Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Top 4 Favorite Albums of 2017 by Adam Harmless


    There's been a lot of killer music coming out this year. So much so, in fact, that I'm having a difficult time narrowing down my faves. A "Top 10" list feels impossible to manage. How can one pack so many different sounds and ideas into such an arbitrary number? I very nearly flaked out on writing this article, an assignment that I'd made up for myself in the first place. But then I looked at this idea from a different angle. As much as I moan and fuss over making such a tight list, it's actually easier the smaller the list gets. "Top 4" is waaaay less effort to work out than "Top 10", and not just because it would, in theory, be less than half the writing. It's just so much simpler to figure out my 4 by looking at the 2017 CDs still living in my car. These discs continue to be the soundtrack to my travels and I imagine they will continue to be well into 2018.


#4
Trash Cats - Wardcore
This is a nasty little band that just seemed to pop up in the Huntsville area outta nowhere. Punk rock with acoustic guitars and a washboard. Honest and spirited and evil and damaged and pure energy. (You can check out my slightly longer, and perhaps even less helpful, review here.)







#3
The Go-Go Killers - Hallucinogenitalia
The Go-Go Killers have been around for a while now and have released several noisy rackety "Wreck'N'Roll" albums. I hold all of them close to my heart, but this one just blows his older siblings away. Everything about this double album is richer and "bigger". Somehow more challenging and accessible at the same time. (Check out my longer review here.)







#2
Dead Cross - ST
Everybody knows that I'm a big Faith No More fan going way back to my formative teen years. I loved every album they did, regardless of the line-up. I liked Mr. Bungle and bits and pieces of Mike Patton's many other projects over the years and worshiped his work ethic, but I gotta admit, I'd kinda stopped listening to most of his stuff. Of course, it'd be really easy for me to miss some of his output, but what I had heard just somehow wasn't blowing me away. Dead Cross blows me away!! This is hyper-hardcore. It's heavy and faaaaast and brutal and weird. And they covered Bauhaus! (I haven't previously posted a review of this record online, but there is one in GAD! Zine Issue 15. I'll probably post it on this site soonish.) 



#1
Primitive Race - Soul Pretender
Teenage Adam could never have dreamed that both Faith No More singers Mike Patton and Chuck Mosley would each put out a brilliant record in the same year. But somehow it happened in 2017. Primitive Race + Chuck Mosley + Dale Crover = Everything wonderful about 80's and 90's Alternative + More. This is the album we've been waiting for and didn't know it. Chuck croons and rambles and kinda-raps and rises to the challenge of powerful well-crafted music. His lyrics are idiosyncratic and dark. The melodies are beautiful. The production is excellent. I listened the FNM's Introduce Yourself after this disc and it sounded so small in comparison. I fear that Chuck's passing shortly after this release will overshadow the accomplishments of this album. Don't want that to happen. I got to talk to Chuck in person this summer and he was telling folks how bad-ass this album was going to be. He was usually self-deprecating and modest (to a fault), but he could not hold back his excitement for Soul Pretender. He knew that he was a part of something special and knew that his fans would love it. You were right, Chuck. (Full review here.)   -Harmless

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: Owls And Other Animals & Trash Cats - Happy Birthday Xmas It's Your Birthday

The perfect cover.
    Now, this is my kinda Christmas album! Owls & Other Animals and The Trash Cats (the other other animals??) have teamed up to deliver us a perfect soundtrack for shoving the ol' plastic tree into the fireplace and sitting back and inhaling the fumes. These folks send up the seasonal standards in a fragile, vulnerable lo-fi acoustic set. Whisper-crooning classics like "White Xmas" in a tunnel of introspection. Beauty in the shaky basics. Raw. Another kinda raw is the hellbent hollerin' version of "Grandma Got Run Over" that ain't for the kiddies. Or the adults. Chaos. Hilarity. It is rare to find a holiday release so wobbly, stripped down, schizophrenic, and.... honest. This is what real and interesting people have playing in the background when they laugh and cry and spill their drinks and spill their guts. I dunno who's idea it was to put these two groups together, but what they have created is nothing short of a Christmas miracle! -Harmless



Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: Trash Cats - Wardcore

   
Haven’t had the pleasure to catch this trio live (YET), but they are no doubt a ton of sleazy fun. And maybe a bit of introspection. Alcoholic Appalachian acoustic crust-punk. Not so much cowpunk. More like hillbilly gutterpunk. And kinda um... satanic. Briscoe Darling hocked a loogie on a pet cemetery during a full moon. That snot grew a brain, picked up a guitar, and started singing his heart out. To recap: Mucous grew a brain AND a heart, but the heart is gone, because he sang it out. The bass is deep and sad and as real as an AA meeting. And... Hey, where are the drums? No drums. Washboard. Because fuck you. -Harmless   

Trash Cats on Bandcamp

Trash Cats on Facebook

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review: Eyes On Lips - Sounds From A Theme Park

    Eyes On Lips have just released a new concept album. Wait! A concept album?? Yup. As a band, these guys have definitely progressed as musicians since their earlier recordings. And they’ve always been great. Now, coming into their own with a more overt math rock influence, they’ve wisely recruited Pace House’s Paul Costa to take the production reins. EOL have traded a bit of the lo-fi charm of previous recordings for an overall cleaner, but richer, sound. And it works! These lunatics ooze personality, in their over-the-top performances, in their weird-but-kinda-deep songwriting, and in their... uhh... a description-with-even-more-hyphens! And now we can really hear all the crazy crap they're doing. As the album is (sorta) about a theme park, each tune (kinda) represents a different ride, with titles like "Bumper Cart Coffin" and "Ferris Squeal". Tempo-changes and jazzy rambling from kids musically smarter than myself (doesn't take much) are a frequent occurrence. But this isn't so much about jerking off as it is about seeing where these songs take 'em. And that is the real fuckin' ride. Expect a lot of excitement, fun, and danger. Buy this. It's probably cheaper than going to any real theme park, and certainly more thrilling. -Harmless



