Friday, January 31, 2020

Bobby Obsy Presents... ROBO BOY EP: The Debut Release from The Find Mag-affiliated Rucksack Records (All-around Breakdown)

"Rucksack Records is a new label founded by The Find Mag. The tagline is "LOOKING BACK, THINKING FORWARD," meaning a focus on progression in beat-making while, also, giving an ode to the past. I've decided to start it because I want to support producers who take things a step further; who dare to push boundaries. Think of beat-makers who, also, do (Jazz) instrumentation, for example. I guess, beats are the core of it all, but to put it in a broader perspective: Rucksack Records is all about Hip-Hop, Jazz, and beats.

I [bet you'll] think, "why not The Find Records?" That's a deliberate choice. I want The Find Mag to remain the independent editorial music platform it is, to protect it from becoming a "label promo machine." [They're] definitely going to be closely related to each other, but I, also, wanted to start something fresh, which, over time can, maybe, even venture into musical directions further from The Find's identity. Who knows. The label officially launches in April, with currently three vinyl records in-the-works. 'til then, Robo Boy is today's kick-off release to give a first glimpse of what's in store for Rucksack Records."

- Danny Veekens (@rucksack_records)

Exhibit 0 - INTRODUCTION: Who Is Bobby Obsy?

"Nick Poulianitis (AKA Bobby Obsy) is a London-based music producer and designer. His versatile workflow in music production involves mainly synthesizers [and] sample-based sounds with the help of vintage samplers and live bass. His career as a designer compliments his music persona and is mainly focused on character creation and concept art. His vision is to create new Sci-Fi worlds through his music and designs. His debut album, Rusty Gate, released on November 1, 2018, via Vinyl Digital, on all digital platforms, and, also, on vinyl through Qrates crowd-funding. The vinyl record is available on various digital platforms, such as HHV.DE and even in record stores in Japan, Jet Set Records being one of them. His [performing] experience as a DJ varies from DJ'ing in bars in Greece and London, to performing live beat sets at Oslo, Hackney venue in London, and at the 2017 Reworks Festival in Greece. Here's his thought process: design, thinking, and concept art on his new release, Robo Boy, which [consists] of three instrumental tracks."

Exhibit 1 - MUSIC: About The Music

"Before it gets down to concept, meanings, and statements, here is my thought process on the music production: the tracks' groove pattern doesn't stay the same, you'll notice pixelated transitions from my SP-404, metallic sound design from my trusty AKAI & Ensoniq 12-bit samplers, dreamy galactic melodies, and, of course, my favourite singing bass Jazzy melodies. The tricky part was to still make them easy to listen to, without becoming too technical. I see many producers easily falling into that trap. I needed the tracks to be easily consumed by anyone. Imagine looking at the Robo Boy art; Pop Art colours, easy on the eye, kid-friendly design next to a super-techy drum-less Jazz composition full of [freestyles, complex harmonies], etc. etc. Doesn't really make sense.

Every track can be considered "Hip-Hop" because all three of them are mainly based on Hip-Hop groove patterns. However, the structure is not your typical 4-minute loop that dominates the Hip-Hop industry since the 80's. All three tracks are influenced by the classical sonata, as well as the legendary discography of Charles Mingus. I was listening a lot to Mingus, while working on these three tracks. Creating a decent Hip-Hop groove can be relatively easy compared to other genres of music.

Creating a timeless Hip-Hop groove, especially, nowadays (a classic) is extremely hard. There are so many good producers out there doing just that and there are so many decent/great Hip-Hop music releases dropping every day. Even in this lo-fi over-saturated scene, almost any beat is, at least, decent. They all sound the same, but they are decent. I wouldn't mind any lo-fi playlist playing on the background, though.

I wanted to move away from that. And the way I chose to do it is by moving away from that 4-minute loop production workflow. If you look at Rusty Gate, it is exactly that. 4-minute loops all over the place. Back then, I was a Boom-Bap "purist," that's how I fell in love with Hip-Hop in the first place. Boom-Bap is still one of my favourite genres to vibe to. After releasing my "purist" Boom-Bap album, though, it is about time to move away from that. This EP marks the beginning of my adventures towards a new sound, a new signature style combined with my nerdy designs."

Exhibit 2 - MUSIC: Track Breakdown

"'Starclimber:" This track is a trip. It starts somewhere, it completely changes, at one point, and it comes back to the main theme. What I love the most about it is the drum pattern, complex and solid. The track is full of atmospheric synth, metallic Rhodes, and groovy sound FX. It really takes me to space. That is why I named it "Starclimber." In terms of the concept, when creating the track, I imagined Robo Boy flying through the galaxy. He is a "star-climber" and I wanted to create that vast space surrounding him. There is a mysterious feeling to this track. A combination of happiness and sadness.

"Astral Venture:" This is the "happy" track of the EP. There is this small intro, influenced straight from Japanese Anime intros. I even used Japanese harmony techniques to come up with that melody. I see it as the Robo Boy "theme song." If there was ever a Robo Boy Anime series, I would like the intro to be based on that beginning melody. "Astral Venture" is a song full of hope, full of sharp piano melodies to lead the track, and old school-style sampled repetitive trumpets. It represents Robo Boy's human aspect: him being naive and immature, in some ways.

"Electric Serenade:" "Electric Serenade" is the "heavier" track. This is the most Boom-Bap-y of all three tracks. I focused on the drums mostly. By focusing more on mid/low frequencies and the groove, I wanted to create that grounding feeling. The way I see this track is that it reminds me that the galaxy is black. Yes, it's vast and represents complete freedom from gravity and all that... but it's dark as Hell—and definitely dangerous. This track emits more energy than the other tracks. It is more like a "battle theme" for Robo Boy. It represents his powerful, serious mode, which he hasn't mastered yet."

Exhibit 3 - CONCEPT: Who Is Robo Boy?

"The album title refers to the character on the cover, who represents a concept of a new fantasy world. In that world, Robo Boy is humanity's last hope. We, humans, didn't take care good of our planet and today, the very core of Earth is collapsing. It's only a matter of time before Earth becomes uninhabitable. We invested all of planet's remaining resources in technology and with that being said, we created a highly intelligent and skilled cyborg, with the aim to travel the stars and find us a new habitable planet. This cyborg is Robo Boy.

He is designed with the highest-end technology and combines the power and intelligence of machines, as well as feelings and emotions. In our world, Artificial Intelligence uses machine learning to mimic human intelligence. The "computer" has to learn how to respond to certain actions, so it uses algorithms and historical data to start making predictions.

In this fantasy world, Robo Boy is an offspring of the highest level of Artificial Intelligence, but still needs to go through a similar learning curve. So, in non-machine terminology, he is still a kid. A naive teenager, who hasn't yet realised how important his mission is and how he can properly use his powerful abilities.

This is where the story begins. A naive cyborg teenager, travelling the stars, trying to find a new habitable planet in order to save humanity from [extinction]. He is enthusiastic for his upcoming adventures, but unaware of the dangers that come with them."

Exhibit 4 - CONCEPT: Purpose & Meaning of The Story

"It's pretty simple: I combined climate crisis and technology in one fantasy world. Robo Boy represents a potential positive outcome of the evolution of technology in the future. He represents freedom and hope for a better tomorrow. If you want to rock with Robo Boy, apart from the fact that he is the sweetest little cyborg character yet created, it's, also, because you want to be part of a bright future for mankind and for our planet.

Nowadays is as crazy as it's ever been. There is just so much going on. There is so much debate on how technology will affect our lives, while Australia is burning for two years straight. Let's all hope for the best and strive to becoming the best versions of ourselves. Robo Boy symbolises this idea of good change."

