven floor matched the set perfectly - as I literally and figuratively had no idea on where or how to stand. Off came the shirts, on came the black masks: Out came the skronk monsters known as White Ribs. They tore through a set of maybe 8 songs in as many minutes. I didn't know what hit me. There were probably 8 arms on that drummer; every string on that guitar was tuned to H for all I knew. They made the neighbours irate.

They handed me this EP before we parted -5 songs in barely more than 5 minutes - if it were anything more, I dare not even think about the nightmares that would be ensue. Maybe I could say they sound somewhere in the vein of The Locust, Data Cave or Arab on Radar - but of course, that would still be too far off - White Ribs sound like nightmares. Ham-hock, barfy, fuzzy, spidery, nightmares.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ghost Throats #9: La Maladresse - Débandades cassette

First of all, if you have not, snag La Maladresse's s/t cd - it is necessary - everything I said before bears repeating. La Maladresse are awesome. It's seems like we've got some self-fulfilling prophecy going on here on that previous post, as we have convinced La Maladresse to play that show in Alberta! The most unlikely of things seem to happen at Ghost Throats. I can stress enough how lucky we are to be able to see them play. Débandades translates to "stampede" - Ironic perhaps, that La Maladresse would reunite after a one year absence in Alberta, stampede central.

This cassette here is something of a curiosity. If it didn't have the name La Maladresse stamped on the spine, I never would have guessed it was the same band. Débandades has a whole bunch of weirdo things going on: strange loops, drums coming in and out of phase, blown out acoustic guitars, and all vocal-less. If you expect it to be a departure from their s/t album you'll probably be disappointed. Comes off as really interesting experiments, and that's probably exactly what it was. Think of it like that, and you'll enjoy it - I'm thankful they're trying things, having fun with it. Once that stops, we're all dead.
~KS (Not AB! Sorry Kev)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ghost Throats #8: Coalspur - Booze Cruise

Funny story. I had never even heard of Coalspur until last year's Ghost Throats. Three days before the show was set to happen I started to hear murmurs of this great emo band from St. Alberta...and after hearing them I knew they had to play. After a long evening of serious Facebook sleuthing (see also: Creeping) I managed to track down the members of the band and 3 days later they were on the bill. The internet is a horrifying place where privacy goes to die.

Coalspur is a young band, and like most young bands, are still growing. Unlike most young bands though, Coalspur is growing at an almost uncontrollable rate. Each time I hear a new jam from them or see them live, they gotten infinitely better than the last, which is a feat given how much I've enjoyed them each time. They play their take on the modern screamo stuff that is super popular right now (skram? skramz? Emoz?), but with just enough of a mid 90's vibe to keep old men like myself interested. I really dig the vocal delivery on these songs...not quite screamed, not quite yelled, just a really great mix in between. The lyrics are well written, and you can tell this band knows how to write a great song. Despite being relatively young, I feel like these guys have probably been playing together for a long time.

Booze Cruise is a short 3 song EP, but the three songs are memorable and enjoyable and definitely repeat jammin' worthy. I'm super excited to see what this band does next. It's always great to watch a band like this grow.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ghost Throats #7: Cope - Cancer is a Gift

My life is not too hard. I have an amazing spouse, great friends, a decent job and the ability to play and release a ton of music and art. I'm thankful for that...I really am...but when I look at the world I see fucked up things. As humans we are capable of a great deal of ugliness and hate. We oppress, rape, assault and condemn. We treat others like animals, and act in despicable ways. Every time I turn on the TV or the radio I feel so much rage and despair. We're fucking things up pretty bad.

Cope embraces this anger and despair...they see ugliness and pain and horror, and they create some seriously pissed off hardcore from it. Live or recorded, Cope exists in violent bursts of fury and intensity. You cannot stand by and experience this band as a spectator. They grab you in a chokehold and force you to participate in their display of rage. I've witnessed this band tear each other and their instruments to shreds on numerous occasions and never once has it felt like a gimmick.

