Saturday, April 19, 2008

Seven Years War - Ranks Of The Common People (1995?)

While in college at a little school in Burlington, VT I was introduced to one of the smallest and coolest hardcore scenes known to the genre. Moo Cow records was the flagship label and, looking back, it seems they were actually quite influential in their own right. They released records from Grey Before My Eyes, Dive, Disembodied and they also released Burlingtons own take on Ebullition records, Seven Years War. The extremely political Seven Years War released only a smattering of things, this full length being one of them. Previously they released the John Brown 7" with the amazing song Convenience of Ignorance (which was later covered by the punk band Heckle which was formed by an early member of Seven Years War.)

Seven Years War sounded like Groundwork covering Chokehold. (Or maybe Chokehold covering Groundwork.) So what that means to you is jagged and/or chaotic sections of furious ultra political hardcore backed with maniacally heavy breakdowns of a similar ultra political nature. Simply put, the descriptions dont do too much justice, because the War had their own sound of sorts. While on one hand they tended toward basic metal, on the other was a math-rock powerhouse blanketed within the harsh folds of hardcore ideology. It was always fun to see them play because the music intrinsically had power that made you want to move, but it was hard to actually get a groove going, and then they drop would a ton of bricks on your head and the whole dance floor would erupt, like, "Finally!!! I can windmill to this!!!" Lol!

But it was a sight to see. When they pulled out the whistle and screamer Jonathon Hughes was blowing that thing like his head was going to explode, man. I wish I could convey some experiences to video. Just hook a cable up to the ole noggin and download memories. And they were skinny, well read college kids from UVM just hamming it up all serious. I unfortunately dont have the lyrics anymore as I relinquished my hold on many of my CD cases as they were super cumbersome after years of moving, but needless to say there is nothing funny about any of the lyrics and they, like so many other, thought they could change the world. Themes of anti-imperialism and natives rights run rampant and riffs galore will make you a firm believer that you too can change the world with a whistle and a guitar.

My bet to you, wonderful readers, best readers on the net, is if you like the description above, if you like Groundwork, Chokehold, or early Ebullition records releases, then you will eat this shit up and smile while you chew. Chances are Hibakusha will make you want to mosh in your living room, Caged will make you jump up and down, Native Crown will make you want to go say sorry to Native Americans and Nrubaidem will make you froth at the mouth.

PS. Moo Cow Records still exists and they have releases coming out this year. Go pay them a visit.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Rodan - Peel Session - 1994

Rodan - How the Winter Was Passed 7" - 1994

Rodan - Rusty - 1994

It should be no surprise to any of the readers that Rodan is one my most favorite bands. Simply put, they are the only band that sounds like this, and while Shipping News comes close, there is no comparison to the jarring tempos and immense beauty of a song like The Everyday World of Bodies.

The main purpose of this post is to share the John Peel Session from 1994. One of our readers (Michael? I apologize for not giving proper credit) shared this with me and I have to say, I am blown away. Everything great about Rusty is present here in the form of three rare tracks (to me at least). I personally had never heard anything more of Rodans work until earlier this year. Rusty has been sitting in my collection for damn near 15 years and holding a spot on a pedestal as one of my most coveted records. Hearing this 3 song Peel Session brings my love of all things Rodan to new heights. That these songs are played live is no small testament to the fact that these guys, and one girl, were born incredible. Their timing, their tact and their ability to engross within the first few seconds of listening is a rare feat in music today; especially to these jaded ears. I hold my breath until the day another band comes around that works within this mold as theyre are very few who remain completely true to the sounds. In fact, I think I may just have to take the steps and start debuting music I make to even attempt this ideal of sonic juxtaposition.

For those who may have missed them before, Rusty and How the Winter Was Passed are incredible vital to any collection. But make sure you hear this Peel Session.
Artwork is finagled by me, remade from a silly 70's era Rodan movie poster. As always, view image in a new window for larger size artwork for iPods and iTunes.


