Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Gang of Four - Content Review by Shawn Abnoxious

Although originally released in 2011, Gang of Fours fully Content is new to me as of October of now... I'm just four years late. This time... But this isn't uncommon to me. It happens all the time... The hunt for music within my chosen genre has never been easy... It's actually getting easier but never easy. The same element that made Gang of Four memorable on their infinite classic Entertainment back in the burgeoning punk/post-punk situation, is still recognizable on Content. The music bites with its energy and sarcasm striking deep with rhythm that makes you wanna dance—with guiltful bliss.

I'm verily reluctant to pick up new releases from older bands... Is 'it' still there? Was that magic era truly so great that now, snobs like me should know better? Well, the answer is complicated. First with WIRE... Then T.S.O.L. and now, it takes Gang of Four to give me confidence to day YES!

The same technology that has made things easy and only a few 'clicks' away is working against snobs like me. It's easy to hit a buttonless button* and move on to the new thing. It took several listens for Content to sink-in... How many people out there would do the same? Just by chance, making myself listen to the Content as a whole, repeatedly, because of my consumer guilt of spending $5.00 on a used CD, I found that thing, again, with a truly avant-garde band that deserves another chance.

The fact that I'm writing about this release now— just as Gang of Four have released a brand new CD— is ironic at best... Have I learned my lesson? Finally? I fucking hope so.

Listen to "Content"

Re-read the review I wrote on T.S.O.L.'s "Disappear"

Listen to "Object 47" by Wire

Read about the OTHER 'Gang of Four'

* I consider a 'touch-screen' button, like on iPads, buttonless buttons.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Knife The Symphony / Smoke Signals... Review by Shawn Abnoxious

Once punk-rock ethics invade your space, its hard to do things any other way... 'If you want it, do it!' is ingrained in your head from the very start... Yeah, everyone knows the number one rule about split releases... Bands sharing a record, is bands spreading their product to others... Phratry Records has refined what the split record mission is, or was. Releases from Phratry are a product of love and respect. Each release calculated to accompany the ever growing history of not only the local scene, but the whole inner scene of networking that seemed to come along with every release made.

The Record is a 12EP that spins at 45 RPMs allowing three songs by each band that serves the roles of ambassadorship that comes as no surprise showcasing a true Cincinnati landmark, The Roebling Suspension Bridge. The 'test bridge' for the much bigger Brooklyn Bridge. SMOKE SIGNALS... representing Newport, Kentucky and Knife The Symphony from the Cincinnati side. The album jacket is two-color screen printthat looks as if it was reverse engineered from a different release of a Phratry Records Knife The Symphony and Dead Tongues release and glued back-together... Or is that just the official Thwart copy? Quick, go check your copy and look. I will wait... In fact, go get me a beer while your up... And a cup of coffee... I prefer to drink a coffee and Guinness simultaneuosly...

On the Knife side... I dont know what has gotten into these guys but the last two songs, "Fade Away" and "Last Dance" are fucking amazing and represent a different look of sonic dissonance and glory of minimal 'note-riding' that I must admit now, dear Thwart reader, that number amoung the best Knife stuff I think Ive heard yet. These two songs got me wondering about what happened to make Knife turn it up a notch? Theres a story there... The songs represent a fevered approach that sets about nothing except beautiful speculation and assuredness that indeed, Knife The Symphony is evolving. Still. Again. Wow.

My introduction to Smoke Signals grew on me the more I listened. I know how that sounds, but I dont mean it in any negative way. I take time listening to stuff and really give it a going-over... Whereas the screamo style of vocals and heavy sustain is there in Smoke Signals songs, the opera element and sychronicity of the vocals with the forward push of the drums, develops into reminding me about a great band called The Commonwealth along with the song structuring that may or may not be as complex as it sounds to me, that ultimatly, brings to mind Roy Orbison and RUSH. Yeah. I just said that, and I mean it too.

So, as usual, Phratry Records gives forth a product that is truly a great listen. I suggest that you show your local music pride and get this record because a record will last much longer than that watered-down mixed drink you just ordered from the bar so you look cool but like others, will be puking a fruity smell by nights end.

Phratry Records

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tooth Lures A Fang-Teefin

Cryptic haze-gaze Indi-pop like Guided By Voices
And Ass Ponys.

You just never know about that guy bagging your groceries...
Take a chance, he may be a fresh breath of air.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Volume Pulsing Treatise

"Sir... How are you doing? You need any help or assistance?"