EXhibit 5 - CONCEPT: How I Came Up with The Idea

"I moved to London [in] September 2018, when I was about to release my debut LP, Rusty Gate. My life changed dramatically. I moved to one of the great cities [in] the world. Fast-paced lifestyle, multi-culturalism, [and] high-end technology in everyday life in a career-oriented culture. As you can imagine, coming from Thessaloniki (Greece,) I found this transition quite overwhelming in the beginning. Working as a bartender in Central London (yup, pays the bills,) I come across hundreds of people every day, having all sorts of convos. It was easy to spot two of the most popular subjects of discussion: 1.) climate crisis and 2.) the rapid growth of technology. These two subjects, along with my ever-growing need to progress and expand my arsenal of skills, in regards to the arts, influenced Robo Boy greatly.

"Let's create a robot character," I thought. And make some pixelated music, to send out a message reminding us to be aware of our relationship with technology. Also, the climate crisis is really happening right now and this sucks majorly. With my new release I thought, I [wanted] to present a new character to the world, which, through, music and design, will represent this idea of a brighter future. The reason why I care so much about just three tracks—investing my time building on a solid concept and creating bespoke illustrations—is only because of the over-saturated market in Instrumental Hip-Hop. This release is a statement.

My mentor and great friend, Propo'88, showed me the true, real way of taking care of business, when it comes to music production, [and] paying for mixing and mastering, as well as investing in good cover art. I have to give him credit for that and, I believe, that this is how every artist should approach his or her work. That's what I tried to evoke by working on an entire concept for Robo Boy. Feedmyego mixed these tracks and [Ivo] Statinski mastered them. Both of these professionals are a pleasure to work with."

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Suicide Machines Re-emerge with Roger Lima-produced "Awkward Always" from First Album In 15 Years Revolution Spring (Fat Wreck Chords)

CREDIT: Mark Marfa Capodanno (Fat Wreck Chords)

Detroit-based Ska Punks The Suicide Machines were initially active for 15 years from 1991-2006 and remained disbanded for about three years before reuniting in 2009. They've been actively playing "reunion" shows ever since and at a gig with The Code in May 2018, announced they were currently working on a new record. "In December 2019, Fat Mike dropped a list of albums that were coming out in 2020. One of them was The Suicide Machines and today, we finally get to unveil the details!" read an exclamatory press release from Fat Wreck Chords. Said Suicide Machines album, Revolution Spring, has a street date of Friday, March 27, 2020 and yesterday, we were unexpectedly treated to its lead-off single, "Awkward Always." Revolution Spring was recorded in "about 12 days" at Recordo Rancho, a studio run by Marc Jacob Hudson, who currently plays bass for Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers. The Suicide Machines' line-up heard across Revolution Spring includes frontman Jason "Jay" Navarro, drummer Ryan Vandeberghe, bassist Rich Tschirhart, and guitarist Justin Malek. Oddly enough, Malek is/was, also, the drummer in Navarro's post-Suicide Machines band, Hellmouth, as well.

Revolution Spring was produced by Roger "Lima" Manganelli of Less Than Jake fame, along with The Code frontman Marc Code; Lima & Code painstakingly whittled down 30 new songs The Suicide Machines wrote and recorded over the last few years into the 16 tracks now featured across Revolution Spring. According to Fat Wreck Chords, Revolution Spring, the band's seventh studio album and first since 2005's War Profiteering Is Killing Us All, is "full of blistering, rousing songs [that] finds the band on truly explosive and energetic form." "This album is legitimately pretty autobiographical," Jay Navarro explains. "A lot of it is very personal–about how I am and where I am now and how I got where I am now mentally. I kind of wanted to leave my children with an understanding of who I am as an older person. Maybe, years from now, when I've passed away, they can pick up the record and look at the lyrics and listen to it and, if they didn't already know exactly, go "okay, so this is what dad is about,'" he continued. The Suicide Machines' new single, "Awkward Always," is now available on digital streaming services. Revolution Spring is currently available for pre-order directly from Fat Wreck Chords and will see a wide release on Friday, March 2, 2020.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Saudade Music Collective Recruit Lamb of God's D. Randall Blythe & Lee "Scratch" Perry for New Single "Lions" (Sargent House)

Saudade is a music collective from THolyGhost consisting of Chuck Doom, Dr. Know, Mackie Jayson, John Medeski, Gil Sharone, Robert Thomas, Jr. and David Torn. Together, Saudade's players have either recorded music or spent time playing with Deftones, Team Sleep, ††† (Crosses,) Bad Brains, Cro-Mags, Marilyn Manson, Medeski, Martin & Wood, David Bowie, Weather Report, Hazen Street, Madball, Palms, The Million Dollar Bashers, and more. Chuck Doom, who, seemingly, spearheads Saudade, by most accounts, is a protégé of legendary Jazzman/bassist, Jaco Pastorius. Saudade have, thus far, collaborated with a slew of part-time members across their releases to date, including Chris Bittner, D. Randall Blythe, Yeti Bones, Frank Maddocks, theOGM, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Chelsea Wolfe. Saudade, initially, burst onto the scene in 2016 with the release of their debut self-titled single, which featured core members Chino Moreno, Chuck Doom, Dr. Know, John Medeski & Mackie Jayson, as BitTorrent-exclusive digital bundle. Saudade have since signed with Sargent House and released three digital singles throughout 2019: "Shadows & Light" with Chelsea Wolfe, "Crisis" and "Sanctuary Dub" with Hip-Hop/Hardcore Punk group, Ho99o9 (pronounced: "Horror.) Ho99o9 recently added ex-Black Flag drummer Brandon Pertzborn as their newest member.

Another new track, "MyGoalsBeyond," additionally, recently appeared on a 12-inch/digital EP for Shadows & Light / Sanctuary Dub, along with aforementioned "Crisis." Today, Saudade suddenly returned with a widely unannounced sixth digital single entitled "Lions;" this time, featuring a line-up consisting of Dr. Know, David Torn, John Medeski, Robert Thomas, Jr. Mackie Jayson & Chuck Doom, along with D. Randall Blythe & Lee "Scratch" Perry. Yes, that's "D. Randall Blythe" as in Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe filling in for Chino Moreno on "Lions" and sharing co-lead vocals with esteemed Reggae/Dub producer and Beastie Boys collaborator Lee "Scratch" Perry. Saudade have shared music videos for both "Lions" & "Sanctuary Dub," which are, essentially, eerie multi-media collages mixed with assorted behind-the-scenes/in-studio footage behind the making-of each respective track. It's currently unclear where "Lions" Feat. D. Randall Blythe & Lee "Scratch" Perry will ultimately end up... but it's currently streaming, via THolyGhost Recordings under exclusive license to Sargent House. Saudade's Shadows & Light / Sanctuary Dub 12-inch vinyl EP is now available through Sargent House, but limited to just 1,000 copies.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Durand Jones & The Indications Release Spot-on Cover of David Bowie's 1975 Philly Soul Single "Young Americans" (Dead Oceans)

Durand Jones & The Indications dressed as The Batmen (@voodoonola) 🎃

David Bowie once described his then-new album, Young Americans, as [being] "the definitive Plastic Soul record. It's the squashed remains of ethnic music, as it survives in the age of Muzak, written and sung by a White Limey" within an 1976 Playboy interview. Said terminology was previously used by Paul McCartney to describe The Beatles' 1965 album, Rubber Soul, as well as Bowie's most commercially-successful album, Let's Dance (1983.) David Bowie and producer, Tony Visconti, recorded Young Americans primarily in Philadelphia between August 1974 & January 1975 with a slew of local musicians; this including an early-career Luther Vandross, Sly & The Family Stone drummer Andy Newmark, Carlos Alomar (James Brown, Chuck Berry, Iggy Pop,) and later, John Lennon at secondary sessions in New York. "Young Americans," actually, interpolates the Lennon-sung line, "I heard the news today, oh boy!" from The Beatles' own deep album cut, "A Day In The Life," which originally appeared on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Although, not explicitly featured on "Young Americans," John Lennon did, however, contribute guitar and backing vocals to both his own "Across The Universe" and "Fame" elsewhere on Young Americans.

