27 November 2006

Come wintry night the fearsome...

Black Elk - s/t
Crucial Blast
7 November 2006
5 Stars

So a new "genre" has been developing over the past few years, a mature riff-rock with its foundation in hardcore and punk. In contrast to a metalcore who got way too big for its britches and became a mainstream darling, more discerning heads have been countering this awful trend with musicianship and thoughtfully heavy songwriting.

Portland, Oregon's Black Elk have crafted an album that displays their range as musicians with delightfully varied influences. Inventive (and un-ordinary!) lead lines counter sludgy march-like rhythms that could pass for either a zombie parade or a trudge through a peat bog. There are also faster passages that reveal a distinct Botch sensibility. I mean, these guys are from the Pacific Northwest, so why not pay a little homage to one of the best bands from the region (and probably one of the best bands ever, but I digress...).

Overall this album is a straight-through kickass listen. I couldn't pick out any weak points, and there was consistent energy from start to finish. Well-written, worldly lyrics and great album art round this package out. I hope this debut album only hints at where these guys can go. Well done, gentlemen. Definitely pick this up.

10 November 2006

Long, long overdue

Alright, I'm back with more musical goodies. A little while back I mentioned some pagan/folk/black metal and now I've finally done a full write up. The new place is coming along and I no longer have to steal a spotty internet connection. I guess that means I don't have much excuse for not post more often. I've got a whole box of cds I've gotta go through, though, so have a bit of patience.

Skyforger - Kauja Pie Saules
Paragon Records
4 stars

Okay, I should have written about Skyforger months ago, but I just couldn't find a way to describe it that did any justice. I still can't really, but too much time has gone by without enough folks knowing about this band. A few questions, then:
1) Can you speak Latvian?
2) How extensive is your knowledge of pre-Christian Latvian history?
3) Do you like pagan folk metal?

You have no idea where I'm going with this, right? Okay. Kauja Pie Saules is the first full length from Latvian folk metal maestros Skyforger. This album is actually from 1998, but due to longstanding label issues, it has been unavailable for years. Thanks to Paragon Records, you can now find it again and make up for your inadequate knowledge of the oft-overlooked Baltic nation.
These guys don't fuck around. They possess extensive knowledge of their native folk traditions and incorporate them into their aesthetic. While the lyrics are all in Latvian, translations are provided and there is a short primer on the inspiration behind the album: namely, the battles waged by the early pagan Latvian tribes to resist the spread of Christianity in their lands. So while the folk influence is strong (there are two straight up folk tracks!), no doubt will be left that Skyforger know how to bring the black metal. The power displayed within is comparable to Destroyer 666 and would have made a fitting warmup for battle against Teutonic Knights. Search this album out to get some quality skull-crushing metal and a history lesson that you sorely need.

24 October 2006

F'ing Lazy

Let's face it I haven't felt like posting or writing anything in a while. That may very well continue while I, a) move to a new pad and, b) focus on band stuff and whatnot. Also, I've mainly been listening to Screeching Weasel and Death. Not sure what sort of mindset that reflects, but there you have it.

In the meantime I advise you to hop on over to my friend's spot and read his "microanalyses."

18 September 2006

Oh, the humanity! He's so bulgy, like a moose!

...and one for the doctor...

Exitium - Outsourcing Morality
Deepsend Records
21 March 2006
4 stars

Do you constantly wake up hating the world, feeling stiff-necked, bloated and constipated? Well, five researchers in Oklahoma have developed a temporary cure for this condition. Called Exitium, it is an American take on Scandinavian-style grind featuring lyrics that reflect an existential dis-ease within modern technological society. Veined by elements of death metal and thrash, this material races through blast beats and riff torrents to get you banging your head and shitting yourself again. The production is clean for a grind record, so it goes down with the deathy smoothness of Arsis while it retains the punishing power of Nasum.

Exitium is quite potent material. However, with twelve tracks coming in at just over 26 minutes, it is a bit brief. Despite this those who take Exitium report that the sensation that one has just been pulverized to a fine dust tends to linger. While study participants have revealed feeling a bit muddled at first, they report that it starts to catch quickly and you realize you're incontinently rocking out within minutes.

If this sounds right to you, ask your doctor about Exitium.

Warning: Extended exposure to Exitium can result in dizziness, dry mouth, headaches, bloody diarrhea, and the distinct feeling that you have been lied to since birth by institutions dedicated to the enslavement of humanity.

12 September 2006

Blood Mountain Day

For pete's sake go out and grab the new Mastodon if you haven't already. I know it's on a major label and I know they're gonna be huge (well, I mean, relatively speaking...they were in the NY Times yesterday). But seriously, it's fucking great and their show with Converge last Friday at Webster Hall was also monolithic. Okay, so I've seen better Converge sets, but their new stuff sounds pretty good, especially whatever the hell Ben is doing back there. Imagine the possibilities, for a second, of a Brann Dailor/Ben Koller love child? I'll stop right there.

Yeah, this is kind of a cheapo post, but I've been busy and not posting, so I figured I'd just let ya know I'm not dead.

31 August 2006

I'm so prolific this week

I've been sitting here all afternoon with my eyes all over soccernet.com waiting for any good news from the Toon 'cos it's the summer transfer deadline. It's not looking so hot for the Black & White. Anyway, remember my review of the latest sunn0))) record and my mention of the guy in the casket screaming bloody murder? Well, his fifth album comes out soon. Make up yr own mind whether it's worth it. On the other hand, I was introduced to Latvian pagan/folk/black metal legends Skyforger and I need to get my hands on more of their stuff. It's like a Baltic version of Destroyer 666 with traditional costumes and flutes and whatnot. Don't laugh, it's really fucking good (and this from a guy who thinks LOTR is stupid!).

Xasthur - Subliminal Genocide
Hydra Head Industries
12 Sept 2006
2 stars

Xasthur is the solo project of black metal practitioner Malefic (aka, the dude in the casket on the latest sunn0))) release). I say "practitioner" because Malefic is, according to the press sheet I received with the CD, "one of the most innovative black metal practitioners of the isolationist sub-underground." Subliminal Genocide is Xasthur's fifth album, and, though I'm not sure what else is going on in the rest of the isolationist sub-underground, maybe some of these guys should go outside for a little while and get some fresh air. I caught myself laughing a few times at the extraordinary melodramatics presented here. Yes, I do understand that saying these things could get me ritually slaughtered--if guys like this are serious about what they do, that is.

Now I'll freely admit that there are some interesting passages on this album (tracks 4, 6 and 10 particularly), but overall it's a bit self-indulgent and claustrophobic--though one might presume this stems from a certain level of agoraphobia on Malefic's part. While I generally dig on scratchy, low-fi black metal vocals, here there is only yelling and screaming (presumably in a very tiny room, eh?) with a shitload of echo and very little reverb, given the overall vocal dryness. The drum parts, while not that interesting to begin with, are generally very low in the mix and poorly recorded. My gut tells me that this album could be about a thousand times better with some solid drumming to support the intricate guitar and key work, but it seems that's the last thing on Malefic's mind.

Anyway, Subliminal Genocide is sub-par in my mind. It goes on forever and goes practically nowhere in that span. If you want a proper taste of what it must have been like to endure the psychological trauma of solitary confinement in a medieval dungeon, this is probably as close as you'll get.

29 August 2006

London in Brooklyn

The rain keeps coming, and thanks to Electricity Bill's Premiership "Preview", everything feels a little more English around here. Now for something emphatically not English...

Lower Forty-Eight - Apertures
Monotreme Records
17 October 2006
3 stars

I'm assuming there are plenty of Avail fans reading this (and you can count me among them), but I'm wondering how many of you really appreciate their work since they jumped to Fat Wreck. It was about that time that the material began to sound overproduced, their original passion seemed to dissipate and Tim Barry's vocals just went somewhere else. I have no idea where they went really, all I know is that there are few new-millenium Avail songs that really hit me. Well, Lower Forty-Eight vocalist Andrew Lund sounds exactly like what Tim Barry sounds like now.

San Francisco's Lower Forty-Eight lays out a tight mixture of mid-90s post-hardcore and early- to mid-90s skatecore. They display mature songwriting with complex guitar and bass lines supported by very solid drumming. While this band retains a certain level of technicality, it is never reaches the point of being unnecessary; it's generally mid-tempo music that remains interesting and listenable. Unfortunately, for all these positives, the vocals ruin the album.

I'm not sure what else to say. I really miss my old Avail. I really wish this band Lower Forty-Eight would rethink their vocal styling because otherwise they're so damn good. This is all a bit depressing especially since it won't stop raining.

28 August 2006

2006/2007 English Premier League "Preview"

I’m calling this a 2006/2007 English Premier League preview even though many teams have already completed three fixtures and are well on their way… I couldn’t get this done in time for the beginning of the season and, to be totally honest, wanted to see just a little bit of the action before I started making wild predictions about everything. That said, I feel now is the time to start predicting wildly while I’m sitting at work doing nothing much. 3 Fixtures down, 35 to go, and I’ve got to pick some winners, some losers and comment on some other things on my mind while I’m at it.

First things first, I’m laying out my predictions for Champions’ League teams (top four in the tables at season’s end) and relegation (the bottom three at season’s end).

Champions’ League:
1. Manchester United
2. Chelsea
3. Liverpool
4. Arsenal

18. Middlesbrough
19. Sheffield United
20. Watford

First things first… the crappy teams:

20. Watford, who are nicknamed the hornets for their unis, but whose badge appears to be a satanic moose, are happy to be here in the Premier League after finishing 3rd in the Championship last year, but should be fairly beaten and bruised by season’s end. They haven’t been in the premiership since ’99-’00 and will not be seen there next year either. They have some young talent, particularly striker Marlon King, but too much youth and not enough talent overall will condemn them to the Championship again.