Algernon Cadwallader - Demo (2006)

I was never a huge Promise Ring fan and I missed Cap'n Jazz somehow. American Football had some good ideas that I felt werent as interesting in succession. In fact, that whole emo split that happened in the mid 90's left a huge rift in styles, with some bands remaining fast and chaotic, sprinkling pretty moments amidst tense dynamics. Some bands tended toward a twinklier, prettier, more twee sound. Lyrics tended towards the high school romance spectrum of emotion, and while this all has its merit, I still wonder sometimes how such a great stylistic difference occurred.

Nonetheless, I am not one to scoff at something that catches my attention, no matter how far out of the normal listening range it is for me. And while my first experience with Algernon Cadwallader was met with stiff opinions regarding how cheesy and unoriginal it was, somehow, through some convergence of nicer weather, a reflective mood and the need for some melodies to match, I found myself inextricably drawn to the ramshackle charm of this band that I didnt want to like.

Algernon Cadwallader, the band with the strangest name on the planet, has completely won me over like none of its predecessor has. Was it timing? Pure chance? Or some strange serendipity that led me to play this every day for the past few weeks. It reeks of cheese (Gouda maybe) and I feel so unashamed to listen to lyrics about liking girls and the most mundane of worldly details.

They have a full length album coming out this year, as well as a 7" re release of this demo (with an official cover, mine is swiped from their myspace page) and I think I may even have to go see them live. Hopefully sometime this spring so I can smile like an idiot and feel 16 all over again.

Spacehorse - Ghosts of the Civil Living (2006)

It's not long ago that I got my first taste of Spacehorses first LP (or is it an EP? its only about 12 minutes long) and man was I blown away. At this point I would assume most people visiting here are familiar with and into Heroin. Heroin and Spacehorse are born of the same blood. Matt Anderson and Scott Bartiloni have been playing together for well over a decade and the sound they helped create in 1991 has come full circle at this point in time. Spacehorse sounds like revitalized and rejuvenated Heroin that grew up and learned to play their instruments.

Its no known secret that Heroin sounded like they were falling head over heels down the stairs while they played their furious and cathartic brand of punk rock. There in lies part of their charm. Young kids saying fuck you to music and fuck you to everything else, including their poor instruments which sound like they recorded them through a blender. Well theyre still not happy with the way things are run, they just have a larger arsenal now with which to bring these issues to forefront. Anyone looking to catch a bit of that sound will absolutely eat this up. Spacehorse delivers and make no doubts about it, age has done nothing to slow these guys down.

Shipping News - Live in San Fran (2001)

As I may have previously mentioned, and will probably mention many times in the future, the 90's Louisville music scene is one of my most favorite in the world. The fact that this particular sound lives on very few places makes the existence of Shipping News a wonderful thing. For those who may not be familiar Shipping News was began a few years after the demise of the great Rodan. Jason Noble, at the time (and possibly currently?) was playing in the avant chamber orchestra post rock band Rachel's, led by pianist Rachel Grimes. Jeff Mueller was playing in the similarly incredible and very Slint-worthy band June of 44. Kevin Coultas and Tara Jane O'Neil have not joined their one time band mates and drums have instead been filled by Louisville native, Kyle Crabtree, also of the band Metroschifter. The trio expands upon the sound of their experiments begun in Rodan, fusing tight angular rhythms with sometimes breezy and sometimes jarring guitar and bass signatures.

On to the goods. As a general rule of thumb most live shows arent worth more than a passing listen. Sound qualities are often mediocre and a lot of times bands will just play the source material to the best of their present abilities. Of course you come across the occasional show that is powered with so much crowd positivity, or maybe the band was just in a fantastic mood, but you can garner a few good tracks, possibly even better than the originals. The clincher are the bands that expand on their sounds ina live setting. Shipping News is a perfect candidate for a good live show recording. And this is what we have here.

Recorded in 2001 at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, Shipping News deliver in ways I am often surprised at. As a fan of the News I feel it safe to say that this recording is the best way to experience them. Not only is the set list wonderful, but each and every song is given incredible breathing room. Songs like Quiet Victories and Steerage are far better than their originals. March Song, while not having the Steve Albini treatment, has a much more powerful lurch, and Actual Blood sounds like it quelled even the smallest whispers in the audience, with its tense shimmer and brooding vocals. An unreleased track, Claws, sounds amazing, and Books on Train closes out the set wonderfully.

