The Great Plan-It-X Haul of 2011

So, you guys know I’m a pretty big cheerleader for my friends. From New Idea Society who I pretty much preach the gospel on, to Katy Otto who runs Exotic Fever and plays in Trophy Wife, I get into what my friends do. I feel lucky that most of my musical heroes are people I know and love.  In that same vein I am a big fan of what my friend Chris Clavin is doing with his Plan-It-X Record label. I met Chris a few years ago because these awesome dudes Ryan and Wade put me on a show with his band Ghost Mice (as well as Rachel Jacobs and Christian Brady who are equally as awesome and loved). Then they put me on a few more shows with Ghost Mice. Then I went on tour for a few days with Ghost Mice and Heathers in 2009 which is like one of the most awesome moments of my life. Anyway, I got to know a lot of Plan-It-X bands because of Wade and Ryan and getting to know Chris.

It’s been a while since I sent Chris some money for releases. I try to keep up on all the new releases that I can, whether I have heard the band or not. I believe in what Chris is doing, putting out interesting music and making it very cheap and accessible. He doesn’t do any online advertising or in any of the remaining punk zines. He doesn’t even take orders online (you can get all the PIX stuff through NO Idea online). Instead he does mail order, like they used to do in the old days. Times have changed a lot. Not many people are buying CD’s and I can tell you from search results that bring some people to this blog, people are still way trying to steal this music. It’s a shame and it makes me sad. Plan-It-X is trying to change with those times, we shall see what happens, but anyway, onto my haul.

The Max Levine Ensemble, DC’s pretty much exclusive pop-punk band, turned 10 years old recently. In an effort to celebrate this milestone that barely any band in DC makes it to, they re-recorded a bunch of old songs. Mr. Gikokovich 2000-2005: A Retrospective is the awesome result. The band wanted to capture the way they play the songs now in a more updated sound then the originals. Some of the songs, I don’t think I even remember hearing recently like “Leopard Print Girl” or “Tidal Wave” so it’s nice to hear old songs that don’t feel like old songs. Then of course the band tackled some of the classics. Super fast versions of “Poop Farm” and “Nihilism” make you realize how ADD this band has become. The whole CD is just over 20 minutes and it feels like it. If your just learning about pop-punk but NOFX and Pulley are overbearing and dull, start with this album. You’ll be able to keep up next time The Ensemble pulls into town. If yr an old crotchety punker like me, you’ll love the updated sounds of the classics, just the way they play them live now. It had a purpose and Mr. Gikokovich delivers on that purpose.

Another thing about Chris Clavin is that he is totally prolific. He has something like 7 solo albums and easily 7 split tapes. He used to release albums under the name Captain Chaos (of which I only have one, which is lame) and a few years ago he put out a great album on Crafty Records called The Road Leads Everywhere. The thing is, at least from what I own, all his songs are pretty great. In the past it was just him and his guitar, but in 2009 he put out a split with Sara Cilantro called Secrets that was him playing ukulele. I missed out on his split with Madeline Ava (I was gonna order it on this haul) but I have his two most recent one. The first one I listened to was his split with Kyle Hall. Chris’s side is pretty good stuff. He plays both ukulele and the guitar and has other instruments accompanying and accentuating his songs. IF yr familiar with the Ghost Mice you will feel all cozy with these songs. Kyle Hall is a young dude from California. I think I traded zines with him. Anyway, he’s clearly a convert to the Plan-It-X way of life. His songs, I think pay, homage to a lot of the Ghost Mice canon, which is great because Kyle tells great stories in his songs. I really dug “Nothing Gold Can Stay” a lot. It’s a sentiment I can relate to.

The other split was with Waxahatchee. Waxahatchee plays these really dark songs on an electric guitar. It was kind of sad to listen to while reading about the vastness of space last night. I can honestly say, I was a little melancholy while listening to those songs. They were recorded in a way that felt disconnected, like they were being played behind a curtain. It was chilling. Chris’s songs on this tape were also more sad. He has one song called “Greyhound” where you can tell he’s really trying to keep it together while he delivers the tale about a friend who wasn’t allowed on a bus to visit him. I think it’s about Plan-It-X cofounder Sam, who died pretty recently. It made me want to bawl my damn eyes out. The songs on this split are really good. It’s songwriting that’s getting a lot more intricate and complex from Chris. I’ve always thought he was a good guitarist, but I always felt like he held back on the solo stuff and with Ghost Mice. This is a great tape release, with an awesome cover and everyone should get this like now.