19. Sheffield United finished 2nd in the Championship last year, 9 points ahead of Watford, but I have them pegged to suffer the same fate as the Hornet Mooses (Meece?). The Blades haven’t sniffed the Premiership since 1994, and I don’t expect them to stay up long… despite the fact that they have a cool emblem with scimitar thingies and a semi-intimidating nickname (at least in comparison to the Trotters or the Toffees… really frightening). They’re already 19th in the tables after three fixtures and I don’t think they’ll move much all year.

18. This is the first semi-tough pick for me, especially since this side just finished dusting the Evil Empire (Chelsea) in the middle of last week but, pending further investigation, I’m sticking Middlesbrough here. With manager Steve McClaren gone to work on the English national team, and the only notable addition to a side that lost Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (had to work that name in somewhere) being a guy named Arca from Sunderland F.C. who is now injured (speaking of crappy…), I figured this team would take a bit of a dive. Also, the teams that finished below them in the tables last year, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Portsmouth, look better to me… Man City’s playing OK, and Portsmouth added a few old England internationals that may be past their prime, but will add something to a team that missed relegation by only 4 points last year. Aston Villa has some American billionaire money coming in, so they should improve eventually too. The teams that finished ahead of Boro last year look better too, with the possible exception of Fulham, whose early demolition by Man U got them off on the wrong foot. (Quick addendum to this entry Monday 28th Aug at 4:15 pm ET: Portsmouth is smacking Boro around 2-nil, oops I tell a lie, they just scored a third, in the 57th minute. Boro sucks, unless they’re beating Chelsea.)

The Elite:

1. Manchester United. I have the Red Devils ahead of Chelsea early in the season for a few reasons: 1) Their attack looks extremely fluid and totally overwhelming this year. Their two primary strikers, Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha, are coming off extremely lackluster World Cup performances, but both have already begun to demolish the opposition. Rooney only played one match against Fulham before being sentenced to three games off for a red-card in European competition, but in that match he scored two goals, assisted on another and generally wreaked havoc on a weak Fulham side. Saha also scored one and assisted one in that match and has kept up a torrid pace since then (another goal and two more assists in two matches) and looks eager to make the Old Trafford crowd forget Ruud Van Nisterooy in a hurry. Ryan Giggs looks good, Ronaldo is spectacular (and a complete pillock) and with Carrick coming back, and the possibility of an Owen Hargreaves transfer, Man U could have the two best English holding midfielders (even though one of them is Canadian) playing on the same side. 2) Rio Ferdinand is not injured… yet. Man U started well last year, but then the wheels fell off when injuries hit. Rio has just dodged a broken toe, and more players are coming back from injury than are going out due to injury. That’s a very good thing. This defense is not on the level of Chelsea’s, but it’s still very good. Rio can be rock solid (though hasn’t been great in recent years with all of the distractions he’s faced), and they have plenty of backs that like to attack (Wes Brown, Evra, Gary Neville and Gabrielle Heinze can all provide some attacking dimension) which should strengthen the onslaught if they can all get healthy. 3) Man U may be something of an evil empire, but I HATE Chelsea, and can’t help but root for anyone, even if it’s the old regime, who might unseat the new regime. Part of that comes from the fact that this Chelsea team is so goddamn boring. A bunch of great players who are unhappy and play like they’re pieces of a machine, headed by an arrogant Portuguese asshole. At least Man U is fun to watch. Their players are volatile and passionate and somewhat crazy, and they’re playing fun football.

2. Chelsea is here because they have to be. With this much talent, it would be foolish to expect them to finish out of the top three and it may honestly be foolish to expect them to finish lower than #1. But I’m anxiously awaiting the onset of Real Madrid syndrome, whereby an owner completely overreaches, acquires too many superstars, makes them unhappy and then proceeds to be beaten in the tables by a team that may not have as much aggregate talent, but wins because they enjoy themselves. I’m hoping that Man U (or whoever) is to Chelsea as Barca is to Real. Whether this happens or not, Chelsea have looked a little rusty to start the year, but it would be stupid to assume that they’ll be out of form for too long, especially since they tend to be strong finishers rather than setting the pace early. The new additions, Michael Ballack are Andriy Shevchenko are world class players at their respective positions, and it won’t be long before the Ukrainian is pouring in goals. However, trying to fit Ballack into a midfield with Frank Lampard, who does many of the same things only better, could be difficult and might force Mourinho to play Ballack a little further out wide or back than he usually likes. Makalele and Essien are handling holding duties, but Essien is versatile enough (as evidenced by his performance for Ghana in the World Cup) to play out wide a little or on the attack too, so they should fit into the scheme pretty well. The real logjam will start when Arjen Robben and Joe Cole come back and Shaun Wright-Phillips starts asking for some time on the pitch. What then? Someone will leave unhappy, that’s what. The reason this doesn’t spell complete disaster is the defense, particularly John Terry. With Wayne Bridge playing well (and maybe looking to get out while his stock is high) and Carvalho in decent form, as well as newcomer Khalid Boularouz looking like a natural fit, the back four should keep this team near the top. I haven’t even mentioned the best keeper on earth yet either. Petr Cech is back and makes a huge difference for these guys. Their attack may be a little muddled this year with so much talent and so few places, but they should still win a fair number of clean sheets and frustrate opposing forwards. Once William Gallas is gone and the Ashley Cole transfer saga resolves itself, the defense should be unified in purpose and that should be enough to place them near the top. I wish they’d self-destruct instead though…

3. Liverpool made some good moves during the transfer window, adding Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt, Welsh lunatic Craig Bellamy (who happens to be a striker, in addition to being a madman) and drunk driving Englishman Jermaine Pennant (who after drunkenly wrapping his Mercedes around a lamppost allegedly told authorities his name was “Ashley Cole,” his teammate at the time. Sounds like a good guy.), which gives them some extra talent as well as a few extra pains in the ass. We’ll see how these head-cases turn out as the season goes on, but for now we’ll focus on what makes this team really really good. They have a lot of very good options in front with newcomers Bellamy and Kuyt supplementing freakish robo-stringbean Peter Crouch and elder statesman (and Liverpool born and bred) Robbie Fowler. While Fowler’s best days are well behind him, he’s not a bad guy to have around as your fourth option in front, and the scousers love him from his days as a Liverpool legend (wikipedia has informed me that his nickname is “God” which I think about sums it up). In midfield, they have Stephen Gerrard, who is a local boy and Liverpool hero as well as one of the best midfielders on the planet. Gerrard’s accompanied by some other international midfield talents, including John Arne Riise from Norway, Xabi Alonso of Spain and others. The defense is anchored by one of the premiership’s best in Steve Finnan and the promising young Danish center-back Daniel Agger who scored on a spectacular rocket from 35 yards out the other day against West Ham. All in all a very promising team with a ton of talent. If Crouch can keep up the goal-scoring form he’s displayed so far in European competition, and the newcomers can be integrated without going completely berserk, then they’ll easily qualify for Europe again and maybe even give Chelsea a run if the Blues go into self-destruct mode (fingers crossed).

4. Arsenal is my #4 this year, especially after last year’s mediocre showing, beating out Tottenham for fourth place by only 2 points. I was honestly hoping that Tottenham would run Arsenal out of this place this year, but I don’t see it happening. At the moment, neither team seems worthy of the place, but I think Arsenal will ultimately perform better this year than last, not a difficult achievement for such good club, while Tottenham continue to deal with the growing pains of being such a young side. Arsenal’s strengths are rather obvious. They have the best striker in the premiership in Thierry Henry, who hasn’t hit top form yet, but will score in bunches when he eventually does. They have the best manager in the league in Arsene Wenger, and they have a myriad other talents to boot. Robin Van Persie annoyed me at the World Cup (as did most of the Dutch for some reason… they just came off as a bunch of jackasses), but is a very impressive young player in attack and Tomas Rosicky will shore up the midfield and hopefully provide a few of those missile-esque goals that he drilled in the Czech Republic’s brief World Cup showing. Emmanuel Adebayor seems like a bit of a drama queen, but at 22 is a talent and at 6’3” is a pretty good target man at the very least. The two most exciting talents may be Cesc Fabregas, 19, and Theo Walcott, 17, who should ensure that Arsenal has a great future (providing they cough up the money to keep them on board). Walcott has impressed already this year with his pace and attack, saving Arsenal a couple of times from ignominious defeat with his pace and aggression and it may not be long before we see a lot more of him. Wenger himself said it would be hard to keep him seated if he keeps saving matches for them. At the moment, the backline is almost entirely Ivorian with Emmanuel Eboue, Kolo Toure and Johan Djourou (who was born in Cote D'Ivoire, but holds Swiss citizenship) getting the minutes. Eboue is a wing-back on the right side who supplements Arsenal’s attack (or lack of attack at the moment) really well and has stood out as one of the most aggressive players on the team thus far (not a terribly difficult challenge given Arsenal’s lethargy). This seems like a good time to mention that Arsenal also employs one Philippe Senderos, whose goal in the world cup for Switzerland where he smashed the ball into the net, and his face into someone else’s head, was just plain awesome. His bloody-faced goal celebration was one of the cooler things I've ever seen. So that gives him some points with me. They also have Jens Lehmann in goal who’s getting on in years, but still performs very well. The negatives right now are: 1) They look totally uninspired until Theo Walcott steps on the pitch. Eboue seems to have more shots on goal than any of their forwards or midfielders, which may not actually be true, but it certainly seems that way, which is not great considering he’s a right back. 2) They are dealing with two whiney wantaways in Ashley Cole and Jose Reyes. The sooner they can jettison the two, and perhaps get William Gallas to strengthen the left side of the defense, the better.

