20-06-11

Hearts once nourished…

I can't even remember the last time I listened to Shai Hulud. It must've been 3 years, maybe even more. What I most profoundly remember is their cover of Bad Religion's Anesthesia, and their That Within Blood Ill-Tempered album. Well, sort of.
So, after missing out on them at Groezrock this year, I wanted to check it out. Shit was going down at Metteko in Mechelen. Sunday night show.
(I should have been studying, yeah.)

Dead End Sin played first. Surprisingly, but positively surprising, there already were a shitload of people indoors. At the start of the first band! How cool is that! So I put myself in a corner with a good view. This band is pretty straight-forward. Yet, if they would cut the breakdown-thingies, loose the tough guy attitude, do something constructive with the dual vocals and tune the guitar to regular tuning, this would be a fine band. Sadly enough I don't dig beatdown stuff (I don't know if it really is "beatdown stuff") like this with obligatory bad breakdowns to mosh as hard as possibly can. The last song was kinda good, it was more of a hardcorepunk song but played sillily (I don't think sillily is a word). Music-wise pretty decent, don't like the vocals. To each his own, right?
But yeah, they're cool kids doing their thing. Check 'em out if you like to mosh sillily.

A Strength Within played next. I hadn't seen this band in a while, so I was pretty excited about their show. Great guys. Great music. Evolved a lot. Actually they changed. Yes, they've changed. They're furious, passionate and play some rocking hardcore. Got quite a bit of response, something they truly deserve.The new songs sound really awesome, go pre-order the 7" right now guys! (http://www.perspectivehc.com/) A genuine band with genuine ideas and energetic live shows. More pissed off than ever.
They have never lost sight, but they're still searching. (Does that make sense? It probably doesn't.)

I interviewed the guys from ASW after the show, which will be part of This Ain't Noise zine #2, coming out this summer. Like, in 2 or 3 weeks actually. Get excited!
Or just read on…

Shai Hulud took the stage and I actually had no expectations whatsoever. How could I, I could barely remember what they sound like. Apparently they're fucking awesome. Just so you know. I was really into it. Great melodies. Sometimes it didn't feel original anymore because the songs began the sound the same despite the melodic aspect. Or maybe because of an over-exploitation of melodies. Anyway, great show, tight playing, good response and they made me smile (as in: "happy, delighted") various times, just because they were there and I was there. Gotta love shows, right? They played a lot of songs, none of which I could sing along to but nevermind. The band was really into it, they were even singing along to their own songs, which is pretty cool. They sing about taking your hate and use it to make change. I can learn something from that.
And with the words "I hope I didn't break that thing" they ended the set.

I met the singer (Mike) at the merch stand and we both agreed Something To Write Home About is the best Get Up Kids album. I was glad he said that. I like people who like the Get Up Kids.
Then, I wanted to buy a CD and suddenly bought all four of them. Oh, just my luck! I bought "the classic", "the demo", "his favourite" and "the best one". I hope they're good.

Okay, here's the dealio. I was convinced that Deez Nuts was strictly tough guy-hardcore beatdown stuff. And you know what? They kinda are. But, and this is an important 'but', they're more of a party band than anything else. And that I can appreciate. Also, Wikipedia tells me this is basically a one-man-project, with live support members. That's pretty kickass. Vocals are simple rap rhymes backed by gang vocals every once in a while. So yeah, not my favorite band (unlike for many of the attendants - Deez Nuts got massive crowd response), but they're not as bad as I originally thought.
Let this be a lesson: keep away from prejudices and go to locals shows, party along and support the scene. Go to stuff, buy stuff, organise stuff, say hi to stuff.
Write stuff.

18-06-11

What I came here for

Studying + Boredom + Music = Blog update!
I've just put on Collapser by Banner Pilot. Weirdly enough my volume went up a notch. Really weird.