Cope released a 10" about a year and a half ago, and while it is fantastic and worth picking up and owning (especially the smoke/clear version, beautiful!), I feel like Cope channeled the true intensity of their live show on their self released cassette from last summer, Cancer Is a Gift. The space between songs is just as important as the song itself, and Cope are masters of using sound clips and noise to increase the tense atmosphere of their sound. So while this tape may be 4 songs, it exists as one incredibly tense and ferocious 16 minute track, and really should be listened as such. Make sure you have Cope's blog open while listening to this. Read the lyrics and read the explanations. It adds to it, trust me. If you get the chance to experience a live Cope show, do not pass up on the opportunity.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ghost Throats #6: Flint - Clubhouse

Flint are maniacs. That's pretty much the best way to describe them: Maniacs. Every comparison falls flat. I didn't think after the death of Fuck the Tundra, that anything these members did afterwards could top the insanity of their previous band - but Flint are on another plane. They make the Locust look like hacks and Blood Brothers look like amateurs. I suppose that's what happens, geniuses born amidst the isolation of small towns, you take 90's pop culture, face paint, guitar wizardry, the most deft drumming ever, back hair, a vocalist who doesn't know whether he's singing or vomiting into the mic, stick all that in a blender and hit frappe - and you end up with this horribly delicious concoction that is Flint. I don't get it, I just drink from the cup of maniacs.

Download all their tracks to date on Bandcamp.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ghost Throats #5: Maus - s/t

AB: The photo above was taken by Sean Decory. He's an amazing photographer. Check him out here.

"So if they speak up we scream back, if they threaten us we stand fast"

Being involved with a scene like hardcore can be a tough and somewhat taxing endeavor. It is a scene that attracts some of the best people you will ever meet, but unfortunately at times, some less desirable. People who will take the anger and aggression of the music and use it to destroy what we all work so hard to build. People who will take and take and take and never give back. People who don't share the same passion and urgency as the music warrants and deserve. People like this make loving hardcore difficult and on my worst nights cause me to question my involvement...and worst of all people like this influence me and make act in ways that I less than proud of.

I'm not airing my grievances without a point, so bear with me. Maus is a band that makes me fall back in love with hardcore. When I feel discouraged, burnt out, or overly negative I remember that Maus is playing hardcore with intensity, passion, honesty and most of all heart and I feel reinvigorated. Maus gets it. Vocalist Doug (now pulling double duty as bass player as well) writes intelligent and deeply affecting songs that force you to listen. Songs that are meant to be screamed until hoarse. Songs that are meant to be shared and discussed. He isn't afraid to say what he feels and call out the bullshit he sees and it's something I respect and appreciate in a vocalist. Musically Maus is more complex than the pissed off d-beat hardcore band they originally set out to be, incorporating elements of all facets of hardcore, punk and emo to create something that I really feel anyone into punk rock can enjoy and appreciate.

So I guess the question is does my friendship and obvious bias of this band sway my opinion of them? Probably. But it also goes to show that music played with honesty and passion will always be relevant and important. Do not lose faith in hardcore, be inspired by it. Play harder, scream louder, stay positive!

So far this has only be released as a tour-exclusive CDR, but will hopefully see the vinyl treatment one day soon. Cross your fingers. Download this from their bandcamp.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ghost Throats #4: Auld Beak - s/t Cassette

I think it's a rule - at any given point, Saskatoon has the best band. It's just that when one band ends, all those dudes reshuffle and start the new best band.

Out of the aftermath of Black Magic Pyramid was born Auld Beak - the major difference is that they're aren't playing something horrifying anymore, now they're playing something fun. It's like post-hardcore leaning in the direction of indie rock - or the other way around. See, they're the masters of all styles. If this time around they want to be somewhere in the realm of Brainworms and be all gruff and oddly poppy then they'll do just that - and do it better than everyone. Auld Beak can do what they want. Auld Beak are kings.

