Thursday, December 24, 2009

Low - Christmas

I meant to post this record earlier in the month so it had some time to sink in, but that didn't happen and in true Christmas fashion, I am waiting until the last minute. I'm ok with that though because whether you get this record today or sometime deep in July, these songs remain fantastic and could be enjoyed through out the entire year. For this, Minnesota Slowcore giants Low put their stamp on some Christmas tunes in a way only they could. Unlike so many other holiday records that work well for parties and family gatherings, this has always felt a bit more personal as if it's just for the individual listening to it at that very moment. I sort of feel that way about all Low material actually. Something about these songs has a distinct night time feel. Maybe you can enjoy them tonight with a nice seasonal beverage by the fire. Or, if you are me, in your parents basement while you drink your fathers beer. Merry Christmas everyone!

Low - Christmas

Re-Up: Various Artists - A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector

I posted this one last December, but it was removed. Here it is again because tomorrow is Christmas and this is the quintessential Christmas album.

Various Artists - A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Harsh Distractions Playlist 11/03/09

I'm a few weeks behind on posting this, but on November 3rd, Like Rats came in and played a set live on Harsh Distractions. Here's what was played in addition to their set.

Hour 1
Hour 2

1. Chapterhouse – Breather - Whirlpool (INTRO MUSIC)
2. The Disaster - Cholera Asiatica And I Have Bullet Wounds For Eyes - Holy Ghost Can Suck It - 2003
3. On The Might Of Princes Go Fuck Yrself – Sirens - 2003
4. Polvo - Can I Ride - Cor-Crane Secret 1992
5. Sun Airway - Waiting on You - Oh, Naoko EP - 2009
6. Henry's Dress - Can't Make It Move - Henry's Dress/Rocketship Split 7" - 1996
7. Scotia Widows - Night In LA – Demo 2009
8. His Hero Is Gone - ...And We Burn - Fifteen Counts Of Arson - 1997
9. Down In Flames - I Don't Care That I'm Falling Apart - Down In Flames/Tear It Up Split - 2001
10. Colleen - I'll read you a story - The Golden Morning Breaks - 2005
11. Lake – Gravel - Let's Build A Roof - 2009
12. Group Home - Serious Rap Shit - Livin' Proof - 1995
13. The Saturday People - California Girls - The Saturday People - 2001
14. Cold As Life - Little From The World - Born To Land Hard - 1999
15. Unrest - Yes She Is My Skinhead Girl - Yes She Is My Skinhead Girl 7" - 1990
16. Squeeze - Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) - Singles 45's and Under - 1982
17. Dead Swans - Thinking of You – Sleepwalkers - 2009
18. Altercation - Friends Like These - Demo #2 -1987
19. Punch in the Face - Sector 7g - S/T 7" - 2002
20. Blacklist - Blue Shifted – Solidaire – 2007
21. Marva Whitney – It’s My Thing
22. Shudder to Think – Earthquakes Come Home – Pony Express Record
23. Black Breath – Beneath the Crust – Razor to Oblivion

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Raw Nerve - Teens in Heat EP

If you've read hardcore/punk blogs or messageboards within the past year at all, chances are that you've heard about Raw Nerve. Most of the initial attention they received came from the mystery surrounding them and the fact that Youth Attack would be releasing a R/N record before they'd even really done anything. However, there is nothing wrong with keeping things interesting and presenting yourself in a creative way, especially when you have the songs to back it up. Musically, Raw Nerve plays raging, noisy hardcore that often reminds me of Void because of their use of mid-riff "solos" and delay effects. Singer Ralph Rivera has perfectly snotty vocal delivery that carries the four songs (including an X-Ray Spex cover) here. This band makes me really excited about current hardcore and I'm psyched to see what they do next.

This 7" was limited to 300 copies and sold out in a matter of days, so if you didn't have a chance to grab a copy, you can now at least have the songs. Enjoy!

Also, if you didn't check out their live set on my radio show, you can download it here.

Raw Nerve - Teens in Heat EP

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Harsh Distractions Playlist 10/27/09

Here is the October 27, 2009 episode of Harsh Distractions.

Hour 1
Hour 2

Chapterhouse - Breather – Whirlpool (intro music)
1. Youth Of Today - Flame Still Burns - We're Not in This Alone
2. Portastatic - I Wanna Know Girls - Bright Ideas
3. Minutemen - History Lesson - Part II - Double Nickels on the Dime
4. The Mayfair Set - Cease to Be - Young One
5. Blitz - Criminal Damage - Voice Of A Generation
6. Sex Vid - Dead Ends – Demo
7. No I.D. - State to State - Accept Your Own & Be Yourself
8. Breaker Breaker - Sound Check #2 - Out Of Service
9. The Heist - My Point – Demo
10. Madball - Pride (Time are Changing) - Demonstrating My Style
11. Grouper - Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping - Dragging a Dead Deer Up A Hill
12. Pedestrians - Deal of the Century – Demo
13. Mineral - Gloria - The Power Of Failing
14. Biohazard - Urban Discipline - Urban Discipline
15. Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks – Veckatimest
16. Young Governor -You're So Sad - Hidden Love EP
17. Wet Hair - When the Right Time Comes Glass Fountain
18. X – Sex and Dying in High Society – Los Angeles
19. New Sweet Breath – Shine - Acceleration & Distortion
20. Bad Business - What Are The Chances - Rare & Unreleased
21. Man Overboard – Dreaming - Hung Up On Nothing EP
22. Adorable - A To Fade In - Against Perfection
23. Young Marble Giants - Salad Days - Colossal Youth
24. Carry On – Waiting on Forever – A Life Less Plagued
25. Clipse – Comedy Central – Lord Willin’
26. Pulp - Disco 2000 - Different Class
27. The Primitives - Stop Killing Me - Lovely
28. Tsunami – Skinny - Deep End
29. Shark Attack – Feeding Frenzy – Demo
30. Sugar – Changes – Copper Blue
31. Jerry's Kids - Build Me A Bomb - Is This My World?

Fall Mix 2009

We've had a fairly prolonged fall in Chicago compared to the past few years. Usually, it lasts for about 2-3 weeks between the extreme heat and extreme cold, but it's been long and in spite of early onset SAD, it's been pleasant. Here is a mix to set the mood of the season, posted just before the cold sets in.

01. The American Analog Set - Born On The Cusp
02. The Babies - Meet Me In The City
03. Lake - Gravel
04. New Sweet Breath - Shine
05. Josef K - Sorry For Laughing
06. Black Math - Reckless Thoughts
07. The Sunday Reeds - 2000 & Something
08. Beulah - Silver Lining
09. Telefon Tel Aviv - I lied
10. Chris Walla - St. Modesto
11. The Beach Boys - Aren't You Glad
12. Vivian Girls - Lake House
13. Swearing At Motorists - One More Next Time
14. Giant Drag - Slayer
15. Sleep Out - Ross Sea Party
16. Talking Heads - This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
17. White Hinterland - Icarus
18. Therese Aune - I Tend To

Fall Mix 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Running - Demo Cassette

Here is the debut cassette from Chicago's Running. I wasn't sure what to expect when Matthew was telling me about his new band, but the songs here are fast, blown-out punk tunes that are heavy in a non-bro way. It's noisy and lo-fi with the vocals buried deep in the mix, but when they come through it sounds pissed. I'm excited to see them live in the near future when they inevitably play some harsh noise show featuring a dude spraying an aerosol can into a microphone through an effects pedal. Check it out.

