Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Alone and Forsaken X: It's not funny anymore.

 *Edit, 3-1-12: I fixed the mediafire link, it should work now.*

*Obligatory preface where I apologize for not posting any of the music that's piled up in my inbox, and promise to post new stuff soon. Life's a killer, y'dig?*

We're at the tenth installment in the Alone & Forsaken mixtape series, which either means I'm an industrious little fella, or that my life hasn't taken a noticeable turn for the better, can't decide which. Hoohaw, whatever, here ya go.

1. Iggy & the Stooges-Search and Destroy
2. Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers-Born to Lose
3. Husker Du-59 Times the Pain
4. Kitchen's Floor-Lander
5. Flipper-Ever
6. The Repos-Half a Hole
7. Cold Sweat-Fuck the Flock
8. Loser Life-Hating the Sun
9. Rancid-the Bottle
10. Jawbreaker-Jinx Removing
11. Royal Headache-Girls
12. The Observers-Down on Today
13. Leatherface-Not Superstitious

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Drosofile-Mal b/w "Your Roberts" 7" (2011)

 "I was a teenage zombie...." pt 5 (in a semi-occasional series)

"Waddaya wanna be around other people for? Most of 'em suck anyways...."-barfly friend of Lester Bangs

For those of you who haven't figured it out by reading this blog regularly, I like getting drunk. A lot. As many of you know, getting wasted often involves a dizzying low at the end of the night.

Last week's dizzying low consisted of lurching mindlessly around a disgusting bar while Fear's "I love Living in the city" blasted on the PA. I had been drinking cheap beer all night, but then my caveman of a friend convinced me to take a few shots of vodka with him.

At this point, things spun out of control and everything morphed into a spiraling torrent of burbling shit, with lights blinking around me, peoples' words turning into ritualistic incantations of impending doom, and the music losing all rhythm and becoming a grey sludge of dissonance. After stumbling away from the girl I've been sweet on for three months, mumbling "water...gurgle...beer...gurgle....call me...gurgle...," I ended the night puking on my friend's front lawn. I think I killed his flowers.

This two-song EP from Gay Par-ee may in fact have been what they started playing at the bar after I drank that vodka: relentlessly churning, miserable, frustrated, stupid and self-destructive noise that sticks in your brain and refuses to leave except via a bowel movement. Obvious references are Brainbombs and Billy Bao, and I might like Drosofile almost as much as Brainbombs...

Also, there's something massively appropriate to the songs being sung in French: it just makes the scenes of debauched hell more believable, I guess. It also reminds me of the all-time champion of Francophone punk, Kickboy Face. The spiralling, record-stuck-on-repeat guitar chord(s) of "Your Roberts" is the coolest thing I've heard all week. Sounds like the whistle a bomb makes on its plummet target-ward.

Enjoy here, fuckers. SDZ Records, the people responsible for this atrocity, live here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crude Thought-Demo

I just had the extreme pleasure of seeing this band play live. Generally speaking, if there's a bill full of bands you really like, the one that you don't know will either be a soundtrack to another cigarette or an out-of-left-field surprise that flips your shit. Seeing Olympia's Crude Thought fell solidly into the latter category. This is fucked up, bad attitude hardcore wrestling with a bad trip. It's fucking brilliant.

The show was a rager. I have yet to see any show that involves Hysterics (who are on tour with Crude Thought) not be a rager, so no surprises there. But the true standout of the show, and the band that I cant' seem to stop talking about, is Crude Thought. I picked up a tape copy of their demo, whose Youtube reproduction is below. This is, of course, the most alienated and degenerate method for experiencing something truly outstanding. Go get your head rocked by these fools live and then pick up a tape and be happy. I'm fucking happy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thorir Georg-Januar CS (2011)

February is always the worst month of the year for me. It's dark, cold, all the holidays are over and, generally, it's a great time for unproductively stewing in your own misery. At some point after New Year's, Joy Div and Prurient monopolize the turntable....so this was utterly appropriate for President's Day weekend: cold, remote synth blues from Reykjavik.

