Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jon K "2 Song Demo" cd-r + "Paper Airplanes" (self released/2004)

Soon after the break up of Book Store bassist/vocalist Jon Kaplan starting turning up at various shows performing solo with a creative mixture of new indie pop/rock songs and spoken word, which proved to be just the right spontaneous flare that made Kaplan's performances not only entertaining but set them apart from the usual singer/songwriter fare.Usually when you see a guy with just a guitar and microphone before a note even is played, or a vocal is sung people generally know what to expect, and if people ever had that idea about a Jon K performance it was evaporated within seconds. Sometimes Kaplan wouldn't even play a song, as it would just be spoken word or some type of performance art. I saw a show once where he came straight from his shift as a waiter and the note pad in which customers orders were on turned into a free form spoken word frenzy that was insanely funny and entertaining. No matter what, it was always very spur of the moment and very real.

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"

Download Now

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sometimes Walking Sometimes Running "5 Untitled Songs" CD (Traffic Violation Records/2000)

After a few days rest I am back at and today's upload comes from Sometimes Walking Sometimes Running, who were previously mentioned when I uploaded their post SWSR project Scent of Human History. If  you dug the Scent of Human History material then chances are that you'll enjoy the 5 Untitled Songs cdep that Sometimes Walking Sometimes Running released on the seminal Long Island DIY label Traffic Violation back in 2000. Where Scent of Human History was a bit droning and epic, Sometimes Walking Sometimes Running was more of chaotic short blasts of screamo fury. Stylistically, SWSR (as I shall refer to them from here on out in this entry) cherry picked all of the finest elements of the top screamo/emo bands of that time period- Pg.99, Yaphet Kotto, Saetia, Reversal of Man, etc, all while putting their own stamp on the genre. And as I stated previously, this type of music was just nowhere to be found outside of these group of friends and maybe a few others, like The Life of Crime (As a side note- if anyone has any The Life of Crime stuff please send it my way. I think they recorded a demo) and SWSR certainly made the most of creating music in scene that seemed completely hypnotized by music that was solely melodic in nature. They certainly stood out but their chaotic, visceral brand of music resulted in truly raw performances that were unlike what most of their peers offered as far a "stage presence". I mean just watch the segment on the Between Resistance and Community documentary where SWSR absolutely tear shit up in the generator show segment...oh boy it always gives me chills.

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"
3. "Baroque"
4. "Welcome to 4AM"
5. "This Linear Engagement"

Download Here

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We Meet Under Tables "CD EP 1-Summer 2005" cd-r (self released/2005)

Today's entry is bit more current than some of the other things I have been posting but just as awesome, obscure and bit too short lived. Music lovers I present to you We Meet Under Tables! Coming out of nowhere it seemed We Meet Under Tables first came to my attention one summer when I was given the duty to find bands the fill the summer schedule at Cedar Beach's for the teen band nights that were going Thursday to Saturday nights from July to August. Trust me that was a harder task than one would ever expect, so finally all of those countless Myspace band friend requests were finally coming in handy. And one of those bands who happened to find like a diamond in the rough was We Meet Under Tables. The band immediately jumped out at me with their frantic rhythms, percussive centric, noisy guitars and a dual vocal assault.  Sonically it was a cross between Fugazi, Lungfish, Wire, and Gang of Four which was just music to my ears especially since my band Yes Sensei was looking for other like minded bands to play with because at that time a lot of the bands we had a creative kinship with had broken up or moved on. I hooked them up with a show and started talking to the band about more shows and even eventually trying to coerce them into letting me release some of their music.

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"
5. "Words"
6. "Opposition"

Download Here

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fellow Project "Watch It!" cd-r (self released/2001)

Unlike most of the bands I have posted so far, Fellow Project is still together and releasing one excellent record after another. Fellow Project originally started as a off shoot project from the Porcelain Decay to showcase the more folk/indie interests of guitarist Joe Jerkens and bassist Tia Meilinger. They recruited Adam Kuhn from Grid Iron/Fuck Cops and later Small Arms Dealer to play drums and quickly they started playing shows. And quickly they became one of my favorite bands to ever come from Long Island. Their songs were catchy, had great lyrics and there was that sing along type of energy without being juvenile. In their original three piece lineup the recorded three full length albums and the one I am sharing with you here today is their first album called Watch It! which was a self released cd-r. For my money Fellow Project have always been a real treat as they were so opposite of what every other band on the Island was doing. I mean Jerkens would rock out using an electric acoustic dobro! And maybe I am off my rocker but I truly sensed that there was/is a deep appreciation within the band of music that just isn't contemporary. Perhaps that is why they have stuck around for so long and why subsequently  their fans  have stuck around for the ride. Their songs resonate beyond any sort of temporary fad or trend, which is what happens when your music has roots. Sadly, I think Fellow Project tend to get lumped in with unfortunate folk punk movement of the early 2000s-speaking of fads.

