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The Witzard Presents: Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique 30th Anniversary All-around Breakdown, Part I (PB30 "Side A")

Friday, November 29, 2019

3 Feet High & Rising: Greek Dark/Post-punk Trio CHAIN CULT Return with Frantic Full-length/EP SHALLOW GRAVE (LA VIDA ES UN MUS)

CREDIT: Carlos Canales Cludad

Guitarist and vocalist Dinos, bassist and vocalist Iasonas "Jason" Panagiotopoulos, and drummer/backing vocalist Vangelis Dimos comprise the Athens, Greece Dark/Post-punk trio, CHAIN CULT. Collectively, Dino, Jason & Vangelis have played in a slew of Greek Hardcore/Punk bands including Dirty Wombs, Λήθη, Conspiracy of Denial, Lifewreck, Blacklisted, Gutter, Junkheart, Ramdat, Timetrap, Αρχή Του Τέλους, and Πεθαίνουν Στο Τέλος. CHAIN CULT initially formed in 2017 and soon after, self-released their 12-track Demo 2018 on cassette tape—and later, as a 6-track 12-inch mini-album on LA VIDA ES UN MUS—followed by 2018's 2-track Isolated EP. Dinos, Jason Panagiotopoulos & Vangelis Dimos were all born and raised in Athens and appear to be a direct by-product of the widespread Hardcore/Crust Punk scene that first started popping up in and around Athens in 2010-12.

CHAIN CULT and their like-minded peers draw direct influence from the Dark/New Wave scenes of the 1970-80's, as well as bands like Blitz, Chameleons, The Cure, Dead Moon, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Estranged, Misfits/Samhain, The Ramones, The Sound, Wipers, and Γενιά Του Χάους. Now, CHAIN CULT have returned with their first proper full-length/EP, SHALLOW GAVE, again, released on Hackney, London, UK-based imprint LA VIDA ES UN MUS DISCOS. It's truly a phenomenal 8-song album/EP that takes reference from the aforementioned bands/genres and some and, personally, reminds me a lot of AFI, as well as frontman Davey Havok's various outer-band projects, Blaqk Audio, DREAMCAR, Son of Sam, and XTRMST. Despite the album's slightly "morbid" name, CHAIN CULT's SHALLOW GRAVE is about as frantic, frenzied, lively, charismatic, and unique as you would ever expect a Punk/Hardcore-adjacent album to be in 2019. As of today, CHAIN CULT's SHALLOW GRAVE is now widely available to download, purchase, or stream on digital platforms, as well as in physical 12-inch LP format, via LA VIDA ES UN MUS.

"So, we just released our first full-length with CHAIN CULT! SHALLOW GRAVE has a special place in my heart and I do believe that same goes for my bandmates, ['cause] it marks the end of the '10's, a decade which was the most significant for our lives, so far... It was 10 years of super-active involvement in the world-wide D.I.Y. music scene, 10 years of a really motivated self-education process, a youthful power, and an excessively creative interaction with amazing individuals all around the globe; a decade of cultural and political fermentation among Punks, freaks, anarchists, and radical Left people in squats, autonomous spaces, and various D.I.Y. collectives, and, finally, a lifetime of essential friendships that couldn't have been done out of all this frame and without the ethos which defines it. The future may seem bleaker than ever, but let's try to grasp at the moments we have to stand before the gallows!!

A big love to the best possible companions, @iasonas.pan & @vangelisdimos on the CHAIN CULT journey, special hugs to our bandmates, the crews and the friends of all the bands we have played in, so far (you know who you are, ❤️) the few relatives still able to tolerate us, and, of course, everyone who has supported us by any means in all these years. SHALLOW GRAVE was recorded, mixed, and mastered [by George Christoforidis] at Ignite Music/Studio. Artwork was made by A.D. Visions. Released by LA VIDA ES UN MUS."

- Dino (@wreckedpunk)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Witzard's Rap EP Wrap-up Feat. Action Bronson & The Alchemist, Almost Elijah, CRASHprez & knowsthetime, ialive, Mikal kHill, Pecue, Rolled Gold & Teek Hall (Nov. 2019 Edition)

ARTWORK BY: Ed Ptskor (@edpiskorcartoonist)

It's been a while, but The Witzard's Rap EP Wrap-up column is back! Over the course of the past month or so, there have been a plethora of solid Hip-Hop EP's released online; a quick, concise 30-minutes or less format that's seemingly, replaced the mixtape/"street album" format of years passed to become your favorite underground rapper/producer's go-to promotional tool. Here, for this latest edition of The Witzard's Rap EP Wrap-up, we'll be profiling eight EP's released throughout November 2019 and maybe, a couple from a month or so prior, as well. Featured below, in no particular order, are EP's from the likes of Action Bronson & The Alchemist, Almost Elijah, CRASHprez & knowsthetime, ialive, Mikah kHill, Pecue, Rolled Gold, and Teek Hall. Along with a brief write-up on each release, you'll find a select track from each EP, as well purchase links to buy or stream online. If this one goes well, we'll plan to publish an edition of The Witzard's Rap EP Wrap-up each month or so. ARTISTS: please, feel free to submit your current or upcoming EP's to for consideration within upcoming installments (fingers crossed!) of The Witzard's Rap EP Wrap-up. Happy Thanksgiving to you, all of our trusty readers!!!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Turkey Day & EP Enthusiast

I. Action Bronson & The Alchemist - LAMB OVER RICE EP (ALC Laboratories)

Bam Bam Baklava AKA America's #1 Rap-Singer AKA Action Bronson has returned with his first proper long-form musically-minded release since 2018's WHITE BRONCO. LAMB OVER RICE EP was fully produced by his long-time friend, cohort, and frequent collaborator, The Alchemist. It's Bronson & Alc's first proper multi-track collaboration since their critically-acclaimed 2012 mixtape/album, Rare Chandeliers. Additionally, LAMB OVER RICE was mixed by revered mid-90's engineer Eddie "Engineer Extraordinaire" Sancho, who's worked with Hip-Hop heavyweights, such as Black Moon, Dilated Peoples, Gang Starr, JAY-Z, Jeru The Damja, KRS-One, Mos Def, Nas, and Rakim. Plus, in more recent years, Eddie S. has mixed records for Alchemist, Benny The Butcher, Blu & Exile, Meyhem Lauren, LImp Bizkit, Roc Marciano, ScHoolboy Q, and Wiz Khalifa. LAMB OVER RICE even features a #VERYRARE occurrence of The Alchemist rapping on EP closer, "Arnold & Danny," alongside Bronson. To celebrate the new EP's release, Alchemist & Action Bronson even released a special vinyl version of Rare Chandeliers on standard black, salmon, and cream-colored vinyl on ALC Laboratories, which sold out within a matter of minutes.

II. Almost Elijah - Halcyon Wonders EP

"Almost Elijah is the light-and-large-hearted, poetic Folk acoustic project of childhood friends, Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo & John "Johnny" Paluszek formed in 2015," according to their Facebook About section. We've, of course, written about AllOne on a number of occasions here at The Witzard; most memorably, for his Dope KNife-produced True Crime/30 Poems In 30 Days-inspired EP, Dusty Dossiers, released as part of Fake Four, Inc.'s 2017 FREECEMBER imitative. It appears as though AllOne's output with Almost Elijah is a bit more Indie Folk/Conscious Hip-Hop-based, leaning a bit more on the stripped down Bright Eyes/WHY?-esque end of the musical spectrum. AllOne & Johnny Paluszek have returned with their second collaborative release as Almost Elijah, Halcyon Wonders EP. It's the follow-up to their 2016 debut For A Year EP and it appears as though Halcyon Wonders was released digitally (aside from Bandcamp) this past August. Almost Elijah themselves describe Halycon Wonders as: "Indie Folk anthems to bygone days and reminiscent illustrations of a youthful life lived with a fierce appetite for vivid adventure. Basking in the halo-glow of revelation brought about by the awe-inspiring discoveries that come about only from richly, hungrily-lived experience. As much ebullient nostalgia as it is a decisive and insistent goodbye letter to origin stories in favor of progress and future-craving."