Running - Demo Cassette

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Harsh Distractions Playlist - 10/20/09

Chapterhouse - Breather - Whirlpool (Intro)
01. Girls - Lust For Life - Girls 2009
02. The One AM Radio - Witness - A Name Writ in Water 2004
03. Harm's Way - Warriors Will Reign - Reality Approaches – 2009
04. Against the Wall - Burning Identify - Me 7" 1988
05. Trash Talk - Birth Plague Die - Trash Talk – 2008
06. The Sound - Words Fail Me - Jeopardy 1980
07. Thee Oh Sees - I Can't Get No – Help - 2009
08. Seam - Get Higher - The Pace Is Glacial – 1998
09. (Smog) - I Break Horses - Accumulation: None 2002
10. Treason – Altamont – Demo – 2003
11. Chris Walla - St. Modesto - Field Manual 2008
12. Some Girls - The Rains – The Rains 7” – 2002
13. On Various Days - Between Time - Demo – 2009
14. Grass Widow - Thirsty Again - Grass Widow EP – 2009
15. Epic45 - Ghosts On Tape - In All The Empty Houses – 2009
16. Vivian Girls - Can't Get Over You - Everything Goes Wrong 2009
17. Chain Of Strength - Just How Much? - True Till Death 7” – 1988
18. First To Leave - Drag the Lake - Forging a Future – 2007
19. Sheer Terror - Here to Stay - Just Can't Hate Enough – 1990
20. The Postmarks - Winter Spring Summer Fall - The Postmarks – 2007
21. Slices - Coping Mechanism Slices 7" – 2009
22. The Mary Onettes - Lost – S/T – 2007
23. Cult Ritual - Failed – LP – 2009
24. Cock Sparrer - We're Coming Back - Shock Troops – 1982
25. The Daysleepers - Stereo Honey - The Soft Attack EP – 2006
26. The Hope Conspiracy - Greed Taught - True Nihilist – 2009
27. Deep Wound - Sick of Fun - Almost Complete 2006
28. The Estranged - Don't They Know - Static Thoughts – 2008
29. James Mercer - Gone for Good – Live Radio Set
30. Knife Fight - Open Your Eyes – 7” – 2002
31. Sunday's Best - Sons of the Second String - Sons of the Second String 7" – 1999
32. Teenage Cool Kids - Awkward Type of Girl - Queer Salutions 2007
33. Cursive – The Radiator Hums – Domestica - 2000

Hour 1
Hour 2

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm this weeks guest blogger on Primitive Future.

My friend Todd asked me to make a mix for his blog Primitive Future. Head over there and check it out! The songs are very weather appropriate (at least if you live in Chicago).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hate on Harsh Distractions - 10/06/09

Last night Hate came on the show and played a set live in the studio. We had some technical difficulties so the show started WAY later than it should have, but in the end I think things turned out well.

Harsh Distractions - 10/06/09 - Hour 1 with Hate

Harsh Distractions - 10/06/09 - Hour 2 with Hate

Chapterhouse – Breather - Whirlpool (intro music)
01. Failures - I've Done Unspeakable Things Again – Failures – 2008
02. Crowbar - Like Broken Glass - Broken Glass – 1996
03. Swearing At Motorists - One More Next Time - Number Seven Uptown – 2000
04. Horror Show - Stuck Again – Demo – 2002
05. Kings Of Convenience - Mrs. Cold - Declaration of Dependence – 2009
06. Superchunk - Phone Sex - Here's To Shutting Up – 2001
07. Let's Get Invisible - Kabrit Sans Cor - Three Little Bones EP - 2009
08. Vaccine - Demo
09. Charles Manson - Arkansas - Lie: The Love and Terror Cult
10. Hate - Spreading Infection - Crimes 7"
11. Berzerker - Spare Parts - The Reawakening

Harsh Distractions Playlist 9/29/09

Last week my friend Joel came on the show and we chatted about music. There was no overwhelming theme going into it, but a lot of the songs have kind of an end of summer/fall vibe to them. Perhaps we're just products of our environment now that the weather in Chicago is cooling down. Here's what we played, download links are below.

Harsh Distractions - 9/29/09 - Hour 1
Harsh Distractions - 9/29/09 - Hour 2

Owen - Good Friends, Bad Habits - New Leaves
01. Amusement Parks On Fire - In Our Eyes - Young Fight
02. Renee Heartfelt – Sirens – Death of the Ghost
03. Califone - Funeral Singers - All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
04. Page France– Say Wolf in the Summertime – Pear EP
05. The Raveonettes - Gone Forever - In and Out of Control
06. ...And you will know us by the Trail of Dead – How Near, How Far – Source Tags and Codes
07. Mew -Why Are You Looking Grave?(feat. J Mascis) - And the Glass Handed Kites
08. Catfish Haven - Tell Me - Tell Me
09. The Magnetic Fields - Old Fools - Distortion
10. Babyshambles – Fuck Forever – Down in Albion
11. A Place to Bury Strangers - In Your Heart - Exploding Head
12. American Analog Set – Born on the Cusp – Set Free
13. Pavement - Gold Soundz - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
14. The Promise Ring – Forget Me – Nothing Feels Good
15. My Bloody Valentine - Come In Alone - Loveless
16. New Buffalo – I’ve Got You and You’ve got Me – The Last Beautiful Day
17. Owen - Good Friends, Bad Habits - New Leaves

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hate - Demo's

Tomorrow on my radio show Harsh Distractions, Chicago hardcore band Hate will be playing some songs live in the studio. They released 7" entitled Crimes on their own label Vanthrax Records a few months ago that is fantastic. The songwriting is a bit more varied than these demos and a giant step forward in them becoming more than just a project band. Definitely pick it up. Here are their first three demos for your listening pleasure. Tune in tomorrow from 7-9pm CST on Fearless Radio and click 'Listen Now.'




Friday, October 2, 2009

Say Goodbye - Anti- Social EP

Say Goodbye were a great hardcore/punk band from the Boston area that put out a handful of stellar releases, particularly their debut 7" entitled Anti-Social. The songs are fast, raw punk/hardcore that remind me of an updated take on early 80's Boston bands. Don't get me wrong, they aren't merely an '82 rehash band like a lot of what's been coming out. Say Goodbye mixes it up and know when to slow it down to deliver these crushing, non-broish mosh parts. The lyrics are overflowing with hate and disgust and the vocal delivery matches perfectly. I had the good fortune to see them once and I thought they were great, but it seemed like they weren't as appreciated as they should have been. Perhaps that's just how things were here. Either way, check out this record and anything else you may come across by them.

Say Goodbye - Anti-Social EP

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Death Cab for Cutie - Dream Scream (Daniel Johnston Cover)

I've been a fan of Death Cab since I was in high school and though their newer records grab my attention less and less, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for them. Ben Gibbard is an incredible songwriter with a unique voice and writes fantastic lyrics and I think that's something that will never really change. One thing that I've always found appealing about them (and Gibbard when performing solo) is their affinity for covers. I have numerous rarities and b-sides of them covering everything from John Vanderslice to The Ocean Blue to Darlene Love's classic, Phil Spector produced, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." The latter, being one of the greatest Christmas songs ever written.

One of my favorites though, is their cover of this Daniel Johnston song "Dream Scream." Johnston is the epitome of "cult musician," shrouded in personal problems and mystery, but loved for his simple, incredibly unique songwriting style. He did a lot with very little and figured out cool ways to double track on very simple recording devices. I could go on about his influence, but you should just watch the documentary about his life entitled
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
. It's a pretty heartbreaking but uplifting story.

That aside, Death Cab really brings it on this lush, sprawling rendition of a song about a girl. Gibbard's voice sounds sad and lonely and accurately portrays the protagonist, making Johnston's pain his own.

Death Cab for Cutie - Dream Scream

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Harsh Distractions Playlist 9/22/09

Here is last weeks episode of my radio show, Harsh Distractions.

Harsh Distractions - 9/22/09 - Hour 1
Harsh Distractions - 9/22/09 - Hour 2

Chapterhouse - Breather - Whirlpool - 1991 (Intro Music)
01. Urban Waste - No Hope - S/T EP - 1983
02. Smith Westerns - Tonight - S/T - 2009
03. The Babies - Meet Me In The City - Demo - 2009
04. Hate - Life Taker - Crimes 7" - 2009
05. Dirty Money - Dead Mans Shoes - No Escaping This - 2007
06. Wild Nothing - Summer Holiday - Demo - 2009
07. Desolation Wilderness - Boardwalk Theme - New Universe - 2009
08. Brain Handle - Lifestyle Template - Brain Handle - 2008
09. Metric - Help I'm Alive - Fantasies - 2009
10. Bottom Line NYC - Dragging My Heels- 2004 Sampler - 2004
11. Gypsy - Me Against The World - S/T 7"
12. Sex Positions - You Better Start Running - S/T - 2004
13. Right Brigade - Think Again - Right Brigade - 2000
14. John Lennon - Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy - Double Fantasy - 1980
15. Mayyors - White Jeep - Megan's LOLZ 7" - 2008
16. Lewd Acts - Nightcrawlers - Black Eye Blues 2009
17. Modest Mouse - Edit the Sad Parts - Interstate 8 - 1996
18. For Those Who Know - Night At The Danceclub - For Those Who Know - 2006
19. 2pac - All Eyez on Me - All Eyez on Me - 1996
20. Crime In Stereo - War (Demo) - V/A -Bridge Nine 2009 Summer Compilation - 2009
21. Knapsack - Cellophane - Silver Sweepstakes - 1995
22. Shook Ones - Double-Knot That - The Unquotable A.M.H. - 2009
23. Count Me Out - Against The World - Permanent 2002
24. The Jazz June - Phone Works Both Ways - The Medicine - 2000
25. Life's Blood - Never Make A Change - Defiance 7" - 1987
26. Monaco - What Do You Want From Me - Music for Pleasure - 1997
27. Get Down - Unlimited Nights and Weekends - S/T 7" - 2003
28. The 1900's - Two Ways - Cold & Kind - 2007
29. No Turning Back - Sick World - Rise from the Ashes - 2005
30. Sade - King of Sorrow - Lovers Rock - 2000