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.

-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"
8. "Ruthless"
9. "Papllon"
10. "My Way vs Your Way Means the Highway"
11. "Sample"
12. "Untitled" (track is unlisted on sleeve)

Download Here

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

City Limits "demo" cd-r (Innocent When You Dream/2003)

I am cheating a bit here because City Limits wasn't a Long Island band proper as the members were scattered all across the United States-New York, Massachusetts, California, etc. but two of the members were a part of a very prominent Long Island DIY band in the late 90s called The Insurgent so I feel compelled to share this excellent ep. Due to the limited nature of this ep I'd wager to say many people even on Long Island and fans of The Insurgent have never heard of it. Also, for fans of the post Insurgent band United States, this ep will be a treat as it falls in between those aforementioned bands not only time was but also musically as it is very discordant guitar, Fugazi influenced post punk much like United States.

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"
2. "Fiction"
3. "Clear Channel"
4. "Destinations"
5. "Authorized"

Download Here

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fuck Cops "Demo" cd-r (Burn It Down Rebuild/2003)

Today's post while was certainly going to be posted at some point, is going up as per request of Mac over on Viva La Vinyl. So here you go and enjoy! There was a period (and I guess it still prevails but truthfully "scene" happenings haven't been on my radar for some time now) where good, solid hardcore with thoughtful lyrics gave way to a brand of of melodic "hardcore" nonsense singing some white boy suburban blues that seems to be all the rage on Long Island. I mean what scene doesn't need nearly two dozen Lifetime and Kid Dynamite rip offs? Ugh... Anyhow in 2003 a very short lived band called Fuck Cops (aka The Local Conservative Commission)  was forged by members of Contra, Latterman, Fellow Project, and Grid Iron to remedy the situation and makes Long Island Hardcore not be a four letter word even for a short period of time. Growing up on bands like Dead Kennedys, Born Against and then local hardcore bands like Campaign I could never get into these so called hardcore bands that were popping up all over Long Island that just sang about girls breaking their hearts or whatever the fuck. And while I certainly had my brush with youthful idealism I don't think I ever really thought punk and hardcore lyrics could change the world or whatever but I did (and still do) like that idea of using the form as a means of exchange ideas and being a launch pad for young people to express their anger for shit going in the world. Because look around-there is a lot to get angry about and think those things should be discussed by whatever means necessary, so why not song form? And that is one thing that I just couldn't wrap my head around. Post 9/11 there was even more to be angry about, yet it seems no one was angry enough or wanted to us the forum of punk and hardcore to be a forum to confront or discuss any of that. Long Island "hardcore" seemed content just having a good time and while I support a good time as much as anyone else I also appreciate music and art that has substance. So I guess what I am saying, while I generally am not into preachy types of music or art- I DO appreciate and enjoy music or art that challenges perceptions and goes against the grain. As far as I am concerned the grain on Long Island for too long was hardcore that wasn't all that hard and Fuck Cops were just the edge that was the opposite of what was going and that spoke to me very loudly.

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"

Download Here

Friday, October 15, 2010

Intransit "s/t" cd (self released/1999)

It is Friday and there is a lot to do but still I would like make a quick post about this excellent 4 song ep by Intransit. This fairly short lived band went on to be splintered off into This Year's Model, Bravado and Come Down but not before releasing an excellent demo tape and the 4 song ep which I am happy to share here. Based out Selden, Intransit played post hardcore that meshed together the sounds of Hum, Quicksand, and Jawbox. It was a shame that were together for only a short period of time as their songs were just fantastic and furthermore unless my memory is way off there were a few songs that they were playing around the time this cdep came out were never recorded. The live track on this ep, "Crying For Satire" was one of my favorites and as far as I know this is the only recorded documentation of the song. If I am wrong and if there was a unreleased batch of songs let me know as I'd love to here them.