Saturday, November 25, 2017

Review: False Suns - The Gospel According To

    Brad Norris holds a special place in my heart as literally one of the best live frontmen I’ve ever seen. I once borrowed his mic at a show and the poor little thing was so beaten and battered, I shed a tear. The emaciated microphone quickly lapped up that tear, and we cried dryly on the barroom floor together for ten minutes. Either that, or the crippled little bastard shocked me into a coma and I dreamed the whole thing. He's an epic dangerous preacher man slinging his device like a yo-yo. Some folks probably still whisper, “That’s the dude from Norma Jean”. I, on the other hand, scream constantly and consistently every day, “That’s the guy from the Divine Shakes!!!!”. Now he’s back with other local-loco legends, Jacob Ragan (Divine Shakes/Russian Love Machine/Tiger Helicide), Jared Loyd (Russian Love Machine/TRME/Boo Radley’s Bones/Tiger Helicide) and Nate Glenn (Boo Radley’s Bones, The Dry Holler). This is kinda my dream band. A super-duper group. Jacob and Jared have been killing for years now as Russian Love Machine. Jacob hits the drums haaaard and enthusiastically, but is really quite thoughtful with his instrument, meanwhile, Jared’s a powerful mega-bassist that can shout his brains out but still make the rhythm lead. I’ve literally witnessed him make others transform into better musicians. He was in TRME, that should tell ya enough. Nate is a superb rock AND roll guitarist, who can conjure insta-hit riffs. A classic rocker for the southern-fried punk rock crowd.

    Expertly produced by Brad White at Analog on Third, TGAT is less of an E.P. and more of a brilliant 3-song singles collection. “Sage.” opens, takes the listener's hand, and drags them right into the danger. Deceptive alternative rock with K00L killer wanky guitar. Is this what those folks in Seattle thought they were doing in the 90's? “To The Brim.” is fantastic post-punk, bringing to mind Joy Division at its start with throbbing rolling rhythm and suggestive guitar leads. It soon turns left and morphs into a cool 70’s radio hit from my imagination (or England or somewhere). Like the 45 of a band of that era just before they sold out. The song that the guy at the record store plays for me and pretends represents the band’s whole catalog. But every song by this band is excellent. E.P. closer "Wild and Free." takes everything you heard in the previous two tracks and conks their damn heads together. It rocks. It punks. Everybody gives 100 gazillion percent. Rollicking bass. Badass guitar. Adrenaline drums. Drummer-boy even throws in his well-documented throat-in-a-blender voice for back-up shouts. As always, our beloved singer is an out-of-control public speaker taking the wheel of a battered tank as it treads purposefully over a cliff. It's a catchy ditty. 
   
    Debuts don't get much better. Buy this and be happy for 10 minutes.
                                                                                                                 -Harmless


Monday, November 20, 2017

Review: All Deep Ends - Secret War

    All Deep Ends is the brainchild of Dakota Gilliland, a kind of indie-pop would-be wunderkind from Alabama. Thoughtful, idiosyncratic lyrics elevate his work, I'd argue, beyond even a few of his likely influences. Whether or not he's aware, he's on a bit of a quest. He's reinventing pop(punk) for his bedroom headphones. Here's the rub: In attempting to describe exactly what he does, I'm likely to scare off folks with my own particular tastes. But that's the point. He does it sooooo right. Acoustic folk launches into jangly full-band electric and back with almost-nasally melodies throughout. Modern emo needs this. This is how it should be. If you're familiar with previous works of this band, I think you'll be impressed with the evolution of Dakota's voice. He was a terrific genre singer before. Now he's coming into his own. As for the overall sound of this record, it is all achingly personal. Even the lighter stuff. Even the "dumber" stuff. 
Even when the music swirls around you in a wash of distortion and synths. This is a work unafraid to use either the charms of studio polish or the cavernous hiss of home-recording to take the listener to another place: a young man's head. All Deep Ends is music for All Deep Ends. We're just eavesdropping. -Harmless 


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review: Primitive Race - Soul Pretender

    "Industrial supergroup" Primitive Race is back! And... not quite as industrial as before. The core of Chris Kniker (the very productive producer), Mark Thwaite (Spear of Destiny/The Mission/Peter Murphy/Tricky), and Erie Loch (Wiccid/Luxt/Blownload) return and are joined by Chuck Mosley (Faith No More/Bad Brains/Cement) on vocals and Dale Crover (Melvins/Nirvana/Altamont) on drums. Needless to say, this album is more raw and consistent than their self-titled 2015 full-length debut, which I also highly recommend. The group has aimed in a different direction and is reborn as a full-on rock band to be reckoned with. But there is a surprising side-effect: on Soul Pretender, Primitive Race's killer post-punk skills combine with Crover's legendary pounding and prove to be the perfect backdrop for something of a Chuck Mosley renaissance.

    The album opens with "Row House", a peculiar thick alterna-tune that's crunchy and kinda off-kilter, followed by the hooky-chorused "Cry Out". We take a breath, and PR hits us with the one-two punch of "Cranial Matter" and "Take It All", the punk-rockest songs on the platter. I should've mentioned this before, but Chuck's stream-of-consciousness crooning and rambling are fully intact throughout. "Bed Six", Stepping Stone", and "Turn It Up" will bring to mind elements of early FNM and Cement, but modernized and "Primitized". I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that Soul Pretender is anything but a nostalgia act. It is fresh and vital and it rocks. It just has all the right elements to make its participants shine. Speaking of Soul Pretender, the title track is haunting and dangerous and could be the score of a slasher film. A really creepy one. But with an almost-transcendent chorus. "Nothing To Behold", the sucker charged with following that monster, succeeds and is easily my fave of the bunch. It's like the long lost sister of the Bad Brains' "She's Calling You". What I've always dreamed a proper studio recording of the Mosley era to be. But likely much better. I know I keep bringing 'em up, but the songs just have these brilliant sounding choruses. Like The Killing Joke's "The Wait" but kinda pretty. "Dancing On The Sun" satisfyingly wraps up the disc, leaving me wanting more, yet knowing that I probably couldn't handle it.