Now, nearly 45 years after its initial release, Neo-Soul revivalists Durand Jones & The Indications have released their own cover of David Bowie's "Young Americans" from his 1975 album of the same name. The Indications' core line-up consists of guitarist Blake Rhein, drummer Aaron Frazer, bassist Kyle Houpt, keyboardist, Steve Okonski, and, of course, namesake Durand Jones. Jones recently appeared on a yuletide vinyl-only cover of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas" with The Lions/Aggrolites super-group, The Night Owls. Durand Jones & The Indications have released two critically-acclaimed full-length albums, a self-titled 2016 album and its 2019 follow-up American Love Call, on Dead Oceans/Colemine Records. "Young Americans" is Durand Jones & The Indications' second stand-alone/non-album single since releasing American Love Call last year. It's currently unclear as to whether "Young Americans" and it's predecessor, "Cruisin' to The Park," will end up re-appearing on a new EP, full-length, or something similar from The Indications. For the most part, Durand Jones & The Indications' version retains the original Blue-eyed/Philadelphia Soul charm embodied throughout David Bowie's "Young Americans." Durand Jones & The Indications' "Young Americans" single is now available digitally through Dead Oceans.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Jumbled & Eben Dennis "Hit It Out of The Park" with CodyCodyJones, Sarah FM & Swampwalk-assisted ORSULAK EP (Harford Reckord Tapes)

We've been repping Jumbled AKA John Bachman here at The Witzard ever since his 2018 release, [I wish it was longer] or simply, WIWL. Self-described as "somewhere between Madlib & Mike Watt," the teacher, husband, father, beat-maker, dish-washer has been nothing short of productive these last four years. Bachman is a huge component in both the Baltimore and East Coast Hip-Hop music scenes and has, personally, been a great ally here at The Witzard. Jumbled has released action shots ep, The Ghost of Len Bias with UllNevaNo, THE INSULT with Dwell as Bully Preston, Merry Christmess, YOU DON'T KNOW?!, You Best Not Miss with Lace Berriez, Padre, and August Heat all on his own imprint, Harford & Reckord Tapes since WIWL. His latest effort, ORSULAK, definitely doesn't disappoint either; here, Jumbled has joined forces once more with his long-time friend and collaborator, Eben Dennis, for something that's a little more Mike Watt-leaning than his typical output. John Bachman was approached to create a Film Noir-style song for use in a film and soon reached out to Dennis to supply some guitar riffs for use as sample sources.

Lo and behold, said film was never, actually, released, but Jumbled managed to turn the 15-20 isolated guitar licks Eben Dennis sent into the nine tracks now featured on ORSULAK. Bachman & Dennis had previously collaborated on "Sam Adams" from [I wish it was longer], as well as a track for a Twin Peaks tribute album, and were/are in Baltimore-based Indie Rock band, Soft Peaks, together. ORSULAK is, of course, an homage to lesser-known baseball journeyman, Joe Orsulak, who played for both The Pittsburgh Pirates and The Baltimore Orioles. Jumbled & Eben Dennis reached out to a few friends for vocal embellishments: emcee CodyCodyJones from Pittsburgh, singer Sarah FM from Baltimore, and singer Swampwalk from Pittsburgh. Also, in tribute to Joe Orsulak's tenure with The Orioles & The Pirates, ORSULAK is available on a super-limited edition 8-inch lathe-cut vinyl available with either orange or yellow logo variants designed by salk. AKA clint. Nichols. There were only 15 total 8" lathes made and there are currently just EIGHT left on Jumbled's Bandcamp page. Jumbled & Eben Dennis' ORSULAK EP is currently only available on Bandcamp, but should be gong live on streaming services later this week.

"In Summer of 2018, Jumbled was approached about creating a Film Noir-style song for use in a film... so, he reached out to friend and old bandmate, guitarist, Eben Dennis. The two had collaborated on tracks before; including "Sam Adams" from Jumbled's first album, [I wish it was longer], creating a track for a Twin Peaks tribute album, and playing in Baltimore band, Soft Peaks. While the film never came out, Jumbled is proud to present a new project called ORSULAK (a nod to lesser-known baseball journeyman, Joe Orsulak.) Instead of collaborating on just one track, Dennis sent 15-20 isolated guitar tracks that Jumbled chopped up into these nine songs.

Adding some bass and other layers, he, then, reached out to a few friends for vocals. This is his first time adding sung vocals to his beats, working with Swampwalk & Sarah FM. While each take a different approach, both flow over the tracks. The final track on the EP, "Swing & A Miss," is another "home run" from Jumbled & CodyCodyJones. The performances from Swampwalk & CodyCodyJones (both living in Pittsburgh,) alongside Baltimore's Jumbled & Sarah FM, make a fitting tribute to Orsulak—who spent time with The Pirates, as well as The Baltimore Orioles."

- Jumbled (@NapalmDef) ⚾

Friday, January 24, 2020

Jay "J-Zone" Mumford Pens Liner Notes for The M-Tet's Just Announced Sophomore Album TOTAL NONSTOP ACTION (Funk Night Records)

CREDIT: Ivan Scruby/NOBL (@noblphotos)

"Growth is a slippery slope for musicians. Once you've become established for a sound and style, the expectation to adhere to what put you where you are looms overhead at every writing session, rehearsal, and show. Purists for Meters-style Funk would, probably, scoff at a band suddenly rolling out Yamaha DX-7's and double-neck guitars, no matter how stank the groove. But, then, there's the musician's inner itch for exploration, experimentation, and expansion that keeps the process that much more exciting at a time where most of us won't reach higher tax brackets through music. The incentive to keep going is growth. But, perhaps, the most difficult feat is straddling the line—to grow and build upon a trademark sound while managing to not alienate a core audience. Bay Area Funk quartet, The M-Tet, manage to pull off the ever elusive Option C on their sophomore long-player, TOTAL NONSTOP ACTION.

Lead single, "Gotta Be with You" kicks off the affair and after an opening drum break from Michael Reed—who was gracious enough to let me use his vintage Ludwig set on a recent gig I played with Ben Pirani's band and The M-Tet in Oakland—it's evident that The M-Tet has already expanded upon the late 60's era Booker T/Meters influence of their debut LP. The melodies are more polished and the production more elaborate, but without losing the grease. "You Should See The Other Guy," my personal favorite track on the album, incorporates a mean, driving shuffle, while Joe Baer Magnant's driving guitar tone and Gary Pitman's hair-raising chords evoke some of the grittier early 70's Blues-Rock in only a hair above two minutes. Speaking of Blues, "That Old Hammond Organ" introduces a slinky 12/8 groove ripe for a Soul soliloquy with Pitman conducting the sermon. "What's Left to Give" gives us sweetness with groove, while "Pinch Hitter" brings the horns—in particular the big baritone sax—to the party for a hip-shaking nod to the world of Dyke & The Blazers and a look at the band's wide range of Soul influences.

Fans of The M-Tet's debut (2017's Long Play) need not fret over the more varied terrain, though. They cover the reliable bread and butter Funk with syncopated, Hammond and guitar-driven nuggets, like "Katrin's Deli" and let Reed flex on the kit with the nasty second single, "Ray Ban, Pt. 2"—ripe with beautifully nerve-pinching guitar sound F/X recorded live to tape. But "VAMP, Oakland" manages to merge ol' reliable with something new: The M-Tet's trademark quartet Funk with layers of percussion, courtesy of Jungle Fire/Sure Fire Soul Ensemble's own Steve Haney.

