Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Burn Books - An interview with NYC's fledgling label, press, and encouragers of all things Punk

I had the pleasure of interviewing Maxim and Alex of New York City's Burn Books - one of the most challenging and artistic young labels in sight. This pairing are a serious inspiration; putting out records, publishing the written word, releasing art and helping to promote shows around the Brooklyn and Manhattan area. If you're not familiar, you should head on over to to acquaint yourselves with everything they've been doing for the past two years 'cause they ain't gonna stop for you to catch up

How did this DIY venture into all things expressive and artistic come about?

Alex: Maxim and I have been buddies for a while...we’re both really into punk/music as well as other kinds of art. We initially conceived Burn Books as a way to help promote and sell our friends’ artwork...there is so much mediocre crap out there getting attention we wanted to help get the word out about things that are actually good.

Max: I think the two major things that really got Burn Books rolling for me where when it was time for Pregnant to put their LP out and talking to our friend Dennis McNett. We'd been friends with everyone in Pregnant for years and before we even heard that record we knew we had to put it out. Around the same time I was hanging out with Dennis and looking at all his awesome sculptures and prints and he was just talking about his philosophy of getting his art out there. It was not just DIY but it was punk too and it was really a breaking point for me where I knew there was no reason we couldn't use that same approach we also grew up with and apply it to all sorts of art.

Considering that you're both artists in your own right, though not musicians, how could you describe your link to the New York music scene? Is it something you've grown up appreciating?

Max: We both grew up in NJ and started coming in to NYC in the late nineties to go to shows at CBGB, ABC, or wherever else. I think we were both probably just as interested in punk/hc as we were with art. It's probably every 15 year old punk kid's dream to own a record store and Burn Books is similar in idea, it just goes beyond music.

Alex: Both of us moved to Brooklyn to attend college about 10 years ago and have always stayed active in the “scene.” Max booked shows as a part of Team Narc in NJ, and later had a punk house in Bushwick called Crewtonz that I think was one of the first sparks of the scene that’s going on now. It’s guess kind of a cliche, but it really is a loose knit family of people doing bands, putting out records, and booking shows.

The sheer volume of fresh young talent in the city and within the confines of Brooklyn is staggering. What do you think of acts such as Wet Witch, Brain Slug, Dawn of Humans etc?

Max: All those bands are great. I think the best thing about NYC punk right now is that it isn't like all the bands that are good are trying to sound a specific way. You know, it's not like there is one awesome band and then 10 others trying to sound like them. It's probably more diverse now than it has been since I started coming to shows here and as long as it's both diverse and good there is nothing to complain about.

Alex: All those bands rip! It’s nice to listen to heavy and aggressive music that is still original and coming from people with good taste that are actually thinking about things. It’s a shame that this is such a rare thing nowadays.

In my opinion, New York is the hub of all things original and exciting right now, specifically the Hardcore scene. Would you go as far as to say that New York holds the throne in 2011?

Alex: I don’t leave the city too often so for all I know there is a sick hardcore scene in some shitty town I’ve never heard of that blows NYC away...but there is something tangibly exciting going on here. All these people are maniacs. Toxic State Records is the best punk label around right now.

Max: I think people have a natural attachment to wherever they are from in terms of thinking of what is going on there is so great and interesting but I'm really trying to take a step back and think of it from an outsider perspective and the NY music scene is really great right now. Don't get me wrong, there are probably about 3000 shitty bands trying to make it, but I mean, come on: The Men, Crazy Spirit, Dawn of Humans, Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, Wet Witch, Perdition, Anasazi, White Suns, Population 1280, Rosenkopf, Night Birds, Pygmy Shrews, Dream Police, American Sun, Nomad, Bortgang, Brain Slug, Zatsuon.... I can keep going.

The New York Rules compilation was fantastic, how was that project birthed and how did it feel to put that out and become a sort of rallying point for an entire scene?

Alex: We felt it was important to document a little piece of what’s been going on here and help get the word out about all this great music.

