I’m not going to do some huge advert for it, however it’s about a million times better than my old one – I hadn’t realised how muddy the sound was on it until I cranked up this one. The result of this new depth of sound has had me dragging out old albums again. This probably should come as no surprise if you’ve been to this blog before as I am given to harking back to the past anyway, but I’ve remembered why I love vinyl so much and how vast the difference is between it and the sound of my ipod (even with decent headphones).
This1988 album by Bastro:
Rode Hard And Put Up Wet sounds superb again – it brings back memories of me listening to it at 17 with the door to my tiny box room shut having a sneaky cigarette next to the open window, I loved this record and played it to death on my old hand-me-down system (which incidentally was still better than the one i just consigned to dusty under bed ‘storage’).
This is a real post-hardcore gem, although at the time I probably would have called it American Hardcore, and I recall buying it because of the Albini connection (he engineered the album) and they used a drum machine so it had that Big Black feel to it. They have interesting time signatures and fantastic discordant horns which I remembered instantly this week when I was listening to the new Svin record (read my Roomthirteen review here) and I immediately pulled this six track mini album out of the stack to get stuck back into.
I’m sure there will be more nostalgic waffling on old records to come soon. I’m even considering digging out my old Ride and Slowdive stuff although I fear they may not have aged so well.
As far as my taste in music goes I think I’m past being labelled based on the way I look, (I could be wrong but) it’s been a few years since someone asked me about my preferences based on looks alone, I’m guessing this is because I’m now officially getting old or whatever. Honestly I’m not sure fitting in has ever been a huge concern to me and these days I certainly don’t align myself to one particular genre anyway. Online though it’s all about what you say rather than how you look and this can also have its drawbacks – if I review a load of albums from a particular genre I suddenly get typecast a certain way but that’s par for the course with music journalism as its difficult to write a review which you want to aim at a particular audience without mentioning genre.
Sure I love Punk music but I also love a lot of emo, alt-rock, metal, indie, post rock or whatever else takes my fancy. Sometimes I’m surprised into noting how narrow some peoples taste in music is and have wondered how anyone can limit themselves to just one type of music – wouldn’t that get really boring really quickly? Wouldn’t you be missing out on a huge amount of great music? Whats wrong with just accepting that you don’t fit in anywhere and not worrying about what other people think? Music is what keeps me going and I’ve always been off centre to what is considered the ‘norm’ but instead of buying in to a lifestyle cliche I am simply true to myself and love music that makes me feel something or inspires me. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
On that note here are a few records that have inspired me recently:
Belgrado’s 7″ Panopticon / Vicious Circle – post-punk of the highest order from Spain.
Degenerate #11 arrived this week in the post – It’s the kind of zine that makes you want to go out and make your own zine, unfortunately you know it would never be this good. Aesthetically Mr. Lefebvre nails it again with a beautiful cut and paste look and striking cover layout which is oh so inviting – this issue even has a flexi disc of Musk – I haven’t seen one of those for years. I’m sure I mentioned this with the last issue but I’ll say it again, it’s not all style over content, the writing is really solid with a mix of academic musing about punk/post-punk and band interviews (with some interesting questions posed). I’ve said ‘academic’ but that doesn’t mean the style is dry, quite the opposite – it actually brings to mind a kind of modernist stream of consciousness at times in that you really get a feel for the writer’s thought processes and the emotional impact the music has on him.
I love to read this kind of writing, it’s the kind of thing you rarely, if ever, find in mainstream music press and is why I turned to zines in the first place – a bit of passion and intensity without all the corporate bullshit and the need to sell anything – honestly, after 6 or 7 years of music writing myself I am still striving unsuccessfully to reach this plateau. Anyway, you get the point, it’s inspiring stuff and I urge you to get hold of a copy of this zine.
A last minute venue change from Cardiff Uni to the smaller Clwb Ifor Bach meant this gig ended up being the first sold out show on the tour and the more intimate venue made for some great crowd/band interaction.
Frontman Matt Caughthran takes the stage draped in a Wales scarf and talking about the rugby the day before – he always knows which buttons to push and it worked a treat, the crowd already eating out of his hand before they’d even played a note, but even so, the first couple of crowd pleasing tunes saw a surge for the stage and a pit open up in the floor straight away. Early on Matt began descending into the crowd – with no barriers or security to be seen he made frequent trips into the pit – soon literally the whole place was moving and bodies were flying off the stage every couple of minutes – top stuff.