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"
2. "Instrumental"
3. "Netself"
4. Crying For Satire (live at CBGB's)

Download Here

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Store "Hello From Book Store" cd-r (self released/2002)

Contrary to popular belief there is more than just punk and hardcore on Long Island and furthermore it is my belief the DIY culture is not just limited to those said genres. I know shudder to think... And one band that certainly proved so by carving out a nice sized niche for themselves in the late 90s/early 2000s was Bookstore. Perhaps at first their sunny brand of fuzzed out indie rock was met with reluctance but bottom line- catchy songs have a way of eventually hooking you in. Bookstore was formed after bassist Jon Kaplan and drummer Joey Lambiaso's previous band The Mutes Brothers broke up and eventually hooked up with guitarist/vocalist Dan Fucello to create a power pop/fuzz indie rock trio. While today wearing influences like Built to Spill, Velocity Girl and Superdrag on your sleeve seems like the hip thing to do at that time on Long Island so Bookstore certainly stuck out amongst the rest of the bands in the Long Island scene. But like I previously mentioned Bookstore (who were from Nassau County) certainly found a rousing response in eastern Suffolk County where simply put they were adored. It didn't hurt that in eastern Long Island it seemed as if people were more into indie/alternative rock/emo as opposed to raging punk and hardcore.

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"

Download Here

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Scent of Human History/The Lazer "split" CD (The Children's Revolt/2002)

This release while not too old certainly is a solid document of a small part of what was going on in Long Island in the early 2000s. And mind you not necessarily musically and lyrically but the sense of DIY artistic expression and camaraderie that was so prevalent at the time. Around that time there were several homes that opened up and were having shows, from Ren's House in Nassau County and the Vargas house in eastern Suffolk. There was a very loud, very celebratory sense from  kids creating their own entertainment and their own rules. And while I think there a lot of bands, individuals, and ideas that certainly made that time period exciting, I think these two bands carved out a niche out of the whole Long Island scene that I was really drawn too. So why not split a release?

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!)

The Lazer
"split w/ Kiwi" cd (self released)
"split w/ Scent of Human History" cd (The Children's Revolt)

Track Listing:
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"

Download Here

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Latterman "Demo" cassette (Ruckus Records/1999)

I'll be totally up front, aside from a few select bands I have never had much love for the pop punk genre. Personally, I feel so many bands focus on trying to be punk that they forget the pop part which for me means that your songs catchy and if you don't have the pop part I have a had hard time finding a lasting appeal or even short term for that matter. I love pop song sensibilities and the idea of getting a song stuck in one's head. One of the select few bands that make the grade for me in this genre are Latterman. Born from the ashes of the somewhat similar band Five Days Late whom I saw a few times and came to become very friendly with their guitarist Phil Douglas and bassist Matt Canino. I included them in a few shows that I was booking. One show in particular was for the cd release show for Exlposivo's The Uh Oh EP and as I was finishing the flyer I got a call from Phil saying that "Five Days Late was no more and that their new band Latterman was going to play". Cool. They made their way to the Shoreham Wading River Library to play the show and with goofing around and talking to each other as if there was no one in the room (actually the exact opposite!) by the time 15 minutes rolled around and before their fourth song the announced it would be their last one. Jokingly, I gave them hell and honestly this was one of the things while they may not look fondly upon I just loved. Those early Latterman shows felt like an inside joke but not in some elitist way, just friends having a good time. Heck, even by the time the band had a demo, ep, 7 inch and material which made up their first full length Turn Up the Punk We'll Be Singing, Latterman sets were like 4 or 5 songs at most. I once saw a 3 song Latterman and not because they were pressed for time. I swear after the second song when Phil announced they were only going to play one more I think I was the only person in the audience who realized he wasn't bullshitting. That was funny. And there was the show at the Hardware store where it was packed (sardine can packed) and it took M.R like 15 minutes of trying to tune his guitar by ear. Classic...

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

Download Here

Friday, October 8, 2010

Knox Overstreet "Demo" cd-r (self released/2003)

Sadly, this is a demo that most people even on Long Island never heard. And to take it a step further I would also have to say that most people whom attended Long Island shows weren't very familiar with Knox Overstreet which is absolutely criminal. Knox Overstreet were one of those bands that wrote great songs, were great dudes but never gave a fuck about belonging to a scene, adhering to trends, playing "cool" shows or whatever nonsense young bands tend to get wrapped up in. This quartet concerned themselves with only one thing and that was writing top notch songs.

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

Download Here

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On the Might of Princes "Demo" cassette (self released/1998)

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 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
2. Astoria
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!