After a track of dissonant, humming ambient drone, Georg segues into "Skiptir Engu," an eye-opener mingling relentlessly strummed acoustic guitar and a shuffling drum beat. It manages the difficult trick of sounding glum and uplifting at the same time. That's the paradox of this album as a whole: this is bleak, bitter music coming from lonely place, but there are glimmers of light strewn throughout the gloom.

The album alternates ambient interludes with pulsing, synth-driven tracks fleshed out by distorted guitar and Georg's hollow, frigid vocals.  I don't know what Georg's singing about, but I get the feeling that I wouldn't understand it even if I spoke Icelandic: the vocals are mixed deep beneath the drums and guitar, so it sounds as if Georg is singing from the bottom of the sea. The sound is of a man attempting, desperately, to communicate some sort of inner anguish, and failing, but resolutely trying again. The best track is "Ekki Vita," which floats along in crystalline slow motion: a hovering beat and hollowed out synth notes punctuate Georg's lost words.

It's not perfect, of course. The ambient interludes break up the natural cohesion of the synth tracks, and don't add much in recompense. Nevertheless, this is a dark, complex album that cheers you up instead of leaving you stewing in your misery.

Check out Georg's tumblr page, where you can download "Januar," here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Acid Kicks-Live at Sick City EP

Philly's Acid Kicks rang in the new year with a sweet live set at the Silk City. This set features songs off the self-titled EP, as well as some sick unreleased stuff.

If you liked the EP I posted back in September, you'll dig this: deep, heavy bass riffs and sepulchral vox...hot shit.

Listen to, and then buy, it here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Grazhdanskaya Oborona-Everything is going according to plan LP (1988)

If you don't know who Grazhdanskaya Oborona is by now, you haven't been paying attention.

My favorite GrOb album is probably 1985's Optimizm, but this one has one of Egor Letov's best compositions, "Everything is going according to plan," the album's eponymous track, while Egor really croons it outta the park on track six.

The album downloads with Cyrillic songtitles, but a friend was kind enough to translate 'em for me-if some of the song titles sound strange, don't be suprised, I think they're colloquial Russian.
Big ups to Vaslav the Red for translating!

According to plan//Download!
Latinized/translated song titles:
1. Prologue
2. Which sky?
3. System (as in, "fuck the system!")
4. Judas will be in Heaven
5. Your own shit doesn's stink
6. Keep on keepin' on
7. Someone got lucky
8. Society Memory (Vaslav says this was the name of an Russian ultra-nationalist group formed during the USSR's dissolution)
9. Noodle
10. Second Echelon
11. A person is a wolf to other people
12. Forest
13. Suicide
14. The state
15. One time
16. Everything is going according to plan
17. Final
18. That's what kind of sky!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Raspberry Bulbs-Finally Burst demo (2009)

"I was a teenage zombie..." pt. 4 (in an occasional series)
 Two (unrelated) stories.
The first time I traveled abroad was to Athens, Greece in 2006. Not knowing what ouzo was, I drank half a fifth of this foul liquorice-flavored Greek 151 my first night there. After stumbling around the tourist-trap areas of the town for a few hours, I passed out in a puddle of my own vomit somewhere near the Choreigic monument, and woke up to find a junkie trying to lift my (empty) wallet. When confronted, he mumbled some nonsense about trying to "get clean in Thessaloniki...." and scurried off.

The first and only time I had a house party as a highschooler was a beautiful disaster. We went through a few cases of Mickey's, godknowshowmuch weed and other downers, and generally destroyed my parents' house. I was prodded awake at 8 am the next day by a friend whispering, 'dude. The cops are outside.' Thinking this some cruel joke, I staggered to the door and was confronted by Chicago's finest. Some asshole had filed a missing persons report on one of the party's denizens, and said delinquent had been tracked to my house...there are good ways and bad ways to spend a June afternoon, and a particularly bad way is to be sitting in a CPD detainment cell 'cause one of your friends is too stupid to call home once a week.

