Hey Kids, This is a photo blog of some photos I took of bands. I am setting up an Etsy shop to sell prints. I will be pimping those here. Also I am planning to learn to sew because I think I want to start making quilts and pillows out of t-shirts. but we shall see. In the mean time:
Pierce the Empire with a Sound
Nathan Burke is one of a handful of people I have bought records from that I hold very close to my heart (along with Ted Magsig, Shelby Cinca, Jason Hamacher and Billups Allen, all who worked, along with Nate at Record Convergence in Fairfax, Virginia in the 1990’s). It’s an odd relationship to have with someone, and a relationship that not many people in the world will get to have in the future. Nate, and his co-conspirators, always made me feel welcome, talked to me about music and life. It was a bond, not just consumerism. It’s one of the parts of music that I miss the most in life. Now I just buy records on-line and stew in my own world with no real connection to any one. The socialization of the record store experience was part of the experience. Now those experiences are all but gone.
Nate was also a member of Frodus, a band from Fairfax, Virginia that I got into because all the members worked at Convergence. They were nice guys, I got to know them pretty well, was supposed to roadie for them on their last tour, hell I even have a Frodus tattoo and several tapes of random songs that have yet to see the light of day. When they broke up, I was not stoked, but I kept in contact with the members of the band.
At some show, some night in DC (it was at the Wilson Center) I met up with Mr. Burke and we were talking about music. He told me he was done with an album and asked me if I wanted to listen to it. I bailed out on the bands and headed to his car for a preview of what was to become The Out_Circuit’s Burn Your Scripts Boys. The album was so beautiful and powerful and instantly I fell in love with it. Nate pressed up a small run on CD-R’s and put one in my hands. I rocked out on that album for a solid year, letting everyone I knew in on it’s delights and hoping it would find a home as it deserved. Finally Lujo Records picked it up, Nate put together a band and Out_Circuit hit the road, destined for greatness with their meld of post-hard core power and Radiohead-esque expressions, lush keyboard work and driving bass lines. They were poised for greatness. Then life got in the way.
Nathan met his wife Rachel, they got married and moved along to Seattle to start their family. As a friend I was happy for these wonderful people, but knew that their time as musicians had pretty much come to an end (Rachel was the vocalist for The Beauty Pill). I figured any shot at getting another Out_Circuit record, despite Nate’s statements to the contrary, were very long. Five years later, and quite unexpectedly, Nate has returned with Pierce the Empire with a Sound.
The central formula of face splitting, master drumming (provided by Andy Gale from the last incarnation of the group) and Nate’s driving and burning bass lines is present in this album, but it’s Nate’s love of atmosphere and his almost total abandonment of guitars that sets this record apart from anything you will hear in 2008. Inspired by Lungfish as much as Low, Nate Burke creates a world that you not only hear but feel. The music is dark and powerful, but also comforting and soothing.
At the center of the album the song “Hexagon” sits with a slashing distorted bass line, text book accurate drumming all holding up the foundation of light keyboard work. As the song hits it’s striding climax it breaks off into digital sound, losing the flight into a darkness and then turns into a beautiful, mid tempo ending of Piano. This is the apex experience of The Out_Circuit, and within it you will lose your self. It is a spiritual moment, like meditation, you forget everything, feel nothing and remain in the joy you have found.
This album is very personal to me. I haven’t seen or spoken to Nate since he left the best coast for the left coast. I miss him dearly, a true human being if ever there was one and a genuine man. I sometimes feel guilty that I met him through the practice of my fetish, my guilty pleasurable world of used 7”s, advanced copies of punk rock albums and random purchases of indie rock and grind core. But I am so glad that I did have that friendship with this man. I don’t know if it deepens my attachment to this album, or makes me biased towards the work, but I don’t really care. I want people to hear this music as much today as I did all those years ago when I first heard it. Please, do yourself a favor, get Pierce the Empire with a Sound, today, now, you will not be disappointed.
