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