Raspberry Bulbs is as stupid as both those stories were, but with a certain majesty only a member of Bone Awl could possibly bring to stupidity. If stories of my youthful adventures didn't sell you on this garagemetal piece of brilliance, then nuts to you!

Raspberry Bulbs lives here.

Opus Null-Vas Nepe EP (2011)

I should start this review by apologizing to Opus Null for taking so goddam long to post this....life has a way of kicking you in the ass when you think you're gettin' ahead, y'dig?

This is the second Opus Null release to grace Drug Punk's pages, and it's a marked improvement. Their demo felt like an energetic but sloppy gesture at first-wave LA punk (that's my main reference point for synth-driven punk-aficionados of the history of Hungarian punk, contact me). This is a lot more polished, in a good way. The album opens with a spaced out synth bit ("Prologus") that throws you off balance for the second tune, a mixture of desperate, churning hardcore and shambolic good-times rock.
The rest of the songs showcase a similar mixture of influences, making good use of synthesizers to offset the 1-2, 1-2-3-4 thrash parts.
This still feels like a demo, but there's a great debut 7" lurking in Opus Null's sound, and they deserve international attention.
Really, this is a shitty review that doesn't do justice to the band, so I'm gonna wrap this up by saying that this is a good collection of tunes, so check it out!

For shows, release info, et. al., go here.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pink Reason interview

Pink Reason needs no introduction to Drug Punk readers, and as it happens, I'm terrible with introductions. Anyways, Kevin Failure was gracious enough to do an interview with me via email in January, and these are the results. All pictures taken by Kevin on Pink Reason's 2011 European tour.

Drug Punk [DP]: 2011 was an eventful year for you-a full European tour, the first album in several years, marriage, and a child. What’s the future look like for you, and Pink Reason?

Kevin Failure [KF]: I find it difficult to predict specifics with accuracy, but I'd guess that the future of the band will by and large resemble its past. I don't really work in a linear way. I'm usually working on multiple projects at any given time, which are all in varying stages of "completion." I plan on releasing at least a couple different things in 2012. One is an album that a friend and I have been working on in my basement the past couple of months. I've also been planning on going to the studio soon with the band to record a 7" any day now. My buddy Harry Howes, who runs Last Laugh and Almost Ready and I are gonna be releasing future Pink Reason records on Savage Quality.
Other than that, I've been noticing a lot of gray hairs lately.

DP: Most of the reviews I’ve read of “Shit in the Garden” reference Joy Division

as an influence-what were you listening to when making the album? Did it
effect the album’s sound?

KF: Well, that album was recorded over a period of like six years, so, I listened to a lot of music during that time. Not much Joy Division, though I love the band.

I don't think what I'm listening to at any particular time has much direct relation to what I record. But who knows, really? I'm as inspired by Neil Young as I am the Minutemen, or Axemen, or Dead Moon.
It'd be easier for me to explain the events and circumstances that influenced the album, but I figure people can just listen to the album themselves for that.

DP: What were some highlights and ruts of your European tour? I heard you spent some time in jail in Berlin...

KF: Yeah, but that was not one of the highlights. I did spend fourteen days in Moabit maximum security prison in Berlin. The facility was used by the Gestapo in the 1930s, so it was kind of like a very realistic museum. I guess in some parts of Eastern Europe you can pay money to experience a re-enactment of arrest and interrogation by the Stasi or KGB. It's like a twisted amusement ride or something. In fact, I was sent a quite a hefty bill myself afterward. In the end, it would have been cheaper to stay in a hostel.

Considering the tour was over two and a half months long, and that I was traveling for all but a couple weeks of it alone and by train, I could easily fill a book with memorable experiences. Far and away the happiest moments for me were back in Russia where I was able to visit with my family there. These are not blood relatives, but the family that took me in as their son, brother and nephew there. It was very emotional for me.