Only a handful of these tapes survive at BART - reach out and touch.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ghost Throats #3: Tempest - Passages 12"

The first time Tempest came through town, I missed them and I kept hearing talk of this amazing band from Vancouver who absolutely blew everyone away. Luck would have it, while grabbing a slice of pizza with some friends one night, we ran into the guitarist of Tempest (a former Edmontonian) and he had a handful of demo tapes on him, so I coughed up the $5 despite not having a working tape deck. Money well spent (when I finally got to listen to it months later). When they played in Edmonton with Ghostlimb a few months ago, again, they blew everyone in the tiny hall away, despite being the opening act for a bigger name touring hardcore band.

I wish I knew more about the style of hardcore they play so I had a bit more frame of reference for it. All I know is Tempest plays fast, heavy and loud metal tinged hardcore. While stylistically dissimilar, listening to Passages conjures up the same feelings that City of Caterpillar's self titled does. Claustrophobic, exhausting, and terrifying. Lyrically, vocalist Roger tackles issues like animal rights, overpopulation, religion, and like the music, is pretty heavy and bleak stuff. There is a bit of emo vibe to Tempest that references some of the genres heavier and more chaotic bands like Orchid, Mohinder or Union of Uranus. The last 2 minutes of Passages is some of the best hardcore I've heard in a long, long time and gives me chills every single time I hear it. Amazing use of a soundclip.

Once thing I really appreciate about this band is the attention they pay to their lyrics, even going as far as to include a sort of mini zine in the sleeve. Each song's lyrics are included and explained. It's something that can be misconstrued as overly pretentious or preachy, but I think it's an important part of hardcore and something I've always felt separated this style of music from the rest of the BS released to the general population. Passion, consciousness, and pain is what defines this genre, and what keeps me coming back for more. "We are not machines, we are not cattle"

Download this from the band's Bandcamp.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ghost Throats #2: Book of Caverns - s/t Cassette

AB: Second post of the Ghost Throats series. I'm almost a bit embarrassed to post this. Huge thanks to Kevin for the great post and kind words. Shucks.

As they inevitably must, bands break up, bands reshuffle, bands begin anew.

Book of Caverns play post-hardcore with leanings into post-rock territory. Usually that means songs that go forever, and eventually nowhere ~ but in this case it means something far greater than your modern-day Envy. Yeah, they've shuffled members like crazy and yeah, they have no real sense of how good they are. But truly they have grown into something great. I've watched Book grow from a band unsure of where they're headed into one of the best bands in Alberta. And I feel like Book are only just hitting their stride. This next year is going to be the Year of the Cavern. The musicianship is impeccable. Andrew is one of the most unique vocalists (not to mention one of the best lyricists) in the genre (let alone our little corner of it). The live show is chill-inducing.

Sure, you may say I'm too close to this band to be allowed to write this, but I don't care. I have no choice but to get close. I admire this band so much.

A few copies of this tape still remain at BART headquarters. Don't sleep on this.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ghost Throats #1: Damages - Unrequited 7"

AB: For the next few weeks we're going to focus on the bands playing Ghost Throats DIY Festival in May. For those who don't live in Edmonton, or haven't heard of it, Ghost Throats is a 3 day music festival focusing on post-hardcore, emo, and DIY Culture, and something that myself and Kevin have been heavily involved in organizing. Check out the site for more information. It's difficult to write about bands that you know and love. There is definitely a great deal of bias that comes with the territory, so rather than fighting it, I'll fully embrace the nepotism.

PS. Full disclosure time. I did the artwork for this album, and their split record is actually with my band, Book of Caverns. Shameless, I know.

Damages is first up in our series of Ghost Throats posts. I feel incredibly lucky to know about this band while they're actively playing shows and releasing records. To me, this is the kind of hardcore that kids will talk about for a long time and in 25 years will pick up their records and will say "I wish I could have seen them live". Incredibly passionate and intense with just a bit of an emo slant. This band would've been perfectly suited on Dischord or Ebullition roster in the early 90s. The thing about Damages is they don't just play a song, rather they beat it out of their instruments. Every note is played with this incredible sense of urgency and a 3 minute Damages song can feel absolutely exhausting in the best way possible. One of the best bands in Western Canada right now.

Buy this record. Buy their other record. Buy their split record. Buy every future release they put out! You'll be glad you have them in your collection when you're old man reminiscing about the good ol' days of punk rock.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hawkes - s/t EP

"Things will come, and things will go"

Montreal's Hawkes only EP is a doozy. 4 short songs, but it seems like there's a lot contained within them - but I don't mean it's crammed full of ideas, rather that it feels as though there's a lot of history and weight in these tracks. Nothing is overly complicated, nor does it need to be. The vocals are gruff and heartfelt, the guitar melodies tight and warm, the rhythm sitting right where it needs to be. Hawkes are a hard band to describe - sort of reminiscent of Shotmaker, but if they weren't overly dark and liked to groove.

Every track on this EP is a jammer - "We Know We are Lost" moves like a Four Hundred Years creeper, "Ghost of Our Past" comes across with an almost dancey message of affirmation - but truly "Fleeting Memories" should be an emo classic held along-side "Cuts Like Drugs" or something - the repeated chant of "things will come, things will go" makes me want to shake off every pretension and really embrace the unabashed. And has.

One of the dudes used to help run Where's that Deerhead? and is now in Catlin Elm whom are definitely worth getting into as well. I think this Hawkes EP is still available here. Cross-Canada solidarity.

Alessa - My Brother Was Eaten by Wolves on the Conneticut Turnpike

AB: New post from best bud and prairie brother, Aaron Scholz. Always great to hear what he's jamming on and I hope everyone enjoys his posts as much as I do.

In 2007, I used to sit in my underwear late at night and surf web forums in search of cool bands who I thought I could potentially convince to tour through Saskatoon and play with my wimpy screamo band. I ended up meeting a dude named Bob who blew my mind with his musical taste and, more importantly, his awesome band Alessa. Up the New Hampshire punx! Though they never ended up crossing the border, they put out one heck of an EP. This particular 7” was released by I'm Not Yr Dentist Records and oddly, never got the full attention it deserved.

From what I remember, Alessa was formed after three dudes met each other at a Das Oath show in 2006. While you don’t necessarily hear a Mark McCoy influence on this collection of songs, they sure do rage! Four jams full of shiver-inducing screams a la pg.99 over mid-paced dark hardcore with lyrics which emphasize pro-but-not-preachy straight edge and the importance of DIY ethics.

If you’re going to have an emotional breakdown in less than ten minutes, this is the best soundtrack you’ll find to that horribly embarrassing moment.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rockets and Blue Lights - A Smashed City With Flames and Music in the Air

Don't know too much about this band to be perfectly honest. From what I can gather Rockets and Blue Lights were a band from Albany, NY and released a couple of albums, including this 10" on Redder Records (Kind of Like Spitting, The City on Film, etc). I'm not even sure if they're still active.

I downloaded this record a long time ago, and I have to admit that it didn't particularly stand out on first listen. Over the last few weeks it has shown up a number of times on shuffle, so I decided to give it a better listen and I have to say it's definitely hooked me. I sort of kick myself for not jamming this more when I first downloaded it. Slow building emo jams with a bit of post rock slant to them. Fans of Boys Life, Mineral, and Christie Front Drive will definitely appreciate this record. Andee is a stand out jam for me with it's Promise Ring-esque vocal delivery and mathy indie rock grooves. Some of We Bleed This in the Winter even reminds me a bit of old Cursive. Listening to this record makes me feel like a teenager discovering this kind of music again.

All in all a pretty great record, and one that fans of the genre will likely embrace. I'm not saying it will sway the most stubborn of whiney-emo naysayers (looking your way KS) but it's an enjoyable listen nonetheless and one I'm happy to hopefully have in my physical collection soon. I'm not sure how active the label is still but you can order it here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

snic - Eponymous 12"

It's amazing when a band can invoke a sense of dread and terror in their audience. With a band like The End it comes from the atmosphere their music creates, or a band like Black Magic Pyramid, from the pure aggression of their live show. snic is a band that creates this feeling through uncertainty. Now full disclosure, I know the 5 gents who make up snic. I have played in bands with all of them and I consider them all good friends. I trust them individually. As a band though, it's a totally different case. I DO NOT TRUST SNIC. While attending snic shows I've been showered with cooked pasta and meal worms. I've been kicked, pushed and attacked. I've been made to believe I had enrolled myself in a Heaven's Gate-esque cult. Hell I've even been scared they drugged me. You really don't know what to expect when seeing this band. It's this uncertainty that makes this band so terrifying and so much fun to watch.