I also caught up on two other CD releases. Taxpayer’s To Risk So Much For One Damn Meal floored me as soon as I put it on. The drums remind me of early Against Me, the songs are like a hyped up Mountain Goats if John Darnielle was a bit more upbeat kind of guy. He isn’t, but the people in Taxpayers are. I really, really like this album. It just has that Plan-It-X feeling to it. Sometimes it kind of reminds me of (Young) Pioneers even though I don’t think this band really sounds like them Richmond dudes. There are a lot of influences, instruments and vocals here. They make me want to dance my ass of and get into the pit like the old dude I am and do the lawn mower until some 15-year-old kid knocks me over. Taxpayers are just some intense, hyperactive people who play really great music. I’m way into it.

The other album I got was by Small Bones. They released their Self Titled album last year and I wish I had gotten it sooner. There some dudes from New Orleans that play some really driving, up-tempo punk rock. They sorta remind me of a lot of DC bands that never quite made it out of DC, the names of which I forget now. But they have some awesome blast beats and chilled out guitar breakdowns. The vocals are young sounding in a higher register than people are singing these days. It’s like the post Braid, Promise Ring type of poppy-noisey-punkish music that was sorta big for like a year and then kind of faded out. Either way it’s another excited release from Plan-It-X, from a side of the label that I think is under-associated to the legacy. It’s good times.

So yea, Plan-It-X is still alive and kicking despite these despairing times. I got all this music for 25 dollars. I totally gambled and as always when I roll the dice on the Plan-It-X craps table I come up sevens man. Chris Clavin is doing it real, and I really hope he can continue. There is nothing I have heard on the label yet that has disappointed me. Keep up the good work Chris! I love you.


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Episode 18 – Podcast About Nothing

HERE we are with Episode 18 – Podcast about nothing. Brought to you by the KYS Department of Getting Shit Done for the Sake of getting it done. There isn’t a lot to say. Next Podcast is gonna be more of a mixtape. I think I am gonna go that route until I come up with more interesting things to say. I would have recut this one, but I was sorta pressed to get something up for the day. This daily posting thing is getting hard. It’ll be easier later I guess. Thanks for checking it out. Peace.

Episode 18 – Podcast about Nothing

1.    Sleep Forever – The Gift – Mostly in Sickness out soon on Amor Y Lucha

Break

2.    Southern Air – Capital – Givers/Takers – self released as a download
3.    Different Girls – Lemuria ¬– Pebble – on Bridge 9
4.    I Hate Summer – Fucked Up ¬-  Couple Tracks – Matador Records
5.    Iraq – Selfish Whales –  Enjoy The Weather – self released.
6.    My Gap Feels Weird – Superchunk – Majesty Shredding – Merge Records

Break

7.    Forced to Breath Concrete – Mancake – We Will Destroy You – Art Monk Construction
8.    Everything in my Life is For Sale – Blacklisted – No One Deserves to Be Here More Than Me – Deathwish
9.    Malady Savy – Pygmy Lush ¬– Bitter River – Robotic Empire
10.     Rent-A-Cop – Shitstorm ¬– Magrudergrind/Shitstorm Split CD – Robotic Empire
11.    Green Sperm – Devour – Insect Circuitry – Head Count Records

Break

12.    49 Words – Majority Rule – Emergency Numbers – Magic Bullet
13.    Brand New Love – Sebadoh – Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock – Sub Pop
14.    Alien Baby – Ultra Dolphins – Alien Baby – Exotic Fever
15.    Let the Bitches Die – Lightspeed Champion – Falling of the Lavender Bridge – Domino

Break

16.    The Dilemma  – The Arrivals – Volatile Molatov – Recess Records
(44:48)

Records I am looking forward to this year

January is a shitty time for people who like music. Especially those who have crappy blogs about it. No one sends me promos. Everything I review is stuff I am into. Interview requests come slowly since you know, you aren’t gonna get a ton of press. Further, new records just don’t come out that often. I’m trying to bring content on a daily basis, but realized today, looking at my upcoming calendar, I don’t have much written for posting. So, I better come up with something for the kids to read day in and day out. So I’m gonna rely on the thing that music journalists and publishers have relied on for years, previews of albums supposedly coming out. This is what I am looking forward to in 2011.

Young Widows are releasing In and Out of Youth and Lightness this year and no doubt, its going to be epic. For this album, the Louisville trio recorded in a funeral parlor. Last time out, on Old Wounds the boys utilized board tapes of live shows done specifically to capture the sonic hugeness of this band. It worked wonders and they released one of the loudest, crisp sounding albums I have ever heard. They can do no wrong. Label mates Coliseum put out a great record on Temporary Residence last year and as you have read here, My Disco just unleashed some amazing shit with Little Joy. With an Explosions in the Sky album also set for this year Temporary Residence is set for a huge year. We can only hope they churn out a label tour in 2011 too that includes all four of the aforementioned bands, because at least this journalist needs an injection of excessive adrenaline to his ear holes.