Fat Wreck Chords, 2009
Tracklist:
1) Central Standard
2) Pensacola
3) Greenwood
4) Starting At The Ending
5) Skeleton Key
6) Northern Skyline
7) Drains To The Mississippi
8) Farewell To Iron Bastards
9) Empty Lot
10) Hold Me Up
11) Losing Daylight
12) Write It Down

Banner Pilot is a band with past members of Rivethead, so it's basically the same style. Fierce, fast, edgy pop punk with hoarse vocals and some harmonies.
Collapser is their last output and their best. Fo sho.

Why is this album so good? Well, I'll tell you: because I like it. Yup, simple as that. More proof? Well, here it goes: there are other people who like this album. Still not convinced? Well, get this: you will like it as well. Yes.
I could drop adjectives like catchy, melodic, refined, upbeat, awesome and what-not, but admittedly I've used those terms way too much (I will still use them in the future though, because it's difficult to be original). So basically I just want you to experience the power and might that is Banner Pilot. For example, take a look at this:
Central Standard - Skeleton Key
Pretty ass-kicking, isn't it? Everyone who was there can back me up on that. I'm sure all their shows are great.

Anyway, this album is motherfucking good, There are the fan favorites like Central Standard and Skeleton Key, but the whole thing is a coherent blast of punk rock goodness. Some specific aspects to this album are for instance the amazing bass parts and the vocal tone that's somewhere between misery and hope. Lyrics are often incomprehensible but with the sheet at your side you'll love them. The parts that are clear are anthematic and make you sing/scream along in no time (which, technically, is zero seconds, but hey, I'm not technically skilled). However, the Banner Pilot guys (BP for short, they made some hilarious merch about that) are technically skilled and can elevate simple songs into interesting pieces of melodic and rhythmic epics. Especially in Write It Down, that outro is sick; same for Northern Skyline; the strumming in the second verse of Skeleton Key; the lightning-fast bass loop in Hold Me Up.
Furthermore, great production and musical balance, it brings out the best in this band and album.
All of the streetlights are broken tonight.

13-06-11

Mug mug mug.

Yesterday, I took a break from my real life in order to once again transform into my punk rock persona. I put on my studded belt, ripped jeans and ugly shirt, made a bad-ass mohawk and couldn't stop singing "God Save The Queen".

Seriously though, the guys at Kickass Records put on another great show in the Sojo in Leuven, featuring 15 Minute Powernap, 50/50, Fair Do's, Smartbomb and After The Fall. I put on normal clothes and my hair has been looking like shit for a while so why even bother. As usual I barely knew any of the bands.
Fun times.

15 Minute Powernap were first to play. An upcoming Belgian band who announced their set with the words "welcome to our rehearsal". That certainly didn't set high expectations. My first thought was: "Oh man this is going to suck." However, it didn't totally suck. The quintet (of twenty- to thirty-somethings, I guessed) put on a show of cool music, but there were some awkward moment still. They haven't gotten their grip on it, but once they do, they're pretty cool. Melodic punk rock, sometimes poppy like Blink 182, sometimes a bit harder like early/mid Rise Against. Catchy melodies, great technical and varied songwriting and cool cover songs (Pulley, Sum 41). But also not flawless and to my hearing (which can't really be trusted, I admit) the vocals weren't up to scratch.

So, on to the next band. 50/50 are an already established Dutch skatepunk band, who chose to speak English because there even were people from Sweden at the show (plus the UK guys from the Fair Do's and US guys from Smartbomb/After The Fall). Sick shit. The band itself was pretty sick as well, awesome musicianship put to great use: playing punk rock music. Technical, melodic, catchy and damn fast. They played the same song 3 times, every time faster than the last one. So, awesome show, great fun, some cool covers as well (Satanic Surfers, Propagandhi) and an overall delightful performance.