So that sums up the bottom three and top four. Here are a few impressions of some of the other sides out there in the Premiership as of 8/28.

Portsmouth is currently second in the tables, which we all know won’t last, but they’ve beaten the cruddy teams they’ve played so far quite convincingly and are the only Premiership team to have yet to concede a goal. Perhaps the acquisitions of Sol Cambpell (center back) and David James (goalkeeper) have helped the defense more than anyone thought they could. Kanu has four goals through three matches to pace the team and midfielders O’Neil and Davis have facilitated well… but they’re Portsmouth, they can’t really do that well can they? Oh, Pedro Mendes nearly had his head ripped off last week by Ben Thatcher (another crazy Welshman), so he’ll be out for a while, but it didn’t seem to matter against Boro (did I mention they suck?).

West Ham have an array of young talent, including Anton Ferdinand, Lee Bowyer, Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood who should theoretically help them improve on last years 9th place finish.

Reading smashed the Championship last year with a goal differential of roughly +267 and will avoid relegation this year. I’m not really sure that they’ll do much better than 16th or 17th, but they’ve got some good talent. Steve Sidwell. That’s not really a complete thought, but this “preview” is getting long and I’m tired.

Newcastle appeared to be cursed as they lost not only their last match, but their prize new striker Obafemi Martins too. Luckily it seems as though he’ll be back in time for their next match a week and a half from now. They must hope that he is because Shola Ameobi is dealing with nagging injuries and needs a rest. It’s all well and good to have Scott Parker and Damien Duff, but it’ll be hard to beat anybody without at least one threat around the goal. This team is also reportedly hoping for Wayne Bridge before the transfer window closes after they sold off crappy French defender Jean-Alain Boumsong, which I think would be very good for them. Bridge has played well so far for Chelsea.

Finally, Tottenham, the team I am theoretically trying to rally behind, looks crap one match and great the next. The have nothing going on the left wing, so Aaron Lennon, who has been great, is left to create all the width himself on the other side. Apparently they’re trying to get Stuart Downing before the transfer window closes, which would be amazing. He showed in his last England cap (a 4-0 friendly pasting of Greece) that he is fantastic providing service down the left flank. The defense looks toothless without Ledley King. Calum Davenport has been crap, and has left Paul Robinson helpless a few times already. The center of the midfield looks good with Dutch legend Davids throwing himself around with reckless abandon and Jenas looking OK. Berbatov will prove himself a good signing before the season is up and Robbie Keane is on form already… That just leaves Defoe, who seems like odd man out again after being outplayed by his fellow forwards.

This is getting enormous, so I’ll stop now.

16 August 2006

When Coldness Awaits...

Across Tundras - Dark Songs of the Prairie
Crucial Blast
22 August 2006
3 Stars

For now I am going to try and overlook the fact that the cd I received to review was scratched or damaged in some way. The inevitable noise issues and skipping certainly threw a wrench into my listening attempts, nevertheless, I got a good idea of what this Colorado trio has constructed. Across Tundras takes their audience (and their album art confirms such) into mid-nineteenth century America via a time machine made of modern electronic instrumentation.
Dark Songs of the Prairie is countri-fied post-metal along the lines of what Earth did for their recent Hex album only with more juiced amplification à la Neurosis or Isis. This work is heavy and straightforward, unfettered by any unnecessary technical musicianship. As far as my current listening preferences go it's a bit lacking, though it is still quite good and I can't say that I have any qualms with the songwriting. As their name suggests, I think I would have a greater appreciation for this material if it was the dead of winter and I needed something to help melt the ice from my beard. Right now I'm not quite feeling this, but as the seasons change I'm sure this will find its way through my speakers more often.

02 August 2006

A day off 'cos of heat? Sure!

Due to the intense east coast heatwave and the fact that I work in a poorly ventilated warehouse with no AC, I was told I didn't have to come into work today. This means that I can put up another sweet post. Me posting on consecutive days? When did that happen last, what with my laziness and all?

Comadre - The Youth.
Blood Town Records

Isn't it strange that when a band stitches into its songs a patchwork of identifiable genre references and does it well we give them credit for paying homage to the innovators, but when they do it poorly they're called copycats? Well, I'm left stuck thinking about that because of The Youth. Comadre is a band of fine East Bay gentlemen who are doing the whole screamo hardcore thing at a time when the subgenre has grown out of its exuberant underground childhhood and into an uncomfortable mainstream adolescence. While it became trendy a couple years back for young guys to copycat this stuff to get girls and seemingly shirk any DIY obligations, most of the originators had long since moved on to more diverse and (surprise, surprise!) novel projects.

I'm pleased to report, then, that Comadre makes inspired, turn-of-the-millenium music and, for all I can tell, stick to their DIY guns wholeheartedly. Listening to these cats you get a near complete picture of where a band like Hot Cross could have progressed after their A New Set of Lungs EP (and if they had better drums and vocals. "It ain't bad rap, I just don't feel it. There I said it.") had they taken on some of the darkness and speed of pg99. It's great that an American band is able to capture this sound because most of the quality screamo material is coming from Europe right now (France in particular). Aside from the completely unnecessary cover of "I Think We're Alone Now" (When I saw them they covered The Refused's "Deadly Rhythm" and it got me so psyched. I'm glad it was that instead of "I Think We're..."), The Youth. gets everything pretty much dead on. It's a couple years late, but whatever, it's quality material from guys whose heads and hearts are in the right place.

This is the bands first full length from late 2004 and apparently their new release, Burn Your Bones is out now. I don't have that one, though, so I can't review it. Hopefully it's as good as this one.

01 August 2006

Nothing to do with the Middle East.

Fascist Fascist - s/t
Reptilian Records

So this is one that I got here a little while back, but didn't get around to at the time. In the months that have passed, though, this band has seen some lineup changes. Most prominently, vocalist Ellie Beziat has moved on --and hopefully we'll hear from her on some new projects, because she's what made this band for me. Her exuberance and attitude reminded me of an even more pissed off kathleen hanna fronting a band that sounds alternately like Black Flag and Career Suicide. This is no female-fronted gimmick band, dammit, she IS the band. Musically they're not really anything special, it's basically uptempo punk rock that's a bit on the sloppy side. But the vocal delivery and the message in the lyrics (and I'm not sure who is responsible for those) is what truly stands out here. If their live show was anything like the record, they must have been fun as hell. I think the remaining members will have a difficult time replacing Ellie so I'm very interested in what any new material will offer. At least check out this album, though.

20 July 2006

In the spirit of "killing" time

A Sane Revolution

If you make a revolution, make it for fun,
Don't make it in ghastly seriousness,
Don't do it in deadly earnest,
Do it for fun.

Don't do it because you hate people,
Do it just to spit in their eye.
Don't do it for the money,
Do it and be damned to the money.

Don't do it for equality,
Do it because we've got too much equality
And it would be fun to upset the apple-cart
and see which way the apples would go a-rolling.

Don't do it for the working-classes,
Do it so that we can
all of us be little aristocracys on our own
And kick our heels like jolly escaped asses.

Don't do it, anyhow, for international Labour.
Labour is one thing a man has had too much of.
Let's abolish Labour, let's have done with Labouring!
Work can be fun, and
men can enjoy it; then it's not Labour.
Let's have it so! Let's make a revolution for fun!

- D. H. Lawrence

14 July 2006


Go out and do something extraordinary today like tear down a prison.

Also, more reviews to come next week after take a little break upstate. Last night's Palindrome show @ Brooklyn Fireproof lived up to its billing as the Brooklyn Punk-as-fuck-Fest. Cobra Noir, Defcon 4, Apeshit! and The Adversary Workers were all brilliant. Picked up a ton of stuff from these cats so keep your eyes focused here. In a couple days. right.

12 July 2006

Movies + Music =

Graf Orlock - Destination Time Yesterday
Level Plane Records
13 June 2006
4 stars

LA's Graf Orlock—fittingly named for the vampire in the film Nosferatu—specialize in what they've dubbed "cinema grind." This is infectious grindcore that, while not absurdly technical, is advanced in its production and presentation. The "cinema" aspect? Well, leave it to a bunch of Angeleños to gain inspiration from late 80s and early 90s action flicks. Each track on Destination Time Yesterday begins with a sample to introduce chaos. Surprisingly this tactic doesn't get old and this can probably be attributed, actually, to each song containing a sample. In that manner the samples seem to be more integrated into the overall album structure.

Now, the question should be raised, "Do you know which films each of the samples comes from?" And I must answer, "Certainly not." I've never been much for action movies, but I will say that I completely understand the use of the motif. Most of the films from this era were apocalyptic, dystopian and "Futuristic" (as in technologically-engaged). Graf Orlock has taken these themes and run with them to create an album that is brutal (there's that word again!) and totally unsentimental from the lyrical content through the instrumental attack. The fantastic album art is also similarly in"spy"red (hint, hint). Overall another great release from level-Plane that adds diversity to their label lineup.

06 July 2006

Thanks and Thanks

Merci to the fine folk who anonymously complimented this site. If you want to get in touch with me, check my profile cos I added a way to do that that's wicked simple. I also just added a link to the Scientific American Observations blog cos "science rules, science is cool and we've got science in our schools" (that is, probably unless you live in a christian part of the country).

I've got reviews for two Californian bands, Graf Orlock and Comadre, coming up soon. They both recently played a killer show (with Gospel, Ultra Dolphins, Order and Versoma) at Brooklyn Fireproof in Williamsburg and I must say that Comadre's cover of Refused's Deadly Rhythm made my night.

