Thursday, September 28, 2006

So Pitchfork likes the Fix reissue....

Never read me much of Pitchfork, and I don't even need to point out that they've never reviewed anything we've sent them (from Mad at the World or Hungry Eye), but I read a seriously funny entry on pitchfork on the Idolator blog, so I followed a link to see what was brewing over there and lo and behold they review the Fix reissue on Touch and Go, and give it a pretty good review. Of course, it was peppered with the fashionably cynical, snide praise I've encountered whenever I've seen a review on that site.

Now, I have to concur; I'm not terribly interested in most reunion shows (I realize I'm saying this as an enthusiastic mention of the Subhumans Canada and Go! appear below this post), and I missed/avoided most of the big CB's shows the past year even while I lived three subway stops away, but somehow Pitchfork's praise of early hardcore with the added jab aimed at "old men trying to act young again" rubbed me the wrong way. I took a gander to see if Pitchfork's given any press time to current hardcore acts that have been making a name for themselves. It might be the fact that their search engine's all screwed up, but I couldn't find anything on the likes of Gorilla Angreb, Regulations, Career Suicide, Fucked Up, or like bands that seem to have been getting a good deal of hype. (rightly or wrongly-- I tend to think they're all great bands, even though I've only seen CS and have records by CS and GA) I did spot a Pissed Jeans mention, and I remember Fat Rich from Parts Unknown telling me they emailed him for a review copy of the record they put out.

Ah, of course-- only bands on sizeable "indie" labels with enough cash flow to afford nice PR campaigns will get press space. I doubt T&G spent an arm and leg on promoting the Fix CD (I may be wrong, but I doubt it), but a pretty penny is spent on Calexico and the like. Money may be less of an issue in getting a review slot than the ever elusive "cred". It's no surprise writers are scrambling to write about the same bands (or bands on the same label) in hopes of being credited with an early review of a record they know will do well. That said, my prediction is that the next hardcore record to get reviewed on Pitchfork will either be the Pissed Jeans record on Sub Pop or the Fucked Up record on Jade Tree.

What does this have to do with Pitchfork's offhanded comment about "old men trying to act young" (which, mind you, I might agree with if I was inclined to care that much to be jaded about it). Well, it's that kind of journalistic practice which effectively rules out the possibility of a label growing and prospering the way Dischord or Touch and Go did or even the way Rough Trade did... As much as people can talk about how much "smaller" the hardcore scene was "back in the day," it's important to realize it wasn't all that uncommon to put out a great record, get some good reviews, tour some, and sell 2000+ copies of said record. Try doing that nowadays without investing serious dough. So it's a rather comfortable position to perch oneself in-- that from which one can pronounce the death and subsequent impossibility of a music scene while neglecting ones own role in ushering in that impossibility.

Because, really, it has nothing to do with "originality" or "novelty" or whatever ubiquitous buzzwords music writers throw around, especially to justify this death by referring to the "conformity" that the early hardcore scene apparently ultimately succumbed to. I'd be hard-pressed to admit the absolute originality of any rock n roll record, whether it's "Victim in Pain," "Tied Down," or even something like "White Light/ White Heat" or "In the Court of the Crimson King". It certainly wouldn't be anything by the Hold Steady (the Pitchfork favorite), though, I can say that! We'd be in trouble if "originality" is the criteria for ANY form of rock 'n roll (and sure, hardcore is such a form, why the hell not?). At the very least, we'd be pretty misguided.

I'll stop now, as this already went on longer than I was expecting, and I'm running the risk of coming across as having a "sour grapes" mentality 'cause our records aren't reviewed on Pitchfork. You know I'll take the reviews, good or bad! And, Idolator and Predictfork do a better job lampooning them in a lot less words.

However-- what's with every fuckin' record on T&G being reissues except the Necros?? Yeah, I know, Cory Rusk, falling out with other members, blah, blah, blah. But BLIGHT got a reissue?!? I mean, I like Blight just fine, and you could say the same thing about some of the reissues we've done/ will do on MATW, but shit-- get over yourselves and put the music out. Either that, or someone in Europe should bootleg the shit out of it. How's about a "Reagan Era HC" Necros boot? or perhaps one c/o "Kill For Christ" (the bootleg series, not the record)?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So I moved to Montreal....