Fair Do's time! I still don't know how to pronounce it correctly, but I think it's /fɛ: doʊz/. I always thought it was /fɛ: du:z/. Nevermind. Anyway, great band. Saw them at the Rockcafé earlier this year, but this show was better I think. Once again great talents. It takes some talent to play fast melodic skatepunk, so on every one of those shows I can't stop staring at their instruments and the way they play it. They make it seem pretty damn simple. And if that's not enough, their songs are pretty complex, so I can't stop wondering how the fuck bands like these memorise their set, without seemingly playing anything wrong or at the wrong time. It amazes me.
Also, the singer gets credit for falling into the drumkit and losing his guitar strap during the same song. And for the best joke of the evening: "We've got Swedes here, turnips, …"

Then Smartbomb took the stage. Goddamn. I was blown away. Awesome. Fast, loud, fuzzy hardcore/punk rock. Their drummer looked like he should play in a Scandinavian skatepunk band, their new bass player wouldn't have looked out of place in a Gainesville punk rock band, and both guitarists/singers could've easily fit in in a Massachussets punk rock band (oh snap!). This band features members from No Trigger, which is pretty cool.
Seriously though, great show, no nonsense. They played a Ramones cover which made me very happy and I punkdanced a bit. The vocals didn't come out all that well in the mix, but I was a bit under the weather so who was I to care? Nobody. It sounded awesome. Not much else to add. I bought their records and a tanktop for a low price. I kinda had to, because the singer had already convinced me before the show to buy something.
Support touring bands, kids. Certainly when they sell stuff for dirt cheap.

Finally it was After The Fall's turn. They are comparable to No Trigger as well actually, but After The Fall is a bit trashier vocalwise, I'd say. Also they are a 3-piece, which is a rare sight in melodic punk music. They pull it off really well, though. Their bassist had supposedly only played a handful of days with them, but was nearly flawless. They played a Descendents cover (Coffee Mug), which was obviously off the hook. Some more dancing and releasing frustrations caused by days of studying.

Afterwards I spent 90 euros on cds and lps, hung out a bit and finally went home. Satisfied.

10-06-11

Farting the Pee between Brightness and Me

The new Touché Amoré album is called Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me, and it's one of the best albums of 2011. Much like …To The Beat Of A Dead Horse was one of the best albums of 2009. Very much alike, indeed.

Deathwish Inc. Records, 2011
Tracks:
1. ~
2. Pathfinder
3. The Great Repitition
4. Art Official
5. Uppers / Downers
6. Crutch
7. Method Act
8. Face Ghost
9. Sesame
10. Wants / Needs
11. Condolences
12. Home Away From Here
13. Amends

So, yeah, wowie. Holy fuck. This record is tits. (Is that appropriate to say?)

Track 1. ~ or Tilde. "Oh, this seems nice. Quiet guitar arpeggios." NO IT'S NOT THIS IS GODDAMN HARDCORE MUSIC. You should always be at the edge of your seat when you listen to Touché Amoré. And if you're not, they will put you there.
The beginning of the album, PTSBBAM for short (sounds like a rimshot), is easily my favourite part. Touché Amoré have sticked to the same formula but have upgraded it to version 2.01. The songs are still short, to the point, pungent and full of incredible riffs. With Touché Amoré, vocals are really complementary to the music. It fits, it's balanced. The lyrics are awesome as usual. They make sense, but are enigmatic as well. Or rather clever, such as "To look up to me is to look down on everything". That's one thing that stands the band apart from other bands. Another thing is the sensibility to create a euphony of sound. The guitar melodies are better than ever, for example in Pathfinder, Method Act and Home Away From Here.
They also don't stop playing. Ever. The album feels like one entirity, thanks to a well-sequenced tracklist. Until you reach track 11, which is a bit the odd-one-out. Condolences. Warning: this will affect you. A beautiful piano part is supported by the vocalist's screams. The effect is rather emotional. This probably would've been 'better off' being sung rather than screamed, but the screaming lifts the power of the song to another level. Transcendent music, much like the message of it.
As I said, there's a strict 'no bullshit'-policy on this record. 13 songs in 20 minutes prove that. No superfluous solos, no stretching of any lyrics, barely any intros or outros. Essential stuff.

If you're looking for a great modern hardcore/screamo record, this is your shot. The band isn't different than they were in 2009, but they're difinitely better. On of the best contemporary hardcore-bands, as far as I'm concerned.
Catch them on tour in Europe this summer!
I have this problem where I wanna be everywhere I'm not.