29 June 2006

It's been so, so long

Yeah, it's been a while since I posted. I was gonna do running reports on the world cup, but then decided against it (though I may have some commentary/conversation in the upcoming issue of Binge & Purge). So basically between that and starting a new job I haven't had much time to write reviews. Oh, and I've been lazy and had to review some crap that's not worth posting here. But finally I've got some stuff for you. And, time permitting, will have more soon since some great records were picked up recently. Anyway, here's to football (the real kind) and bicycles!!

Nachtmystium - Instinct : Decay

Battle Kommand Records
30 May 2006
4 stars

I am by no means a Black Metal specialist and I won't claim that I am even that particularly knowledgeable about the genre. However, I almost always dig it as well as material that was influenced by it. Particularly I'm a fan of black metal vocals and guitar tones. On these accounts Nachtmystium's latest release definitely does it for me. From what I've gathered (from reputable sources, of course) Instinct:Decay is their strongest effort and, as far as I'm concerned, they've taken black metal to a new place.

Actually, I should say Nachtmystium have brought a new sort of black metal from a completely different place (as in, not Scandinavia). To put it bluntly, they're an American band, but it sounds like they made this album somewhere beyond Alpha Centauri. Okay, I think that sometimes black metal keyboards can be a little hokey, and that was my initial impression on a few of the tracks here. I think, though, that I wasn't paying close enough attention, because on subsequent listens the cheeze factor was totally absent and I realized that this was just music imported from some far edge of the galaxy. Seriously, I mean, like traditional black metal this has guitars raw and dirty with thick, grating distortion alongside vocals that will scrape the wax out of your ears, but it also possesses keys and electronics straight out of a shuttle cockpit. The best part is that it totally works.

I liked Instinct:Decay when I first put it on, but it has continued to grow on me over the past week or so. Good signs that this album will stand up over time.

10 June 2006

Wilkommen zum Fussball!

It's World Cup time here on the Spaceship Bastille and already we've been witness to the spectacle of a horrendous opener from Poland (one of my favorites to go through to the second round and then lose. Hey, I may be Polish, but I'm also realistic.) as they were upset 0-2 by Ecuador. However, it's kinda nice for all the Ecuadoreans around NYC, especially in my 'hood. Earlier yesterday Germany stormed to a 4-2 victory over Costa Rica topped off by a rocket from Torsten Frings (as in "Hey, engineers, check the pressure from those Torsten Frings."). Germany obviously has an advantage in their group now, but they should be worried about their defence.
Well, as I write the second half of Paraguay v. England commences so I shall return to the tele and hope to see more English goals. I missed the damn first one as I was just waking up. I think it's high time the world gets to watch the Crouch "robot".

04 June 2006

Superdrive hates me

I was going through some cds from BurningAngel in the hopes of reviewing some of them when a terrible cd got stuck in my drive. It may have actually busted the drive, which really pisses me off. I can still write about crap, it's just a huge pain in my ass. It would be one thing if it was a great cd, then i would load it onto the computer, but it's garbage and i want it to die.

die Words Away, die. you're not good and you've injured my cyborgean extension.

31 May 2006

Another fucking killer!!

SWEET! So the BurningAngel gig has paid off a bit cuz I got this album from them. Maybe a needle in a haystack, but it was worth suffering through a bunch of worthless crap to find this. These guys will be in the city in a week and a half. Figures I have zero money. C'mon unemployment people, accept my application and send me some dough, please!

Black Cobra - Bestial
At A Loss Recordings
25 April 2006
5 stars

Black Cobra is a 2 man low-end attack in the vein of Big Business only this stuff is more distorted and brutal. Think of BB running headlong into a slightly less-chaotic Pig Destroyer and then smashing the shattered remnants back into one piece. Growly yelled vocals, an avalanche of drums and what I'm guessing is a massively downtuned and bass-heavy guitar. Bestial possesses a fantastic mix of super-sludgy mid-tempo songs and tracks of faster full-on devastation. These guys know how to make the most of the heavy duo setup. There is a definite groove that runs the course of the album and along the journey you'll be privy to both the energetic highs of the blast beat and the meditative stillness of simple guitar passages. While rhythmic ingenuity is in no short supply, melodic variation--however unorthodox, and i tend to like mine that way--can also be found in abundance.

While the music on Bestial is quite stunning, an unfortunate aspect of this package is that the liner notes (at least of the version I've received) are comprised solely of a panel featuring an incredibly large arthropod and an old-timey spelunker. Sure, it's really cool artwork, but no lyrics are included (some are in Spanish, too), so I don't know what I'm being yelled at for; nevertheless I am enjoying the experience. At A Loss Recordings has also released (or is in the process of releasing) work by Baroness, Kylesa and Rwake so Black Cobra are amongst good company and from this album sound like they're perfectly able to stand on their own (four) feet in relation to these heavyweights. As of the time I'm writing this Black Cobra is touring with Torche so keep an eye out.

30 May 2006

Hot Hot Hot Goddam

When these guys came to town on April 28th I was totally blown away. I'll let my review words speak for themselves, instead of writing a dumb preface.

You Will Die - s/t
Hawthorne Street Records
5 stars

"No, we don't want a vocalist." And they don't need one either. You Will Die is an instrumental trio that hails from Indianapolis, not exactly a bastion of heavy music as far as I'm aware (Racebannon being the only other notable Indiana band I can think of at the moment. Sorry, Indiana). Here on their debut these guys have produced a whirlwind of face-smashing rock'n'sludge with plenty of grind-esque shrapnel thrown in to keep you on your toes. While they shouldn't be considered a "tech" band, they do keep their shredding slightly unorthodox and the songs never get stale.
You Will Die reminds me of a more pissed-off Keelhaul--who I love--so this album is a total winner. In their own words they describe their sound as, "The soundtrack to someone's last minute on earth before they headbutt a tablesaw." It works for me. Scoth's (yeah, Scoth) guitar and Jason's bass lines aren't exactly straightforward, but they come at you in a no-bones-about-it-I'm-gonna-kick-your-fool-ass kind of way, which rules. Here you'll find some super-crunchy hardcore riffage over bass that actually moves you as it adds dimension. The drumming on the album is nitro-fueled, gargantuan and downright impeccable. Whereas many great drummers can be boring to watch, (Brann Dailor comes to mind, though no offence intended) Errol is not. These guys have fun while they're playing and what they're playing is fucking fun. Despite the fact that this album is way too short even for my "leave me wanting more" standards, I haven't stopped playing it for the past month. Guys, seriously, give us more.

24 May 2006

Back inaction

So there's been a ton of stuff preventing me from posting this last week, but I'm starting to get back into the flow of things. Here's something good that's been on the burner for too long:

The Heuristic - Parapraxies
Black Box Recordings

Though I must say that the whole tech/math metal thing has overstayed its welcome with me, The Heuristic has put together an enjoyable album that is a novel take on the whole premise. There are actually scientists in the band, so their musical perspective is something that runs much deeper than any trend. Refreshingly intelligent and sincere with just the right proportion of humor, these guys possess what most of their contemporaries lack. I must commend the band for not engaging in pointless wankery just to impress the audience; the parts are well-thought and actually work to create shifting moods. The only band I can possibly think to compare them to are Colorado's The Great Redneck Hope, though The Heuristic possess a more varied repetoire. This is a short album, too, which by any normal standard would be an EP, but these nine songs leave me wanting more, which is always a positive in my book.

(An aside: At first I thought "There's No Square Root of -1 In Team" was just a silly title until it was pointed out to me that the square root of -1 is i. This lack of mathematical prowess probably helps to explain why I enjoy techy/mathy stuff as a sort of novelty, but don't engage in it much. So yeah, there are math references that lose me a bit, but I'm a sucker for their Civil War-related songs. Anyway, check these guys out, it's well worth it.)

15 May 2006

The Greatest Map Ever Made

R. Buckminster Fuller was a genius. Besides developing the geodesic dome, the idea of synergy, and "Bucky Balls" (a super lubricant...yeah, it's okay to laugh), Fuller also produced a stunning two-dimensional map based on tetrahedrons. This map retains a greater amount of proportional accuracy than the projections we're more familiar with and it also does away with the idea of a global "up" or "down." Go check the map out as well as the vast array of other fantasticalness that emanated from his marvelous dome.

Yeah, I had to make that joke. More music stuff in the next couple days.

Update: I stumbled upon this as well, the AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment. It's a map nerd's wet dream. And it's interactive now thanks to the Buckminster Fuller Institute. I'm so uncool it's amazing.

09 May 2006

Happy Birthday to Myself

So a couple of cool things to tell you about on this fine day (which I seem to now be sleeping the middle section of away) upon which I will make up some words. Premierly, Farhydt led me towards Brian Posehn's myspace page. As I stated during the "look yonder," that guy could say, "I drank a glass of water" and I would collapse to the ground in face-contorting, yet comically blissful agony. No I'm not going to give you a link. He's a nerd, he likes (coolish) nerds, so go to the nerdery and nerd him up.
Penultimately, since Mr. Posehn is so ultimate, there is the matter of non-musical art. I'm going to be putting up more links to artist pages so that people can check out good stuff. I met Sam Sethi the other day and her work really impressed me, so go check it out. I have about 486 friends who are great photographers, so excepting people who don't have sites (Allison Cekala, I'm looking at you), I'll put some links up for them soon.
Thirdly, the United States and Iran kissed and made up today and decided that neither of them would further develop nuclear weapons and would instead devote more money to more pressing food and environmental issues. What? I've been sleeping for the past four hours and that was probably a dream? Oh...well, at least there's this:

Deadbird - The Head and the Heart
Codebreaker Records

Deadbird has put together one brilliant album here. This is an intense piece of work that cycles through the deepest pits of human emotion as it elevates to and underscores an astonishing vision of hope. Of the surprising elements that I found interspersed throughout the album was the use of melodic and vocal elements from both late-90s screamo (yeah, as strange as that sounds) as well as black metal that works incredibly well within the doom-y framework that they employ overall. There is a lot of later Neurosis influence and I picked up an Old Man Gloom-esque vibe from some riffs. As a bit of a departure from the musical heaviness there is a gorgeous instrumental passage ("1332") that not only adds even more weight to the album, but displays the band's quality writing and musicianship. If I may expose my old Yankee prejudice, it's basically the last thing I'd have expected to come out of Arkansas. And goddamn if it isn't amazing.

