Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Hipsters Have Gone Too Far.

I love physical media as much as the next guy. Maybe a bit more. Or less. I don't know actually. Point being, I love collecting CDs, DVDs, and records. I think it's cool that even though we're in the era of digital media, physical formats are making a comeback. I find there's some extra fun and enjoyment that comes with laying down an old Minor Threat record and hearing the soft crackling before the music starts, and the act of having to get up and flip the record over before you can listen to the next half of the album. This kind of stuff, even though it started before my time and seems a bit disingenuous for someone my age to do, helps me enjoy my music a little bit more. It makes my music a real, tangible thing, and I love that.

I have hipsters to thank for this. I know, everyone hates hipsters, and I do too most of the time. But without hipsters bringing records back into the mainstream, I never would have started collecting. I didn't even know people still pressed records until a couple years ago, but I blame that on my own ignorance. Now though, hipsters have gone too far. Records and cassettes are fine and dandy, because most people who want to buy them have inherited old record players or cassette decks from their parents to play them with. If not, you can just mosey on down to your local thrift store or electronics shop and pick one up for real cheap.

But this. This is too much for me to handle.

No, that's not some rad 90's educational video game. That's music. Music on a god damned floppy disk. Why would anybody in their right minds collect music on a 3.5" floppy disk? I mean, I guess storage isn't an issue. The biggest 3.5" disks held like 200 to 250 MB. Just looking around, a 320 kbps version of Converge's newest album takes up less than 100 MB of space. But just having music on that medium seems to be so ridiculous, it has to be either a joke or a gimmick. It's not a gag, though. There are entire record labels dedicated to music on floppy disks. Nobody owns a computer that can play floppy disks anymore, you certainly can't buy a new one, and I don't think I've seen a computer that old show up in a thrift store ever. If you do for some reason have a computer old enough to play floppy disks that still works, you've also got to somehow explain to your friends that come over as to why you have a 1995 HP desktop sitting on the shelf on your living room.

It doesn't make sense to my why bands would want to record albums on floppy disks either. I understand that the medium is analog, which is nice, but records and cassettes are analog formats, too. Unless you press your album on multiple formats, only releasing your shit on a floppy seems to put your fans in kind of a shitty situation. What's the point of making music if you toss it onto formats that only a handful of your fans can actually listen to? Again, if it were a gimmick, I'd be cool with it. I probably wouldn't pick up an Agoraphobic Nosebleed 3.5" floppy (J. Randall would go straightedge before he did something as stupid as release music on a floppy for money) if they pumped them out for shits and giggles anyways, but I'd be more accepting of the medium if it were just a joke.

Maybe 3.5" floppy disks are the future. Maybe I'm just a grumpy fuck. What do you guys think of this? Are floppy disks cool? Is it a medium you would buy your music on? Do you want to hang those hipsters by their own cashmere scarfs? Let me know, I'm genuinely interested to hear what different people think of this trend.

At least people aren't releasing music on VHS tapes or anything.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Blastbeat Reviews: Protest the Hero, Exivious, Snakes Get Bad Press

Time to rapid fire off some quick reviews. My to-listen list for this year's records is on the order of dozens, so there might be a fair few of these quick reviews before the year is up. Up on the chopping block today are prog-metalcore dudes Protest the Hero, Exivious, a jazz-fusion metal(?) supergroup featuring members and ex-members of Cynic, Textures, Dodecahedron, and Pestilence, and Aussie underground spastic hardcore group Snakes Get Bad Press. Let's get the ball rolling!


I've never being a huge Protest the Hero fan (even feeling lukewarm about one of their most highly praised albums, Fortress), but everyone and their mothers has been telling me to get my ass in gear and check out Volition, their newest album. I put it off long enough, but when I finally got around to listening to it, man, I wish I had checked it out sooner.

Volition is an absolute banger of an album, dishing out massive songs in the usual spastic and super-technical vein we're used to, but focusing more on making the songs catchy as hell than just wowing people with how well they can sweep pick in 27/16 time. The songs are all real fast, and super high energy, making this album feel more like a super proggy pop album than a metal record. After a year of pissed off grindcore and doomy sludgy metal, it's nice to have a record that's so much fun to listen to. Score: 4.5/5


I love Cynic, and in 2009 when I discovered ex-guitarist and ex-bassist Tymon and Robin's jazz-metal-fusion project called Exivious, I was pumped. Their self-titled debut was absolutely awesome, and I'm super happy to see they were able to crowdfund their second album to completion.

Liminal is like Exivious 2.0. The album is even more diverse, flows more beautifully, and sounds crystal clear. The boys build amazing soundscapes and textures (get it?) with their music as usual, with some great solos from all instruments, written or improvised. There are some bits on this record that are total surprises, keeping Liminal from being too much like Exivious, but honestly, I listen to so little of this jazz fusiony stuff that even more of the same is fine by me. This is an album made by musicians for musicians, but I wouldn't be surprised if just about anybody picked this up and enjoyed it. Score: 4/5


I've barely been exposed to the Australian hardcore scene. Other than bands like Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt, Jackals, and these dudes, there isn't much else I've heard hailing from down under. Snakes Get Bad Press follow their Aussie brethren by taking things in the spastic/ mathcore direction, working dissonance, shifting time signatures, and odd song structures into their music like nobody's business.

