Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunny Day Real Estate - Thief, Steal Me a Peach 7" (1993)

It's finally here! After a few years of searching for this 7", only to hear one song that I had on a mix tape years ago, all it took was a post about Sunny Day and a request and papstar comes through with the save.

This 7" is super out of print, it is the first recording that Jeremy plays and sings on, and even the cover art was damn hard to find. Song no. 8 is the same song that ended up on LP2, but it is an earlier version. Song no. 9 is the money shot. Jeremys vocals are alot more on the edge here, cracking and threatening to break as the band gets closer to their punk and hardcore roots than they would ever do on later albums.

Some people might find these songs ragged and under produced, but purists will love the unbridled angst that is apparent on these two songs. Personally, 9 is one of the best Sunny Day songs and even after not hearing it for almost a decade, I would still say its one of their best.

Non-Musical Accompaniment

Friday, October 19, 2007

Error (2004)

Error - S/T
Get out your glow sticks, JNCO jeans, acid and blue hair dye my friends because we are going down an incredibly techno lane. I am not going to lie, as a somewhat fan of certain electronica acts, I cannot get into techno. I can't dance, I don't take hard drugs, constant repetition of a certain noise makes me go insane and... well... I live in fucking IOWA! So that being said it is quite the oddity that I enjoy this band. Comprised of members of Nine Inch Nails (Atticus Ross), Bad Religion (Brett Gurewitz) and the Dillenger Escape Plan (Greg Puciato), this is a match made in heaven. Due to the probably hectic schedule of all the "main" bands, this side project seems to have received little attention over the years which is actually quite a shame. Musically, this band lies somewhere inbetween Mr. Bungle, Nine Inch Nails and any nameless/faceless hardcore punk group. If you're up for an interesting playlist, download this and play away.

Ray and Porcell (unreleased)

Ray and Porcell lost 7"
Someone a while back asked for this in a comment a while back and here at Zen we like giving back so here it is. This is honestly one of the weirdest "youth crew" albums ever. It isn't really a wonder why this wasn't released in this format because, well back in the 80's you couldn't do so much with a drum machine that you can now. But what IS a wonder is why they didn't put out these songs with a real drummer once Shelter got together. Oh well, no use dwelling on a question we'll never have an answer for so here you have it! Ray and Porcell in one of the oddest internet rarities I've ever laid eyes (ears?) on.

Sunny Day Real Estate

Diary (1994)

LP2 (1995)

This is one of those moments where I have to choose between two paths. Such justice is deserved by a band so great as Sunny Day Real Estate to either feverishly describe all of the songs off of these two releases, digging into all the lyrics, the inflections with which Enigk sings, Dan Hoerners guitar riffs, or Nate and Wills awesome rhythm section (especially on LP2). It can go way further than that too. The other extreme is to stand in silent awe of their work and let the sounds speak for themselves. I am prone to the latter at this current moment, as I probably would have been when I first heard Diary in 94, and as I definitely was when I first heard LP2. I was also incredibly crushed when they broke up after LP2 and incredibly elated when they reformed. My emotions are very tied to this band, specifically these first two works, and I dont think breaking apart their songs or lyrics would do me or anyone else any good. Jeremey is the only one who knew what he was singing about, and the band wrote a new chapter in the punk/emo/hardcore canons that would change the face of underground music going into the latter part of the decade. Suffice it to say that SDRE is easily one of my most favorite bands, up there with Fugazi, Quicksand, Sonic Youth and the Pixies.

48 and J'Nuh are two of the best rock songs ever written in my opinion.

As a side note, this post and the Jawbreaker post are in commemoration of Zen and the Art of Face Punchings first year aniversary!

Jawbreaker (mega post)

Alright here's the deal. I'm fucking young (in contrast to some of these guys anyway). I'm only 20 so I never saw about 2/3 of the bands that I love. I'm not one of those guys that thinks "the classics are always going to be better" because there is a constant wave of awesome music thats coming out every year, but there are certain bands and records that are completely timeless that I'm jealous people got to hear for the first time before the internet took quite a bit of the magic out of records and live shows. Jawbreaker is one of those bands that I am quite envious of people older than me for being able to hear and experience when it was fresh and there weren't 4 or 5 tribute albums to them.

That being said there are 3 Jawbreaker records to me that are a completely necessary listen and the beginning of a turning point in punk rock. Jawbreaker is the beginning of a new branch of which so many bands took influence and went in their vein of really deep, emotive style of punk as opposed to following the "loud/fast" rules. Sure other bands had done it before (late 80's DC comes to mind) but none did it with the sort of beat influence, seriously depressing lyrics, and intelligence that Blake had.