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mental - Live on WERS -04/17/04

For a period of time Mental were one of best bands in hardcore and absolutely one of the most interesting straight edge bands of the time. Led by charismatic singer Greg Wilmott and rounded out by serious multi-tasker and drummer DFJ, Mental released several impressive demo's, 7"s, comp tracks and topped it off with a a great LP that showed their evolution as a band of masterful hardcore songwriters. Then in the blink of an eye their popularity vanished as word spread that some of the members were no longer straight edge. Personally, I could have cared less, but it was like watching a hot air balloon being shot out of the sky. It was heartbreaking to see their final show in Chicago. Their shows here were insane and on the last tour so many people left before they even played. They broke up on tour shortly after that show.

However, in the spirit of celebration, I present this radio set is from the period around the release (if memory serves) of Get an Oxygen Tank. It is a fantastic representation of how great they were live and why they were such taste-makers within hardcore.

Mental - Live on WERS

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Viking - Demo (2009)

My friends Chris and Tymm from the band Fireworks started a project band with their friend Justin singing called Viking. Musically, it bears a lot of similarities to late 80's/early 90's NYHC ala Cro-Mags, Life of Agony, etc, but the vocals strongly remind me of what people commonly associate with "90's hardcore," somewhere in between talking/yelling/singing. I think Justin is going for an Eddie Leeway, Life of Agony, Only Living Witness thing, but it only periodically reminds me of that. Check it out and see what you think and let me know. I can't put my finger on it.

Viking Demo - 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bottom Line NYC - 2004 Sampler

I can't lie. When I first heard Bottom Line a few years ago, they didn't leave much of an impression. They played with Sex Positions at the Fireside Bowl and though I thought they were good live (and did an excellent cover of "The Hard Way" by Outburst), I thought their 7", No One's Safe, was pretty boring and derivative. Frankly, it still might be. I haven't heard it in a few years and when I searched for it at my parents house tonight, I couldn't find it.

However, I came across this sampler they brought on their Summer tour in 2004 last night and have been listening to the songs all day. They aren't the most original band ever, and they weren't when they were around either, but the songs here are pretty solid mid-tempo New York Hardcore. Brian, Bottom Line's singer, has a perfect voice full of anger and disgust, especially when they go into the slower mosh parts.

Aside from Brian going on to sing for Sex Positions, I'm not sure what happened with this band, but these songs are definitely hitting the spot for me today. Check it out.

Bottom Line NYC - 2004 Sampler

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Count Me Out - Live on WPRB

Due to my recent attempt to include live performances on my radio show, I've gone back and listened to a number of radio sets I've obtained over the years. Here is a Count Me Out set I found on a blog a while back. It seems like it was recorded shortly after the release of their second LP Permanent for Princeton University radio. It's about 20 minutes long and well worth checking out if you're a fan. Personally, they were one of my favorite hardcore bands of the early 2000's and though they put out a solid catalog of material during their existence, I was really interested to see what they'd do next.

Count Me Out - Live on WPRB

Sex Positions - Pre-LP Demos

Sex Positions were a pretty short-lived band from Boston that put out and excellent LP on Deathwish Inc. They formed after the demise of their other short-lived band, The Dedication who put out a pretty decent EP on Deathwish as well. However, in my opinion the members didn't really hit their stride until they started writing for Sex Pos. The songs were far more intricate and developed and the lyrics were far more mature and literate.

Before their LP came out my buddy Rich sent me some demos of what they were working on. I was impressed. A lot of the songs had a Drive Like Jehu meets Ink & Dagger feel to them. Later on they re-recorded these and the songs from their demo tape, added a lot of programming and electronics to create their debut. I still feel it's a pretty underrated record. They did a lot of interesting things with hardcore that pushed the envelope without being some ridiculous metal-core band or straying too far from the path of straight-forward song writing. So, for those interested, here are these demos.

Sex Positions - Pre-LP Demos

The Babies - Meet me in the City

According to Stereogum, “The Babies is the new project of Vivian Girl Cassie Ramone, Woods bassist Kevin Morby, Bossy drummer Justin Sullivan, and Stupid Party’s Nathanael Stark on bass.”

I have been going to their Myspace on a daily basis to listen to the two songs they’ve posted and I can’t get enough. Here’s hoping for a proper release in the near future.

The Babies - Meet me in the City

Raw Nerve on Harsh Distractions

Here are both hours of Raw Nerve on my radio show. Unfortunately, the second hour cuts out due to some technical difficulties. Their live performance is during the first hour. I am very happy with how it turned out.

Raw Nerve - Hour 1

Raw Nerve - Hour 2

Monday, September 14, 2009

Raw Nerve - Demo

Before I began doing the radio component of Harsh Distractions, I knew I wanted to have bands come in and play live sets similar to the classic WNYU ones, and more recently the performances on WERS Boston and WLUW Chicago. My ultimate goal is to have the show be somewhere in-between Sound Opinions and the independent hardcore/punk shows I grew up listening to. Tomorrow I get a bit closer to that with Chicago's Raw Nerve coming in to play live in the studio. This is big for me. If all goes well, this is just the beginning of bands playing on the show.

With that said, here is the Raw Nerve demo. They play fast, dirty, lo-fi hardcore with enough grit and mystery to keep it from sounding like every other fast punk/hc band. They have a record coming out on Youth Attack in the near future and I'm anxious to hear it. For now, download the demo (there is even a Nirvana cover included.

Check out their set tomorrow (9/15/09) at Fearless Radio from 7-9pm CST. Click 'listen now.'

Raw Nerve - Demo

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Technical Difficulties.

Mediafire deleted the entire library I used for Harsh Distractions, so I've slowly been re-uploading things. However, it is very tedious and my time is better spent doing other things, so if there is something you are looking for specifically that I have posted, please let me know and I will try to get it up sooner than later. Thanks.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Harsh Distractions Episodes

Since Mediafire shut down my entire library of music, including the episodes of my radio show Harsh Distractions, I had to re-up them elsewhere. So, for interested parties who are unable to tune into my show on Tuesday's from 7-9pm CST on Fearless Radio, here are a few mp3's of it. They are broken up by hour.

6/23/09 Hour 1

6/23/09 Hour 2

6/30/09 Hour 1

6/30/09 Hour 2

7/7/09 Hour 1

7/7/09 Hour 2

7/21/09 Hour 1

7/21/09 Hour 2

8/4/09 Hour 1

8/4/09 Hour 2

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Harsh Distractions - Two Episodes Available for download

Fearless hasn't been able to put up a page for my show or converted any of the episodes into Podcasts yet, so I figured I'd upload the files to Mediafire and post them here for anyone interested. These are the shows from 6/30/09 and 7/21/09. Eric from
Hate was my guest on 6/30 and I did the show alone on 7/21. Check it out.

6/30/09 Hour 1

6/30/09 Hour 2

7/21/09 Hour 1

7/21/09 Hour 2

Harsh Distractions Playlist 7/28/09

My friend Joel came on the show last night and here is what we played. I'm not sure who will be on next week, but the show is on every Tuesday from 7-9pm CST on Fearless Radio. Just click 'Listen Now.'