Max: Thanks. We just thought there wasn't a really good NYC comp in a long time and wanted to have it be diverse but also make sense. I think the goal was for people to buy it only knowing some of the bands but not fast forward through any of it either. I dunno if we accomplished that with everyone but it's cool to read some review of a band's record that's from the tape saying something like ... I first heard this band when I bought NY Rules mostly cause this other band was on it....

What do you think it is, intrinsically, that allows the Brooklyn / New York scene to coalesce in the way that it does? I mean how does the out and out melody of Night Birds and Pregnant, the untethered wildness of The Men and the forceful scumfuck craziness of White Suns manage to live together so well?

Max: Part of it is just the sheer amount of people playing music. I mean, you can probably have a Friday with one show with The Men, another with White Suns, and then a third with Night Birds and all 3 would have good turnouts at them but it also wouldn't be as cool as if those 3 bands just played one sick show together. I also think a lot of it has to do with the attitude of the people in the bands just being fans of music and not concentrating on what sub-genre their band fits in.

Alex: All those bands might sound different, but they are coming from people that grew up going to the same shows and listening to the same records. Punk kids here seem to be more open to different styles of music and getting weird with things. Living in New York you are exposed to so many different kinds of cultures and people it kind of forces you to be open minded, but it’s also so hectic here it makes you insane.

Are you guys in this for the long haul? What can we expect next from the Burn Books collective?

Alex: I’d really like to cash out and buy property somewhere out in the midwest to prepare for the oncoming collapse of society, but until then we’ll keep putting cool stuff for people with outstanding taste.

Max: All of our upcoming releases will be $100 and come with autographed head shots of the two of us.

We have the Wet Witch 7", which will be out by the end of the year. NY Rules II which is in it's very beginning stages right now as we just started talking to the bands. We're doing 10 different commissioned silk screen prints from NY area artists which is kinda like the idea behind the NY Rules tape but in fine art form. We have the HC Gig Volume zine of fliers which is a bit delayed right now but we'll get back to it. We're doing a new section on our website of live recordings from NY shows we go to which should be a cool way to archive the scene right now. There's tons of stuff and not enough time to get it all done.

- Josh

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Men - UK performances

For the attention of our UK readership..

This writer's favourite band of the year, The Men, have announced two London dates set for this coming December. The Brooklyn noiseniks released their latest LP through Sacred Bones records a few months ago and quite frankly the forty minute document of slow burning Wipers led voguish noise that is 'Leave Home' holds a strong place within my top five records of the year so far. I could gush all day about this band but instead, here you go..

13 Dec - LONDON White Heat @ Madame Jojo’s
14 Dec - LONDON Shacklewell Arms

- Josh

Monday, 26 September 2011

An interview with C.S.B.

Amidst the hymns of hype that surround the resurfaced black metal and noise scenes, sits an island often overlooked for its musical endeavours. I'm talking of Great Britain, and if you have the patience to wade through the overplayed, overhyped, and overkilled shite that is endlessly spewed forth, given merch, and championed to no end - you'll find yourself sourcing out releases from labels such as Turgid Animal/Legion Blotan, and Casual Seizures. Bands, labels, and promoters associated with these styles of music have valiantly made a scene all their own, seperate from the ever increasingly laughable -core club. One band fully immersed in dirge, and churning out assault after assualt of blackend noise, is Manchester's very own Cryptic Salve Band. A few months back, I managed to get some words out of them. Here's what they had to say;

How did Cryptic Salve Band come about? What inspired the name and what inspired you to create such unique music?

Darren Adcock: My take on this was... we were both doing different projects, Barbarians, Insects in Sects, Axnaar.  If i remember right we played a couple of gigs together doing respective bands and eventually (I think when we shared a house) we decided to play a bit... and well it just worked.

Gareth Howlett: We came up with the name mucking about and shortened it to C.S.B to avoid having to say it all the time.

You have quite stark and intriguing artwork for each of your releases, there's a clear miasma and throwback to the harsher side of punk, how did this come about and who does most of your artwork?