The problem with bands with crazy live shows is it's always debatable whether recorded material will hold up to the live version. How do you capture so much insanity onto tape? Well if you're snic, you just played fucked up and insane music. Seriously, this album makes me so anxious. Just when I feel like I'm comfortable with a tiny little part they're playing, they do a complete 180° turn and go in an entirely different direction. It's a schizophrenic mix of hardcore, metalcore and weirdo (dare I say) jazz. It's a mess of distortion, dissonance and banshee like screams. You truly cannot categorize this band. Again with the uncertainty.

Now technically speaking, this is a 6 song EP, but the way it was recorded, splitting it up into songs seemed like a crime, so I've uploaded as Side A and Side B. Make sure you listen to the end of Side B for a strangely beautiful and blissful moment of closure that feels like an oddly perfect ending to an absolutely devastating and vicious record. Buy this so you can tell your kids about it when you're old and grey.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CJSW's Sweet Chin Music Radio Show

Something a little different for today, and likely something that will become a weekly post on GGS. I've posted episodes of the CJSW radio-show, Post-Everything in the past when GGS contributor Kevin would guest host, including the awesome 2 hour Lungfish retrospective. Well, Post-Everything is done, but the good news is Kevin and Stan (Post-Everything host) have rebooted the show, now called Sweet Chin Music (Wrasslin' fans rejoice).

Anyone who has read any of Kevin's numerous posts on this blog, or spoken with either of these fine young men in person know that their knowledge of hardcore, post-hardcore, emo and various other genres is incredibly vast. So far I've listened to 3 episodes of the show and it's always a solid 2 hours of fantastic jams, and a bunch of stuff that I've never heard. Seriously scope this, and keep a pen and paper handy, because you're probably going to have a massive list of bands to check out by the end.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Red Hot Daggers - s/t

In the past few days I've realized that this blog has a bit further reach than I knew, and it's more than just my friends reading it. I'm totally excited about that! It's great to know that people are as excited about this music as I am. After that revelation, I realized that there is an abundance of music I haven't been posting because I figured everyone would have it already. I think I better start posting some of my friends bands, so folks outside of Edmonton can hear what this awesome town has to offer.

Red Hot Daggers were one of Edmonton's best bands that for whatever reason, not a lot of people paid attention to. Sure they were adored in the close knit hardcore community, but in my eyes, these guys should have been legends. They played everything fast and hard, but managed to maintain a great deal of passion and emotion in their songs. A great mix of hardcore, noise and emo, with elements of dance rhythms and pop hooks.

I spent 2 weeks of my life seeing this band every night and never once did I feel like they were less important than the night before. They were and still are one of my favorite local bands and I miss them a ton! I have a really hard time putting my love for this band into words, so you should just disregard everything I just typed, download this record and jam the hell out of it. You'll get it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Laureate - Demo

I have a pretty big soft spot for pop punk. It's what I grew up listening to as a teenager, and I still feel a pretty strong connection to it. One problem. The pop punk genre is over run with a great deal of complete garbage. For every great band there is probably 100 shit ones, not a good ratio. Enter Montreal's Laureate! I have only had this 3 song demo for a few days and I've already jammed it an absurd amount of times.

I think what I love about Laureate is they feel reminiscent of the golden age of Vagrant Records, when bands like Saves The Day, The Get Up Kids and The Anniversary were releasing their best records. These were records I spent a lot of time when I was a kid, and it's the kind of stuff that just makes life feel good. To hear a band like Laureate channel this feeling gets me incredibly excited about music, and for the first time in a long time I was hitting play on song 1 the minute the last song was finished. The songs are catchy as hell and the vocals are incredibly solid. Caroline has been stuck in my head for the last two days and I find myself whistling it throughout the day, much to the annoyance of my co-workers I'm sure.