III. CRASHprez & knowsthetime - I'ma Die Anyway EP

CRASHprez AKA Michael Penn II is an emcee and a Vinyl Me, Please staff writer "known for his Twitter fingers." MPII, also, has affiliations to #INVOICEBOYZ and defprez with defcee & knowsthetime. Here, on The Witzard, we've previously showcased defprez's SUNDAY NO.1 EP, as well as defcee's knowsthetime-produced Summer Courses EP. defprez, also, released their second collaborative offering, fittingly titled SUNDAY NO.2 this past August and, supposedly, there's a new defcee (Adam Levin) album fully produced by knowsthetime (Ian Carroll) dropping relatively soon. Now, CRASHprez has returned with his first long-form project since 2015's more perfect. entitled I'ma Die Anyway. It's being billed as "a re-introduction to CRASHprez" and is, again, fully produced by knowsthetime. I'ma Die Anyway EP was Executive Produced by both CRASHprez & knowsthetime with Mixing & Mastering by Daniel Kaplan (Groupthink,) Art Direction by Clay Conder, "Outfit Styling by Ian Carroll (he told me to put that there,)" and a lone feature from TADJ on "Babylon Bounce," courtesy of Ca$houtboyz. CRASHprez and his team are currently putting the finishing touches on a visual accompaniment/music video for I'ma Die Anyway EP opener "THE NERVE!" as well as a planned post-release Midwest tour with option for additional spot dates, as well.

IV. ialive - ODD ORTS EP (Cold Rhymes Records)

Philly-based emcee, producer, and multi-instrumentalist ialive has had quite the busy year: he released his phenomenal third solo album, Don't Do Nothing, appeared alongside partner-in-rhyme Darko The Super on The Hell Hole Store's third joint album, Three The Hard Way, dropped The Custodian of Records-produced "INTERVALS," and made appearances on releases from andrew, Height Keech with Hemlock Ernst, Goldzilla, PT Burnem & MISTER, and hectic zeniths. As if that wasn't enough high-quality music for 2019, ialive has returned once again before year's end with his ODD ORTS EP. ialive himself has described ODD ORTS as "a collection of tracks ranging from 2016-2018 that have managed to evade release. They are individual songs that were made without ties to full projects or intentions." ODD ORTS EP's first four tracks were produced by ialive with two additional remixes produced by Juan Cosby of Grasshopper Juice Records and The Witzard mainstay Unsung with mixing by mixed by Zach Goldstein at Kawarisoundand mastering by C$ BURNS. Additionally, there's a live music video for ODD ORTS stand-out "Stone Soup," as directed by ialive's frequent collaborator, Bob Sweeney.

V. Mikal kHill - terminal. EP (NOFRIENDS Music)

Mikal kHill is a Boone, North Carolina-based emcee, musician, and active member of TroubleShooters, Two Weeks Notice, ThoughtCriminals, and NOFRIENDS Family. Over the years, kHill has collaborated with the likes of ceschi, Mega Ran & K-Murdock, Jesse Dangerously, Dope KNife & Miggs Son Daddy AKA Happy Thoughts, cecilnick of Autocorrect/Silfur, and Tribe One. Mikal kHill's latest release, terminal. was completely produced by frequent sole collaborator, DJ Pain 1 with additional synths on "the word was good." by Moses Andrews III, and Mixing & Mastering by cecilnick of Autocorrect. terminal. "talks about everything from my bout with testicular cancer, to growing up in poverty, to my marriage and children, It's a really personal release," Mikal kHill (@mikalkhill) recently told The Witzard, via Twitter Messenger. Mikal kHill's terminal. EP is currently available to purchase, stream, or download on digital streaming platforms with a number of exclusive pin/T-shirt/EP packages available to purchase on Bandcamp.

VI. Pecue - Shining EP (Pecue Design)

"KEEP SHINING - My work is rooted culture, creativity, and forward-thinking. I'm still inspired by the things that motivated to get interested in art and design: music, environment, and a drive to create something that influences and contributes to culture," reads the site description atop of Patrick "Pat" Quinn AKA Pecue is a graphic/visual artist and producer hailing from Philly/Florida. Pecue, actually, designed the top-billing poster for The Witzard's Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique 30th Anniversary All-around Breakdown, Part I AKA PB30; featuring a visual representation of one of my personal favorite Beasties lines: "I'ma Die Harder... like my kid, Bruce Willis!!!" Since the top of the year, Pecue has self-released two EP's, '96 Native and Younger Days EP, as well as remixes of classics by A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Busta Rhymes. Now, Pecue has returned with his third EP of 2019, Shining, which seems to harken back to the "KEEP SHINING" mantra from atop his site. Shining consist of eight instrumental Hip-Hop tracks with only added vocal samples and EP artwork designed by Pecue himself.

VII. Rolled Gold - Down Thataways EP

Rolled Gold has returned with his latest release, Down Thataways, his latest in a series of self-produced, composed, engineered, and mixed projects of 2019. Down Thataways EP was preceded by A Different Cloth, Vol. 1-3 and "What I Can't Do" (Boogieman Dela Remix.) For Down Thataways, Rolled Gold has enlisted the talents of frequent collaborators Uncle Crimson, Ray Bailey, and Tylar Montgomery and his brother, Samuel Metz. We've done plenty of features here at The Witzard on Rolled Gold's music and anyone who's hip to great independently released music should be well aware of Harry Metz, at this point. His body of work is phenomenal and this year has, in my humble opinion, been his best year yet. I could say a bunch of great things about Rolled Gold's music (which are extremely well-deserved) but, at this point, I would rather just let his music speak for itself. Down Thataways and Rolled Gold's full discography, dating back as far as 2016, is now available to purchase, stream, or download on Bandcamp.

VIII. Teek Hall - Black Phillip EP

Teek Hall is a Mesa, Arizona-based emcee, podcaster, and wrestling, comics, Anime and video games aficionado. Teek is a co-host of The Mat Mania Podcast, is the host of Teek's Takes, and was deemed "Best Rapper" of 2019 by The Phoenix New Times. Teek Hall has affiliations with Soulspazm, Witching Hour, Wax Society, and Trevor Lang and often goes by the nicknames Black Phillip, Teek The Villain, Lord Vader, and MADVADER. Just this past Halloween, Teek returned with his latest release, The Black Phillip EP; fully produced by Sumo Corleone with Artwork, GFX & Video by Trevor Lang, and features from G1 to The Rescue & Widowmaker. Teek Hall's Bandcamp page explains, "Teek Hall joins forces with Sumo Corleone to bring you The Black Phillip EP inspired by the film The Witch. This is a dark and spooky project just in time for Halloween that touches on some personal hardships in Teek Hall's life, as well as proving why he is a G.O.A.T. in Rap/Hip-Hop music."

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse Share Unreleased "Ninjarous" Feat. MF DOOM from 30th CENTURY RECORDS, VOL. 2 (Words By: Connor Byrne)

"Unlikely Indie legends gift us with DOOM's best emcee effort this decade, through a track crafted by long-time collaborator Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) in [conjunction] with posthumous prolific song-writer, Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous.) Listeners already have precedent that only good could come from duo, Danger Mouse & MF DOOM, as their collaborative project, DANGERDOOM, gave us 2005's The Mouse & The Mask.

What differentiates The Mouse & The Mask from DOOM's dozens of other projects—aside from the Cartoon Network features—is DOOM acting solely as the emcee in this outfit, where he usually has a heavy role in production. It's easy to see how trust was formed, though, as Danger Mouse curated his trademark clean, unique beats that set DOOM up to verbally knock it out of the park on every track. "Ninjarous" makes no exception here and while it exhibits the sterile perfection of Danger Mouse in feel, the influence of Sparklehorse can be heard in the biggest defining characteristics of the track: conventional band instrumentation, tasteful melodies delivered on a chilled piano line trading spaces with warped guitars working together to warm up the track.