Regardless of the variations in style, groove, and mojo, the driving force of the rhythm section is the glue that gives the virtuosity of Magnant & Pitman a nice canvas to throw down. Bassist Chris Lujan drives the bus, tastefully flexing when it fits, but never intruding on the groove, while Reed's right foot and left hand have a discussion that greasily (is that a word?) stitches it all together.

Overall, TOTAL NONSTOP ACTION is just that—a relentless ride through Funk & Soul that ebbs and flows though different influences, but never slows down. And an example of staying true to an overall aesthetic, without being a facsimile."

- Jay "J-Zone" Mumford (The Du-Rites)

The M-Tet's anxiously-awaited sophomore full-length, TOTAL NONSTOP ACTION, will see a wide release on Friday, March 13, 2020. It will, likely, be released across digital retailers, but physical vinyl copies are extremely limited to 500 LP's world-wide on Funk Night Records (Fnr.) The M-Tet's previously released 7-inch singles on Fnr will, also, re-appear here in part, as "Gotta Be with You," "VAMP, Oakland," "Ray Ban, Pt. 2," and an impassioned cover of Childish Gambino's Funk-drenched hit, "Redbone," are featured across TOTAL NONSTOP ACTION, as well. The M-Tet's members either are/were part of Majestic Soul, The Incredible Say Whats! Thelugknuckles, Chris Lujan & Electric Butter, Joe Baer Magnant Group, Secret Sidewalk, Gene Washington & The Sweet Sounds, and more. The M-Tet's TOTAL NONSTOP ACTION is now available for pre-order directly from Funk Night Records with a street date of Friday, March 13, 2020.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

With The Quickness #2: Descendents/ALL Artist Chris Shary Curates Playlist Full of 20 Punk Favorites (Exclusive Spotify Playlist)

"SUNNY & SHARY Beach Umbrella Rental" (Artist Unknown)

Chris Shary is a Descendents/ALL-affiliated artist, drama teacher, father, husband, dork, and self-described "Grade "A" [Certified] smarta$$." Shary has been scribblin' pictures of mostly Punk bands ever since 1988 and had a short-lived music career himself; making records with his own bands, Evel Knievel Rice, Pilot Car, and Sizewell, as well as performing back-up vocals on 7Seconds' Leave A Light On and Down By Law's Blue. While most well-known for his work with Descendents/ALL, Chris Shary has created album artwork, T-shirts, concert flyers, etc. for blink-182, The Dead Milkmen, The Dickies, FIELD DAY (ex-Dag Nasty,) The Germs, Good Riddance, The Queers, Redd Kross, Rise Against, and Teenage Bottlerockets. Chris Shary designed the artwork for Descendents' Cool to Be You, Hypercaffium Spazzinate, SpazzHazard 12-inch EP, and and "Feel This" 7-inch flexi-disc.

Shary, also, created the cover artwork for ALL's albums Mass Nerder, ALL, Problematic, and Live Plus One with Descendents. Chris Shary says he's, likely, designed hundreds of T-shirts for countless Punk bands since '88. It appears as though Shary was very recently drawn into an episode of FOX's beloved animated sitcom, Bob's Burgers. With The Quickness #2 features 20 tracks hand-selected by Chris Shary himself showcasing everyone from Black Flag to Swingin' Utters and even a "deep cut" from Desmond Dekker & The Aces from 1968! An assortment of Shary's hand-made goods and products are available to purchase directly from his Big Cartel store with an additional assortment of limited edition T-shirts available from Bifocal Media. I would strongly suggest Following Chris Shary (@chrisshary) on Instagram, if you don't already, as his Punk-themed posts are well worth your while!


01. Black Flag - "Rise Above" from Damaged (1981)

02. Snuff - "Hey, Boff!" from There's A Lot of It About (2019)

03. Swingin' Utters - "Undertaker, Undertake" from Peace & Love (2018)

04. The Damned - "Love Song" from Machine Gun Etiquette (1979)

05. Redd Kross - "Jone Hoople" from Beyond The Door (2019)

06. Groovie Ghoulies - "Chupacabra" from Go! Stories (2002)

07. Madness - "Bullingdon Boys" Non-Album Single (2019)

08. Desmond Dekker & The Aces - "Israelites" from Intensified (1968)

09. L7 - "Dispatch from Mar-a-Lago" Non-Album Single (2017)

10. Gameface - "I Owe You One" Non-Album Single (2019)

11. The Lillingstons - "Night Visions" from Stella Sapiente (2017)

12. The Slits - "Typical Girls" from Cut (1979)

13. Meat Puppets - "Nine Pins" from Dusty Notes (2019)

14. SHARP/SHOCK - "Superficial" from Youth Club (2018)

15. Jawbreaker - "The Boat Dreams from The Hill" from 24 Hour Revenge Therapy (1994)

16. Fireburn - "Controller" from Shine EP (2018)

17. PEARS - "Green Star" from Green Star (2016)

18. Direct Hit! - "Blood On Your Tongue" from Human Movement with PEARS (2017)

19. 7Seconds - "Satyagraha" from Soulforce Revolution (1989)

20. Masked Intruder - "Please, Come Back to Me" from III (2019)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Richmond, Virginia Hardcore Punks Ghouli Return with Debut EP NOTHING with Bob Quirk (Doctor & Mechanic Recordings)

Ghouli are a macabre-inspired Richmond, Virginia-based Hardcore Punk band, who just released their debut EP, NOTHING, earlier this morning. We, actually, first learned about Ghouli last week, when Stereogum Senior Editor, Tom Breihan, posted the first installment of his new Let The Roundup Begin: The Month In Hardcore - January 2020 column. Ghouli hail from an area that boasts a decades-long pedigree of great Punk/Hardcore bands, which includes newcomers One Step Closer, CANDY, Break Away, NOSEBLEED, Division of Mind, Red Vision, and Left Cross. Ghouli were formed in early 2018 and their current line-up consists of frontwoman Sam Poe, guitarist Mikey Kent, bassist Ethan Mackenzie, and drummer Eric Kelly, including former members of Hold Tight, Radio Reds, and Teen Death. Mikey Kent recently told The Witzard, via email, that Ghouli are "heavily influenced by 80's Hardcore bands, like T.S.O.L. & Poison Idea, old school Death Rock, like Christian Death, and 2000's bands, like Government Warning, Direct Control & F*CKED UP."

NOTHING is Ghouli's proper follow-up to their self-released 2018 Demo. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Bob Quirk—who has previously worked with Iron Reagan, Fried Egg, left Cross, and Haircut—during Summer 2019 at Ground Up Studio. According to Discogs, Quirk, also, recorded, mixed, and mastered Ghouli's 2018 self-titled Demo EP. Much like its predecessor, NOTHING was self-released digitally on Ghouli's Bandcamp page with clear red-hinted cassettes available from Orlando, Florida-based imprint, Doctor & Mechanic Recordings AKA DAM Recordings. With six frantic tracks clocking in at just under 13 minutes, NOTHING is a guttural "punch" to the head, reminiscent of Black Flag's 1981 full-length debut, Damaged cover image. Ghouli's upcoming gigs include 1/22: Richmond, Virginia (RVA) with Lipid & Iron Cages at VSC and 2/7: Norfolk, Virginia with Bato at Studio 239B. Ghouli's NOTHING EP is now available on digital streaming platforms, as well as the aforementioned cassette tapes, via Doctor & Mechanic Recordings.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

"More Than Toast" Re-mastered Single/Flexi-disc from Mtx forever: A HISTORY OF THE CONCEPT OF THE MR. T EXPERIENCE (Sounds Rad!)