Maybe it's that I didn't feel much like going to hardcore shows while the last few years, while I was living in New York City, but aside from the occassional Battletorn gig and the one Double Negative show I wasn't in town for, there wasn't all THAT much I felt like going to.

I did miss the chance to PLAY with the Dead Boys, Anti-Nowhere League and the Stimulators last year while I was still playing drums for the Nihilistics (which, I guess led to my being replaced, but which is just as well cause I was replaced by Troy. If you're gonna be replaced, it might as well be by the fuckin' original member!), which was a bit regretable, but aside from that....

Nah... I missed the Go! reunion, which I regret.

The point is.... seems like they got some good shows up here in Montreal. First of all, this show:

When I lived in Jersey, Born Dead Icons played my house a couple of times, and we (the Bad Form) played a few shows with them out and about. GREAT stuff!

And now, HERE'S a reunion that I'm pretty interested in seeing:

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

As many of you might already know, Major Conflict guitarist and sometime vocalist Dito Montiel (not to mention the other labels which fit into his CV: early 80's NYHC personality, Gutterboy founding member, Allen Ginsberg protoge, and Calvin Klein model) published a semi-autobiographical book by the name of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints a few years ago about the people in his early/mid '80s Astoria neighborhood that affected his life. This book wound being pretty successful and the past few years he's been working on turning into a movie.

Well, the result of that labor is about to be unreleased to the public, that is, if you missed the screening at the Sundance Film festival, where Dito walked away with a pretty respectable prize. As Jim Testa and Bill Wilson have already indicated, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints comes out Friday, September 29th in Los Angeles and New York City. Where, exactly? From Dito himself:

THIS FRIDAY the movie opens in Los Angeles & New York at these locations: In Manhattan it's at the ANGELIKA on HOUSTON & MERCER, LINCOLN SQUARE 12 at BROADWAY & 68th street & EMPIRE 25 at 42nd street & 8th avenue.
In Los Angeles it's at the SUNSET 5 in West Hollywood (323-848-3500), Laemmle's Monica in Santa Monica (310-394-9741) & in West LA Landmark Pavillion Cinemas (310-281-8223)


I have to admit, I have yet to read the book, but it's definitely on the agenda. I will say, though, that I am more interested in seeing this movie than the recent American Hardcore documentary. Even though the '80's hardcore scene is NOT the manifest topic of Dito's movie, I have a feeling some of the spirit of NYHC will be a little better represented than in the aforementioned documentary...

Now Wendy Eager of Guillotine fame just needs to publish her book!

Confined 7" (self released 1995)

Confined 7”
1. Dead Inside
2. Beginning of the End
3. Fall From Grace
4. Code
5. Never Again
6. Just out of Reach

It should be no surprise to any hardcore enthusiast that there’s dozens upon dozens of lost gems out there; bands outside the group normal, canonical candidates, who might have released a 7” (if that) and then disappeared into obscurity. It’s good to see folks picking up on those gems and exposing them to others throughout the blogosphere. 7inchpunk and Kill From the Heart are both prime examples of great resources; there are obviously others. With a few exceptions, most of the bands are from the 80’s but I’d like to give some love to a grossly overlooked record that came out of NJHC in the 90’s which was pretty all right, particularly because folks tend to think of that time as the “dark ages" of NJHC, and some of the folks involved back then who KNEW what was up should get some sort of recognition, as opposed to all the usual suspects...

Confined were a short-lived band that came and went without playing too many shows. I believe members were from Southern Jersey (Trenton area) and perhaps PA as well. They played a couple of the Princeton Arts Council shows and elsewhere, had a demo, this 6 song 7”, and that was it. I believe their bass player—a big burly dude with a shaved head, also played bass in the PA emo band Autumn, and used to cover Sick of it All’s “Clobberin’ Time” during their set. How’s that for a favored cover by an emo band?

