Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Small Arms Dealer "The Hot Knives EP" cd-r (self released/2004)

First off, sorry for the lack of posts lately I have been busy with work and label stuff but fret not I shall try and get back up to speed with at least 2-3 posts a week. Anyhow here we go with today's post...

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%)"
5. "Who?...Me?"

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Screen House Music "Volume One" cd-r (self released/2006)

Even though it wasn't that long ago 2006, I definitely recall that as a year where I seriously thought that nothing in music could surprise or excite me any longer. Of course that was a narrow view because I was solely basing this opinion on that fact that it seemed as if I was getting at least a dozen crappy band friend requests a day on Myspace. And don't even get me started on the tons of the uninspired music I'd have to review for Under the Volcano or even get as demo submissions for Rok Lok. As awful as it sounds at some point I didn't even want to open up friend requests and I am not sure why one day I felt compelled to open up one of those said requests, but I am glad I did because that was the day I discovered the wonderful gem that is Screen House Music. Immediately, I was blown away by the sparse looseness of the songs. There was a lo fi folk/ambient/experimental thing that reminded me a lot of the stuff that I grew up listening to like the whole Shrimper Records cast of characters like Paste, Dump, Simon Joyner and Will Simmons. The one song that stood out and I proceeded to play another 8 or so times straight in that one sitting was the tune "On Our Cameras"-it just blew me away the way the song builds and doesn't get hooked into a specific phrasing or chord too long but just long enough to have it sink its melodic teeth into one's ears-just seriously smart and mature songwriting but very organic sounding. The arrangement of a field recording of friends party like chatter in the background and how it switches from a acoustic guitar progression to a reverb happy electric guitar and percussion as well some wavy background sounds is nothing short of sublime. As corny as it sounds something about this song makes me feel young and in a good way. But the reality is that there is something great about every song on Screen House Music's Volume One. My thought is someone from Long Island making this type of music and I am not aware, how can this be?

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"
8. "Conclude"

Download Here

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Latterman "None of These Songs Are About Girls" cd-r (self released/2000)

Today's post will be a quickie due to being a bit short on time but also because I also recently profiled Latterman when I uploaded their demo which hopefully everyone has enjoyed. Oddly enough even though this self released ep came out after the demo only one of the five tracks here were later re-recorded, unlike the songs on the demo, which I suppose makes the tunes here a bit more of a rarity. I'd wager that most Latterman fans never even heard of this ep much less the songs on it.

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"

Download Here

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wildebeest "Motion and Language" (self released/2005)

Let me start off this entry by publicly apologizing (even many years after the fact- just over 6 to be exact) for originally lumping Matthew Winn's pre-Wildebeest release in with the unfortunate (and certainly not forgotten by this guy) folk punk movement of the early 2000s when I reviewed it in a issue of Under the Volcano. I was certainly wrong in making that comparison, and the debut from Wildebeest Motion and Language is what squashed any ill conceived notions of the type of music the talented Winn was creating. I can attempt at trying to conjure up my own words to describe what Motion and Language is about and while I will first I'd like to offer a snapshot of Winn's own words as the following text was pasted on the sleeve when you opened up the cd case:

"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"
5. "Intermission"
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"

Download Here