    Fans of early Primitive Race may at first be a tad put off by the less-electronic, more "organic" overall sound. And Chuck’s voice is very different from any found on their earlier releases. But this is still very much Primitive Race. The pickier of PR fans owe it to themselves to give this a serious listen (or two) before dismissing it. Fans of early Faith No More definitely need to buy this. Fans of great alternative music should seek this out immediately. Soul Pretender is one of the best albums of 2017. -Harmless



Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: Queens of the Stone Age - Villians

 That new Queens Of The Stone Age record answers a question everyone is afraid to ask, and for good reason: What if aliens watched a lot of Grindhouse and Russ Meyer flicks, and basically found a spot next to the MST3K crew in the theatre, then went to church, then came home and ate spaghetti and wrote a record, after one more spaghetti western? Thankfully, the human race will never have to broach the subject as a species, because the planetary patriots informally known as “QOTSA”, led by General Josh Homme, have made this theoretical, hypothetical nightmare into a nine-track album equivalent to those fear mongering nuclear war training newsreels. It’s some “Reefer Madness” in an era where we have an Attorney General who sees that piece of cinematic chicanery as an instructional video or that video you have to watch when you take Drivers Ed (where they make sure to get close-ups on all the charred corpses inside the twisted wreckage) rather than “Gone With The Wind”. (See what I did there?) The White Boy Funk is strong with this one. B to B-
-Jackson A.D.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Review: The Go-Go Killers - Hallucinogenitalia

    The Go-Go Killers only could've come from one of two places: Huntsville, Alabama or Planet Fuck. Though I've bared witness to their ritualistic sleaze-church shenanigans multiple times in the Rocket City, a reliable source (their new CD) has informed me that they are, in fact, Fuckian immigrants. They've just spent so much time wrecking and rolling through the Southeast, becoming legends in the process, that we've come to adopt them as our own. As one may attempt to adopt a sick wild animal... and inevitably get bitten. Hallucinogenitalia, their double album, is a culmination of all
things "wreck 'n' roll". Subversive and nasty and haunted. 13 Alabama Ghost and Jeffrey meets Peoples Temple meets Blood Feast. They nod to past legends like the Cramps but pave their own way as a uniquely southern phenomenon. As musicians, few can hope to come close to the prowess and straight-up experience of this quartet. The band is as tight as a noose, even when they push boundaries from roots to punk to post-punk to even funk. I've been singing their praises since their first album, An Unhinged DEMONstration, but, I gotta say, Hallucinogenitalia handily blows away all previous releases in their catalog. Everything was recorded live in the studio and, energy-wise, it shows, but the sound is so big here, so powerful, that you're much more likely to take this in as an experience than as some kind of mere "music". If you love the Go-Go Killers, this is their ultimate expression. Their Rocket to Russia. Their London Calling. If you never got into their stuff before, this CD will convert ya, as you will finally hear what the congregation has been hearing all along. -Harmless


Monday, October 23, 2017

Review: Motel Pines - A Sad History

    Got “turnt” onto this band by Brad Posey, host/curator/creator of THE INVISIBLE CITY on 89.3 WLRH out of Huntsville, Alabama, and all-around swell guy (when he isn’t using thousands of people as test subjects for his droning experiments-choice emoji goes here, lol). He baited me by using The Replacements as an adjective to describe the lyrical style of this band, and I’m a sucker for anything Paul Westerberg connected. You could tell me a porta potty at a BBQ competition in the dead of a southern summer reminded you of “Tim” and I’d be there waiting for another spiritual awakening. But these dudes are from Dallas, so there may not be such a large degree of separation between plastic crap coffins and our favorite intermittently-sober subconsciously self-sabotaging lore-infused underground rock 'n' roll religious figures after all.
    This is a pissed off record. It’s sarcastic. It’s wounded, and it’s mad as hell and isn’t gonna take it anymore. But it kind of reminds you of the guy that suddenly loses his shit and balls his fists up and sprays saliva through his teeth, and stomps his feet, and curses in tongues. You know it’s something serious, but it usually comes out of nowhere, so it takes a few seconds to process the “spell” as Memaw might say. In other words, it isn’t like a traditional punk rock or metal record, or Public Enemy, or of that particular ilk. It simmers below the surface, boiling under like a volcano of left-wing, humanitarian angst. Songs like “Champagne Rivers” serves as an auditory brochure for a worse-case scenario for this new “great” America: Here’s this 1st world utopia, with this huge monument donated by a foreign country that is a symbol of freedom and democracy and has a poem on a plaque encouraging other nations of the world to “give us your tired, your poor huddled masses” and is often touted as THE land of opportunity... unless you’re a few shades browner than Barney the brake rotor line worker. “The Heart and the Head” follows along a similar thought path, but seems to question Big Brother's supposedly good intentions. Move along, go back to sleep, nothing to see here. (Cue scenes from “They Live” here.) “My Abandoned Ship” is a heartfelt homage to being emotionally rescued, presumably by the birth of a child, as the last line of the last verse proclaims “although I am your world now, I am no one at all.” But to that child, you’re everything. Closing out the record with more disjointed congruency (IT’S A THING.) with an earlier juncture of the record is “Best Parts Of Me” which is a narrative describing losing a partner/loved one to an unnamed disease and feeling like the best parts of you have been taken away, only to find them returned by the introduction of a new life into the picture. Despite all this weighty subject matter, this record is still suitable for casual listening: no need to be seeking any sort of cataclysmic catharsis for it to work its magic on ya.

-Jackson A.D.

The Motel Pines on Bandcamp

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I've Got The Bible Belt Around My Throat

Originally published in GAD! Zine Issue 5. Interview by Harmless

GAD! Who are you and what is YOUR history?