The Mr. T Experience (oftentimes, abbreviated as "MTX") are a long-standing Punk Rock/Pop-Punk establishment hailing from Berkeley, California. MTX have been active ever since 1985 and are a product of the same local "scene" as The Donnas/Electrocutes, Green Day, Jawbreaker, NOFX, Operation Ivy, Rancid, and Tilt. They, also, share stylistic similarities with other bands not native to The Bay Area, who are, often, closely associated with this movement, such as The Queers, Screeching Weasel, and The Groovie Ghoulies. MTX's unique sound is, additionally, characterized by a heavy Ramones-ian influence and they even went as far as to cover 1978's Road to Ruin in full, as part of Selfless/Clearview Records' Ramones Covers Album Series. MTX were mainstays at iconic Punk/Hardcore club, 924 Gilman Street/Gilman during the 1990-2000's and were signed to Lookout! Records 'til about 2004. The Mr. T Experience's current line-up consists of "Dr." Frank Portman, Ted Angel, Bobby "J" Jordan, and Jaz Brown. Trusty fans of The Witzard may know MTX from their appearance on 1996 comp. Generations I: A Punk Look At Human Rights, which was covered, here, as part of the eighth and final(?) installment of John Swan III's beloved Various Artists: How Compilations Influenced A Generation column.

MUSIC VIDEO CREATED BY: Madeline Brownley "on her dad's phone"

While it's not exactly "new" material, The Mr. T Experience have returned at the top of 2020 with quite a few exciting announcements in tow for both long-time and newfound fans: a special 5x7" Valentine's Day flexi-disc version of "More Than Toast," a career-spanning 24-song 2xLP entitled Mtx forever: A HISTORY OF THE CONCEPT OF THE MR. T EXPERIENCE, and a couple new seasonally-appropriate T-shirt designs. Said 5x7" "audible valentine" features a newly re-mastered version of "More Than Toast" from 1994's Our Bodies Our Selves. It will, also, be featured on Mtx forever, along with an assortment of 23 additional greatest hits, fan favorites, and deep cuts from across The Mr. T Experience's 30-year catalog. MTX's "More Than Toast" flexi-disc/valentine is currently available for pre-order directly from Sounds Rad! along with either a CANDY HEARTS T-SHIRT or "SONGS ABOUT GIRLS" T-SHIRT. As of 1/20/10, members of Sounds Rad!/MTX's Mailing List will have received a special "Dibs! List" email invite, letting them sign up for a special Dibs!-only pre-pre-order version of Mtx forever. It's further explained as a "limited [edition] first pressing LP on 180-gram lavender vinyl with a large-format poster shipped in a super-Rad custom shipping box" that's limited to just 300 packages. Dibs! List pre-orders will go live on Valentine's Day and are expected to start shipping by or before March 2, 2020. Mtx forever: A HISTORY OF THE CONCEPT OF THE MR. T EXPERIENCE will, then, see a wide release on Friday, March 13, 2020.

Mtx forever 2xLP Tracklist:


01. "Love American Style"
02. "More Than Toast"
03. "I Believe In You"
04. "Hell of Dumb"
05. "Naomi"
06. "Deep Deep Down"


07. "She's Coming (Over Tonight)"
08. "Dumb Little Band"
09. "The End of The Ramones"
10. "Oh, Just Have Some Faith In Me"
11. "Even H*tler Had A Girlfriend"


01. "Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba"
02. "Book of Reverberation"
03. "I Wrote A Book About Rock & Roll"
04. "The History of The Concept of The Soul"
05. "F**ked Up On Life"
06. "I Don't Need You Now"


07. "Swallow Everything"
08. "I Fell for You"
09. "Zero"
10. "...And I Will Be with You"
11. "Leave The Thinking to The Smart People"
12. "London"

Friday, January 17, 2020

Four Year Strong Return with "Talking Myself In Circles" & "Brain Pain" from Upcoming Album BRAIN PAIN (Pure Noise Records)

CREDIT: Lupe Bustos (Big Picture Media)

Worcester, Massachusetts-based Melodic Hardcore/Pop-Punk band Four Year Strong have finally returned with the announcement of their long-awaited fifth full-length album BRAIN PAIN, produced by Will Putney. Fans have been eagerly awaiting a proper follow-up to Four Year Strong's self-titled 2015 album, which was "followed-up" by a 2017 Odds & Ends-style compilation called Some of You Will Like This, Some of You Won't. Four Year Strong consists of vocalist/guitarists Dan O'Connor & Alan Day, bassist Joe Weiss, and drummer Jackson "Jake" Massucco. To be completely honest, I had never heard of Four Year Strong (FYS) 'til the other day, when my buddy at work casually mentioned "Four Year Strong had a new single out;" it soon clicked that I vaguely recognized the name "Four Year Strong" because I had received an email earlier that very same morning from a press agent at Big Picture Media. Come to find out, once I checked my email again, Four Year Strong had not only released ONE, but TWO new songs that fateful day!

Going into this completely blindly... I really didn't know what to expect, aside from the fact that FYS' label, Pure Noise Records, had recently released super-strong efforts from the likes of Bayside, Senses Fail, Microwave, Selfish Things, Save Face/Graduating Life, and Hawthorne Heights, yes, THAT Hawthorne Heights. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed by the overall sound, style, and feel of Four Year Strong's "Talking Myself In Circles" and "Brain Pain." Especially, lead-off single, "Talking Myself In Circles," which has, additionally, received an accompanying music video. It's a rather chilling, yet great video that, somehow, falls somewhere in-between Marilyn Mason's gut-wrenching early 2000's visuals and OK Go's unique brand of stop-motion/single-shot trickery. Also, major shout-out to drummer Jackson "Jake" Massucco for sporting a Gang Starr T-shirt throughout "Talking Myself In Circles." Four Year Strong's fifth studio album, BRAIN PAIN, will be released Friday, February 28, 2020 on Pure Noise Records. Four Year Strong's "Talking Myself In Circles" & "Brain Pain" are now available on your digital streaming platform of choice.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Spike Jonze-directed Beastie Boys Story "Live Documentary" Set to Premeire In IMAX Theatres & On Apple TV+ (Fresh Bread & Pulse Films)

CREDIT: Atiba Jefferson / Glen E. Friedman (Apple)

BEASTIE BOYS BOOK is a phenomenal 571-page historical document and mixed-media hardcover book written by surviving Beasties Michael "Mike D" Diamond & Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz released on SPIEGEL & GRAU in 2018. It was, of course, written following the untimely death of founding Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch on May 4, 2012, now known world-wide as MCA Day, but is without a doubt, a well-written tribute to his life and career. Last year, following widespread critical/fan-acclaim of BEASTIE BOYS BOOK, Mike Diamond & Adam Horovitz went on tour in support of their book somewhat confusingly billed as, "BEASTIE BOYS STORY: A 2 PERSON 1 MAN SHOW ABOUT 3 KIDS WHO STARTED A BAND TOGETHER." It wad directed by long-time collaborator and friend Spike Jonze and appeared to be, by most accounts, something to the effect of a live audio book version of BEASTIE BOYS BOOK. Now, it has been announced that a "live documentary," also, called Beastie Boys Story, again, directed by Jonze will see a limited release in IMAX theatres, as well "home video" on Apple TV+.

"The film is set to premiere on the heels of the 26th anniversary of the release of Beastie Boys' #1 charting 1994 album, Ill Communication, and reunites Beastie Boys with director Spike Jonze over 25 years after directing the music video for the album's immortal hit single, "Sabotage," explains a press release supplied by Nasty Little Man. Beastie Boys Story will open exclusively in select IMAX theatres for a limited engagement starting April 3, before premiering globally on Apple TV+ on April 24. According to a mysterious man named "Larry" (an allusion to "The Larry Routine?") this will all "make more sense once you see the trailer that the film-makers haven't finished editing yet..." Additionally, there's a new comprehensive photo book from the Beastie Boys & Spike Jonze, simply titled Beastie Boys, dropping on March 17, 2020, via Rizzoli New York. Long-time Beasties photographer and friend Glen E. Friedman recently put together a book of his own called Together Forever: The Run-D.M.C. & Beastie Boys Photographs, via Rizzoli New York, as well.

