Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fellow Project "If We Were Mariachis" cd-r (Burn It Down Rebuild/ 2002)

This isn't the first time that I have posted about Fellow Project and it most likely won't be the last, though I probably won't share much more because I don't want to be sharing titles that are still readily available. The 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
2. Dangerous
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
10. Picapatas
11. Give Me More

Download Here

Monday, December 20, 2010

Carly & Donna "Believe In Yourself" cd-r (self released/2002)

Even though 2002 wasn't that long ago, this cd certainly takes me back a bit. It takes me to a time in Long Island DIY history that I look fondly upon. From my vantage point, I have felt for the most part that punk or DIY culture's cry for diversity has always been largely for window dressing at best as very seldom do you see artists or bands really go against the grain and when they do make an appearance it is safe to say they aren't met with the most open of arms. Plain and simple most people, despite the grand standing and soapbox discussions want nothing more than Peter Pan-esque party time pop punk reassuring them they can stay young forever. However, with that being said I do have to say in a brief period in the late 90s early 2000s I do believe I experienced a genuine sense of diversity not only from musical stand point but also from an ideological as well from a gender stand point. And mind you the latter was far from perfect but from my perception as someone who had already been involved in independent/ music for a considerable amount of time, I found the involvement of women in the Long Island scene at that point in time in every aspect to be prevalent as well as inspiring. Whether it was music, arts, zines or organizing it was clear that women were an enormous part of the community and as someone who has always been serious about practice what you preach and as someone who put a lot of stock in DIY culture it truly meant the world to me that at least locally the creative community I involved myself with was growing past merely being a forum for white suburban male adolescents (and 20 somethings) to express themselves.There was a lot of excitement over getting Freespace off the ground so perhaps there was a sense that EVERYONE was working towards something bigger.

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"
3. "You"

Download Here

Friday, December 17, 2010

Scent of Human History "Unreleased Album" (2003)

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:
1. "Wind"
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"
8. "Instrumental"
9. "Science"
10. "Untitled"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Grid Iron "Demo" cd-r (Diner's Club Records/2001)

Initially started as a side project when original Latterman drummer Bryce Hackford had a desire to get out from the behind the kit and it in front of the microphone and guitar amp 'ala Dave Grohl; Grid Iron quickly turned into a full time local band regularly playing shows and doing a few recordings in the process.  Grid Iron played jagged guitar, gruff vocal driven indie rock/emo punk that reminded me of bands like Jawbreaker, Jawbox and very early Karate crossed with 90's emo/punk hybrid stuff like DBS. Eventually, wanting to focus on Grid Iron Hackford left the Latterman fold to be replaced by original Grid Iron drummer Pat Schramm. Funny how things work out eh? On the four song demo Grid Iron was comprised of Hackford on guitar/vocals, Schramm on drums and Chris Cerrone on bass and vocals. After Schramm and Cerrone both left at different points that were replaced by Adam Kuhn (Fellow Project, Small Arms Dealer) and Mike Campbell (Latterman, The Brass) respectively and recorded another cd-r demo as well as a full length CD called "Quieter, Confider" on Burn It Down/Rebuild. Shortly, after the release of the album the band dissolved with members moving on in different directions. A bummer I always enjoyed watching them play and they usually played shows with Yes Sensei which was always fun. We even planned a split cd that never happened for whatever reason, most likely because we took forever to record. We started recording for it than our first bass player quit with that recording being scrapped and most of those songs ended up being re-recorded for our second full length We Who Transplant Sustain. Anyhow...back to Grid Iron, if anyone is interested I do still have a couple of copies of this demo in my distro as well as copies of their full length Quieter, Confider.

Grid Iron "Demo" track listing

1. "Second Song"
2. "Jazz Age"
3. "Tarry Under Docks"
4. "Crater Basin"

Download Here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bigg Uppz "Demo" cd-r (self released/2003)

So much for promises... There are several reasons why there has been such a long gap from the last upload. A lack of free time being one and the other as lame as it sounds my digital camera is garbage and in doing this blog I really wanted to take pictures of the actual releases so I could share the artistry and packaging with everyone but right now that is just adding to the time it takes to getting stuff up here. So it becomes a matter of weighing what is more important. And of course I spent the better part of the morning to prepare a gem of an upload that I have wanted to share for awhile now (an incredible album that went unreleased for whatever reason) only to find that the last couple of tracks were screwed up so that will be coming at a later date. Anyhow enough bullshit, on with the show...

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
1. "One"
2. "Two"
3. "Thre"
4. "Four"
5. "Fiv"
6. "Six"
7. "Sevn"
8. "Secret"

Download Here