Ian Wise - I grew up in Birmingham. I got into punk through the Ramones when I was about 9 and during middle school I didn’t really know anyone that was interested in the things I was. There were some other kids that were vaguely into punk rock but they were all older than me and I didn’t have any friends with interests like mine. Granted, I was very young and even though the internet was around I pretty much only had access to it at school so it was hard to find out about current bands. I would pretty much buy punk CDs and then track down releases by other bands listed in the “thank you” section of the CDs. Sometimes I’d get a record and the insert would have a collage of flyers from shows the band had played, and that was always great because it gave me more names of bands to look for when I was digging through records.
I was able to get into some great stuff through the staff of the now-defunct Magic Platter record store when I was really young. When I got into high school, I would walk from my school to a jazz record store called Charlemagne and dig through the “rock” section scouring for anything remotely punk. I definitely got some duds (the shitty New Wave comp called “Blitz!” that I thought was actually the band Blitz comes to mind. It seems like they always had a copy of that thing!), but I’d be able to find some decent stuff there and I still remember getting home with records by DOA, Conflict, and Thee Headcoats on vinyl and listening to them sitting in front of my Dad’s old turntable.
I was able to meet more people that were into punk when I was around 13, and it opened me up to a lot of different kinds of punk and points of view. When I was 14 I started playing in my first actual band, Seven Come Eleven, and through that band I was able to meet a lot of older guys that were hanging around at this club called the Boiler Room. I was the annoying kid always asking for mix tapes, but pestering folks always paid off because I got into a ton of old shit through those guys, and bands like Warzone, the Effigies, Cro-Mags, and Zero Boys became the shit I would listen to through headphones with my hood popped up over my head in school all day. 
At the time, I was still somehow convinced that the only scenes that had ever produced good music were in California, NYC (though just the skinhead bands, I wasn’t even hip to shit like Born Against or Conniption yet), or Chicago. I hadn’t even heard any of the killer Florida bands from the 80s like Belching Penguin or Hated Youth yet, so thinking that anything had ever come out of Alabama that was substantial was something that was more like a dream than anything else. Of course my opinion was negatively influenced by the fact that there wasn’t a lot of stuff happening locally that interested me. Random Conflict were around and were still doing more of the street punk thing (before going back to their more crossover style), and Truth Serum (now Skeptic?) were around, but the bulk of the scene seemed to more about the moshy Victory/Ferret Records style stuff that was trendy at the time and that music also came with a lot of shitty attitudes. Screamo was also a big deal in Alabama at the time (through Blue Eyed Boy Mister Death and probably the state’s vague connection to Orchid) and I honestly just didn’t have the taste for it yet.
When I was 15 I started a new band called Korova that was just a straight hardcore band. We were really into stuff like Negative Approach at the time and I guess that is what came out most in the sound. I started writing letters to bands in Maximum Rock n Roll and trying to get them to come to Birmingham. It was difficult, but my name got around and within a couple of years I had booked some really fantastic bands current like the Hudson Falcons, I Object, Bones Brigade, Adolf and the Piss Artists, and a ton more. I had the privilege of getting to meet a lot of people in bands I loved and play shows with them. By the time I was 16 I pretty much ate and slept hardcore punk. I had a job all through high school and saved up money to buy records from every band I saw and always spent a ton of money when bands would come through with distros. I spent pretty much all my free time booking shows or playing music. In 2004 I put together a CD called “We Did It Our Own Way” of all punk bands from Alabama and used that to try and promote the scene within the state and it seemed to work. Korova ended up putting out some records, including a 7” of stuff that was recorded when we were 15/16 called “If There is a Future”.
Southern punk was something I was getting more interested in at the time. The whole GMM Records scene in Atlanta was a big deal to me and getting to hear bands like the Anti-Heroes and see the influence they had from their dark corner of the US was inspiring. That was also around the time I got into the old Florida stuff and a band from Tennessee called Koro that had put out one of the most mind-blowing USHC 7”s of the 80s.
I ended up moving to Illinois when I was 18 and was gone from Alabama for a couple of years. I went back when I was 21 and there were a lot more really great bands but the scene seemed fractured. I was only around for a while and I’ve been back in Chicago for over two years now. Being away from the state has helped me sort of figure out how the South has influenced me as a person, and I guess that’s part of why I wanted to do the “History of…” LP.

GAD!- What is "A History of Punk Rock in Alabama"? What are your goals with this project?  

Wise - I had the original idea close to 10 years ago after I first did the “We Did It Our Own Way” compilation CD. At the time I was really young and didn’t know how much actual music there was from the state. I knew Random Conflict had been around in the late 80s and the Vomit Spots from Mobile had put out a good 7” in 1987, but outside of that not a lot had survived. It wasn’t until years later that I got really serious about tracking down certain releases and trying to really dig up punk from the state that I got turned onto some really cool things.
The idea sort of faded away until a couple of years ago when someone asked me if there had ever been a “Bloodstains” comp that specifically collected music from the South. I knew that the first in the series had focused on Texas and there was a “Killed By Death” bootleg of Florida bands. When I dug deeper, I found that not only had there never been a record specific to other states in the South, but on all of those bootlegs nothing had ever been comped from Alabama at all. An early Mississippi band called Ed Nasty and the Dopeds had made it onto a volume of Killed By Death, but that was as close as we got. In fact, the more I looked at any sort of “Southern” compilation, Alabama was pretty much always ignored. The “Destroying Southern Tradition”, “Southeast Hardcore, Fuck Yeah!”, and “The South Will Rise Again” comps all skipped Alabama bands.
That’s when I decided to seriously start putting together this record. The major influence has definitely been the “Bloodstains” series, but also the “Southern Heritage” records and of course the Numero Group reissues. My goals are to put out a record that I would have wanted to put on the turntable when I was 12 years old and felt totally alienated. I honestly don’t care too much about changing people’s minds about the state I grew up in because I am so over apologizing for it or caring about what anyone else thinks. I am putting this out for kids that will be digging through records at some shop in Huntsville 15 years from now so they can take it home and feel the rush of hearing these crazy recordings from their home state for the first time.

GAD! - Why do you think punk rock from 'bama has typically received so little exposure ?

Wise - Because we are all broke as fuck. That’s to start with anyway. We didn’t have resources (like labels to put out our records, larger "established" venues). Big cities/scenes do have larger support systems and some more affluent participants. On the rare occasions a band was able to scrape up money from their pizza delivery jobs and put out their own record, they were almost never able to tour on them and sell copies. And then there is the obvious answer of people just judging us because of where we’re from. I’m not basing that on some paranoia, I’m saying that because I’ve literally been told that by some of the bigger distributors of “punk” records. It all comes down to snobby people who think that they’re better or more cultured because they live in the Bay area or some crust haven or whatever.
The thing that really sucks about all that is that almost everyone living in Brooklyn or Berkley came from somewhere else that was probably a small scene and a lot of them now feel advantaged because of where they are. DIY punk culture is just as pretentious and full of assholes as Fox News or Whole Foods corporate; there is just this idea that it’s different because we’re not making any money and are instead dealing in ego. I don’t mean to make blanket statements because I know what I just said certainly doesn’t apply to a lot of people in those places, but I mean, come on. You can run a distro selling nothing but third generation bootlegs of late 80s Japanese noise bands no one has ever heard of and sell everything out overnight, but if you told people those same recordings were Alabama bands people would just shrug and walk away.
It honestly used to really bother me, but hey….I grew up where I grew up and I honestly think I’m a better person for it. From a more broad cultural standpoint, there is this attitude I've been confronted with (even/especially in the punk scene) that because of the history of the South people assume I am racist or otherwise intellectually stunted when they find out I'm from Alabama. The truth is that yeah, the South has a lot of really terrible things going on, but so does Chicago and New York and San Francisco. And if someone is going to judge me or someone else because we came up in a fucked up place when they won’t even look around and take responsibility for the things going on where they are just because they are stuck in some hipster art scene on the West Coast then I honestly don’t see how we would have anything in common anyway.

GAD! - Who are some of your fave Alabama bands?

Wise - Now I Have a Machine Gun are my favorite Alabama band and possibly my favorite band from anywhere. When you look back on your life and all the shows you’ve seen and records you’ve bought you realize that what matters more than anything is what a band meant to you at a certain time and place in your life. I guess in the end part of being punk is that your favorite bands will always be the ones that were made up of your friends because every stupid thing you ever did, every fight you ever got into, and every substantial conversation you had are in those songs. Of course, there were other great Birmingham bands from the same time period that were and still are really important to me like Legion and Ex Members or the Holy Trinity, but Now I Have a Machine Gun are a band that still feels personal and intimate to me.
For older bands, Green Beret are one of the best. Random Conflict was a huge influence on me as a kid and I will never forget all the great times I had seeing them. Punks in Alabama owe Random Conflict a great debt. GNP and the Knockabouts are bands who never got the recognition they deserved either. Without the Knockabouts there’s no telling where punk in Alabama would have wound up. Honestly, there are too many to go through, which is why I just want to put them all on an LP and have people pick through them for themselves.

GAD! - What would you like to see happen with underground music in the south?

Wise - It doesn’t really matter what I think, because there will always be some 14 year-old kid with a shaved head making music with his friends and trying to figure shit by fucking up a lot. That kids got it right. I’m just some guy who’s getting older.



 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Review: Stocklyn - Stocklyn II


    Sometimes it’s fun to imagine alternate realities for clearly defined entities, historical eras, and so on. Like, I found myself wondering: “What if the music of MUSE was sexier?" "More slithery and reptilian?” “What if The Black Keys were from Gotham City?” “If Artic Monkeys weren’t so spastic and British*?” or the one question that almost woke me up at night more than once: “What if Radiohead weren’t so dreadfully boring?” (A rock and roll antihistamine?) Then I got this EP in the mail. And I went…."oooohhhh…"

This is good. REALLY good. It’s the kind of good that pisses you off, because you know it’s inevitably going to cause you to judge the rest of the albums you acquire against it. And it’s only five tracks. It’s like getting interrupted in the middle of the one-man slap fight: you’re about to send a few thousand little soldiers on a suicide mission, then BAM! Its gets called off, the freeway gets backed up, but the rocket is still ready to launch. Can you say “awwwkwaaaardd?” Ok, that’s probably not how you’ll feel when you listen to this EP. But it is achingly short for the caliber of songs that are on it. “Run To The River”, the lead-off track, is a dark, seductive, bewitching number. If the rock bands on the radio now had any idea of how to actually try and reinject boner I mean bona fied sexuality into the genre, this would be how it’s done. It’s slightly sleazy, but not in that gross, off-putting, Rohypnol-rock perfected by Nickelback and all those other faceless shlock troopers that look like The Crow gets his wannabe-Nikki Sixx look at Walmart (No offense to Walmart shoppers). It’s got genuine allure to it. Not the strip-club filtered approach. “Follow The Ashes” is the catchiest way a misunderstood youth could hope to pine over another to. The chorus literally soars into outer space with your soul. There is an almost “Head Like A Hole”-esque quality to the synth that dutifully marches along before the ascension. Find any tragic love story film or any movie where two individuals struggle against all odds and evil forces to keep their love alive and this song is in the background of the trailer. “Get Free”, the closing track, is THE summer jam. It’s another track on this painfully short release that is perfectly tailored for the moving picture show. It’s for that scene where the heartthrob protagonist is coming into town off the interstate, and has just finished a conversation with whoever is riding shotgun. He leans his head back, in his Wilsons Leather leather jacket and Tom Cruise as Maverick aviator shades and lets out a hearty, so-Cal sun-soaked belly laugh. It’s about this time they stop the car and go to meet their contact and the song abruptly cuts off. I’ll be waiting to say “I told you so” when Sunkist, American Airlines, car company X, T-Mobile, etc. make this song their secret weapon when gearing up for their campaigns during the American travel seasons.
I once described their first EP as “ugly music made by pretty people”. For this one, all I can say is: YOU NEED. NO MORE QUESTIONS!!
-Jackson A.D.

