Sunday, September 30, 2018

Various Artists IV: How Compilations Influenced a Generation - BURGER SAYS SIRE! Penned By: John E. Swan (Cassette Store Day 2016)

INTRODUCTION: Maybe, it's in the gray hairs that I've started finding in my thinning hair. Maybe, it's that dreaded third decade of life that seems to have been rearing it's ugly face around every corner. Maybe, it's a quarter life crisis, but something has been keeping me up at night. I sometimes, stay awake into the early hours of the morning spinning records and fumbling with CD jackets from high school, grasping hold of my youth for dear life. I search out elusive first presses of albums I'd somehow, lost to time, hoping that they'll somehow, tighten the thread leading from middle school to adulthood.

To be clear, I'm not fishing my torn band T-shirts or bondage pants from the depths of my closet, but as I make the transition into my 30's, shedding roommates and getting oil changes at regularly scheduled intervals, I can't help ruminating on where these albums came from and how they've shaped me. I can't help begging the question, "How did I get here?"

How I've come to be surrounded by this specific collection of music is largely, the consequence of efforts made by larger labels and their annual sampler CD's, but even today, I search out small Indie labels that pump out quality collections of exclusivities and excellent representations of a variety of music scenes.

Typically, priced at $4-5.00 and featuring, sometimes, up to 40 songs from just as many bands, compilations have always served as convenient and affordable ways to discover new and obscure bands. This is imperative to the formative years of a generation of listeners; compilations were the compass that one used to navigate the endless sea of Punk Rock and consequently, Hip-Hop, Hardcore, Indie, Reggae, etc. etc. ad infinitum. Many of these discs were used as shovels to tunnel into cozy nests of Punk records and artistic eccentricities.

It's this ability to influence and inform listeners that I'll be here every month to discuss. I'll be stopping The Witzard by to shed light on those discount albums in the so often overlooked "Various Artists" bins of the world, along with their influences within their communities, within their genres, and within the chronology of listener interests all across the globe, here in, Various Artists: How Compilations Influenced a Generation.

VARIOUS ARTISTS IV: In the throes of the cassette revival of the last half decade or so, it would be criminal to overlook the crucial role that Burger Records has played in bringing an affordable physical medium to the marketplace. Having released hundreds of cassettes to date, Burger has helped to validate and nurture a growing sub-culture founded on DIY culture and nostalgia. They've stoked a fire under the youth of America, who are too poor to afford rising vinyl costs, bored with digitized music libraries, and embarrassed for DJ's with iPods.

MP3's promised a lot of convenience and ingenuity, but listeners were never warned of the alienating consequences of streaming intangible pieces of art; of never fully attaining that which they love, never owning that which they've paid for. Likewise, artists are estranged from their work, never actually able to touch that which they've created.

We long for proof of purchase. We long for an affordable means of production. Probably, it is mostly for nostalgia that cassettes have enjoyed such a marked increase in sales in these more recent years, but it may also, be a sign of an active and persistent call for accessible physical formats. It's unlikely that this is a canary in the coal mine for the digital market, but clearly, listeners and artists alike are demanding options.

But format is not the only consequence of this nostalgia. There's something to be said about Burger Records' ability to not only flourish in this digital age, but to also, re-garner interest in cassette re-issues of albums that are nearly 40 years old. No strangers to the double-label release, Burger has been spotted working alongside Frontier Records as recently as 2014 to re-issue seminal classics, such as Circle Jerks' Group Sex (1980) as well as The Adolescents' 1981 self-titled debut album, proving that the young label plays well with others.

Given the label's role in archiving some of the more definitive releases within the Alternative music cannon, it seems fitting that, for 2016's Cassette Store Day, Burger Records would celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sire Records by compiling this retrospective collection of songs, bringing to us a history lesson by way of cross-label, multi-generational compilation limited to 300 yellow shelled cassette tapes.

It comes as no surprise that Burger Records, with their swelling catalog of playful Bubble Gum-tinted Rock "N" Roll, would take such interest in Sire Records' career. In fact, a cursory glance at Sire's work shows a label with a long history of searching the margins of the music industry for unlikely heroes in Rock "N" Roll. This, as evidenced by their 1976 discovery of The Ramones, followed shortly thereafter by the 1977 unveiling of Cleveland ex-pats The Dead Boys and their genre-defining Young, Loud & Snotty.

Clearly, Sire has never been a label that fears the struggling artist; one anecdote tells of a young Marc "Marky Ramone" Bell (Richard Hell & The Voidoids, The Ramones) eating dog food in an attempt to make ends meet, while awaiting the success of Blank Generation (1977.) With a catalog of over 500 albums from more than 200 artists to choose from, it's impressive that Burger was able to condense Sire's career down to just 11 songs.

More surprising still, these 11 songs do so much to highlight some of Sire's more influential contributions to music history, showcasing P.J. Soles (actress Pamela Jayne Hardon)'s only musical endeavor—a guest vocal on The Ramones' "Rock "N" Roll High School" from the film of the same name—and Madonna's "Lucky Star" from her 1983 self-titled LP, to say nothing of the aforementioned Dead Boys and The Voidoids.

There's much to be said about bringing these artists to the ears of young people in today's age. Surely, The Ramones won't be disappearing into the aether anytime soon, but in an industry over-saturated with albums that are recorded, released, consumed, and forgotten about over the course of an afternoon, it's important to acknowledge the genesis of the movement. It's important that we recognize the influence that these bands and labels have had in bringing the Avant-Garde to the forefront of the cultural consciousness.

John E. Swan (@midwest_stress) is a novelist and short story writer, as well as freelance editor and journalist. His first novel, Any Way to Elsewhere, takes its name from a compilation cassette that he curated during his time with Berserk Records. When he's not writing, he can be found making music under the moniker "t h e m e s" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he lives with his girlfriend and their dog, Diesel.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Action Bronson & The Special Victims Unit's "White Bronco" Produced By: Daringer from Forthcoming Album WHITE BRONCO (EMPIRE)

Last week, America's #1 Rap-Singer Action Bronson AKA Bam Bam Baklava AKA Mr. Wonderful released his first single, "White Bronco," since parting ways with long-time label, Atlantic Records. "White Bronco," the title track from Bronsoliño's forthcoming WHITE BRONCO album/mixtape on EMPIRE, was produced Griselda Records' in-house producer Daringer (@daringer_) and featuring The Special Victims Unit (@thespecialvictims) or The SVU, for short. It's all still a little mysterious, but it appears as though The SVU were/are Action Bronson's live backing band on VICELAND's The Untitled Action Bronson Show, billed as the network's "first food-oriented late night talk show" and as of 2018, was "the only culinary late night talk show on North American television." It appears as though The Special Victims Unit consists of @bae_bro AKA Paul Wilson on keyboards, @matt.carrillo AKA Young México on saxophone, @cyzongriffin on drums, @redwalberg AKA Fred/Red Walrus on percussion & guitar, and Musical Director & bassist @dominicmissana. @ActionBronson has previously "announced" a number of projects featuring The SVU on his Twitter page—the WHITE BRONCO Mixtape/Album or a once-rumored "SVU" Mixtape—but "White Bronco" is the first officially released material assisted by The SVU. Ever a Renaissance Man, Action Bronson hand painted the album artwork for WHITE BRONCO (the album) and recently sketched and designed the cover for "White Bronco" (the song) on his iPad.