"Ninjarous" pops off with The Black Keys' Patrick Carney on a sturdy Hip-Hop drum beat with Jazzy keys [and] delayed/reversed guitar lines floating above the rhythm. After the sanctimonious clearing of the throat, DOOM wastes no time flying through imagery at a breakneck speed: "Brand new crisp beef and brocks, p*ss on 'em / Season box tickets, teeth and socks, whiz kiss on 'em / Silver green argyle, yank-fitted edit / Anything he spitted at, kilted it, and dead it." While these treacherous bars are firing out, sparkling xylophone caps the top of every piano chord allowing the space for beautiful production to excel the intentionally gross bars DOOM is laying down, throat raspy and forewarning in tone.

The combination of Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse's tasteful, spacey, and pristine production amount to an incredible pairing for DOOM's clever bars, crowded and dirty, like the New York City Subway during rush hour. There's no lack in charm from any of the big names mentioned in these credits. It appears this track was left on the [cutting room] floor from 2012's collaboration between Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse, Dark Night of The Soul, which was a star-studded effort and sadly, the last official release from Sparklehorse before passing away.

In a statement to Pitchfork, Danger Mouse wrote, "Mark & I worked on a lot of music together... but it was the song that he and I wrote and recorded with MF DOOM that really resonated with him. It was one of his favorites, so I'm happy to have this opportunity to pay tribute to him by getting it out there." I'm sure he's not alone in that sentiment; it's easy to see why. This song is a strange pairing, making this track, likely recorded in 2009, one of the best tracks DOOM has released in the entirety of the 2010's, which couldn't be more on-brand for The Villain."

- Penned By: Connor Byrne of Brackish (@brackishtheband)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Wilkes-Barre's Worn Unleash Pummeling "TOTAL DISEASE" B​/​W "HARM YOU" Digital Single & Cassette Tape (Pop Wig Records/self-released)

Worn are a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania-based Hardcore/Punk band, which have been active since 2016. They're from the same ever-growing Wilkes-Barre Hardcore scene as fellow PAxHC thrashers, One Step Closer, who released their debut EP, FROM ME TO YOU, on Triple-B Records earlier this year. Worn either consists of "Butch - Guitar, Peter - Bass, Ross - Guitar, Caleb - Drums, Dan - Vocals," OR "BRIAN, CALEB, DANIEL, PETER, ROSS," as both listed on their Bandcamp page. Following this year's NOT YOUR GAME EP release on Scranton/Wilkes-Barre-based label, 12Forty Records, and, apparently, self-released LIVE! ON AXETOGRIND EP, Worn have returned with their latest offering, "TOTAL DISEASE" B​/​W "HARM YOU."

It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Wyatt Oberholzer at The Knife Lair with drums performed by Mike Walsh, vocals on "TOTAL DISEASE" performed by Cole Paulson, and artwork created by Peter Maria. Aside from the aforementioned details, little else is know about Worn... although, Stereogum's Tom Breihan notes that their sound is reminiscent of "90's-style Metallic Hardcore, reverbed-out and grimy enough that it sometimes recalls D-beat." Basically, this is some genuine Old School-meets-New School Hardcore that will make you thrash your head until your brain comes spilling out your ears! "TOTAL DISEASE" B​/​W "HARM YOU" is now available to purchase, stream, or download directly from Worn's Bandcamp page with cassette tapes available from Pop Wig Records.

Friday, November 22, 2019

BRZOWSKI Returns with Blooddrive, Vol. 4 Comp. Featuring billy woods, E L U C I D, ialive, OneWerd, Willie Green & More (Milled Pavement Records)

BRZOWSKI, a self-described "touring Post-Rap artist hailing from the icy wastes of New England" hasn't released a proper full-length since 2017 critically-acclaimed ENMITYVILLE. Although, with that said, BRZO has stayed nothing short of inactive over the last nearly three years: 2018 saw the release of his I Had An Accident (IHAA) DIG 2 GRAVES split EP with MC Homeless, as well as 80HRTZ-produced single, "Cemetery Rose" Featuring Renée Coolbrith. So far, this year, in 2019, BRZOWSKI has released a cover of Woody Guthrie's iconic "This Land Is Your Land" from The Multiverse: Season 1, Episode 2, a 5-song score entitled Abduction Themes for a documentary called Otherworldly Amor, appeared on Zak G's "Propaganda" from his Milled Pavement Records-released album, Mutant, and appeared alongside D-FAZ for five tracks from their new album, OneNationUnderDog.

On top of all that, BRZOWSKI has toured across France/Switzerland & Europe with D-FAZ in promotion of said album and he has, also, had a hand in promoting Swordplay's albums Malista & Paperwork and dubldragon.'s Macroforms, which, I believe, were all issued by BRZO & Moshe's Milled Pavement Records. Since ENMITYVILLE, BRZOWSKI has seemingly re-located from Portland, Maine to somewhere in Texas. Now, BRZOWSKI has returned with the fourth installment in his beloved odd-and-ends series, Blooddrive. Upon writing this, Blooddrive, Vol. 4 is barely a mere 24 hours old, although, the 22-track compilation is fairly expansive and encompasses a staggering collection of collection of unreleased songs, demos, collaborations, remixes, and singles spanning from 2011-2019.

Blooddrive, Vol. 4 features a wide array of collaborators—both new and vaguely familiar—including heirMAX, Cainam, kidDEAD, ialive, Swordplay, PT Burnem, Strawhair, E L U C I D, Brandon Brains, Spoken Nerd, Monsieur Saï, OneWerd, N.I.C. billy woods, and Renée Coolbrith. Additionally, on the production end of things, Blooddrive, Vol. 4's musical accompaniment was created by BRZOWSKI with C$BURNS, PT Burnem, Vinyl Cape, Moshe with C$BURNS, C$BURNS, 80HRTZ, Dot, BRZOWSKI with Broken Machine Films Presents..., Pierre The Motionless, Phantom Farmer, Dakota, OneWerd, D-FAZ, Willie Green, Variex, 24/7, and Haunted Days / Witch's Teat. Blooddrive, Vol. 4 is now available, via Milled Pavement Records, in a number of formats and packages including digitally, CD, a re-printed 2019 European Tour/Christopher Lee T-Shirt design, and CD + T-shirt bundle. BRZOWSKI's Blooddrive, Vol. 4 is available on digital streaming platforms, as well, and there's a digital album version listed on Bandcamp for $666!

"I first got a chance to do a show with BRZOWSKI in Maine, back in 2004. A year or so later, he came down to rock a Baltimore show. Not only did he have a brand new album in hand, but, he, also, had a new rarities collection called Blooddrive, Vol. 1. I thought the idea of an up-and-coming, D.I.Y. rapper going out of their way to complete and document these odds-and-ends tracks was incredible. This was when rappers still found it acceptable to sell self-burned CD-R's of their half-mixed music with the title written on the disc face in Sharpie. Blooddrive felt like you were listening to some kind of secret, alternate BRZOWSKI album and it was, somehow, as complete and realized as the official new album was... It, also, felt like a special "thanks" just for the people that came to see him play live on that tour. I definitely tried to take a page from BRZO's playbook, with how I treat/present my own music. 14 years later, the Blooddrive series is still going strong. Cop the physical version or buy these MP3's for $666."