01. Atlas Sound - Walkabout (w/ Noah Lennox) - Logos
02. The Horrors - Three Decades – Primary Colours
03. Robes - I'm Floating On You - The Breaks
04. Disappears - Needs - Live Over the Rainbo
05. Black Math - Reckless Thoughts - EP
06. Archers of Loaf - Wrong – Icky Mettle
07. The Beach Boys - Aren't You Glad - Wild Honey
08. M. Ward - Carolina - End of Amnesia
09. Def Choice - Culture is Dead - Culture is Dead
10. Depeche Mode – Strangelove - Music For The Masses
11. The Clean - In The Dream Life U Need A Rubber Soul - Mister Pop
12. Sleep Out - I'll Take Care Of It - Not Even Dust
13. Sonic Youth - What We Know – The Eternal
14. Phoenix – 1901 - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
15. King Khan & The Shrines - Welfare Bread – What is?
16. The Kinks - This Time Tomorrow – Kinks part 1: Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround
17. The Magnetic Fields - The Desperate Things You Made Me Do – Get Lost
18. My Heart to Joy - Empty Homes - Seasons In Verse
19. Guns N' Wankers - Nervous - For Dancing and Listening
20. Guilty Faces - Hospital Eyes – Nightmares 7"
21. Trembling Blue Stars - For This One - Her Handwriting

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sleep Out - Not Even Dust

I can't lie, I feel guilty posting a record released within the year that is still very much in print. However, I think Sleep Out is so underrated, I don't think anyone into incredibly well crafted indie-rock should be without this album.

In 2006 they released their debut full length, I Was Your Shroud, a great debut containing one of my favorite songs of the year, "It wasn't Darkness." The record was in my top five albums of the year and I raved about it to anyone who would hear me, including the readers of Punk Planet during my tenure as a reviewer for the publication.

Last year, the band released their second record Not Even Dust, an altogether more focused and gloomy effort inspired by Chicago's Graceland Cemetary. It has no shortage of stand out tracks like the title track, "Not Even Dust," or the more upbeat, "I'll Take Care of It," but the album is best presented in its entirety. The 11 tracks on Not Even Dust speak of Chicago's sadness and hope, and tell the stories of those deceased and those still living. Much like their first record, this made my "Best of 2008" list, so if you like it please support them and buy it.

Sleep Out - Not Even Dust

Buy the Album

Sleep Out on MySpace

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Harsh Distractions Playlist - 7/21/09

I flew solo on the show for my first week back from vacation. You can listen to my show every Tuesday from 7-9pm CST on Fearless Radio by clicking 'Listen Now.' Here's what I played this past week:

Chapterhouse - Breather - Whirlpool (INTRO)
01. Cold Cave - Youth and Lust - Love Comes Close
02. Blank Dogs - The Tied - Seconds EP
03. The Brother Kite - I'm Not the Only One - Waiting for the Time to Be Right
04. Trapped Under Ice - See God - Secrets Of The World
05. Death In June - Symbols Of The Sun - Rose Clouds Of Holocaust
06. Aloha - Balling Phase - Sugar
07. Crushed On You - Kissing is an Artform - Demo 2009
08. Vivian Girls - Lake House - V/A The World's Lousy With Ideas, Vol. 8
09. Ramones - Chinese rock - End of the Century
10. Blitz Someone's Gonna Die Tonight - The Complete Blitz Singles Collection
11. Narrows - Chambered - New Distances
12. Sleepwall - A Song to Start With - Demo 2008
13. Crime In Stereo - For Exes - The Troubled Stateside
14. Boat Club - Always Away - Caught The Breeze
15. Total Abuse - Ain't Got No One - Self Titled LP
16. Silk Flowers - Flash of Light - 1st 7"
17. Crocodiles - Neon Jesus - Neon Jesus
18. Give Up The Ghost - The Hell We've Been Living In - Love American EP
19. Sun Kil Moon - Lucky Man - April
20. Cursed - Antihero Resuscitator -Three
21. Down In Flames - Down In Flames - Three Seven Inches On One CD
22. Sunny Day Real Estate - Rodeo Jones LP2 (pink album)
23. Swamp Thing - Square One - The Youth Is Sick
24. Talking Heads - Sugar on My Tongue - Popular Favorites 1976-1983: Sand in the Vaseline (Disc 1)
25. Vaccine - Family- Demo Cassette
26. The Afghan Whigs - My Enemy - Black Love
27. Bad Religion - Fuck Armageddon... This Is Hell - 80-85
28. Crud Is A Cult - Missionary Position - Triple Corpse Horror
29. The Chameleons - Perfume Garden - What Does Anything Mean? Basically
30. Airiel - Thinktank - The Battle of Sealand
31. Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Throwing Things - God Fodder

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Harsh Distractions Playlist 7/7/09

Joel came on the show on Tuesday and we played some of our favorite 90's hip-hop tracks. It was fun and something we'll hopefully revisit in the future. I foolishly played a Hiero song from 2003, thinking Full Circle came out in the 90's, but I was mistaken. Live and learn. Here's what we played. Also, I will not be doing the show next week as I am taking a much needed vacation to the Bay Area. I'm psyched to not be at work for a whole week.

1. Gangstarr – Work - Moment Of Truth
2. Wu-Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M - Enter the 36 Chambers
3. Poor Righteous Teachers - Gods, Earth and 85ers - The New World Order
4. A Tribe Called Quest - Oh My God - Midnight Marauders
5. Nas - It Ain't Hard To Tell - Illmatic
6. AZ - I Feel for You - Doe or Die
7. Mobb Deep - Drop a Gem on 'Em - Hell on Earth
8. 2Pac - All Eyez On Me - All Eyez On Me
9. Capone -N- Noreaga - Iraq [See the World] - The War Report
10. Big L - All Black - Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous
11. Camp Lo - Luchini (This is it) - Uptown Saturday Night
12. Pete Rock & CL Smooth - They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) - Mecca And The Soul Brother
13. De La Soul - Stakes Is High - Stakes Is High
14. Black Star – Respiration - Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star
15. Hieroglyphics - Fantasy Island - Full Circle
16. Company Flow - Vital Nerve - Funcrusher Plus
17. Artifacts - Come on with the Come on - Between a rock and a hard place.
18. GZA/Genius - B.I.B.L.E. feat. Killah Priest - Liquid Swords

Monday, July 6, 2009

Aloha - Sugar

I think Aloha are one of those bands that have a little something for everyone. Their abundant use of vibraphone is what reeled me in initially, but their unique and incredible pop melodies coupled with their experimental tangents kept me wanting more. I also appreciate their awareness of "enough is enough" in regard to their progressive, freak out tendencies and they are great musicians without being too Steve Vai about the whole thing. Humility goes a long way in my eyes.

Their second full length, Sugar, came out in 2002 and quickly earned a spot as one of my favorite summertime records.
The songs are full of depth and layers, but still have this undeniable breezy quality that makes me want to lay in the grass on a 75 degree day or drive with the windows down on Lake Shore Drive late at night. Even after seven years of listening to this album I get this incredible sense of relief when "Let Your Head Hang Low" starts with that steady guitar riff and singer Tony Cavallario's soothing, airy voice.

I often want to give drummer and multi-instrumentalist Cale Parks a lot of the credit for Aloha's greatness (see 2:43 and forward in the song "Balling Phase" for an example of what a machine he is), but I truly think they are truly the sum of their parts. If you've been looking for a new record to accompany your summer adventures, I suggest this be it as it's the perfect time of year to really absorb it.

Aloha - Sugar

Buy from Polyvinyl Records

Aloha on MySpace

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Crushed on You - Demo 2009

Crushed On You is a relatively new band from Orange County comprised of members of Cold War, Julia, Throwdown and fronted by Steven Miller of Unbroken/Kill Holiday. I read about this band a few years back and was stoked that Steven Miller was doing a new project, but it took a while for demos to surface. Now, in 2009 they have formally released their demo online and it doesn't disappoint. Musically, it's a bit poppier than where Kill Holiday left off, but the songs still tread pretty close to mid-90's Revelation Records territory which is right up my alley.

Hopefully they will release a 7" or EP in the near future. Until then, enjoy this demo.

Crushed On You - Demo 2009
Crushed On You MySpace

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Harsh Distractions Playlist 6/30/09

I had Eric on the show last night to play some songs and chat about them. Here's what we played.

