Thursday, 30 June 2011

Weird TV

Located somewhat equidistant from the neon dirge of Seattle and the coastal logging town of Aberdeen, Washington - the hometown of one Kurt Cobain - lies the verdent, arty metropolis of Olympia. The city itself sits at the end of the Budd Inlet, one of the last stops on the many tenticled Puget Sound, a locality which has over the years proved to be a fertile breeding ground for noisy, unabashed and rebellious strains of rock and roll.

Olympia has been the launchpad for a number of well known bands and labels, notably Beat Happening's iconic originator of twee, Calvin Johnson, who grew a steady following of fans for his K Records venture. And Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill, a woman of formidable musical knowledge and prowess who is reverred from scene to scene for her unshakable comittment to music and art in general.

There are more than just a handful of bands playing out of Olympia right now that deserve attention. The sheer volume of interesting sounds ranging from unspoilt hardcore aggression through to politically fueled straight punk rock, scorching noise punk and impressive grunge revival is staggering. Sometime in the near future we will be writing an indepth article about every Olympia band we can unearth, but for the purposes of brevity I will be writing about just one band this time round. Weird TV.

 The bio for Weird TV on reads ‘Punkest band in Olympia,’ which should be taken with a snow shovel sized pinch of salt because quite frankly the concoction of Bikini Kill bite and clamour fermented with drips and drabs of Wipers influence makes for something slightly more noise obsessed than clear-cut punk obsessed. It has been said that all Pacific Northwest / Washington state bands can have their sound traced back to either Wipers, Melvins, Hendrix, Beat Happening, The Beatles or Nirvana. This band ignore the rancour of Melvins, the quaint delights of Beat Happening, the precision of Hendrix and the accessibility of The Beatles to form a femme led contortion of messy rock and roll.

Their five track demo comes complete with a hastily scribbled cover that any fan of the artwork for Beat Happening's 1988 effort 'Jamboree' will be moist over. Alas, one should never judge a record by it's cover. The inner operations of Weird TV's first release are frantic and their sound is played with an apparent seriousness which can only have been instilled within their grain by Vail and Hanna's throttling of chords with Bikini Kill. The recording is basic, but the four-track-in-the-basement approach actually serves to clarify their sound as the dirty riff laden, groove riding, Stooges flavoured punk rock that it is. If the two minutes and fifty five seconds of third track 'Sex' had been recorded on anything other than a rusty Tascam then the opening screams wouldn't have sounded half as unnerving. Just as some ambience peddling musicians obsessed with minimal compression might want to record their craft within the hull of the salvaged Mary Rose or deep inside the bowels of The Cave Without A Name, Weird TV's tone, likewise it seems, benefits from certain characteristics of production.

Both 'Canalla' and 'Sufrir' fry a mixture of scrap-heap 90's punk chops with impassioned deliveries and cues taken from the likes of Nirvana and Bratmobile. The first few bars of 'Sufrir' had me double checking whether I'd unknowingly played Bikini Kill's 'I Like Fucking' instead. However, the comparisons should not be allowed to overcrowd what this demo offers. The juice thats been knotted into every second of this sixteen minute display of feral disobedience is remarkable. I guess there isn't a whole host of revolutionary ideas to get excited about, but perhaps the way by which the cuts of late 80's / early 90's Grrrl style have been allowed to recongeal in the 21st Century is to some extent an indication that sounds and noises can become nascent all over again decades later. As if by some divine natural cycle the spirit never quite died and the body managed to refresh itself.

Download - Weird TV Demo

- Josh

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Grazes - Myths

Grazes on Myspace
Purchase 'Myths' from Holy Roar Records
Co-released with Ebb & Flow Records


No time to fuck about. Hailing from Sheffield, UK, relative young bloods of the Hardcore scene Grazes have hammer-smashed together a fourteen minute opus of uncurtailed aggression and mixed state mania. 'Myths' is their first release on Holy Roar Records - a label notorious for it's heterogeneous smorgasbord of past releases - and quite frankly this seven track blitzkrieg somewhat channels the label's partiality for varied textures and tones. 'Myths' consolidates a foundation of no nonsense Hardcore Punk savageness with various genre signatures found elsewhere along the incestuous tree line of Punk Rock. Arguably, they've pulled off this grand collision to a successful degree.