Although, listening back, while writing this very article, it appears as though The Special Victims Unit were featured on Bronson's 2018 Spotify Singles EP, as he shouts-out "Young Matt.. Young Dom... Young Fred... Young Paul... Young Cyzon" within his impassioned cover of Rose Royce's "I'm Going Down" from Car Wash: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, later, made famous by Mary J. Blige on her critically-acclaimed 1994 album, My Life. With a little journalistic Internet sleuthing, it appears as though Paul "Bae Bro" Wilson contributed keyboards to "River" on now-married rapping power-couple, Jean Grae & Quelle Chris' collaborative album, Everything's Fine, released by Mello Music Group earlier this year; Bronson Show Musical Director Dominic Missanna, actually, contributed to Action Bronson's F*ck, That's Delicious co-star and frequent collaborator The Alchemist's 2-part 2018 compilation album, French Blends Pts. 1 & 2 LP, as well as Gabriel Garzón-Montano's now-defunct band, Mokaad's 2012 mini-album, Booty; while Matt Carrillo & (F)red Walberg both, seemingly, have ties to Curren$y, French Montana, Harry Fraud, and The Weeknd. Complex theorizes WHITE BRONCO, whenever it happens to materialize, will feature long-rumored contributions from both Blue Chips 1-2 producers Party Supplies and one-time Traveling The Stars: Action Bronson & Friends Watch Ancient Aliens guest Knxwledge. @ActionBronson, however, recently proclaimed: "WHITE BRONCO, MY FIRST [INDIE] PROJECT IN A LONG TIME, WILL BE OUT SOON!!!!! MORE MUSIC, MORE MUSIC, MORE MUSIC WILL BE DROPPING!!! I GOT SO MUCH NEW HEAT FOR YOU TO LIVE TO. MY KNEE IS DOING GOOD, SO YOU KNOW I'LL BE IN A CITY NEAR YOU SOON. IT'S ME!"

Spiritual Cramp Announce TELEVISION 12-inch Compilation & Unleash Dogfilm Studios-directed "The Erasure" Music Video (Deranged Records)

Spiritual Cramp are a Bay Area Post-Punk band, who "exist in a strange vacuum somewhere between David Byrne's over-sized suit and a bar fight between a bunch of drunk goons on Polk Street in San Francisco." Honestly, for a Punk-adjacent band, Spiritual Cramp are surprisingly active on social media with frontman Michael Bingham running Twitter & Instagram accounts, @MBinhgam87 & @spiritualcramptv, as well as a YouTube channel dubbed "Spiritual Cramp Television." Although, maybe, social media is the new "DIY" for entrepreneurial 21st Century Post-Punk/Hardcore/Punk bands. In addition to Bingham, Spiritual Cramp consists of ex-members of Creative Adult, Fearing, Profile, and Primal Rite. Michael Bingham initially formed Spiritual Cramp in 2017 and their first official release—aside from Mass Hysteria Demo 2017 cassette—was their Mass Hysteria 7-inch EP on REACT! Records/Deathwish Inc. and their 2018 Police State 7-inch EP on Deranged Records. I have to admit, I've been diggin' Spiritual Cramp's releases since Stereogum's Tom Breihan first covered Mass Hysteria back in Dec. 2017 and have even been in direct contact with Michael Bingham, via email, but until now, the dots haven't exactly connected to run a feature on The Witzard. Spiritual Cramp have since been feature on concert bills in support of American Nightmare, CCR Headcleaner, Fiddlehead, Fireburn, Ty Segall's GØGGS, No Warning, Pissed Jeans, Protestor, and Torso, as well as a "Goth Dance Party" with The Not & MOXA.

Now, Spiritual Cramp have effectively returned to the dimly-lit Bay Area Post-Punk "spotlight," after a few days-worth of teasers on both Twitter & Instagram, with a flashy music video for a brand spankin' new track called "The Erasure." It's the first track from Spiritual Cramp's forthcoming TELEVISION 12-inch compilation, which Michael Bingham says will consist of "4 new tracks, 2 covers, and both EP's compiled on a 12-inch;" so, that's 4 newly-penned tracks (1 of which being "The Erasure,") 2 unspecified covers, and the entirety of both Spiritual Cramp's Mass Hysteria & Police State EP's. "New 12" compilation "TELEVISION" out 10/12, via @derangedrecords. Here's the first single/video! Thanks so much to @dogfilmstudios for killing it on this and all our homies for coming out and being a part of it. This sh*t was wild to make! link in bio. Much love y'all 📺," @spiritualcramptv exuberantly posted Thursday afternoon. Spiritual Cramp's TELEVISION 12-inch is now available for pre-order from Deranged Records (@derangedrecords) in "4 variations of splatter to match the design of the print on this project:" 100 copies each of RED splatter, BLUE splatter, YELLOW splatter, and RED+BLUE+YELLOW splatter, as well as standard BLACK limited edition 12-inch vinyl. As per Deranged Records, pre-ordered records will be shipping the third week of October. When asked if he had anything in particular concerning Spiritual Cramp's TELEVISION 12-inch, "The Erasure," etc. frontman Michael Bingham simply stated: "Nothing in particular. Just hope people enjoy the music and connect in some way. Hope it makes some kid feel less alone in the world." A frequently updated rolling list of Spiritual Cramp's upcoming shows (now, Oct. 12-21st) can be found on the far right-hand side of their Bandcamp page.


"I used to know just where I'm supposed to go.
I used to be someone just like me.
I used to feel anything I want to feel.
Those things escaped me. You can't erase me too.
I used to f**k anyone I want to f**k.
It used to be just me and only me.
I used to think anything I want to think.
Those things escaped me. You can't erase me, too.
I'm The f***in' Eraser."

Thursday, September 27, 2018

American-Japanese "Modern Funk" Duo Kay-Bee & KzyBoost Join Forces for We Came 2 Bring You Da Funk (The Sleepers RecordZ)

Kay-Bee & KzyBoost is an American-Japanese Modern Funk duo, who are preparing to release their full-length debut, We Came 2 Bring You Da Funk, on Barcelona-based label, The Sleepers RecordZ. Alan "Kidboogie" Castro Leal (Kay-Bee) is a professional dancer and musician hailing from Pasadena, Los Angeles, California, who released an album called A TOAST TO THE BOOGIE on The Sleepers RecordZ in 2017; while Kazuya Sakamoto (KzyBoost) is a musician, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, who adds "the spicy Japanese Funk touch coming from Osaka." Earlier this year, Kay-Bee & KzyBoost first joined forces for their Funktastic 7-inch and digital single, "We Came to Bring You The Funk" B/W "Feel Da Funk" on Ivan Makvel's The Sleepers RecordZ. Obviously, it was a wild success and now, Kay-Bee & KzyBoost have joined forces once more for an 8-track EP named after the aforementioned single, We Came 2 Bring You Da Funk. Ivan from The Sleepers RecordZ, actually, sent me a handy-dandy EPK for We Came 2 Bring You Da Funk just the other day and man, is this one Hell of a fun-loving, Funk-oozing affair! Below, you'll see a short video of "The Great @firebac dancing to "Feel Da Funk"' from Kay-Bee (@kidboogiemgf) & KzyBoost (@kzyboost)'s We Came 2 Bring You Da Funk now available on @thesleepersrecordz.

Kay-Bee & KzyBoost have together concocted a rather unique blend of Classic & Modern Funk, G-Funk, Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul, Funk, etc. with sonic allusions throughout to 7 Days of Funk, Chromeo, Funkadelic, The Gap Band, Parliament, Prince & The Revolution, Mark Ronson, Tuxedo, and ZAPP. While KzyBoost & Kay-Bee split the majority of the musical/production duties throughout We Came 2 Bring You Da Funk, there are a few note-worthy guests on the album including: Snoop Dogg producer Dr. Evo providing synth-bass & bass guitar on opener "Feel Da Funk," Fingazz contributing guitar on "I Keep It Funky" and Talk Box, lyrics & voice on "Cruise Control," and Moniquea adding sultry vocals & lyrics on "Good Time," as well as Ivan Makvel (MOOD RIDERS) serving as Executive Producer. Kay-Bee & KzyBoost's We Came 2 Bring You Da Funk is currently available to stream on The Sleepers RecordZ's Bandcamp page. LIMITED EDITION VINYL LP and LIMITED EDITION LP/7-inch Bundle packages, as well as standard digital album download, are currently available for pre-order. We Came 2 Bring You Da Funk will be released world-wide on Thursday, October 18, 2018 and pre-order packages are expected to ship by or before October 25th.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Experimental Brooklyn Producer Cloud. Re-emerges As guerrer@ with Debut EP Aggressive Healing Music (Akashik Records & Tapes)

"Hailing from Akasha, Los Angeles, California, the label, focusing on physical limited releases, got it start back in 2015. From Hip-Hop to R&B and now, House. There's a bit of everything for everyone here. The likes of Mndsgn, The Koreatown Oddity (Vivians,) Joyce Wrice, Nanna B, and B. Cool-Aid, to name a few, have contributed releases on this label. There's a sense of a DIY execution here; the sounds and cover art of the releases show it, but don't let that fool you. Nothing subpar here. Now, on their thirteenth release, at the time of this writing. Be sure to follow this eclectic label, for which they never disappoint."

