At the Drive-In Live at Rebel, Toronto, March 29, 2017

Categories: 2017 and Music.

When I was young, band reunions were thought of as really awful: just a bunch of washed up musicians trying to make money. But times have changed: reunions are now viewed as normal and often something to be cherished. I think I’ve changed too, I’ve grown up a bit. When I was young, I had no interest in seeing my favourite 70s bands reunited. I thought it was an awful idea. But now I recognize that this is a completely natural thing for people to want to do: to recapture the glory of lost youth. Sometimes it probably doesn’t work Read More

We Became Snakes (1986) by Saccharine Trust

Categories: 1986 and Music.

A lot has been made of the latent jazz influences on hardcore and post hardcore bands – Black Falg is supposed to have listened to Free Jazz for example. But never was I expecting a hardcore band to make music you might actually confuse with jazz. There are times on this bizarre, crazy record that you could possibly mistake these guys for one of the “Downtown” NYC jazz combos trying to incorporate punk and metal into their music in the 80s. But then, the lyrics come back, and you are reminded that this is indeed rock music. This is a Read More

Steady Diet of Nothing (1991) by Fugazi

Categories: 1991 and Music.

It has been literally ages (a decade or more) since I heard Repeater but, from my poor memory, I think this is musically much more interesting. (Who knows if that’s true.) I can’t help but liking later records more, though; to my ears they hadn’t quite found that thing, whatever it is, that made them great. Most of the elements are here, but something is missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. That’s not to say it’s just okay – it’s quite good and relatively diverse for the genre. I just feel like they improved later, in Read More

Sexy Pee Story (1993) by Cows

Categories: 1993 and Music.

One of the best album titles ever. I can only imagine my mom’s reaction had I purchased this album when I still lived at home. It would have been pretty great. This is on the nosier side of post hardcore. It’s also on the grungier side. I get a bit of a Flipper vibe from them, actually, if Flipper were more interesting musically and had better production. This is the kind of music which takes a while to get into, but once you get into it, it clicks. I don’t like it as much as some of the other great Read More

House of GVSB (1996) by Girls Against Boys

Categories: 1996 and Music.

This is the second GVSB record I’ve heard. It strikes me as a little more melodic than their earlier work, though that’s not saying much, given this band. They’ve gone a long way to creating an aesthetic that prides noise and rhythm over melody. They are a weird band – they certainly have carved out their own niche in the post-hardcore landscape that not a lot of other bands (that I know) have occupied. I think that’s partly because this is territory that not everyone is into. Anyway, it’s appealing, like their other music. But it lacks really strong songs Read More

Atomizer (1986) by Big Black

Categories: 1986 and Music.

It may seem like a weird topic to bring up, given what Big Black does and sounds like, but I find their first album to be a little less impressive than Songs About Fucking. It feels, to me, as if there are stronger songs on Songs, even though that’s an odd thing to say about a band whose sole reason for existence is to pummel/offend. I guess I feel like the second album is the more “mature” statement (an odd thing to say, I know). But this is still unrelentingly aggressive and metallic (for the time) and I think we Read More

Payola (2015) by Desaparecidos

Categories: 2015 and Music.

I was really surprised how much I liked their original album. Noticing my old rating for it I feel like I have bump it up a bit, as I like it more than the rating suggests. But this one… For one thing, it certainly sounds like the band hasn’t changed much in the interim. They’ve reunited and they’re going to sound the same. That’s fine I guess. I don’t think I should expect different. But I guess I was expecting better songs. I feel like the first record is better musically and lyrically in that regard. About those lyrics: The Read More

Blind Idiot God (1987)

Categories: 1987 and Music.

First: one of the best band names ever. This record gets off to a pounding start. Essentially it’s instrumental thrash, so it seems, and you’d have to think that this is an absolutely key step in the development of math rock. I mean, it’s not far from Don Caballero. But there’s more variety than you’d imagine. The tracks in the middle are considerably more traditionally “hard rock” than metal (and there’s that funk metal track thrown in for good measure) and then, out of the blue, comes the dub. What the fuck? Seriously. Certainly one of the most bonkers instrumental Read More

3-Way Tie (for Last) (1986) by Minutemen

Categories: 1985 and Music.