- Dan "Height" Keech (@ColdRhymesLabel)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Ex-Taking Back Sunday Members Fred Mascherino & Eddie Reyes Team Up for EMO NIGHT ON TOUR 2020 (The Color Fred/Fates Got A Driver)

Fred Mascherino & Eddie Reyes are both former members of beloved Long Island, New York-based Emo Pop/Post-hardcore band, Taking Back Sunday (TBS.) Mascherino was in TBS from 2003-07 and played on their seminal albums, Where You Want to Be (2004) and Louder Now (2007,) while Reyes was a founding member of TBS and played on nearly every release from 1999-2018. Eddie Reyes & Fred Mascherino played together on the aforementioned albums, Where You Want to Be & Louder Now, as well as 2007's The Louder Now DVD: PartTwo CD/DVD set. Since parting ways with Taking Back Sunday, Fred formed his own bands, The Color Fred & Terrible Things, and briefly played with both The Lemonheads & Say Anything. The Color Fred released their first album, Bend to Break, in 2007 and a follow-up EP, The Intervention, soon after in 2009. The Color Fred side-project, Terrible Things, released a self-titled album of their own in 2010 on Universal Motown Records, which included contributions from Josh Eppard (Coheed & Cambria, Weerd Science) and Andrew "Andy" Jackson (Hot Rod Circuit.)

In addition to Taking Back Sunday, Eddie Reyes has played with everyone from The Movielife to Gnarls Barkley—he played acoustic guitar on both "Crazy" & "Just A Thought!"—and has now, formed his own band, Fates Got A Driver. Coincidentally, both The Color Fred & Fates Got A Driver (sometimes, Fate's Got A Driver) released "new" music semi-recently: Fate's Got A Driver self-released their debut self-titled EP in 2018 and The Color Fred released their first new song in 10 years, "Don't Give Up On Me," this past May. Just yesterday, it was announced that The Color Fred & Fates Got A Driver will be embarking on a brief 3-day stint together next year, billed as "IRRATIONALLY IMPASSIONED NOSTALGIA... EMO NIGHT." Said shows will take place on January 23-25, 2020 in Easton, Pennsylvania, Asbury Park, New Jersey, and Amnityville, New York, respectively. Each night's festivities will include full band performances, something called "Emo Karaoke," and DJ sets from both Fred Mascherino & Eddie Reyes. It appears as though, both The Color Fred and Fred Mascherino's other, other band, Terrible Things, are currently working on new music. Tickets for The Color Fred & Fates Got A Driver at AMH (1/25/20) are currently on sale, via Facebook Events, and it's assumed the other two Emo Night dates will go on sale soon, as well.

"Former [Taking Back Sunday] bandmates, Fred Mascherino & Eddie Reyes have re-connected and teamed up for their very own rendition of Emo Night. They'll be taking their show on the road in January 2020 for a few dates that will include stops in Amityville (NY,) Asbury Park (NJ,) and Easton (PA.) The festivities will include DJ sets, Emo karaoke, and performances by The Color Fred & Fates Got A Driver. "The Color Fred played an Emo Night that our friend, Jon, runs in Pennsylvania and we had a blast," explains Mascherino. "He was spinning all of the bands that Eddie & I use to play with, so we thought it would be fun to do it in other places and have Eddie's band help make it even more fun."

The Color Fred is an Indie Rock band headed by former Taking Back Sunday guitarist/vocalist Fred Mascherino. Bend to Break, The Color Fred's first full-length album, was released on October 30, 2007. The album hit #8 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. The band toured throughout North America & Europe, playing with bands such as Dashboard Confessional, Angels & Airwaves, and Four Year Strong. They released an acoustic EP titled The Intervention for Record Store Day in 2009 and did a virtual solo acoustic tour in support of its release.

Mascherino, then, entered the studio to record LP2 and wound up collaborating with his friends, Josh Eppard (Coheed & Cambria) & Andy Jackson (Hot Rod Circuit) in what, eventually, became Terrible Things. The trio signed to Universal Motown Records, released their popular self-titled full-length, then, spent most of their time on the road supporting bands including The Offspring, Minus The Bear, Bayside, Circa Survive, and Streetlight Manifesto. Mascherino, then, went on tour playing bass in The Lemonheads and guitar for Say Anything. During that time, he was producing and co-writing with bands, eventually, building his own studio, Diver Down. In late 2018, Fred decided to close the studio to the public and start recording his own music again. Coming full-circle, the new material is being released as The Color Fred. The first song, "Don't Give Up On Me," was released this past May. More new material is underway in the studio and will be released in the near future."

- Night Owl Public Relations (@NightOwlPR)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Frank Turner Speaks On Möngöl Hörde & "Godfrey Newman" Ahead of NÖRTH AMERICAN INVASIÖN MMXIX Tour (The Witzard Interview)

"First emerging and playing two tiny shows in August 2012, plus, Reading & Leeds Festival, Möngöl Hörde released one of 2014's most twisted and ferocious albums with their self-titled debut, through Xtra Mile Recordings," explains Möngöl Hörde's Bandcamp page. Möngöl Hörde are an English Hardcore Punk/Post-hardcore band consisting of frontman Frank "Renrut" Turner, guitarist Matt "Nadir" Nasir, and drummer Ben "Awesome" Dawson. Nasir is part of Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls and Turner & Dawson previously played together in Kneejerk & Million Dead. Frank Turner has achieved mass amounts of success on his own and with his backing band, The Sleeping Souls, but has seemingly always retained his Punk/Hardcore roots. For his popular The First/Second/Third Three Years compilation series, Turner has covered songs from everyone from Bad Brains to Bruce Springsteen.

Möngöl Hörde recently released their first new material together since their 2014-15 self-titled debut, two non-album digital singles, "Godfrey Newman" & "Selfiestixamitosis." After Thanksgiving, Möngöl Hörde are, also, embarking on their first State-side trek, dubbed the NÖRTH AMERICAN INVASIÖN MMXIX Tour. Frank Turner, Ben Dawson & Matt Nasir will play six American cities between December 8-14, 2019 with openers ARMED FOR APOCALYPSE & REBUILDER; this includes a set as part of Every Time I Die's annual 'TID THE SEASON Music & Wrestling Festival at Buffalo Riverworks. Ahead of Möngöl Hörde's NÖRTH AMERICAN INVASIÖN MMXIX, we were fortune enough to speak with Frank Turner himself for a comprehensive Q&A, which you can now read below.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Holiday Hardcore Punk Herald

I. Who are your fellow Möngöl Hörde bandmates and what made you decide to return to Punk/Hardcore again?

FRANK TURNER: Bandmates are Matt Nasir (of The Sleeping Souls) and Ben Dawson. Ben & I started playing together as kids; we were in a whole bunch of bands together growing up, not least, Million Dead. A big part of the motivation for doing "heavy music" again was that I wanted to play (and hang out with!) Ben more often, I missed him. Matt isn't really from a "heavy music" background, so he brings something different to the table. And overall, there's an intensity to this kind of music that I enjoy and that doesn't really come in to what I do with the music I make normally.

II. How would you personally say your output with Möngöl Hörde differs from that of Kneejerk, Million Dead, and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls?

TURNER: It differs from my usual output in the sense of being much heavier, [and] more intense, but, also, more sarcastic, humorous, and so on. Also, in terms of writing, Möngöl Hörde songs tend to be first drafts; we write very quickly, by design, which is different from how I usually work.

III. What can you tell our readership about how new song, "Godfrey Newman," came to be and how it involved Möngöl Hörde's Wikipedia page?

TURNER: Haha, well, one day, a while back, someone noticed that, for reasons which remain mysterious, someone had added an extra song to the page for our album called "Godfrey Newman." We have no idea who did this, why, or what it means, but rather than correct it, we thought we'd just write that song anyway. It's a dumb story about our (fictional) original bass player, who turned out to be a racist, so we fired him.

IV. Following the recent release of double-single, "Godfrey Newman" & "Selfiestixamitosis," are yourself, Ben, and Matt actively working on a proper full-length follow-up to Möngöl Hörde's self-titled 2014-15 debut?