- Jerry Z. (@niceguyjerry)

guerrer@ (@wristgameonchalant) is a Brooklyn-based Experimental artist and producer, who was formerly known as Cloud. or CLOUD. BEATS. Cloud. self-released an assortment of nine projects between 2008-12 and how now signed with Akashik Records & Tapes; a label specializing in limited physical releases, based in Akasha, Los Angeles, California and collectively run by Alima, Sofie & Ringgo AKA Stones Throw/LEAVING RECORDS' signee Mndsgn. "Hey, y'all. It's been a minute and I've gone [through] some changes, but I'm still here and still creating," Cloud. (@cloudinstrumentals) posted on Facebook back on March 24, 2018. "I'm going under a new alias now, guerrer@, which is a gender neutralization of an ancestral name of mine," guerrer@ continued. Guerrero/a is, actually, a Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian last name or, according to, a "nickname for an aggressive person or for a soldier, from an agent derivative of guerra "war" or a "warrior," according to Musically, there really isn't much difference, to my ear, at least, between Cloud. and guerrer@'s separate bodies of work. Although, I would liken guerrer@'s just-released debut EP, Aggressive Healing Music, to something stylistically akin to Stones Throw's own wildman James Pants and musical enigma Jai Paul.

Last month, Akashik Records treated us to a teaser track, "convalescence pt 2," which is now the opener to guerrer@'s debut EP, Aggressive Healing Music. It's a bit of an Electronic/Hip-Hop/R&B mash-up that anchors the album and sets the president for Cloud.'s musical re-birth as guerrer@. "falling" is a bit more glitchy and Electro-Rap-leaning and, although, it lasts for less that 2 minutes, evokes vibes of both The Postal Service and newly-revitalized LCD Soundsystem. "falling" seamlessly blends into Track #3, "disillusion / dissolution," making me think the entirety of Aggressive Healing Music was recorded as one long, continuous track and then, broken up into separate tracks for inclusion within this very EP. "disillusion / dissolution," "will love remain," and "angel" fill out the second half of guerrer@'s debut EP and collectively, add up to nearly 15 minutes-worth of Aggressive Healing Music's total runtime. guerrer@'s Aggressive Healing Music is now available to stream or download on a Name-Your-Price basis on Bandcamp, while vinyl is currently available for pre-order and is expected to drop by or before 10/12/18 with 100% of artist proceeds benefiting The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund.

"guerrer@ represents the revolution that must occur (and keep occurring) within oneself, so that it may also, occur outside oneself. of looking backwards and forwards, simultaneously and always. of accounting for present and potential material makeup. of accounting for the contemporary abhorrent and luminous actions of the flesh. a pledge towards infinitely malleating—and, thus, the necessary deliberate re-configuration of—identity. the necessary deliberateness of movement and becoming. the possibility of convalescence. in so many words: faith, hope, affliction, and anger, daggered at oppression, wherever it may be found."

- guerrer@ (Akashik Records & Tapes)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

3 Feet High & Rising: Scottish Beat-maker Ikant Noh Releases First Two Instrumental Hip-Hop Tracks "Ro" & "wAY" (@IkantNoh)

Ikant Noh (@IkantNoh) is a rather mysterious beat-maker, producer, and musician based out of Scotland, UK. Just this past weekend, as a matter of fact, @IkantNoh started Following me on Twitter, I saw that he had recently posted an Instrumental Hip-Hop beat, and had some interaction with The Witzard regular @Charles_Edison. While this is Ikant Noh's first foray into Hip-Hop, he's been a long-time musician; having previously created and released Indie Rock and Electro/Synth-Pop style music, but has "now landed in the world of Hip-Hop." Ikant Noh says he has drawn musical inspiration and influence from Kendrick Lamar, JAY-Z, and Eazy-E, as well as beat tapes from NIKK BLVKK, Kuartz, Tōfu-kozō Records from France, and kick a dope verse! from Russia. "I really think the genre of Instrumental Hip-Hop and beats is all about the "small guys" and I try to spend as much time finding new stuff as I do making my own," Ikant Noh explained to The Witzard, via email. Ikant was born and raised in Aberdeen, Scotland and labels himself as a "Beat-taper Nae [Not] Jazzy & Lyricist Nae Fancy," as per his newly-launched Twitter header.

"I continue my life by writing beats, long, short, it doesn't matter, as long as they are melodic and danceable." Ikant Noh says he's merely releasing "some quality demos, at the moment," but plans to release a proper 10-track beat tape before year's end. Noh readily labels his music on Bandcamp as glasgow, hip-hop/rap, instrumental hip-hop, soul, beats, instrumental hip-hop beat tape, lofi hiphop, and United Kingdom. Ikant Noh's first released track, "Ro," is a subdued Electronic-leaning Inst. Hip-Hop accented with various whirls and wobbles, which sounds akin to Clams Casino meets The Postal Service. "wAY," Ikant's second track in just as many days, is a bit more Hip-Hop-leaning with samples, echoed vocals, and more standard go-to Rap sound effects throughout, although, still maintaining that same Electro/Synth-Pop-leaning aesthetic. Both "Ro" & "wAY" (or "Way") are now available to stream or download on Ikant Noh's Bandcamp & Soundcloud pages. For regular updates concerning his music, as-yet-to-be-released beat tapes, and current listenings, Follow @IkantNoh on Twitter.

Monday, September 24, 2018

"Where Everybody Knows Your Name:" Otayo Dubbs & Tahaj The First (The Regulars) Unleash Regular Rap On FWMJ's Rappers I Know

Last Friday morning, I received a Bandcamp Notification email from FWMJ's Rappers I Know concerning Otayo "Tayo" Dubb & Tahaj "The First" Edwards AKA The Regulars' Regular Rap (Instrumentals.) However, prior to listening, I already knew it would be Hella dope, judging by a handful of FWMJ's Rappers I Know's past releases: Jay Electronica's Act I: Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (the pledge,) Danny Brown's THE HYBRID, Chris "Daddy" Dave's Chris Dave & The Drumhedz Mixtape, Denmark Vessey's Martin Lucid Dream, Jake One's #PrayerHandsEmoji, and King Mason x Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. (King Mason Remixes.) Needless to say, Tayo Dubb & Tahaj The First's Regular Rap is an impeccable 11-track listen; I would, personally, say Regular Rap/Regular Rap (Instrumentals) is strongly suggested for fans of Black Star, The Cool Kids, The Foreign Exchange, Little Brother, Tanya Morgan, and honestly, even The College Dropout-era Kanye West. Actually, before discovering that there was, in fact, a vocal version of Regular Raps, I listened to the Tahaj The First-produced instrumental version of the album once through this past weekend; I would, also, strongly recommend listening to Regular Rap (Instrumentals) as well, for any beat-minded listeners.