I have come to the Minutemen completely backwards. I have been a fIREHOSE fan for quite some time but am only now getting to the point of listening to these guys and of course I listen to their last album… Anyway, this is a set of rock songs (and song fragments) that varies from righteous anger about US politics to reflections on the nature of story-telling, with a bunch of covers (from literally all over the place). The music is pretty typical post-hardcore with the kind of silly, mild experimentation that makes so much American ’80s alternative music great. Though Read More

Red Medicine (1995) by Fugazi

Categories: 1995 and Music.

Years ago, I gave Fugazi a try and got very confused. (Let’s say it was 15 years ago.) I believe it was Repeater I listened to. I got even more confused after I listened to Minor Threat. “Is this what’s come of Ian MacKaye?” I guess I thought, disappointed. Years later I discovered At The Drive-In and wondered where they had been all my life. I discovered that I really did love Post Hardcore. And I convinced myself that Fugazi was Emo or, at the very least, the Sparta to the true heroes of Post Hardcore, whoever that may be. Read More

The Alchemy Index: Volume II – Water (2007) by Thrice

Categories: 2007 and Music.

Unfortunately I have not been able to hear Volume I so this review is only of Volume II. It’s a tough call though, because ostensibly, a lot of the appeal of this, and the reason the discs are separate even though they don’t have to be, is for stylistic reasons. So without hearing Volume I, I cannot comment as to how Volume II diverges. And that’s a problem, because Volume II is basically just somewhat commercial Post Hardcore. It’s hard to get excited about it. When reviewing another one of these bands a few years ago, I worried that Post Read More

Songs About Fucking (1987) by Big Black

Categories: 1987 and Music.

What probably sounded unbelievably loud (not to mention offensive) has mellowed considerably nearly thirty years later. So much of this record (or the oeuvre, perhaps) has integrated into alternative rock and even some indie rock. Hell, it doesn’t even sound noisy compared to what’s being made these days. But I am not trying to sell this short, not for a moment. Read More

The Chemistry of Common Life (2008) by Fucked Up

Categories: 2008 and Music.

I really have to start coming to these hyped albums when they are first out, certainly before I have had a chance a read / hear how great an album or band is a million times (or perhaps before the record wins the Polaris). On first listen I was extremely underwhelmed – maybe not David Comes to Life underwhelmed, but close. And it really has nothing to do with whether or not this is “punk”. That seems to me to me a really stupid question. Rather, the issues I have with this record stem most likely from being told how Read More

The Secondman’s Middle Stand (2004) by Mike Watt

Categories: 2004 and Music.

Watt’s second album is an interesting thing: a guitarless trio playing what I guess you could call post-hardcore rock and roll with lyrics that often seem almost country. I’m not sure if that description sums it up. Idiosyncratic might do a better job. The musicianship is excellent – this is Watt after all, perhaps the best bass player to emerge from the various American punk scenes of the ’80s – and the arrangements are consistently interesting. The songs aren’t the most compelling despite, or perhaps because of, their idiosyncratic nature. It’s certainly a unique beast. 7/10 Read More

Axe to Fall (Epitaph/Deathwish 2009)

Categories: 2009 and Music.

Part of me wants to like this more than No Heroes, but part of me doesn’t. There are way more metal cliches (the guitar leads in particular) and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It gives us a reference point, but not a great reference point. I must give them at least some recognition for actually having some passable singing on the one ballad this time (unlike on You Fail Me, where it is terrible). Part of me thinks it’s stronger, and part of me thinks it’s more of the same (I still like that). I will Read More

No Heroes by Converge (Deathwish 2006)

Categories: 2006 and Music.

Metalcore appeals to me because it combines things I like about metal and punk together, and skips on the excesses of metal (for the most part). This is a pretty good example. The lyrics are shit (when you can decipher them), but the music grabs you and doesn’t really let you go, even when they go for an epic. Besides, what heavy band has good lyrics? I find it a bit more successful – if less varied – than the previous release, You Fail Me. Perhaps it’s just more exemplary. 7/10 Read More

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge by My Chemical Romance (Reprise 2004)

Categories: 2004 and Music.

Totally over the top, totally histrionic… and that’s okay. I mean, that’s sort of why it’s not shitty. There could be some terrible emo balladry here and there really isn’t any. Instead there’s just immediacy. It’s short, it’s “sweet” (kidding). It’s enjoyable. It’s not ATDI, but what could be? It would help if the guitarist could play things other than arena rock cliches when he decides to solo or fill, but whatever. 7/10 Read More