Watch It and this album If We Were Mariachis represent the bulk of the rarities in the band's discography mainly due to the limited nature of the "pressings". And since it is the season of giving I implore you or any lover of good music to head to a few of the links I shall provide below and pick up some of Fellow Project's available records for a loved one or even as a gift for yourself. Like, I mentioned in my previous post about Fellow Project, they are essentially the only band that I have written about that is still active so be a sport and support their music as well as the labels who continue to support them.
On Fellow Project's sophomore effort If We Were Mariachis the trio continued to explore the anthemic folk tinged indie rock but this time around some "mathy", more dynamic tinges were thrown into the mix hinting at would the band would later (and currently) be known for. Watch It! was a solid start for the band as it showed that; yes a band with a acoustic guitar can rock but overall If We Were Mariachis is a far stronger record as it really documents a band get settled into its niche groove. The songwriting is top notch and honestly, I am amazed at how well the bulk of this album holds up. To me, one of Fellow Project's greatest strength as a band has been the lyrics and vocal arrangements but also the seamless juxtaposition of more straight forward, anthem rockers next to more in depth, introspective dare I say "musician's rock". Fellow Project has always had a knack for writing really smart music that has been able to still be fun and not take itself to seriously. They are one of those bands whom I feel really fortunate to have seen play live many times (at least 100 times at this point) and watch them develop over the years with new recording after new recording.
Quite honestly, I don't think I have ever heard them write a bad song. There maybe the odd track or two that won't hit me as hard as others but still the songs and ideas are always of high quality. Stand outs on If We Were Mariachis for me get going right away with the opening track "3 Left Turns Created a Monster" with it is insanely catchy chorus with the lines "Let Me Die Quick/Let Me Die Quick/ And Painless" always makes me want to sing along. "Dangerous" is a great folky indie rock romp. "The End" has one of the most beautifully haunting guitar melodies I have heard come from a Long Island band that out of nowhere picks up temp and goes in a unexpected direction. And the way the flute and vocal harmonies are weaved in are just wonderful. "Perfectly Subtle" is a morose acoustic ballad that reminds me so much of Simon Joyner- and when has that ever been a bad thing?? And easily, the curve ball of the album is the closer "Give Me More" that with its driving rhythm and picked note guitar playing and then the unexpected frantic scream towards the end is a tune that has always stuck with me.
If this was a just world where quality musicianship was rewarded there isn't a doubt in my mind that Fellow Project would be enormously popular-however it seems that they are just left to a select group of music fans that have excellent taste. Such is this unjust world. With that being said please check out the following links to help make the world a bit more just; well at least for Fellow Project.
Boots 7 inch (Rok Lok Records)
Rok Lok Records
Stream or purchase digitally Boots on Bandcamp
The Buried Life cd (Dead Broke Records)
Dead Broke Records
split 7 inch w/ Go Sell Drugs (Kiss of Death)
split 7inch w/ Thousandaires (Kiss of Death)
split 7 inch w/ Jonesin' (Kiss of Death)
Kiss of Death
If We Were Mariachis track listing
1. 3 Left Turns Created a Monster
3. Shoot the Latter But Save Your Face
4. The End
5. The Myth
6. The End and The Myth
7. Evelyn What?
8. Perfectly Subtle
9. We Do the Best We Can With What We Have
11. Give Me More
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Personally, it is hard for me to excited about shows if each band is a rehash of one another sonically, lyrically, etc. etc. And in that period of shows for me it certainly was exciting for me because it seemed like every show each had bands that sounded nothing like one another but what tied everything was a sense of respect and genuine camaraderie. And that was the common bond. One of the projects that started turning up at shows and "turning things down" so to speak, were a female indie pop/folk duo, Carly & Donna; which was Carly Comando from Slingshot Dakota and friend Donna Baxter. In some ways this powerful duo epitomized how awesome shows were in this time period. A hardcore band like Solidarity Pact or Scent of Human History or post punk band like my own Yes Sensei or Empty Silos Echo War or even Latterman could be on a show with Carly & Donna and it wouldn't feel out of place or forced or anything like that. People would be just as attentive for their set as any of the other bands; sometimes even more. Who knows perhaps I remember things differently than others but I have to say it always stuck me rather vividly how natural everything was.
As far as the music, it is crisp and clean indie pop/folk much like The Softies or Holiday Flyer. Both Comando and Baxter possess such wonderful voices and the way they harmonize is nothing short of heavenly. The harmonizing vocals is what really reminds me of The Softies. And to hear the vocals intertwined with the the clean strummed acoustic guitars and Comando's fantastic keyboard playing, Carly & Donna were able to create a perfect brand of indie pop/folk that while subtle in the sense that it wasn't a rock band set up in the DIY show scene but in many ways was more powerful than most bands. Punk culture generally doesn't reward musicianship so it was a pleasant surprise to not only hear something different from the norm but music that was not haphazardly put together but instead beautifully woven together.
The cd-r demo Believe in Yourself features 3 songs though one is only a 35 second short melody and vocal over a metronome which seemed like more of quick idea but still there is a charm about it. As far as I know I don't believe they ever recorded any other songs though I certainly recall more being played live. Comando went on to form Slingshot Dakota who have released two full length albums Keener Sighs and Their Dreams Are Dead, But Ours is the Golden Ghost.