If there was any justice in the world (or if the internet didn’t exist and I was writing this for a zine, which is what I should be doing) The Max Levine Ensemble would be taking over the torch from Washington D.C.’s much loved, much discussed and highly defunct Fugazi. Perhaps one of the first bands from a generation that followed my own that I began to notice, The Max Levine Ensemble have made their way in the world of punk rock on their own terms. Influenced more by the power of doing what they want then by the complicated world of the “Dischord Scene,” The Max Levine Ensemble continues the tradition of a rich, historical punk rock scene from our nations capitol.
What keeps them from playing the VFW halls to thousands of kids is the climate of music these days. Where the world is more interested in trading remixes of MP3’s or stealing albums off the internet of who and whatever, the independent minded kids of The Max Levine operate on a template that is becoming vastly forgotten. However, it is this belief and love for all the things that make punk rock great that also makes The Max Levine Ensemble so endearing and the cheeky titled Ok Smarty-pants is a fun listen because of this love, despite the odds.
The album comes at you fast and furious, similar to Bomb the Music Industry’s Get Warmer and holds tightly to its love for power chords, gangly vocals, breakdowns and raucous drumming. Ok Smarty-pants is the Ensemble’s most frenetic album to date and may cause anxiety, twitching or the uncontrollable need to pogo about in public. Spoonboy spits out his lyrics with a rapid fire tongue to add more to the over all uncontrollable energy The Max Levine Ensemble harnesses and lets explode.
I am glad this band is from DC; they show a lot of promise and are fun as all hell. In a city that is plagued with accusations of being very insular and serious The Max Levine Ensemble is not the exception to the rule, but proof that the rule is total fucking bullshit. While they will never be asked to headline Warped Tour (thank god) The Max Levine’s dose of catchy, fast paced punk rock will hopefully win over kids across the lands in basements and churches one by one.
The Fear, The Fear, The Fear
No Idea Records
The List (based on the song “The List” from this album)
1. This album is a great improvement in sound quality and recording then anything this band has put out to date.
2. This improvement in studio recording benefits this “folk punk” outfit greatly.
3. This album proves this band is on their way to becoming legendary if they continue down this road.
4. Because this album is so damn good it continues my hope for DIY culture.
5. My only complaint is that there are no songs with BZ or Sherri singing solo (the performance on “Oh Susquehanna!” from 2006’s The Great Depression was one of my favorites).
Quite simply I have been in love with this band since I opened for them two years ago. Despite my initial skepticism towards a “folk-punk” scene (a stupid genre title as emo, all music is for people, all punk music is folk) Defiance! Ohio really won me over, convincing me that the addition of acoustic instruments as part of punk rock was essential to its growth and maintaining its roots in the DIY spirit punk rock was founded in.
Defiance! Ohio has stayed grounded in their ideas of do-it-yourself with the people in your community. They have achieved a great deal of success sticking to their core values, despite, I am sure, plenty of interest from other labels much bigger and a lot less dedicated to their vision and operation then No Idea. Because of this dedication they have been able to organically grow their audience and gain the attention of a devoted fan base. The Fear The Fear The Fear will put them into a position to gain more recognition from a larger part of the punk community and hopefully gain them some recognition from the fickle indie rock kids as well as their music is more then just political songs by punk kids. They write catchy, heartfelt songs in a language that is all their own. They are not merely augmenting their sound with the use of Violin and Cello, it is a natural and vital part of their music that continues to get better and better over time.
With 2008 being a year of great hope for myself personally and those around me, The Fear The Fear The Fear, despite it’s ominous title adds richness to that hope with it’s energy, compassion, craft and all out joy and love. Defiance! Ohio has made the record I have been waiting for them to make since I first heard them and they can only continue to exceed expectations from here.
Bomb the Music Industry!
Asian Man/Quote Unquote
The thing that has often been missing for me in pop punk is energy, creativity and fun. All of those things are prevalent in the new album Get Warmer by Bomb the Music Industry, a ska, punk, futuristic band that originally hailed from Long Island. I am so happy that this band found me, or that I found them (thanks goes to Mitch Clem who put them on his top ten list in 2006) because had I not, my love for this genre would probably have gone away as I increasingly run towards old age.
