Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Powerline - Dude, Ranch

"Youth gone expired / Those heroes we had and no longer admire, they're gone away / Things don't sound the same."

I joined Powerline a couple of months ago when they were down a singer. For me, it quickly went from being a fun diversion to a band I'm super proud to be a member of. It's been a few years since I've played music and I'm glad to be doing it again. You might dig Powerline if you're into melodic punk like Samiam, Lagwagon, or even poppier stuff like Homegrown.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Final Rage

Final Rage were from the UK (where specifically I don't know - their Facebook just says "South") and played furious, heavy hardcore in the vein of Ringworm and Integrity, without all the witchy, forest shit. As near as I can tell, the band (at one time) shared one or more members with the blink-and-then-they're-gone On Thin Ice, a very similar-sounding UK hardcore band (I'll be doing a write-up on them soon). Anyway, Final Rage called it quits in 2014, but left behind a self-released demo and an EP and a split with Breaking Point on Carry the Weight Records. I guess they were super edge, but I don't hold that against them.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Blodsport - Pandæmonium

Blodsport is a hip hop group from Copenhagen, Denmark consisting of emcees Macabre and Poltergeist, and DJ Architect. Blodsport make my favorite kind of rap music - which I would argue is the definitive style of the genre - specifically the gritty, New York-based style of the 1990's. Now, I'm by no means an authority when it comes to hip hop, but I know what I like: vinyl samples, chopped-up drum breaks, and aggressive vocal delivery. If groups like Onyx and Mobb Deep come to mind when describing how something sounds - for me at least - you're on the right track. Such is the case with Blodsport (and yes, that's the Danish spelling of Bloodsport).

I discovered these guys when I heard one of my favorite underground emcees - Kid Fade from Canada's Psych Ward - guesting on the track "Ser Rødt" (which translates to "Looks Red"). I'd heard the song on some digital mixtape, but I soon tracked down the EP it came from: Blodsport's debut Blodtørstig (or, Bloodthirsty). And the only problem with Blodtørstig is that it's too damn short at ten tracks, but only eight real songs. 

Of course, unless you speak Danish you'll have no idea what they're saying. But it's actually kind of refreshing not to hear all the typical gangster rap lyrics that get so worn out. You can appreciate the emcees' cadence without having to groan and roll your eyes every time someone says "heater" or "beef." Also, you can listen to Blodsport around easily offended people because they don't say the N-word either, being that they're three white guys from Denmark. Just don't let your parents see the cover of Blodtørstig: it puts Mayhem's infamous Dawn of the Black Hearts cover to shame.

Blodsport do tread a bit into horrorcore territory, but not to the same extent as the typical standbys like Brotha Lynch Hung, Esham, or Necro - none of whom I care for. Blodsport has more of a Non-Phixion feel: authentic hip hop with a bit of a violent, B-movie bent. Also, just a quick aside: Necro has never been one of my favorite emcees, but as a beat maker, he's a misunderstood genius (just listen to Non-Phixion's "No Tomorrow" and "Black Helicopters").

Anyway, Blodsport's first LP, Pandæmonium, is finally here. Any fan of aggressive, underground hip hop should head over to their Bandcamp and plunk down twelve American dollars to download it. I hardly ever buy digital music, but for groups and artists like Blodsport, I make the exception.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mindforce - Demo 2016

"I feel like I'm trapped... trapped in a gauntlet... so run it."

This Poughkeepsie hardcore band is a dead ringer for Turnstile, but at least they do it well. Plus Mindforce is on Straight and Alert Records - never a bad thing. Fans of Turnstile, Leeway, and... well, I guess that's really it, should love this.

Dirty Water and the Ducky Boys

"So lay down and die, 'cause it ain't real rock 'n' roll it's only dollar signs."

My previous post was about Rob Lind of Blood For Blood, Ramallah, and Sinners and Saints fame. Of the three bands I just mentioned, Rob plays in the last one (Sinners and Saints) with his brother Mark. But Mark is an accomplished musician in his own right, primarily known for his long tenure with the Ducky Boys (whose last three records have been flawless) and his solo work.