Carly & Donna Believe In Yourself track listing:
1. "Through It All"
2. "For Lauren"
Friday, December 17, 2010
As I hinted earlier this week I had a nice surprise for everyone. Additionally, I mentioned having in my possession this unreleased recording in my post about their split cd with The Lazer and now I am finally ready to share this unreleased gem with everyone. In listening to this album it blows my mind that it was never released. If it was it could've easily been identified as a classic for that era of Long Island music but instead it has just been a rumored relic to many and only heard by a few. All of the Scent of Human History releases were solid but I think this collection of ten songs captures what they were doing perfectly, especially the band in their twilight as the songs were getting longer, more expansive and noisy bordering on psych at times mixed with the chaotic screamo that they were known for. I remember seeing most of these songs played live in the year that Yes Sensei and Scent of Human History played a lot of shows together but the one song that sticks out the most for me is the absolutely beautiful fifteen plus minute epic "Science". Everytime I saw them play this song it sent chills down my spine and coming from a critical point of view, this song really was sign of growth for the band as the beginning of the song was almost faint whisper like quiet and it slowly morphed into a monolith of sound with a eventually culminating chaos seemingly coming from nowhere. This may seem quaint now, but this was a good couple of years before "post rock" and stuff like Explosions in the Sky and Pelican started being all the rage. At that point it reminded me of later era Swans but back in 2003 no one I knew was claiming to like the Swans. I remember very vividly playing a show with Scent of Human History in some basement in Northport and their first song was a really fast, chaotic screamy awesome mess that barely broke one minute and a half. It finished and Jay Melli (the band's guitarist and vocalist) said "we have one more", I look around and people are puzzled. I mean I know that they were all in for some "Science" but it was cool to get a sense that no one knew what was coming. It was awesome. And so is the rest of this incredible unreleased album. I known it to be a great album for many years and I believe many of you will feel the same way after listening to it.
A quick not about the track listing. This is not 100% as the cd-r and tape I have of it are not labeled with track names, however I was able to name the tracks from memory and process of elimination.
Scent of Human History "Unreleased Album" track listing:
2. "Why Don't You Cut the Floor Out From Under Me"
3. "Territorial Pissings"
4. "The Choice Unchosen"
5. "Just in Stress"
6. "Change Melts Away"
7. "Or Will Drown"
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Grid Iron "Demo" track listing
1. "Second Song"
2. "Jazz Age"
3. "Tarry Under Docks"
4. "Crater Basin"
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
This past weekend was the first rehearsal that included past members to get ready for the last Yes Sensei show (mark your calendars January 22nd 2011 @ Mr Beery's w/ Everything Sucks, Thought & Memory and Risk) so it is only fitting that I share this release with you today as it features original Yes Sensei bassist, Paul Como causing quite the ruckus. Upon leaving Yes Sensei, Como teamed up with his buddy and then co-host of WUSB's Caffeine As Gasoline, Matt to form this noise making duo. Armed with drum machine, pitch shifting sounds and layers of distortion and feedback Bigg Uppz recalls the aural onslaught of bands like Big Black, Lightning Bolt and Wolf Eyes- so certainly not easy listening. The short lived duo unleashed this eight song demo and played I believe only two shows. One was with Yes Sensei and one with Lickgoldensky whom I shit you not played the same song like seven times out frustration-whether amongst themselves or the sparse attendance. Bigg Uppz was a short lived wrecking ball of sonic chaos that certainly didn't take itself too seriously.
Bigg Uppz "Demo" track listing
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Small Arms Dealer's debut release, their titled demo The Hot Knives EP!!! In what was as close to a "all star band" as you can get Small Arms Dealer featured ex- members of Explosivo!, The Devil Himself, A Boy Called Spite, The Howards, Contra, On the Might of Princes and Fellow Project; Small Arms Dealer came onto the scene I believe in 2004 and played explosive indie/pop punk with dual guitar attack and great vocals and lyrics which seems to be a staple of all the projects that Lubrano/Beaker are involved with. The songs in all of their projects but especially Small Arms Dealer are insanely catchy but not in a vapid manner at all, in some ways it is pretty damn smart as there is plenty of note happy guitar work that generally isn't associated with pop punk. There is a real sense of driving energy about all of the songs yet that intensity never sacrifices the pure hook in each every one of their songs. And this formula continued on their subsequent follow up full lengths A Single Unifying Theory and The Patron Saint of Disappointment which were released on Deep Elm Records.
Two summers ago Small Arms Dealer played their last shows with a afternoon show at the Dead Broke House and a evening finale at Mr Beery's-regrettably I wasn't able to make it as I was attending to my dog who had fallen ill. I have to say, honestly, a knot gets tighter in my stomach when anyone mentions either show saying how amazing it was because I can only imagine. I would've love to sing along with those songs one more time.
Members of the Small Arms Dealer went on to various projects with Lubrano and Beaker once again teaming up again in Wax Phantom who have a ep out on Dead Broke Records. Additionally, Lubrano teamed up with Phil Douglas (Latterman, Solidarity Pact), whom played drums with Small Arms Dealer the last couple of years, to start Iron Chic who thus far have released a demo, 7 inch and full length album on Dead Broke Records/86'd Records. Lou Fontana now plays guitar in Fellow Project. Steve Andolpho watches New Jersey Devils hockey while original drummer Adam Kuhn still likes snakes.
The cool thing about The Hot Knives EP is that out of ep's five songs only two were re-recorded for later releases. Personally, I prefer when bands don't re-record material so for the nerd in me that is a reason I wanted to share this ep with everyone-also because it fucking rules. Additionally, I should add that Small Arms Dealer recorded a few songs before they broke up but I don't believe they were ever released or shared. At some point do hope they do because those tunes were aces. And knowing my luck here is the part where inevitably someone will tell me that those songs were released as a last show exclusive or something...
