Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Inkwell - Shine So Bright 7"

Today it is raining and 10 degrees Celsius. It is dark and miserable outside. Perfect weather for number 2 in my emo series!

Inkwell were not the biggest of names when it comes to the mid 90's emo scene. They weren't around for more than a couple of years, releasing just two 7"s and a split 7" with Hal al Shedad. Actually for the time, that was pretty close to wearing out your welcome. Any more releases and you would be labeled wannabe rock stars and probably get ostracized anyway.

Inkwell in my opinion hit the mother load with their second 7". The two songs, "Shine So Bright" and "Portrait" are pretty much the perfect representation of the sound and style of 90's emo/screamo. All the elements are here. Soft/loud dynamics, throat shredding screams, lyrics that read like poetry, etc. It literally doesn't get better than this.

Shine So Bright was released on Heliotrope / Orion Quest Records, the second release from same label that released the original Converge Unloved and Weeded Out 7". In other words, Tre McCarthy put it out.
It's interesting that a small Atlanta, Georgia band stuck outside of the popular California, midwest and DC/Jersey/Philly scenes, that played 80% of their gigs at home, caught the eye and ear of a Massachusetts hardcore kid. I'm sure there is a story there.

I don't know how many were pressed, but they were numbered.

The packaging for this record is really awesome. A screened clear plastic foldover on top of the sleeve which has the lyrics. Looks great in person.
You can easily find this on ebay for $5. Well worth it. Truly one of the forgotten and under appreciated gems of the scene.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Indian Summer - s/t 7"

Yesterday I saw my first yellow leaf on the trees in the park. Fall is coming, summer is almost over. Here in Calgary this means snow and cold is about six weeks away. I am bummed out.

So what do I do when fall comes and I feel down? Why, it's time for some emo.

As a young man in the mid 1990's, I witnessed hardcore making a turn. Some would say it went right off the road. All I know is that shit changed. A lot. I'm not talking Revolution Summer and the seeds of the new sound. I am talking about the Mac truck that hit you square in the face that said we weren't in Kansas anymore Toto.

Youth of Today ended and Shelter began. Rev was releasing records by Gameface and Into Another and Farside. Everyone was "growing" and expanding their sound and at the same time also getting in touch with their feelings. Political correctness took on a life of its own. Anyone still playing straight up hardcore were considered sub-human, knuckle dragging neanderthals.

I bought right in. I ditched NYHC and crossover, rejected "punk" as juvenile and dove headfirst into a world of cardigan sweaters, fake black rimmed glasses and emoting. Musically, leading the way for me was Indian Summer.

Indian Summer and other bands of their ilk on Repercussion Records rewrote the book completely on record collecting. Black vinyl only. Variations were primarily by accident with second pressings. Screened paper bags for covers. No song titles. Recording quality similar to that of a boom box in the corner on a well used Maxell cassette tape.

Musically, it was the standard emo/screamo formula of the time. Low-fi, minimal melodic quiet parts, soft/loud/soft song structure, with a singer emoting a ton of anguish. Indian Summer distinguished themselves from the other 20 bands doing the same thing by having scratchy Bessie Smith blues records playing in the background.

I could try to tell you that my favorite emo song of all time is on this record, but I couldn't tell you what it is called. I read a while back that none of Indian Summer's songs had titles and that outsiders are the ones who titled them. All I know is that I like the one that says "I am the angry son." I thought it was called Angry Son but I was told later that it wasn't. Whatever.

This was a fun trip down memory lane. I think I will keep it for a couple weeks. Let me know if there are any records you want covered. Next up, Inkwell.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hope Defeated - 2010 Demo 7"

I know you are probably asking yourself, "Who the hell is Hope Defeated?" Well, it is a band. More specifically, my band.
In addition to collecting records, going to shows and occasionally hitting up a fest, I have also been playing in bands for the last 20 years. Well I don't play shit, I'm what Bon Scott would call a "Rock and Roll Singer". Yeah.

Last year I got together with some friends I have played with in different bands or known in the scene over the years and we formed Hope Defeated. I guess I figured I wasn't quite done yet.

We hit the studio last September to get an idea of what we had. Everything sounds awesome in the basement. Eight songs in eight hours, live off the floor. I put vocals on five.

I was pretty happy with the results and let some close friends know what we were up to and passed around the raw mp3s we got from the studio. One of those guys was Marcus from Endless Quest. Surprisingly, he brought up the idea of releasing the songs we recorded on vinyl as a demo on his label.
I guess he liked them. We picked the four best songs, remixed and mastered them, and sent them off.

I have to say, Marcus has put a lot of time, effort and money into making this record as cool and good as it can be. One of the ideas he had was to press a special limited run of 50 on red that would only be available for readers of our blogs. Special labels and covers just for the loyal readers of The Endless Quest and We Will Bury You.
Look at that, always thinking of you.

You can read more about all the details and even hear a song if you like at Marcus's blog posting here:

Or you can head right to the Endless Quest webstore here to pre-order:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ceremony - Rohnert Park EP: Sick 7"

Really, not much to say about the Sick 7" at all. My favorite song off one of my favorite albums of 2010. I would have posted about it a year ago, but that damn record release version was very elusive. It doesn't show up often on ebay and when it does it sells for mad cash. The last two before I got mine went for $77 and $81. That's pretty insane.
I finally got one last month and I didn't pay remotely close to that much, so maybe things are calming down a bit.

The Sick ep was one of those early preview 7"s released by Bridge Nine a month before the album. B9 have done this many times before with bands like Ambitions, Ruiner, Verse and Cruel Hand to name a few. I think they even did it with Ceremony on their last album too. One song off the album and one exclusive track. Works for me.