A running theme through Regular Rap is something to the effect of, "Rap's a neighborhood bar and [we're] The Regulars" and it really does feel like Otayo Dubb & Tahaj The First are just a couple guys, who hang out at your local neighborhood Cheers-esque bar, who just so happen to rhyme extremely well and produce neck-snapping beats. "One could say that "The Regulars" have existed for along time now, actually, at least a dozen years or so, if you were to add up all of the times him and I appeared together on a "label release,"' according to Tahaj The First himself. While Regular Rap was released earlier this month on FWMJ's Rappers I Know, both Otayo Dubb & Tahaj The First have long self-released their solo and collaborative projects on their own labels, Otayo's Beat ROCK and Tahaj's now-defunct Drumdealer Music (or DRM DRL) with the latter, actually, having released The Regulars' debut 2016 single, "REGULAR BASIS." In addition to Tahaj The First & Tayo Dubb, Regular Rap features vocal assists throughout from rhyming friends and friends of friends, such as: Tha Alkaholiks' J-Ro, Rasco of Cali Agents, D-Wiz, Z-Man, L*Roneous, Sakima of The Co-Deez, The Watershed's EQUIPTO, and White Mic. The Regulars' Regular Rap & Regular Rap (Instrumentals) are both currently available to purchase or stream on FWMJ's Rappers I Know's Bandcamp page. RIK.Supply, also, has a variety of Cheers & Reynolds Wrap-evoking The Regulars T-shirts and miscellaneous accessories available to purchase, as well.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Rolled Gold Serves Up Lunchtime Special Boogieman Dela "Hustler" (Remix) from Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast Follow-up

Rolled Gold is the production alias of Philly-based beat-maker, multi-instrumentalist, and charismatic remixer Harry Metz. Over the course of the past year or so, Rolled Gold has become something of a mainstay and frequent collaborator, as you may have already noticed, here at The Witzard. It's been great to personally see Harry's whole sound, style, and musical approach grow and progress since his 2016 EP, The Great Fallback, with fellow Philadelphian, Uncle Crimson. What I have noticed, however, is Rolled Gold's tendency to continually construct and release easily-digestible "bite"-sized projects, which are generally, very short and concise, yet extremely enjoyable and exceedingly well-orchestrated. For an example of what I'm talking about, I would strongly suggest checking out Rolled Gold's SALTY (3P) EP, "The Field" Feat. No Headliner, "Nite Owl's Theme" Feat. Ai​-​Que & Reef The Lost Cauze, and Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast on his Bandcamp & Soundcloud pages. Now, Rolled Gold has "returned to the table" (no pun intended!) to deliver the first "taste" of his as-yet-untitled "lunch tape," a remix of Boogieman Dela's "Hustler."

"Lunch tape" is poised to be the natural follow-up to Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast and was more or less, constructed in a similar manner; a 10-12 minute mini-mixtape/continuous mix constructed from original compositions and instrumentals played by Rolled Gold himself and his go-to cast of characters and then, painstakingly sampled and re-constructed from the ground up. Although, I digress... "While the second installment of this series is in-the-making, he's selected a single full remix to release as a preview single: "Hustler" by Boogieman Dela, originally from Boogie's Future Currents EP," Rolled Gold writes within a press release. "Hustler" (Remix) now contains, in contrast to the Rolled Gold-produced original, a pitched-down, almost Chopped & screwed, Bluesy quality to Boogieman Dela's unique half sung/half rapped vocal delivery. However, as Rolled Gold fittingly describes it, "Hustler" (Remix) "still holds a Funky groove with the drums, bass line, and birds chirping in the background." Rolled Gold's as-yet-untitled "lunch tape" will become available on his various digital/streaming platforms by or before November 2018.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Tranzformer's Dirty Dome Records with Dankery Harv AKA Dank from Frank-N-Dank, Dusty Crates & Toxic Thoughts (Record Label Profile)

Airic "Tranzformer" Estala is a San Diego-based producer, emcee, beat-maker, and Punk Rock/Experimental artist born in raised in El Centro, California. Estala has previously collaborated with Blu, J57, Blame One, Guilty Simpson, Frank-N-Dank, ILL BILL, Rick Gonzalez, Planet Asia, Johaz, CashUs King FKA Co$$, Koncept, and more. Tranzformer is affiliated with producer J57's newly-launched FiveSe7en Collective (@FiveSe7enCollective,) New York-based record label and digital distributor Soulspazm Records (@Soulspazm,) and his own label imprint, Dirty Dome Records (@dirty_dome_records_.) Since launching his Bandcamp page around 2013, Tranzformer has self-released a staggering 29 projects, be they beat tapes, albums, mixtapes, singles, or EP's. For the purposes of The Witzard's introductory feature on Tranzformer & Dirty Dome Records, I would, however, like to primarily focus on Tranz's currently released and as-yet-unreleased body of work with Dankery Harv AKA Dank of long-time J Dilla affiliated group, Frank-N-Dank. Airic Estala & Dankery Harv first met during the earliest aughts of The Internet and social media on MySpace and organically started working together, as Tranzformer produced a few beats for Frank-N-Dank.

Their first album-length collaborative release, ALL AMERICAN HOOD was a 2015 EP issued on Dirty Dome Records with rhymes from Dank AKA Dankery Harv and beats constructed by Tranzformer & J-Science AKA Smash Bro$. It will soon be followed up by a full-length Dankery Harv x Tranzformer x Smash Bro$ LP called Late Night Labour. In addition to the 3-man group, Dank & Tranzformer are also, part of a Hip-Hop group together called Dusty Crates; they released a 2017 5-track EP together, simply called DUSTY CRATES, which was attributed to "Tranzformer & Dankery Harv" on the project's cover artwork. About 9 months ago, Dirty Dome Records quietly released a track on their Soundcloud called "Solar System" Feat. CashUs King FKA Co$$ from Tranzformer X Dankery Harv's impending Late Night Labour EP/LP. Last, but not least, is Tranzformer & Dank's third and final group (for now!) together: Toxic Thoughts. Here, Tranzformer is known as "Rugged Spitter" and Dankery Harv is referred to as "Big Heavy." Toxic Thoughts is more of a Punk Rock/Hip-Hop/Experimental music-leaning duo and is deeply influenced by Airic Estala's Punk/Hardcore roots.

Toxic Thoughts have, so far, released one track, "Real Friends"—no, not a Kanye West cover—which was uploaded to Tranzformer aka Dirtydome's Soundcloud page about 10 months ago. "Real Friends" sounds vaguely similar to Rancid's Tim Armstrong, Skinhead Rob, and Blink-182's Travis Barker's Punk Rock/Hip-Hop super-group, Transplants, and their extremely strong genre-blending 2005 album, Haunted Cities. Toxic Thoughts are currently finishing up their self-titled debut EP, which will, likely, be released at some point within the next few months. Also, coming soon on Dirty Dome/Soulspazm Records: Tranzformer X Dankery Harv (Dusty Crates)' Late Night Labour with Smash Bro$, Tranzformer & Spray Money's Voyage One album dropping on Halloween, and plenty more as-yet-unannounced solo and collaborative projects. Since August, Tranzformer has unleashed a new album, Raw Odyssey, with Grey Era and a slew of talented emcees, as well as his own Random Flips EP, which was just re-released earlier this week with 2 newly-added Bonus Tracks. All of the aforementioned projects are now available on Dirty Dome Records/Tranzformer's Bandcamp & Soundcloud pages.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Alpha x Scorcese Return with "Untitled" (Zilla Rocca Remix) Feat. Killer Mike & Pastor Troy from Upcoming A Remix Only Gods Know

A World Only Gods Know is a collaborative project from Dallas-based producers Alpha Davis & Chris Wright (The Directors) and Philly-bred emcee Scorcese Shells AKA Alpha X Scorcese/God Knows, which was released this past March. At the time, I got a number of emails about the project and really dug it, but, unfortunately, for whatever reasons, was unable to cover A World Only Gods Know within the pages of The Witzard. I've since gotten to know Brooklyn-based producer Jason/Griff (@iamJasonGriff) who's worked with Zilla Rocca, My Man Shafe, PremRock, Curly Castro, Kid Sister, Mr. Lif, and Akrobatik. Lo and behold, Jason Griff is currently working on a project with Scorcese Shells called Dream Team: A Stokely Hathaway Joint in collaboration with independent wrestler and "1996 Source Awards winner" Stokley Hathaway slated to be released this December. I've since been in touch with both Jason Griff & Scorcese Shells and have heard a number of rough, unmastered, yet extremely promising cuts from Dream Team: A Stokely Hathaway Joint. I've learned that in addition to Griff X Scorcese's Dream Team project, Scorcese Shells is currently putting together a comprehensive A World Only Gods Know remix project, cleverly dubbed A Remix Only Gods Know.