Small Arms Dealer The Hot Knives EP track listing
1. "Tonight...On a Very Special Episode"
2. "The Hot Knives Technique"
3. "Scumbagsville, CT"
4. "Robotic Man of the Future (Mini Robot 100%)"
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
After listening to all the songs multiple times and specifically "On Our Cameras" and singing the praises of Screen House Music to just about everyone who was within a earshot of me for the next 48 hours or so, I decided to send a message directly. I soon learned that Screen House Music was the project of Northport's Nicky Marino and we started trading emails back and forth. Eventually, snail mail transactions took place where he'd send me more Screen House Music recordings as well as other stuff he and his friends would do while I'd send him label releases including stuff specifically from my own 4 track project Stars Are Insane which I felt was somewhat similar to what he was doing with Screen House Music. With each release of his I was blown away at the maturity of the compositions, level of looseness and just the overall aesthetic. And to me I was amazed at how all of this great music was being written by someone in high school.
I have remained intrigued with the project and over the years I have done my best to follow what Marino is up to creatively. He self released the sophomore cd-r SHM2 but Positive cd-r and The Story of Man cassette both came out on Life On a Island. A cassette (which sadly I have yet to hear/obtain) called On the Roof came out on Open Range Records. Last but not least I have finally been able to have the good fortune to be able to release some Screen House Music on my label with an upcoming appearance on the I Know Why They Call It Pop cassette. And from what I understand new material is being worked on which is just thrilling. Keep up with Screen House Music here. Additionally, Marino plays guitar and sings in the fantastic band For Serious This Time who I urge everyone to check out.
Screen House Music "Volume One" track listing
1. "Everyone's Unsure"
2. "Layer One"
3. "Layer Two"
4. "Layer Three"
5. "Next Season"
6. "On Our Cameras"
7. "At Friends Houses"
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
None of These Songs Are About Girls starts off with the song "There's Never a Reason Not to Party" which to me is "the" Latterman song. It was later re-recorded for their first full length album, Turn Up the Punk We'll Be Singing but I think I prefer the version presented here. I generally don't like re-recorded versions of songs, as there is usually a spark missing that made the original version great. The other tunes on this ep are pretty solid as well, with "Matt Galante's Got It Right" and "Saving Private B" being the stand outs aside from the opening track. "Matt Galante's Got It Right" was also released on volume 2 of the Waggy Fanzine comp CD which if you are looking for physical copies of these tunes will be easier to track down than a copy of None of These Songs Are Bout Girls. I am not sure how many were made but I'd wager no more than 100 and maybe that is even a stretch. Latterman fans fear not I have a few more pretty rare barely known releases that I will be uploading soon.
Latterman None of These Songs Are About Girls track listing
1. "There's Never a Reason Not to Party"
2. "We're Not Having This Argument"
3. "So, It Was a Drag huh?"
4. "Matt Galante's Got It Right"
5. "Saving Private B"
Monday, November 1, 2010
"This is the story of nine months living in Spain, and of the frustration and isolation that comes with the building of relationships with people and places you recognize you'll never be able to fully embrace. This is the story of entrances, transition, languages and exits."
I believe this words beautifully set the stage for a work that is not only very personal in nature but a work that is realized. As a music fan and musician myself that is the thing that really blew me away about Motion and Language, because punk is generally about writing a batch of songs and sticking them together. There is never a sense that there is direct correlation between the words and sounds, how they mesh together is just a matter of throwing it to the wind and seeing where it crashes-which don't get me wrong this is why punk is great but to see someone who had been in local punks bands come forth with a work of such purpose and cohesion was just something that impressed me. Wildebeest's Motion and Language has only gotten better to my ears over the years as the depth of the work- influence, ideas and musicianship is vast. There is also an element of quirky, youthful exuberance present that makes even a realized work not take itself too seriously. At first listen to almost shaky, raspy vocals can be off putting (and maybe that is why I viewed the earlier work as folk punk) but that is soon washed away as their is a undeniable, endearing passion about the delivery. You don't come across works as strong as Motion and Language all that often and to be blunt-this album is an absolute masterpiece in regards to Long Island music of that time period (early to mid 2000s).
I would classify Wildebeest as cross between folk and indie rock but with definitely a DIY punk ethos about it. There are even lyrical references to Jawbreaker and Capn' Jazz. The bulk of Wildebeest's songs are based on acoustic guitar and voice but a strong cast of accompaniment via bass, keyboard, percussion/drums, accordion and clarinet is also present. The lyrics are very well anchored into the them of the album and in some cases, specifically on tunes like "Harps and Trumpets", "Living and Dying" and "Phil Writes Songs Like Kevin Seconds" excels at offering vibrant imagery yet allows the words to resonate on a individual level. I got to know Winn personally for period of time and I was able to express my admiration for his work (as well as apologize for past misconceptions) and just like many things-one minute people's paths cross and the next they don't. Sometime after Motion and Language, I believe Winn relocated to Athens, GA and then to Brooklyn. I heard snippets of his newer material and it really evolved in strong way, opting for a very authentic roots folk and blues flavor. I'd actually like to hear the full completed works (if anyone has feel free to share) and from what I understand the Wildebeest moniker has been abandoned and Winn has a new project called The Fish. Check it out here
Wildebeest Motion and Language track listing:
1. "Wisdom Tooth"
2. "Burggos Moon"
3. "Fighting Windmills Again"
4. "Harps and Trumpets"
6. "Vegas Song"
7. "Return to the Fort (Fight Song)"
8. "Cat and Mouse"
9. "Living and Dying"
10. "Phil Writes Songs Like Kevin Seconds"
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
But for sake of discussion in this blog I shall now shift the focus to the music end of what Jon K did. On all of the Book Store recordings Kaplan's tunes were sincere yet fragile, tug at your heart strings kind of indie pop songs. And while not to take anything away from Book Store or the band's principal songwriter, Dan Fucello, you kind of always hoped that Kaplan would unleash an album of his own. At least that is how I felt because songs like "The Aquarium Song", "Best Wishes" and the amazing "We Won't Be Here Forever" were three of the greatest indie rock/pop songs I'd ever heard. Seriously. There is just a magic in his song writing ability that you very seldom come across in songwriters and maybe there is a element of bias because we are such good friends. But still I am friends with plenty of great dudes who are in not so great bands. Bottom line- great music is great music and it doesn't matter if a friend or stranger wrote it. There are several interesting things about Kaplan's songwriting abilities, one is the ability to encapsulate elements of the history of rock/pop music by cherry picking various snippets if you will from The Beatles, The Jackson 5, Miles Davis, REM, Gang of Four, Nirvana, Built to Spill and heck even various hip hop. From a songwriting stand point, one thing that can't ignored is that Kaplan in his solo work was a bassist turned guitarist and I think as a result the songs really groove. And groove isn't necessarily something you would associate with indie rock. His guitar playing is almost percussive and jagged at times as opposed to just straight strumming.