The last night I was back in Kurgan, my buddy Denis, whose family I had lived with there, got ahold of our friend Lyosha. Denis, Lyosha and I played together in a band called Anastasia (Anesthesia) and I played my first show with them in a village outside Kurgan in '92. It was my first time seeing Lyosha in twenty years. After a nice dinner and drinks we gathered with our friend Pasha by the river that ran along the outskirt of town. Our parents used to scold us for swimming there when we were kids, because it was so polluted but nobody swims there now. We had some bottles of booze, and an acoustic guitar and did as young men in Russia tend to do when drinks have been poured and there is an acoustic guitar around and we sang songs. I had to catch a plane to Moscow the next morning, but we slept through the alarm and had to drive all the way to Tyumen (home of the great Chernozem - a great Russian punk band that features former members of Yanka's Great Octobers) to catch the only other flight that day from that region of Siberia to Moscow. That evening I went out by myself to the Victor Tsoi Wall (Memorial site for the late singer of Kino) off Novoi Arbat and drank by myself until I got tired, went back to my friend's house and in the morning stopped by the statue of Mayakovsky to say good bye to my spiritual homeland. Spilled plenty of tears along the way. 

  DP: Any favorite cities to play, in Europe or the States? I’ve heard that
Budapest has a pretty good garage scene going, what was the show like
 KF: Budapest was great! I spent a week there and it left a pretty deep impression on me. I had some shows fall through in the Ukraine, so I wrote my contact in Budapest and asked about coming by early. I took a night train from Krakow, Poland to Budapest and he met me in the train station. On the way back to him and his fiance's flat, we stopped at a little bar called Mister Beer, which was a good sign, since back in the day in GB [Green Bay, Wisconsin], the boys and I used to drink Meister Brau since it was only five bucks a twelver at the gas station down the street, and after a few of 'em we'd often convince whoever was around that Meister Brau was German for Mister Beer. Good times. And I had plenty in Budapest as well. I felt very much at home and bonded pretty deeply with many of the people I met there. I met one guy who during the mid-80's, as a young punk, forged a passport, hopped a train across the border and made his way to the US where he applied for political asylum and became a US citizen. I was also able to do a lot of research there and had the chance to interview the singer of QSS who were part of the first wave of Hungarian hardcore. Great musical history there. Beautiful place. Amazing people.

Prepotto, Italy was another great place to play. I'm not sure I've ever played one that could come close to top it, experience-wise. The venue itself was a small family restaurant built on the side of a mountain overlooking Slovenia. It was solar-powered, there were horses wandering free and young children running around. The concert was a benefit for legal expenses incurred by all those gathered when the region elected a right wing government who destroyed their community space/concert venue/art studio/hostel they had run for years. Everyone who came - and there were about thirty or so adults in their mid-30's to mid-40's - donated thirty euros to the cause and were provided with literally the most amazing meal I've ever had in my life. Several courses of the most amazing and delicious home made food ever. Gnocchi, salads, steaks and a never ending supply of homemade wine as well, and this was supposed to be the best region for wine in the country. Amazing. Magick. It was so fucking inspiring and proved right everything I believe in regarding DIY.

As far as the States are concerned. I like Miami a lot. Lafayette, IN is fun too because I got good friends there who care, and they're down for the cause.

DP: Were you able to get much research done for your prospective book on
Soviet-era punk? Did you make any contacts in other former Iron Curtain
 KF: I did learn quite a bit along the trip. I'm still figuring out how to apply the knowledge to something useful, and while a book might realistically be a ways away still, I have been writing about punk rock and dissident culture in Eastern Europe. Best way to find out more is to check out the zine Overdosing In Republican World. That's how I'm currently disseminating my writing.

DP: On that note, do you have any sense of what the underground music scene is
like in Russia, these days? Has the growing dissatisfaction with Putin’s
autocracy generated any sort of cultural response?
 KF: While I'm a bit embarrassed and ashamed to admit it, I do not know as much as I would like to about what's currently happening music-wise in Russia. I do know some, but not enough to comment with any confidence. I will continue to strengthen the connections I made there this last time and learn more about what's going on now. You should be able to look to the zine in the future for more on that as well.

