Friday, July 31, 2009

Battle of Wolf 359


The first time I heard Battle of Wolf 359, I nearly shit myself. In the past decade or so, Europe has emerged as a hotbed of DIY punk activity, stretching from the Iberian peninsula to the former Soviet satellites, and have sheltered some of the most interesting and groundbreaking hardcore acts active today, but Britain has seemed to have little to add to the equation for whatever reason.

The United Kingdom's Battle of Wolf 359, along with acts like split-mates Kaddish and crust Gods Fall of Efrafa, have refreshed the British hardcore scene with their unique sounds, mixing elements of hardcore, emo-violence, and doom into their music.

BOW359's sound is characterized by grimy bass, fast-paced, epic guitar riffs, and breakneck drumming grounded by two vocalists, one male and one female.

React with Protest just released The Death Affect, which is BOW359's first full length LP. It does not disappoint. Moments of quiet melody peer through passages of absolute chaos, which the dual vocals add a great depth to. I am a huge fan of their previous body of work, especially the Kaddish split and "Tsunkatse", which appeared on the Emo Annihilation compilation, and The Death Affect seems to be the next logical step in their body of work; overall a very solid LP. My one piece of constructive criticism would be to add just a little variation; the songs flow together extremely well, but sometimes it seems the melodic passages should be expanded upon to add a little more depth to their sound. Regardless, this will surely be one of the strongest hardcore releases of 2009. Download it, and all their other material.



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Summer 2007 Tour CD-R


Battle of Wolf 359/Kaddish Split (2008)


Battle of Wolf 359/Singaia Split

Emo Annihaltion

Emo Annihilation Compilation (2008)


The Death Affect (2009)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Red Oranges

Red Fucking Oranges. You know what time it is.

These albums were given to me by an old friend, who also gave me the My Winter Nerve cd. Thats going to be posted soon. This post and the future My Winter Nerve post are for everyone who was involved in Hagerstown's music scene back in the day.

We got the cd "The Flight of the Rising Wing" and a demo.



The Flight of the Rising Wing

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Magnolia Electric Co. @ The Black Cat 7/20/09


At the Black Cat in Washington D.C. on Monday night, a packed, hot room noisily awaited Jason Molina and his band, the Magnolia Electric Co., to take the stage. The bar was crowded, and before the show Molina himself was posted up next to the door into the concert room, beer in hand, slightly rocking back on his heels and chatting to a band mate seated at a bar stool, who still might have had a good few inches over Molina as he stood next to him.

Molina's short stature might surprise some who have never had the pleasure of seeing the man in person: few would suspect that the broken wail of the man who recorded some of the most haunting alt-country tracks released in the past two decades came out of such a small package. Since abandoning his Songs: Ohia moniker however, which Molina recorded under from 1996-2003, Molina's naked vibrato of a voice has given way to a lilting croon, a shift which some (read: Pitchfork Media) have lambasted, accusing the artist of dumping his past musical and vocal styles for a lame-duck, classic rock makeover.

What should be remembered here though, is that Molina as an artist has never had any qualms about taking on new artistic direction and following his heart. Like Dylan and Young (who he is often compared to) before him, Molina's every musical move is often scrutinized by a die-hard fan base that for the most part seems to prefer the Songs: Ohia era to the Magnolia Electric Co. era. Rather than having to deal with completely confused, clueless, and naive reporters like Dylan would often run into (such as the reporter Dylan gives a stern talking-to in the iconic 1967 D.A. Pennebaker documentary Don't Look Back), Molina's albums tend to fall into the hands of individuals who know his work well; Oftentimes, pretentious and critical media outlets (read: Pitchfork). Artists inevitably change and take on new directions in their work, a fact that all too many music critics have failed to take into account since the beginning of musical criticism.