As far as the tunes we have here, in late 2003 Kaplan recorded three of the songs that were included in his set at the time to record a 2 song demo that included the tunes "I Can't Complain" and "Off Yr Radar", the latter of which was included on The Tone Library's "No Nucleus" compilation cd. The third track "Paper Airplanes" was later released along with the other two songs as well as an assortment of Kaplan's spoken word recordings and his songs from the Book Store releases for Jon K compilation of sorts titled Aquarium Single. Today's upload includes the 3 songs from that 2003 recording session and seriously they are absolutely with a doubt indie rock perfected. If you enjoyed the Built to Spill meets Dinosaur Jr sounding song "We Won't Be Here Forever" off of the last Book Store ep "Hello From Book Store" then you will absolutely love this group of songs, as they are in the same vein.
I am divided because on one hand I am bummed that Jon never recorded another batch of pop songs like this but on the other hand I appreciate that because he has always grown and evolved as an artist and musician. If that isn't a sign of a true artist I don't know what is. After his stint of solo shows he started recording truly unique almost psychedelic pop music in the creative collective Destructasaurus Rex, whom I had the great honor of releasing their first album (and hopefully I'll release more in the future) 100% Mad Indie Rock Flava which can be streamed here at Bandcamp . Currently Kaplan is focusing on his improv theater work and graphic design, as well as recently making a few contributions to my latest Stars Are Insane album.
Jon K "Demo" + track listing
1. "Paper Airplanes"
2. "I Can't Complain"
3. "Off Yr Radar"
Monday, October 25, 2010
Not only were SWSR quite the chaotic song smiths, most (if not all) of the members were gifted artists visually. I remember vividly when I was first introduced to these guys I was simply awestruck by the artwork on their show flyers and even more so the creative zines that they'd distribute at shows. I remember get a stack of them (which I still own) from a show at the Vargas House and I was just really impressed with how their strong sense of visual aesthetic tied into the aura of their music, it all tied together nicely. And that is one thing I will definitely say about most Long Island bands, the artwork/packaging/visual aesthetic for the most part up until that point was so beyond bland. SWSR were definitely on the opposite side of the spectrum. And it was never more evident until the 5 Untitled Songs cdep came out. Everything about the packaging and artwork was just beautiful. There wasn't a release at that time that could even hold a candle to 5 Untitled Songs in regards to visual presentation.
SWSR eventually broke up, where three of the four members formed Scent of Human History. In their short history as far as I am aware of all they released was 5 Untitled Songs cdep and a split 7 inch with The Insurgent, which was also on Traffic Violation Records. I do believe a demo tape was released but I am not 100% on that. If anyone can confirm or deny that as well as share it, that would be greatly appreciated.
Sometimes Walking Sometimes Running 5 Untitled Songs track listing
1."Sweet Advice From a Jailbird"
2. "I Guess The Best Thing to Do is Laugh Out Loud"
4. "Welcome to 4AM"
5. "This Linear Engagement"
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The band consisted of Ryan Blecher on guitar/vocals, Mitch Hansen on bass/vocals and Caryn Koza on guitar/vocals and rotating cast of drummers which included Blecher himself also taking on drum duties on the recording of the ep which I present here. At one point they recruited one time Yes Sensei drummer Dave Elliott and later Cheeky/Eachother's Mothers drummer/Little Lungs guitartist/vocalist Angie Boylan. Ironically, Blecher went on to replace Elliott as the drummer for Yes Sensei. Got all that? Despite all the shifting around We Meet Under Tables created quit a racket for a couple of years there. Their live shows were high energy, raucous events they were greeted with members tossing and flailing around on stage. I do believe blood was involved more than once... With Elliott at the drum helm the band recorded and released a second ep cd-r. And then at some point during the lineup with Boylan on drums material was being worked on for a split 7 inch with Yes Sensei but by the time to record the band fizzled away, which was a shame. And as far as I know they never recorded anything with Boylan on drums.
After We Meet Under Tables Ryan Blecher played drums in Yes Sensei, Fellow Project, Firing Squad, Kenwu as well as recording solo material (playing all instruments) under the name BigR. Mitch Hansen joined up with Blecher to once again assume the bass and vocal role in Firing Squad. I don't believe Caryn Koza has been involved with a band since We Meet Under Tables parted ways. At some point shall upload the second ep. In the meantime enjoy this first ep.
We Meet Under Tables "CD EP 1-Summer 2005" cd-r track listing:
1. "Shipwreck, Sir!"
2. "Wires to Wires"
3. "Good Laws"
4. "On the Front"
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Over the years Fellow Project have evolved so much sonically that their current incarnation bares very little resemblance to those humble, "folky" beginnings. The current lineup which includes Ryan Blecher (Yes Sensei/We Meet Under Tables/Firing Squad) on drums and Lou Fontana on guitar (On the Might of Princes, Small Arms Dealer, God's Gift to Women) has the band doing a more of post punk sound that resembles a cross between The Grifters, and Cursive. I also detect hints of Lou Reed, Bingo Trappers, Television and The Feelies in Fellow Project's music.
