This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"This is my fuck you!" - Kid Dynamite, how we miss thee

As I get older and more of a lush, it gets harder and harder to appreciate hardcore. I just don't have the young man's spastic energy too much anymore (except when my UCB box set arrives in the mail and I squeal like a kid with low expectations on Hanukkah before subjecting my girlfriend to two hours of avant-garde sketch comedy). Mostly because it sounds like shit anymore. I blame New York, mostly. We have them to thank for the metal breakdowns, sXe militancy, and thuggish mentaliy, after all. Besides, in the 80's, the recordings were so shitty you could actually make out bass and vocals instead of the guitar and drums dominating everything at a million miles an hour.

So, while my much beloved Cousin Brandon will vehemently disagree ("hey dude, have you heard the new "Triumph Through Victory" seven inch by Blood Under Oppression? It's got some sick moshes, brah."), there haven't been too many worship-worthy hardcore bands in recent memory. Other than Career Suicide, Government Warning, and New Mexican Disaster Squad, pretty much every hardcore band I've loved since the Reagan years have all had Dan Yemin in them.

The best one he was in, and probably the best hardcore band of the past twenty years, was Kid Dynamite. Their first, self-titled LP is one of the best punk records ever made, bar none. I suppose some purists would look down their nose on such an assertion, but trust me, any band inspired by Youth of Today is nothing to be impressed by, kids. (That's Youth of Today, one of the single worst groups to ever record music. I'd rather get hit in the nuts while someone blared Bette Midler at me than sit through another YOT song.)

One thing they had in their favor was the fact that you could mostly understand what Jason Shevchuk was singing in his distinctive voice, which put him a cut above the circus barkers grunting indeterminably about god knows what. Plus, given Dr. Dan's history with Lifetime, it wasn't any surprise that they could shoot for the gut, too. "Bookworm" is probably my favorite KD song, and god does it feel like a sock in the innards. The conflicted ruminations on regret, anger, letting go, and self-reliance all wrapped up in an artful metaphor are light years ahead of almost all other hardcore lyrics, almost all of which fall under the "I'll kick your ass if you mess with my friends/all my friends are backstabbing hypocrites" category.

"Heart a Tact" was the song that introduced me to the band (via the endlessly awesome first edition of Take Action!), and maybe it'll do the same for you. After just run-through, let's see how many of you are chanting "it tries to kill me but I kill it first!" at the exact correct moment. KD was the ideal melding - Shevchuk's anthemic soul-searching/rabble-rousing meets Dr. Dan's every-second-is-weirdly-catchy chug-chug hardcore. There's a reason their music still resonates almost a decade after its time.

Of course, like all good things, Kid Dynamite came to an end. Their alumni have gone on to form such rad bands as Paint it Black, None More Black*, and Armalite. How the fuck can you argue with that?


Cheap Shot Youth Anthem:

Heart A Tact:


Pits and Poisoned Apples:

*True, fun story. Paul from NMB gave me a pious lecture about sticking by ones friends when I said Madball was lame and then asked if they were anything like These Arms Have Hands. Then he unfriended me on MySpace. Say it ain't so, Paul! My feelings, they are hurtin'! (NMB is fuckin' rad, though. For the record.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007


News item the first: I'm not dead. Sometimes I feel like it after work, but meh.

News item the second: To those of you who asked, the record stores to hit up in the DC/Northern VA area are Record and Tape Exchange, Orpheus, Crooked Beat, Strangeland, and the one whose name I forget. They're a basement shop a few doors down from the Black Cat, and I fell down the steps one time avoiding a lunatic on a bicycle. I think. I was pretty drunk and it was bright out.

News item the second: The Hall Monitors put out an EP and it rips. I'll be posting tracks as soon as I get the songs on my computer. Same goes for the rad Slick Andrews, the best honky tonk singer I've heard in years. Also, if you get a chance, go see the Mountain Goats this tour. Andrea and I saw them Thursday night, and they're debuting new songs for an upcoming LP. You heard it here first - "Last Man on Earth" is going to be the jam of the winter.

So anyway, Bruce. Do you even need a last name? I have mixed feelings about Mr. Springsteen, honestly. I think when he's on, he's ON. On the other hand, he's so painfully earnest that it can grate. (See one of the few funny things Ben Stiller ever did, Counting With Bruce Springsteen - Plus, the Boomers love him way too much, especially my dad. In high school, the endless repetitions of his live records on Midwest-bound road trips were drowned out by Bad Religion on headphones and a mirror-practiced sneer.