08-06-11

Extremely emergency

Emo records of the day! The Promise Ring's Very Emergency!


1999, Jade Tree
Tracks:
1. Happiness Is All The Rage
2. Emergency! Emergency!
3. The Deep South
4. Happy Hour
5. Things Just Getting Good
6. Living Around
7. Jersey Shore
8. Skips A Beat (Over You)
9. Arms And Danger
10. All Of My Everythings


The Promise Ring is a late-nineties emo band that started as a side project of the Cap'n Jazz vocalist. They are more poppy than anything else, though, definitely on Very Emergency.
This does not mean this isn't an emotional album, or a generic album for that matter. This album is as emotional as it gets, but it contains a lot of the "forgotten emotion": happiness. Music is a means of expressiong your feelings, but people often forget those feelings can absolutely be positive too. The Promise Ring reminds us of that fact. But then again not too that extent that it's overwhelming. No, it's balanced.
Of course, I'm not even sure if I'm right there. Thematically, it isn't obvious to interpret their lyrics. The music, on the other hand, feels naturally joyful. Happiness Is All The Rage gets the story going. Happiness is cool, but you need to overcomesome daily obstacles. The Deep South, for example, is literally exciting when he sings "I think that's exciting.", it has a catchy melody going on and some Beach Boys-ish backing woohs. Same story for Skips A Beat. In other songs, such as Things Just Getting Good, they use a calmer approach, equally inspiring, but less catchy. The last song is a traditionally slower, quieter song, it fits perfect.
So, yeah, this album is full of cool riffs and hooks typical for emo pop music. Great for chorus-singalong. Some details in the songwriting make it that much interesting but overall this album isn't about being clever. It's about great pop music, making you happy, ending up on mixtapes and for opening dances on weddings*.
Voila, check it out if you're into emo, pop punk, punk rock, Piebald, Weezer and Saves The Day.

*That's actually not such a bad idea.

06-06-11

La vida película

I'm studying for my exams. That means I get to go through my music collection for days on end. Yesterday I was scrolling my iTunes upwards (starting from Nerf Herder, who got quite a few listens the past couple days (see previous post)), and my eye fell on the M of (The) Movielife.

The Movielife was a melodic punk rock band from around 2000 (a bit before and a bit after). They broke up and apparently reunited this year.
After the demo-stage, they released a subpar album called It's Go Time. Other than some fast music and bad production ther's not much to this record. Their sophomore output This Time Next Year has a better vibe. A better sound, a more particular sound which would later become a Movielife-sound and accordingly a more enjoyable listening experience. This band was a "precursor" to the whole hardcore/pop punk mix hype, cfr. Set Your Goals, No Trigger, Bangarang!, … but owes a lot to bands like Lifetime or Down By Law.

After a split record with Ex Number Five, the Movielife released …Has A Gambling Problem. And there it is. A distinctive sound, clever songwriting, catchy melodies and rememberable hooks. All of this while they still maintain a hardcore feel to the songs. Very strong and sometimes abrupt rhythms and a lot of shreds. Great EP, gets you toe-tapping and more!

Then, as a final effort before their break-up, they put out their pièce de resistance. Forty Hour Train Back To Penn.
Put out on renowned label Drive-Thru Records, this is without a doubt a classic album. The first 4 chords hit you like Jwoww hit The Situation in Atlantic City and from then on it's pogo time. Or whatever type of dance appeals to you. They made a videoclip for Jamestown, thus becoming one of their best received songs. The entire album stays interesting, though, with variations of tempo, some acoustic-ish parts, different song structures and meaningful lyrics.
Fact is: this album "[wi]ll give you a bang slap in the eye, if you follow me."* Ideal for singing along, great for studying to, better for not studying to, best for playing really loud. Yeah, I'm gonna finish as usual by saying to check 'em out, or recheck 'em if you know 'em already. If you don't you're missing out. If you do you deserve a high-five.

Hopefully they'll take the reunion to Europe.

If my mind's the weapon, my heart's the extra clip.

* Mansfield, Katherine. The Garden Party. (1921)