CREDIT: Tobin Yelland (2019)

"There are some friends you have lunch with so many times over the years, you know their order. Spike is one of those friends. And even when you don't recognize anything on the menu, he comes up with something good for the whole table. Like when we wondered what to do when our book comes out... then, Spike placed his order: you will put on a show for the children."

- Mike Diamond & Adam Horovitz

"I owe Beastie Boys a lot. One time, they pulled me out of a burning ship and another time, they helped me cheat on my college exam to get into Florida State. So, it was a real privilege to get to reunite with them and help them tell their story."

- Spike Jonze

"This is the eighth time I've re-written this thing, the film-makers kept telling me I was doing it wrong, but I'm really feeling this one. Here's what the film is: Mike Diamond & Adam Horovitz of Beastie Boys tell you an intimate, personal story of their band and their 40 years of friendship together. From the 1980's New York City Punk scene, to "[You Gotta] Fight for Your Right (to Party)" and becoming the first Hip-Hop artists to make a #1 record (Licensed to Ill,) through their evolution, which took them to "Sabotage," "Intergalactic," and beyond. Created with their old friend, their former grandfather, and collaborator, film-maker Spike Jonze, the film seamlessly mixes a live stage show and documentary to create a new format, a live documentary.

Does that make sense? It'll make more sense when you see the trailer that the film-makers haven't finished editing yet, despite constant badgering. But anyways, I'm not mad. In this film that was shot at Kings Theater in Brooklyn, Mike D & Ad-Rock discuss their evolution as musicians, artists, and people and a whole bunch of other crazy sh*t. Their co-conspirator, musician, activist, inventor, discredited astrophysics professor, and my favorite Beastie Boy, Adam Yauch, couldn't be there that night because he passed away in 2012. But even though he's not there, his spirit is very much felt onstage through Mike & Adam and the force of nature that was Yauch, their band, and their friendship."

- "Larry"

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Witzard Premiere: dubldragon. Share Joshua "Zeus" Thomas-directed "Marble" Music Video from Macroforms (Milled Pavement Records)

dubldragon. is a Bay Area, California-based Hip-Hop group consisting of emcee Chad "Skeptik" Porras and producer Dan "Danny G." Gensel. They have affiliations with The Lobetrotters Collective, Full Moon Freakz, and Deep Thinka Records and are currently signed to BRZOWSKI's imprint, Milled Pavement Records. dubldragon.'s latest album, Macroforms, was released in November 2019 on Milled Pavement. Macroforms has been described as "an examination of man's place (or lack thereof) in the universe. In a digital space, what meaning does physicality have? When man has depleted The Earth entirely, will we have anywhere to ruin next in its place? Where do the divisions lie between, wants, needs, and desires? As unanswerable as it may be, it sure is fun to think about, isn't it?" Skeptik & Danny G. have already released two music videos for "Case" and "The Aleph" from the album. Supposedly, there are, at least, TWO MORE music videos ready to go from Macroforms, as well.

Today, we proudly present The Witzard premiere of the third music video from dubldragon.'s Macroforms, "Marble." Directed and edited by Joshua "Zeus" Thomas, "Marble" is, as dubldragon. explains it, "a celebration of the artistic process." dubldragon. continues, "from dancers to musicians to painters to sculptors and beyond, we all face the trials and tribulations, the highs and the lows, and the successes and defeats that come along with being creative." "Marble" chronicles the unique creative processes, trials, and tribulations of San Francisco sculptor Amanda Maranca, San Jose emcee, producer, and painter Lyrics In Full Effect AKA L.I.F.E. Sacramoento's own singer, emcee, producer, and dancer Spacewalker, and dubldragon.'s in-house producer Danny G. "Marble," as well as the entirety of Macroforms, teeters the line between Hip-Hop, Electronic, and a wide array of genres and sub-genres. dubldragon.'s Macroforms is now available to download, purchase, or stream on Milled Pavement Records. Stay in touch with dubldragon. via their website, and Subscribe for regular non-invasive updates!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Henry Rollins Speaks On Upcoming Album FUNGUS II from Ty Segall & Brian Chippendale's New Band Wasted Shirt (Famous Class Records)

"Rarely, when formulating combinations of musicians you would like to hear play together, do you get to, actually, hear it. If Brian Chippendale & Ty Segall made a record, would you want to hear it? If the answer is "yes," read on. If the answer is "no," it's too bad you ended up canned, suspended in syrup with nothing but other peaches to keep you company.

Ty's 2019 album, First Taste, and the new Lighting Bolt album, Sonic Citadel, are easily some of the best material either entity has ever released; so, if these two happened to find themselves in the same recording studio, a fan just might entertain elevated expectation levels. In fact, some might, actually, show signs of enthusiasm, even excitement at the fact that from July 5-13th, 2018, in the air-conditioning free environs of Ty's home studio, the duo, eventually, calling themselves Wasted Shirt, wrecked the joint as thoroughly as you hoped they would."

"Prepare to Be Stoked Dept.: The album is exploding euphoria from start to finish. A morphing Day-Glo rainbow that will bring a smile to your face, like if you were on your way to Washington, DC for The Million Puppy March. Upon first spin, all boxes are checked and any previously held doubts are completely obliterated. The more you play it, the better it kabongs you upside your head. "Hectic" doesn't even begin to describe it. Brian & Ty, two mere particles in the grand scheme, collide at high speed, the technicians dive for cover, the reaction is recorded. Mutation is achieved. This is Freedom Rock. Turn up the volume. Hasten your emancipation. Sonic joy awaits.

It's a great time for music. As major labels continue their agonizingly slow march to total irrelevance, these masters of mediocrity, at least, provide great contrast. That is to say, the time has never been better for experimentation, spontaneity, and restraint-free creativity in music, lest we endure a never-ending post-modern stasis of cynical emulation. What would happen if Ty Segall & Brian Chippendale went to the studio in the dead heat of July? There was only one way to find out. Life is short. More assaults on the mordantly predictable need to happen because when it works, like with Wasted Shirt, it really works. Wasted Shirt['s Fungus II] will be available from Famous Class on February 28th, 2020. Perfect weather for cartwheeling to the record store."

- Henry Rollins (@henryandheidi)

Friday, January 10, 2020

Guilty Simpson & Leonard Charles Re-emerge with Second LSD Single "My Inspiration" Billed As The Leonard Simpson Duo (Jakarta Records)

ARTIST CREDIT: MC Blue Matter & Simone Cihlar

2020's most "unlikely" collaborators, Detroit emcee Guilty Simpson and New Zealand-bred producer and multi-instrumentalist Leonard Charles have returned with their second single, "My Inspiration," billed together as The Leonard Simpson Duo. Later this month, they plan to unveil their similarly named full-length debut, LSD on Berlin, Germany-based imprint, Jakarta Records. Last year, just before year's end, The Leonard Simpson Duo burst onto the scene with their Psychedelic/Acid Rock-tinged single, "Nobody," which sampled "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore" from New Zealand's own Marlon Williams & Aldous Harding. "Nobody" was debuted over at esteemed publication HipHopDX last year, as well as across Jakarta Records' Bandcamp page, along with a full-fledged LSD album announcement. For "My Inspiration," Leonard Charles sampled and, no pun intended, took inspiration from Citizen Band's 1977 Mandrill 7-inch single, "In A Lifetime." Citizen Band were, in fact, a New Zealand super-group, of sorts, themselves, consisting of former members of both Split Enz & Space Waltz. "I'm glad the sample worked out. The Citizen Band track is so bada$$ from beginning to end that I could have made a beat from anywhere in the song, but I chose the intro, as it has so much grit in the piano, a grit that Detroit music is, also, known for," Leonard Charles explained within a press statement.

