The art of reading: Review of Sister City and Self Promotion on the Internet.

Sister City
Carbon Footprint
Self Released

This is all my fault. I literally asked for it and so here it is, the fruit of my requests and now I don’t know what to do. I am not a very good journalist. I mostly seek out to write about music and other things that I enjoy. Okay, sometimes I write about things that I don’t understand at all that also make me angry, but at least those topics are either so outrageously stupid or serve as a litmus for how fucked our society is that it’s easy to go apeshit over them. So when I got an email from the band Sister City in my inbox not too long ago and they compared themselves to Say Anything and Manchester Orchestra, two bands I am only familiar with marginally, as I am not a teenage girl and do not go to Warped Tour or read Twilight, I knew I was in for it. I tried to ignore the email, I have that right, solicited or not, to ignore things. But then I got another email from this band, reminding me of the first email.

I get it, they are working hard, they want to expose new people to their music and spread the word to the masses, get tour support, get girls, sell t-shirts. They even put the name of this here blog in the header of the email. It’s not totally out of the blue. I guess. But the problem is, clearly the people behind the Sister City machine are not really familiar with my tastes, which are not too hard to figure out by reading and then listening to the bands I review.

Take for example my most three recent reviews. Dead Language are a grindcore band. Black God are a post-punk, post-hard core band with a shouting singer and some serious history. The most recent, Dope Body, a fuck head all arty band from Baltimore. I’m not sure what in these little ranty quips indicates that I would at all be interested, welcoming or excited about a band that doesn’t have any of these things inherent in them at all.

If I was forced, and in some ways I feel forced, to review this band I would say that if you think Taking Back Sunday is too loud and aggressive then you are a weak and pathetic human being and you will love Sister City. This is so mediocre, bland, unexciting and predictable that I just commented to a friend that they make me want to drown kittens. And I like Kittens, lots. I’m saying lots and lots. There are few things on this planet that can make this curmudgeon-y old man get all goopey like kittens.

And this is what I don’t understand, why me? Its not nice to shit that I don’t like, so I try to avoid saying bad things. And yet this band asked me, twice, to listen to and review an album that I knew, just from the Say Anything reference (a band I have probably heard less than 30 seconds of their music in my life) that I wasn’t going to enjoy this shit. Look, you could have put in there that you were inspired by Douglas Adams, Lifetime, Lungfish and pizza and I still probably would have thought it sucked before I heard it. I play music, seriously, and I think my music sucks. Most music sucks. It’s hard to be unique and talented and creative and actually make things that are good. Even Lifetime, one of my favorite bands is only marginally better than the thousands of shitty bands they influenced on Warped Tour every year.

Here’s another example. I’ve been listening to a lot of Assholeparade lately. Like pretty much that’s all I can be bothered with. The average Assholeparade song is less than 30 seconds long. Also, most of their songs sound the same. They are loud, fast, crunchy thrash music. You can’t understand the lyrics at all and after a while listening to these Gainesville stoners just becomes an endurance test. But, as far as I am concerned, right now, they are the greatest band ever. In fact, I turned off Sister City 5 and a half songs into Carbon Footprint to listen to Assholeparade.

So, here is a lesson. I know I say send me your shit. And that word shit should indicate something to you dear reader about how I view the world and how I approach life. One, you should read this blog before sending me anything. It’s not that I won’t get around to it, but if there is any indication that I am interested in  pedestrian, privilege, white boy bullshit, you should start again from the beginning. If you music does meet that criteria I’m going to reluctantly wait as long as possible to review it. Because I try to be constructive in my writing of music, which is hard to do because people who write about music are generally self-centered nerds with no life. So when all I can come up with for your band is you sound like a watered down, calorie free version of another band I detest, that just makes my life all the more difficult. Two, after you read my blog, or any other person’s blog, hit up the internet and check out the bands reviewed. If you don’t sound like a bunch of crazy people hitting garbage cans and trying to fuck their xbox consoles, I probably won’t be into your band. If you want to be tortured but cute, romantic but mildly mischievous, I probably won’t like your band. If you don’t have the word Assholeparade in the title of your band or album, I probably won’t be too excited when I download and then play said record.

Reading, reading, reading. I can’t stress this enough. Most of the problems in this world come from a lack of research and evaluation upon that research. It’s not enough just to type music blog into google and let rip copies of your art. I’m not saying hard work wasn’t put into this and that other people won’t like it. In fact, I guarantee there is an audience out there for Sister City, but it’s not this guy and probably not the people who read this blog.