Obvious comparisons that come to mind are bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and The Chariot, but I hear a bit of Converge in the music, and just a touch of Pig Destroyer in the vocals.

Residues came out on Art As Catharsis Records on September 20th, and can be streamed over on the label's Bandcamp page. Check Snakes out on Facebook, too! Score: 4/5

That's all for now, folks!


EP Review: bluebird - "bluebird"

We're diving back into old territory with this review: underground Halifax hardcore bands. I've already written about post-hardcore bros The Wides, crust punkers Napalm Raid, and Converge worshippers Barlow, so I've already got a pretty optimistic outlook on the area's hardcore and punk scene. Newest to the list of Eastern Canadian bands I've dealt with is bluebird, another band of The Wides' bassist Keegan Goodspeed.

To me, these dudes sound heavy in a different way. There's no crushing guitars, no blastbeats. It's not what they're playing that makes them so heavy, it's how they're playing it. bluebird is one of those bands that bring on a sort of catharsis through their music. They beat the shit out of their instruments, scream their hearts out, and you can feel it. bluebird is an emotional EP, raw and loose in its execution, showcasing some really rough around the edges production, and showcasing some solid songwriting and riff-making to boot. It gives off a bleak and melancholic vibe without sounding like a bunch of kids whining and complaining about things. It strikes a nice balance between strength and fragility that way.

The music is pretty consistent across the 6 tracks, trudging along with midpaced songs full of melodic guitars and grooving basslines and drums. The album picks up for a less-than-a-minute long track titled "made up ends" and the noisier and proggier "please leave" before slowing back down partway through the closer ""on eulogies you'll have to write"". There are some interesting parts among the songs, most notably for me are the very first echoing notes of "outlook" (the record's opener) which sets the melancholic tone of the rest of the album, and the closing song, which shows off some really nice riffs and some pretty moving chord progressions, reminding me of sludge legends Baroness for some reason. I'm not sure why, but anything that reminds me of Baroness is always a good thing in my books.

On a Playlist With:

Overall Score: 3.5/5

bluebird is a really solid hardcore/ post-hardcore EP. It's raw; it's emotional. You can tell it was made with passion. bluebird dish out equal parts chaos and melody with their debut release, and honestly, I enjoy it more and more each listen.

This EP came out on October 31st, 2013. bluebird have a Bandcamp page, where this EP is available digitally at a pay-what-you-can price. If you're interested in more Halifax hardcore, check out Keegan's other, other band, Botfly.

That's all for now, folks!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Album Review: Weekend Nachos - "Still"

I'm generally a pretty happy, laid-back dude.  I don't punch walls or get in peoples' faces when I get frustrated and I don't throw my phone across the room when it doesn't work. I can't remember the last time I raised my voice at someone out of anger or frustration. I just don't get angry. Well that's not true. There's a handful of things in this world that make me angry.

Weekend Nachos is one of them.

The Nachos are a Chicago based hardcore/ powerviolence band who specialize in being the aural equivalent of beating someone to death with your fists. No, not the usual description of this band is so heavy it feels like you're being punched in the face. Weekend Nachos are hate incarnate. I don't care if you're the god damn Dalai Lama, Still will turn you into the fucking Incredible Hulk. Once the opening D-beats start pounding and the first chord rings, everything you see turns red, and you lose control of your limbs, sending them wildly off in every direction, creating a zone of destruction around you. In short, everything can be summed up by this simple equation:

New Weekend Nachos = You're Moshing

Still is by far my favorite Weekend Nachos release that I've heard so far. I've only heard three of their studio albums so far (the other two being Unforgivable, and Worthless), but this album is definitely a reason for me to actively start digging through their back catalogue of EPs and compilation tracks. I really dug their 2011 effort Worthless, but I found something lacking from it. This record is what Worthless should have been. It's just as punishing, but the boys cut the fat here, making sure every track is somewhat unique and keeping things rolling at a breakneck speed.

There's a fair amount of breakdowns and mosh sections on Still, but it's nowhere near as many as Worthless had. Just about every song in Worthless had a breakdown in the same spot which did nothing but gum up the works, and then there was that two minutes of solid piercing feedback right in the middle of the album. I had no idea what that was for (experimentation? I'll have none of that in my ignorant moshcore, thank you very much), but I'm glad Weekend Nachos have moved back to the tried and true method of beating the ever loving fuck out of their instruments and recording the noises that come out. The songs seem to flow organically on Still, getting grindy as hell when you want to circle pit at mach speeds, and getting balls-crushingly heavy and slow right when you feel like stomping on the ground throwing your arms around pretending you're a dinosaur.

On a Playlist With: Nails, Magrudergrind, (old) Doomriders

Overall Score: 4.5/5

Still is angry. Still is mean. Still makes you want to kick old grannies in the face and burn down playgrounds. Weekend Nachos hit it out of the park with this thing. If you're into hardcore or powerviolence, you've got to listen to this album.

Eat Taco Bell, hail Weekend Nachos.

Still came out on November 8th, 2013 on Relapse Records. Decibel is streaming the entire god damn thing, so you have no excuse not to listen to this right now.

That's all for now, folks!