I can't really comment on what's going right now in reaction to Putin either. Unfortunately, I haven't had much contact with my friends over there since my return and it's often very difficult to get an accurate picture of what's going on, just by watching the news. I think there is a lot of dissatisfaction, but what it means, what it will lead to and whatever else is really hard to say. I think a lot of people don't care for Putin, but I don't know there is someone else they would prefer either. Same shit that's happening all around the world. 
DP: Have you ever felt hounded or trapped by your past-in the sense that your
audience, or critics/reviewers, want to frame your work solely in terms of
your well-known, youthful adventures?
KF: If that happens, it's my fault. I like stories. It's a family thing. Both sides. I got a big mouth. My grandpa always said "If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullshit!"

DP: One sound I’ve heard echoed on some of your work (especially the “Cleaning
the Mirror” material) is Songs:Ohia. Are you familiar with Jason Molina’s

KF: A friend of mine years ago thought the same thing about those same recordings, and made me a mixtape with the song “Two Blue Lights” on it, which I am very fond of. I've never seen any of his records in stores.

DP: I’ve always considered your work to be folk music in a certain sense, but I
doubt most of us were expecting the extended banjo solo of "You canít Win."
How’d that come about?
 KF: You mean on "I Just Leave?" That's all banjo on that song, and I play a solo on it. I recorded that song in Lafayette about four years ago. The kids from TV Ghost had pretty much taken over this girl's stepmother's house when the parents were out of state for an extended period. Everyone was like squatting there, trashing it while partying all the time and the girl's dad had a bunch of acoustic instruments like banjos, acoustic bass and stuff like that. I ended up holing up in the basement one day when everyone else was upstairs and recorded that song using all acoustic instruments and no guitars. Doesn't sound like it though. “You Can't Win” has banjo on it too, but no solo. That's the oldest song on Shit In The Garden and was recorded during the same period in Milwaukee in '04 as “Slate Train” and “Up The Sleeve.” My buddy lent me his computer to record with, and I just used whatever instruments I could find, which is why “Slate Train” has a broken toy guitar I found in someone's trash and “You Can't Win” has that 'lil flute solo - I found a plastic recorder in a dumpster. The banjo and mandolin belonged to people in the neighborhood.

DP: What’s the song “Winona” about? Any particular experiences along the
Mississippi that it memorializes?
 KF: I used to go to shows in Winona[, Minnesota] in the 90s at Holzinger's Lodge. Shit was always insane. Kids there were cool. I became friends with the dudes from the Lushworkers. A few years later my band Hatefuck went to play a show there, and it was real gnarly. It was an outlaw show, and the kids just jacked the power using a bolt cutter to remove the lock. There was a three legged dog. Little kids with mohawks. Dude's huffin' JB Weld. Everyone shit faced. Train hoppers and drunk punks. People hanging from the rafters. Fights. It was pretty much heaven.

After the show, some of the kids involved in setting up the shows approached us and our buddies in Hell On Earth, who had each gotten paid three bucks, and asked us if we wanted to chip in on a barrel of beer. We said sure, and we gave them all the money we had. Someone led us to Latch Island, which is on the Mississippi between WI and MN and I guess was a kind of [a] legal no man's land where during the 70's all these people built houses on pontoons out on the water and started a kind of alternative community. They had some hassles and a kind of legal standoff at some point, but they're legit now I guess, or about as legit as that kinda place can get. It's about as gnarly as that show was, in its own way. Anyway, the kids dumped us off there, said they'd be back soon to take us to a party, but they just ditched us all. It was beautiful. A cosmic joke. As my old buddy Shaun Failure would say "Punk means never having to say you're sorry!"