However, since every old-school rock critic busted a thick, milky nut for him every time they wrote about him, I decided to give him a fair chance. What I came away with was love for specific albums (Nebraska, Darkness on the Edge of Town) and hatred of other specific albums (Born in the USA, We Shall Overcome). Super-famous "legend" acts usually polarize me like this (see Neil Young, U2, the Beatles).

Since everything he's done this decade has been a grunted-out turd, I wasn't expecting much for his new record, Magic. This all changed a morning last week when, while watching music videos while getting ready for work (coffee sucks and tea takes too long), the clip for "Radio Nowhere" knocked me off my ass. It seems the Duke of Asbury has realized that his throne has been conquered by usurpers like the Hold Steady and Gaslight Anthem and he needs to fight for his title of Rockin' Troubadour. Like Tom Petty's "The Last DJ," an old dude who had been coasting for a long time realized that he needs a fire under his ass to kickstart the dying embers of radness.

Magic finds his at his most vital since Darkness, and even I think it kicks ass. 'Most every track is uptempo and beefy and a much-needed improvement on his recent folk explorations. I guess he finally got all those letters that said "more solos, less salt-of-the-earth proselytizing." I never thought I'd say this about a Bruce record, but this will probably end up on my year-end list. So, for your listening pleasure, three new cuts, plus two classics. Enjoy!

Radio Nowhere:

Gypsy Biker:

Last to Die:

Darkness on the Edge of Town:

Streets of Philadelphia:

Monday, September 03, 2007

...and they call him Josh WHITE?

Sorry for the lack of regular updates, faithful readers and pitcher-lookers. It's been Andrea's birthday weekend, and I have been busy with much more important things. One of the things we did was get to see three sets by the awesome Slick Andrews, who you should see if you're ever in the Louisville area. That cat can SING. I'm gonna post about him soon, provided he lets me post songs from his rad CD.

In the meantime, today we'll look at Josh White, one of the best vocalists from the folk genre. Part of Peter Guarlnick's fascinating, massive biography of Elvis Presley was the amazement that many older folks felt upon finding out that their teenagers were buying race records and listening to colored radio stations, even in the Jim Crow-entrenched South, where suburban thinking of blacks as inferior wasn't so much malicious as intrinsic (I know this is gonna spawn a lot of hate mail - let me have it). That's not meant to understate the effects of racism and I'm sure there are a million and one counterexamples, but I think you would be hardpressed to say white kids from the suburbs hated blacks more than they were just indoctrinated by the Aunt Jemimas and thick-lipped caricatures they saw on TV and on billboards.

That said, why would these unthinking teenagers buy race records by the boatful while the establishment felt the need to try and filter the excitement and energy of race music through Pat fucking Boone? Because no matter what you believe, a singer who can sing and entertain and make you feel the pain of his soul is going to kick your soul in the nards and make you love it. There's a reason Michael Jackson brought color to MTV. Josh White is one such singer.

He sounds like a smoother Leadbelly, a poppier Missippi John Hurt. He may not be as soul-baring, but there's no denying that he can belt it out with the best of them. Besides, he stood up to Joseph McCarthy, and I have respect for anyone who does that (Jim Webb, anyone?). He stuck to his political guns - worker's rights, abolition of Jim Crow - in the face of the mighty HUAAC, who viewed him as a Communist agitator because he was a black agitator. Yanno, like MLK. I'm so glad our government doesn't act like that anymore...moving on...

Born in South Carolina in the beginning of the 20th century, White became the head of his household at the tender age of seven when a white bill collector and the police beat his reverend father nearly to death and condemned him to live out the rest of his life in a mental asylum. He eventually got work leading around blind blues singers, who would use him to get sympathy coins and to help them avoid trouble with the KKK. However, his talent for singing and playing soon became apparent, He was picked up by Paramount around when he was 15 and cut a few sides for them before disappearing again.

Columbia soon tracked him down, but had to promise his mother than her underage son would only perform religious material. In the wake of the success of Charley Patton, record companies were realizing that the black dollar spent just the same as the white dollar, and they were stumbling over each other to find the next colored star that would make them money amongst the black community. They may not have been superstars like Irving Berlin, but profit is profit. Soon as he was 18, he started making much more profitable blues recordings, and soon became something of a star, so much so that he became a friend with the Roosevelts, pretty impressive for a black man in 1940's American singing the devil's music.

He spent the 60's performing in clubs and theaters around the world, especially in Europe, where he found particularly enthusiastic audiences. In one of life's bigger mysteries, Europeans more greatly appreciate an archly American music form.

No More Blues:

In My Time of Dying:

Hold One: