Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The SOPA/PIPA/COICA: A Lesson in Punk Rock Ethics

First and foremost, Happy New Year to all, if anyone is reading our blog out there, and sorry for the lack of activity if anyone was interested in seeing how this blog would develop. Life just gets in the way sometimes, I suppose.

Today, as I'm sure everybody is well aware of, there is a a major congressional hearing regarding OUR rights to free information and media. Now, bare with me here, I'm not about to get all radical on you, and I'm not going to demand that you write your congressman or anything about it (even though you should), I'd just like to talk a little bit about how the outcome of these proposed bills could affect us all, how internet piracy has affected punk rock and art in general, and how Bukowski fucking rules.

First off, if you're reading this, you're more than likely into some form of punk music. And you don't like being told what you can and can't do. Furthermore, you've probably pirated a lot of the albums in your ipod. It's okay, you're human (no offense). Hell knows I drove around for hours trying to get Paint It Black's New Lexicon on CD when it first came out before finally succumbing to piracy (only out of anticipation for what it sounded like though, I ordered it through Amazon that same day because these guys deserve to be paid for their hard work). Now, have you seen any of those bands in your iPod live? How many? How many have you bought a tee shirt from? Did you give tips at the merch stand? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the band got to eat that day, and you've done your job as a supporter of art and free expression. What about this one: how many of your favorite bands did you discover on Youtube.com? How about discovery through related Wikipedia articles about related bands and members? How many of THOSE bands did you see live? Our congressman are out there right now, trying to take away your right to free information because it hurts THEIR pockets. How many bands will go undiscovered? What about OUR pockets? Sure, you pirated the new Set Your Goals and it wasn't exactly what you were expecting, but don't you want to keep these bands on the road? You might go see them just to hear a few jams from Mutiny, won't you? Besides, it's their right. Let people discover them. Let their music spread. Brett Gurewitz has enough money. These talented young artists need to be supported and we can't make that happen without the internet. I've gone on way too long, you get the picture.

Now, it's kind of a crazy thought, but I've been really thinking about this whole internet piracy "problem" and how its affected bands today. The conclusion I've drawn is that we're sort of set up for a modern punk rock Renaissance, and we have to thank the internet for it. Let's face it, top 40 radio will always be around. As long as advertisers are paying networks like MTV and top 40 radio stations, and as long as these networks continue to endorse companies like TimeWarner, Walmart, Nike, Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Sony, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren, VISA, Mastercard, Comcast, ABC, and the products affiliated with these companies in support of the COICA, there will be money in pop music. Especially considering how many of these companies lobby our congressmen, the government will always be happy. Matter of fact, congress probably wouldn't even get involved if it weren't for the fact that its members are directly affected by the free sharing of information over the internet. But again, I digress.

The point is, the fact that our music industry is collapsing (while it's terrifying for Dave and I as students of music business programs in college) is a wonderful thing. The days of the rock star, we can assume, have pretty much passed. What we have now are young men and women coming out of college with no job opportunities, who are anxious and hungry for success. Kids are tired of sitting in mom and dad's basement, being bummed because there are no jobs out there for them. These kids are starting bands, scraping their change together to buy a rusted ass van, touring all over the country, and they're not in it for the money; they're sleeping on people's floors, eating a pack of dry ramen and a few fries a day, and smoking your cigarette butts. If they are in for the money, they won't last long; there is none to be had. What we essentially are left with is bands that are in the game for all the right reasons, and that are finding ways to make it work because they love it. Think of all the amazing bands that we've had thrown our way over the course of the last 5 or 6 years. These groups don't directly make money off records anymore. The most important thing to most of the bands you currently listen to or used to listen to is just that they got their music out there. The fact that you heard it and made an opinion about it means more to most of us than your money; even better if you came out and sang along when we came to your town, maybe grabbed up a tee shirt and threw us some bud or some beers, maybe some gas money, or even just came up and encouraged us. As is the case with most revelations, Bukowski really found the way to put it best. "Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Album Review: Bayonet Self-Titled

Bayonet Bayonet
     Let’s do this really quick.  I don’t want to give away too much, but I feel like this EP just need’s to be talked about.  This is my second review.

     There is never a dull moment on Bayonet’s self-titled debut EP.  You guys know American History X?  Remember the dude who had to bite the curb?  The first song is Edward Norton’s boot crushing his face.  While the thing is only 11 minutes long, it’s probably better that way, because the rest of the EP follows suit.  When I listen to it, I feel like my body actually physically reacts to the music.  This band isn’t exactly doing anything original, and the influences are pretty bare and evident (Give up the Ghost/American Nightmare, Bane, heavier Kid Dynamite), but that never hinders the quality of these well orchestrated songs.  This EP embodies a panic attack delivered through an abrasive and unrestrained sound that actually physically makes me uneasy.

     I couldn’t even say anything outstanding about its sound, to be honest.  The guitars are heavy and distorted.  The bass is low, growly, and thick.  The drums are pretty basic but fast as fuck and definitely sharp and on cue.  Buddy’s vocals are out of control, to the point that every once in a while you can actually hear his vocal cords shredding (especially during the end of “New York Minutes”).  You dig gang vocals?  This EP is chock full of well placed ones.  Enjoy.  Scream along.

     Downfalls to the EP?  I suppose the production could be a little better, but that’s not really a big issue; hardcore punk was meant to be raw and presented in basic fashion.  I just feel like, as great as the songs are written, their sound may have been better presented with different production.  The main thing I’m not nuts about with this album is the lyrics.  While they are clearly honest and delivered with passion (something I can definitely appreciate), they come across as whiny and full of self pity.  Not in a clever or cunning early-Brand-New way, but in more of a 90’s/early 2000’s cheesy-screamo-band way.   I’m not saying you need to be pretentious in a Bad Religion way, but some lines just come across as attention seeking and kind of pathetic (sorry, Buddy).

What would I say?  Buy it.  It’s a real treat and definitely is filling my need for hardcore right now.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dear Boys Night Out,

     Hey guys haven't heard from you since 2007.  Just wanted to start by saying that.  Because it was four years ago, and frankly, I need something new.  But honestly, I want to be clear, I really enjoyed everything you guys put out.  I’m sure my own opinion doesn’t matter, but I just wanted to go, off the record, and say that you guys are just spectacular and I’m eager to see what else you’ll pull off.  All your older material is still in rotation guys! Just saying...but I digress...

     Having gotten that out of the way, I think the most important thing I want to tell you gentlemen about is the experience I’m having right now on iTunes.  Having gotten to the point that I’ve almost nearly exhausted my Boys Night Out discography (I’m sure I’ll be ready to indulge again soon, though), I was on iTunes searching for the closest thing to your band (besides Belvedere, which I’ve definitely exhausted by now).

Greeley Estates
     Now, I know that human beings do some really messed up things.  Have you seen Blood Diamond?  Let’s not even talk about it.  And we all know there are a lot of terrible things out there, like cholera and the Ebola virus.  I also recently discovered an illness called cyclic vomiting syndrome, which is an awful disease. "Episodes of cyclic vomiting syndrome including severe vomiting, nausea and gagging usually begin at night or first thing in the morning and may include barfing as often as six to 12 times an hour. Episodes usually last anywhere from 1 to 5 days, though  they can last for up to 10 days."  (http://www.body-philosophy.net/10_Most_Disgusting_Diseases_Infections_Syndromes)  I almost acquired this disease when I saw the bands that were being suggested to me from iTunes to suppress my Boys Night Out withdrawal symptoms.  A band called A Thorn for Every Heart was there.  Kay.  Emanuel?  Greeley Estates?  THE STARTING LINE?!  It's not okay.  That wasn't a My Chemical Romance reference.  Come on, fellas, you know I would never...but again, I digress.