It will consist of Sides A-B, much like a dusty old vinyl record or partly unwound cassette tape; with "Side A" containing 8 remixes using the original vocals from Alpha x Scorcese's A World Only Gods Know and "Side B" containing new remixes with entirely new vocals, guests, etc. A Remix Only Gods Know will feature original remixes hand-crafted by Camoflauge Monk, Disco Vietnam, Doe Pesci, Farma Beats, Jason/Griff, L'Orange, Tony Dark, and Zilla Rocca. Ahead of the project, Gods Know have bestowed "Untitled" (@ZillaRocca Remix) Feat. @KillerMike & @PastorTroyDSGB upon the terribly unsuspecting world of Hip-Hop; this is, actually, Zilla's second time remixing a Killer Mike-assisted composition, as he previous remixed "This Ecstatic Cult" Feat. Killer Mike, Kool A.D. & Gabriel Bryant from Lushlife's 2017 ACLU charity comp. MY IDOLS ARE DEAD + MY ENEMIES ARE IN POWER or simply "IDOLS + ENEMIES" for short. Below, you'll find artist statements on "Untitled" (Remix) from both Scorcese Shells & Zilla Rocca, as well as the original version of "Untitled" from Alpha x Scorcese's A World Only Gods Know for comparison. Griff x Scorcese's Dream Team: A Stokely Hathaway Joint, as well as Scorcese Shells' A Remix Only Gods Know are both expected to be released to the masses before year's end.

"For "Untitled," I wanted to pay homage to two of my favorite records ever: [Mobb Deep's] "Hell On Earth" and [Pastor Troy's] "Vica Versa." I approached the song as a broken man—someone who was willing to give in to his worst instincts—and, although, I'm not religious, I felt that the metaphor of "arguing with The Devil" was an easy way to convey that emotional track. Being able to get Killer Mike & Pastor Troy on the record was mostly luck, but their approach turned the record into something special.

I chose Zilla Rocca to remix this record because of [Career Crooks'] "Angel Dust" and "98 Avirex Flow." He infused a very, very dark record with the menace that reminded me so much of Goodie Mob & DJ Muggs' "Decisions, Decisions!" I really love all the elements of the record and Prodigy at the end just makes it a perfect introduction to A Remix Only Gods Know, which remixes some of my supporters' favorite records from my solo project, A World Only Gods Know."

- Scorcese Shells (@Zipsquad_JihaD)

"For the remix, I was going for an Alchemist meets UGK vibe. There's heavy imagery and symbolism to God and devils—plus, Killer Mike & Pastor Troy—so, I went with a burnt Southern Goth-type of bounce, too."

- Zilla Rocca (@ZillaRocca)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band's Björn Wagner Talks Steelpan Drums, Re-working Hip-Hop Hits, The Serpent's Mouth & More (The Witzard Interview)

Hip-Hop recently celebrated its 45th "Birthday" this past Saturday, August 11th on the anniversary of DJ Kool Herc's now-infamous Back-to-School Jam at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue AKA The "Rec Room" in The Bronx. Hip-Hop has gone through many stylistic permutations in the 44 years since, inadvertently birthing multiple sub-genres including: Boom-Bap, Gangsta/Mafioso Rap, Electro-Rap, Trip-Hop, Noise Rap, Chopped & Screwed, Trap/Drill, Horrorcore, New Jack Swing, Backpack Rap, and more. However, one of my personal favorites sub-genres of Hip-Hop is Instrumental Hip-Hop—no, not Breakbeat or J Dilla's Beat CD '05-style beat tapes—think, something more along the lines of The Roots with self-played interpolated "samples," rather than sampling actual records, tapes, CD's, etc. Aside from The Legendary Roots Crew, one of my favorite Instrumental Hip-Hop groups is Truth & Soul/Big Crown Records co-founder Leon Michels' El Michels Affair, who painstakingly constructed Wu-Tang Clan-flipping genre benchmarks Enter: The 37th Chamber & Return to The 37th Chamber. A few additional note-worthy artists within the sub-genre are Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band, Brownout/Brown Sabbath, Butcher Brown, Clutchy Hopkins & The Misled Children, DJ Premier & The Badder Band, The Menahan Street Band, The Whitefield Brothers, and Madlib's Yesterdays New Quintet. Now, one of the aforementioned groups, The Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band (BRSB) have returned with their second album and thank to Mike Lewis at Lewis Recordings/Rap & Soul Promo/Three Pin PR, I was fortunate enough to interview their band leader and multi-instrumentalist, Björn Wagner. Across two albums and various singles, The Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band has re-interpreted everyone from 50 Cent to Cat Stevens. Please, feel free to peruse our comprehensive interview below, while you listen to BRSB's phenomenal steel pan-accented The Serpent's Mouth. It's now available to purchase or stream in multiple formats from Brooklyn-based Big Crown Records.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Senior Writer & Editor-In-Chief

I. How, in your opinion, has Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band (BRSB)'s sound progressed and grown between The Serpent's Mouth and the band's 2016 debut, 55? I was recently reading this record implements some newly-discovered recording techniques, as well.

The sound has improved, as I used a room with a wooden floor and walls for the pan recordings. It has a beautiful air, so I could mic the instruments from a greater distance. Concrete and carpets require closer mic placements, which, in turn, emphasize the noise portion. That wooden room has a ring that emphasizes the actual tone nicely. Another key factor is that I put the mixing in the trusted hands of my brother, Steffen, who worked a miracle to make the recordings sound "as one," which is crazy, when you consider in how many places and with how many different musicians they were recorded.

II. Who are the members and various players within Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band? How did you first meet and decide to start recording music together?

The Bacao started as a side-project of The Mighty Mocambos, which is a horn-led Funk band. We had been playing together since we were teenagers and so, [we] just added another family of instruments and gave it a different name to hint at the sound.

III. How exactly do you go about deciding which songs to re-imagine in your unique steel drum-accented Soul/Funk style? For every song that appears within 55 & The Serpent's Mouth, how many more compositions did BRSB attempt to record and ultimately, end up scrapping?

I go by what I would love to hear, personally, and bounce ideas back-and-forth with Danny Akalepse from Big Crown, who always comes up with a list of suggestions, out of which, I cherry-pick the ones that I 100% "feel." A cover has to have a certain twist to make it worth-while and I usually know within seconds, if I can get there. I scrapped only one track, for which I had already recorded the rhythm section, when I found out that it did not sound good on pans and that I could not bring it any further.

IV. For those who may be unaware, would you mind briefly describing how a steel drum/pan is typically played? How many different types or styles of steel drums can be heard throughout The Serpent's Mouth?

Once the instrument is made with its wok-like sink and hammered tone fields out of an oil barrel, you play them with rubber-tipped wooden sticks. In physical acoustic logic, the bigger the field, the lower the note. Orchestral bass pans have as many as 6 to 12 barrels. We have two different "tenor pans," which are the highest and despite their name, sit in the soprano range; and one "double second," which consists of two drums (as the name implies,) together, making one chromatic instrument. That gives us the range of a horn section, while the lower registers are covered by bass and electric guitar.

V. Now, I instantly recognized Dr. Dre's "Xxplosive," Mobb Deep's "Burn," Amerie's "1Thing," and Gang Starr's "All for The Cash," but what else appears within The Serpent's Mouth?

There's also, a cover of Lennie Hibbert's "Real Hot," which, itself, is a vibraphone-led instrumental of the Rocksteady tune, "Tonight" by Keith & Tex. This came so naturally, playing the vibraphone lines on steel drums. Then, there's "Crockett's Theme" from Miami Vice. I always loved that melody and its cosmic vibe and I am thrilled how it works without synthesizers. Not to forget Mary J. Blige's "I Love You" with the memorable piano line from Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Mood."