Pretty much from the start Bomb The Music Industry thrashes through their songs yelling at the top of their lungs, frantically bashing out power chords doing all the things necessary to make an awesome pop punk record. However it is the nuances that make Bomb the Music Industry relevant and worth listening to. Through out the album they toss in interesting uses of keyboards like on “Unlimited Breadsticks, Soup and Salad Days” which brings the songs to life. Their use of horns reminds me of the greatly overlooked Swank from Virginia. In fact the more I listen to this album, the more I remember the pop punk from DC and Virginia I listened to in my youth. Bomb the Music Industry is reminiscent of all the great things about pop punk and punk-ska music.
A lot of times bands that operate with in the restrictions of a genre become a shell of that genre. It’s hard to experiment and retain your identity at the same time when you have a formula to work with in. But sometimes it’s the formula that gives you strength. Bomb the Music Industry exists completely within the world of pop punk, exploring every great avenue that has been paved before them and they ride around those roads yelling, singing and having a great time. That is the point of music and Bomb the Music Industry has embraced that completely, making no bones about who they are. This confidence is why they succeed in making an album worth listening to.
Mike Huckabee and Chuck Norris scare the shit out of me.
Obama doesn’t do anything for me. Frankly I don’t really have a strong opinion on the election. I find that American politics are safe and therefor in effective. There is lots of Rhetoric and no one with any balls to say anything real or safe. I’d have a lot more respect for Mike Huckabee if he just came out and said he felt all gay people deserve to go to hell like he most likely beleives in his heart of hearts. At least that would show some truth. I don’t beleive that any one running will put us in good hands, better perhaps then what we face now (it can’t get much worse) but only slightly and not nearly enough to effect real change.
We are a young nation and I think a grealy failing nation that has walked away hard from our founding ideas. Human kind, Americans, we don’t have a voice and these elections only prove that, because those on the soap box, preaching change, preaching hope all they are is rhetorical masters of language with nothing to say. There is no difference in ideology in today’s “political discourse” then there was probably 200 years ago when this country was founded. IF we don’t progress naturally as people we can’t possibly maintain a true vision of what America is supposed to be.
Being an American means giving a shit. I see a lot of people saying they do, but I don’t see anything that proves it.
Mickey Mouse for President, 2008. If were going to elect a cartoon, he might as well make us smile.
Please do your self a favor and go to this myspace page for the Irish duo Heathers and download the songs off of here. They are 17 years old and are amazing. The tune “Slices of Palma” just pretty much rocked the shit out of my face. They have a new album comming out in the summer on the AWESOME Plan-It-X label so be sure to get your five dollars ready.
Speaking of Plan-It-X, I saw the “Juno” film in which Antsy Pants head Kimya Dawson has a bunch of songs on it. her song “Tree Swing” mentions the awesome Paul Baribeu as the inspiration for the song. You should pretty much get his CD now from Plan-It-X, after you see the movie and download the “Juno” soundtrack. I am not a big fan of Soundtracks normally, but I am gonna hook it up on Friday when I get paid. It’s on iTunes now and in stores on the 15th of January. The movie itself is pretty awesome. You should deffinately check it out. Micheal Cena is a little awkward in it, and Jason Bateman’s charechter is very interesting in all of this. He is easy to identify with but very hard to sympathize with. But anyway there is a scene in the movie that makes me think Micheal Cena and Ellen Page’s charechter’s might have actually been to a basement show featuring our boy Baribeau or other such people.
Also go to New Idea Society’s web page and download “You are Wearing Your Welcome Mat” while you still can.
Reviews hopefully next week for Defiance Ohio and Max Levine Ensamble’s newest CD’s. If you are in DC you go to Zegota, des_Ark and Turboslut or you do not talk to me. Info can be found here.