Friday, December 28, 2007

Endgame - Exeter Demo

A few years ago I received a copy of the Endgame/Monument split in the mail to review for my zine Midwest Assault. The zine fizzled out before I had a chance to review it as my laziness outweighed my inspiration, but I wasn't really wowed by either band to be honest. They both had a melodic hardcore vibe with a post-hardcore tinge that was not quite up to par. The potential was there, but neither had hit their stride by any means.

Fast forward to the summer of 2007 - A new batch of Endgame demos surface on the Bridge 9 Messageboard touted as being "for fans of Strength 691, Lifetime, etc" and allegations were correct. The songs had strong influences from both bands, but had more than enough character to stand on their own. A few years of honing their craft turned this mediocre melodic hardcore band into this exciting band capable of producing my favorite demo of 2007. The five songs here are the kind that make want to start a record label just to release their record and completely ignore what may or may not come. They remind me of summer road trips with the windows down and being 16 and listening to Jersey's Best Dancer's for the first time and totally in awe that a hardcore band could still be melodic and catchy without compromising anything. If this sounds like your sort of thing, check it out. I'm eagerly awaiting their new EP coming out on February 5th.

EDIT: Unbeknownst to me, Distracted, the new Endgame EP, is the same 5 songs from the Exeter sessions. So, out of respect for the band, I have taken down the zip file of the entire demo and replaced it with a download for the song "Piece of Mind." Definitely check out their EP when it comes out on Feb. 5th.

Endgame - Piece of Mind from the Exeter Demo

Endgame on Myspace

Order - Split with Ultra Dolphins

Order (of the Dying Orchid) is a band I discovered during my tenure writing for Punk Planet. Every month and a half or so I'd receive a box of 10 records to review and usually one or two were pretty tolerable. Most however, were obnoxiously boring to listen to, look at and difficult to write about because they were so uninspiring (even in an overtly negative way). One record that stuck out the most in my year and a half writing for PP was the Order side of their split with the Ultra Dolphins. I was finishing my reviews late the night they were due (as I tend to do with everything) and when I put their side on it made me instantly nostalgic for my formative years of getting into punk rock. Not because they resembled any of the music I heard at that time or that they were even a fast punk band, but because they had an urgency and were the type of band I should have been listening to growing up. Now that I've established myself as a cynical mid-20's know-it-all I rarely come across bands I feel an instant connection to, but I certainly felt it with Order. They blend jittery late-70's post-punk, 80's Dischord aesthetic and 60's psych-pop into this interesting, distorted mess I can't get enough of. I imagine them to be the kind of band you'd see at at a hot, crowded party in shitty part of town and though they might be a drunken disaster, you walk away in a similar haze feeling like you've just seen the best band ever.

Order - Split with Ultra Dolphins

Order's Myspace

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Comfortable People - Weight of the World & In August, 1977

At the request of my friend Matt, I have uploaded the other two Comfortable People EP's, In August, 1977 and Weight of the World. The latter contains an excellent cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's classic "The King of Carrot Flowers Pt One." The former has a cover of Lee Hazelwood's "These Boots are Made for Walking. If you checked out Sings Different but Familiar in my last post, you know what to expect - tuneful indie-pop with lush twee tendencies. These two eps are more of the same.

The Comfortable People - Weight of the World

The Comfortable People - In August, 1977

The Comfortable People on Myspace

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Comfortable People - Sing Different but Familiar

The Comfortable People were a lush indie-pop band from Providence, RI with roots firmly laid in 60's psych-pop. Comparisons can be made to bands of the Elephant Six Collective, The Shins, etc. Singer Tim Hiles has a soothing, even tone and his love of British pop music shines through in each song. The opening track "Lonely Marmalade" was one of my favorite songs of 2005 and brings back great memories each time I hear it. Though The Comfortable People's ability to tour was limited (if they did at all) and their recorded output consisted only of 3 self-released ep's, they wrote some great songs I wish were available to a wider audience. Though my blog is hardly "a wider audience," hopefully a few more people check them out. If you like this and want me to upload the other two ep's please let me know.

The Comfortable - Sings Different but Familiar

The Comfortable on Myspace

Monday, October 29, 2007

Get Down - Get Down e.p.