Deep Sleep are a pop punk band from Baltimore, MD that I got into kind of late in the game. Last year I picked up their singles compilations Three Things At Once and was totally blown away. They get described as similar to The Descendants quite a bit, but I think they are far more gritty and tougher then the Descendants ever were. I listened to the first four tracks on this album up at punknews.org the other day and it actually just depressed me because what I heard was so good and so much stronger than Three Things At Once which is kind of amazing, because I really like that comp quite a bit. This album has been in the makings from the fine dude who runs Grave Mistake records. By the time this thing gets posted, I may have even ordered it from them as it’s said to be available on January 25th. I hope so, cuz I am super hyped for this shit already.

Lovitt Records has two albums set for late winter/early spring that will blow your mind. I already know for a fact that des_ark’s Don’t Rock The Boat, Sink the Fucker is amazing because I already have it. I already have it because I took the cover photo for it last winter and I bugged Lovitt head honcho Brian Lowitt for an advanced copy. I think people in Europe had the option of getting it during her last tour. But anyway, it’s amazing. It gets better and better every time I listen to it. Even though it only has 8 songs, it’s epic as fuck and Aimee is a true genius. On the heels of that are Sterling, VA cowboys Pygmy Lush who are releasing their new album, Pals. Pals features Eric Kane for the first time on drums. Eric plays with Strike Anywhere, and from what I saw in December, his hard-hitting really did change the band quite a bit. They are now utilizing the power of their amazing songwriting skills, lyrical genius and rock destruction to blow minds. The Taylor bros and Widman and Johnny are in top form. This album is going to be epic, game changing type shit. I’m trying to get a show booked in Albuquerque on the tour these two juggernauts are playing together. Shit’s gonna be out of hand. Oh yea, Lovitt is also thinking about putting out a re-issue of And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea by Frodus, as well as new 7″ if they get recorded and the debut of Jason Hammacher’s new band Regents which also features dudes from Sleepy Time Trio.

Krallice, the American Black Metal Band has a new album Diotima coming out as well. Seems this band has been together for just over three years and this is their third album. They are scary and epic as all hell. Philadelphia’s Amateur Party has a new album out for download and soon on vinyl called Truncheons in the Manor. This band features dudes from Kill the Man Who Questions and Limp Wrist. They are pretty spectacular and you can stream this at punknews too. New 7″s are said to be on the way from DC’s under the radar heroes Give. NY Hip-Hop Guru El-P is in the studio and according to his twitter page we will hear a new album with raps on top of the beats. If the WEREALLGOINGTOBUTNINHELL Megga Mix 3 cd was any indication of what Producto is up to then that shit will be off the hook. Scotland’s Mogwai has a new album slated soon called Hardcore Will Never Die but You Will. Also, I am still holding on to hope that some type of Beauty Pill album will see the light of day in 2011.

So, 2011 is looking to be a good year. I hope you people are just as excited as I am for this upcoming year. I totally am. Shit’s about to get tight and you know where to come for all the skinny on these albums. Let the KYS Corporation for Global Insurrection (TM) take care of all your musical needs be giving you the best information on all the shit that matters. If it ain’t getting written about here, it’s cuz I am just one dude.

Summer Lions Video

My favorite band from New York, frankly the only band from New York in damn near two decades that exists that I think matters has a new video out. That’s right, New Idea Society  have a new, totally beautiful video for there equally beautiful song “Summer Lions” from their new album Somehow Disappearing (which you can get here from Amazon). The video has a great photographic quality and a young kid all dressed up in a young kid, homemade costume being all Where The Wild Things Are in it. It’s gorgeous. Check it out here:

New Idea Society have been getting a little more attention lately. The New York Times even interviewed Mike Law about their last video for “Thorns” which you should totally read. That video is below:

And who of course can forget there utterly cute video from their amazingly catchy song “Don’t Sleep” off of The World Is Bright And Lonely on Exotic Fever Records. Yup, I got that one for you too:

If this doesn’t inspire you to pick up these records and make your day better, well I don’t know what to tell you. New Idea Society is amazing. I don’t know how often I have to say it to convince you of that. If you don’t feel this music, there is probably cause to launch accusations that you do not have a soul. And that just makes this blogger very, very sad.