Dope Body – Nupping

Dope Body
Hoss Records

Baltimore is weird. It always has been. Ever since manufacturing and textiles and shipping kind of left the United States of America, this once large port town, competing with Philadelphia and New York City has crumbled into a post industrial American waste land of inefficiency, poverty, drug addiction and general grime. All of which seems to be reflected in the cities bands. This of course happens because Baltimore is a good place to live if you are poor and don’t want a corporate job. The rents are cheap if you don’t mind shootings and crack dealings and no corporate headquarters really operate there. It’s the perfect place for those kids that still feel invincible, allowing them the space to wreak havoc on the sound waves and get in the van and tour.

For whatever reason, living so close to Baltimore never helped me get into the scene there and that’s a shame because judged on the two bands in the last three years I’ve heard from there, I am missing out. Arty, weirdo nerds Double Dagger made my head and heart spin with their direct but jocular, cutting tunes that were punky and punchy. That band alone reminded me of why Baltimore, MD is one of my favorite cities in the United States. Now comes along their brain-damaged brethren in Dope Body, who, judging by my research has actually been at it for a hot minute. Where city siblings Double Dagger actually seem to want to penetrate with a bit of empathy, Dope Body just want to pummel the senses.

If there is a Baltimore sound, much the way they used to call all bands from DC part of the DC sound, it comes from the deconstruction of what songs and music can and should be. It’s loud, but not heavy. It’s punishing, but not throttling. Dope Body rocks, for sure, but there is such a massive misuse of anything that I would call a beat or a riff or song. I mean, they have structure to be sure, but it’s punctuated more by an ugly sense of discontent rather than sitting down and mapping out chord progressions.

And yet there are so many great familiar influences here. For perhaps the first time ever, I have heard go-go beats and inflections employed in post-punk white boy land effectively. The dub drenched vocals make my head tingle and dance, shouted as if into a bull horn at a protest then delivered into a simple microphone. The guitars, the both buzz with a gritty lo-fi rock and roll stream and slices across with hot mids and highs. There is almost no low-end to Dope Body, opting for a shot to the head or chest rather than taking out the legs.

Dope Body is youth energy in a city that is being forgotten but desperately trying to stay afloat. This is the musical cry from a metropolis that may become a ghost town or a den to uncontrolled violence, crime and decay. Baltimore is a Marxist nightmare come to life as Capitalism proves it’s inefficiencies, building communities, edifices, and infrastructure paved and hammered down. Concrete and steel replaced a landscape now forgotten and the bay has been cut, carved, paved and polluted. But Baltimore remains strong and vibrant, if not struggling. In the cracks and crumbled row homes, the kids are trying to build something new, Bohemia on top of Atlantis. Dope Body are leading the noisy, raucous crowds, banging, shouting and strumming along. It’s a mess, but a most spectacular mess to be sure.




Black God – Self Titled 7″

Black God
S/T Seven Inch
No Idea Records

Do you miss Black Cross? Cuz I do. I actually bought their album Art Offensive at a Best Buy in passing because the cover art looked really awesome. It was like oxidized gold print on a brownish paper. Totally awesome. I was psyched when I got it in my car too, it was gritty and electrifying and fast as shit. I wanted to pound fist on steering wheel and I probably did. Then they kind of faded from view.

Anyway, dudes in Black Cross went on to Coliseum and Young Widows and probably like a bunch of other bands that are awesome. Black Cross is basically three dudes that used to play in Black Cross, so when No Idea announced this I got intrigued. Rob Pennington is a great vocalist to be sure, one of those pure post-punk barks that’s got just enough of a howl and yelp in it to make him sound crisp and clean. It’s a treat to hear him on the microphone once again. And as for guitarist Ryan Patterson, that guy shreds like a mighty god of guitar. He’s probably the best song writer in the post-punk world today. Disagree, go get anything by Coliseum and put it up to anything in your shitty record collection and then cry because you suck so bad.

So, if I can take an abrupt turn in narrative, this 7″ is pretty awesome, but like so many other 7″s of this ilk, from bands of this nature, I’m irked. First of all, I really want to see more Coliseum in my life. I still can’t stop thinking about that show I saw in Seattle last year. They were nothing short of brutally amazing. And while Pennington is a gruff narrator, Patterson’s awesome guitar work contains him here to the role of sidekick. Patterson is just that awesome. The other issue, as always, is I want more. “This Life” reminds me so much of Art Offensive, being the records most straightforward, almost safe track, but it also brings me back to Black Cross and showcases how dangerous Patterson can get with his guitar playing, taking left turns just as things get a bit long-winded.

Black Cross is stripped down and gritty and will feel comfortable to your ears. The songs never linger too long, but it’s surprisingly not over before you know it. The songs stick to your insides and attach themselves to you, but you will still want more punishment. The dudes in this band have been getting the job done in so many great bands for so many years. It’s almost astonishing that they could take a step back and find the sounds that first got everyone excited. I’m torn between wanting more from this super group and wanting them to add these elements to their current bands. Either way, Black God rips it up. That’s all that matters.