Original Citizen Band/Space Waltz drummer, Brent Eccles comments: "A very enjoyable part of my life as a musician and [I'm] thrilled The CB are still getting into the spotlight. Geoff Chunn (lead vocal, guitar) is a great writer." Charles found the aforementioned "In A Lifetime" sample when digging through a box of 7-inches left to him by a close friend who had passed away and says it jumped out at him as soon as the needle hit the wax. "'My Inspiration" is really Guilty's story. However, for me, so much of the music I love and inspires me comes from Detroit musicians, from Kenny Burrell & Yusef Lateef to J Dilla & Anthony Shakir. It's an honour to have Guilty Simpson over one of my beats talking about the Yin & Yang that makes up his city," Leonard Charles continued. "My Inspiration" additionally boasts a charismatic animated music video illustrated by MC Blue Matter (@mcblue_matter.) Blue Matter, also, designed a new promo "photo" of both Leonard Charles & Guilty Simpson rendered in his unique style, laid atop Simone Cihlar's Neo-Psychedelia LSD album cover, which you can see displayed up above. The Leonard Simpson Duo's LSD is now available to pre-order in both physical and digital formats directly from Jakarta Records. LSD will see a world-wide release on Friday, January 31, 2020.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Bracket Return with Monstrous "Forget" Video with Behind-The-Scenes Commentary from Angelo Celli & Director Mike Sloat (Fat Wreck Chords)

"After years of depriving all of us adoring fans of a live performance, Bracket are finally embarking on a World Tour!!! They are set to hit exotic locales, such as Santa Rosa & San Francisco... well, that's it, really... but beggars can't be choosers," explained a recent post on Fat Wreck Chords' Facebook page. "For all you disappointed non-Bay Area residents, we've got a little something for you, too. We're rolling out the brand new video for "Forget" from Bracket's latest full-length, Too Old to Die Young," their tongue-in-cheek statement continued. Bracket's first shows in FOUR years will take place on Friday, February 14th and Saturday, February 15th in Santa Rosa, California at Shady Oak Barrell House (A FREE SHOW!) and in San Francisco, California at Thee Parkside, respectively. Bracket's aforementioned 2019 album, Too Old to Die Young, was their first album issued by NOFX frontman "Fat" Mike Burkett's imprint, Fat Wreck Chords since 2002's LIVE IN A DIVE.

Since publishing our comprehensive full-band All-around Breakdown with Bracket's own Marty Gregori, Angelo Celli, Zack Charlos & Ray Castro last year, I've heard rumblings about a mysterious music video for "Forget." It appeared as though it would "star" four Universal Classic Monsters in place of Bracket's members, as directed by film/video editor and director Mike Sloat. Now, nearly a year after Too Old to Die Young's May 2019 wide release, Bracket have finally unveiled "FORGET" DIRECTED BY: MIKE SLOAT! We recently reached out to Bracket guitarist Angelo Celli and "Forget" mastermind Mike Sloat, via email, in an effort to learn a bit more about their monstrous creation; below, you will find excerpts from said emails, along with details on Bracket's upcoming 2-day "World" Tour. Bracket's latest album, Too Old to Die Young, is out now on Fat Wreck Chords. It's an extremely strong effort (one of the best of 2019!) and it's great to have Bracket back on Fat!

Angelo Celli On His Action Figures: "The toys in the video are the same that made the album cover and they were mine as a child. The theme of the video, obviously, is a nod to our insecurity about "playing for crickets" (who end up leaving, as well hahaha.)"

Mike Sloat On His Relationship with Bracket: "I've known the guys from Bracket for many years—[we] used to play shows in the early 90's together—just as gig acquaintances, basically. They were ALWAYS one of my favorite bands and in the late 90's, my business partner at the time, Carlo [Silvio], and I did a few unofficial music videos for them ("Trailer Park" and... one I can't remember!)"

Mike Sloat On Meeting Bracket: "Fast-forward to a few years ago... I heard they were still around and tried to contact them to do a video, but they didn't sound interested. Then, a year or two later, they contacted me and wanted to do something. I met up with them and we started talking specifics, which was that they didn't want to be IN a video in any way!"

Mike Sloat On Angelo's Action Figures: "So, in hashing out the idea, we decided to have these Horror movie action figures from the album cover (and from Angelo's childhood) stand-in for the band members. From that point, they let me decide what to do to set the scene. They were always talking about "hearing crickets" after each song they'd play, so we thought... why not have an audience of ONLY crickets, who still don't even want to hear them? Pure Comedy."

Mike Sloat On Bracket's Miniature City: "Anyway, I had this miniature downtown city set from a previous project, just sitting around my studio, so I dirtied it up a bit, built a tiny stage and gear props, and spent a few days animating some very simple movements and shots that we could repeat, as needed. I had an Animation Assistant, Logan Thompson, that did most of the band movements, while I ran the camera movements and lights and took each shot."

Mike Sloat In Closing: "My partner, Jason Pedri, also, helped with some camera movement shots. I was a really fun project and the band had no changes to the first cut I showed them! This, basically, never happens and the guys from Bracket are super-easy and appreciative of what we did for them."

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Discogs & Thomas Draudt Present: THE HUSTLE IS REAL DJ Prestige Documentary (ACTUALsize Productions/Flea Market Funk)

THE HUSTLE IS REAL is a story about creating your own lane to make money doing what you love and the hustle and grind that goes along with it.

"If you have to work, you might as well do what you love."

DJ Prestige makes a living as a DJ spinning 7-inch 45 RMP vinyl records. He's, also, a freelance writer, graphic designer, and champion of all things vinyl. "I'm really a working-class DJ."

His lane is music that has soul, music that moves you. Funk, Jazz, Soul, Hip-Hop, Latin, Disco, and more are what he delivers at his DJ night. Whether it's in the lobby of the ACE Hotel in NYC, The SHAKE Party in Brooklyn, behind the decks at various venues on the beach in Asbury Park, NJ, or as a guest DJ at Boston's SOULELUJAH, Prestige is known for his impeccable selection that controls the vibe and moves the dance floor.

"90% of what I play, people don't know, but, they get down and dance anyway because it's good music. It's the beat, the sound, the vibe, all from vinyl records collected over many years. A lot goes into getting these records."

His site, Flea Market Funk, has been keeping people up-to-date on recent releases, re-issues, and DJ culture, via daily reviews and interviews with other DJ's from around the world for over 12 years. Featuring his on-point, honest, writing and visually-pleasing graphic design, each feature represents the passion and love of the culture.

"I want to be in control—that's what's going to make me stand out. I want to control the name, I want to control the vibe, I want to control the visuals."

It's a full-time job getting the gigs and promoting them, let alone, doing the gigs. The hours are crazy and there's very little downtime. Jamison [Harvey] is swimming against the current every day in a job that's off the beaten path. But, he's doing what he loves...

"I just wanna evolve as a person and a DJ. And I'm gonna do whatever it takes... and "whatever it takes" means working harder than the next guy."

"... The Hustle Is Real all the time."

Thomas Draudt
Producer, Director, Film-maker

"I like making films about people with passion, people who work with their hands and people who work with vintage technology in the modern world."

Thomas has been making short films on musicians and dancers and artists all his film career... "because I love when people do things better than me... it makes me want to get inside and find out what drives them to be so good at what they do."

"Normally, I don't choose subjects that I know a lot about or have a strong connection with because I am forced to examine the subject without bias and approach it with a healthy dose of naivety. In this case, knowing a lot about the subject was crucial because the subtleties of DJ culture can be easily misrepresented or easily batted-foul. As a vinyl record collector, bedroom DJ, and lover of many styles of music, my conversation with this subject was informed in a way that allowed the film to be legit with several audiences, including DJ culture."