TURNER: In theory, yes. We have a whole pile of riffs and some lyrical ideas, as well—there's one about The Corrs—but we have yet to find the time to knock it into proper shape just yet. We'll get there, [though].

V. What exactly are you planning to play on Möngöl Hörde's upcoming NÖRTH AMERICAN INVASIÖN MMXIX mini-tour? Any new or as-yet-unreleased material to be debuted live?

TURNER: We don't currently have any material beyond the album and the two new tracks we did this summer, but as I say, we write quickly; so, it's possible there will be new material by the end of the tour. We, also, have a few silly covers in our arsenal.

VI. Who are you most excited to see/meet at Every Time I Die's 'TID THE SEASON 2019 Festival? Möngöl Hörde, along with everyone from Against Me! to Ghostface Killah are on the bill for the 2-day festivities!

TURNER: It's a KILLER bill and we're honoured to be part of it. To be honest, I'm most excited about seeing and hanging with the [Every Time I Die] crew again. Love that band.

VII. With Natalie Portman next in line to portray Thor in Marvel's Thor: Love & Thunder, can we expect to hear a sonic sequel to "Tapeworm Uprising" to help commemorate the occasion?

TURNER: Haha, why not. I like Natalie Portman, actually. I did get hate mail from her fan club once about the song, which really, really made my day.

VIII. What made you decide to release The First/Second/Third Three Years comps. on Xtra Mile Recordings? What a phenomenal homage(s) to Black Flag's pre-Rollins 1983 comp. The First Four Years!

TURNER: The first one came about because, like a lot of artists, a lot of my early material was spread across EP's, compilations, and so on, many of which, were going out-of-print. I wanted to get all that material in one place to make it easily-available for anyone who wanted it, especially, people who were newer to what I do. The first one was a success, so we decided to keep going, as it turned out there was more material to gather three (and six) years later. The artwork is a homage, of course, I f***ing love Black Flag. We've, kind of, paused with that series for the time being, but there will, no doubt, be more [volumes] in the future, one way or another.

IX. Since you've covered everything from Black Flag's "Fix Me" to No Use for A Name frontman Tony Sly's "Keira," what were some of your earliest favorite Punk/Hardcore albums?

TURNER: My early Punk records were The Clash & The [Sex] Pistols (if we're not counting Nirvana, which we, possibly, should.) From there, it was Green Day & Offspring—that's my "vintage"—and then, I wound my way down, through NOFX & Descendents, until I hit Black Flag, Gorilla Biscuits, Negative Approach, and so on.

X. Once your NÖRTH AMERICAN INVASIÖN MMXIX tour is completed this December, what's in store next for Möngöl Hörde?

TURNER: We all have ambitions to write and record a new album next year. That said, we are the slowest moving band in the history of music, so it might take a while. The intentions are good, though.

XI. Do you mind, if I ask: what exactly the term "Möngöl Hörde" intended to convey, evoke, or signify as a band name?

TURNER: The band name came, originally, from a lyric by The Van Pelt—one of our favourite bands—and one of the smartest lyricists (in Chris Leo) there ever was. Beyond that, it moved into an appreciation of that part of history—we were attracted by the imagery of The Hordes—and the fact that it is an instance of the total destruction of White/European culture by Central Asia, in a way that was startlingly brutal and unforgiving.

That appealed to what we are trying to do sonically. Some people have tried to make a controversy from the band name, but, firstly, I'll go toe-to-toe with anyone on Medieval European history and secondly, the name was originally suggested by the member of our band whose family comes from Central Asia (and who is the most p*ssed off about the confected outrage on his behalf,) so whatever.

XII. Do you ever intend to attempt to properly reunite Million Dead and/or Kneejerk... or are you currently busy enough doing double-duty with Möngöl Hörde & Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls?

TURNER: I'm busy enough and looking backwards doesn't really interest me, in terms of my own career. I'm proud of the music I made in the past, but I have more to say looking forward.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Punk/Hardcore On Wax: DARK THOUGHTS Return with "DO YOU DREAM?" B/W "IT'S TOO LATE" 7-inch Single (Peterwalkee Records)

Since we last featured Philly-based D.I.Y. Pop-Punks DARK THOUGHTS, they've self-released a self-titled 2016 album and its 2018 follow-up, DARK THOUGHTS AT WORK. Now, it appears as though Daniel Cox, Amy Opsasnick & Jim Shomo have joined forces with Peterwalkee Records, Stupid Bag Records, and Drunken Sailor Records for the roll-out and eventual release of their third full-length album, MUST BE NICE. Ahead of MUST BE NICE, which will tentatively drop January 2020, DARK THOUGHTS have let loose their new single from the album, "DO YOU DREAM?" on both pink and black 7-inch, as well as digitally on Bandcamp. Side B of said 7-inch/digital single features a non-album track entitled "IT'S TOO LATE." It first became available on Halloween on 100 pink and 400 black vinyl 7-inches, but it appears as though, now, the pink vinyl has completely sold out. However, Peterwalkee Records still have a mass (yet limited) number of black 7-inches available to purchase for just $6.00, plus, Shipping & Handling. "DO YOU DREAM?" B/W "IT'S TOO LATE," along with DARK THOUGHTS AT WORK LP, DARK THOUGHTS S/T LP, and a DARK THOUGHTS BOTTLE OPENER are now available directly from DARK THOUGHTS through their Big Cartel page, as well.

"DARK THOUGHTS - "DO YOU DREAM?" 7": A classic 45RPM 7" single from Philadelphia Pop Rock Punks, DARK THOUGHTS. This single for the forthcoming full-length LP entitled MUST BE NICE (coming January 2020 on Stupid Bag Records/Drunken Sailor Records) contains two fantastic tracks of the blazing unforgettably catchy Power Pop Rock "N" Roll you've come to expect from this fierce trio. Side A features "DO YOU DREAM?" (Alternate 7"-only Mix) an instant classic, you'll immediately keep dropping the needle back to Start over and over again! Side B includes the exclusive 7"-only track, "IT'S TOO LATE," another 2-minute Pop Rock fist punch earworm to your brainpan. Pop made by Punks. It's not just "good," it's "Ramones good."

PRESSING STATS: First Pressing is limited to 500 copies (400 on BLACK Vinyl, 100 on PINK Vinyl) PINK VINYL IS SOLD OUT!!! Coming soon from Peterwalkee Records, a NEW 45RPM single from DARK THOUGHTS! This single features the track "DO YOU DREAM?" (SINGLE VERSION) from their forthcoming LP, MUST BE NICE (coming out on Stupid Bag Records) plus, "IT'S TOO LATE," the exclusive single-only B-SIDE. Check out "DO YOU DREAM?" now... and check back in the Fall for more info on how [to] order the single (tentative release date: Halloween 2019.)"

- Peterwalkee Records (@Peterwalkee)

Monday, November 18, 2019

SFxPx/Bay Area Legends The Kegels Return with Blood & Wine EP & New Nick Pappas-directed Music Video (self-released)

The Kegels are a San Francisco-based Indie/Punk Rock & Rock "N" Roll band, which has been actively performing and recording ever since 2007. The Kegels' current line-up consists of guitarist & vocalist Mortimer "Morty" Lopez, bassist & vocalist Nico Suarez, drummer Brian Colli, and second guitarist & vocalist Adam Hiller. Face to Face, NOFX, Rancid, Lagwagon, Off With Their Heads, Hot Water Music, Strung Out, Dead to Me, AFI, and all kinds of Rock & Punk!!" are listed as Artists We Also Like on The Kegels' Facebook page. The Kegels' brand of unique Pop-friendly Punk Rock has been frequently described as sounding similar to that of both Pennywise & Bad Religion, as well. Morty, Nico, Brian & Adam have self-produced/released several EP's-worth of material over the years, forever cementing themselves as SF Bay Area staples; due in part to "No Tomorrow" from The Kegels' 2012 album of the same name. The group has played gigs at local Punk/Hardcore hot spots, Bottom of The Hill, Slim's, Thee Parkside, The Fillmore, and The Hemlock with beloved bands, such as Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, Smoke or Fire, and NOFX.

