Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gray Before My Eyes 7"

Some friends of mine are on tour from Australia and are currently wrapping up their two weeks here in the States. I couldn't join them for their last show in Baltimore tonight because I had to be responsible and get some schoolwork and studying *yawn* done. As I'm waiting for them to get back to Philly so I can be a good friend and tuck them in (see: make them drink some more of my home brew and do some friggin' laundry before they head off to England to play some more shows), I thought I would make a quick post.

This is a two song seven inch that came out in 1996 on James Burnham's Moo Cow Records, which by now you're probably familiar with. It's a bit of an interesting one, too. As you can see below, the insert of this record has a ton of important information pertaining to violence against both women and children. Gray Before My Eyes, who hailed from Florida, had members who went on to be in another Moo Cow-related band named Song Of Kerman.

In addition to the insert including the type of info I mentioned, the lyrics of these songs are about the same topics. The first song, Raze, clearly illustrates what the vocalist would do to a particular gentleman who, at some point, did some fucked up things to a women close to the singer's heart, given he had the chance to. The recording quality of this slab of wax is pretty damn near perfect for this screamy style of, say it with me now, "emotional hardcore". Granted, it's been quite awhile since I've put this record on my turntable, but the music here is honestly much bit better than I remember it being when it first came out. I would recommend this to kids who are into like minded / styled bands such as Stickfigurecarousel, Inkwell, or early Julia.

My copy comes on white vinyl (out of 100), and has white labels with handwritten song titles in black ink. It is Moo Cow #16 and is a good listen.


1) Raze
2) Hatelust

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mid Carson July - "Turn the Radio Down"

This is the debut 7" by Northumberland County, Pennsylvania's emotional hc / college rock / pomade-endorsing heroes Mid Carson July, who included ex-members of an earlier band called Deckard. I've been to this central part of our state before, and there really isn't much going on outside of what I guess would involve consuming meteor crater-sized amounts of Yuengling Lager, hunting (I hope that bear eats your face), shooting guns, and/or camping. Or just hanging out in the woods really, because that is all there is over yonder. I mean, there is a place about two or three towns over from Shamokin that has continuously been on fire since the early 1960's. Thankfully, these dudes didn't get hooked on meth (I don't actually know this, I'm just blindly typing away over here), but instead kicked out some sweet, sweet rock tunes that gave them the label of being the "Get Up Kids of the Keystone State", which I just came up with right now, not in 1997. If that dubious title doesn't deliver right to your brain an accurate idea of their sound, then I'm not going to explain it to you.

The lyrics were about girls and other nostalgic stuff, but mostly just about girls. These three songs were recorded in March of 1996 at Neptune Studios in Occaquan, Virginia, and this 7" was released as a split between the band's label and NY's Alone Records (AR# 3), which went on to put out records from The One AM Radio, Joshua Fit For Battle, All Else Failed, Jeromes Dream, The Assistant, as well as the "Warriors Rising" benefit compilation 7", which was released shortly before "Turn the Radio Down".

These tunes are both happy and sad at the same time. You know that cute indie-looking chick you've been diggin' on for the past two months, but haven't spoken to / made any sort of actual move on yet? The one with the short dark hair and glasses? Yeah, there's a pretty good chance she would like this band. So when you finally decide to stop being a gigantic pussy about things and make her that mix tape (and write her that note) this weekend*, include a few songs by these dudes. Hopefully she'll let you take her out for a milkshake, or maybe, just fucking maybe, she'll agree to go to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire with you^. Better make that note count, Romeo!

* this is the best idea you've had in at least five months.
^ this is the worst life decision she'll make for at least the next five months.

-go get her, tiger-

1) F.C.C.
2) Wallflower
3) Sanitized

Fields Lay Fallow - "One Hundred Years of High Rises..."

This is the one and only release by Philadelphia band Fields Lay Fallow, half of whose members also played in Lancaster's Spirit Assembly. Dynamic, intense and heartfelt, this four piece existed only briefly during the late 90s and probably should have made more of an impact. This 12" is quite excellent and their live set was just as good. Their style sounds like an amalgamation of Shotmaker and Spirit Assembly mixed with something a bit dirtier, like Struggle or perhaps Jara. I would say that Fields Lay Fallow were a bit more technical than any of those bands, and you can see previous statements about how beneficial having a good drummer can be. Georgia's Portrait would also be a pretty good comparison. A couple of these folks went on to play in To The Mean, a band that was active circa 2004 and also had the vocalist from Amber Inn amongst their lineup.

The six songs on this record were recorded in October and November, 1997 at Clay Creek Studio in Wilmington, Delaware by Nick Rotundo. It was released by Atlanta's Lunchbox Records (LBR #9) in 1998. Lunchbox was operated by Steve Wishart, who played in Car Vs Driver and Scout, as well as this band in early 1997. I've always really liked the artwork of this 12", too. The record includes some personal writings by members of the band as well as contact information for various organizations that assist victims of domestic violence, drug addicts aimed on getting clean, and also has contact info for gay and lesbian rights groups. Highly recommended.

-shells of shelter crumble-

1) Notes on Hate
2) Lockdown
3) Notes on Paradigms
4) Storming
5) Wood for Fire
6) Notes on Fronts

(editor's note: Regarding the show flyer; Catharsis also played that night. Good times.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Iceburn 7"

Utah's Iceburn, much to my complete and utter confusion, was a band that was overlooked by about 95% of the scene during their heyday, and the gap between kids who were into them and those who weren't seemed to widen with every release. This was especially true of the later, more LSD-influenced improv jazz stuff (when they were known as The Iceburn Collective). The band was always totally off of the map as far as what people considered to be "hardcore punk", particularly for a band whose records were released by the two bigger labels in the scene circa 1994: Revelation and Victory. I heard a ton of responses similar to "Ugh, really? Iceburn?" during my high school years and shortly thereafter when discussing our favorite bands of the day with friends. Most people just didn't seem to "get it".

In the early days when they were a Victory Records band (circa 1991-1992), they had a somewhat off-kilter, D.C. / post-hardcore sound going for them. This stuff was executed fantastically well because, simply put, they were dope f'n musicians and knew how use their supreme songwriting skills to craft bombastic, meandering and heavy tunes with lots of tempo changes and plenty of distinction. After you heard their first full length Firon once, you knew exactly who you were listening to when you went to your friend's house a few days later and he/she was playing the same album, even though you were pretty sure he didn't own it.

It was around 1994, the year this two song 7" was released (on the sensational Art Monk Construction record label), the band found themselves drifting away from the heavier stuff and more towards the experimental, acid-jazz shit. Which, for the record, was also really good...just different. And mostly instrumental. This two song jam came out in between the two definitive, pants-poopingly great Iceburn masterpieces, the Hephaestus and Poetry Of Fire full lengths. "Moon" was recorded in November 1993, and "Brew #9" is from a live show the band played during March of the same year in their hometown of Salt Lake City. Members of Iceburn / The Iceburn Collective went on to play in Rival Schools, Helmet, Eagle Twin, Danger Hailstorm, Jets To Brazil and Ascend. I've always been a huge fan of original drummer Joseph Chad Smith's diverse playing style, and to this day dude is still a pretty big influence for me.

This band is/was clearly not for everyone, but those who could weather the storm of weirdness and keep an open mind were treated to one of the most rewarding, albeit underrated, punk bands of the 1990s. If you've never heard the band before, this seven inch probably isn't the best place you could start, but it would give you a decent idea of their style, saxophone and all. This gem is AMC #5, in case you were keeping score at home, and comes from the era when the label was based in Pennsylvania, not Virginia.


1) Moon
2) Brew #9 (live)

Friday, February 20, 2015

For The Love Of... demo cassette

Hello, and thanks for stopping by.

This is the best demo tape I've ever heard. The first time I saw For The Love Of... (also referred to as  For The Love Of and FTLO) was at the Princeton Arts Council in early 1996 and they delivered the fucking goods. They didn't have any demos with them at that show, but luckily I snagged one about two weeks later whilst record shopping in Philly. A couple of months ago I stumbled across footage of the bands entire set from that afternoon on YT, but my search for it is currently turning up empty. This sucks for you, because after listening to this phenomenal demo I'd bet a few dollars you'd be interested in seeing some quality footage of them.

Along with Floorpunch, this band and their bonkers live show helped turn the New Jersey scene on it's ass way back when. There are three metallic, well-recorded, intense as fuck heavy hardcore jams presented here for your enjoyment. They sometimes started their sets by busting out a sledgehammer and anvil (as heard on All Will Be Rid Of), so if you hadn't seen them up to that point it became pretty clear to you immediately that they meant business. Scott, the drummer, was pretty damn good and at one point the reso head on his bass drum had a pic of Eddie from Iron Maiden on it. I'm not sure who specifically it was, but FTLO had at least one former member of mid-90s NJHC band Strength 691 in the band, who I could never get into.

This is the best thing FTLO ever released, as most of the songs on the ensuing full length "Feasting on the Will of Humanity" (released originally by the band's own Signature Records in 1997, then almost immediately re-packaged and re-issued by Ferret Records in 1998) just couldn't match the intensity and rawness of these three bangers. Even the two songs from here that appear on the first proper release just didn't have the same punch. Additionally, this cassette features the original vocalist and also has some of the best use of samples I've ever come across.

The only info about the band contained in the demo's layout is the bands contact address, so no information on when or where these songs were recorded. A++ mosh-inducing metalcore. This demo cassette is one of the highlights of anything to ever come from the Elizabeth - Newark area, for sure, because approximately 97% of Northeastern New Jersey is an absolute fucking cesspool.

-Let's Begin Then-

1) All Will Be Rid Of
2) Flatline
3) Noreaster

Thursday, February 12, 2015

V/A - "Anti-Matter" compilation cd

This is definitely one of the better compilations from the 90s, in my humble opinion. I mean, it's right up there with the "All The President's Men" and "XXX - Some Ideas Are Poisonous" comps. The year was 1996, and Norm Arenas had spent the previous couple of years publishing the marvelous Anti-Matter fanzine, of which only four issues were written. He also played in the bands Shelter, Texas Is The Reason and 108; all of which, my dear reader, are bands you should already be familiar with. Most of the groups who appear on this cd had interviews that graced the pages of said zine, and the liner notes here are filled with snippets from those various conversations. The last issue of Anti-Matter (#6 - the additional two spots were 7" releases) was published over the summer of  '95, and this magnificent compilation came out in late '96.

Honestly, every track here is enjoyable, and some of them are very, very good. Furthermore, some of them are downright fuckin' astoundingly boss. Take a look at that band lineup, for chrissakes. Yeah, I know...I know. Released by NYC's Another Planet Records (this is #6), who reissued quite a bit of out-of-print stuff in their day.

In summation, you should go ahead and grab this if you've never heard it before. Then immediately scurry over to Revelation and buy the Anti Matter Anthology for some good reads.
And pronto, Tonto.

-thank you, 1996, for this gift-

1) Quicksand - "Shovel"
2) Gameface - "Everything I Do Is Wrong"
3) Outspoken - "Spark"
4) Supertouch - "Better"
5) Farside - "Moral Straightjacket"
6) 108 - "Arctic"
7) Snapcase - "Vent"
8) Threadbare - "Weatherman"
9) CIV - "Don't Gotta Prove It (Live)"
10) Garden Variety - "New Guitar Parts"
11) Undertow - "Kill"
12) Strife - "Circuit"
13) Chamberlain - "Magnetic 62nd"
14) Sense Field - "Shady Day"
15) Lifetime - "Theme Song For A New Brunswick Basement Show"
16) Mouthpiece - "To The Side"

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Time In Malta - "Construct And Demolish"

Time in Malta was a three-piece post-hardcore-y band from the San Francisco area. "Construct And Demolish" was released in 1999 on Escape Artist Records, which hailed from Downingtown, a town about 35 miles or so west of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania (aka THE MOTHERLAND). More importantly than this, however, is the fact that Downingtown is home to Victory Brewing Company, which brews some pretty solid beer. I particularly enjoy their Golden Monkey (a delicious triple ale coming in at 9.5% abv) and Prima Pils ales.