VI. What exactly is the album title, "The Serpent's Mouth" intended to mean or convey?

The Serpent's Mouth is the 8-mile strait between Venezuela and the South-western tip of the island of Trinidad. This sea passage—with all its beauty and danger—is a synonym for our musical travels on this album.

VII. What does Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band's typical recording process generally entail? How does a song, such as "Great to Be Here" (The Jackson 5) for example, get re-imagined and created from start to finish?

It always starts with the rhythm section. The drum sound, in particular. Then, the different steel instruments are arranged in sections: the lower "double seconds" for chords, doubling the bass guitar line, as in "Great to Be Here," and the high "tenor pans" for melodies. If there are counter melodies, we add horns. You hear a lot of interplay between pans and horns on the album.

VIII. Following a string of 7-inch singles on Mocambo/Plane Jane, what made you decide to start releasing BRSB's music exclusively on Brooklyn-based Big Crown Records?

We had been putting out 45's on our own Mocambo Records label and then, Danny Akalepse—then, of Truth & Soul—approached me. We swapped some records and he, then, told me that The Bacao version of [50 Cent's] "P.I.M.P." was smashing dance floors. I had already [been] thinking about following the singles with a long-player, but took some time, as I enjoyed keeping the mystery of the band. Danny not only encouraged me to, eventually, do the first album, but provided great ideas and inspiration. Truth & Soul and then, Big Crown are among my favorite labels and to have someone in The US does certainly help to reach a wider audience.

IX. Have you taken any inspiration and influence (direct or indirect) from Big Crown co-founder Leon Michels and his band, El Michels Affair's Wu-Tang Clan-flipping Enter: The 37th Chamber & Return to The 37th Chamber?

Not so much, at first. When we first did "P.I.M.P." there were a couple of Funk bands doing versions of Hip-Hop staples that were based on Soul samples, so they were basically re-playing stuff that had already been played by a band. The clue with "P.I.M.P." is that the steel drums on it are from a keyboard, so we re-imagined it as if it would have been a "band original" with real instruments. Later on, when I signed with Big Crown, I would, of course, have a closer look at El Michels' work. Leon's Wu-Tang interpretations are amazing; he really took it somewhere else. I could never have done that, especially, when restricting yourself to just one band.

X. Why have yourself and your fellow BRSB band mates chosen to remain largely anonymous and instead, have been represented by dapper-dressed, alien-like steel pan drum-headed creatures on your album covers and public imagery? Who designed 55 & The Serpent's Mouth's album sleeves?

There was a lot of mystery around the first 45's. Instead of promoting them as a side-project of The Mighty Mocambos, we left it open as to who was behind the band, as we wanted the music to speak for itself. It went as far as people taking it for an obscure group from the 70's that had provided original samples. People like to create their own "head cinema"—they need aliens and fantasy in their lives. An accurate group shot would not represent the music we do. Our passport names are on the record, though. The art direction is by Danny Akalepse, Sesse Lind took the photos, and Nicole Ras did the graphic design.

XI. Amidst an album largely full of re-imagined covers, there are a few original pieces featured within The Serpent's Mouth, correct? Would you mind briefly speaking on these original Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band compositions?

Half of the songs are originals. We enjoy great creative freedom, when it comes to our own compositions. The greatest thing is that we are not supposed to be a real "steel" band, but a Funk band with a section of pans, which is something that does not usually exist—so, there are no rules or boundaries: we can set our own standard. Take the title track: there are 10 parts made out of 5-6 different ones, which never appear in the same order. The best part of writing our own music is to combine the pans with the horn section—the possibilities are endless! Apart from the "get down" aspect that runs through most of our tracks, there is always a cinematic vision behind a song, which should take the listener to another place.

XII. Now that The Serpent's Mouth has been effectively unleashed into the world, what else does The Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band have planned for its release roll-out (ie: singles, music videos, tours, etc.)?

There will be more singles. We love 45's. The band is not touring regularly and does not intend to do club or festival gigs; however, we like to do shows in a special context, say, award shows, TV, or a surprise two-song set within a Mighty Mocambos show.

XIII. Do you have any immediate plans to perform or record vocal versions of your BRSB covers with any of the original artists? Have you ever gotten any particular responses/feedback from either the original artists or their camps?

I would certainly not turn down an offer to perform with the original artists, but it's nothing I have planned for. We've received great feedback from some of them, though: DJ Hi-Tek, for instance, said he dug our version of "Round & Round" from the first LP. We had really hoped to play our version of Mobb Deep's "The Learning (Burn)" to Prodigy, but he sadly, passed away before we finished mixing it.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Former Members of Creep Division, The F---ing Wrath, The Missing 23rd & No Motiv Form Dad Brains & Release 7-inch EP (Pirates Press Records)

Oxnard/Ventura, California-based Punk/Hardcore band Dad Brains are, without a doubt, the epitomy of "Dad Rock" or, as they're calling it, "Dadcore." Drummer-turned vocalist Patrick Pedraza, guitarist Matt Kash, drummer John Crerar, and bassist Craig Kasamis formed Dad Brains—a tongue-in-cheek homage to Bad Brains—in the fall of 2017 around the sheer ideology of playing kid-friendly music for Punk dads and, of course, their families. Dad Brains' members previously spent time playing with No Motiv, The Missing 23rd, Creep Division (members of Sick of It All, Good Riddance & No Motiv,) Night Demon, and The F***ing Wrath. While it appears as though Dad Brains have been playing the local Oxnard Punk circuit for a while now, they quietly released their debut 5-track self-titled EP digitally on, of all days, Father's Day 2018. Now, just three short months later, Dad Brains have effectively re-released their EP on "Rastafarian" Red, Green & Yellow, as well as standard black, 7-inch vinyl on Pirates Press Records. Dad Brains' EP was recorded and mixed by Roger Camero (No Motiv) at The Captains Quarters & Bright Lights Studio and mastered by Paul Miner at Buzzbomb Studios.

Over the course of less than 10 minutes over 5 frantic tracks, Dad Brains deliver a striking representation of what it's like to be a Punk dad with their mantra being: "Hardcore Punk made by Dads, about Dads, for everyone!" A perfect example of which can be heard on Dad Brains EP closer, "I'm Old" with Pat Pedraza wailing: "who's The Fat Jewish? I don't really know. I'm not in with the scene. I only play local shows. Yeah, I gotta get home to my fam and be a dad; watch The Fixer Upper or maybe, Breaking Bad 'cause I'm old!" When recently interviewed by LA Weekly, Pedraza stated Dad Brains intend to release an EP "every Father's Day" for the foreseeable future. "We hope to get a bit of a cult following. Maybe, [release] a couple of tracks around Christmas. There's always something to write about, as your kids get older and there are different experiences," he continued. Dad Brains' self-titled debut EP is currently available to stream or purchase on the band's Bandcamp page, as well as multiple streaming platforms, and colored 7-inch vinyl records are available to purchase from Pirates Press Records.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Reverend Al Green Releases First New Music In 10 Years with "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" (Produced By: Matt Ross-Spang)

The Reverend Al Green is a world-renown Soul/Gospel singer, song-writer, and record producer. Rev. Green has released countless hits and irresistible classics over the course of his 50+ year career. Although, The Reverend Al Green is likely, best known for a string of 1970's chart-toppers including: "Take Me to The River," "Tired of Being Alone," "I'm Still In Love with You," "Love & Happiness," and Former President Barack Obama's personal favorite, "Let's Stay Together." Now, Rev. Al Green has returned with his first proper single in 10 years, a cover of Freddy Fender's 1975 English/Spanish language hit, "Before The Next Teardrop Falls." It was produced by GRAMMY Award-winning record producer, engineer, and mixer Matt Ross-Spang for Amazon Music's newly-launched Produced By singles series. Matt Ross-Spang has either produce or engineered albums for Margo Price, Lucero, Chris Isaak, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, The Sheepdogs, Elle King, and even a posthumous 2016 Elvis Presley album for RCA/Legacy Recordings.