An EMMY Award-winning producer and three-time EMMY-nominated director, Thomas brings a deep toolbox to every project he's involved in. "I've been at this for a long time and the joy of pulling all the opposing forces together to make a coherent film is extremely gratifying. This film is a tribute to everyone who pursues their passion no matter how high the odds are stacked up against them."

"Watching The Hustle Is Real's engrossingly stylish profile of the life and times of a "working-class DJ," it's natural to describe both the film—and the endeavors of its subject—as a labor of love. But more than that, the film is about the love of labor: the hours of trawling through dusty crates of vinyl plates in search of the perfect beat. Leaving the wife and kids at home and driving through miles of snow to get to a gig. This is not a story about the glamour of DJ'ing, it's about the work that goes into it and the kind of people for whom the work is almost as rewarding as the sight of a roomful of ecstatic dancers grooving to the tunes that come out of their crates. But even beyond that, it's about finding a purpose and a passion that makes life worth living."

- Uchenna Ikonne
Author/Music Historian

Watch Thomas Draudt's THE HUSTLE IS REAL documentary here!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Drowns Ready Full-length Debut UNDER PRESSURE 12-inch Produced By: "Captain" Ted Hutt (Pirates Press Records)

The Drowns are a Punk/Hardcore-leaning Rock "N" Roll band hailing from Seattle, Washington. The Drowns' core line-up consists of both current and former members of The Briggs, Coyote Bred, Madcap, The Shell Corporation, Success, and Time Again. It's believed The Drowns' players are frontman Aaron "Rev" Peters, bassist/vocalist Andy Wylie, drummer Jake Margolis, and guitarist Jonny Wade. The Drowns have hand-crafted a unique breed of Punk/Hardcore-indebted bare bones Rock "N" Roll akin to Bouncing Souls, C*ck Sparrer, The Gaslight Anthem, Hot Water Music, and Titus Andronicus. The Drowns released their first proper recordings together in 2018 as View from The Bottom on 1984/Live from The Rock Room/Bypolar/Gunner Records. Although, throughout 2019, they seem to have struck up a partnership with Emeryville, California-based imprint, Pirates Press Records; said label released two 2019 EP's for The Drowns, The Sound 7-inch and a 12-inch entitled Hold Fast Demons (or Hold Fast / Demons,) as well as a single-sided 7-inch flexi-disc of "Demons."

The latter was packaged along with a rather cryptic on-record note, which read: "TAKEN FROM THE NEW LP "UNDER TENSION" - COMING EARLY 2020." Now, said "NEW LP," UNDER TENSION, has finally come to fruition and has received a proper release announcement. The Drowns' UNDER TENSION will be released on Friday, January 17, 2020 on their new label home, Pirates Press Records. UNDER TENSION is currently available for pre-order on Standard Black, Blood Red, White, Blood Red with Black Spokes vinyl, as well as CD, which all come complete with a FREE "Black Lung" picture flexi-disc, while supplies last. UNDER TENSION will feature aforementioned singles "Hold Fast" & "Demons" and was produced by Ex-Flogging Molly guitarist "Captain" Ted Hutt, who has previously worked Bayside, Dropkick Murphys, The Gaslight Anthem, Madcap, Street Dogs, Tiger Army, and countless others. Again, The Drowns' full-length debut, UNDER PRESSURE, will see a wide release on Pirates Press Records Friday, January 17, 2020.

"If you haven't heard of The Drowns yet, you're about to! A LOT. This line-up of seasoned veterans is shaking up the Rock "N" Roll world in incredible style. This highly-anticipated full-length, produced by the amazing Ted Hutt (Dropkick Murphys, [The] Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly, Street Dogs) is nothing short of fantastic. This indestructible foursome has, literally, not stopped delivering these 11 new tunes and all the hits from their 2018 debut LP, View from The Bottom, to fans across the globe. Their relentless approach to touring and spreading their Rock "N" Roll gospel is turning heads and getting people out in droves to see their explosive live performances! Whether it's in a sweaty basement or club, or on the deck of an aircraft carrier, the way Rev and the boys drive these tunes and their message home is ENORMOUS! Do not pass up any opportunity to see The Drowns live and make sure to grab a copy of UNDER TENSION as soon as it hits the shelves. With absolutely zero fluff and a barrage of scorchers, like "Demons," "Hold Fast," "Black Lung," and the "Cue The Violins" ... this one is going to be an instant classic! Guaranteed."

- Pirates Press Records (@piratespress)

Monday, January 6, 2020

3 Feet High & Rising: American Ethos Return with Self-titled Full-length Debut Mastered By: Jack "Flaco" Shirley (Conditions Records)

CREDIT: Reid Haithcock

American Ethos are a mysterious Punk/Hardcore band based out of New England. I, actually, heard about American Ethos through a recent post made by @simpsonsXcore on Instagram, wherein they re-created the cover for American Ethos' recent self-titled debut full-length. Primarily functioning as the long-time "solo" project of guitarist and frontman Daniel Lajoie, American Ethos has featured a rotating cast of players. First established in 2011, Lajoie's American Ethos released a 3-track Demo Twenty Eleven, followed by a 2015 EP entitled Cosmetics​, and yet another EP in 2018 called Futurism. Last year, right before year's end on December 26th, American Ethos returned once more with their self-titled 12-track debut full-length on Texas-based Conditions Records. For this album, Daniel Lajoie has recruited drummer Mike Moschetto and Ryan Stack, who plays organ on "mulligan" and some guitar licks on "the killing chair" & "altruistic punishment." Lajoie plays... everything else!

american ethos was recorded, produced, and engineered by Ryan Stack at The Noise Floor in Dover, New Hampshire over multiple sessions between 2018-2019. It was, then, mixed by Ryan Stack & Daniel Lajoie at The Noise Floor. american ethos was finally, mastered by Jack Shirley (Gouge Away, Tony Molina, Touché Amoré) at Atomic Garden Studios in Oakland, CA. It's a phenomenal album, in my opinion, and boasts sonic similarities throughout to both Jeremy Bolm's Touché Amoré & Hesitation Wounds. We haven't done year-end lists these last few years, but if we had, american ethos would have definitely ranked atop our list for best albums of 2019. American Ethos' self-titled debut full-length is currently available to purchase, stream, or download through either the band's Bandcamp page or Condition Records' page. It's currently a digital-only release, but with any hope, this absolute RIPPER of an album will, eventually, see a vinyl pressing, as well. Below, you can find a bit of commentary on said album from frontman and guitarist Daniel Lajoie himself.

"I've always wanted to be in a band since I was nine. As much as I've tried, people were/are not interested in playing with me. This is my fourth solo release. I released a demo in 2011, an EP in 2014 (Cosmetics,) another EP in 2018 (Futurism,) and, finally, this last full-length all under the moniker American Ethos; all can be found on the American Ethos' Bandcamp. Each time, I found a drummer willing to play the songs I wrote, I paid for studio time, and, then, I did everything else, except drums. Ryan Stack recorded the 2018 EP and this full-length and we worked [closely] together at his studio on Sunday afternoons and worked on this project piece-meal, usually, once or twice a month for over a year.

Ryan & I, also, mixed the album together (my first time mixing) and we are both excited on how it turned out. I love Jack Shirley's records and his studio, so we sent him the record to master. He loved it and (by his own admission,) did not have to do to much to master it. I have a live band now and we are playing some shows (hopefully, we will get more offers.) They were not on the recordings, but will help play the songs out live. Kinlin & Jim Ritchie from GUNS UP! are currently playing with me. If they are interested, we will continue to keep doing this, either as a three-piece or a four-piece. I play guitar and sing live, though, I'd rather just play [than] front the band."

- Daniel Lajoie (@dmlajoie)

CREDIT: simpsonsXcore (@simpsonsxcore)