GH: We've got a release called 'Slime Circle' that Poot in Hull put out. It's got a pencil drawing of a rock chick on the cover that his mum did. That's the sort of thing we like.

You've been featured quite predominantly on wellknown and prestigious internet blogs, is it weird for you to see yourself heralded online when perhaps you don't recieve the same response in the outside world?

DA: It is wierd yes. I guess for anyone in any scene doing any kind of project it would be the same. I guess it is easy to get frustrated by not getting praise or as many opportunities as you would like, however desire is also a pitfall that is easy to fall into. Sometimes I get frustrated, sometimes I am happy with anything I get. I'd rather be the last one, I try to be this.

What first interested you to such lo-fidelity and raw sounds? What do you personally use to record your music?

DA: Some of recordings are done on a 4 track. Alot are on a H4 mp3 recorder. Most of our recordings are done in our basement, so the frequencies kinda get mashed together, kind of becomes one entity at times. We won't be doing any more recordings down there as our house got given an A.S.B.O for loud music.

Is there anything that specifically attracts you to releasing on cassette? Can we expect a forray into other formats in the future from C.S.B?

DA: Vinyl and cassette first. Cassettes are cheap and accessible. 

GH: Ideally everything would be on vinyl, but we'd be homeless if we did that, so tapes are the second best format.

Within your staunch dirge of noise, are there any artists you see as directly impacting your sound? If so, who, how and why?

DA: The answer for this has too many options. I understand the desire to ask such a question. I'll answer with some of the bands from UK that I have and will continue to enjoy live, Drunk in Hell, Gruel, Foot Hair, Barbarians, Sump, Sex Wound, Vom, Klaus Kinski, No Womb, Rich Lexicon, Bong ... tons more... just off the top of my head. 

If there is any distinct philosophy or ethos that drives the band, what would you describe it as?

DA: Plug in play. All improvised. 

GH: Don't get bogged down thinking about it, just get on with it. No compromise.

Are there any current bands, labels, or general artists that you enjoy right now? Do any of these have an influence on your own work?

DA: Everyone I see has an influence. I respect anyone for getting out there and having a go.  

If you had to select one band to save from the inevetible decline of punk, and cement them in history, who would you choose?

DA: Drunk in Hell. The decline has been positive though. I get to see great bands. 

Lastly, what can expect for the future of C.S.B?

DA: Incubate 2011. Thanks to Kevin Jansen (svartvit). Maybe a wee tour in europe or netherlands.

: We have a couple of recordings waiting, either our selves to self release or interest off a label.

C.S.B. still have a few records available from themsleves, harass them here. Or download their releases here.

- Thom

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Otro Mundo

Otro Mundo are a garage group playing out of Tempe, Arizona. They recently recorded their premier oeuvre 'Jellied' - a record which proudly blitzes together a whole mélange of influences and pumps the jams through a lagoon of swanky reverb.

The band consists of various guiding lights from the Arizona scene, pitching together members of Pigeon Religion, Avon Ladies (who's '2012' record left firm impressions of greatness on everyone who heard it,) as well as a couple of personalities from Nihilism, Acid Dawgz, and Naive. If you had the brass to do so I guess you could call these fucks a supergroup. You might want to save that tag for some Fantômas or Crosby, Stills, and Nash types though.

Subsequently they played a release show which boasted Brooklyn noise darlings The Men and Washington state's buzzworthy Milk Music on the bill, two groups that have infected the listening habits of so many around the world this past year with respectively stunning LPs. Being associated with some of the most important and challenging bands of today can only be a good thing.

'Jellied' is a notably hard working release. The first listen reveals a swarm of garage punk wildness adopted by an underlying groundwork of solid rock and roll structuring. The five songs on show are cautious not to give too much away too soon and it's only after repeated listens that the figure eight knots of noise unravel themselves and the influences become clear.