The Kegels' latest EP, Blood & Wine, is the proper follow-up to their 2017 EP, Over War. Blood & Wine was preceded by two pre-release singles, "Mystery Girl" and "Defeated," which The Kegels themselves told NEW NOISE effectively "brought [them] back to [their] roots in fast, Street Punk style." The Kegels recorded Blood & Wine during a marathon 5-day session this past February with veteran producer/musician David "Dave" Irish (The Interrupters, Reel Big Fish, The Maxies) at Pot O'Gold Studios in Orange, California. The Kegels, additionally, self-released a music video for title track, "Blood & Wine," directed Nick Pappas featuring an... interesting storyline and live performance footage of the band. The Kegels' Blood & Wine EP is now available to stream, purchase, or download from your preferred digital streaming platform. It's a solid 5-song Pop/Punk "punch in the face" and I sincerely, mean that in the best way humanly possible, fellas! Also, shout-out to Jory White at Vesperize PR for continually sending us releases from phenomenal Punk-Hardcore-adjacent groups!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Mega Ran Surprise Releases New Winter EP AGES, Vol. 1 Featuring Mickey Factz, SkyBlew, Xavier Woods & More (RandomBeats Music)

We've been closely following Phoenix by way of Philly emcee Mega Ran's career since the earliest aughts of The Witzard, coinciding with the 2010 release of Bits & Rhymes (Ran & K-Murdock)'s Kickstarter-funded collaborative album, FOREVER famicom. Mega Ran &/or K-Murdock were amongst our first-ever published interviews here at The Witzard, as well. Needless to say, we've thoroughly enjoyed Ran's wide array of genre-eschewing output released nearly non-stop over the past 10 years since. His latest full-length effort, THE DEWEY DECIBEL SYSTEM with rapper buddy MC Lars, is a mic-aided journey through literature, novels, comic books, poems, short stories, etc. and is currently being used as a learning tool in class rooms Nation-wide. Now, Mega Ran has returned (once again) for one final solo project of 2019: AGES, Vol. 1. Technically, a "surprise Winter 2019 release," AGES—that's "SEGA" spelled backwards!—was issued in honor of yet another successful Kicktarter campaign that will help bring back Ran's critically-acclaimed Black Materia/Final Fantasy series in 2020.

AGES, Vol. 1 features production work from The Alumni, OSYM, Prama, EOM, Arzon, Rifti Beats, and Fresh Kils. Mega Ran has included a few additional Bonus Cuts for both the digital and physical releases: "Catch 22" produced by G1, "It's Time" produced by Volta Masters, and a "Broken Church Bells" (Remix) produced by Kult Krimes for the CD-only release and "THE SUNSET FLIP" with Austin Creed AKA Xavier Woods as produced by DJ DN3 as a Bandcamp-only bonus. In addition to wrestler-turned-gamer-turned... rapper, Xavier Woods, AGES, Vol. 1 additionally boasts features throughout from SkyBlew, Mickey Factz, Toure Masters, Penny, RoQy TyRaiD, Vee Tha Rula, Kult Krimes, and Small Leaks Sink Ships. There's, also, some beautiful Chiptune programming leading in and out of each track, which are, actually, Famicom music notes re-programmed by RANA. Mega Ran's AGES, Vol. 1 EP is now available in both digital and physical formats through RandomBeats Music.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Glass Animals Recruit Denzel Curry for "Tokyo Drifting" Latest Installment of Fresh Fruit Series (Republic Records/Wolf Tone Ltd.)

British Psychedelic/Art Pop four-piece Glass Animals have returned with their first entirely new taste of music since 2016's How to Be A Human Being. "Tokyo Drifting" is the latest addition to Glass Animals' ongoing Fresh Fruit series; previous installments have included "Gold Lime," a Yeah Yeah Yeahs & Erykah Badu mash-up and "Lose Control" featuring Joey Bada$$. For "Tokyo Drifting," Glass Animals frontman Dave "Wavey Davey" Bayley recruited Florida-based emcee, singer, and song-writer Denzel Curry. Glass Animals have previously worked with Joey Bada$$, Rome Fortune, Chester Watson, and Stones Throw signee Gabriel Garzón-Montano. Wavey Davey, on the other hand, has previously worked with a slew of Hip-Hop-adjacent artists on his own, as well, including 6lack, Khalid, DJ Dahi, MorMor, Safe, Mustafa The Poet, Suzi Wu, and Flume. Here's hoping this is just the first in a string of upcoming releases from Dave Bayley, Joe Seaward, Ed Irwin-Singer & Drew Macfarlane. Glass Animals' "Tokyo Drifting" Feat. Denzel Curry is currently available on digital steaming platforms through Republic Records/Wolf Tone Ltd.

"The first thing Denzel said to me about the track was "this is fire." Then, he said, "is this you flexin'?" and I said, "yeh... it is... sort of. It's an ironic internal flex—me as a narrator describing/[talking] the p*ss out of an extreme alter-ego version of myself; a version of me that can do things that I'm uncomfortable doing. Wavey Davey is my f**ked up Sasha Fierce [Beyoncé]. He's a geezer, a street fighter, he can dance, he parties hard, he's spontaneous. He can take hits and be told he is sh*t and not care because he's confident. He can fight everything the world throws at him. I think, this kind of character is someone we all create for ourselves now, to some extent. We have these curated versions of ourselves on The Internet—beautiful, edited, cool, distilled versions of us, all slightly super-human. You can push and push and push yourself to hide and ignore your vulnerabilities like that... but it comes at a cost. It's not real and it isn't sustainable."

- Dave Bayley (@GlassAnimals)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

"(All I Want for Christmas Is to) Rage with My Friends" from PIEBALD Presents to You, A Musical Christmas Adventure EP [Photo Finish Records]

PIEBALD are a crew of Indie Rock/Emo bridge-builders hailing from Andover, Massachusetts, who initially "cut their teeth" within the same Hardcore Punk scene as both Converge & CAVE IN. PIEBALD were originally active from about 1994-2008 and started out as a Hardcore band, who always teetered the line between Post-hardcore, Emo, Emocore, and Alternative Rock, eventually, becoming a mainstay in the Greater Boston area Indie Rock scene. PIEBALD's last album's-worth of original music, Accidental Gentlemen, was released on SideOneDummy Records upon the band's dissolution in 2008; a live DVD/documentary set entitled NoBodY's RoBoTS: A Farewell to PIEBALD was issued in 2010 and chronicled the band's final two shows at The Bowery Ballroom & The Middle East. Since their 2008 disbandment, Andrew "Andy" Bonner, Lucian "Luke" Garro, Travis Shettel & Aaron Stuart have reunited as PIEBALD on multiple occasions between 2010-19.

Now, PIEBALD have returned with their first proper release in 12 years, "(All I Want for Christmas Is to) Rage with My Friends" from an upcoming holiday-themed release. PIEBALD Presents to You, A Musical Christmas Adventure EP is their first proper studio release since 2007's Accidental Gentlemen and will be released this upcoming Friday. It will contain three original PIEBALD-penned Christmas songs that were recorded over a long weekend just this past September with Accidental Gentlemen producer Doug Batchelder in North Reading, Massachusetts. PIEBALD will be embarking on a string of tour dates between 12/18-21 and will be going on the road with Dashboard Confessional next February as part of their 20th Anniversary Tour. PIEBALD Presents to You, A Musical Christmas Adventure EP will see a wide release this upcoming Friday, November 15, 2019 through Photo Finish Records.