I was 'pulsing' classical music when the young man at Home Depot asked me this.

Olive was in the back-seat with our family dog. Earlier, I told anyone who asked his name at PetSmart that his name was 'Tailgator.' The dogs name wasnt 'Tailgator' but that didnt stop me. It was a hot day sitting in a car, Even with the windows down... Tailgator was panting heavy so every few minutes I'd turn on the car, blast the AC and cool things down a bit... When I wasnt pulsing I ... Shit! Hold on... I have to explain what pulsing is dont I?

I first seen the act of pulsing with a friend who had a bit too much to drink one night and he began doing the act that I'm now calling 'Volume Pulsing' or just plain ol' Pulsing to you newer fans... The act of pulsing is when you are listening to the radio, but not just radio, and you manipulate the volume knob in quick volume shifts from high to low, or low to high and all points between... 

"Do you ask everyone you see at your job if they are OK or just the people that look like they are in distress?" I said and cut him of a bit just before he answered. "and furthermore, what about me tells you I need help? I just so happen to be doing OK... I think... I've been worse."

Actually I've been much worse but it takes too long to explain.

"I have Type-I Diabetes and tend to ask many people, all day long, how theyre doing just to be nice and compassionate."

"You hit the nail-on-the-head with that one!" I just so happen to be a Type-I diabetic too. It's one of my diagnosis. In moments, Julie was back from her shopping adventure. I quickly gave her an update on my new friend and our conversation... His story switched a bit but thats not really what I intended to relay with this writing piece. I just wanted to talk about Volume Pulsing but its just funny how stuff like this happens... One thing leads to another.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hiders Totem Review by Shawn Abnoxious

Somewhere in the middle of getting way-involved whilst reading an alternate history of World War 3 starting from events that came to be known as The Cuban Missile Crisis... Totem, the Fifth full-length from Cincinnati phantoms The Hiders found me... In just the right time, breaking up my WW III reading just moments before a reoccurance of my self-diagnosed 'Thermonuclear Anxiety' or Nucleomituphobia to you newer fans. We all have our good-times and bad-times. Those times when your ten-years old and you know the yield of a nuclear warhead and you get the phone book maps out and see how many 'as the crow fly' miles you are from General Electric. Well, you will remember that guttural feeling long after the statistics are gone.

That's how I am with music... A certain feeling, or if I'm lucky, a certain feeling and event will instantly resurface for at least a shining moment. Hopefully more... Like this:

I don't know when, exactly or how country music... REAL country music died, but I think it happened in that funky-era when you'd go 'Down-Home' [Kentucky] and all your relatives stopped calling make-up doused metal-heads or those with long-hair faggits. Willie Nelson was one exception (there's always exceptions) due to his mane always being braided, but still... I woke up one day and whaddya know! The long-hair was in. I didn't even know peace-talks between 'Country Music' and 'Rock and Roll' were taking place! The acceptance of the long-hair aka "Bad Boy Look" in-conjunction with the creek-watered-down pride-filled shitty-ass music that may have talked the talk, but didn't walk the walk, was here to stay. 

As I see it, we live in the days before the fall of our society... No apology for that deepness... All that country music that I heard as a kid on the trips Down-Home with the winding roads that had me sliding back and forth in the slick, Armour-All backseat of a Cadillac, hearing the wind from the window cracked open to ease the smoke-filled car a bit... Country music blaring. Twitty, Haggard, Lynn... Sometimes you just don't know how awesome things are until...

Until those veiled good times are long gone... But we still have the ability for good times ahead. There's always room for a new soundtrack and the latest Hiders release, Totem, is part of the soundtrack redefining what once warring factions of music genres and in the process, bringing some much needed music, GOOD music, to the populace.

Totem is what 'new' country-music should be. It's riddled with hooks, twist and turns and a sway or two, that brings to bare, and expands upon, The Hiders 'sound.' A sound that goes far beyond the alternative music scene of yester-year and gives the people craving different and unique something to chew on for a while. Totem is a audio-treat that you cant find a loud enough stereo for... Totem is perfect for fans of Neil Young, Desperado/Outlier country music, Drive-By Truckers, Josh Ritter, Gram Parsons listeners and, you guessed it, greasy un-kept long-hair outsters. Some may think of The Hiders as a un-noticed secret part of The Cincinnati Music scene but thats just hogwash... You just have to FIND them, but still... No shame in your ability  to fail though. After all, they are called THE HIDERS!