Produced By: Matt Ross-Spang is an artist-curated playlist, which was released over the course of this week and features Ross-Spang's recent works with Margo Price, John Prine, The Reverend Al Green, of course, and William Bell. Amazon Music promises "future Produced By installments will feature acclaimed producers and artists from a variety of genres including Latin, Indie, Country, and R&B." It's also, worth noting The Reverend Al Green & Matt Ross-Spang's rendition of "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" features his long-time organ player, The Reverend Charles Hodges, who hasn't played on an Al Green song since appearing on 1976's Full of Fire as part of The Hi Rhythm Section. The Reverend Al Green's last full-length album was Lay It Down (2008) released on Blue Note Records and produced by Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson & James Poyser of The Roots. "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" is now available to stream or download exclusively on Amazon Music, as part of their on-site Produced By: Matt Ross-Spang playlist.

"As a lifelong Memphian, I've always been a massive fan of Al Green and his producer Willie Mitchell. Together, they created some of the most enduring Soul music. Sonically speaking, Willie & Al, also, really invented a distinct sound that separated them from STAX or Motown [Records]. Growing up in a such a rich musical heritage, I became captivated by these records and long dreamed of working with Al Green. I've always loved the Linda Martell version of "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" and kept it back pocket as a great cover idea for him. It follows in the footsteps of Willie & Al re-interpreting Country songs, like "For The Good Times" and "Funny How Time Slips Away." I still can't believe we actually got to do it! As first and foremost, a music fan and now as a producer, I've always been drawn to artists with unique voices whose gift transcends genre and time. I'm excited and honored to play a role in this innovative opportunity Amazon Music is providing these extraordinary individuals. As my hero, Sam Phillips said: "if you're not doing something different, you're not doing anything!'"

- Matt Ross-Spang (Southern Grooves)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Illinois Post-Punk/Hardcore Mainstays Hacked Nudes & Man Bites Dog Return for Collaborative Split EP (In The Lake Records)

Hacked Nudes / Man Bites Dog's Split EP is Illinois-based DIY label In The Lake Records (@itl_recs)' 13th release. It was released earlier today, September 13th, at 1:00pm AKA 13:00 Central Daylight Time. Hacked Nudes is a self-professed Post-Punk/Reggae three-piece hailing from the Northern suburbs of Chicago with a particular affiliation to Berserk/Dark Circles/In The Lake Records. It appears as though Berserk Records was a functioning label from about 2012-16 and that's, actually, where two-thirds of Hacked Nudes met; In The Lake Records founder and bassist Pete met guitarist/vocalist John E. Swan III of polynerve—a newly-minted small press and cassette label—while the two were working together at Berserk Records and around 2016, Berserk morphed into ITL Records. The Witzard regulars, at this point, might be familiar with John Swan (@midwest_stress) from his monthly column, Various Artists: How Compilations Influenced a Generation, we've been running here for the past 3-4 months. Swan also, performs solo as t h e m e s and has penned his first novel, Any Way to Elsewhere, to be issued on polynerves next month. However, very little is known about Hacked Nudes' third and final member, drummer, Kevin, aside from the fact that he's a "long-time friend" of both Pete & John. From 2004-08, Pete & Kevin were in a band called Britvas together and started Hacked Nudes in 2009. Split EP is Hacked Nudes' first proper full-length release since 2015's Hacked Nudes & Singles EP. Hacked Nudes / Man Bites Dog's Split EP was originally intended to be a four-way split LP, which would have featured the two Illinois bands, as well as two additional bands.

However, the finalized just-released EP now features 3 songs from each act. Hacked Nudes' contributions to Split EP were recorded about 2.5-3 years ago by Jeremy Judy at Ten Spot Recording, while, it appears as though, the contents of Man Bites Dogs' side were recorded far more recently. Man Bites Dog are a like-minded band, also, hailing from Illinois, consisting of Omar Garcia on vocals/guitar, Declan Coughlan on bass, Andy Soderstrom on drums, "honorary awesome dude" Greg Lamp, and "honorary heart-breaker/awesome dude" Mike Lindsey. It appears as though Split EP is Man Bites Dog's first proper release since their 2014 MBD EP1. "Stargaze" from Man Bites Dog's side, as well as an early demo version of Hacked Nudes' "Diced Onions" both appeared within ITL's third proper release, Festival: In The Lake digital album/cassette compilation. Hacked Nudes / Man Bites Dog's Split EP is currently available online, although, it's limited to just 50 pink shell cassette tapes; 25 available at In The Lake Records' Bandcamp page and the remaining 25 available directly from Man Bites Dog. For a limited time, ITL are offering what they're billing as "The Hacked Nudes Collection" (5) which contains Split EP and their 2015 self-titled EP, as well as a compilation selected at random and ITL/Hacked Nudes pins. Hacked Nudes / Man Bites Dog's Split EP is recommended for fans of At The Drive-In, Against Me! Hot Water Music, Cap'n Jazz, and "other very cool things," as @midwest_stress writes on Instagram. For regular updates, you can Follow Hacked Nudes (@ProhibitionRiot) on Twitter and Man Bites Dog (@ManBitesDogIL) on Facebook/Instagram, as well as @ITLRecs on Twitter.

UllNevaNo & illien rosewell Return for Third Installment of Basketball-themed Confidence Is Everything Series CIE3 (MGNTK.)

Not entirely unlike how Action Bronson has grown to become associated with savory food-themed rhymes or how Westside Gunn & Conway The Machine's rhymes are littered with references to pro wrestling, Baltimore emcee UllNevaNo has become synonymous with basketball-themed rhyme schemes; in recent years, UllNevaNo has let loose a string of "slam dunks," including Confidence Is Everything (CIE) 1-2 produced by illien rosewell, The Ghost of Len Bias EP helmed by Jumbled, and his #SHAMMGODWEDS singles series AKA SHAMMGOD EP produced by MANHE. Now, UllNevaNo & illien rosewell are back with the third installment in their critically-acclaimed CIE series, Confidence Is Everything 3. Neva & illien, actually, recorded CIE3 at Kuzoe Crib in Maryland live "in the flesh" together in the same studio, which has become a rarity in The Internet Age.

"Confidence Is Everything 3 is 8 records of well-structured Hip-Hop [that's] all we need from this duo and the chemistry shows throughout the album," UllNevaNo & illien rosewell's label/collective, MGNTK. writes on their Bandcamp page. CIE3 is chock-full of references to both basketball and "streetwear," as can be seen on track titles such as "63 In Boston"—an allusion to Michael Jordan's infamous 63-point scoring game against The CelticsNike Dunk SB-referencing "Paris Low Dunks," "Chain Nets," an ode to Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon by way of "Olajuwon Dreams," and "99 Rawkus Logo." Unlike previous volumes of CIE, producer illien rosewell, actually, appears alongside UllNevaNo on 2 select cuts from CIE3: the aforementioned "63 In Boston" and mid-album heater "Humble Bad Guy." UllNevaNo & illien rosewell's Confidence is Everything 3 AKA CIE3 is currently available to stream or purchase from MGNTK.'s Bandcamp page, along with CIE1-2 and the rest of the label's release roster.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

TRAPPIST Emerge from Their "Monastery" to Unleash Beer-themed Punk/Hardcore Masterpiece Ancient Brewing Tactics (Relapse Records)

TRAPPIST is are a band of Los Angeles-based beer enthusiasts consisting of Chris "Brother" Dodge, Phil "Brother" Vera, and Ryan "Brother" Harkins. Bassist & brewer Brother Dodge has previously played with Ancient Chinese Secret, Despise You, East/West Blast Test, No Use for a Name, and SPAZZ; Guitarist & fermenter Brother Vera has spent time playing with -(16)-, Crom, Despise You, and Fresh American Lamb; Drummer & bottler Brother Harkins has played with Killed In Action and currently runs a Metal-themed burger joint called Grill 'em All. TRAPPIST have put together a complete ripper of a debut album titled Ancient Brewing Tactics, which blends together the stylings of Punk/Hardcore, D-beat, Crust Punk, Powerviolence, Grindcore, and a dash of Metal/Thrash. TRAPPIST's label, Relapse Records, fittingly describes Ancient Brewing Tactics as "21 tracks and 33 minutes of booze-induced chaos, bound to knock you on your a$$ faster than shot-gunning a 15% Russian Imperial Stout." TRAPPIST roped in a number of alcohol-fueled features for Ancient Brewing Tactics, including Tony Foresta (Municipal Waste, Iron Reagan,) Torche's Steve Brooks, and Pig Destroyer's Blake Harrison. "NO CORPORATE BEER."