01. Owls - Everyone Is My Friend - Owls
02. Torche - Across the Shields - Meanderthal
03. Cold Cave - Love Comes Close - Edsel And Ruby
04. Burn – Godhead - Shall be Judged 7"
05. Dinosaur Jr. - Over It - Farm
06. Cam'ron - Used to get it in Ohio - Crime Pays
07. Magnolia Electric Co. – Josephine - Josephine
08 Trap Them - Guignol Serene - Seizures in Barren Praise
09. Title Fight – Symmetry - The Last Thing You Forget
10. Comadre – Angeles - Mixtape Volume 2
11. Limp Wrist - This Ain't No Cross On My Hand - Discography
12. Cave In - Moral Eclipse - Until Your Heart Stops
13. Treason - The British are Coming - Demo
14. Charles Bronson - The Story of my Life - Complete Discocrappy
15. Charles Bronson - Obligatory Jock Slaughter Song - Complete Discocrappy
16. Say Goodbye - Anti-Social - Anti-Social 7"
17. Dungen – Festival - Ta Det Lugnt
18. Saturday Looks Good To Me - Meet Me By The Water - All Your Summer Songs
19. Dying Fetus - Pissing in the Mainstream - Destroy the Opposition
20. Foreign Born - Early Warnings - Person to Person
21. Kylesa – Scapegoat - Static Tensions
22. Punch in the Face - My dear I haven’t Learned a Thing - S/T 7"
23. Descendents - Everything Sux - Everything Sucks
24. Pet Shop Boys - Being Boring - Behaviour

Tune in every Tuesday from 7-9pm CST on Fearless Radio to listen to the show.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Breaker Breaker - Out of Service

Breaker Breaker were what I'd consider to be a "2nd Tier" band of early 2000's hardcore. While I always enjoyed them, they were never as fully realized or as influential as their contemporaries. In fact, you can pick out the influence of their peers in their songs. Luckily, those same bands are among my favorites of the era and my only complaint is that there weren't enough bands playing that style of what a friend of mine would refer to as "tragic" hardcore. Sadly, Breaker Breaker only released a demo (later repressed as a 7" on Bridge 9) and this posthumous EP, Out of Service, for Martyr Records.

Musically, Breaker Breaker rarely tread too far outside the realm of straight forward hardcore, but they write great songs that are fast and pissed with bummer lyrics. What really impresses me is how harsh and desperate singer Mark Kelley's voice sounds. It's unique how every word is strained, seemingly on the verge of collapse and it's even more apparent on Out of Service than their demo. They elevated everything a bit on this EP - the riffs, the breaks and their lyrics. I'm interested to know what direction they would have taken had they continued to write, but unfortunately they broke up before their time. Kelley also went on to sing for Treason, who put out a great demo and seemed to vanish as fast as they'd come.

Breaker Breaker - Out of Service

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kill Holiday - Somewhere Between the Wrong is Right

One of the things that initially drew me to Unbroken was how much they wore their non-hardcore influences on their sleeve. Having pompadours and a strong affinity for Morrissey, wearing Smiths, KMFDM, and Christian Death shirts in band photos and at shows, covering Joy Division and so on were not par for the course in 90's hardcore. However, all of these things set them apart from most hardcore bands I came across and admittedly, made me want to like them more. I could relate to wearing a KMFDM shirt, liking Morrissey and being a depressed teenager more than I could to things Youth of Today were talking about. Shortly after getting into Unbroken I discovered Steven Miller and Todd Beattie had a post-hardcore band called Kill Holiday who put out a record on Revelation. As it turned out, my friend James owned it and traded it to me for something he'd listen to more.

Somewhere Between the Wrong is Right is the bands final record and a drastic stylistic leap from their earlier, more Quicksand influenced material. For the LP, Kill Holiday ditched the heavy chug riffs and took a gamble on their version of brit-pop and yielded quality results. I often see this record compared to The Smiths because of the acknowledged influence, but I see far more similarity to bands like The Verve, The Lemonheads and later era Ride. Miller's voice is perfectly breathy and the songs have just the right amount of bouncy drumming and swirling reverb to set them apart from their contemporaries (especially in the realm of post-hardcore alumni). I often wonder if some of the more gripping lyrics about loss have something to do with the tragic suicide of Unbroken guitarist Eric Allen. Even if they are unrelated, there is a lot of introspection and brooding in some of the stand out tracks like "You're Taking it Well," "Know who your friends Are," and the title track.

I've heard a lot of discussion about Revelation's post-hardcore back catalog these past few years and it's a shame how little play this Kill Holiday record seems to get. It's easily in my top 3 non-hardcore records released by Rev (up there with the Texas is the Reason's Do You Know Who You Are and Elliott's False Cathedrals). It is a solid record by a severely overlooked band.

Kill Holiday - Somewhere Between the Wrong is Right

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Harsh Distractions Playlist 5/19/09

This past Tuesday was my first show flying completely solo. I had some technical issues, but aside from that I think the show went well. I'm psyched on doing themed shows that have a singular concept but allow for a variety of music and discussion. Next Tuesday I'm going to have my friend Eric in from the band Hate so we can play songs that we associate with certain memories and times in our lives. It should be fun. Here is what I played on the show this past week.

1. Chapterhouse - Breather - Whirlpool
2. The Queers - Fuck The World - Love Songs For The Retarded
3. Dum Dum Girls - Catholicked - Yours Alone 12"
4. God Help The Girl - Come Monday Night - God Help The Girl
5. Little Lungs - Atlantic Bridge - Hoist Me Up!
6. Superchunk - Learned To Surf - Leaves In The Gutter
7. The Legends - Always the same - Over and over
8. Yo La Tengo - Tom Courtenay - Electr-O-Pura
9. Acid House Kings - Do What You Wanna Do - Sing Along With The Acid House Kings
10. The American Analog Set - Punk As Fuck - Know By Heart
11. The Raveonettes - Blush - Lust Lust Lust
12. Olivia Tremor Control - Define A Transparent Dream - Music from the Unrealized Film Script Dusk At Cubist Castle
13. Tiger Trap - Words & Smiles - Tiger Trap
14. Creeper Lagoon - Wonderful Love - I Become Small And Go
15. Tahiti 80 - Heartbeat - Puzzle
16. The Nerves - Hanging on the Telephone - The Nerves
17. Nodzzz - We Are The Only Animals - I Don't Wanna (Smoke Marijuana) 7”
18. Shop Assistants - You Trip Me Up (JAMC Cover) - Here It Comes EP
19. Lavender Diamond - Open Your Heart - Imagine Our Love
20. Black Tambourine - Black Car - Complete Recordings
21. Cub - Pillow Queen - Box Of Hair
22. Beat Happening - In Between - Jamboree
23. Brilliant Colors - Highly Evolved - Highly Evolved b/w Takes So Little 7"
24. Television Personalities - A Picture Of Dorian Gray - And Don't The Kids Just Love It
25. Felt - A Wave Crashed On Rocks - Forever Breathes The Lonely Word
26. The Chills - Doledrums - Kaleidoscope World
27. The Radio Dept. - Always A Relief - Pet Grief

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hey Mercedes - EP

In high school, I LOVED Braid. As the ska phase I went through for the first half of high school began to fade I started delving into the realm of emo and hardcore, constantly searching for something even more underground. I bought the First Day Back b/w Hugs from Boys 7" at Bizzy Bee in Naperville along with a My Lai 7" and thought I was so cool. I listened to those records constantly and from there my obsession with Braid and all things emo began. I was fortunate enough to see Braid twice before they broke up. Once with Less than Jake and ALL where they were LITERALLY booed for their entire set. It was like something out of a movie and an occurrence I have never seen again. I felt awful for them as they sounded incredible, but apparently it was not their crowd. I still remember some really fat guy wearing a Teen Idols t-shirt making crying noises and rubbing his eyes in a mocking fashion (you know cause they were, "Emo." He was very clever). Vinnie from Less than Jake had to come out mid-set and yell at everyone and for some reason when he defended Braid everyone started clapping as if they weren't just heckling five seconds prior. It was such a blatant 180 and it made me immediately disgusted with 90% of the morons in attendance. It was also one of my first lessons that the majority of individuals involved in punk rock are full of shit and will change their stance at the drop of a hat.

The other time I saw Braid was at one of their last shows at the Fireside Bowl. It was crowded and hot because it was early August, but they played a great set determined by a giant wheel with all of their songs on it. People from the crowd would spin the wheel and whatever song it landed on is what they would play. They were fantastic and I was bummed I slept on seeing them for so many years. The next day they played a show at the Metro and a "secret" show afterward at the Fireside and I didn't know anything about it. It was very upsetting seeing as I spent the entire day at a poorly attended Piebald/Still Life show. Had I stuck around the Fireside afterward I would have been able to see Braid again. Such is life.