Melissa Lusk – Make Your Self Happy

Make Yourself Happy Cover ArtMelissa Lusk
Make Your Self Happy
Self Released

Being unemployed is kind of a pain in the ass. I did look for a job for about an hour today, that’s about what I put in on any given week. About five hours goes into writing stuff for this blog, I spend about seven hours a week cooking, the rest is spent watching shit on Netflix, reading crap on the internet and listening to music. Today, I was gonna try my hand at writing a science fiction short story based on living in Albuquerque so far. But then I got all side tracked and found the 30 Videos in 30 Days Project. And one of the videos I found was for this lady Melissa Lusk for her song “Everybody Lies”. Check it out below and then get back to reading what I have to say on the subject.

So yea, the video is really cute and the song is pretty catchy, all girl-piano driven which, thanks to Kate Nash I have a slight compulsion to. The thing I really liked though, was that the lyrics were both personal, funny and a little melancholy. I mean, lets face it, there are a million girl with piano song writers like there are a million vampire-goth-emo white boys in really shitty bands like Murder My Valentine or Death is a Pair of Shoes or some other idiotic name. The point is, Melissa Lusk isn’t going to melt your mind with interesting song structures, or bend your brain with blazing piano solos. It’s not high art, it’s just nice pop art. The music overall kind of reminds me of “alternative radio” from my formidable years of 1991 – 1994 after I stopped listening to metal but before I really got into punk rock. It’s quirky, poppy and catchy. Sometimes Lusk reminds me of Elizabeth Mitchel, like on the rocker “Blood” which I would like to see a little more of. The buzzy, indie rock guitar isn’t all precious and pretentious like so much shitty music that people like today. This song’s got a bit of spit and vinegar.

I don’t know anything else about this Melissa Lusk lady, other than she had a neat video to a neat song posted on the internet and she lives in the unfortunate city of New York like so many other talented people. Dude is probably just trying to make it in that city somehow, hoping people will give her music an honest and open listen. There are a shit ton of people in that town trying to do the same, difference between her and Melissa Lusk, her music actually makes me smile a little bit. Which lets face it, is a feat in and of it self.

Fetish Properties: Peel Slowly and See.

I get by because of the people who make a special effort to shop here – mostly young men – who spend all their time looking for deleted Smith singles and original, not rereleased – underlined – Frank Zappa albums. Fetish properties are not unlike porn. I’d feel guilty taking their money, if I wasn’t… well… kinda one of them. -Rob Gordon fictional character in the 2000 Touchstone Film High Fidelity based on the 1995 book of the same name by Nick Hornby.

Today I was feeling anxious and depressed and a little irritable. So, despite plaguing unemployment in a city with less than a million people, I did what I do when I feel shitty; I went to the record store. Now, Albuquerque has, from what I can find three stores that sell vinyl. Two of them are hodge-podge stores that deal in used finds mostly, with a small selection of barely off the map, indie superstars. I could have bought the new LCD Soundsystem or Lady Gaga albums today for like $25 a piece. But I am not interested in these pop darlings of various degrees. I was actually looking for the new album by the Red Dons called Fake Meets Failure and anything by Canadian Rifle. I kind of knew that this search was going to be an inevitable failure on this part. Record stores, in most parts of the country I can seem to find absolutely nothing I am looking for (outside of Seattle and Philadelphia and I am sure, but don’t know, New York City). Part of this is because I refuse to actually keep a list, part of it is because I refuse to pay 20 dollars for most commercial releases (the Fucked Up and Dismemberment Plan were, I hope anomalies). Part of it is just because record store owners no longer know what nitche their city’s residents are into. And considering that so far, Albuquerque seems to be devoid of a true punk rock underground, you can’t blame the record store owners. Those that actually survive, survive on the luck that one population is selling old vinyl that another population wants.

The thing I realized today though, is that the value of vinyl is based solely in the now. I’m not a big ebay kind of guy. I have never bought any records on ebay and only sold a few there, which I made a modest profit. Not the $50 dollars for some obscure semi-known indie rock band or that limited 500 pressing of the local hardcore band that actually toured the states a few times. I suspect some of the vinyl I own might fetch me some money, but I couldn’t tell you if the value was worth shit or not. Case in point, that D-Plan reissue has the song “Since You Died” on it, which was previously only available on a short run of 7″ from DeSoto records a few years ago. Up  until last week, that 7″ probably could have netted me at least $50 bucks. Now that the song is more widely and currently available, is that 7″ worth anything to anybody?