Opener 'All In Time' is succulently lo-fi and drums its way into a burst of fruitful melody before you have a chance to even utter the words 'Jay Reatard.' The Sonic Youth bloodline of influence is dramatic but not without tact, as they pick up and run with all the invigoration of mid-timeline 'Youth, while being careful not to leave the poppiness too polished. You can pick up pieces of Hüsker Dü authority flashed in the pan alongside playful Replacements-esque vocals and guitar cuts as this track moves into it's own territory. Second track, 'Midnight Oil Burner,' sounds like the love birds Gordon & Moore covering Beach Boys tracks underwater.

'Heart Thrush' is perhaps my pick of the bunch. It's half mournful drag is perfectly suited in it's tempo to be your new favourite anti-love song of choice. The melody overpowers any edgy garage vibes and strips everything back to reveal a talent within the group for writing effortless pop songs. This track reminds me so much of Nirvana's 'I Hate Myself And I Want To Die' with it's ironically compelling vocal hook and happy-to-be-half-simmering tin pot drumming.

The dynamic changes again as the title track rolls in with a somewhat gazey approach. Swimming through reverb once more, this track is surely something Neil Halstead would be jealous of as it props up a dream pop / Souvlaki vocal presence with sporadic and frantic drumming that sounds like Murph's Dinosaur Jr template in full effect.

This band is a warning sound from the West, that it's not just New York and the North West that get to claim everything for themselves. Give it a listen and i'm sure you'll be impressed. The tape can be bought from their blog below or found via the accompanying download link courtesy of the band themselves.

- Josh

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Brain Slug - Demo

Brain Slug are NYC's latest unwashed hardcore incarnation. Said to take point from Youth of Today and Agnostic Front amongst others.. but I fail to see too much of that overly rehashed mediocrity so rampant in today's Victim In Pain clingers-on. I think they sound like an unfeasibly dirtier, gruffer version of Omegas, what with their similar liking for pendulous melody amongst cluttered instrumental hammerings. That comparison might be a little too optimistic though, because the 11 minutes of material that makes up the Brain Slug demo sounds way, way more jacked up as it fights to be heard through it's own ironically purposeful distortion.

The occasional old tyme NYC stomp part doesn't really drag this demo down at all, when usually it would ruin everything for me. Vocals sound like they've been forced out though a mouth bound by duct tape and recorded through a soup strainer. Brain Slug could be placed somewhere equidistant between the clarity of intellect that Blank Stare have and the unparalleled hatred of all things living that Vile Gash bring to the party.

Whichever way this band come to be perceived it'll be interesting to see how they carve themselves out a place within the milieu of New York City and Brooklyn, a scene which champions it's weird freaks of nature Crazy Spirit, Hank Wood & The Hammerheads & The Men over solid stepping, straight ahead hardcore swingers. Either way, New York rules in 2011. Get this demo, I also found a download for the lyrics at The Chapter - Hardcore Fanzine.


- Josh

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Listening Party 2

Looks like summer's on its way out. Too bad, been a really fun one to say the least. Once again, we asked some friends in bands to let us know what they've been listening to. Some of these lists were from the beginning of the summer, some we just got. Either way its always great to see / hear what people are rocking to. Take a look!

Jonah Falco / Fucked Up

Teenage Fanclub - A Catholic Education
The June Brides - Discography
Chrome - Half Machine Lip Moves
Motorhead - Overkill
Giuda (amazing neo junkshop band from Italy) - singles
Rest In Pieces - My Rage
Stone Roses - Stone Roses
Assorted tidbits from the 'Best of Leamington Spa' compilation
Agony Column - singles
Chrisma - Chinese Restaurant

Alex Capasso / Skin Like Iron

Napalm Death - Fear, Emptiness, Despair
Battery - Whatever It Takes...
Aspirin - We Do Painkilling To Your Anger
Wolfbrigade - In Darkness You Feel No Regrets
Nails - Unsilent Death
Warcry - Nausea
Living Eyes - Starve For Agony
Pulling Teeth - Funerary
Christian Death - Catastrophe Ballet
Slowdive - Souvlaki