Thiiiiiiissssss...I just never got into, but I found it in a box of old-ish cd's and thought to myself, "Hey, maybe someone out there is looking for this, or would enjoy it" The music is sort of progressive (I guess), as far as hardcore punk goes. Truth be told I could never could get into the vocals, not at all. This is the main reason I never listened to "Construct And Demolish" all the way through more than four times. The music moderately made me think of what would have happened if members of Connecticut's Cable (see an earlier post here) and maybe New York's 1.6 Band got together and started a new "project". It is pretty decent musically, but the vox just aren't my thing. Solid production, though via Toast Studio in SF.

Certainly post-hc, but nowhere near as enjoyable for me as, say, Into Another circa 1994 or fuckin' Iceburn circa anytime ever. This record is EA #4, and perhaps you may like it.

Try it out here

1) Swallowing Glass
2) Moment Of Clarity
3) Impasse
4) I Only Hope
5) Separation
6) Thoughts Like Rain

Hourglass 7"

Five hectic, chaotic and relatively heavy screamy hardcore songs from this Buffalo, NY band that was active during the (you guessed it) mid-90s. Hourglass may or may not have fit into the "screamo" genre - that tag didn't exist until later - but when it's this good you can call it whatever the fuck you want to. Energetic and pretty frantic stuff that crossed boundaries, blurring the not-so-fine line between emo hardcore and more mosh-oriented stuff, or whatever. People that were into both camps dug this band though, including me, and I think that's saying something. Not too many kids back in 1997 dug Honeywell, Earth Crisis, Warzone, Obituary, and Hourglass, all inclusively. Those of us that did were basically smarter that everybody else.

Hourglass released only two records: an absolutely crucial split cd with Canadian crybabies New Day Rising, and this seven inch, but they also initially put out a five song demo. They had a serious case of recording and releasing some songs, then re-recording most of them for inclusion in their next release, then finally doing the same thing one more time. It would have been awesome to hear some different songs, but I wasn't in the band so maybe they did it because they hated the earlier recordings and just wanted to be happy, man. Or maybe they broke up and didn't have new material. Regardless,  New Day Rising is a pretty good comparison as far as a somewhat similar sounding band goes, so I can very easily see why they shared a record with each other. This was released in 1997 on the then-fledgling but always fantastic Immigrant Sun Records (This is Kill #002), and contains no information about when or where this was recorded. The aforementioned split cd was released by Moo Cow Records and also deserves your attention.

-what a tragedy, you fell on your head today-

1) Cyl
2) Divide
3) Lovesick
4) The Artist In The Liar
5) Clandestine Whisper

Falling Forward - "Four Songs"

Goddammit. This CD5 (thank you, 1990s) by Louisville's Falling Forward is so fucking great, and it still rocks my balls off twenty (!!!!) years after its release. For those not familiar with this band, they played emotionally driven melodic mid-western hardcore that has always struck a chord with me. Excellent, sweeping vocals (and lyrics), wonderful musicianship and absolutely chock full of sincerity of character. This release compiles the 2 songs from the self titled 7" released on Doghouse Records (which this cd also came out on) and the band's two acoustic tracks from a split 7" with fellow Louisville natives Metroschifter (originally released on Initial Records, also in 1995).

After you check this amazing release out, I implore you to get your hands on Falling Forward's earlier "Hand Me Down" record afterwards, which is, by my estimation, overall a slightly heavier cd. In the end, these four songs equate to one of the better 90s emotional hardcore records, period. Recommended for fans of Chamberlain / Split Lip and/or more "rock" oriented stuff like Jimmy Eat World and Boys Life.


1) Wrap Around Suit
2) The Great Union Divide
3) Christensen Spring
4) Twenty Nine Sixteen Magazine