The last time I saw Ceremony at Chaos In Tejas, they opened with "Into The Wayside/Sick" and it set the tone for the rest of the show. They tore the roof off the place. Well, there was no roof to begin with, but you get the idea. There are some youtube videos out there. Go check them out. You are a resourceful bunch.

First press. Record release cover. Clear vinyl out of 99.

Hand numbered on the back fold.

First press. White vinyl out of 300.

First press. Clear vinyl out of 700. I have a feeling it's more like out of 601 as 99 of the clear were used for the record release.

Second press. Black vinyl out of 500. Not very often that a preview 7" gets a second pressing on Bridge Nine.

Two pressings over one year and Bridge Nine is totally sold out of the record in their webstore. You can find it on ebay and some distros easily and fairly inexpensive though. Well, except the record release. That one is still a bitch.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Manliftingbanner - Ten Inches That Shook The World

Given the state of the world economy and the fear that the next recession is just around the corner, I decided to pull out this oldie from the shelf and give it a spin.
If all our financial woes are caused by the free market economy, capitalism, exploitation and greed, let's blast some socialist hardcore to remind us of all the mistakes we have made - comrade!

Manliftingbanner - 10 Inches That Shook The World.

It seems almost silly now looking back on how I reacted or felt when I first heard this record. Musically, it is pretty much by the numbers hardcore . Youth crew type sound with lots of speed and not a hint of heavy or metal.
Lyrically and image-wise though, this was "controversial". Manliftingbanner was the first band I ever heard that expressed blatent socialist, Marxist and communist political ideologies.
It was very different from the Dead Kennedys, MDC or Crass "smash the state" anarchy lyrics that you almost expected from punk bands. On the other side of the spectrum, 80's hardcore always seemed to lean to the right if it got political with Agnostic Front, YDL or Murphy's Law.

This record was 100% Communist. That was pretty shocking to me. The Berlin Wall had only been down for a couple years, but it wasn't like we were embracing the old Soviet Union. I grew up being terrified of the Soviet Union. It took five Dutch kids to bring the ideology out of the tv set and into my music world. Ahhh, The Dutch.

Ten Inches That Shook The World was released on Crucial Response Records in 1992. I think it was back when it was a European only label and way before the internet or ebay. I wasn't going to find this record at the local record store. I just waited until my friend Geoff was ready to sell his copy. I waited a long time!

The layout has a lot going on not only with lyrics, but quotes from people such as Lenin and Trotsky to accompany the messages of the songs.

All in all, a pretty cool record that threw a lot of ideas at you including the positivity of straight edge, environmental issues, sexism, the exploitation of the weak and poor, along with radical violent communism. Heady stuff.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bl'ast! - The Power Of Expression

This morning I had my ipod on shuffle for my commute into work. Something that caught my attention and made me replay it a couple times was "Time to Think/Surf and Destroy" by the almighty Bl'ast!
I forgot how damn cool Bl'ast! was. A lot of people wrote them off as an early Black Flag (Damaged/My War era) rip off band. Yeah, no doubt they sound pretty much exactly like Black Flag, right down to the weird Greg Ginn fills and gruff throaty Rollins vocals, but I think it has more to do with the overall California hardcore vibe.
In the end, you can do a lot worse than sounding like Black Flag.

Their first and best album was "The Power Of Expression". The record was released back in 1986 on Wishingwell and distributed through Greenworld.

From the back cover and labels you can see that the album had a Greenworld catalog number. The tie to Wishingwell seems to be this weird "W" Wishingwell symbol at the top of the label.

The record comers with a black and white two sided insert/lyric sheet.

A European press out of the Netherlands was also released in the same year by Roadrunner Records.

The noticeable differences include the added Roadrunner label at the top of the back cover.

Also the label is all Roadrunner. Reminds me of my Euro thrash metal imports from the 80's. This is design is radically different from the Greenworld one and loses the Wishingwell logo altogether.

Lastly, the insert and lyric sheet has been transposed on to the inner dust sleeve.

All Black Flag fans who have never heard Bl'ast! should really give this album a chance. If you already have it, pull it out and give it a spin. Perfect summer weather skateboarding tunes. Dig it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Crumbsuckers - Beast On My Back

Well, I'm back from my one week family vacation and a one week vacation from the computer. I think I liked both equally. Very liberating. I guess it's time to get back at it.
I'm not sure why but as I found myself driving through Glacier National Park looking at mountains, wildlife and well - glaciers, I had the Crumbsuckers going through my head. Not even the acknowledged good album either. Nope, I had B.O.M.B. on repeat in my brain.

Beast On My Back (or just B.O.M.B) was a VERY polarizing album. Hardcore kids and crossover freaks (like me) pretty much checked out on the band with this album for being too slow and too metal with too many solos. The song writing was pretty weak too.
Still, I cut this album a lot of slack for one reason, Chris Notaro's vocals. Notaro is one of my favorite singers - period. Growing up playing in bands, I always wanted to sound like him and fell way short of the mark. Dude's voice rules.

As far as vinyl goes, the album was released on Combat which I always considered cool. Combat would advertize in thrash magazines and is how I initially got turned on to Agnostic Front. All good.
The record was pressed on black vinyl and I assume a shit load of it. The record is not hard to come by at all.

Most importantly, just look at these guys. You wonder why crossover was a strange time. The metal head rhythm section ended up as Pro-Pain. A band I hate to this day. Notaro is rocking the Canadian tuxedo (double denim) and they even had a serious poodle head too. LOVE IT!!!!

For those of you that buried this record away years ago, pull it out and check out the third song "Charge" from the 1:50 - 2:13 mark. Brilliant. It still sends shivers up my back!