In their short lifespan Get Down only played a handful of shows and recorded two 7"s of their Swiz heavy, DC influenced brand of melodic hardcore. Though their music isn't as as aggressive as the members previous bands (In My Eyes/American Nightmare/Panic), it has an unmistakable noisy energy I can't pinpoint, but keeps me listening to the songs on repeat in hopes I will figure it out. There's not much else I can say about this record other than it's fantastic and it's a shame they didn't do more. I regret posing on my only opportunity to see them (logistically) by not making the 18 hour drive to Boston for the last Suicide File show.

Their second 7" was just released after various complications and I anticipate it's as good as this one. Check it out from Mountain of Piss.

Get Down - E.P.
Buy It

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blacklisted - Live on WERS 12/17/06

A few months before Peace on Earth, War on Stage was released, Blacklisted played the Radiobeat program on Boston's WERS. The song selection is a mix of tracks from their proper releases and a new song titled "Setting Sun" which ended up on POE,WOS. These are interesting versions on the whole. George sings over a lot of the parts and offers up some amusing commentary in between songs. So, in the spirit of the classic WNYU sets, here is Blacklisted "Live on WERS."

Blacklisted - Live on WERS

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Slowdive - Souvlaki Demos and Outtakes

As my consumption and absorption of music has gone from moderate to rabid, the number of records I find completely satisfying are outweighed by a sea of great songs on otherwise "ok" albums. However, one record my love only grows for is Slowdive's masterpiece, Souvlaki. Its importance to music (especially in the world of shoegaze/dream pop) is equal to its sonic beauty and has been the backdrop to a lot of important moments in my life over the past 7 years or so since I first heard it. These demos mark the transition period between their first album Just for a Day and what would eventually become Souvlaki.

Of these 16 demos and outtakes, only "Dagger" actually made it on to the record and varies from the final version (the album version is played on acoustic guitar instead of the more ethereal, electric version presented here). It's a shame more of these songs didn't make the final cut or see any general release as I like some of them more than some of what ended up on other Slowdive records - namely "Summer Daze," "Stars that Shine" and "I Saw the Sun." My friend Nick and I used to discuss how good a band is by how good their b-sides are and Slowdive validates that theory.

Slowdive - Souvlaki Demos and Outtakes

Friday, October 19, 2007

Def Choice - Culture is Dead 7"

Def Choice originally formed in the late 90's/early '00's as straight edge youth crew band Definite Choice. As they progressed, they dropped the "inite" from their name and began playing a far more interesting brand of hc/punk, taking cues from bands like Born Against, Tear It Up and classic DC hardcore. Culture is Dead is the result of this transition in sound and attitude. It's 10 songs of witty, intelligent, well-written hardcore that should have garnered them much more notoriety (at least in terms of circle pitting) than it did. However, what they lacked in "mass appeal," they more than made up for in their ridiculous stage banter and fantastic punk song writing.

On a personal note, it's hard to accurately sum up how much Def Choice has meant to me over the years. My old band Time to Die played the majority of our shows with them including a very unsuccessful West Coast tour and a 4 day weekend. We took trips together, sang along and moshed for each others bands, shared a lot of stories and created a lot of memories. Being in that band and having Def Choice as our "brother band" mark some of my favorite moments being involved in hardcore and I still regret breaking up before we were able to do a split 7" with them.

Also, Steve, the drummer of Def Choice and Ryan (friend and frequent bass fill-in) have a new band called The Catburglars that have a few 7"s worth checking out.

Def Choice - Culture is Dead

Buy the 7" here

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Against the Wall - Identify Me 7"

Despite their limited discography (consisting only of two demos, a 7" and a song on the "Generations of Hope" compilation) Southern California's Against the Wall remain among my favorites of the late 80's/early 90's California hardcore scene. A lot of ATW's, slower, heavier riffs bring to mind their New York contemporaries in Judge, but unlike Judge they aren't afraid to mix it up with more melodic "groove" ala later Turning Point material (see: the chorus of "Burning" and much of "It Wears Thin") and solid straight-forward fast parts. If you aren't into the later TP material, don't let that comparison sway you because every song on Identify Me is still hard, fast, and everything a traditional hardcore song should be. The lyrics are pretty standard fare about personal struggle and ambiguous songs about hardcore/straight edge/personal politics. Members went on to more popular and more frequently namechecked bands like Ignite, Outspoken, Amendment 18 and Mean Season, but I'd take this record over any single record from any of those bands.

Ever since I've played in bands I've wanted to cover the intro to "It's Time" because the drums sound so huge and the riff makes me lose my mind every time I hear it.

Against the Wall - Identify Me