08 May 2006

Foot in Mouth, and Head up, Asshole

10,000 Days

This is the finest restructuring of the everlong process known as Tool.

Hands down.

No questions.

Anyone who knows anything has already succombed to being unable to remove this disc from the player.

I'd love to be diplomatic about this topic, but to be honest, there's very little I'm able to extrapolate. 10,000 Days is an ecstatic breath, a relief, and an extension of every known aspect of the band. This album proves that when you doubt Tool will ever resurface with the vision, the function, and the intensity of your favorite album, all they require is another five years to knock you on your ass right out the gate. The thoughtful progression re-establishes the emotional truths of the specific - remember in jimmy when we were shown an eleven year old in Ohio? This album is eleven tracks of intimate growth, and the forever-flowering....

Get your brain on.
Get your brain on Tool.

Bonus lyric snip from 'The Pot':
When you pissed all over my black kettle,
you must've been so high.

Tell me that's not what you were waiting for, foolish liars.

For the trained ear of the Toolophile, regard close the guitar riffs, and song structures. You will hear countless callbacks to the other albums. Far from being a gravitas of nostalgia, these replays establish an interwoven dynamic bringing their whole body of work even closer to itself.

I'm serious. Tool is back, and they are brilliant, dod gammit.

I was right...

As it turns out, the lakers didn't beat the suns. In fact, Phoenix kicked the crap out of them in a game 7 that was never really close. So, with that, I can now smile knowing that all of my first round picks were correct. Some of the underdogs took a couple more games than I thought they would, but so far I'm batting 1.000
The next thing is picking the 2nd round. I'm gonna stick my neck out on a couple of these, and my rather obvious biases will start to become a little totally blatant. There are two teams currently in the playoffs that I just don't like and will root against at all costs (even if it clouds my judgement and makes me pick against them... which it inevitably will).
Here we go:
#1 Detroit vs. #4 Cleveland
Game one was a thumping, but they won't all be blowouts. Lebron is too good to allow his team to be destroyed every game, but Larry Hughes has to play better, Z has to play well consistently, and the Cavs have got to use their rebounding prowess to get extra shots, because it isn't going to be pretty otherwise. It also wouldn't hurt for the Cavs to play some defense. Their perimeter D was humiliated in Game 1, and the sight of their guards going underneath every screen instead of fighting over them illustrates just how lazy the Cavs can be on defense. People think defense when they think Detroit, but they can really score, and Cleveland cannot give them as many open perimeter looks in game 2. Regardless, Detroit will take this one in 5.

#2 Miami vs. #3 New Jersey
This is one of my biased picks, but I actually think that I might be right on this one. It all depends on which Shaq shows up in the series. If we get the Shaq from Game 6 of the last series who dropped 30 points and 20 ballboards on the Bulls, Miami could do this in 6, but I'm hoping the Nets are smart and drive past Miami's flat-footed perimeter D into the paint and get Shaq in foul trouble. Look for Krstic to pull Shaq away from the basket with his ability to hit the jumper, which will force Shaq to move in and out of the paint (which he doesn't like to do at all) so that he can get a hand in Nenad's face, but also protect the paint when Carter and Jefferson slash. If Dwyane Wade's hip is hurt, the Heat are in real trouble, but the Nets need Kidd's shot to bounce back a bit otherwise the Heat won't even need to guard him. I think it'll go the distance, but I'm pulling for the Nets in 7, even though I think Miami is probably the better game 7 team. Fuck it, I told you I was biased.

#1 San Antonio vs. #4 Dallas
This is going to be a great series, judging by game one, which made me want to throw a brick through my TV (similar to the brick that Stackhouse put up as time expired). I'm biased here too, but I actually like Dallas to win this series for other reasons. Their depth is more impressive to me than San Antonio's, whose procession of AARP members has to crap out sometime. Game one was tight and low scoring, but Dallas ran when they could, and should do so all series long. Dampier and Diop have to try and do a better job on Duncan, but I was a little surprised they went with as much single coverage as they did in Game 1. The big thing is for Terry and Howard to provide some punch in case Nowitzki can't shoulder the load with Bowen all over him. If Van Horn can come back in this series, that'll really help too. Anyway, this one is going the distance. Mavs in seven.

#2 Phoenix vs. #6 LA
This is going to be fun to watch. Two savvy old point guards going head to head, Kaman and Brand punishing Phoenix inside, and the Suns chucking threes and trying to run, while the Clips try to play smart and go through the post. The key here is the Clips are going to take the same sort of approach that the Lakers took in round one, only they are a much better defensive team than the Lakers, and their post players are actually good. As long as LA keeps the tempo down and Radmanovic, Maggette and Livingston play well off the bench, the Clips can win this one in 6.

06 May 2006

Holy Fucking Shit

So while we may say, "YAY" to the resignation of Mr. Porter Goss as head of the CIA, let's not yet get too excited about his replacement. The Bush administration wants to install Gen. Michael V. Hayden in the top post now. "Who is this guy?" you may ask. Well, he's the guy who headed up the domestic surveillance (a French word that the Bushies absolutely adore) program for the NSA. Happy now? Why the fuck aren't we out in the streets about this shit? I know I'm lazy, but seriously, I'll run around screaming about this in public! I already do that anyway!

And yeah, I read the NY Times. It's where I saw this story. I don't care, go fuck yourself.

04 May 2006


So, this is easily the best first round of the NBA playoffs I've seen in a long time, maybe ever. There have been game winning shots, great players playing spectacular basketball, Chris Kaman throwing Reggie Evans to the ground after having his crotch grabbed from behind (on purpose), Raja Bell nearly decapitating Kobe Bryant, and the Clippers actually winning a series. If the Lakers finish off the Suns tonight, as I fully expect them to do, especially with Bell suspended thanks to his guillotine maneuver, then we're set for an all-LA second round which is going to be amazing. All of those games played in the same building, just with a different floor and different fans. There may very well be a riot... which is fun.
My playoff predictions have been mostly right so far, except the Lakers are about to prove me really wrong, and most of the series have been much more competitive than I thought except for the ones that are already over (Dallas-Memphis, a massacre, Detroit-Milwaukee, a little bit of complacency allowed the Bucks one win, and LAC-Denver, where the Nuggets were so unimpressive that I'm surprised they didn't lose every game by thirty.)
The two underdogs I'm rooting for, Sacramento and Chicago, have had some outlandish performances. Bonzi Wells is playing like Charles Barkley and simply butchering Bruce Bowen, making me think about how stupid my defensive player of the year choice was. And for the Bulls Nocioni has been awesome. As Nick Carder might say, "When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie... Nocioni." I'm not sure what that means, but I like it.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to the best western conference semis in a long time, featuring Dallas versus San Antonio and LA versus LA. I still think the east is kind of a wash, but at this point, I'm prepared to believe that New Jersey could beat Miami, because the fact that Miami can't beat a tiny little team like the Bulls make me think they're just a bunch of lazy has-beens. New Jersey can take 'em.
One more thing... the fact that ABC can't think of a better promotional song for the NBA playoffs than Tom Petty's "Running Down A Dream" is fucking pathetic. I've probably ranted about this before, but I have to do it again.
1) That song is probably 20 years old... at least with that horrible Rob Thomas song they chose a few years back, they were in the right decade.
2) What the fuck does Tom Petty have to do with basketball?!?!
3) Why not play some fucking rap music? Is is that controversial? I'm not even saying this because it's my favorite music or whatever, I just think it's foolish (and extremely ignorant and cowardly) to deny the obvious fact that hip-hop culture and basketball culture are inextricably linked. In a sport that is 90% black dudes from the ghetto with tons of tattoos and cool shit like that, you can probably stick your neck out and play some fucking hip-hop for god's sake. The league is all about hip-hop, whether the corporate stiffs at ABC, and the corn-fed, whitebread, college basketball pundits like it or not. Basketball is the hip-hop of sports. Period. I know basketball came before hip-hop and all that shit, but basketball is no longer being played by James Naismith with a peach basket and fucking melon (thank god), it's being played, mostly, by young black dudes, who are just like other young people in that they like music and relate to cultures surrounding music... often music that old, white, red-state shitholes think is destroying America. And just like every other example of this situation, those shitholes are just that... shitholes. So fuck them. Play some fucking Biggie or something. Play something relevant, something that can get you psyched up to watch the quintessential urban game played at its highest level. Don't be afraid. It's just black culture, it's not going to ruin anything. If Allen Iverson playing ball on TV hasn't destroyed society, then playing Biggie on network TV isn't going to do it either.
Oh... and fuck Tom Petty. He sucks balls.

02 May 2006

Oooh, piece o' candy!