The set was a mix of old; False Alarm, Six Days A Week, Shitty Future, History’s Stranglers, Knife Man, and new, with tracks like Under The Rabbit and The Unholy Hand from recently released The Bronx IV – I could go on but I wouldn’t want to bore you with a huge list, needless to say it was full of hits played with energy and professionalism and they kept us all moving until the last track. Caughthran had a ‘moment’ part way through the set and couldn’t stop grinning, he explained that they just love to play and who can blame them if every set gets such a great reaction from the audience. It felt over far too quickly but after braving a huge queue at the merch stall everyone left happy and satisfied, (if very sweaty), a top performance once again from The Bronx. I never get tired of watching them.
A couple of zines arrived in the post this week, one old, the Summer 2011 issue of Nowhere Zine and one new, Zine & Not Heard #7.
This zine is the work of recently appointed Maximun Rock n Roll co-ordinator Lydia and is a Greek/English punk zine. It’s odd actually, this zine made me feel old – not sure if it’s the youthful tone of the writing or the extreme attitude (although punk zines tend to have that in spades anyway) which is along the lines of, if you don’t agree with them you can f**k off basically. That’s fair enough but it left me feeling a bit worn out! Anyway, the writing’s not amazing, but not bad either, some of the columns were in Greek so I couldn’t actually read them but the zine and record reviews were worth a look.
The layout is pretty too – an A5 sized book, nicely chunky at over 90 pages with some bits in colour and a mix of type and cut and paste. Worth checking out for MRR fans or punk zine collectors – not particularly easy to get hold of a copy now so I’m told but I think Cessnock Underground distro in the UK still has it – that’s where I got my copy from.
As with the previous Zine & Not Heard’s issue 7 of this Brit zine is full of off-kilter short prose, this time on the subject of Tomatoes. Disappointingly from my perspective this issue has no musical content at all, but to be fair it works fine without it and is still an intriguing read. The writing is quirky but there’s a kind of down-beat feel to the zine as a whole, stories like Salsa leaving you in a thoughtful mood. Visit the website to buy.
So my MRR subscription has been delayed, no sign of the first issue yet and I’m still hoping for new Degenerate and Us Und Them issues to be released, so in the meantime, aside from the above, I’ve been enjoying checking in to Fluke Fanzine online – haven’t been able to get hold of a hard copy of this in the UK yet but I’m still on the look out – this blog is all about pictures and new content seems to be added daily.
Detroit punk-rockers Louder Than Bombs has just signed to South Division Records who will be putting out their new album What Resonates in April. In the meantime i’ve been enjoying listening to their last 6 track record on Bandcamp which is full of great melodies, gruff shouting, sing along vocals and bouncy rhythms. Top stuff. You can also listen to a new track at the South Division website - it sounds like the new album is shaping up nicely.
Also of interest today is the news that SRC Vinyl will be releasing Quicksand’s classic 1995 post-hardcore album Manic Compression in a gatefold vinyl LP format and in 4 colours no less! The album comes out on 26th February and can be ordered from this link.
So, we’re only a short way into the new year but I’m already enjoying some new music.
Springtime have a new 7″ coming soon but in the meantime I’ve been listening to this cracking demo. The band has an assured hardcore punk sound, sporting an old school edge likened to Dag Nasty and they recently signed to excellent independent label Tiny Engines. I’ll definitely be seeking out that new release!
Listen and download (for free) their demo from Bandcamp
I’m also liking this demo very much from Cayetana, a great all female trio from Philadelphia (another great Philly band??). The demo has crunchy, scuzzy but sweetly melodic punk tunes.Here’s hoping they have more tunes like this on the way.
Just to finish off the year, here are a few things that have interested me lately.
In zines – I’ve recently acquired and read A Short Fanzine About Rocking. It’s been going since 2001 but is only the second issue I’ve managed to pick up of this UK punk/metal zine, the clean, uncluttered style makes a change from a lot of the cut and paste zines I read and I like the writing style – some great interviews. At 80 pages (or there abouts) it’s not just a five minute read and kept me going for a few days so it’s cheap at £2. Visit the tumblr for more info.
I’ve been listening to this great new album by Annabel non stop: I had the vinyl as a Christmas gift and it’s rather lovely but had listened many times to the full album on their Bandcamp so it’s already a favourite.
Coming up in the new year to get excited about is the new issue of Degenerate zine. This is by far my favourite zine of the moment both aesthetically and in content so I’m very much looking forward to that. A new album from The Bronx is coming early next year too which is always something to look forward to and hopefully a new issue of Tastemaker zine from Matt Average under its new moniker Us Und Them I very much enjoyed issue #1 of that. So tons to look forward to in 2013.