"This whole sonic and photographic project escalated quickly, but it started from knowing that Christmas shows are happening again this coming Winter season. We are hoping to make the most of those few shows and we thought making or covering a Christmas song or two would be a fun idea. As it turns out, we're much more about making than we are about covering. Maybe, you're thinking, "this is weird of PIEBALD—who haven't made new music since 2007—to musically re-birth themselves with a 3-song holiday release." Well, our response to you is this, "you're not wrong..." However, we have never really done anything the right or proper way. Weirdly, it's just how we do things at Camp PIEBALD."

- PIEBALD (@piebaldmusic)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

J57 Unveils Widely/Re-released Version of Sophomore Album We Can Be Kings. FKA "LP2" (FiveSe7en Collective/Soulspazm)

James "J57" Heintz is a Brooklyn-based rapper, song-writer, producer, and record label owner. J57 is an active member of both Brown Bag Allstars & Jamo Gang with Ras Kass & El Gant and runs his own imprint, FiveSe7en Collective. Jay has previously worked with the likes of Method Man, Homeboy Sandman, Joey Bada$$, and La Coka Nostra featuring members of House of Pain & Limp Bizkit with ILL BILL & Slaine. J57 has now returned with the long-awaited follow-up to his 2016 solo debut, I'm The J57, entitled We Can Be Kings. Many of you may remember, We Can be Kings. was previously release last year (as LP2) for a brief one-week stint between December 8-15, 2018. We previously reviewed LP2: WE CAN BE KINGS. upon its initial 2018 release, which can still be read or perused here. We Can Be Kings. is an "eclectic offering" that features appearances from a wide of array of musicians—both Hip-Hop and non-Hip-Hop—including Katiah One, The Audible Doctor, Jamo Gang, Devin Malek, DeeJay Element, Tenacity, Ports, Akie Bermiss, Choosey, YAYennings, SID Wilson, Aerika Monique, Tiffany Topol, Matt Stamm of MAK3RS, and Eliot Glazer of Broad City & New Girl fame.

We Can Be Kings. is a phenomenal, genre-eschewing album and a genuinely fun listen that really shows J57's progression as an artist since I'm The J57. Two tracks of particular note are the title track, "We Can Be Kings." Feat. Akie Bermiss of Lake Street Drive & Choosey and "The Loner" Feat. YAYennings & SID, otherwise known as Jay Jennings of Snarky Puppy & Sid Wilson AKA DJ Starscream of Slipknot. Honestly, even today, in this digital age, it's pretty impressive to think J57's had enough determination and hutzpah to put together a collection of songs with collaborators from so far outside of/parallel to his own genre. J57's We Can Be Kings. is now widely available to stream, download, or purchase on digital platforms through FiveSe7en Collective/Soulspazm. F7C has also, made We Can Be Kings. (Commentary Version) available, as well, which features J57 himself meticulously breaking down the creation, features, making-of, etc. for each track included within We Can Be Kings. We're still not entirely sure if well be putting together a year-end/Best of 2019 list this year, but J57's We Can Be Kings. would definitely rank high, if so!

Monday, November 11, 2019

FRND CRCL Return with "Famous" Music Video & Digital Single from Upcoming 2020 Full-length (Ghost Killer Entertainment)

New Jersey-based Pop-Punk/Alternative band FRND CRCL have returned with their first single of 2019. "Famous" follows FRND CRCL's self-released 2018 EP, Promstarr. FRND CRCL's current line-up consists of Zac Johnson, Adam Skirvin, Dom Giacalone & Aaron Smith; oddly enough, I actually, used to work with Aaron at Shop Rite and went all through high school with Zac's older brother, Nick. FRND CRCL readily list blink-182, Green Day, Sum 41, Weezer, Good Charlotte, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beatles, Post Malone, Foo Fighters, Pinegrove, Moose Blood, You Me at Six, and My Chemical Romance amongst their "Artists We Also Like" on Facebook. FRND CRCL's "Famous" music video was premiered late last week at Minnesota-based Ghost Killer Entertainment. "Famous" features Adam Skirvin & Zac Johnson sharing vocal duties à la blink-182's Mark Hoppus & Tom DeLonge juxtaposed against a stark peach-colored background. FRND CRCL's Aaron Smith & Dom Giacalone appear throughout, as well, as the backgrounds gradually progress, mutate, and change. "Famous" was recorded at Bridgeton, New Jersey's own Monoplane Recording Studio with Tyler Skye, where FRND CRCL have been working on a new album to be released in early 2020. FRND CRCL's "Famous" is now available to purchase, download, or stream on your digital streaming platform of choice.

"A little background information on the song... It is mainly about how people, young and old, try to fit the mold of today's "trendy" society and almost lose sight of who they, actually, are as a person. As a band, we have been recording this song (and many other songs) for the past 13-14 months in a studio called Monoplane Recording Studio" [run] by our good friend, Tyler Skye. He is based right out of Bridgeton [New Jersey] and has been able to bring out the best of us by catering to what we wanted with this single and knowing our history as a band. We've been working relentlessly as a full 4-piece band for a while now and only want to push even farther and see how far we can go. We have big plans for 2020, which includes weekend tours around the Tri-State Area and, of course, an album. This single is just a glimpse of what we will offer early next year."

- Aaron Smith & Zac Johnson (@FRNDCRCL)

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Written Words: A Conversation with HAMMERED HULLS' Frontman Alec MacKaye & Guitarist Mark Cisneros (The Witzard Interview)

CREDIT: Claire Packer

Not only will Alec MacKaye forever be immortalized as the iconic "cover model" for multiple 7+12-inch releases for his older brother, Ian's bands, Minor Threat & The Teen Idles, he has, also, been in countless Punk/HarDCore bands of his own: Untouchables, (The) Faith, Ignition, The Warmers, and Bells Of.. MacKaye has not been part of a band, let alone any musical project, for 20+ years, following the demise of The Warmers with Amy Farina & Juan Carrera in 1997. After an extended self-imposed musical sabbatical, Alec MacKaye has finally returned with a new band. HAMMERED HULLS, featuring an array of Punk/HarDCore mainstays: Mark Cisneros, Mary Timony & Chris Wilson. Together, Cisneros, Timony & Wilson have played with Acquaintances, American Hearts, Autoclave, Chain & The Gang, Deathfix, Des Demonas, EX HEX, The Firebird Suite, Green 4, Helium, Hound, KID CONGO & THE PINK MONKEY BIRDS, Led Byrd, THE MAKE-UP, The Mary Timony Band, Medications, Mind Science of The Mind, Open City, Shake Ray, The Spells, Ted Leo / The Pharmacists, Titus Andronicus, Turbine, and Wild Flag.

"Every person in this band is a fan of every other person in this band. Mutual respect drives this train. To say they are an odd collection of influences is to understate the point. If you tried you couldn’t imagine what this band might sound like..." reads part of a HAMMERED HULLS band bio penned by Brendan Canty of Fugazi, Rites of Spring, and The Messthetics. Just this past summer, HAMMERED HULLS unleashed their debut 3-song self-titled (S/T) EP on Dischord Records in both digital and 7-inch formats, as recorded/produced by Don Zientara & Ian MacKaye at Inner Ear Studios. A few months ago, we were fortunate enough to send some HAMMERED HULLS-centric interview questions over to guitarist Mark Cisneros, who, in turn, sent them over to frontman Alec MacKaye, as well. So, now, we, here at The Witzard, are proud to present our comprehensive interview with 1/2 of HAMMERED HULLS!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Punk/HarDCore Diehard

I. Prior to forming HAMMERED HULLS, had any of you previously played together in any capacity?

Mark Cisneros: I think, only Mary [Timony] & I had played together before? I played bass for a couple shows in The Mary Timony Band with Faraquet/Medication's Chad Molter on drums. We were doing that brilliant solo stuff of hers, along with some Helium tunes. That was really great. I also, played some bass on an early EX HEX single. Mary's an absolute genius and one of my favorite guitarists and people of all time. Oh, come to think of it, I think, maybe, Alec once got up and did a Faith song with Ted Leo + The Pharmacists a little while back?