So, with Braid's dissolution came the formation of Hey Mercedes (and the more serious pursuit of Chris Broach's project, The Firebird Band). I was upset about the end of Braid, but Hey Mercedes was a worthy replacement in my eyes as they more or less picked up where Braid left off on the Please Drive Faster 7", albeit less mathy. Each of the four songs on their debut EP are incredibly catchy rock songs with Bob Nanna's typically interesting lyrics. I was 18 when this was released and always thought about the line, 24, not a kid anymore, are you kidding? in "St. James Street" and being 24 seemed so far off. Now I'm 27 and it remains an interesting lyric to me as it's incredibly true. Turning 24 is kind of the end of being a kid and really facing things on your own and making a life for yourself.

As Hey Mercedes continued, the quality of their output got increasingly spotty, but this record is solid and still deserves the attention 9 years later.

Hey Mercedes - EP

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Magnetic Fields - The House of Tomorrow EP

Stephin Merritt is one of the most prolific songwriters of the past 20 years, not only because of his work under The Magnetic Fields moniker, but also as the primary songwriter for The 6ths, The Gothic Archies, The Future Bible Heroes and his work as a solo artist. Though The House of Tomorrow EP is neither his most celebrated or ambitious work, it remains one of my favorite Magnetic Fields releases for a number of reasons. It was my introduction to the band when I was incredibly sick at my friend Robin's house in North Providence, RI. I had an extremely high fever, woke up disoriented and almost tripped down the stairs on my way to curl up on her couch. My friend Matt put this EP on the stereo and it was the perfect thing to be listening to at that moment. It's so lo-fi and warm and Merritt's bassy voice is soothing and rhythmic. I have a tendency to enjoy repetitive songs and that's exactly the concept behind this record - five looped songs, primarily centering around the theme of love, all clocking in around 2:30 and done in a comfortable synth-pop fashion.

For those only familiar with 69 Love songs, The House of Love will feel like a dramatic shift in sound because of its rigid uniformity. However, that is part of the appeal and something I enjoy greatly about Merritt's songwriting. He seems to have an uncanny ability to zone in on exactly what he's going for and make every recording a transparent replication of that vision.

The Magnetic Fields - The House of Tomorrow

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Harsh Distractions Playlist - 5/5/09

Here is what I played last night on my radio show. If you are in a band or have a label and are interested in submitting music to the show, please contact me at

1. Beautiful Skin - Harsh Distractions - Revolve
2. Monikers - 80 Proof - Wake Up
3. M83 - Graveyard girl - Saturdays=Youth
4. Archers Of Loaf - Plumb Line - Icky Mettle
5. The Vaselines - The Day I Was A Horse - The Way Of The Vaselines
6. Crime In Stereo - Everywhere and all the Time - Selective Wreckage
7. Telefon Tel Aviv - Helen Of Troy - Immolate Yourself
8. No Age - Cappo - Nouns
9. White Hinterland - Dreaming of the Plum Trees - Phylactery Factory
10. The Wooden Birds - The Other One - Magnolia
11. Cale Parks - Every Week Ends - Sparklace
12. This Is Ivy League - Love Is Impossible - This Is Ivy League
13. Vivian Girls - I Believe in Nothing - Vivian Girls
14. Fucked Up Black Albino Bones The Chemistry of Common Life
15. Crystal Stilts - Departure - Alight Of Night
16. Sleep Out - I'll Take Care Of It - Not Even Dust
17. New Lows - Hung Up on the Crossroads - New Lows
18. Sonic Youth - Sunday - A Thousand Leaves
19. Weekend Nachos – Pain over Acceptance – Unforgivable
20. Memorial -Sideways - The Creative Process/Berlin
21. Bad Seed – Through My Hands – Bad Seed EP
22. The Magnetic Fields - California Girls - Distortion
23. Failures - Crowning Achievement - Failures
24. Cult Ritual - Electric Depression - 3rd EP
25. Cold Cave - Our Tears Help The Flowers Grow -The Trees Grew Emotions And Died
26. Beach House - Holy Dances - Devotion
27. Air France - No Excuses - No Way Down
28. Smog - Cold Blooded Old Times - Knock Knock
29. Screeching Weasel - One Step Beyond - Wiggle
30. Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane - The Trinity Session
31. Dennis Wilson - You And I - Pacific Ocean Blue

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Harsh Distractions Playlist 4/28/09

Last night was the first episode of Harsh Distractions on Fearless Radio. I got off to a rocky start, but it will improve with time. Here is what I played:

1. Beautiful Skin - Harsh Distractions
2. The Hope Conspiracy - In the Shadow of God
3. Rival Mob - Upside Down - Demo
4. Crocodiles - I Wanna Kill - Summer Of Hate
5. Slices - Desert March – 7”
6. Unbroken - Absentee Debate - It's Getting Tougher To Say The Right Things
7. Deerhunter - Nothing Ever Happened - Microcastle
8. Wavvves - So Bored - Wavves LP
9. Killing Time - Fool's Die Brightside
10. Torche - Across Thjavascript:void(0)
Publish Poste Shields - Meanderthal
11. Harms Way - Warriors Will Reign - Reality Approaches
12. Sister Cities – Sinkhole – Demo 2009
13. Chamberlain - Yellow Like Gold - Fate's Got A Driver
14. Hum - Ms. Lazarus - Downward Is Heavenward
15. 108 - Three Hundred Liars - A New Beat From A Dead Heart
16. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Young Adult Friction – S/T LP
17. Converge – Homewrecker - Jane Doe
18. Convicted - Cyrus, the Almighty - Demo 2009
19. Disappears - Hearing Things - Needs b/w Hearing Things
20. Superchunk - The Popular Music - Indoor Living
21. Damnation A.D. - Rain As My Veil - Misericordia
22. Young Governor - Virginia Creeper - Virginia Creeper 7"
23. Like Bats - Hellbound - Demo
24. Endgame - I Divide - Distracted
25. Tigers Jaw - I Saw Water - Tigers Jaw
26. Gods Reflex - When It's Down to This - When It's Down To This
27. The Daysleepers - The Soft Attack - The Soft Attack EP
28. New Order - Regret - Republic

Monday, April 27, 2009

Harsh Distractions Radio

Starting tomorrow, I will be hosting my own internet radio show every Tuesday from 7pm-9pm CST on Fearless Radio called Harsh Distractions, just like the blog. When I was a kid I'd stay up late every Sunday to listen to the original Sound Opinions and fall asleep to the radio every night. So, the idea of having a show of my own has always appealed to me. Now I have that opportunity thanks to Fearless and I'm very excited. Like this blog, it will focus on music, spanning pretty much everything I listen to and want to share with others. This first show is a "soft opening" of sorts so it won't be advertised on the site nor will it be promoted in any other way. If you are interested in checking it out, go to the Fearless Radio website at 7pm CST on Tuesday and click "Listen Now." I have ideas for the future which include bringing in bands, doing interviews, playing advance material, and hopefully getting to the point where live sets can be recorded specifically for the show in the same vein as the WNYU and WERS sets. For now though, I just need to get acclimated.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Weekend Nachos - Pain Over Acceptance/Shot in the Head

My friends in Weekend Nachos recently posted two new songs from their forthcoming LP, Unforgivable. I wanted to ask John a few short questions while we were at work to give people an idea about these two songs and the new record.

Steve: So, you have a new record coming out soon called Unforgivable. Tell me a little about it. How does it differ from the last few records you've done?

John: Yeah. First and foremost, it's our best stuff, in my opinion. Overall I'd say it's still very fast, but in a more crusty d-beat sort of way. It's a lot heavier, the lyrics keep getting more and more personal and less obnoxious/Spazz-ish. We're just progressing, but in a good way. It's making our songs better and way more genuinely hateful which is what the band is basically about. I'm sick of 12 second songs. Our songs are still short but they're reasonable on this record.

Steve: I'm glad you mentioned the lyrics actually because we've had numerous conversations about not being able to relate to people, both in and out of hardcore. How conscious of this are you in your daily life? How much of this comes through in your lyrics?

John: I am more conscious of this every single day, it's not good. Things get worse, they don't get better. What rules is that I've never expressed it through music as well as I have on this record, lyrically. Originally everyone pigeon-holed us as a band that was basically a joke. I understand that fully, but I really don't think that people are going to be saying that once this record comes out. like it or not, things are different now. All of the discomfort I feel in my life and with society is definitely apparent on this record. It's important to have a band where you can write lyrics about that shit. Any real person out there is going to understand why that's important, others will make fun of it and those people are pussies anyways.

Steve: What is something that you touched upon in the lyrics on the new record that is uncharted territory for WN?