Nick Chiericozzi / The Men

C. Spencer Yeh and John Wesseltoft - Northern Resonance I
Einsturzende Neubaten - Zeichnungen Des Patienten O.T.
Bob Dylan - desire
The Jesus and Mary Chain - darklands
Fugazi - red medicine

Rich Samis / The Men

Pink Teens - Narcolepsy
Neil young - On The Beach
Pink Floyd - Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Pearls Before Swine - These Things Too
SPK- Leichenschrei

Chris Hansell / The Men

Sex Church - 6 Songs By Sex Church
Damien Dubrovnik - Europa Dogbog
Gatecrashers (denmark) - Desillusioned 7"
Zz Top - Eliminator
Iggy Pop - The Idiot

Mark Perro / The Men

Hawkwind - Warrior On The Edge of Time
Rolling Stones - Goat's Head Soup
Tangerine Dream - Stratosphere
T. Rex - The Slider
Uriah Heep - Look At Yourself

Todd Jones / Nails

Straight Ahead - Breakaway
Disma - Into The Megalith
Bread And Circuits - Bread And Circuits
Neurosis - Through Silver In Blood
Mercyful Fate - Don't Break The Oath

Ross Farrar / Ceremony

The Beets - Stay Home
Arthur Russel - Calling Out of Context
Marked Men - Ghosts
Belle and Sebastian - The BBC Sessions
The Cave-Ins - Gridfarce by Lamplight
Milk Music - Beyond Living
The Men - Leave Home
Woody Guthrie - This Land is Your Land: The Asch Recordings Vol. 1
The Young - Voyagers of Legend
Rocket From the Crypt - Circa Now! + 4
The Replacements - Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash

Brandon Marcey / Cough

Ilsa - Tutti Il Colori Del Buio
True Widow - As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth
(I smoke the most weed to this record.)
Earthling - Demos 1 & 2
( Appalachian brothers of metal.)
Hour Of 13 - The Ritualist
Graveyard - Hisingen Blues
Umor - Pralayaah
(Croatian. Toured a few dates with this band in europe and their riffs have been stuck in my head since.)
Lecherous Gaze - Lecherous Gaze
Learn about the 45. hole
Blood Ceremony - Living With The Ancients
Dragged into Sunlight - Hatred for Mankind
Warchetype - Ancestral Cult of Divinity
Mi Hermanos De Doom. Hailing from Barcelona in the Catalonia region of Spain. Played with them on our recent Europeon tour and they were incredible in terms of music and dudes.

Kevin Baker / All Pigs Must Die, Hope Conspiracy

Nihilist - Carnal Leftovers
Stray - S/T
Wolvhammer - Obsidian Plains
Sarke - Oldarhian
Craft - Void
Deafheaven - Roads To Judah
Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light
Scorpion Wind - Heaven Sent
Motorhead - Overkill
Iron Claw - Dismorphophobia

- Sam

Friday, 2 September 2011

Sucked Dry

Black & white brickwall hardcore or ‘Mysterious Guy’ - or whatever you want to call it - tough, weighty and sharp enough to flay flesh. Vocals sound like Tony from SQRM but with more bellyache. The nucleus of sound behind him also kicks out a similar miasmatic flavour to Massachusetts' most recent Siege worship incarnation. It only proves to be a good thing cause this record rules so hard.

Track three 'Sympathizer' stalks in the same way that some of the lesser disturbing Drunkdriver songs did, and channels threads of neurosis through the needlepoints of drum thumping and vocal wails. The sporadic slow march stomps are chicken wired together by some of the most untamed flashes of hardcore intensity this side of the decade, clamped at either end by Born Against guitar influence. Hardcore records that intentionally blast their way through 8 songs in 80 seconds don’t usually manage to rain down bursts of dread in the way that Sucked Dry do.

This came out last year but I missed it at the time, too busy fawning over Milk Music or something…

Listen on bandcamp

- Josh