Friday, April 13, 2018

Book Review: Damnation by Alabama Sharp


    Over the course of 35+ years, Alabama Sharp has led such legendary and infamous underground Alabama bands as The Knockabouts, Monster Dog, Monster God, and the Go-Go Killers, all the while quietly writing some of the sickest fiction ever imagined. Seriously, the reason why we’re just now reading this stuff is because no one was brave enough to publish any of it. In the true spirit of D.I.Y. (of which he was an early purveyor), Mr. Sharp finally said, “Fuck it!” and decided to publish the work himself. This means that Sharp doesn’t answer to anyone, which in turn means we get even sicker stuff than we would have gotten had somebody else published him.
    The first half of the book is a collection of Sharp’s art. Simple crude pen and ink drawings of hyper-violent and over-sexed demonic debauchery. Readers of our print zine have likely bared witness to some of his work, which is downright quaint when compared to some of the demented smut found in these pages. Like Clive Barker guiding the hand of Helen Keller to mock Picasso. Or a five-year-old trying to explain why the house is empty and there’s blood everywhere. Reminds me of the little kid’s art in Jay Anson's Amityville Horror book, but instead of a sprinting pig, we get a two-headed three-breasted naked lady with a dead baby draped between her necks. *And the prosecutor points to the child’s drawing, “Is this where the devil touched you?”* Doodles of the damned. Viciously visceral. A gnarly introduction and a helluva visualization of what might come.
    The text portion of the book ranges from brutal abstract poetry to deranged short stories. Alabama Sharp is a man who's brain is packed with a lot of (fucked-up) ideas, but I’d wager that this being something of a compilation picked from different periods in the writer’s life has added an even deeper layer of stylistic variety. Luckily, Pissed-Off-Kid Sharp is just as talented a writer as Punk-Rock-Elder-Statesman Sharp. The entire book is well-written. Which makes it even more hard-hitting. Any warnings of offensive content should be taken very seriously, but make no mistake, this is finely-crafted. Interesting stories that really pull the reader in. But these are intense stories. We’re talking extreme violence, rape, murder, rituals, and gore. Ramshackle prose gives way to slice-of-life torture porn to the tale of a family trip gone waaaay wrong to the musings of broken-brained stalkers and serial killers to what amounts to a throbbing Penthouse Forum gone bad. Much of it from the monsters' (human, inhuman, and non-human) perspectives. All masterfully imagined and the very definition of explicit. EXPLICIT. Gorehounds rejoice, but this book is not for everyone. It will haunt you and disgust you and it will get under your skin. This book is grotesque and challenging. Damnation was clearly published to push buttons, let’s hope one of those buttons isn’t your doorbell. -Harmless



Monday, March 26, 2018

Review: Metayouth - Speech Balloons In June

    This is what I loooove about the digital age: THE IMMEDIACY. Just last month, Metayouth released their debut self-titled full-length on Bandcamp, and now they're already back with an E.P.! Dakota Gilliland hasn't lost his chops when it comes to creating catchy poppy kinda emo-y punk rock. I should hope not; like I said, it's only been a month! But that's not to say that there hasn't been some growth. Everything seems more effortless (in the good way) this time around. The distorted overblown instrumentation is a potent tool for this artist and he's become more adept at it. I've always said that I've rarely heard a pop-punk band sound bad live, but that something is often lost in the translation to tape (or digital computer pixie dust or whatever). Metayouth agilely avoids this by (1) writing lyrics that are interesting regardless of the vessel, and (2) Co-opting the raw intensity of a rough demo while having the skill to build upon it and manipulate it to get the point across. Fearless and fragile. This'll get ya digging for more noise. This is gateway garage. -Harmless

Metayouth on Bandcamp

Metayouth on Facebook

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Review: Rapid Randy - Widow Maker

    Rapid Randy Hughes (Nic-O-Teens/NcSeventeen/Model Citizen/Parasites/Backseat Virgins/too damn many more to name) is back after close to a five year hiatus. And his return is nothing less than an extraordinary experiment. Gentle, but brash by virtue of its very existence, Widow Maker is a delicate, personal, and strange return for the one-time (and hopefully once-again) prolific musician. For this 4-song EP, Randy has traded in his bass for an other-worldly autoharp and subtle electronics. Using these devices, and a little help from his equally creative family, a soft, spectral soundscape is crafted. A skilled pop and punk and pop-punk singer, his voice is now distant and low in the mix. Spoken poetry and observations. He shares his thoughts as spacey soundbites. A salesman of the soul. Melancholic. Cathartic. Magical. This is the fragile sound of a brilliant artist freed. I can't wait to hear what else he has in store for us. Glad to have you back, Rapid, hope you stick around for a long time. -Harmless