Jawbreaker - Unfun
Unfun is the first LP they recorded and easily their most underrated. This album starts off with one of the best love songs ever. In the history of music. In the history of humanity. As I said earlier if you haven't put "Want" on any mix tape you've made for a girl/guy re-think your sexuality.

Jawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge Therapy
24 Hour Revenge therapy is probably their most popular as it has a good two thirds of the bands "hits". Songs like "The Boat Dreams from the Hill", "Boxcar" and "Do You Still Hate Me" are easily some of my personal favorites. Only complaint; too short.

Jawbreaker - Bivouac
My least favorite but thats not really saying much because Jawbreaker, in my opinion anyway, never really put out a bad song. These songs are just sort of inbetween everything else they've ever done and doesn't really have anything that stands out. Blakes lyrics are still just as fascinating its just that musically they seem to be stuck between the poppier sense of Unfun, the seemingly "harder" parts of 24 HRT and Dear You's experimentalism.

Jawbreaker - Dear You

Dear You is probably their most "sophisticated" as it most resembles Jets to Brazil which, for some god awful reason, people think is better? I mean don't get me wrong I like both but come on. Another reason I can't help but relate this to Jets to Brazil is the vocals due to the fact that its post-surgery. Definitely great album though.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rain - La Vache Qui Rit (1987/1990/2007)

This is an amazing forgotten record from the DC vaults. It has recently been resurrected on Dischord records as it shouldve been when it first was recorded. Rain began in 1986, right at the tail end of the Revolution Summer movement in DC that comprised bands like Rites of Spring and Embrace. The album didnt see the light of day until 1990, when Guy Picciotto released it on his Peterbilt label. After quickly selling out it again hadnt seen the light of day until this year when Dischord re-released it along with the out of print Deadline songs (early 80's DC hardcore with Brendan Canty of Rites of Spring, Fugazi fame.)

Its hard to talk about the DC scene without mentioning all the connections between these bands, so I'll keep it short. Eli Janney is Eddie Janneys younger bro. Eddie played in Rites of Spring and One Last Wish. John Kirschten sings and Rain was his first band. Bert Queiroz played in a few earlier DC hardcore bands, during the Minor Threat / Faith / Void days. Bert Played in the Untouchables with Ians brother Alec and Eli's brother Eddie. He also played in Double-O and Youth Brigade. Scott McCloud joined before recording La Vache Qui Rit, and went on to play guitar for Soul Side and later with Eli played in Girls Against Boys.

Such a complicated web. IF that doesnt fascinate you like it fascinates me, then lets talk about the music. Rain sounds like Rites of Spring. Rain sounds like Dag Nasty. Rain sounds like Embrace. Rain sounds like One Last Wish. John Kirschten even sounds like Guy in RoS. Basically these 6 songs completely rule. Full of melody. Full of passion. Full of harmony and that awesome DC twin guitar sound. This sound is basically unbeatable and these songs are instantly replayable over and over again. Snakeout is my favorite with its awesome opening guitar riff, but I really cant compare these songs to each other as they all have such endearing qualities and anyone, I mean anyone that likes DC hardcore from the mid 80's will get all juicy over this record.

Order it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pegboy - Earwig

Pegboy - Earwig (1994)

Since there seems to be a lull in posting here lately (mainly from me), I figured I would post one of my favorite albums from my youth. In 1994 I was in my senior year of high school. I was a typical kid that would spend most of my time skipping school, getting high, and skating. One day one of my friends brought this cassette with him and said we just had to here it. We popped it in, and sure enough it was amazing. I had never heard of pegboy before,they just seemed to pop out of nowhere. All I knew is that this tape was kickass and fun to skate all day long to. I'm not exactly sure how popular Pegboy was in their heyday, but to me and my friends, they were Canada's best kept secret. Until we found out they were from Chicago and plenty of people had heard of them. Either way, this album kicks ass....and so does their cover of Mission of Burma's Revolver.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sinaloa - Footprints on Floorboards (2005)

"My hand holds fire / better put it to use / My enemy has water / theres no time for a truce"

Its time for pure subjectivity. I love this band. One of my favorite current hardcore bands. Even though theyre not really hardcore. They dont mute their guitars, they dont play really fast. In fact, they sound more like late 80's DC stuff, and even then, not really. But yet it is still hardcore, somehow. I mean, they did splits with Ampere, Wolves, Catena Collapse. What makes hardcore "hardcore' is not for me to decide, nor is it even relevant really. Sinaloa is awesome. I already did a review for them, where I compared them to Native Nod, what with their jangling guitar sounds, shaky spoken vocals that border on collapse, every so often toeing the line to an actual scream. Theres definitely some Rites of Spring sound, but filtered through the mid 90's influence of bands like Policy of 3 or Current. I think therein lies the reason I like Sinaloa so much, aside from their obviously cool lyrics. I loved Current. One of my favorites from back then. Same with Native Nod. They had a very melodic sense of rocking out without being purposefully heavy, and ended up sounding almost more powerful because of it.