Watch It! and the following two albums were more rooted in the folk rock spectrum then their current recordings so it may take current fans by surprise but that doesn't mean the songs aren't as kick ass as their more current full on rock motif. I strongly feel that especially the first two albums have slipped away from most people's memory banks though maybe it would help if the band started playing these songs again (HINT! HINT!)
I have often said that Fellow Project are Long Island's most prolific band and here by listing their discography you can see for yourselves. Perhaps I am missing a compilation or two. And if anyone is interested a few of their releases in my distro including the Boots 7 inch which I released. Get into it. www.roklokrecords.com
-Watch It! cd-r (self released)
-If We Were Mariachis cd-r (Burn It Down/Rebuild)
-Where's the Wire? 10 inch/cd-r* (Make or Break Records) *has bonus track
-No Nucleus cd compilation (The Tone Library)
-Dead Broke Tape Comp: Volume 1 cassette compilation (Dead Broke Records)
-4 Way Split Series: Volume 1 7 inch compilation (Dead Broke Records)
-Dead Broke Tape Comp: Volume 2 cassette compilation (Dead Broke Records)
-The Buried Life cd (Dead Broke Records)
-split w/ Jonesin' 7 inch (Kiss of Death)
-split w/ Thousandaires 7 inch (Kiss of Death)
-Boots 7 inch (Rok Lok Records)
-split w/ Go Sell Drugs 7 inch (Kiss of Death)
-Life on a Island: Summer Compilation #2 cassette (Life on a Island)
Fellow Project Watch It! track listing
1. "A Jolly Good Thing"
2. "Uncle Joe"
3. "What's the Matter"
4. "Silence is a B Flat"
5. "Tired Themes for Sorry People"
6. "Interlude in the Key of Housed"
7. "White Trees & Broken Bones"
10. "My Way vs Your Way Means the Highway"
12. "Untitled" (track is unlisted on sleeve)
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I was first exposed to City Limits back in late 2003/early 2004 when my band Yes Sensei was on tour with Scent of Human History. On two of the dates City Limits hooked up with us and I was just blown away. The songs just had so much energy and they all had a simplistic groove that locked you in. And watching over the years how The Insurgent continually evolved it really didn't surprise me that Kyle and Justin's next project would morph into something like what City Limits was. I'll never forget the show on New Year's Eve in Brooklyn when they played and people were going absolutely nuts during "Strangers on a Train" singing along to every word. Clearly I had been living under a rock for awhile because I was a late comer to City Limits but that didn't make me enjoy them any less.
Honestly, I wish I had more to write but quite frankly after that winter I never heard much more about the band though a few friends claim to have some other songs or speak of other recordings. This 5 song demo here was limited to 49 pieces packaged with a handmade booklet inside a striking black letter pressed pocket sleeve. I am not entirely sure what all the members ended up doing but Justin went on to sing in United States and play drums in Ringers. If anyone has anymore tunes please send them along as I'd love to hear them.
City Limits "Demo" cd-r track listing
1. "Strangers On a Train"
3. "Clear Channel"
Monday, October 18, 2010
So yeah with a name like Fuck Cops you can certainly expect very political, heavy, metallic at times hardcore. Fuck Cops was short lived but they certainly played a important part in the vibrant DIY punk/hardcore scene on Long Island in the early 2000s. And while most will discard on the basis of being political-for those who were there can attest to how active the scene was with challenging bands of varying genres/sounds but decidedly punk in their actions, and how basement shows, zines, activism and organizing flourished in this period. And Fuck Cops and their members certainly played a huge role in all of that. Thank you Fuck Cops for the brief but rad memories.
Fuck Cops "Demo" track listing
1. "Song Luke"
2. "Song Paul"
3. "Song Mary And The Immaculate Conception"
4. "Song Matthew"
Friday, October 15, 2010
A funny (well funny to me) story about this cd is that it was being pressed at the same time that I was pressing the On the Might of Princes The Making of a Conversation cd and the local pressing plant where I was doing the cd called me up and informed me that my cds were ready for pick up. A friend and I headed down there to get them. When we opened the box in the office what was in the box wasn't On the Might of Princes cds but in fact were this Intransit cd. So I was bummed that my cds were in fact not ready but I was stoked to see that Intransit had there cds done and ready to share with everyone. And honestly even though many years have passed, I am now excited once again to see Intransit's awesome tunes be shared with everyone. Now I shall work on getting the demo tape ripped and uploaded for everyone to enjoy. Also if anyone is interested in this cdep I still have a couple of copies in my distro.
Intransit "s/t" cd track listing
1. "Without Sickleave"
4. Crying For Satire (live at CBGB's)
Thursday, October 14, 2010
To get their feet wet Bookstore teamed up with the local label Eiffel Trousers Records to release their 5 song demo tape called Sleeping On Glass Pillows. Over the span of the following year Bookstore played lots of shows locally and regionally which led to an appearance on the Rok Lok Records cd compilation The Hope Machine in which they featured the song "Gonster" in all of it's glorious extended jam section, pre radio edit-inside joke sorry. Eventually, I offered to release their self titled full length cd on Rok Lok Records which came out in June of 2001. Whatever resistance they were met with before hand was washed away as the self titled cd made its rounds around stereos and mix tapes on the island so it was official people loved Bookstore. They were playing out a lot in support of the album and it was announced that they were going to do a full US tour. In between the tour getting booked over the course of local shows in the interim new songs starting creeping into the set. Songs that would eventually comprise the bands third effort, a six song ep called Hello From Bookstore just in time for their summer 2002 tour.