Track one for instance, 'Intro/Black Death' takes it's time in cooking a nauseous, almost sludgy bassline, eventually rolling into gyrations of 'Conspiring The Go Go'-esque Ampere, and the dynamic switches faster than you can say 'Yorkshire' as 'Drown In The River Styx' announces itself with a ten second drum pattern straight out of the Los Crudos handbook.

The Screamo elements are mercurial, yet they're so blatantly there. You can hear pinches of say, Comadre underpinning 'My Last Day' as it barrel-rolls through bad attitude vocals and noodling guitar cuts. But, at the same time the solid scaffold of this entire release remains devoutly Hardcore in the traditional sense.

The clever misdirection, or rather, deliberate blending of sounds peaks on both 'Rex Anglorum' and 'Observer's Paradox' whereupon the riff-broker - who has so patiently sliced a path of clear cut punk chops up until now - vents a torrent of wavy, possibly Iommi influenced guitar lines. Achievements that Baroness' John Baizley might like to give these four northern scamps a little slap for.

There is a lot to be heard on 'Myths,' a lot of ambition vying for attention, but the entire view manages to keep it's sense of panorama. The result is balanced, quite considered but still merciless as fuck. I think the kind of record that Grazes have put out this year owes an indirect debt of thanks to acts such as Touché Amoré, who have, within the last two years, managed to embolden the fan base for Hardcore thats tactile and clearly accessible without overly sacrificing the sheer fucking chaos that brought us all here in the first place. In short, Hell has come home to Sheffield in 2011.

- Josh

Thursday, 9 June 2011


Sealings are a duo of noisey entrapment that have burrowed their way hastily through the trench systems of Britain's disparaging scene of lo-fi, twinkle fingered, feedback peddling, mysterious folk to crown themselves the fantastic kings of fuck all. With a sound that borrows so much from so many sources, initial thoughts might lean towards an antcipation of 'Probably heard similar stuff before' but wipe any and all of those encroaching saturnine thoughts from your twin deck cassette playing mind and sink into this melancholic breeding pool of battered drum machine driven beauty because their isolation on a musical level is profound. They're like castaways.

William and Jim Reid would chain smoke themselves into an early grave just contemplating the warble and reverb of Hazel Eyes / Shut In. Tracks such as King Shot from the tape put out on Italian Beach Babes is a snake of smoke. Oxymoronic, no? Well it meanders a line of bristling misery, wafer thin, almost comforting in a Slowdive - Alison type way, before constricting, screeching and ultimately abandoning itself.
We got in touch with these two guys and put an interview together. Beneath the interview you will find download links to a whole manner of stuff they've released, which they've kindly put up for free worship.

Firstly, what can you tell us about the band's inception, was it just a natural congelation of like minded musicians?

Liam – Me and Michael live in the same house so it was natural to start playing. We mainly messed around for about a bit recording terrible songs before we decided to have programmed drums.
We thought that if we made a full band it would probably end up pretty boring because we’d have to please everyone. We recorded a demo to try and get some gigs and Carl from Clan Destine records somehow found them and ended up releasing them, so that probably convinced us to keep doing everything ourselves at home, even though we can only really play guitar and I can’t sing.

Michael - when we realised we both played guitar and were into the same sort of music we just started messing around playing stuff. i don't think we ever made a conscious decision to start a band or anything like that but after a while it just seemed like a good idea

When Sealings first got together, would you say that your sound managed to flesh itself out rather quickly or has there been a lot of twists and turns in achieving the current noise?

Michael - i guess it's changed a bit from when we first started, but it's always been around the same sort of ideas, just lots of feedback, heavy bass, low vocals and a drum machine.