A Thorn for Every Heart
     Now that I’ve hovered over my toilet bowl drooling for the past 15 minutes, I basically wanted to write this letter to apologize on behalf of humanity.  I am very seldom willing to represent humans as a whole, but I think we owe you guys.  I’m really sorry about that.  There are people who think you deserve more than to be lumped in with the above stated plus more.  We all hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive us.

     And whenever you want to put something out, seriously, I’m all ears.  Don’t even sweat it, dudes; I know other people want some too.  I love you so much and I can't wait to hang out someday.  XOXO

Yours truly,

Boys Night Out

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Interview: When Thieves are About

When Thieves are About, pop-punk/screamo outfit from NJ will be featured guests on The Core radio in New Brunswick tonight, midnight - 2AM.  Click here to stream live radio, or tune into 90.3fm if you are in the New Brunswick, NJ area. Call 732-445-9300

Friday, May 6, 2011

First Review! Title Fight - Shed (2011)

Title Fight - Shed
                After spending the last few days binging and digesting the new Title Fight album Shed, I’ve realized that I could really write for miles about this release.  There is a lot to be said about this small-town quartet’s evolution from the songs off The Last Thing You Forget.  I’m not really into reviews that summarize each song, so let’s talk about this album’s sound and development as a whole.  Disclaimer:  In no way do I intend for this to be condescending, but being a musician, I feel like this review (my first) will revolve around the musical devices Title Fight uses to sway the mood and power of their songs.  Please bare with me!
                The biggest contributor to these songs, and to the evolution of Title Fight’s sound, is the guitar work on these tracks.  I’m not sure what these guys were listening to when these songs were written, but the songs are definitely dense and chordy, a lot like the jangly guitars of Algernon Cadwallader, and reminiscent of the 90’s emo sound of bands like Mineral, Braid, and Cap’n Jazz.  The thing that makes the sound of this release so interesting and dynamic is the combination of that sound with the pop-sensibility of earlier Saves the Day, but delivered through the energy and intensity of melodic hardcore groups like Lifetime and Troubled-Stateside-era Crime in Stereo.  Additionally, they have, more than ever, utilized accidentals and momentary out-of-key movements which is partially what transcends this release beyond those of their contemporaries.
                The vocals are still the way we all remember and love these guys for.  The combination of the bassist's throaty yells and the guitarist’s cleaner, dryer vocals make for a flawless duo.  They still sing just as hard, though, primarily about the things that apply to them, which is something I think people love about this band: they don’t stray from their own picture of life.  They offer an interesting perspective into their everyday thoughts and experiences, often very visually so, with choice minimal wording.
                The production on this album is just what Title Fight needed.  It is clear and tight from beginning to end, and very tastefully and tactfully makes use of room sound and guitar noise (something I’m a sucker for), adding just enough dirt and dinginess to their sound to make it raw, but not sloppy.
                This album’s only downfall (which doesn’t really diminish from the overall greatness of it) is strangely also its greatest strength (for all you guitar nerds out there): Title Fight makes use of a lot of bending guitar seventh riffs, often combined with the next open string to create a clashing, sorrowful and dissonant, yet sweet sound (think Saves the Day’s “Wednesday the Third”).  This is a very effective device, and many of the album’s highlights are centered around the perfect placement of this device.  Their excessive use of almost gives their songs too much familiarity, but still not enough to make them all blend together in a boring way.  Again, this isn’t a problem for the album, but if I had to point out one weakness, that’d be it.
                Overall, Shed is a mind-blowing experience, and a great direction for Title Fight to have taken.  You can tell they put every fiber of themselves into the creation of these songs and recordings, so please do them the favor.  Support them.  Go to a show, buy a tee shirt, buy a CD.  They deserve it.  It’s going to be very hard to top this one, but I’m nonetheless stoked to see where they’ll go from here.

Ryan’s album picks: “Shed”; “Safe in Your Skin/Where Am I?”; “Stab”

check out Forrest!

Hey guys, I wanted to share this band with you.  I just found this blurb on Alter the Press! about a band called Forrest.  Give them a listen!

Listen Here!