DP: Any future recordings or US tours planned? You're living in Columbus these
days, right? What's the scene like there?
 KF: I'm sure I'll eventually make the rounds of the states again. I don't know when. Got other priorities at the moment. Columbus is alright. It's low key. I can see the Cheater Slicks any month of the year, at least once, usually. I dig that. Decent record stores. My drummer Rich lives in the house behind me, and our bass player Shawn lives a couple blocks away. My favorite place to play in town is close enough that we've walked all our gear down there before. I don't really have to worry about anyone judging our performance because I can't remember the last time we played to more than five people here. It's pretty nice. I haven't been super stoked on anything going on here lately, but it comes in waves. There's a good foundation here, powerful traditions and I'm guessing shit is gonna start livining up around spring.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Congenital Death-demo CS (2011)

Philadelphia's Congenital Death blasts out seven originals and a DRI cover ("Couch Slouch") on this demo tape. I'm quite out of tune with this end of the punk scene, so I can't give much context for 'em.

They sound, however, like the bands I used to listen to when I had a skateboard: DRI (duh), Siege, Thulsa Doom. Fast, tight instrumental sections with a screeching vocalist who may or may not have hit puberty yet (Heresy, eatcher heart out). I basically divide bands in this genre into two groups: those who can actually pull off the stop-on-a-dime instrumental time changes, and those who can't. Congenital Death is in the former category, and it's a pretty good demo. I don't have a lyric sheet in front of me (left it at the office, go figure), but I think they're singing about, uh, politics and lifestyle choices.

Anyway, pretty good stuff, and worth a spin, which you can do here. Pick up the tape over at Ranch Records. Congenital Death is playing Smash it Dead Fest in March, so check it out if you're in the Boston area-from what I understand it's a benefit for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC).

Amstetten Bedroom Punk-vxcfsxa

I don't know if this is a joke. I don't know if most people would like this (well, that's a lie. Most people would hate it). I don't know if you wanna read this.

I do know that this is the sort of stupid, pseudo-surf-noise I like to listen to when I get home at the end of the night, and am stuck in a limbo between stimulants and downers. I do know that those of you who like your surfiness mixed in with some pulsing noise, but are a bit too stoned to get into Brainbombs' groove, will dig this.


That is all. Stay tuned for a Pink Reason interview, Hermanestra, Acid Kicks live, et. al. reviews. Y'know y'want it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Alone & Forsaken IX: She talks to rainbows

 Whenever possible, I'm gonna end every mix themed around crushes with a Raincoats song.

1. Heavy Times-Good Looker
2. The Brat-Swift Moves
3. The Vaselines-Rory Rides me Raw
4. Bass Drum of Death-I Could Never be Your Man
5. Ramones-I Wanna be your Boyfriend
6. Dead Moon-Can't Help Falling in Love
7. Elvis Costello-Sneaky Feelings
8. (Young) Pioneers-Port Authority Goodbyes
9. Jawbreaker-Do You Still Hate Me?
10. Husker Du-Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill
11. Black Tambourine-For Ex-Lovers Only
12. Electralane-The Greater Times
13. Beach House-Gila
14. The Raincoats-In Love

Dig it....or else.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Band in Heaven-s/t 7" (2012)

The Band in Heaven's at it again, this time with a proper vinyl release of their "Seven Minutes in Heaven" material by Hozac Rex. The first two songs should be familiar to Drug Punk readers-I posted on the Seven Minutes in Heaven tape a few months ago. The third one, "Sludgy Dreams," is a sorta chopped 'n' skrewed remake of "Sleazy Dreams."

Since the first two songs have already been released, the question is whether the alternate take on "Sleazy Dreams" warrants buying the record. I'd say yes, especially if the "Seven Minutes" EP is outta print. It's completely different, indeed, a slogging, fogged out concoction whereas "Sleazy Dreams" felt like a sick mixture of garage and industrial. Slowed down to sludge metal levels, the song floats in a syrupy haze, with the vocals taking on a mantra quality.

But don't take my word for it, check out "Sludgy Dreams" via the faintly disturbing video BIH just dropped: "Sludgy Dreams."

Cop the 7" from Hozac, or via the Band in Heaven's bandcamp page.