Visit The Hiders Website

1962 Cuban Missile Crises Alternative Future

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Heart of Wood (2) by Rich W.

4:36 p.m.

I feel like in most relationships, whether of a romantic nature or close friendships, the participants share bits of themselves...(memories, opinions, experiences, beliefs, etc.) and in so doing, learn about one another...become closer. Perhaps I just romanticize the whole relationship concept, but it seems to me that that is an important part of of the whole "getting to know you" process. 

I also believe that you know you are really close with someone when you can reveal your true feelings, however complex or irrational or conflicted, and they express understanding and empathy. I'm not saying that differences of opinion are not expressed or that disagreements should be covered up. I am fully in support of healthy debate...offering alternate ways of looking at things, even arguing for one's position or point of view.

But i think that when people who really care about each other communicate, an underlying sense of "i understand where you're coming from" exists. It's kind of the foundation, isn't it? I mean... as we grow out of childhood, and develop the ability to choose with whom we develop friendships, isn't that a big part of how we choose? 

I have never decided to pursue a friendship with somebody because i never had any idea where the hell they were coming from. It's not necessarily going to prevent me from liking a person, but i can't see feeling close to someone if i just couldn't "get" them at all. And even more so if i never felt like they got me at all.

Alright... I'm pretty sure i've overstated my point effectively.

And in my recent 8-year relationship, i spent a whole lot of time understanding. By which i mean that she and I were very, very, very different people with fundamentally different ways of approaching life, ways of thinking, ways of dealing with anger, ways of communicating, etc.

We felt very differently about almost everything. But I could almost always effortlessly see from where she was coming.  I never expect people to think like i do. And the things I admire in others are often also the ways in which we are different. So it wasn't difficult for me to listen or to understand. And I spent several years being there for her and being on her side. 

You can see where I'm going, right? Of course you can.

I can honestly say that I never felt that sort of understanding in return. Every time I expressed an opinion or shared a memory or talked about how I felt regarding this or that, it somehow became an argument. I never could figure out how it happened, either. I'd be talking about how certain punk bands helped influence me ideologically and philosophically at an important stage of my development   and... before i knew it, I was in the middle of an argument about whether punk was simply a fashion and that punks were just another elitist, narrow-minded clique. And it didn't matter at all that i could understand that in her experience, that must have seemed the case OR that these were issues i struggled with myself as i was growing up. It was impossible to be a part of the punk movement in the mid-80s and not see that many of my "fellow punks" decried being persecuted for dressing differently from the norm and listening to different music...but were just as fucking shallow and judgemental of others as  the worst of the mainstream. It angered me. But I still believed in bucking the status quo. I still believed that people should be free to be who they are...think what they think...dress how they want...listen to what they want. Just because some people in the punk scene were shitty toward people for being "goth" or "metal" or "straight" or whatever, it didn't make my beliefs any less genuine.
-But how the hell did i end up having a straight-up argument with my girlfriend about this shit in 2015 when I was just trying to share a piece of myself...explain how i came to a certain understanding about something or other as I was growing up?

Why are we shouting?

I was called a music snob for years because I listen to music that moves me...speaks to me, and i don't really pay much attention to anything else. I never insult or put down types of music. I rarely say anything negative about specific bands or artists (steve miller being a notable exception). People look for different things out of music. Why should i care what anyone else listens to or why? I listen to what I listen to because that's what does it for me. Why are you calling me a snob?

These are tiny examples of a constant atmosphere in which I became more and more hesitant to express myself at all to my girlfriend. I just settled into a routine of working, listening to all the things that pissed her off, helping to raise and financially support her children (who resented my existence), watching tv, and failing to sleep. Every once in a while I would try to bring up what I saw as a problem. It was never well received or given much weight. I know i can be overly sensitive, but this hurt me. And I felt more and more...

I could have left. You are probably asking why I didn't. And while I can't claim to be completely aware of all my motives, the fact is that she needed me. She has very few friends, two daughters, a personality which makes it hard for her to hold a job...she needed me. And I loved her. Not in the way I would have wished, perhaps. But I loved her. And my old shrink would say that I was conditioned from birth to feel as though what I want and need is far less important than...everything else.

But you are right. The honest and most loving thing I could have done would be to leave. To break up before my feelings of affection slowly faded and all that remained was a sense of obligation.