Okay, yesterday was May Day and I forgot to say anything at all about it. But I have an excuse: it was May Day and I was fully against doing any work whatsoever (except band practice which was quite productive). Anyway, back to the grind...or in this case, not grind at all.

sunnO))) - Black One
Southern Lord Recordings
3 October 2005
4 stars

This stunning album was released months ago and only recently made it to the office for review. At this point sunnO))) is a fairly legendary outfit in their circle, so followers of drone, doom and sludge probably already have this in their library. However, for those who are less familiar with these guys, you'll notice that I did not call sunnO))) a "band." At least they're not in the traditional sense. That is because there really isn't anything traditional about them. What began as a Steve O'Malley/Greg Anderson side project-cum-tribute to Earth (see review here) is now on their sixth - and apparently darkest - release.

As much as I have known about them and heard bits here and there, this is actually my first full descent into the depths. I guess part of sunnO)))'s original intent was to do live projects that would send audience members straight to the can from sheer low-end power. The intent here seems quite different, though it is difficult to gauge from just listening to a cd.
Black One could be more accurately described a soundtrack to an as-yet-unmade horror film. A great listening atmosphere would probably be in a dank basement with a few candles and just your record player - i listened to this album on cd, but it was surely meant for vinyl (it comes in a 4 LP set).

Haunting and incredibly creepy, what feels minimal is really quite complex. There is no percussion, just music comprised of layer upon layer of distortion with notes, buzzes and echos that seem to hold for minutes on end. I must say that there are some truly fantastic guitar tones on here the likes of which i've never heard before. One combines an initial crunch that rings out with incredible sustain while another sounds like the distant buzz of a suburban weekend lawnmower or hedgetrimmer or something. I recently read a short review which trashed
Black One, but I think the reviewer came in with completely the wrong attitude. When somebody locks themself inside a casket with a microphone to channel Lady Bathory from beyond the dead, you're not dealing with anything "normal" here. This isn't for everyone, surely, but those with open minds should really get into this stuff.

Meanwhile, back on Earth...

Yeah, yeah, so I've been criminally negligent this past week in providing zero updates to this thing. I can explain fully. Basically I've been far from a computer this whole time scurrying from band practice to band practice to show to practice to insanity. I haven't done any reviews in this time, though I will say a few things about this past weekend's shows.

First, there is the matter of Friday's (4/28) show at Rockstar. I'm glad this thing kicked off a bit late because all the bands were incredible. To save myself some time and energy until I get real posts going, kudos to You Will Die (Indianapolis), Battletorn, Raise the Red Lantern (Chicago), Drugs of Faith (VA) and local intoxicators Mighty High.

And many thanks to Karim and the Wreck Room for letting us (KissingerswallowS) and The Others Ran make an indecent amount of noise on saturday. Our upstart little bastard project, Blastocyst, also got to do a guest set and the whole show was super fun.

Okay, that's all until tomorrow, when I will post something more dense.

21 April 2006

A mountain of NBA nonsense

A quick moment of stupidity before my actual column thingy.
Take some NBA players names, write them in MS word and spellcheck them. Here are my favorites. This is the kind of thing you notice when spellchecking something that includes people with funny names:
Andrei Kirilenko: Andrei Virulence
Nenad Krstic: Nomad Rustic
Hedo Turkoglu: Hero Turmoil
Mehmet Okur: Mermen Occur
Dikembe Mutombo: December Motorbus
DeSagana Diop: Decagonal Dope
Chauncy Billups: Chancy Billbugs
Manu Ginobili: Manu Ignoble or Manu Gumboil

It’s time for the inevitable NBA playoff ranting, as well as my final regular season awards. I’m well aware that I handed out these awards over a month ago, but it’s my prerogative to hand them out as often as I want, since I don’t actually get to do it in real life.

I’m going to do this backwards, saving MVP for last, because I still haven’t made up my mind who it should be. I’ll start with the lesser awards and move up.

Most Improved Player: Having watched Boris Diaw play a lot lately, I must say I’m very impressed by what he’s done this season. At the European basketball championships before the NBA season he was the star for the French national team, despite the fact that he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from the free-throw stripe, and I thought to myself, “This guy is a lot better than the Hawks realize…” (Either that or “who the hell is this guy and why doesn’t he ever play?”) Then the Hawks fell all over themselves to get Joe Johnson, and gave up not only a ton of money (excusable) and a few draft picks (borderline inexcusable) which are going to keep the Suns motor running for years to come, but also a certain French guy who “passed too much and was reluctant to shoot” (mind-shatteringly stupid). You mean to tell me nobody on the Hawks could’ve figured out a way to use this guy? Have you seen the way Diaw effortlessly finds Marion for alleyoops? Imagine Diaw doing that on the Hawks where there are at least three players with Marion-like athleticism who would be only too happy to be on the receiving end of passes for easy baskets. Here’s a team with no actual point guards giving up their best passer as a throw-in in a trade in which they were already overdoing things. At any rate, now the Suns have Diaw and he’s made their lives so much easier as the season has gone on, and has something like four triple-doubles in the last month. He’s also played out of position at center almost all year at 6’8” and 215lbs (That’s seriously undersized). He’s played admirable defense and hit the boards all while helping Steve Nash find the artillery battery that is Raja Bell, Tim Thomas, Eddie House, James Jones and Leandro Barbosa open on the wing for endless streams of threes (they set an NBA team record this team and had the top two three point shooters in the league, Barbosa and Bell, as well as the seventh, Nash, and two other guys, House and Jones who are very close to 40% from three for the season). Simply put, he enabled the running, gunning Suns to at least partially forget that their franchise player of the future (Amare Stoudamire) missed the entire season and may never be the same. With all that said, it has to be Diaw. Watch this guy play; it’s a lot of fun.

Rookie Of The Year: This is still a no-brainer. This is Chris Paul’s award. He’s amazing. He’s only 20 and he’s having a better rookie season than either Magic or Jason Kidd did, and they’re the best point guards of the last 25 years (oh, and Isaiah, the other great one). He’s amazing. He barely missed the playoffs this year, but considering his team won about two and half games last year, I wouldn’t fault him for that. (Magic made the playoffs, but don’t forget that there were already some pretty good players on that team… Kareem for one). And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better rebounder under six feet tall… ever. And he’s got eyes in the back of his head. And he’s going to be an all-star in this league for the next twelve years. The next great point guard.

Defensive Player Of The Year: I’m sticking to my guns on this one too. Just judging by the amount of people (as well as the kind of people) who would fight Bruce Bowen to the death out of frustration, this guy should be the Defensive Player Of The Year. Vince Carter has a hard time not going ballistic every time these two face off. Ray Allen used to be close friends with him, and now has to try to restrain himself from calling him nasty names in post-game interviews. Bowen is the one player who can give Kobe genuine headaches. Coaches in last year’s playoffs started throwing smaller three men on Dirk Nowitzki (McGrady, Marion) and shut him down. This season, Dirk learned how to overcome that, and has abused any smaller defenders assigned to him, except for one guy… yup, Bruce Bowen. Despite being five inches and at least twenty-five pounds smaller, he gives Dirk nightmares. In short, he may me a little slap-happy and he may have a few gimmicks at his disposal, (namely pulling shorts, stepping under shooters etc.) but he gets the job done. The great ones get away with things. Just ask Michael Jordan, whose blatant (but uncalled) offensive foul on Bryon Russell in the ’98 Finals led to one of the iconic shots of his career. Watch some old tapes of any Knicks game, where Ewing takes fourteen steps across the lane with the ball before shooting. Defense is the same. I’m not saying Bruce Bowen is an all-time great player, but he is a great defensive player, and he’s earned the right to be a pain in the ass.

MVP: This is really difficult to figure out. I can’t help but think I’m making a mistake by picking one guy. Anyway, I picked Nash earlier, but his team slowed a bit when Kurt Thomas got injured, and I think I’d rather pick one of the rock-steady guys on one of the teams that have been dominant all season, San Antonio, Detroit or Dallas. I can’t pick any of the Spurs, and not simply because I hate them. Their best player this season was Tony Parker who simply shredded the entire league, but I don’t put him up there just yet, especially with two other starters who are all-stars (albeit injured all-stars for most of the season). That leaves Detroit and Dallas. As we all know, Detroit (probably undeservingly) had four all-stars this season while everyone was busy fawning all over them, so picking the best, Billups is probably simplifying things a little bit. But he’s definitely my runner-up. He led the league in assist to turnover ratio while posting one of the best assists per game averages in the league, which is pretty damn good, and he threw up something like 18 or 19 points a game on top and played some pretty good D as well. But he’s playing alongside a bunch of other pretty good players. That leads me to Dirk Nowitzki. I didn’t think of him as the MVP until about 5 minutes ago, but I’m content with the choice. He led a team that wasn’t supposed to be this good in a race with San Antonio for best in the west all season long. On top of that his whole team was messed up with injuries all year. He was not only the leader and the scorer and, incidentally, a much-improved defender (maybe not one on one, but his team defense is vastly improved). On top of that, the average layperson could probably not tell me who the rest of the Mavs starting five is. Give it a try (the answers are right over there, try not to cheat). Josh Howard, Jason Terry, DeSagana Diop and Adrian Griffin. Good players yes, but not the kind of all-stars that Billups is surrounded by in Detroit. Dirk is the MVP.

All League Teams: A quick note: The league picks actual centers for the center position even though most of them suck/didn’t play enough games, so I’ve picked actual centers too even though I didn’t want to (with the exception of Ben Wallace who I would’ve picked regardless). Stupid rules.

All League First Team
F: Dirk Nowitzki (MVP.)
F: Lebron James (Soon to be best player ever.)
C: Shaquille O’Neal (Old and decrepit, but still better than the rest… I guess.)
G: Steve Nash (Did it again with a whole new team.)
G: Kobe Bryant (Simply the best basketball player alive right now… which I find really upsetting.)