See, today, I bought Andy Warhol, the first album by Velvet Underground and Nico. I paid just over 12 dollars, for what appears to be a pretty damn pristine 1967 pressing of the album. I bought it, not because I am a huge Velvet Underground fan; generally I think Lou Reed was a good song writer that didn’t know how to perform his own songs well. I feel similarly about Bob Dylan by the way. I can’t listen to Bob Dylan sing his own music, but do enjoy cover versions of his songs. That’s neither here nor there. I came across this LP, it was in good shape, at a reasonable price and decided, due to the Warhol connection it was time I owned it. Personally, I like the band more when Nico sings, and I probably should have bought the two cheaper Nico LP’s that wold have equaled the same amount of spread I spent. However, those albums lack Andy Warhol art on them. It’s possible this album is a reissue. But there is nothing that indicates it. Either way, I paid what I thought was fair and the guy at the record store (Mecca Records on Central by the way) didn’t figure he’d have his hands on this album for that long. He’d just gotten it in on Friday, so the story was told.

Despite not being the hugest VU fan in the world, owning Andy Warhol (yes I realize it’s not actually called Andy Warhol but his name is on the front cover and he brought us VU so suck it) on 12″ vinyl phonograph record, while not a be all end all to my existence, was clearly something that I coveted in my life. I’m not gonna lie, while writing this, I kept the cover propped upright and looked at it. It’s a beautiful cover, one I would have bought in 1967 had I been a fat ass 33-year-old fuck head who bought dumb records then. What we desire, covet, to an unhealthy, prurient like degree is kind of sad, the value of which, to most people who are watching football today and eating taco bell, is nothing.

The landscape of America is rapidly changing as we lose record stores, book stores, comic books stores, good video stores. The secrets that we have in public are quickly becoming the secrets we have on cyberspace, which feels lonely. My sinuses don’t get bothered by dust when I get on the internet. I don’t hear music that’s interesting or annoying in full on the internet. I don’t stumble upon new, unknown turn on’s on the internet. I type in what I want, and I get it. Almost all of it for free if I want. We are loosing culture. Not just in small city Albuquerque, New Mexico, but everywhere. This same experience could have happened in DC, even if I was more likely to come across stuff on Deranged Records or No Idea. Sometimes, sure I found exactly what I wanted, but the appeal of the record store has not ever really been the instant gratification, but the turning over of unknown and newly loved gems. Like, you already know this I am sure, but the song “Heroin” is fucking epic. I’ve heard it before, but never like the way I just did, the needle bouncing about the grooves of 44-year-old vinyl. Where are we going to find that shit in the future?

Capital – Givers/Takers

Capital
Givers/Takers
Self Released *you will have to post to facebook or twitter to get this.

What is it about identity that compels us? Here’s the thing, I downloaded this album because one of my trusty music web sites said that it was free with a facebook pimp (none of my friends will download this album) and because it was Mixed and Mastered by Chris Hannah from Propaghandi. That’s a pretty good stamp of approval for me. I instantly identified with that seal of business approval. I mean, Chris Hannah might make a living doing this work and takes whatever he gets paid to do. I know plenty of people in this fucked up music business that work based on who approaches them and what they have time for. It doesn’t mean I should listen to everything they work on. But free music is free music and I was interested to see what Hannah does behind the boards.

Capital are a hardcore band from Long Island and I’m not sure how the hell I feel about them because they have identity problems. Sometimes they sound like old skool bro core that I could do with out. Sometimes they are awesome and melodic and remind me of Kid Dynamite or Avail which I could do with more of in my life. But the over all issue I have is that there is no consistency. Capital seems to lack identity. And when there is nothing extraordinary in what you’re doing consistency is key. Not that being extraordinary is necessary to make good, listenable records, the point is to have fun. And Capital are clearly having fun. I just wish they had more of a uniform sound throughout.

Having said that, Givers/Takers should not be over looked. The sound is heavy, with awesome rumbling bass guitar and very strong, clear vocals. When they hit on the brighter sides of the melodic hardcore they do it pretty damn well. Even the Long Island accent when the yelling turns to singing isn’t too distracting. And the homage to the great Avail adds an emotional punch to this band that would make them otherwise sound pretty pedestrian. But these are guys who know more recent punk rock history, and have a good idea of what works. “Southern Air” followed by “Kennel” are about two of the best one two punches I’ve heard in a while.

If you’re in a band, you don’t want all your songs to sound the same and in punk and hardcore that can be pretty difficult to accomplish. There are only so many notes and power chords that a person can grip on their guitar and they can only be played so many ways. It’s both very easy and very difficult to make an album that is awesome and energizing. Overall, I’d say that Givers/Takers is a decent effort. But too much direction can leave a listener confused.