Granted, there are artists who's work take bizarre and unsuspecting turns, which do not always work out (like some of Dylan and Young's more questionable work in the 80's, for example), but Molina is hardly proclaiming himself a born-again Christian or writing a a vocoder-laden synth-heavy album (yes, Neil Young released an album like that (1982's Trans)...stick to Harvest, believe me). Molina's stylistic shift since the last (technically) Songs: Ohia album Magnolia Electric Co. is one that should be welcomed, and a move that largely is by his faithful fans, despite all the detractors (read: PITCHFORK). If the man was still releasing albums with just his voice, a guitar, and brushed drumming I have a feeling that Pitchfork would be throwing out some 5.6's for a lack of originality just the same as they did for Molina's newest album, released two days ago, entitled Josephine, for a departure from his older work.

Magnolia Electric Co., the 2003 album which featured the debut of Molina's new, band-driven sound was an absolute bone-crusher. Every single song of the album stood as one of Molina's crowning achievements, even the two songs on which other band members sang (he still penned the lyrics), a move which has also been criticized by some, but I think was Molina's way of stubbornly stating the the Songs: Ohia days were over. Since picking up a full band, Molina has also released two full length LP's under his own name, Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go (2006), a dark, quiet acoustic record, and the more dense, weirder Pyramid Electric Co, (2004), which came out shortly after Magnolia Electric Co. a coupling which is briefly and cryptically explained in the liner notes to that album:

...I started to feel like two records were going to come out of what I was seeing and thinking. The two have ended up being one I did alone with a piano and a guitar: The Pyramid Electric Co. and one where I called some friends together: The Magnolia Electric Co. I think they both mean something. I don't know what, but trust me, I am working on it.

Previous to the release of the first Magnolia record, Molina had put out 24 (count 'em, 24!) releases as Songs: Ohia, one collobartive 7" with Scottish artist Alasdair Roberts, and one record with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Alasdair Roberts as the Amalgamated Sons of Rest in 2002, not to mention exclusive compilation tracks and other random appearances.

Since then, Molina has been no less prolific, putting out three LP's, two EP's, a live album, two solo LP's and a 7", as well as the massive Sojourner boxset put out in 2007, which featured three full length albums, one four song EP recorded at legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, a documentary DVD, as well as a celestial map and medallion all encased in a wooden box. Granted, Magnolia's 2006 LP Fading Trails was compiled from the recording sessions found on Sojourner, but that hardly takes away from how much studio time was put into the sessions themselves and how massive a collection of music this is, even without counting the tracks that would appear on Fading Trails.

So it can be safe to say that on Monday night Molina and his band, a bassist, drummer, keyboardist, and lead guitarist, had a large canon of material to choose from, even excluding all the Songs: Ohia and solo material, which, keeping in the Molina tradition of playing only newer material, the band does not perform live. The set list spanned the entire Magnolia Electric Co. catalog, and did not disappoint anyone judging from the crowd's reactions. There were a few cuts which I would have liked to hear (such as "Hammer Down", and "The Dark Don't Hide It") but he played a wide array of songs, including a notable and dour version "I've Been Riding With the Ghost", and a rare performance of "Hold On Magnolia" (both from Magnolia Electric Co.), "Hard to Love A Man", "Leave the City" (2005's What Comes After the Blues), and a whole slew of cuts from the Sojourner sessions including "Down the Wrong Road Both Ways", "Talk to Me Devil, Again", and "What Comes After the Blues".

The set was also peppered with songs from the new album Josephine, and were some of the highlights of the set. A slight reworking of "Rock Of Ages", which appeared on the 1000 piece limited "It's Made Me Cry" 7" released for Record Store Day this year was a pleasant surprise; it fits more into the "old" sound of the new record.

Josephine as a whole seems to mix elements of MECO's earlier work with a more mellow, subdued side, featuring delicate backing vocals that would not feel out of place on a record released in the 1950's. The album is far more, for lack of a better word, pretty, then MECO's last LP, Fading Trails. The emphasis is laid much more on the piano in most of these songs (and on the slightly funky "Little Sad Eyes", organ) than the guitar-oriented work on the Sojourner sessions.