Did I mention this is a soundboard recording? It really sounds great. Its perfect for headphones or home stereos. I'll have to say, it is my preferred way of experiencing these songs. Every musician is completely on this night, and they sound proud of their songs.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday is a Good Day for Deth Metal

I've been listening to the new Arsis all day. Its ridiculously silly and awesome.
Check out the cover art work. Super LULZ!

This album reminds me of later Death works like Individual Thought Patterns or their last one The Sounds of Perseverance.
Seriously shred worthy stuff.

For anyone who cares...

You can find me Here, and Here.

Make sure you say "Hi" and mention Zen, otherwise you could just be another random creep looking to get me on your web cam site and I will ignore it. I don't regularly check either, but they have been useful in the past...

Hope all is well.

Check back this weekend. I absolutely PROMISE to make some posts. ^_~

Monday, April 07, 2008

Quick Quick

Time is flying by with no fanfare. this will be the most poorly spelld post... evar.... i am typing liek the wind... this is how life has felt... tyoed to fast with too many spelling mistakes and no sense of grammar... life does that sometimes. its doing it to me now... though make no mistake, i am not complaining... i o nly pine away for the time to post up more stuff on the ole bloggggg...

maybe i can even spell check this after the facct. but the time being, i am at work. i wanted to say hello to everyone... the blog still seems to be getting hits, and i want to apologize to everyoe that has been checking back to see whats new... well, theres nothing new here, but there is a ton of new stuff in real life.

my girlfriend Lara and I (and our dogs, Mo and Mugs) are moving, to the other side of our beloved Brooklyn. we decided that loft living in the ghetto, while it has its perks (dramatic fights, drive-by shootings, and easy access to cheap crack dealers) is not for us. Rooms are where its at, Prospect Park is where its at, restaurants where youre not afraid to order food from is where its at... having a backyard? that pretty gives a whole new lease on life. a back yard in the city. and we will live a block and a half away from the Brooklyn Museum. not bad.

so needless to say, things been mad busy. add to that work deadlines and some interesting (to say the least) credit/ identity theft issues and you can say things have been pretty dramatic over here...

nonetheless!!! now that we have the place and a time to move and a summer ahead of us, i will hopefully have time to pursue the other things in life that seem ever so important but are always the first to suffer: Playing my guitar, making art work, starting the t-shirts i have been planning for over a year, and posting on Zen.

what else is new? what have ai been listening to? what will i post next?

i have been fondly fallin in love, all over again, with the Shipping News. i have an amazing live set i am going to post up. one of the readers dropped the Rodan Peel Sessions on me and aside from it sounding awesome it has three new songs that i personally have never heard. with this was a request for Rusty, so i will do one final Rusty post ( i lie, i will keep posting it over and over for anyone who wants it, its one of my most favorite albums). so one final rusty post, i'll add the peels sessions and the How the Winter Was Passed 7".

i also have been meaning to psot the second Spacehorse album, which you all need to hear. and the Algernon Cadwallader demo, which i didnt like at first but am convinced it is one of the best things to listen to in the spring. they have a new album coming out and it sounds great.

I attempted to make Tortoise live show post, as I have two very worthy live shows that get lots of play over here.

And everyone should have the new Sinaloa already. Oceans of Islands, came out on Level Plane this month. It is one of th ebest records of the whole year by one of the best bands in recent times...

New Nick Cave is great, Gregor Samsa is great, 5ive is great, so much greatness this year already. I am sure i am missing a few.

and a new record by the guy who has gotten me listening to amazing electronic music again, Obfusc. He has been mixing his new album, as of yet untitled, but needless to say, if you are a fan of Boards of Canada, the Boltfish roster or any of the wretchedly labeled IDM music scene, especially those whose focus is melody then the new Obfusc is going to be an incredible thing for the warm weather....

ya heard!

hope everyone is well... i am well. i will resume posting soon. promise.. ^_^