Dead Language – S/T LP

Dead Language
Iron Lung Records

It’s been a minute, dear readers since I have laid any awesomeness upon you about any music that may or may not be crossing my path. I will admit, not much is grabbing my attention lately. I’ve been scouring the blogs, the internet, the torrents and all kinds of unseemly places* looking for new music that excites me. But unfortunately, there isn’t too much in the way of awesome rock destruction that’s really getting me psyched.

The other problem I was having is over the last 13 days I was delivering newspapers for a friend of mine while he went and fist pumped and drank excessively on the Jersey Shore. I know he said it was a family vacation and all he did was hang out with his  (molesting?) uncles and drank beer, but I saw the glimmer and glint in his eyes upon return.  Dude was getting his smoosh on. He is part Italian. So, I haven’t really been listening to a lot of music. In fact, it’s only been in the last day or two that I found the time to really infect my ears with any brutal noise. I was lucky to find Dead Language amongst my recent finds.

Featuring members of Iron Lung and a bunch of bands I’ve never heard, Dead Language is sick as all hell. It’s mostly a thrash/grind infusion featuring totally crunchy, lo-fi sounding guitars cranked up too loud. The band kind of just uglies their way through the first seven blisteringly fast tracks. They kind of give a little reprieve on “They’re Still Out There” which features a far too short bass interlude, that could have used a few more seconds.

But Dead Language aren’t just trying to pulverize without depth. “We Are Watching You Fail” may only be a short thirty-eight seconds, but the doubled up drum cadence that carries most of the song, is mind twisting and fucked up. The off time march is heavy and angry, but it’s also a nice mind fuck where multiple drum hits are set out of sync. The added color found on this LP clearly makes it stand out from all the other blogcore kids out there just trying to get all angry and loud with you.

After seven short, fast and gross songs, Dead Language pulls back, retreating into itself and celebrating the chaos with two longer songs. The first, “A New Dark Age” clocks in at only 2:45 seconds, but starts with an epic trudge that falls apart into grind beats, retracted breaks, and stretches of hollow sounding sludge jams before falling apart into white noise and bass string hits.

The real celebration comes at the end though with the epic “Misanthropy”, a nine minute festival of the most inbred kind. The song is as long or longer than the rest of the this stunning debut and takes all the time in the world to unfold. This is not a band of dudes that only know one brutal way of being. And though the title of the song is contrite and played out, especially in any kind of post-punk/metal scene, the intro caries a dark and ominous tone, the noises mostly just unfolding before the band beats into the rest of the song. Dead Language has a great, fucked up bass tone that sounds like all the speakers have been kicked in, and on this track it lifts itself to the top of the mix, creating the sound of dense concrete being thrown at you.

There is so much shit out there, especially in the music scenes made up of decaying middle class white men. To stand out in this world actually takes effort. To get into the uncollected mind of a man who is exhausted, possibly concussed, and suffering the effects of being weary of music, Dead Language delivers a much-needed shot in the arm. It doesn’t take much, just a bit of thought and effort, and this album has enough to keep it lean and mean while still being interesting enough to warrant multiple listens in a sea of one and done spins.

*editors note – I have actually, in my unemployed and quickly depleting state bought a few records, including Lungfish’s Unanimous Hour reissue, the new Raw Nerve and Vile Gash EPs on Youth Attack and the new split LP with Assholeparade, the best grind band ever!

Back To Work Sort Of

Hey kids,  what the hell is up? This is just going to be a short and sweet note to let you know that I will be back to blogging a bit next week. I got a sweat post reviewing the new Lungfish reissue over at error vizion scheduled for monday. So I am psyched for that because not having stuff up the last two weeks has bummed me out. So check them out now and then come back here and then check them out on monday.

I will have two reviews up here on Monday and Wednesday and I am going to attempt to have another mix tape up by the end of the week too. I have some guests coming from out-of-town next week so I may go on another hiatus, but I am gonna try to spend some late nights doing some stuff. There’s a sick show in Albuquerque on Friday night at a house with Tenderizor and Sabertooth Cavity that I plan on going to so if that works out look for photos. If I miss this show, fuck it, I think I should just quit trying to be into music and become an accountant or a guidance counselor or some other weak shit.

Finally, issue #6 of the zine is out. It’s $2 and you can find it here along with copies of my new collection of short stories and such. You should totally buy this stuff cuz it’s awesome and you’ll be into it. Just toss them in your basket in your bathroom and read life away while you rip some awesome shits! Man, I hope my mom doesn’t read this post. Anyway, tell your friends about the site and the zine and the book. I’m unemployed and I need some cash flow kids. Help a bro out.