Rapid Randy on Bandcamp

Friday, March 16, 2018

Review: Postal - Engineering the Antagonist

    Before Alabama was treated to the often political themed punk metal hybrid of The Crashing Falcon, there was Postal. Active from 1998 to 2004, the band was very much a proto version of TCF. Recorded over ten years ago, the album was never given a proper release due to incomplete vocals. Recently, however, TCF decided to throw it up on their Bandcamp as a "name your price" purchase, and it's well worth a download. Featuring members of other Huntsville AL acts such as Radiotron Barricade At Night, the release is a nice little time capsule of early 2000s metalcore and certainly better than many of the local releases this writer picked up from around the same time. Of the thirteen tracks, roughly half feature no vocals, which may be a strength of the release rather than a detriment. After a brief intro track, "Sober Sunday" gives you a good taste of what you're in for. The deathcore vocals are mostly inaudible, and one may say subpar, but for a demo recording from that era, the music is surprisingly strong. Next "The Coffin Nail Choke" picks things up with the type of familiar metalcore jam you may fondly recall in abundance from the mid-2000s. Again the vocals may be a bit lacking but the head banging and mosh worthy breakdowns should give you a dose of nostalgia if you once frequented these types of shows. Track four, which has a completely nonsense title, serves as an intermission before the album begins with the tracks that vocals were presumably never finished for. If you weren't a fan of the rough vocals the album arguably improves as it moves into the instrumental works. Starting with "You Sank My Battleship" you're then treated to 5 tracks of quite retro thrashy metalcore/deathcore. If you were around when the genres were popular in the state, the tracks make for quite the nostalgia trip and it seems safe to say these guys are more talented musicians than many of AL's metal bands from the era. The vocals return with "Murder Weapon Can Opener" but again they are fairly rough and incomprehensible. The release ends with "The Hell in Venus" which by far has the best vocal mix of the release. Here the vocals rotate between metalcore growl and cleanish vocals at times with a somewhat rap delivery. The track is of course quite heavy, though with a bit of catchiness mixed in thanks in part to the improved vocals. If every track were up to this standard the release would be an even more noteworthy one.
3.5/5 A must for The Crashing Falcon fans as well as those in need of a throw back to a bygone age of the State's scene. -Kevin Spann

Postal on Bandcamp

The Crashing Falcon on Bandcamp


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Review: Owls And Other Animals

    I'm kinda a sucker for lo-fi singer songwriter stuff. But I can't stand Dylan. And I'm not even normally a fan of acoustic guitar. (The dude who brings an unrequested acoustic guitar to a party is only marginally less a pile of scum than the dude who brings an harmonica. And at least that fits in your pocket, so you can pretend that you just happened to have it with you. The jerk with the guitar clearly has plans...) I do, however, find that I am drawn to music that is unusual, fragile, broken, noisy, and.... honest. In my book, basement tapes of a kid strumming his cheap hand-me-down while his voice cracks will always kick Eric Clapton off his lame-ass stool. Folk duos can be particularly treacherous, often little more than pretentious sleepy jammers feeding each other's most boring inclinations. But Owls And Other Animals are unique in that they seem to recognize the aural charms of budget recording, but have strong writing and performing chops, plus they seem to share the same mental orbit as one another. They seem to reside on the same page of "The Moody Arts". (I just made up a book.) OAOA provide a shaky cool brand of authenticity to the audience. Owls And Other Animals, while achingly simple, are many things. They can be your atmosphere, they can be your poetry, but they can also hold their own with the Trash Cats. They understand pop and they understand beauty. They strip it down. They can croon unironically. They are masters of minimalism. Check 'em out and keep listening cuz I bet we're gonna hear a whole lot more. -Harmless

Owls And Other Animals on Bandcamp

Owls And Other Animals on Facebook

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: The Moose - Earth Mover


I don't like genres, or adjectives for that matter. But we have to use them to describe music, which often doesn't do the bands justice. The Moose are like that. Southern as fuck. A kind of fuzzed hard rock stew; thick, fat grooves that you can cook a pound of bacon in; and vocals that flow so soulfully and naturally that if you hadn't seen The Moose, you'd think it was created with studio gadgetry (it isn't). This is the kind of music that can only be created and done to this level of perfection in the South. You need to check this out. -Alabama Sharp



Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: Party Gator - Cover Singles 2017

    Memphis, TN's Party Gator is an artist/band that I otherwise would have never heard of if it wasn't for a close friend posting about this release on social media. Listen, I rarely feel the urge to write a review, but holy wow this is sick! Fuzzy guitar, vocals that sound like they're recorded underwater through a vienna sausage can, and overall just a super fun selection of songs covered here.

The production is also beautiful here. How can something so RAW be so CLEAN?

They even cover Madonna here! You'll have to just go listen for yourself.



It's up now under the "pay what you want" option.

Favorites:
Out on the Weekend (Neil Young)
Girl U Want (DEVO)

Would recommend to fans of:
Ty Seagall, Deftones (White Pony era), Sludge Rock/Garage Rock fans

-ON signing off

Party Gator on Bandcamp

Party Gator on Facebook