All League Second Team
F: Elton Brand (Comes from a town near my town. Hoorah.)
F: Shawn Marion (Does everything.)
C: Ben Wallace (Defensive beast and coolest looking guy in sports.)
G: Chauncy Billups (Bald.)
G: Dwyane Wade (Spells his name wrong.)

All League Third Team
F: Tim Duncan (I really think he’s so boring, but he’s very good.)
F: Carmelo Anthony (Officially the best clutch player in the entire league.)
C: Yao Ming (Got his gangrenous toe fixed, ruled the league for a month or two and promptly broke his foot.)
G: Tony Parker (Tiny and French, kinda like France.)
G: Gilbert Arenas (Watch this guy play. I swear he’s just playing HORSE the whole time. Sick.)

Players that were close: Vince Carter, Jason Kidd, Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce. Garnett and Pierce’s teams sucked even though they were individually good as usual (especially Pierce). Pau just plays at a stacked position (forward). Vince is a wuss, and even though I like him, I think he sometimes limps around too much and plays passive. Kidd was amazing in the second half, but looked slow in the first.

Some of the best defenders in the league missed a lot of games this season, but I’m still giving them their due because I feel like it. So there. I’ll mark them with an asterisk or something.

All Defense First Team
F: Rasheed Wallace (Great post-defender. Kills Tim Duncan, much to my delight.)
F: Andrei Kirilenko*(Along with Gerald Wallace, my favorite shot-blocker in the league. Watch him play and you’ll see every kind of block you can imagine: on the ball, off the ball, on the break and against players large and small. And he kinda looks like skeletor.)
C: Ben Wallace
G: Bruce Bowen (Most annoying defender in the NBA.)
G: Jason Kidd (lost a step, but still gets up for the big games. Shut down Billups and Nash on back-to-back nights earlier this season. Saw him attempt a putback dunk a week ago and nearly fell off my chair. If he’d nailed it, I would have.)

All Defense Second Team
F: Tim Duncan (*yawn*)
F: Shane Battier (doesn’t get big numbers, but shuts people down, and his head looks like a freshly ploughed field.)
C: Marcus Camby* (Great shotblocker and rebounder, who is, unfortunately, made of glass.)
G: Quinton Ross (the next Bruce Bowen, a chilling thought.)
G: Earl Watson (despite being a bench player, he may be the best defensive point guard in the entire league. If he started regularly, he’d be my first team pick.)

All Defense Third Team
F: Ron Artest* (Waiting with baited breath for him to run into the stands and devour some small child.)
F: Gerald Wallace* (Had the best block of the season on Etan Thomas. Came from the weak side and grabbed the shot out of the air with one hand like it was a rebound. Sick.)
C: Not really sure who to put here because I don’t have a third center I think is all that good… it’s Sam Dalembert by default here.
G: Raja Bell (Takes charges. Lots of them.)
G: Andre Iguodala (Not sure if this is a good pick, but I’m not actually sure that there is an all Defense third team anyway, so this may all be for naught.)

Playoff predictions: Will this post ever end? Nobody knows for sure.

1. San Antonio vs. 8. Sacramento
A lot of people seem to think that Sacramento have a chance at an upset in this one. Those people are dreaming. I would personally like nothing more that watching the Kings beat these boring bastards, but it ain’t happening. Spurs in five.

2. Phoenix vs. 7. Los Angeles Lakers
People seem to be making a big deal about the fact that Kobe averaged something like 42ppg against the Suns in the regular season. What they don’t seem to notice is that the Lakers were destroyed in all of those games except the last one where Nash sat out and the starters didn’t play much. In short, Phoenix is going to shred this team and Kobe will average 40+ while the rest of the team is bombed into submission by the three-point barrage. Phoenix in five.

3. Denver vs. 6. Los Angeles Clippers
LA tanked on purpose to get this matchup and they may have been smart for doing so. If Camby is not at full strength and K-Mart is still injured, guarding Kaman and Brand will be tough. If the Nuggets hadn’t made the trade for Reggie Evans (robo-rebounder) and Ruben Patterson (Zach Randolph-eye-socket-breaker), they’d be dead in the water. Carmelo will get his team a few wins here because he’s that good, but look forward to the Clips winning and Sam Cassell doing his “look at my huge testicles” dance at least once. Don’t think of that as an upset though because the Clips actually finished with a better record than Denver, and Denver is the third seed only because of the NBA’s dopey seeding system. LAC in six.

4. Dallas vs. 5. Memphis
Memphis got screwed here because of the effed-up seeding system (see above), which seeded 7th best Denver in the 3 spot because they won their division. Dallas, the second best team in the west didn’t win their division because San Antonio was in the same division and, as a result, are seeded below Denver despite winning 16 or 17 more games. As a result, Memphis gets the shaft and Dallas wins. Dallas in four.


1. Detroit vs. 8. Milwaukee
This is a complete washout. Detroit in four.

2. Miami vs. 7. Chicago
Chicago is rolling right now, but if Wade is at full strength there’s no hope here. Chicago will fight tooth and nail, Shaq will throw Tyson Chandler around like he’s not even there and Nocioni will make somebody want to beat his ass and… Chicago will be swept. Miami in four.

3. New Jersey vs. 6. Indiana
Indiana isn’t playing as well as they should be, but Jermaine O’Neal is rounding into form at just the wrong time for the Nets. Good thing the Nets have finally figured out how to play defense again and everybody’s clicking. Jason Kidd is looking better than he has in a year and a half, and Carter and Jefferson are playing very well. Krstic is the difference maker. When he plays well, the Nets become a much better team. Nets in six.

4. Cleveland vs. 5. Washington
This is the series that everyone is watching for two reasons. 1) LeBron’s playoff debut. 2) The Cavs could actually lose this one. If the Cavs had gotten any of the other bottom seeds in this first round, they would have cleaned up, but Washington can take them. Washington had the edge in the regular season matchup (two games to one I think). Cleveland is spotty defensively as it is, and they will have trouble containing Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas at the same time. Look for Arenas to see his matchup against former-teammate Larry Hughes as motivation and torch the Cavs for 35+ at least a couple of time. Antonio Daniels is also playing well now for Washington, and Haywood can provide some good D if he stays out of foul trouble. LeBron will not falter. I think he will have a spectacular series, but I can really see this going either way. If Larry Hughes contributes the way he is capable of, the Cavs win… barely. If not, the Wizards (can’t these guys be the bullets again? The Wizard thing is pretty weak) can look forward to complete annihilation in Detroit in Round 2. Cavs in seven.

19 April 2006

I think I gave these guys too hard a time

Kalas - s/t
Tee Pee Records
18 April 2006
4 stars

When reviewing a side project of a member of a favorite band, one of the most difficult aspects of the job is trying to keep an open and objective mind. While I had to deal with this a bit for my last review (see Witch), I think it proved to be much more difficult to judge the band Kalas. I definitely had no idea what to expect from this album as this band is Matt Pike (High On Fire) on vocals fronting bandmates more known for their punk and hardcore pedigree. In a case like this remaining neutral was difficult because my mind was already expecting certain elements behind the recognizable voice. So I've tried to put this together without drawing unnecessary and unfair comparisons.

I will admit that although I was a bit disappointed at first, the album has begun to grow on me after a couple listens. Some of the material is sub-par and feels like filler, but out of the nine tracks there are three definite killers. This probably would have been better as, say, a six song EP or something along those lines. The major problems I found were that often the vocals are too intense for the music. That isn't a problem on those three gems ("Godpills," "Pleasurable Prison" and "Voyager"), but it's noticeable in parts of the others. Also it seems like too many of the songs begin in the same manner: they move from a slow- or mid-tempo instrumental, build some momentum, the vocals kick in and then the song continue to move forward. it's true that many a song in general begins this way, it's just that on this album it a noticeable pattern emerges.

On the plus side, there is some sweet guitar weaving going on here and there. The instrumentalists definitely have a feel for one another and play well together, I just find that they're not as talented musicians as High On Fire. Then again, this is much more straightforward metal-rock as opposed to an intense barrage of sludge. The album production is fairly clean, nothing is drowned in the mix and there is still plenty to bang your head to and get your fist in the air about: all definitely positives in this case. I mean, what's more important in life than headbanging, summoning and surging? I can't think of much. So maybe I'm shortchanging these guys too much due to my biases, but I'd definitely recommend checking Kalas out.

18 April 2006

Burn her anyway!

A double post today because I haven't posted in a week. Firstly, there is the matter of atheism and the stupidity of organized religion. I've started reading a piece by Sam Harris called An Atheist Manifesto which you should definitely take a few minutes to read. Organized religion and its opposition to progress and rational thought is intolerable. I'm tired of putting up with religious bullshit for the sake of "openness" and "dialogue" and "understanding" when the other side is beholden to a worldview that has been roundly rejected by learned people the world over and refuses to recognize that fact. I guess this is my day-after-easter post. ha ha!
Anyway, that having been removed from my chest, I can get down to the business of supporting amazing music.

Witch - s/t
TeePee Records
7 March 2006
5 stars

Okay, I tried starting this review about seven different ways. All of them were either completely uninteresting or too long-winded before even getting to the point. And as the number seven is one of my favorites, I gave up and decided, "Fuck it, I'll just tell the folks straight up: this album is fucking great." There ya go.

Now maybe the fact that Dinosaur Jr was the first band I ever loved had some subconscious effect on me so that I had to like this on account of the J Mascis-involvement-factor. But Witch is not really DJ at all and to tell the truth, I never bothered to get into J + The Fog. Anyway, J is back behind the kit here, and this is super-fuzzed-psych-rock so out goes that explanation. The real story here must be that this album is comprised of 7 (ooh!) amazing songs that stick straight to the resin that lines the inside of your skull (at least my skull).