Liam - We had a drummer at first, our mate Jon, but he mainly listens to tech metal so he bailed. Since we started programming the drums, it fleshed out pretty quickly. I still like the first tape we did in 2009 and we still play all those songs.
I think it’s recorded a bit better now as well. We record onto an 8 track and we’ve got better at using it. We’re definitely not being deliberately lo-fi, we’re doing our best.

The comparisons between gigantic acts such as My Bloody Valentine are somewhat inescapable, would you say they've been a direct influence?

Liam - I wasn’t that surprised by it, My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain are two of our favourite bands. They’re not a direct influence, but we’ve both listened to them a lot since we were young so it probably seeped in. Nirvana as well.
I don’t think we sound that much like any of them, but it’s not something I get wound up about. There aren’t too many bands doing the same sort of thing as us at the moment with the drum machine and stuff, which is nice because I would probably not enjoy us being lumped in with a load of new bands. It’s better to be compared to those big bands if anything.

Michael - it's always flattering to be compared to your favorite bands, i don't think we've ever tried to directly emulate the sound of certain bands like My Bloody Valentine but particularly their use of repitition and samples and the way the vocals are mixed is something we're interested in.

Do you see the band's sound as something you want to adhere closely to for the foreseeable future or are we going to see even wilder experimentation?

Michael - i guess once you've established a sound for the music you make you try and manipulate it in a way that allows you to do different stuff but still maintains the sound you have. we never disregard ideas because it wouldn't fit with our band.

Liam – We don’t set out to be experimental or anything, but it’s kind of more interesting for us to make it sound a bit different. We don’t rule out songs on the grounds that they don’t sound like the other songs, or because we can’t play them live. We’ll probably always do songs like King Shot and Cruel World that are just guitar, bass and drums but also try and branch out a bit. We have a load of stuff recorded that hasn’t come out yet. One of those is called Shut In and I don’t know what Mike wanted it to sound like, but it sounds like chilling out in Hawaii.

Any plans to take the party on the road and tour at all?

Liam – We’re trying to get a few more shows around where we live because we have no money and neither of us can drive. Hopefully we’ll tour eventually but there’s a few places that we’ll try and play when we can, like in Sheffield/Leeds with the guys from Tye Die tapes, and in Manchester and Glasgow.
It will be good to play live a bit more, we try to make it a bit different to the recorded stuff, it’s a bit heavier to make up for it only being two of us.

Michael - i don't know if touring is really a decision for us to make at this point, i mean if we got offered it then sure i guess. playing live is something we enjoy but so much is dependent on the sound guy and i'm not sure if i like placing that much trust in someone who has never heard us. also, i would like it if i never had to look at the audience.

We like hearing about what our friends themselves are listening to, any bands, artists or records that you find yourself spinning over and over at the minute?

Michael - there's a band called Honeycomb Bones from Hull which i've liked for a while now, they've put out a lot of stuff and it's all really awesome. Rema Rema are another band i always come back to, they were one of the first releases on 4AD and my uncle is the singer/bassist. asides from that, i listen to a lot of music from the 50's and 60's like Carl perkins, Bo Diddley and The Ventures

Liam – We both like Bitches a lot. Old Forest from London are amazing, and they’re super young. They’re pretty sludgy and 90s. We played with The Pheromoans a couple of months ago and they’re really good. I’ve been listening to PFFR and the Frogs a lot, and the new Pissed Jeans album because I didn’t hear about it coming out and I only got that this year. Also, there’s a NWOBHM band called Hammerhead who did a song called Time Will Tell and it is maybe the best song ever

Releases & Tracks:
Italian Beach Babes Tape (2011)

- Josh

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


This July an arsenal of talent will come together to create a cosmic explosion of raw creativity. Move & Tee Pee Records presents 'Twin Infinities', a group showing at LA's Nomad Art Gallery. Curated by Sam James Velde - of this very blog - and Rich Jacobs, 'Twin Infinities' will be a showcase of photography and other mediums by musicians and those directly involved with the music scene. Carrying the torch for emotional, honest, diversiform and evocative art.

Special thanks to Sam himself for granting me the opportunity to be involved with this mouth-watering project.

- Josh