Honestly, nearly everything about TRAPPIST (@trappist_la) is beer-themed, from their band name and album title to the themes bubbling within to the Ancient Brewing Tactics vinyl color schemes: 950 "Schwarzbier" AKA standard black vinyl, 300 "Belgian Golden Ale" AKA yellow vinyl, 100 "English Cask Ale" AKA cream-colored vinyl, and 100 label-only "Empty Pint Glass" AKA clear/see-through vinyl. In my humble beer-loving opinion, one of the finer moments on Ancient Brewing Tactics is TRAPPIST's crusty pseudo-cover of JAY-Z's "99 Problems" now re-branded as "99 Problems (But a Beer Ain't One)" which goes a little somethin' like this: "SO MANY SH*TTY BEERS ALL ACROSS THIS PLANET! IT DOESN'T MAKE A DIFFERENCE, IF YOU BOTTLE OR CAN IT! IF YOU HAVIN' BEER PROBLEMS, I FEEL BAD FOR YOU, SON... I GOT 99 PROBLEMS, BUT A BEER AIN'T ONE!" Now, with that said, I would strongly recommend TRAPPIST's Ancient Brewing Tactics for fans of either fine beers and brews, Punk/Hardcore/Powerviolence/D-beat, or both, much like myself! Belgian Golden Ale & Schwarzbier (Standard) vinyl packages are currently still available, as well Ancient Brewing Tactics T-shirt/CD & T-shirt/LP Bundles, directly from Relapse Records.

TRAPPIST'S Ancient Brewing Tactics Beer Pairings for MUNCHIES

01. "No Soldier Left Behind" (3 Floyds Zombie Dust Pale Ale)

02. "This Means Wort" (FiftyFifty Brewing Eclipse Imperial Stout)

03. "Tesguino" (Cerveza Fauna Penelope Coffee Porter)

04. "The Patron Saints" (Orval Belgian Pale Ale)

05. "Hymn to Ninkasi" (Beachwood Brewing Citraholic IPA)

06. "Waiting In Line - First Stanza" (Jackie O's BBA Oil of Aphrodite with Coffee Imperial Stout)

07. "Giving The Boot to Reinheitsgebot" (Schneider Weisse Aventinus Weizen Bock)

08. "Swignorant" (The Bruery Mash Barleywine)

09. "Nihamanchnihamnchii" (Insurgente La Lupolsa IPA)

10. "Frank The Tank" (Cigar City Hunahpu's Imperial Stout)

11. "No Corporate Beer" (Eagle Rock Brewery Amwolf Pilsner)

12. "Victims of a Bomber Raid" (Surly Brewing Darkness Russian Imperial Stout)

13. "99 Problems (But a Beer Ain't One)" (TRVE Possession Saison)

14. "Proost-Op" (De Struise Black Albert Russian Imperial Stout)

15. "Waiting In Line - Second Stanza" (The Veil Brewing Daddy's Home Triple IPA)

16. "To The Pint" (Thrash Zone Chris Dodge's Ham Slappin' Aru-Chu Ale Barley Wine)

17. "You're The Reason" (Sante Adairius Saison Bernice Farmhouse Ale)

18. "Garbage Human" (Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Imperial Oatmeal Stout with Vietnamese Coffee)

19. "Waiting In Life - Third Stanza" (Lawson's Finest Liquids Double IPA)

20. "Wolves In The Taproom" (Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout)

21. "TRAPPIST-1: Final Gravity" (Zundert Trappist Abbey Tripel)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

SPAZZ's Dan Lactose Returns for HEALER / DJ Eons Presents: DANK GOBLINS Split with Tony Molina's HEALER (Warthog Speak Records)

Dan "Lactose" AKA Dan Oblivious AKA DanOne 625 AKA Kung Fu Dan AKA DJ Eons One was once the guitarist/vocalist/sampler for Redwood City, California-based Punk/Hardcore & Powerviolence band, SPAZZ. Although, SPAZZ were only initially active from 1992-2001, Oakland-based imprint Tankcrimes has recently re-released Sweatin' to The Oldies, Sweatin' II: Deported Live Gorilla, and Sweatin' 3: Skatin' Satan & Katon, which were originally issued by 625 Thrashcore/Slap A Ham Records. Aside from SPAZZ, Dan Lactose (@DanLactose) has spent time playing or recording with CCCRRCCSSLLRRKKRRSSS, Crate Goblins, Deny The Cross, Dreonism, Funeral Shock, Grand Invincible, Shadow People, Shed Dwellaz, Sheep Squeeze, Three Wheel Motion, Torture Unit, U.S.F. Underbucket, and more. Lactose has also, recorded and released a number of Hip-Hop/Breakbeat-minded projects attributed to either DJ Eons One, DJ Eon, DJ Eons, or simply Eons One. Since about June 2014, DJ Eons One has released a number of solo projects and splits, including: Revenge of The Crate Goblins 7-inch, Lightbulb & DJ Eons One ‎7", DJ Eons v. Mas. Kohane - Escape from The Planet of The Crate Goblins, and Sell Your Soul Pt. I-II. Amazingly, in addition to all this, I've heard Dan Lactose is currently working on the fourth Grand Invincible album, which will tentatively be called Demolition Strictly. He's also, formed a new Hardcore band called Hard Foul with Frank "Franko" Ripple, Cris (Dead Pressure/ALTARS,) and Kurlee Daddee (Kurlee & Franko Show.) Dan Lactose is wrapping up a limited CD-R of a live performance he did on KFJC 89.7FM, wherein he played a DJ set of all new, original beats; that will be released on his own "label," Tinted Windows Record Co.

I've recently been researching SPAZZ, as well as Dan Lactose and his one-time bandmates' various newly-formed and still active projects. Luke Sick from Megakut Records was kind enough to help me get in direct contact with Dan Lactose AKA DJ Eons One himself; through these emailed transmissions, I've learned that Luke & Dan have, actually, played together on a number of occasions, such as Grand Invincible, Underbucket, a West Bay comp. called LOW BUDGET / NO BUDGET, and now, DJ Eons One's latest group, DANK GOBLINS. It consists of DJ Eons One, Luke Sick, and Franko from Agents of Satan, Deny The Cross, Redacted, etc. plus, Andres Wade (Cogs & Sprockets, Dreonism, God's America) on drums, but according to Eons One, "he will only be appearing, via drum loops lol." DANK GOBLINS are currently preparing to play their first show together on Friday, 9/14/18 at The Knockout in San Francisco with These Bastards, Father Howl, HEALER & MEATSLAB. It's, actually, a release show for their collaborative HEALER / DJ EONS Presents: DANK GOBLINS Split 7-inch, as well as Father Howl's new album, Wayward Doctrine. San Francisco-based Warthog Speak Records released HEALER / DJ Eons One this past May on 250 limited edition 7-inch vinyl copies, as well as four tracks streaming digitally. "One side spins out the sample-laden, blink-and-you-missed-it, 2017 demo of ripping, tearing, and slashing Grind/Violence from HEALER. Originally limited to 50 copies on cassette, this material needed a wider physical audience," as RevHQ perfectly put it within their June 8, 2018 newsletter. Justin Briggs at Warthog Speak told us that HEALER, actually, consists of Tony Molina and a mysterious cast of players. Briggs says that HEALER are currently working on putting together a 7-inch follow-up to their self-titled demo cassette to, eventually, be released on Max "625" Ward's imprint, 625 Thrashcore.