Live, the band kept the tracks off the new record mostly true to their album versions, and tended to take more liberty with the older songs. Molina kept asking the time throughout the set, and at 11:59 (since July 21st was the official release date for the album) paused before saying, "Welcome to the stage, Josephine..." as the band kicked into the new album's title track.

Overall, his band was tight, knowing when to step up and solo, and when to
let the lyric take center stage. Molina seemed to be in good humor, at one point told an anecdote about how he accidentally swallowed a bee during his dinner in the club's cafe, and later, as he took a long swig off of one of the Corona's next to his amp remarked, "The bee's getting drunk, though."

The band quickly re-took the stage for an encore, and despite a few isolated calls for "Hammer Down", and one lame yelp for "Captain Badass" (from Songs: Ohia's Axxess & Ace), dove into a raucous version of "John Henry Split This Heart" from the Magnolia Electric Co LP before finally calling it quits...It was definitely a great ending to a great show.

Below you can download every Magnolia Electric Co. release.

I feel like I should apologize for posting just as much alt-country as punk lately, but I at the same time that artists like these embody the DIY punk aesthetic just as much as any other band, and it's good to have a little variety every once in a while, right? Look out for most posts soon, sorry we've been so lazy.

Read the Pitchfork review.


Magnolia Electric Co. (2003)


Trials and Errors (2005)


What Comes After the Blues (2005)


Hard To Love a Man EP (2005)


Fading Trails (2006)

Sojourner Box Set (2007)


Disc 1: Nashville Moon


Disc 2: Black Ram


Disc 3: Sun Session EP


Disc 4: Shohola


It's Made Me Cry 7" (2009)


Josephine (2009)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Harrison Bergeron


Alright guys, here it is, Harrison Bergeron's demo. I know this is one that some people have been waiting on for a while. These guys recently played a reunion show which, unfortunately, I did not attend. For those of you not familiar with these guys, they were around from 2005-2006 and went on to form Street Smart Cyclist, Storm the Bastille, and Boy Problems, three incredibly good bands. These guys pretty much stand up just as well as any of those other bands, although you can tell they were a bit younger when they wrote these songs. Nonetheless, "Like Lightning Six Billion Strong" and "Darkness Washed Over the Dude" (awesome song title by the way) is some of the most epic shit I've ever heard. Really explosive guitar riffs and intricate drumming, with intense screamed vocals and melodic gang back ups. Check it the fuck out.

I'm pretty sure they released a tape at their reunion show limited to 100, but have no idea if it sold out or where to buy one. Try the band's myspace or their other project's myspaces.

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Dead Bergeron

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sharks Keep Moving

Sharks Keep Moving was an indie band in the Seattle Aea in the 90s. Their sound is constantly being compared to Minus The Bear, due in part to the fact that Jake Snider sings in both bands. The best way i can describe their sound is this: Sharks Keep Moving is to Minus The Bear what The One Up Downstairs is to American Football. Sharks had a pretty mellow sound, sometimes getting pretty spacey and jazzy. Their songs vary in length, ranging from two minutes to fourteen minutes. Sharks Keep Moving had one split, one LP, two EPs, and were featured on three compilations. I have had their music for years, but could not find the split or compilation songs, until last night, when my man Cheese hooked it up with some music database. Thank you kind sir. As for the split and compilations, I only have the Sharks songs, sorry guys.

If you just download one album, please make it Desert Strings and Drifters, just so you can hear the song Cashmere, Washington. The chorus haunts my thoughts. I was lucky enough to snag this on vinyl in Cambridge, MA at Newburry Comics, and let me tell you, it sounds amazing.

The members of Sharks Keep Moving went on to play in such bands as Minus The Bear, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Kill Sadie, Onalaska, The Blood Brothers, and Jaguar Love.

Heres the Video for the song "Logger", its just a slideshow with the music behind it, but its the best song that is on youtube, seeing as SKM dosn't have any live videos. The only downside of being a band before like 2002.

Buck buck, tour was fun.


Pause and Clause

Sharks Keep Moving

Desert Strings and Drifters

Compilations and a Split