In contrast to the pristine production found on the self titled album Hello From Bookstore was raw but absolutely welcome as from a personal viewpoint I felt it better displayed what Bookstore was like as a live band. Bias aside, while the self titled album is a great indie pop rock album it can be argued is too polished, as there were a few moments that you felt there was restraint from a production standpoint because I knew what the songs sounded like live. But back to Hello From Bookstore...this is a collection six rock solid, fuzzy indie rock songs that are insanely infectious. The song writing while still rooted in hook and pop sensibilities matured a great deal in such a short period of time. And the songs run the gamut of emotions- joy, frustration, longing and the quasi lo fi recording approach only helps make the songs all the more personal. Looking back it really is a shame that I didn't offer to put these ep out as most of the songs rank as my favorites by the band. Songs like "Field Day" and "Summer Solstice" are so tug at your heart melodic but both have a groove that locks you in. And where do I begin describing the majesty of Kaplan's offerings on Hello From Bookstore? "Best Wishes" in its almost jazz like jangle pop breeze and the absolutely incredible "We Won't Be Here Forever" gives Doug Martsch a run for his money. It should also be noted the name of this blog actually comes from a line in "We Won't Be Here Forever".
Bookstore returned home from tour and played some local shows and as the band started to write new material it was decided that they'd call it a day and in the winter of 2002 Bookstore played their last show. If you dig Hello From Bookstore may I recommend that stop over at Rok Lok Records to pick up a copy of the self titled cd as I still have plenty left. You can also stream the album in its entirety or purchase digitally at Bandcamp
Hello From Bookstore track listing:
1. "Field Day"
2. "La Belle Dame Sans Merci"
3. "We Won't Be Here Forever"
4. "Summer Solstice"
5. "Best Wishes"
6. "Valentines Day"
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The first three songs from this split cd are from the hardcore/screamo trio Scent of Human History whom evolved from the bands Sometimes Walking Sometimes Running, Jan Cux, Footnote to Blacknote and a handful of other projects, including their post Scent project, United States whom I had the pleasure of releasing a 12 inch for. For whatever reason, regardless of Long Island's history of spawning some excellent screamy, discordant hardcore bands like Scapegrace, Halfman, La Magna, Devola, The State Secedes, etc. outside of Scent of Human History and some elements of On the Might of Princes, the screamo/hardcore style never really caught on. So to some degree Scent of Human History and their related projects were always an anomaly amidst the glut of pop punk, emo or melodic hardcore on Long Island. Anomaly or not, they were fantastic and for my money always a very good live band. Taking nods from bands like City of Caterpillar and Pg 99 their songs shifted in between really fast blasts of furious, distorted chaos and hypnotizing noisy borderline psychedelic jams. One of my bands, Yes Sensei, had the pleasure of playing a bunch of shows with them and at one point did a winter tour together in after Christmas 2003 into 2004. Not only was there musical chemistry but personal, and as someone who had admired their music and art for a long time I was happy to see off Long Island there was a far better appreciation for what they were doing. Those shows and particularly that tour were lots of fun as it became this unspoken pissing contest of who could play louder and who could make their songs longer and more improvised. That tour changed my life (seriously) and Scent of Human History is a band whom through their music, art, zines, etc inspired me a great deal.
Offering eight songs of pissy, snotty poppy punk rock and roll is the one, and the only The Lazer. The band who gained infamy in the pages of MRR. The band whose tour stories sounded like far fetched fish tales. The band whom could barely keep in tune or in time. The band where every set seemed like an adventure or a joke-you be the judge. The band that you hated simultaneously while loving. Yes, all of that but above all The Lazer were real and holy shit were they fun. For a band that wrote seemingly simplistic songs there seriously aren't enough adjectives to describe The Lazer. For those, unaware The Lazer is the band that eventually morphed into the wonderful Bent Outta Shape. I know it sounds like a cop out but to really fully grasp everything that surrounded The Lazer you had to be there and really know the people in the band and how their very distinct personalities came into play ine the whole spectrum of things. Every time I hear these songs I immediately think of shows at Ren's House. More selfishly I think about how glad I was when they kicked out my best friend Adam who went on to share guitar duties with me in Yes Sensei from 2003-2009 and have our own crazy stories. But of all things there is one thing I certainly think about it when listening to these songs and it chokes me up most often, I think of Jamie Ewing whom passed away in November of 2008 leaving behind this life far too early. He and I were not best friends by any stretch of the imagination but we were certainly friendly and anytime we were within an earshot of one another we'd talk like old high school buddies. And when he filled on the bass player slot for Scent of Human History on the winter tour they did with Yes Sensei we got even closer. It stung hard when I heard of his passing and it still gets me from time to time. Jamie as a person was one of kind and so likable. There was a charisma about him that I have never seen in another person ever. And the reality was that Jamie was one hell of a talented songwriter. The phrase "wearing your heart on your sleeve" gets thrown around rather loosely but I don't think there is a description more fitting for Jamie's ability with a guitar and his voice. Sincerely, Jamie was the closest our generation had to a songwriter of the caliber of Paul Westerberg. He will certainly be missed by all whom he encountered but fortunately he left behind a great deal of great music that will make us smile, laugh, cry and ultimately to remember him by.
Here is an attempt in putting together somewhat of a discography for both of these bands but bare in mind both Scent of Human History and The Lazer never really "advertised" their releases or in some instances would just make copies for friends. In the case of Scent of Human History I didn't even know the demo existed until a friend mentioned it in passing. If anyone has any corrections/additions please let me know. Additionally, if someone actually has a rip of that aforementioned Scent of Human History demo or a copy they'd be willing to part with hit me up.
Scent of Human History
"demo" cassette (self released)
"split w/ Lazer" cd (The Children's Revolt)
"split w/ Memory As Perfection" 12 inch (Waking Records)
"unreleased album" (not really sure why it didn't come out-it rules!)