*No Actual British citizens were harmed in the construction of this review.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: A Very Loud Death - Lanterns

   
In the latest issue of the GAD! zine, I reviewed A Very Loud Death's new full-length, "Lanterns". Below is the review as it appears in Issue 15....



Short and sweet. Well, now I kinda want to say a little more. First of all, these fuckers are deceptive. They walk you in with some cool ambiance and follow it with some whispery/emo-y alt-metal that starts dipping into mad laughter. The vocals become a tad unhinged. The music becomes a teetering crooked carousel. Hardcore hollering makes a brief appearance. More whispering. Reverb. Crunching guitar. Swinging drums. The bass just snuck into my right ear and got a little too close to my brain. Was that just some Dick Dale-esque guitar noodling?? Now they're marching. Yet, most of this thing is... mellow? Is it the reverb and effects that are confusing me? This recording is a mystery. I think this is what I was trying to get at before. You're gonna think you've heard this before, but it's richer and more interesting. Subtlety is power. Still don't know what the crap I'm talking about? Shut up and just go to their Bandcamp and check 'em out. -Harmless     




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review: CHUCK MOSLEY Live @ Maggie Meyer's Irish Pub in Huntsville, AL 8/10/17

    
    Chuck Mosley is best-known as the singer of Faith No More during their early ascent, but has been involved in multiple projects over the years, most notably a stint with the Bad Brains and his own band Cement. When an auto accident during Cement's second album tour derailed his music career, Chuck took several years to recuperate and focus on his family. He formed a new band, VUA, but was, for the most part, a family man with a "real" job. Chuck made his comeback, however, with
2009's underrated/underpromoted album, Will Rap Over Hard Rock For Food. Since that time, he hasn't gone away. In the intervening years, he's put out Demos For Sale (demos and rarities from WROHRFF), released a couple of digital singles, guest-performed live with FNM a few times, celebrated the rerelease of their first album, We Care A Lot, played guitar in and sang for Douglas Esper's band Indoria, recorded with Primitive Race, and has been doing a "low key" tour throughout Europe and the US. That aforementioned tour, The Reintroduce Yourself Tour (the title a nod to FNM's second album, Introduce Yourself), is still under way. We were thrilled that Chuck and company were able to play the South East USA. And even more thrilled when they played in our neck of the woods, Maggie Meyer's Irish Pub in Huntsville, AL. What follows are just a few of my observations of that performance.

    Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes will tell you that those first two Faith No More albums were my gateway into music. Obviously, I will always give this man the benefit of the doubt, but what about the rest of the audience? Will they accept a stripped-down experience with no "We Care A Lot" to be heard? Turns out I was worrying about nothing. Chuck Mosley and his band are less like a touring act and more like tried and true veterans of whatever scene they happen to be playing that night. They're funny and they're down-to-earth. They hang out at the bar and chat and enjoy the opening acts. Chuck, in particular, looooooves the music. He even bobs his head to the house music playing through the speakers between sets, visibly entertained by tunes he's had to have heard a thousand times. He tells me "I love Black Flag". As for the sets themselves, Mr. Mosley seems impressed with all three bands that go on before him. From the jammy blues-powered Bookie Wilder through the Tennessee gonzo metal of Lummox to the subgenre-challenged PLOW, Chuck Mosley's respect and enthusiasm never wavers. He claps and comments to other audience members about songs he likes. Hell, at one point, he even takes out his phone and records a little bit of Flummox's set. Chuck Mosley is the ultimate fan.
Chuck checking out Flummox.


    Chuck's set is an acoustic-y effects-tinged affair with himself on guitar and Doug on conga. For this tour, the two have added Cris also on guitar and Randy on bass, substantially beefing up the proceedings. Chuck is alternately charming and mischievous, an elder statesman and a wily pup. The band runs through tunes from Faith No More, Cement, VUA, and Indoria, and turns them into their own new songs. Everything is re-imagined. And it works! Organic psychedelic shoegaze folk? Why not?! Us hardcore fans are impressed with how well Indoria's "Bella Donna" (an exclusive remix of which appears on the GAD! ZiNe Comp CD) flows into a stripped-down rendition of FNM's "Death March". Newcomers at the show are clearly blown away by the honest, creative power on display. Chuck and Douglas, old friends and frequent collaborators, joke around with each other and the audience between songs. The atmosphere is always casual, yet instantly soooo powerful. These guys are here to entertain, and have fun doing it. Confidence without the ego. They even do a great rendition of Faith No More's Patton-era song, "Take This Bottle". And Chuck and Doug sing the hell outta it. If these sounds were coming from some unknown kids with a stupid/clever band name, you'd still want their autograph. Do whatever you can to see these fellas live. I promise that you will not regret it. -Adam Harmless




Adam Harmless with Chuck!
GAD! writer Adam Jackson with Chuck!
My old "We Care A Lot" cassette.



   

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

PUNK IS SHAKING DOWN COLOMBIA WAY: An Interview With ALKOHOLEMIA

With Jane Pistol
NEW ALBUM: 'Buscando Provocar

Jane Pistol: ​Is Alkoholemia more of a punk band or metal or a combination?

ALKOHOLEMIA: That’s tough to accurately answer, some might say one thing or the other….we feel we’re not just simply plain punk since we include the whole variety of our different influences...we’re brutally different, actually….so there goes the “recipe”....we don’t necessarily need a genre tag, we know we have punk vibe, though….and when it comes to metal, in our case it’s a bit more precise to refer to hard rock, rather than metal itself...


JP: Lyrically your songs seem to convey a message at times. How much of the song-writing is based on personal experiences and social and political things?