Aside from the Ducky Boys, Mark had a side-project in the early 2000's called Dirty Water. The band was highly reminiscent of the Ducky Boys, but just slightly more melodic. They put out an incredible self-titled EP in 2003 and then that was it. Or so everyone thought.

If you head over to Dirty Water's Bandcamp page, not only can you download the EP (for free), but the band has posted a "lost record" of sorts: nine songs (only one or two of which have been re-recorded by the Ducky Boys) meant for another release that never materialized. It's under the 2012 release entitled Demos. And if you're at all a fan of punk rock of the sing-a-long variety, or just shit that rocks, go get these two records now.

Ramallah - "But A Whimper" Bonus Tracks

"Just take a look at the papers. Your leaders: they're killers, they're liars - what they do in your name to make the bodies pile higher. The murders, the terror. They've done it forever. While we sit back and smile at the script that they sell us."

Ever since the first time I heard Blood For Blood back in the ninth grade, I've always been a massive fan of any music that Rob Lind releases. Whether it be the band he is most well-known for (and I don't care what anyone says, Serenity was awesome), or his work with his brother Mark in the rock band Sinners and Saints, I will always buy a Rob Lind record and enjoy it.

True to form - and despite everyone panning it at first - when Rob's side-project Ramallah debuted But A Whimper in 2002, I was hooked the minute I heard it. Sure, Rob's singing voice sounds a little high-pitched and weird on the recording. But the band more than made up for this tiny flaw with a seriously uncompromising EP of metallic hardcore. Ramallah was heavier than Blood For Blood, yet almost as melodic as Sinners and Saints. But A Whimper is a truly unique hardcore record and I haven't heard anything like it since. Unless, of course, you count the band's full-length follow-up Kill A Celebrity, or their comeback split with Sinners and Saints, Back From the Land of Nod.

I purchased the CD version of the But A Whimper EP back when it was initially released. However, a few years later, I found the vinyl version in a distro at a local show. I grabbed it simply because the art was cool and I thought it would be a nice addition to my growing record collection. Well, I was pleasantly surprised when I got around to listening to it that there were two bonus tracks included on the vinyl release: an early version of the Kill A Celebrity track "If I Die Today" (called simply, "If I Die") and... wait for it... a Smiths cover. Yeah, Ramallah covers "What Difference Does It Make?" And, to be honest, I don't really like the Smiths (because I hate Morrissey), but Ramallah's version is pretty impressive.

These two bonus tracks aren't integral cuts like "Oscar Cotton" and "Shock and Awe," but they still make for a fun listen.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Barriers Now Bridges - Discography

"So if the noose is around your neck maybe this time kick the chair..."

In 2007 I had a bit of a quarter-life crisis. It wasn't anyone's fault but mine, though at the time you couldn't tell me shit. It was all due to a lot of pent-up, misplaced anger, some bad life decisions, and allowing a couple of lame broads to cloud my judgement. At any rate, I left town for close to two years. I quit the band I was in (Meantime) and didn't talk to any of my friends for a while. In the end, I realized what a dumb asshole I was and I came home to right the ship. But I had missed a lot while I was away: some truly great shows (Meantime playing with Death Threat was one I'll always regret), some uproarious tour antics, and a few great bands that had come and gone before I made it back. Barriers Now Bridges was one of those bands.

Meantime played a house show with Barriers sometime in late 2006, or early 2007. I should have known right then and there what an awesome band they were, but as I said, at the time I was nothing more than a walking, talking, pissing asshole. Even bassist Danny Bean - a hilarious South Florida guy I knew from during my first band's traveling days - couldn't bring a smile to my big, ol' puss-face.

But that's enough about me. Though I didn't embrace them at that first show together, Barriers didn't need my approval. They played a unique type of hardcore, showcasing a lot of dynamic songwriting ability in short, concise bursts, hardly ever topping out beyond the two minute mark. Each song had a frenetic pace, a deep heaviness, and great melody.  Josh's well-written, introspective lyrics and raw-as-fuck vocals didn't hurt matters either.

The band was was around from 2004 until 2007 when they - unfortunately - called it quits. I don't know the circumstances behind their demise, but it was untimely to say the least. I'm sure these guys had at least another EP in them.

Drummer Dillon Dente went on to sing for Weight of the World, a band I was able to appreciate because I had stopped being a giant diaper-person.