"split w/ Kiwi" cd (self released)
"split w/ Scent of Human History" cd (The Children's Revolt)
1. Scent of Human History "An Individual"
2. Scent of Human History "An Optimist"
3. Scent of Human History "A Request"
4. The Lazer "Piss Broke"
5. The Lazer "Leopard Print Mets Hat"
6. The Lazer "Professional Driver"
7. The Lazer "Carpel Tunnel"
8. The Lazer "These Are For Fucking"
9. The Lazer "Curling Up in Front of a Warm Fire with jay Meli and a Good Book"
10. The Lazer "Nor Can Clean His Own Parking Lot"
11. The Lazer "Wisconsin"
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
But shenanigans aside, Latterman also wrote great songs that also had great messages. And perhaps why I mention all the tom foolery is that while someone just casually listening to the band and learning they had a message could easily discredit them for being a band that was "preachy" or "too serious". Fact is Latterman was none of those things. Personally, I think it was awesome that there was a band that was singing about topics of real substance, and to put things in perspective Latterman was bringing forth their songs with messages of self belief, hope, positive thinking, embracing friends, and not letting life get you down all on the heels of American independent rock culture still clinging to some of the angst and self depreciation of the 90s. Yeah, there was certainly a level of idealism but it was a pleasant surprise and to quote Uncle Buck "I don't want to know a kid who isn't a dreamer". Also, it was just awesome seeing so many kids being drawn to this band and those messages. Furthermore, I don't think it can be undermined in how Latterman and just the presence they created at shows was very inclusive. It was the first time I saw a Long Island band actually take a pro active stance in regards to sexism in the scene and not just pay token lip service-they helped create a new environment at shows on Long Island and I have to say not only was it exciting and welcome but God damn it was long overdue.
So about this demo...The 4 songs captured here (some of which were recorded for later releases) showcase the band in its earliest incarnation not only lineup wise but in terms of sound which has some roughness on the edges but the inspiration, exuberance and sincerity as well elements of what the band what later become known for certainly shine through. Though, Latterman's second album No Matter Where We Go is firmly cemented as my favorite release from their discography, there certainly will always be a place in my heart for their early material.
I will certainly recommend that everyone if you haven't done so already check out some of the post Latterman projects like Iron Chic and Rvivr who are both incredible.
Latterman "Demo" track listing
1. King Tough is My New Idol
2. Too Many Emo Days
3. Seriously Guys We Can Rule the World if We Tried
4. An Ode to Jon Contra
Friday, October 8, 2010
My first exposure to Knox Overstreet was seeing them at a show at the Rock Lobster with (if my memory serves me correct) On the Might of Princes, Intransit, The Cotton Weary and Joshua. Immediately the first thing that struck me about them was how loud yet insanely toe tapping melodic they were. Also right off the bat their drummer, Mike Post, was an absolute thrill to watch as he had a contagious energy about him that seemed to rub off on the rest of the band. He had a stage presence and charisma that is usually reserved for front men. Sonically, they reminded me a lot of Garden Variety. At first glance the Garden Variety influence early on was pretty obvious from the melodic clang of the guitars and the vocals of Mike Catanese certainly reminded me Anthony Roman but when you shed away the layers it was obvious that there were a lot more pop sensibilities if you will at work. Over time I got to know the band pretty well and booked them at various shows over the years. Heck, I even had their track "Take the Ticket" be the lead off track on a cd compilation I did called The Hope Machine. Knox Overstreet and my band played together a bunch when we first started playing and it was really amazing seeing how they progressed from that first show I saw at the Rock Lobster.
From 2000 until the cease of the publication I wrote for Under the Volcano and a part of what I tried to accomplish there was write about DIY bands from all over the world that I was being exposed to via my label trading with other labels but a part of that for me was to also review releases from local bands. And as a result one night at a show at Saints & Sinners (which I do believe ended up being band's last show), drummer Mike Post handed me a copy of the latest Knox Overstreet demo to consider reviewing. Like I had to consider... I was blown away as the band on this 4 song demo grew in leaps and bounds from their earliest incarnation. That aforementioned Garden Variety element was only faintly there, now I was hearing elements of Superchunk, Big Star and The Replacements to create a very smart, hook laden brand of indie rock. It was so good that I was appalled to see that the demo was #1 in an edition of only 30! And that was the kind of band that Knox Overstreet was-one that never realized how good they were. Or even took themselves too seriously. Or heck even had a thought to share their music with anyone outside of their circle of friends. For better or worse as an outside looking in very few bands operated the way Knox Overstreet did. I have done everything in my power over the years to share with people the great music of this band that in my mind was sorely under appreciated.
Knox Overstreet did have decent amount of recorded material all of which I shall post here over the course of time. For those interested here is a run down of their discography (as far as I know of):
-"demo" (not sure if this was officially released. i just have a burned cd-r w/ 3 tracks)
-"Take the Ticket" on The Hope Machine cd comp (Rok Lok Records)
-"I Shot the Clerk" on It Certainly Was a Grand Piano cd comp (Abominable Records)
-"Coming Around/Jammer Failed" 7 inch (Abominable Records)
-split 7 inch w/ Radio Raheem (Pony Collision Records)
-"demo (2003)" cd-r (self released)
Knox Overstreet "demo (2003)" track listing
1. Out of the Van
2. Shake That Tree
3. Fast Women
4. Not At All
Thursday, October 7, 2010
In 1998 I created my label Rok Lok Records to release this band's first album so it is only fitting that On the Might of Princes is the first entry in this blog. My earliest exposure to On the Might of Princes was only a few months into their existence and it was solely by chance. They happened to be sharing a bill with a band that my old AOL chat room buddy was in called Bunsen Honeydew at Cedar Beach, which was a "venue" that the North Shore Youth Council allowed young people to book their own live music events in the summer months to keep youths out of trouble and that sort of thing. Anyhow, On the Might of Princes performed and I was absolutely blown away. It was just so raw and it hit me on a personal level that I couldn't fully explain-to put it simply I had never seen anything like it before or since. And this feeling continued in the subsequent times that I saw them over the next few months and eventually years. At some point I mustered up the courage to approach vocalist/guitarist Jason Rosenthal express my appreciation of the band's music and invited them to take part in some shows that I was booking. It was the beginning of what I would like to think of as a long, healthy as well as creative friendship with the band. After a few shows it was clear something truly special was taking place, there was an electric feeling going on in the Long Island scene and while not take anything away from any other bands, On the Might of Princes have to be given a large amount of credit for their contribution to making the scene at that time so vibrant. Bias aside, their influence can not be undermined. While screamy hardcore and emo had already made its presence felt on Long Island via bands like The Last Crime, La Magna, Scapegrace, The State Secedes, Half Man, to name a few- I don't think a band had meshed such a strong sense of pained melody with visceral, discordant emo/hardcore the way On the Might of Princes did. Perhaps the only other Long Island band prior to them that did something similar was the wonderful (and very under appreciated I may add) Garden Variety.