ALKOHOLEMIA: Since the lyrics writing process is really spontaneous and not methodically established as a series of steps, there’s plenty of issues to deal with in the lyrics...some refer to our local, national everyday reality, one or two deal with politics and similar stuff, a big deal of them also deal with party, drinking and having fun….if we put it in a balance, we are more oriented towards entertainment than to any kind of controversial views.


​JP: What were the two live tracks on this new album. Where were they recorded?


ALKOHOLEMIA: ​We recorded a live-session number of songs some months ago, it took place at the one of the studios for the Sound Engineering Undergraduate Program at one of the local universities in town...the tunes are “Alkoholemia” and “Y No Volvió Jamás”...a group of students needed to submit some tracks for a course….and well, we’re always supporting academy, you know! (laughed).


JP: When working on this album what were some of the challenges you found in putting it together?  Did you all learn anything in particular that you would do or not do again?


ALKOHOLEMIA: Usually, it’s hard to make up your mind as a band and decide which tunes go and which ones are not ready or suitable for it. We could say that our previous experiences recording with Alkoholemia and our previous bands, --why not-- have shown us the importance of a solid and mature pre-production process...after deciding a setlist, getting every single little note, drum-fill, solo and detail perfectly agreed and prepared so we could have a final rehearsal sounding exactly as the album will sound...that’s been one of our biggest lessons, we learned it for our previous EP, not with this album, though. The only thing we could say it was pretty chaotic has to do with timing and scheduling studio time….we work with this guy who’s the ace in town, reason why he’s always busy, as we are with our jobs, so it took more time than we expected.


JP: Do you have plans to tour in support of the album?


ALKOHOLEMIA: Currently, we’re a bit more concentrated in completing all things related to the official release as well as to book all those big cool local fests...obviously it’s such an huge expectation and we’d love to travel, it’s rather a wish than a plan...and it would be wiser to captivate more audiences here, first....


JP: You are based out in Colombia- what is the music scene like there?


ALKOHOLEMIA: The independent underground scene is rough stuff...specially in our city, Medellin…there’s more bands than audiences...EVERYONE is in a band...so it’s a bit easier to find cool, fun, rewarding gigs in surrounding nice little towns nearby, one or two hours away driving, you name it...and underground market is always a tough issue as everyone knows, that’s not a mystery...now, in brief, I’d say it’s a growing scene, culturally speaking...there’s huge fests in the country and great, international bands come to the city...Luizzgui saw Ozzy, Overkill, Aerosmith, Mr. Big and Megadeth in a matter of months, Dave has seen Offspring, Bad Religion and Green Day, Felipe as well...things are growing  

JP: Music is definitely global. Who have been some of your favorite bands to listen to growing up?

ALKOHOLEMIA: Considering the already mentioned huge musical taste differences, we can even mention we HAD to create a Spotify mix-playlist for our trips in our cars...so, to name a few; Dave usually goes with Spanish punk rock bands, as well as some California sounds, neo punk stuff as Green Day, Offspring….his top two are Rage Against the Machine and Bad Religion...and weird to mention, he’s been recently quite into Ghost and Die Antwoord. Now, Felipe is more into stuff like Misfits, NOFX, RAMONES, some melodic Death Metal bands, he also loves ska, just to name a few....Luizzgui’s top is Queen, Def Leppard, Skid Row, Ozzy, Van Halen, Steve Vai, Guns & Roses, KISS, Thin Lizzy , 80’s Hard Rock in general....

JP: Do each of you personally have  a favorite track on the album that you love to perform? If so, which ones?

ALKOHOLEMIA: We haven’t actually discussed that, to be honest...we’re not gonna lie! (laughed).Now, looking at some videos and thinking of some recent rehearsals, we could say the most notorious euphoria can be seen when playing the song “Buscando Provocar”...maybe that’s why we chose it as album title.

JP: Where does the band like to meet up to jam and write?

ALKOHOLEMIA: We tend to sit together to produce new stuff at Dave’s house with his drums and after the basic structure of whatever song is solid, we go to a rehearsal studio in town...nothing unusual or particularly ritual, you know...

JP: With so much music available for purchase- tell us why this album is one we need to own.

ALKOHOLEMIA: ...you might have read in our site at the Cannonball.Rocks page, ”...regardless what you're most into...It's gonna blow your mind!”

                                     Buy the album HERE!
                                                                                   

Check out these killer Alkoholemia videos!:

Alkoholemia - "Despedida"

Alkoholemia - "El Revolucionario"

Alkoholemia - "Humanidad Perdida"


Friday, April 28, 2017

Run On: An Interview With Owen Ni

  An Interview by Adam Harmless 

 “Used to, I would have dreams about meeting a hero or having everything be a cakewalk once you made your “hit”, but as an artist, you grow and mature and learn that music is so much more sacred. It’s such a higher power than to simply want to be famous. I make music for my own self-consumption nowadays… My motivation is to attempt to continue to push my own limits and create something beautiful from it.”
    Growing up, Owen Nye's dad introduced him to the music of KISS and Pink Floyd, while his mom shared a love of Prince and Michael Jackson with her son. Owen credits them with his early taste and interest in music. Today, under the moniker of "Owen Ni", he continues to voraciously search for and consume interesting sound. As soon as one speaks with Owen Ni, it’s becomes abundantly clear how passionate he is about music and his philosophy toward his own music, which he at first describes as “electronic”. He quickly elaborates, “Specifically, I would say Techno. More specifically, Minimal Techno. It goes on and on. So I simply say Electronic Music. I don’t make “EDM” which is what most people try to group in all electronic music under. I just simply make electronic music.” He considers EDM to be “the system’s label”. “Oversaturated Pop music that is disposable at best to me.” Owen takes pride in the honesty of his work. “It’s not all drugs and partying for me. My music is a state of mind. My music, I like to think, can be a statement for someone. An expression. Like having a piece of art speak to you in different ways. I make music that was once/still is a way of life for people.” The music is not without its roots. “I like to think that the respect for my predecessors in the genre leak out in my music. I have influences from Detroit, Berlin, Chicago. etc. and they all show in my work. I’m very inspired by the heroes of the 90’s techno era. Richie Hawtin, Carl Craig, Jeff Mills, and so on. Trying to keep the genre that I work in, and most importantly, the music, true to its original form.”
   