Sinaloa does all these things, without a bass player. Just two guitars and a drummer. All three guys singing (screaming, talking, whispering, whatever), but passion drips from every corner of this record. At first, I only cared about their song from the Ampere split, and found this album difficult to get into. For some reason I started listening to this again and I figured I mustve been smoking crack, cuz this album is just as good as the songs from the split. Theres not a weak song on this, and the lack of a bassist isnt even noticeable, as the bands locks all the notes together in such a way that everything sounds full and meshed together really well. The drumming is also a key factor, as it is all that drives the rhythms, and Sinaloa happens to be pretty good at rocking a good beat, if you you know what im saying.

If you liked the split, get this record. You can get it from their myspace for $8!!!.

Escapado - Initiale (2007)

I dont generally like posting things that are this fresh. Instead, I like to post things that have been out for a while already, to be fair. But in some cases I think the opposite is fair.

I have never heard of Escapado before, and they are from Germany, and I really dont know how people would hear about this. I only heard of it through a download from After the Post Rock, where someone said album of the year. Of course I had to check it out, as thats a lofty claim. Well, I'm not gonna say this is album of the year, cuz its not, but its actually an amazing record. and it would be a sin for a band to make such an awesome record and nobody hears it. Maybe I'm a dick and not giving credit where credits due. Maybe people already know of this band. Maybe they dont need my help. But fuck it. I think they are awesome, and I bet I can reach a few extra people they cant.

Oh, the album. Thats right, this is a review of Escapados new album Intiale. Well, I can start off by telling you what it sounds like. German hardcore, tense and screamy, passionate and emotional. Veering a tight line right between post-hardcore and emo/screamo. Twin guitar attack, DC style, screamed, sung and spoken lyrics, all in German. Nice fierce drumming, and the bass is higher up in the mix, which is a nice change from most hardcore which seems to bury the bass under the guitars.

But wait, theres more. "What it sounds like" is a double ended term. This can also refer to bands. Some consider it lame to review a band by comparing it to other bands. Frankly, I think those people are journalist majors and are trying to recreate the wheel by using clever adjectives and writing styles (the same people that took the term "emo" to ridiculous ends). The description I used above could be construed as relative enough to describe a number of bands that have nothing to do with each other. "Who" do they sound like is a valuable tool then. Escapado sounds like, while managing to sound like themselves at the same time, a combination of Envy, Daitro Cease Upon the Capitol and On the Might of Princes, with German vocals instead of Japanese, French or American (ahem! English). If you want to know my opinion (which, if youre reading this, is all that matters for the moment) it is a very useful mixture of sounds. Especially the more melodically sung parts that echo OTMOP. It leavens some of the screamy stuff and makes what is screamy more punctual and thus, more powerful.

Hopefully this band gets heard, and does a tour of the US, and hopefully continues to record music, because this might actually end up on my year end list (though its been quite a good year for music). "Coldblackdeathbloodmurderhatemachine" is my favorite song. Its got a great singy part in the beginning that turns into a CUTC reminiscent spacy part with zapping guitars, then dips into a very Daitro-ish breakdown with spoken lyrics and then swerves right into a moshy part with an aweome muted guitar chug right in the middle. Just one palm mute, but its great. The whole album is great though... you wont be let down. I promise.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Jeremy Enigk - World Waits (2006)

Jeremy Enigk - World Waits

I'm not going to lie, Sunny Day Real Estate still has yet to grow on me the way other bands of the era like Texas is the Reason and Promise Ring have, but I wouldn't have been able to get into any of that without this landmark album. I'm going to go ahead and say I like his latest solo record more than I like "Diary". World Waits is front to end perfect indie rock. It's obviously got similarities to Sunny Day because, well, his voice is definitely his own and no one sounds like him, but its definitely (because of time and technology) engineered better and WAY more epic! It's definitely softer but he shows off a wide variety of music on here. It's not a typical album where song after song sounds exactly the same but then again they don't necessarily branch out genre wise. Needless to say this album has me weeping.Jeremy Enigk - World Waits

In My Eyes - Anthony Sings the Hits (Unreleased)

Anthony Sings the Hits

YOU KNEW that this would end up here dude! In My Eyes was possibly the best youth crew "revival" band of the 90's. I say "revival" because I hate calling them this because unlike a lot of the other bands around at the time they were so much more. While awesome bands like Floorpunch, Ten Yard Fight and others of their ilk have covered the same ground and done an amazing job, In My Eyes had the music and the message nailed to the T (or, figuratively, X) and their songs seem to go so much deeper than the rest. While he doesn't sing their best song on this (Welcome To Boston makes me want to crush elitist pricks skulls) he does pick out a great mix of 6 of the songs off of their 2nd LP, "Nothing To Hide". I was only in 5th grade when they were busy touring the country and making amazing tunes and for that I will always be envious of those older than me. Download this if you're a fan of anything awesome ever.