I'm really stoked to see what else Laureate does and hopefully they make their way west to Edmonton one day. (Bass player, Erin Power, is an Edmonton ex-pat! Cool) Because this is a free download on the band's BandCamp page, I won't be re-posting a new download, rather linking directly to their page. Check it out!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Segwei - Dancin' on the Verge of Twilight

~AB: In my infinite stumble through life I accidentally put this as my post when in reality it's a KS joint. Apologies to him. Also, we'll no longer be listing KS's post as 'Kevin Rips'. That was always a special guest post type thing, and since Kev is a full on poster now, it seemed redundant. Thanks.

"Yet motion hinders devotion"

I have just been given word that Segwei are hard at work on their first LP as we speak, so I figured this would be the perfect time to up their first EP

I had the distinct pleasure of catching Segwei play in Tokyo - and truth be told, being able to catch Segwei was a large part in determining the scheduling of my trip. I managed to find the venue they were playing at thanks to googletranslate, but arrived early. I sat on a curb and waited, when after a while one guy came up and as he passed, noticed the Rites of Spring shirt I was wearing. "I like your shirt," he said to me in English. "Who you here to see?" I told him I came to see Segwei, and with marked excitement he exclaimed, "Segwei my band!" And thus, friendship was born!

Segwei are highly influenced by Revolution Summer-era Dischord (and I know for a FACT that the guitarist has Dag Nasty records in his collection!) and are pretty much the modern Japanese equivalent to Rites of Spring. Lyrically, Yookie's vocals are incredibly evocative and poetic, and considering English is not his first language, it's really incredible that his wordplay and use of English is more inventive than the large majority of vocalists that grew up with English tongues. The show was incredible, just super passionate and exuberant. It was a wonder to see.

I can't really describe how this band makes me feel. All I can say is Segwei are one of my favourite bands, and I feel blessed to share them with you.

"But I feel so alive"

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Desk Ark - Loose Lips Sink Ships

This is a post that maybe doesn't fit into the general theme of this blog, but after hearing a few friends say they had never heard Des Ark, I figured it was worth posting. I'm not even sure how to describe their sound. The instruments are played hard, loud and fast and show that members of Des Ark probably grew up on a healthy diet of punk rock, but there is a twangy/bluesy side that shows through under all the noise. Some of the slower songs almost remind me of Pygmy Lush (who Des Ark recently toured with). The vocals are probably the most distinct element of this record though. Vocalist (and for a long time, principle member of the band) Aimee Argotte has a disarmingly sweet and beautiful voice with a hint of a southern drawl, but she's not afraid to scream, wail and howl her dark and sometimes overtly sexual lyrics. Not many vocalists can cover the range of emotions that she does in one song, let alone a whole record.

This may be a bit of a slow burner for folks but I really urge you to give it a hard listen. With it's heavy blues influences on many of the songs I was definitely taken back a bit upon first listen, especially having heard the bands later stuff, which takes on a bit more of a folk vibe, but I've grown to love this record quite a bit. Check it out!

Black Magic Pyramid - Metronome

Black Magic Pyramid really shouldn't be new to anyone, but just in case you haven't heard one of the best bands to come out of the prairies in a long time, here's your chance. To be honest, I've been trying to write about this record for about a month now, and I keep coming up short. I just find it hard to explain this band and my love for them...and that's a good thing. Black Magic Pyramid plays fast, heavy and loud, but to label them as an emo or hardcore band really discounts the complexity of their music. While most of the songs barely break the 2 minute mark, there is a lot going on in those 120 seconds of punishment. Black Metal-esque vocals, drumming that borders on animalistic, and strange moments of poppy know-how that make these songs stick in your head for days.