    Though he's a very prolific musician in his own right, Owen also shares the music of others through his Run On Recordings label, as well as his podcast on Huntsville’s Spice Radio, "Run On Radio". Run On Recordings was started by Owen in 2015 after he’d tried to release his work on other labels. “I noticed a lot of labels had restrictions and exact sounds they were looking for. I wanted a hub where artists could just be artists. Without having to worry about sounding like other people.” Owen Ni is a true believer: "DIY is the way to be anyways. If you can run your own label with your own music and make money from direct fans that comes directly to you, then you’re set.” This independence offers freedom that is simply difficult to find elsewhere. “The music on my label is all over the place, but I like to sum it up as all being creative. We have punk, techno, noise, ambient, leftfield, shoegaze…something for everyone, really. It all works because it’s all made by artists/bands that believe in their work. Something that’s a must for me.” His podcast is still relatively new, but is already showing a lot of potential (I'm honored to have appeared on the first episode). "Run On Radio started while just talking to Ben Jobe over at Spice Radio's HQ, Spice Rack Studios. I was pitched the option to host my own podcast live from the studio and I decided to dedicate it to the label rather than focusing on my own material. Made more sense to me that way."
    Owen keeps plenty busy and it doesn't appear that'll be changing anytime soon. "You never know what the future will bring when it comes down to it. But I do know that I have landed a lot of deals with (other) labels and will have some actual vinyl releases coming later this year. The label is constantly growing, and still looking for more ways to spread the word as well as different ways to distribute the works. I'm still frequently traveling this year but in 2018 I might try to sit down and focus on more full length, conceptual LPs rather than EP releases. Probably the distant future goal of mine would be to spend some time out of Alabama for awhile. I will always call Alabama home, but you're in a desert when trying to grow as an artist here, especially as an independent one. Berlin has been on my bucket list for a long time, but I like the atmosphere in Asheville, NC specifically. Who knows? Time will tell."
    As I'm prone to do with loco locals, I asked Mr. Nye what he thinks of the scene/scenes in Alabama. "The Alabama music scene(s) is an interesting one. I remember talking about this with an artist while in North Carolina. He said something that really put it in perspective for me. He said something along the lines of "In the States it's like a desert". That's very loosely transcribed but basically we both agreed that in the US, it's hard to get respect for your work, but some towns, cities, it's like an oasis. Which brings me back to AL, it's hard to get respect from people here. Especially if it's not country or a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band. However, that makes it much more rewarding when you do find like-minded artists/bands with similar goals. It can be any genre you're working in, but it's all still music. All still art. I have personally met a lot of artists/bands in AL that excite me with their projects. So, the best way to explain the music scene in AL to someone not familiar is that there are a lot of diamonds in the rough."


 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Punk Rock Icon: A Q&A With Henry Rollins



A couple years ago, Dakota Gilliland joined the GAD! Zine ranks, first with his unique art, and soon after, with his wonderful interviews. He continues to contribute his writing to both the zine and this blog with enthusiasm. There's a lot more to come, but in the meantime, check out this Q&A that Dakota conducted with the legendary Henry Rollins of Black Flag/Rollins Band way back in 2015....

GAD!/DAKOTA: You've become such a major icon for the punk rock community. Did you ever think what you were doing would have such an impact on people?

HENRY ROLLINS: I have always done everything creatively motivated; writing, music, etc., to do it. To be able to do something completely, to hit it as hard as you can and give all to it, something like music, that's all I have ever tried to do, all I ever wanted to get out of it was the opportunity to expend energy. I had no idea that anything I did in this mindset would matter to anyone. I have never written anything, done anything on stage thinking, "This will...." I have only tried to be clear. That anyone cares about what I do has never ceased to surprise me. I think I am lucky to feel this way because it allows for me to not lose the plot.

People are afraid of failure. How did you decide to leave the head manager position of your job and become a lead singer in a band?

It was audition for my favorite band and by doing so, risk success/failure or wake up the next morning and go back to the same job and spend a life time wondering what could have been. What would you have done? Exactly.

How has social media and the internet affected the music scene?

I don't think there is enough time or space to answer that fully because the effect has been so top-to-bottom, from the mechanical to the ethical to even how we consider music, it turns into a topic that is almost as big as music itself. On the not so great side of things, the industry and now even the fans have found ways to make sure musicians stay struggling for a means by which to feed themselves and have a life that escapes fiscal anxiety. On the good side, I think that the internet is allowing for people to reward their curiosity by going to a band's site and listening to music for free and maybe becoming a fan, or allowing their interest to become more enhanced and by doing so, find out all kinds of music, bands and artists they never would have found otherwise. The internet is partially responsible for a ridiculous amount of records in my collection.

With most of our scene being raised in the heart of the Bible Belt, religion plays a part in almost all our lives. Do you think punk rock and religion can coincide?

I think you can have faith and anything else. Faith and Darwin, marriage equality, etc. It all depends on who you're dealing with at any particular time. Some religious people can be very intolerant of certain ways of going about things. Personally, I make most of my decisions as to what's good and bad / right and wrong by seeing if any issue passes the smell test Constitutionally. Some religious people will always see something like Punk Rock as anathema to what they stand for. Some punks might find aspects of one or any religion to be lunacy.

Any advice for anyone out there trying to get their music heard?


If I were trying to do it in 2015, I would use a Bandcamp page. Get heard for free and then set up a pay option. Everyone gets to check you out and you're not sitting on boxes of records that will go unsold.

Interview and Art by Dakota Gilliland
[Originally appeared in GAD! Zine Issue 9]