Never heard their demo but I picked up one of their 7”s after one of those aforementioned Arts Council shows, and it fucking smoked. Pretty straight-forward thrashy hardcore punk with just a touch of metal crunch. All in all, I guess you could criticize it as being generic—the short, curt vocal lines, the barked lyrics, the verse/ chorus/ verse/ breakdown song structure. But this picked up on a style of hardcore that had been waning in popularity in NJ for quite some time; around ’95/ ’96 was just the beginning of the so-called youth crew revival, and most bands still opted for a more-metallic hardcore influenced by turn of the decade NYHC or bands like Earth Crisis. Hell, even Kurbjaw had longer, less straight-up hc sounding songs as this was right around the time the dude from CC4J started singing for them. (The “punk” bands of the time were playing more tried and true “hardcore punk.” Fast-forward to the late 90’s and all these neo-youth-crew-come-latelies were fronting on how they liked the “older” style of hardcore for such a long time.

And the only time I saw or heard of this record being praised was in the pages of In Effect fanzine. Props to Chris Wynne on that one!

I’d post some mp3s up of either of these if I knew how to work one of those fuckin’ converter things.

I think ll of these dudes wound up playing with Chris A (now a personality in blog-land himself, since he does A Blaze in the NJ Sky) in Dogs of War, which took it back even further and did straight up Negative Approach/ Necros style hardcore. I don’t think they did anything else besides a ’96 demo which was pretty damn good. Chris recently posted that on his blog, which you should check out. Go HERE and scroll down til you get to the Dogs of War demo.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

In place of an introduction...

As with most technology, I'm coming a little bit late in the game. Blogging never seemed that interesting to me, and it certainly didn't strike me as the super-democratic endeavor many people made it out to be. However, I realize I'm losing touch with the current goings on in hardcore punk, a music scene that's always been very dear to me, and I thought this might be a good avenue to communicate with people about it, and perhaps to share some of my experiences of it.

It seems like tape trading, zine reading, and general interest in bands and scenes of the past has been on the wane for a while, and the punk and hardcore scenes have become much more globalized and significantly less local. Many people seem to sing the praises of platforms like Myspace and the like for "getting the word out", which it has done well, but to the detriment of much local flavor. Perhaps that's my impression from living in NYC for a number of years, where there didn't seem to be much in the way of a hardcore scene after 2000 at all. Or, perhaps I was too busy to take notice.

Either way, printed zines, demo tapes, hand drawn flyers, and the activities that produced these artifacts seem to have made way for webzines, myspace pages, and blogs. Both the speed at which information becomes available and the vast amount of it there is diminishes some of the coherence that comes about when scenes develop more organically. Sure, there might be 3 blogs/ websites for ever zine there was, but it doesn't seem like it helps scenes develop (specifically; hardcore scenes) any better. It seems a lot LESS prevalent that there are local scenes springing up that are documented the way Dischord documented DC scene of the early and mid 80's, Touch and Go the early midwest hc scene, or even WreckAge Records the NY scene of the early '90s. Of course there are exceptions; Toronto seems to have developed some amazing bands in the past few years, Copenhagen's had some great bands in the circle that developed around Amdi Petersens Armee some years ago, and now it seems like there's a good number of bands springing up in the South-eastern seaboard of the US.

That said; I don't care for nostalgia and I'm not interested in being critical of what's going on today. If what I mentioned has been lost to make way for some technological innovations, I certainly won't lose a lot of sleep over it. I have enough other interests that I don't feel a profound loss and I know from experience that doing a print zine is too time consuming for me to be able to do one now. However, perhaps I can find some other way to share my viewpoint and experiences. Some of the best zines simply exposed information and shared experiences of music from a very personal point of view (remember Hardware, Guillotine, even Radio Riot?); that's what I'd like to give a try. There are a few blogs I've come across that actually do this in a way that may very well take the place of tape trading, etc.

My particular experiences in hardcore/punk extend from the early 90's NJ/ NY scenes, and my memories are of the Court Tavern, the Down Under, 67 Handy Street, Princeton Arts Council, Coney Island High, CBGB's, ABC No Rio, the Pipeline, etc etc. While of course I'm rather smitten with the canonical early days of hardcore, that's not what I come out of, I'd like to give pay homage and give voice to some people, places, and things that might otherwise be forgotten.

That said, I'd also like to familiarize myself with what's going on today.

First post.

Yes. This is the first post. And what!