John: Hmm, well we have a song about feeling hopeless and alone and never wanting to go outside. I think that sounds pretty emo-goth-whatever you want to call it, and when we started out I never ever would've wanted to have lyrics like that, cause let's face it, that's some terrible crybaby shit. I'm almost 26 now and I'm still doing this band and things are still fucked. What do I care now? The songs are going to be as real as they can possibly get. There's also a song about stalking and killing ex-girlfriends, but you know, that's not too far off from something I would've written about back in the day, haha.

Steve: Do you think a lot of bands are being as honest as they could?

John: Honestly, I see it more and more these days and the most important thing is to seriously just not give a fuck. You will get shit-talked by plenty of kids who think there's nothing more to punk rock than complaining about how you have to work every day (no thanks to all the '82 style/NA clones out there), but then again, others might relate. If it's what you want to write about, there is nothing anyone can legitimately say that's bad about that. I'm stoked on any band that seems sincere, I seriously don't care what the songs are about.

Steve: Who do you think is doing that right now?

John: Honestly, I'm just gonna name some bands who I personally know the singers and they're very honest about their songwriting and I know what some of their songs are specifically about even. Convicted, Sick Fix, Poison Planet, Cold Shoulder and The Killer are all bands who i know the lyrics are written sincerely and each and every song really stands for something, whether it's personal or political, shit doesn't matter.

Steve: You guys have gone through some line up changes since the last record. How much did that affect the song writing process?

John: It actually didn't effect things that much. We would have all had to learn the songs together anyways and we really hadn't accomplished much by the time Varg and Aaron left. Fortunately we put together a new line-up very quickly and immediately began work on the new album. Andy and Drew are fast learners.

Steve: What made you choose "Pain Over Acceptance" & "Shot in the Head" to be the first songs people heard?

John: Well the truth is, I don't consider those to be the very best songs on the record, but I feel they do an alright job of representing what sound to expect from the new record. I wanted the songs to be good, but not the highlight of the record. This way when people pick it up, they are in store for some more awesome jams than the ones on the MySpace.

Steve: When does the record actually come out? What kind of reaction do anticipate and what are you hoping people get out of this record?

John: The record comes out in May. We'll most likely release it at Maryland Death Fest. I am anticipating a 50/50 sort of reaction to it. I think the people who truly like Weekend Nachos will really be impressed by it. I think the people who like Weekend Nachos because we sorta sounded like Spazz when we first started are going to absolutely despise it and that's good. That's what I want.

Steve: Anything else you'd like to add?

John: Not really, man. Thanks for putting the songs on your blog, we appreciate it.

Weekend Nachos - Pain Over Acceptance/Shot in the Head Download

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Mix 4/5/09

As you can see from the photo, spring has sprung in Chicago. Since I avoided the weather and stayed indoors most of the day, I made a mix of some songs I've been listening to lately. Enjoy!

01. Creeper Lagoon - Wonderful Love
02. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Young Adult Friction
03. Young Governor - Virginia Creeper
04. Kleerup - Thank You for Nothing
05. Jim O'Rourke - Please Patronize Our Sponsors
06. Pet Shop Boys - Being Boring
07. Lavender Diamond - Open Your Heart
08. Deerhunter - Never Stops
09. Guided By Voices - Smothered in Hugs
10. Dirty on Purpose - Mind Blindness
11. Cold Cave - Always Someone
12. Brian & Dennis Wilson - I Feel So Fine
13. Ra Ra Riot - Each Year
14. Archers of Loaf - Plumb Line
15. Evan Dando - All My Life
16. The Avalanches - Since I Left You
17. Julie Doiron - Ce Charmant Coeur
18. Astrud Gilberto - How Insensitive

Spring Mix

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Capone-N-Noreaga - The War Report

The other day I watched a portion of VH1's Greatest 100 Hip-Hop songs of All Time on VH1 Soul. While I think those shows are interesting to watch, they are extremely narrow in their level coverage. The hard rock/metal countdown seemed short sided to me, but this one was even more incomplete. It just seems unbelievable to me that music journalists specializing in rap music along with a panel of rappers, producers and DJ's would exclude so many important and influential MC's in favor of pop songs like Nelly's "Hot in Here" and MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This." C'mon, no Gang Starr? No Mobb Deep? No Pharcyde? Souls of Mischief/Del/Hieroglyphics? Big L? KRS-ONE? Kool Keith? Even "The Bridge is Over" didn't make the list. It was thoroughly disappointing.

So, on that same note of classic rap, I have to mention the debut by Queens, New York's Capone-N-Noreaga. The War Report is a perfect example of grimy post-golden age era hip-hop - Hard beats, gritty lyrics about crime, drugs and the hood, referring to their housing projects as "Iraq," the continuous use of the instigating phrase "What What," and various other things suburban nerds like me have no real comprehension of. At 20 tracks The War Report drags at times, but there are some definite bangers on here such as "Bloody Money," "LA, LA," "Halfway Thugs," and "Illegal Life." For more insight into the mind of NORE check the links below:

Cocaine Blunts Interview

Noreaga's Twitter

Capone-N-Noreaga - The War Report

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fireworks - We walk the Streets at Night

Since their debut LP All I Have to Offer is My Own Confusion comes out today, I thought I'd share a
semi-rare piece of Fireworks history.

A few years ago for Halloween they went and recorded four The Misfits covers to celebrate the holiday. Some people don't seem to be into their take on these classic songs, but I think they did a solid job. They always make covers their own with deviating too far off the path of the original structure. Obviously, nothing will compare to The Misfits, but I think these are definitely worth having if you're into Fireworks.

Fireworks - We Walk the Streets at Night

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Convicted - Demo 2009

My friends in Convicted recently recorded a new set of demos with Andy at Bricktop Recording. Admittedly, I always felt underwhelmed in regard to Convicted's recorded material, but I think the two new songs here and the re-recording of "Cages" sound great and far more representative of the band in a live setting - really heavy, fast, and intense. Check it out if you're into heavy hardcore similar to Turmoil, Buried Alive and other good bands.

Convicted - Demo 2009

Convicted on MySpace

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Seam - The Pace is Glacial

This was another record purchased on a whim sometime in high school. The main selling point was the $2 price tag it boasted in the discount bin at Bizzy Bee in Naperville, IL, where I purchased records during my formative years. I had only heard of Seam through the fliers that covered my bedroom walls at my parents house, but I knew they were an indie rock band on Touch & Go Records and that was enough for me. I listened to this record constantly, finding more and more things to love about it. The laid back, almost bouncy riffs, singer Sooyoung Park's breathy, hushed vocals and the simple leads that often get stuck in my head the way vocal melodies normally would. Seam only really seems to get their due within a certain, select facet of the indie rock community, but The Pace is Glacial (along with the rest of their discography) is essential listening for the genre.

A few years ago Touch & Go celebrated their 25th anniversary and Seam reunited to play on the final day of the weekend. It was a rainy, grey fall afternoon and by that point in the day the numbers dwindled because of the weather and the previous two days of shows, but Seam was great. They played almost everything I wanted to hear and they looked like they were having a great time. It was absolutely worth getting rained on and possibly the perfect accompaniment to their song selection.

Seam - The Pace is Glacial

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Right Brigade - S/T

During my senior year of high school my friend Joe took me to the now defunct Reckless Records location in Evanston. I went actively searching for a copy of Chain of Strength's The One Thing That Still Holds True, but also picked up the Right Brigade EP on a whim. The summer after high school my friend Matt and I took a trip to the east coast to attend Hellfest in Syracuse and visit some friends in Boston. We listened to this EP a lot during that week and since then it has secured a spot in my Top 5 hardcore records of the past 10 years.

Right Brigade didn't really seem like anything out of the ordinary to me upon first listen, but it became clear after repeated listening that they were everything a good hardcore band should be - fast, angry and have breaks so hard they make me want to get in random, unnecessary fights on the street. They were a fairly short lived band and only released a demo, this 7", a split with A Poor Excuse and an ill-fated LP on Revelation. However, in the few years after their break-up it became apparent just how influential they were. So many bands bit them left and right, especially in the early part of the decade - Frostbite, Outbreak, Murder Weapon, even early American Nightmare had some tinges of what Right Brigade were doing. Ultimately, they were just a solid hardcore band and if the 7 songs on this EP weren't enough, check the video for further proof - front flips, stage moshing, a good Agnostic Front reference and double handed mic grips. So hard.