I truly miss this band and their insane live show. However, like most great punk rock bands their time on this planet was short and they ceased to be last summer. The last show at Sled Island in Calgary was a spectacle to behold and I'm really grateful to have witnessed it. However, in death comes life and I'm happy to report that they've gone onto form some great new bands. (See: Auld Beak, Night Danger, Pimp Wing)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kevin Rips: A History Of - Victory Atlas EP

We had a request for A History of - and even though it's been months and months since then, rest assured we do not forget.

I was listening to A History Of's newest LP Action in the North Atlantic - which you'ns should grab from the great Halifax label NOYES while it's still in print (and while you're at it, order most everything else from them!) - but digressions aside, I was listening to their new record and have been getting into it more and more. I first witnessed A History Of during the filming of the 6015 Willow St. DVD about 5 or so years ago, a teaser from which you can cop here. At the time I couldn't get past the all too apparent North of America aping going with A History of. Since their drummer, Lance Purcell, used to also drum in The Plan, and there's that connection there, I guess I should have been more forgiving. After all, if you're going to rip off a band, it may as well be Norts, aka the best band ever. I mean - yeah, they want to sound like Norts - what's my problem?

Maybe what I remembered was the silly nonsense lyrics in Low Level. But who cares, the opening Recruits & Defectors is a rager that stands with the best of them. Obviously the drumming is really solid (especially in The Truth About Youth), and there's quite a few interesting guitar lines to be found. Post-hardcore highly informed by Halifax pop-explosion-era indie rock. A History of are still active, and I'm thankful that someone is still jamming this style, and doing it so well.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

End of a Year Self Defense Family - Caroline Corrigan Alternate Versions

This is becoming sort of a theme for me, but again, I apologize for the lack of posts. Life has been busy, busy, busy, but really fulfilling and awesome. Really though, you folks don't care about this onto the tunes.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I really (really!) like End of a Year. They're an incredibly polarizing band, but something about them just clicks for me. You Are Beneath Me was probably my favorite album released last year, and Jeni Leigh continues to be my most played song. So I was really excited to hear that there was alternate versions of a few songs on the bands blog, even more interesting was the idea that Caroline Corrigan, an artist from Albany, was doing vocals. I'll admit it, upon first listen I was not hooked...but much like my first time hearing End of a Year, the tracks grew on me. Musically, the tracks are identical, but with the change in vocal style, the songs take on a totally different life with the smoother hooks. Definitely a much different delivery than what fans of the band will be used to, but still really awesome.

You have to respect a band for trying new things and playing with the idea of what is expected of them. Read their post on these tracks, it's really interesting, and full of the blunt honesty they've become known for. (See also: Fucking hilarious)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Desiderata - We Are Not Convinced There Has Been Any Improvement

We seem to be posting a lot of dancey stuff as of late, so I figured I'd continue with the trend. Although I really liked seeing Desiderata when they were still active, I never really paid them the attention that they really deserved. We Are Not Convinced..., is further proof of the power isolation holds over art created in this province. Desiderata come from Fort McMurray, a cold and industrial town in Northern Alberta, a boom town that seems to house more migrant workers than permanent residents. It's not a town that a lot of touring bands are going to make stops in, and it's certainly not a town that would seem to have a blossoming independent art and music scene. At the risk of sounding like some condescending "big-city-boy" it amazes me that bands like Desiderata can grow in a town like that.

Desiderata songs move at break neck speeds. Start, stop, start, pause, breathe, start again. It's an exercise in musical hyperactivity. Not quite punk, not quite hardcore, not quite pop, but a strange beast raised on all 3, with a healthy diet of disco to boot. The vocals are spazzy and frantic with handfuls of clean hooks sprinkled throughout. The drums and bass keep the groove going really well, and the use of organ throughout the album is warmly reminiscent of dbs's Forget Everything You Know. (Fun fact: Jesse Gander of dbs fame, recorded We Are Not Convinced...).

Definitely worth checking out, especially if you've enjoyed some of the past few Kevin Rips. This album was released on Champion City Records, but I'm not too sure if any physical copies still exist.