Guitar lines like maple syrup are accentuated by some fantastic Big Muff buzz which offsets percussion recorded with a surprising crispness. The vocals are also quite distinct; like the nasally voice of a grizzled old storyteller from the throat of a young man. The album as a whole is very warm and the production is nearly spot-on. I think the only issue I have with this record is that the bass is too often lost in the mix. You can certainly feel it in there, it just isn't allowed to stand out as much, which is a bit disappointing. I guess I wish a lyric sheet was included, too, but otherwise this album (including the cover art) is a spectacular piece of work from start to finish. And just to confirm, these guys killed live a couple weeks ago here in Brooklyn, so go see them when they come around to your town.

12 April 2006

The Genius of Dr Dino

So now that your day is starting or ending or in the middle somewhere, you want your daily dose of hilarity. And you want it combined with your daily dose of horror (the kind that stems from obscene levels of ignorance and stupidity) for good effect. A fine Australian gentleman (finally! full disclosure: I'm sketched out by Australians) has webbified the musings of [Christian] scientist Kent Hovind for all of our shock and amusement (bemusement?).
If you've never heard of Dr. Dino (aka Kent Hovind) I'm here to help you out. I recently got turned on to the "genius" of Mr. Hovind while keeping my brain stimulated by Scientific American magazine (online where a good deal of it is free!). It appears that Kent Hovind is an avid creationist (the Young-Earth type, none of those sissy Day-Agers) who firmly believes an incredible amount of bullshit and actually challenges scientists to debate him. There's too much great stuff for you to read, so I won't bother summarizing any more of it. GO READ!

10 April 2006

As If We Didn't Know

So the Washington Post and Al Jazeera report today that the US military has "overstated" the significance of terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi. That makes me feel better, because if this guy could really appear simultaneously at locations hundreds of miles apart to commit the kinds of bombings and kidnappings he was blamed for, I'd definitely be scared shitless. I mean, we're talking about super-hero level abilities!
As reality would suggest, however, this is just another case of the US fearmongering. And my god are they getting more and more obvious about it. I mean, seriously, we used to have amazing psychological warfare capabilities. Now we just have Karen Huges, Condi Rice, Scott McClellan and the various martial-bureaucrats who like gush toddler-esque dribble to the press. Any idiot can see through this. Which is why we don't fund schools anymore.


05 April 2006

Storming the Poop Deck - PIRATES

digital playground
dir. joone
jesse jane (tm dp)(???)
carmen luvana
teagan presley
austyn moore
jenaveve jolie
tommy gunn
evan stone
steven st. croix
scott nails
kris slater

this adults only feature flick came to me in dvd bundled with my Enjoy Jenna Jameson tee shirt, and a fresh deck of spread 'em poker style cards. lavish looking cardboard confirms three discs full of bleached blonde, bought breasted, ragtag, fuck-folly (the third disc is the main program in High Definition). and yet it took me a few days to get into, and fully grasp what kind of beast had ridden through the hearts of men.

everything good about what made mainstream porn golden in the seventies is re-exemplified without the hair-trigger. evan stone's meandering bumbling staccato delivers max massimo's well written, funny lines in an admirably camp tenor. his character's main worry is that he will or won't capture, run into, defeat, or fall at the hands of one Vincent Scagnetti (Gunn), the mean-spirited ancient traveller, and captor of one Isabella (Luvana), newlywed, incumbant lesbian sprite. The story is so good for an actual bad movie (I've suffered far worse - these actors play into having such a good time, and they all have the look in their eye, that, at the end of the day, I'm just here for fucking look. It's great.) that I've watched this film without the porn scenes, making it the gayest pornography that I own. Disregarding all that other gay pornography...

As for the sex on film, it's explosive, if not a little quick, flash-in-the-pan, underexploited imo. Devin takes an Evan Stone hammering like that gremlin in the blender. You remember that! I'm serious, I think I make similar sounds every time I see it. Jesse Jane can suck a dick sideways till Tuesday suffers sunburn. She's a pro - get used to it (I really can't...)! Steven St. Croix hams up an actor's dream part, creaming all over the place, swearing, cussing, playing romantic, overdramatic wails, and exhuberant speaches. It's staggering, he nails it. Janine fucks some compassion into Tommy Gunns face before he plows her from behind over a dinner setting. Lovely.

- Behind the Scenes, Bloopers, Casting Videos, Trailers, Bios, Photos, F-X Making of.., Audio Commentary with Jesse Jane, Janine, Carmen Luvana, Tommy Gunn, Joone -

Music, Pirates, Humor, Pirates, Sex, Suck Cock, Fuck, Sex, Humor, Pirates, Skelatons, Indian Monks, Pirates, Lesbians, Lungfuck, Pirates, Yargh!

Wreck Room wrecks again

Quick mention on last night's show at the Wreck Room. I will be posting reviews soon on Deadbird and The Heuristic (and here as well). Both of these bands were fucking great and I'm glad I didn't get all lazy and stay in on a Tuesday. Honorable mention should also go out to their openers, Neurolytic Collapse. If you haven't checked out Deadbird or The Heuristic (don't confuse them with the california band. I'm reppin' for Boston here) go do that right now and support these bands.

A Samoan Lawyer Rides with the Factory Team

The Vincent Black Shadow - s/t
Heartbreak Beat Records
7 March 2006
4 stars

I never really got into the whole garage rock revival thing when it first happened a few years back. It was fun enough as party background music, but other than that I found little substance to dive into. However, when it's done right, a simple, raw rock song can punch you right in the gut and make you move. And this type of gut-punching is what The Vincent Black Shadow specialize in.

Like a little piece of Detroit raised up in Baltimore; The VBS's eponymous debut is engine-revving music. True to form it's certainly a fun record to listen to and would make a great soundtrack to a drag race movie (the NYC subway doesn't quite cut it in this regard). But like their name suggests, they're not the hot-rod type. This is for the acid-head biker gang.

While most of the old 'garage-rock' stuff I've heard is quite stripped-down, these songs are simply structured without being weak. There is plenty of raw energy, but I think it's the psychedelic elements that really make this more than a simple rock album. The distortion is thick and fuzzy with plenty of head-trip wah added to great effect and the dirty production values complement the driving rhythms and whisky-soaked vocals. It really sounds like the band went into their practice spot drunk, decided to drop acid and then started playing as they came up. The album drops hints early, then fully delves into psychedelia with track 4, "Colors & Feelings." From that point on the psych elements are much more pronounced. It's a short album (only 30 minutes long) that leaves me wanting more; something that I find very important. Overall I have to say that I was very impressed with this release so I must recommend checking these guys out.

02 April 2006


This will be short, as I am currently on day three in the awful process of transcribing a video interview for a friend's work project. My brain is made of pea soup right now. I have about 3 hours in which to finish going through 25 minutes of tape, so the race is on.
However, I must give it up to Triac and Dactyl who came up from Baltimore and killed at Northsix last night. As usual my chronically late ass missed the first band (which I always love, since my band tends to be an opener, so I know the feeling), but the B-more kids fucking rocked the fishtank. Dear Tonight played next, but most of us apparently were at Anytime drinking $1 PBRs and not listening to a band in which everyone has the same haircut and general fashion sense. Their bassist, Randy, is a nice guy, but their singer seems a dick and the rest of 'em are totally non-descript screamo fellas in girl jeans. The Holy Mountain closed things out to great effect. By their name I expected something more psych-esque, but it was really just well-done d-beat stuff for the crusty crowd. I always tend to dig that stuff despite the requisite white boy with dreads being an ass in the crowd (in this case yelling about how Buffalo, NY is great).

But yeah, fucking Triac and Dactyl, man. Eight rad dudes who are fun to chill with and know how to rock. That sounds fucking corny. It's not supposed to be. Support the shit out of these guys. They work hard and deserve it.

29 March 2006

I stayed up all night for this!

This record kicks ass. 'Nuff said.

Sin of Angels - From the Ashes
NotCommon Records
15 Nov 2005
4 stars

In early February my band got to open a gig for Brooklyn street-metal champs, Prowler, and a couple of touring bands from the Boston label NotCommon Records. The show, while fun to play, was not without its hiccups; with the somewhat typical scramble for extra mics and figuring out who was sharing what equipment with whom. However, in hindsight, the biggest hiccup of them all was the breakdown of a van carrying three men from Providence. At the time I had the, "shit, it sucks that that band can't make it, but at least we're not rushed for time anymore" attitude. Boy do I ever wanna take that back. Now that I've done my homework weeks later I know exactly what we all missed: a heavy dose of New England doom.

Doom? What? I must say that as a transplanted Masshole, I am ashamed of my lack of awareness of the sludge and doom scene in New England. I mean really, when Providence, RI is mentioned in the company of most of the music folks I know, bands like Lightning Bolt or Arab On Radar or Necronomitron immediately come up. Well folks, it's time to hop on the bandwagon, because there is some great stuff from the other end of the speed spectrum going on up there. Along with labelmates Conifer (who hail from Maine), Providence's Sin of Angels are putting out some high quality material.

From the Ashes, SoA's first full-length on NotCommon, clocks in just shy of 45 minutes and not a second of it should be missed. Slow, trudging chords become sludge rock riffage and turn back again carrying you away with each tempo shift. When the energy is just right a solo flies from the guitar as if set free by Loki just to stir up trouble. A lot of the doomier parts on this record are reminiscent of Neurosis, though with more pace: like they were channeling Sabbath. Overall this is a fantastic album that gets better with each listen. I'm dreadfully sorry that they never made it to Brooklyn that night, but I won't miss them next time. And before they come to crush your town, make sure you have this album.