Right Brigade - S/T

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Material Issue - International Pop Overthrow

Growing up my friend Nick was pretty lucky to have two older sisters into good music. One put him onto things like skateboarding, punk rock, graffiti and miscellaneous rebellion. The other was an academic, but really into 90's indie rock, shoegaze, new wave and brit-pop. There was a fair amount of musical crossover between the two so I'm not sure which one got him into Material Issue, which coincidentally got me into Material Issue. Truth be told, I could not stand them at first. Sometime in middle school Nick and I were watching a VHS tape full of music videos one of his sisters had and "Valarie Loves Me" was on it. I think I might have said "they are trying too hard to sound British" or something at the time, but either way, I wasn't having it. I was a hard sell as a kid because I remember hearing the Morrissey single "The more you ignore me the closer I get" and Blur's Modern Life is Rubbish around the time I first heard Material Issue and I was put off by all three. Morrissey being the most offensive to me at the time. It more or less boiled down to the fact that none of those bands were Nine Inch Nails and I didn't really want to hear anything that wasn't fast, heavy or both.

A few years after the original exposure, Nick was listening to International Pop Overthrow in his car and it occurred to me that I really hadn't given Material Issue a fair shake. While they aren't the most mind-blowing, innovative band ever, they still put out a record full of incredible, jangly pop songs about girls and heartbreak. An old friend of mine always said he wanted his wedding song to be "The Very First Lie." Kind of funny given the backhanded nature of the lyrics, but a great song nonetheless.

Though this record sold fairly well, they were certainly overshadowed by other, edgier bands coming up in Chicago music at the time. They released a few more records following International Pop Overthrow, but like many (I presume), I've never actually listened to them. Sadly, lead singer Jim Ellison committed suicide in 1996.

Material Issue - International Pop Overthrow

Thirty Seconds Deep - Hot Carl

My mom was the newspaper adviser at a high school for the better part of her career as an educator. The paper would often have fundraisers to make up for the money they couldn't generate through subscriptions & funding and in the mid-90's, a "Battle of the Bands" was one of them. I was in middle school at the time and right in the early stages of my musical development. Every year there would be a few bands that were legitimately good and as someone just getting into punk, I was drawn to those bands more than any other. The band that made the biggest impression on me at the time was Thirty Seconds Deep. They were still something of a ska-punk band, but they were so much tighter and cohesive than the other bands that were vying to be crowned kings of an arbitrary award.

A year or two later I saw a flier for a show they were playing at a church in downtown Naperville with The Undesirables, Three Days, The Tardies and Luke Skawalker. This was the first show I ever attended and I still remember the day vividly. We had a half day from school so my friends and I spent afternoon smoking pot and eating pizza until my parents drove us over. That part sticks out to me because it was one of the only times I smoked pot and actually enjoyed it unlike every other time where I thought I was having an anxiety attack.

The show itself was great and it opened my friends and I up to a whole world we had only read about in interviews and liner notes. It just kind of made sense. I was neither popular nor outcasted in school, but I never really felt like I fit in either. However, in the confines of this show I felt like a part of something bigger. Even if only on a surface level.

I bought the Hot Carl 7" at the show even though I didn't own anything to play it on. I had my mom borrow a portable record player from her school and I'd listen to it on repeat on the floor of my bedroom and read through issues of Maximumrocknroll in which I'd only recognize the name of one band in the entire magazine (as part of an advertisement, not because of an article or review).

On Hot Carl they had officially ditched the traces of ska that permeated their previous 7"s and took the direction of classic Chicago Punk Rock with a midwest emo bent (namely on "Gamble"). There are some moments on here that haven't aged too well in the grand scheme, but much of it just sounds like something that came out of Chicago in the mid-90's. Regardless, this record will always be important to me because of the memories associated with it.

I have also included the self-titled 7" (aka The Chiquita Banana 7") as a separate download.

Thirty Seconds Deep - Hot Carl

Thirty Seconds Deep - S/T

Friday, January 23, 2009

Like Bats - Demo

Every so often a new band will cross my path that makes remember why I got into punk/hardcore in the first place. This nervous, unpredictable energy that reminds me of the Saturday afternoons my parents would drive me to the record store so I could buy Screeching Weasel and Apocalypse Hoboken records, aimless nights spent driving around with my friends or days spent inside listening to said records and typing out ridiculous content for my high school fanzine. Sometimes the smallest things about bands trigger this and it immediately brings back intense feelings for times past. Like almost everyone growing older but still interested in punk rock, only a handful of things stick out to me in any given heap. However, when something does catch my ear, it feels like being 15 again and discovering something for the first time. One of the most interesting bands I've heard in a while is a trio from Northwest Indiana called Like Bats. They play a rough but melodic brand of pop-punk that reminds of a lot of early-mid 90's bands on the Lookout! Records roster. After years of seeing tons of bands playing melodic "punk" that have no connection, interest or roots within punk rock, it's always refreshing to hear a band that does it right.

I sent Like Bats a few questions to get an idea where they are coming from. It's pretty short, but I feel like I'll do something else on them in the future. This is a first for Harsh Distractions and something I'd like to continue. I posted their demo below. Check it out.

If you had to name one band that really got you into punk rock, who would it be? What about them made you want to dig deeper and when did you realize you could just start your own band?

Joey: Although it isn't the most 'punk rock' album, I'd go with At The Drive-In's Vaya EP.

Kyle: Green Day's Dookie. I would always go into S&J stereo in Highland and I was scared that if I never bought anything the guy would kill me because he is very intimidating. It was a good buy.

Mike: The band that got me into punk rock was Bad Religion. My dad showed me that band when I was super young, but the band that made me realize punk could be really personal and introspective was Small Brown Bike. That's when I realized I could start a band like this and write lyrics that are specific to me and kinda wimpy but still play punk.

As a relatively new band, how has the response been so far?

Kyle: It's been pretty good so far. People seemed to be into us at the out of town shows we've played and the response where we live has been really good too.

How has being from Northwest, Indiana affected the dynamic of your band? Do you see a difference in the people and attitudes from there compared to those from Chicago and the suburbs?

Mike: I think it affects the dynamic of the band and the songwriting only in the way that Northwest Indiana and the suburbs are a little more depressing. There's no bright lights or big city to look at and I think we use that to our advantage and it helps us write better songs. But other than that, Indiana's not so bad. Sometimes you just feel trapped in a cage of houses, strip malls, and Wal-Mart's, but you get used to it. A person's surroundings always helps shape the way you write songs. I have this weird sense of pride about living in Indiana, it's the underdog. Everyone looks down on it. The only difference I really see in music scenes between NWI and Chicago is that people from Indiana are more accepting and eager to go out to see Chicago bands. People from Chicago can generally give two shits about bands from Indiana, for the most part. There are definitely exceptions though. People from Chicago seem to really like Cold Shoulder.

The lyrics on the demo are pretty depressing, but incredibly self-aware and well-written. Are they primarily about the same incident? How closely do the samples from "Lonesome Jim" tie in?

Mike: I wrote all the lyrics about one specific girl. I know its kind of selfish and almost immature to write about a girl so literally, but I think anyone who has ever had their heart broken can understand and relate to the lyrics. It's one of the worst feelings in the world. And the movie Lonesome Jim is just one of those movies I watched over and over when I was most down. I relate to that movie like a good record and I just wanted to put some quotes in the demo because of its relevance to the time in my life when I wrote the lyrics.

What has been the most satisfying part of doing the band up to this point?

Joey: All the kind words our friends have said.

Kyle: Mike motivated me to start writing some lyrics. I am satisfied as fuck.

Mike: The most satisfying part is just having an outlet to vent about all my bullshit. Also, playing shows obviously. I love it.

If you could have people take away only ONE thing from listening to or seeing Like Bats, what would it be?

Mike: It would be that sense of comfort you get from sad songs when you're feeling down. You know what I'm talking about.

Kyle: That we're all single. Sup ladies?

What are your plans for the future?

Mike: We're doing a split with our friends Young Devilry and we're currently booking a ten day tour to the east coast in March, and we're also doing a 4-way split 7" with some other bands for this D.C. based label called Traffic Street Records. That's about it for now I think. Thanks for the interview and for putting our demo up!

Like Bats on Myspace

Update: The link for this was deleted when Mediafire erased my entire library. Since then Traffic Street Records has announced they will be re-releasing this demo/EP on cd with new artwork, etc. Out of respect for the label, I won't be re-upping this. Pre-Order the EP Here