Alec MacKaye: Mark is correct—aside from a couple of spur-of-the-moment cover songs with The Pharmacists, I hadn't played with any of these folks (or anybody, at all, for the past 20 years) before.

II. What's HAMMERED HULLS' "origin story" like... I mean, how did the band initially form?

Mark Cisneros: Well, Chris [Wilson] & I had been talking about playing together for years. He's one of my favorite drummers and favorite people. Alec is, of course, a legend and one of our favorite singers and people, as well. Over the years, we had both asked Alec when he was going to start another band; so, Chris got the idea of the two of us starting a band and seeing if we could pull Alec out of "retirement." At the time, Mary & I had been starting to work on a new project, but once we told her about our plan, she was all for it. So, we asked Alec if he wanted to start a band with us, I did some rough demos of song ideas I'd been sitting on, he was into it, and, then, we got to work.

Alec MacKaye: That about tells it.

CREDIT: Claire Packer

III. How did you decide to partner with infamous D.C.-based imprint, Dischord Records to properly release HAMMERED HULLS' debut self-titled (S/T) EP?

Mark Cisneros: Dischord was our first choice. In our minds, it really had to be on Dischord. If they'd take us, of course. We recorded a 10-song demo for Ian [MacKaye] and he gave us the green light. It was his suggestion that we do a 7-inch first before the LP. Given our hectic individual schedules this year, the single serves as a placeholder, of sorts.

IV. What was it like working with Alec's brother, Ian MacKaye (Fugazi, Minor Threat) & Don Zientara again to record/produce your S/T EP?

Mark Cisneros: Classic Dischord recording team. We definitely wanted this release to be with Ian & Don at the helm over at Inner Ear [Studios]. Don is a legend and Ian always has great ideas. Ian is a real student of song craft. His musical tastes are incredibly varied.

Alec MacKaye: Most of the records I have worked on have happened in that studio, with those two people, starting in 1981 in the furnace room of Don's basement. So, for me, it felt like home and family, because it is.

V. Is it true the entirety of this 3-song EP was recorded in a single-day session at Don Zientara's own Inner Ear Studios!!?

Mark Cisneros: Yes, recorded and mixed in a day there at Inner Ear. Ian & Don work fast.

Alec MacKaye: ...and the players are some solid senders!

VI. What kind of traits would you say with of you bring to HAMMERED HULLS from your experience with your past bands, projects, recording entities, etc?

Alec MacKaye: I can only do it the way I always have: work and think and explore and drill deeper into the places where we are, rather than worry about what we "should" be doing. I don't know what that might produce, but I do know whatever it is, it will be ours and that makes it good.

CREDIT: Christopher Grady

VII. What type of meaning or connotation is the phrase "Hammered Hulls" intended to mean or possess as a band name?

Alec MacKaye: [It] comes from old advice on acquiring a wooden boat. You should stab it with a knife and hammer the hull. The knife will detect soft wood between the partner and the step: rot that may have set in near the mast. One should, also, "hammer the hull" and listen for the "thock" drumbeat sound of solid wood or the dull, deadblow tone of a rotten strake. A sound craft makes for a good journey.

VIII. Following the release of your S/T debut EP, what's next for HAMMERED HULLS (ie: more shows, music videos, singles, new material, etc.)?

Alec MacKaye: We have enough material for a long-player and are working on new [material]. We are game to play more shows, tour, as time permits, and if someone wants to pay for it, I can imagine doing video work. There is a lot being discussed and folks wanting to set up shows all over, but we don't have any concrete plans, aside from a show in D.C. in January [2020].

IX. Assuming you're all mutual fans and admirers of each other's pre-HAMMERED HULLS output, do you have any particular recommendations for new fans to the genre/band(s)?

Alec MacKaye: I don't really understand the question... so, I'll just recommend that HAMMERED HULLS fans spend a few hours chasing down all the varied and amazing bands and projects we have been a part of and enjoy the journey.

X. In addition to HAMMERED HULLS and your own active projects, what other D.C.-area artists/bands might you recommend fans of Dischord Records & HarDCore check out?

Mark Cisneros: There's a lot going on in D.C. right now: Amy Farina, Ian MacKaye & Joe Lally's new group, CORIKY, has just started playing shows and have an LP ready to go. Very cool stuff. Of course, there's The Messthetics with Brendan Canty, Joe Lally & Anthony Pirog. They're blowing the doors off of places! There's, also, The Effects, also, on Dischord, and T.K. Echo. And a lot of young bands really mixing it up, like Sneaks, Clear Channel, Priests, Mock Identity, Foul Swoops, Blacks' Myths, Janel Leppin [Priests,] Knife Wife, Time Is Fire, and more.

Alec MacKaye: Lightbeams, Puff Pieces, Gauche, Quattracenta... too many to list... D.C. keeps cranking! All the time and for all time...

(CR)EDIT: Matt Horowitz/Dischord Records

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Grave Danger Re-emerge with TOMB IT MAY CONCERN EP Featuring A "Skath" Cover of The Misfits' "Halloween" (Spooky Action Records)

"The world needs more Ska songs about skeletons and ghosts and stuff. 666th Wave Ska," reads the Bandcamp Bio of Berkeley, California-based Ska band, Grave Danger. Technically, Grave Danger have forged an entirely new genre for their releases: "Skath," which combines elements of both Ska & Goth, as well as Punk, Hardcore, and Rock. "The idea of a "Skath" band stems from a strange place: what would a Goth/Ska band sound like, one [that] combined The Misfits' aesthetic with Reel Big Fish's goofball schtick?" explains a Grave Danger press kit. Grave Danger is the brainchild of high school buds, David "Dave" Schwantes & Dane Erbach, who "spent the bulk of their gym class brainstorming fake bands with their friends, in an attempt to avoid whatever physical despair their P.E. teachers had in store for them that day." A selection of these faux groups included a "Death Metal" band called Throbbing Reaper, 80's "Hair Metal" rockers, Live Wire, and, of course, Grave Danger.

Grave Danger's current line-up includes Dave Schwantes on guitars, bass, keyboards, tenor/baritone sax, and backing vocals, drummer Dane Erbach, lead vocalist Chris Marcanti, trombonist Margaret Miller, trumpet player Andy Miller, Emily Erbach on theremin, and Elliot Schwantes with Alan Erbach, Josh Marcanti & Eileen Hays-Schwantes appearing frequently as part-time members. Grave Danger re-emerged from their crypt this Halloween with the proper follow-up to their 2018 debut EP, "LET 'ER RIP!" TOMB IT MAY CONCERN consists of four fun-loving, tongue-in-cheek originals and one cover, an updated Skath cover of The Misfits' beloved 1981 Horror-Punk single, "Halloween." TOMB IT CONCERN opener "Give Up The Ghost," additionally, seems to be a thinly-veiled allusion to American Nightmare's short-lived/one-time nom de plume, Give Up The Ghost, as well.

Mere days before All Hallow's Eve, NEW NOISE ran an exclusive premiere of Grave Danger's lead-off TOMB IT MAY CONCERN EP single, "Undead End Job." Song-writer Dave Schwantes told NEW NOISE: "'Undead End Job" is Grave Danger doing what it does best. The song has bouncy horn parts, a driving groove, and the line "had half a doughnut, though, I'm hungry for blood.'" Making spook-tacular usage of Grave Danger's typical four-piece horn section, synths, organs, and harmonies galore throughout, Schwantes says, "we tried to focus on giving each song on this record exactly what it needed to create a big sound, without muddying things up and "Undead [End Job]" is a great example of that spooky mix coming together." Grave Danger's TOMB IT MAY CONCERN EP is now available on your preferred digital streaming platform of choice, via Spooky Action Records, ghouls and gals!