Also, quit lurking and comment sometime.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Snowblood - Being and Becoming

Snowblood is not a GI Joe character, it is not a mythical beast, nor is it an awesome Marvel comic book character. Snowblood is a band from Glasgow, who play larger than life songs, epic in both towering height and vast width. Yes, I said epic. Not unlike mythical beasts, superheroes or GI Joe (Storm Shadow especially). Snowblood is also a little schizophrenic and prone to bouts of extreme beauty, extreme desolation, to bouts of extreme tension and release, to bouts of extreme walls of crushing distortion and extreme metal. Snowblood is a love of extremes.

Disappearance is an intro of sorts, though more of an intro that is 8 minutes long, starting off formless and hazy before locking into a few key melodies. The melodies disappear into a haze before reforming as a solid song, with beautiful harmonized singing and somberish progressive rock feel.

The beauty is over after that. Aubade begins with a sinister melody that quickly forms into a tensions building piece that echoes the best Slinty moments that Mogwai ever pulled off (ahem, Like Herod...). The spoken word vocals with the Scottish accent also give it that similar appeal. With a sudden drop off and a few screams the whole thing veers into the pit of a volcano. A gigantic eviscerating juggernaut of blackened molten lava, twin shredded vocals and immense gut lurching pyroclastic flow. There is no way out, and once over the initial shock of being tossed into a flaming pit of slowmotion death, you realize youve got yourself a pretty awesome sludge fest on your hands. The comparisons to early Neurosis and Isis (particularly Celestial) are inevitable but in no way unwelcome. Its been a long time since either of those bands have truly crushed our heads with tribal fury, but Snowblood bring the beatings, and right after a truly wonderful double entedred opening - the framing of the whole event is fresh and wholly different than before. The song ends with the repeated words, "I know, because I've seen it with my own eyes. Im the Witness...". Great ending to a great opening, and the album continues to get better from their.

Out of Harm's Way mirrors some of the same sentiments of the first songs peak, with more melodic vocals, both somber and beautiful, and again the song has a sprawl of subtle build and repetition, knowing how much is for good effect and how much is enough before bringing a progression, and I think the vocals go a long way to helping that cause. Things dont remain static for long, and as the song builds steam it cultivates an awesome riff before completely opening the flood gates to another molten flow of distortion. This is easily one of the highlights of the album.

Call off the Search slowly builds like its predecessor, though arrives at its crushing destination quicker, and leaves us off on Year of the Bastard which is essentially a mind eraser of seriously bassed out distortion crazed grind metal song with nothing but the most furious of intentions. Its pretty good, and eases up some of the tension built up previously. Call Off the Search and Year of the Bastard function like good radio programming should run, they break up the flow before sameness comes to ruin the party.

From here the album is of Godspeed You! Black Emperor-like proportions. Taking the dynamics further in every direction and giving themselves space to stretch out all that they have gone over before, these final three songs function as the outpouring. Young, Black Stars Over Glasgow and Appearance. If the previous part of the album was a Statement of Intent, then these three tracks are the final delivered product.

I am not even gonna spoil it for you. Ive already told you too much. Snowblood takes all the best parts of their sound and arrange them in such a way to scale the walls of their forefathers and meet them head on. Some may not have the patience, as the last three songs total a half hour in length, but some will find immense beauty and harrowing visions from these final songs. Either way, Snowblood has gone out on a limb and produced one of the most interesting records in a genre (Post-Rock, Instrumental, Metal) that has for a while clung to the same old tricks.

They apparently are releasing a third record sometime in the near future and I am very excited to see what this amazing band does next.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ween - La Cucaracha

Ween - La Cucaracha (2007)

It's a pretty well known fact by now that I am a Ween freak. This is their newest album. I have had it about 2 weeks now and it hasn't left my cd player yet. I wanted to wait to post it until a good copy was released. Today I finally got a hold of the V0 rip, so here it is for you. I'm totally biased, but there really isn't a bad song on here. If you don't like any of their previous output, then don't bother downloading this. If you like it, PLEASE go buy it. Ween is about as diy as you can get, so support this shit. They are having a deal on right now where you can get the cd with a shirt. Mine should be here shortly, its a good deal, so scoop it up. Or order the vinyl. Or both. Stay Brown.