With all of this excitement it seemed as if it was a good enough time to record a demo. So in September of 1998 On the Might of Princes with microphones hanging from the ceiling of guitarist Lou Fontana's parents' basement, the demo was born. I imagine like many demos, it was recorded over the span of a weekend or maybe two. And I remember vividly when Jason gave me a copy of the demo, I must have listened to it at least a half dozen times in the first sitting. Over the course of the next several months I listened to the demo almost non stop. At the time I worked the closing manager shift at a local McDonald's and I couldn't have had a better soundtrack to get me through those nights than the On the Might of Princes demo. A co-worker at the time commented saying "this band is good but don't you own any other tapes?", which I guess illustrated how much I did indeed listen to the tape. Personally, I was at that post high school crossroads and amidst all the confusion in my life at the time hands down On the Might of Princes' music was the only thing that made sense, and to this day I don't think I have ever experienced anything as cathartic as seeing them play live. Eventually I released their debut album The Making of a Conversation in 1999 (later re-issued with bonus tracks in 2007 including "Drunk & Missing Vital Parts" and "An Allusion to Italy" from the demo) and the band continued to progress and earn themselves accolades with their second and third albums, Where You Are and Where You Want to Be (Traffic Violation/Creep and later Rok Lok Records/Eugenics Record Label) and Sirens (Revelation). The rest they say is history...
Originally the band self released the six song demo and also contributed a exclusive track taken from the same sessions, "Water Wings" for a tape compilation called Strong Island that myself and friend Phil Wohl released to document some of the bands we were booking. Months later after the original batch of demos were sold out a new pressing on local label Eiffel Trousers Records were made that included "Water Wings". A cool thing about the demo was that it was the first time anyone really heard the song "A Shadow Taller Than You", which hadn't been played out live at that point and it was just a song that I felt would go on to really define that time period for the band. Also that song, in my opinion would pave the way for some of the things they'd do later on. I know the vast majority of On the Might of Princes fans are more fond of the later stuff but I don't think anyone can deny the rawness, and gut wrenching sincerity that is captured on the seven songs on this demo. From a historical point of view the demo I think perfectly documents what On the Might Princes and the respective time were like. Still after all of these years I love the entire demo but stand outs for me are "Water Wings" which has always been and always will be my favorite On the Might of Princes song. It is just so simple and endearing while the distortion overload of the guitars is one of the most beautiful messes I have ever heard. And still to this day the original version of "An Allusion to Italy" sends chills down my spine. There is personal charm and warm aesthetic on the demo version that makes the version on Where You Are and Where You Want to Be sound rather sterile.you be the judge.
I hope you have enjoyed the inaugural upload at Here on This Island and I look forward to sharing more with everyone in the coming weeks.
On the Might of Princes "demo" track list:
1. A Fond Farewell
3. Anywhere in Europe
4. Drunk and Missing Vital Parts
5. A Shadow Taller Than You
6. An Allusion to Italy
7. Water Wings
On the Might of Princes "demo" track list:
1. A Fond Farewell
3. Anywhere in Europe
4. Drunk and Missing Vital Parts
5. A Shadow Taller Than You
6. An Allusion to Italy
7. Water Wings
Monday, October 4, 2010
In the process of putting this blog together lots of thoughts ran through my head. Where I have been and where I am going. The friends whom I no longer see and the friends whom I still do see. How rough growing up was yet how fun it was at the same time. And when I think about it while mistakes were made I can honestly say I would never want to change a single thing. Growing up on Long Island which seemed to be a living hell to most people whom I encountered over the years, I saw growing up here as a blessing more than anything. A blessing because of the absolutely vibrant creative community that I feel fortunate enough to have witnessed and ultimately be a part of not as a patron of shows but being in my own bands, running label/distro, booking shows, writing zines, etc. When not much of anything in the "real world" made sense to me every weekend when there was a show at a house, beach, bar, teen center, library, bowling alley, etc. and peers would pour their hearts out that is when everything made sense. And while the years passed have removed some of the idealism, so much of that period of time still makes a lot of sense. Certainly those weekends of doing nothing meant everything and will be a part of me forever.
With all of that being said the goal of this blog is to share with everyone music created by friends that most likely never left Long Island and perhaps specific pockets of time. Forever etched in time via hobbled together cassette demos or cd-rs or for the lucky ones some vinyl or pressed cds, that were a document and celebration of youth and the sharing of ideas. Documents that perhaps for most have become dusty artifacts somewhere in a box in our basements or under neath our beds. In shifting my life into the next stage, that is a close approximation for why I am starting this blog. While the memories were never forgotten or the knowledge of having accumulated years of demos, cds, vinyl, etc that was a document of that time period most was largely put off to the side collecting dust. Now I'd like to wipe off the dust and share with everyone not only part of me but a part of Long Island. Enjoy!