7/22/13

Record Review: Rifle Diet - Abuse Begets Abuse / The Affected 7"

Rifle Diet - Abuse Begets Abuse / The Afftected 7" (Profane Existence)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

The two songs here—“Abuse Begets Abuse” and “The Affected”—are molasses-thick coagulations of galloping sludge, plodding D-beat, and punishing hardcore, sprinkled with heavy metal guitar posturing and vocals that are both snotty and throaty at the same time. For a genre that is already jammed up with a million bands that do the same indistinguishable song over and over, it’s nice to see that these two tracks are noticeably different from each other, leaving some intrigue as to where this band might take things over the course of entire album.  ...Read full review here.

7/11/13

Record Review: Krokus - Dirty Dynamite

Krokus - Dirty Dynamite (The End)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

It might come as a surprise that in the year 2013 Krokus—yes, that Krokus—have released a new album. And what might be even more surprising, at least to someone not in the know—such as myself—is that said album isn’t just some sort of reunion effort but rather the latest in a long string of releases, dating back to the year 1976. That’s right, Krokus—a band that I thought hadn’t existed since the pinup pages of ‘80s metal magazines like, Metal Edge, Circus and Hit Parader, where they appeared alongside the likes Keel, Rough Cutt, King Kobra and countless others—never actually went away. As it turns out, Dirty Dynamite is the 17th—yes, 17th!— Krokus record to date. And here’s another surprising thing: it’s pretty damn good.  ...read entire rock 'n' roll-ass record review here.

7/8/13

HotDogDayz issue #4 OUT NOW~!

We told you it would be soon, and we didn't lie!  Here it is, ballers...

32 pages - front to back; photocopied - B&W; dating profiles, art, photos, news clippings, comics, jokes, rail monikers, found items, and lot's of dudes.  Holla at us if you're into it...and even if you're not! 

FREE//TRADE//DONATE



HOTDOGDAYZ//BALLIN' SO HARD FANZINE//ISSUE #4
Jam-packed with good looking dudes!!!
 And other stuff too.

7/7/13

2013 Mid-Year Best-Of: Punk & Hardcore 7"s

The Top Five Punk & Hardcore 7"s of 2013 So Far
An Excerpt From The Best Music of 2013 (So Far)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Condominium – Carl EP (Sub Pop)
This St. Paul, MN three-piece started out playing fairly straight-forward ‘80s-influenced hardcore punk, with Greg Ginn-esque guitars and all the trimmings, but over the course of six pieces of wax, they have evolved into a uniquely original entity. Their latest EP finds Condominium furthering the noise and arty experimentation that left a mark on 2011’s Warm Home LP, but also digging their claws even deeper into the feverish anger from which they were born. Each component of their sound is functioning at a high level of intensity. The vocals sound meaner than ever before, the bass playing is downright nasty, the guitars are urgent and assaulting to the senses, while the drums fill every available nook and cranny with skillful pummeling. Carl is a powerful piece of art, and a strong indicator that these guys are capable of taking hardcore to places rarely explored.

Raw Meat – Demo on a 7” EP (Vinyl Rites)
This New York unit, featuring members of Rival Mob and Nomos, plays crazy-aggressive hardcore that’s not easily dismissable. Pissed-off, throat-burning vocals grind against a massive wall of fuzzed-out, loud, fast and crunchy riffage. These are songs from their demo cassette that have been remixed and re-mastered, and then pressed to vinyl, with the addition of the Combat 84 cover, “Rapist.” It’s nearly impossible for the listener to walk away from Raw Meat unscathed, as it’s a bruising incident on the uglier side of hardcore. Sadly though, they have already called it quits.

Wild Child – Self-Titled EP (Deranged)
Out of Minneapolis, MN comes Wild Child with seven inches of manic hard punk, played with sloppy aggression. The guitars are hollow-ish, clanky and fast while the drums and bass race along, seemingly on their own accord with little regard for things like holding the beat. The snotty, Darby Crash-like vocal styling of the singer lends a bit of early-LA punk to the overall feeling. The recording, which was done by Condominium’s Matt Castore, perfectly encapsulates the raw intensity and reckless abandon with which these guys attack their art.

Daylight Robbery – Distant Shores EP (Dirt Cult / Poison City)
Chicago, IL’s trio Daylight Robbery play upbeat punk, with dual male/female vocals, and pulse-pounding, rhythmic trappings that draw heavily from some of punk rock’s most historically revered artists. Wire, X, Blondie; lazy comparisons, but not at all inaccurate. Distant Shores is three moody, captivating tunes that embrace various musical shadings from within’ the genre. There are bits of post-punk, garage rock and melodic trad-punk at play here that makes for a really enjoyable listening experience.


Cokskar – Repetitive Stess EP (Self-Released)
Female-fronted grindcore out of Minneapolis, MN. More on the punk side of things than the metal. Speaking in fragmented sentences trying to describe this is apropos, so I’ll continue to do so. Spastic, unfettered aggression, driven foremost by the hyper-fast, chipmunks-on-speed vocals. Clever and biting lyrics when decipherable. 10 songs that are over before they even started. The first one is called “Powerviolence.” So there’s your frame of reference. Awesome.

Runner Ups: Shaved Christ - Bad Mind, Despise – Desolate b/w Inebriated, Wartorn – Domestic Terrorist b/w Under Oath, The Shame – The World Is Ours EP, Rifle Diet – Abuse Begets Abuse b/w The Affected

7/6/13

2013 Mid-Year Best-Of: Hip-Hop Albums

Top Five Rap Albums of 2013 So Far
An Excerpt From The Best Music of 2013 (So Far)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Like I said, I got a rap music problem. Now that we've covered the mixtape game, here's the best of this year's actual albums so far...

El-P & Killer Mike – Run the Jewels (Fool’s Gold)
Well, they went and did it again. Following a year that saw El-P and Killer Mike releasing two of the best albums in any genre, let alone rap music, both of which were produced by El-P, the two have returned as the duo Run The Jewels. And as it was expected to be by anyone who loves rap music and/or has a Twitter account, Run The Jewels is actually the best rap album to drop so far this year. El-P's beats are deep, scientific, intense, and so far beyond bass-heavy that they need to be heard with headphones (and possibly a senses-heightening substance, if that’s your thing) to be fully appreciated. Cadence-wise, the duo attacks each track with sweltering intensity and unrestrained emotion. Their verses effortlessly traverse between humorous witticism and cutthroat battering. It’s not an easily shakable listening experience, but it’s wholly enjoyable one.

Tie: Gensu Dean & Planet Asia – Abrasions (Mello Music Group) / Durag Dynasty – 360 Waves (Nature Sounds)
Fresno, CA’s veteran underground emcee, Planet Asia has two of the year’s best rap albums so far—Abrasions with beatsmith Gensu Dean and 360 Waves with Durag Dynasty. As evidenced by last year’s Apollo Brown & OC and Guilty Simpson & Apollo Brown outings, MMG has a knack for pairing the right producers and emcees up with favorable results. The same can be said of this duo. Gensu Dean, who’s gone largely unknown up to this point, crafts simplistic yet alluring loops rooted in boom-bap nostalgia. As usual, Planet Asia masterfully rocks the mic with his commanding presence and sharp rhymes. Durag Dynasty finds him teaming up with emcees Tristate and Killer Ben, and prolific beat master Alchemist. Although there is a minimal air of comedy involved, mostly due to imagery and the fact that they’re called, you know, Durag Dynasty, 360 Waves is an exercise in grimy cypher rap – a prominent example of mic skill and hard beats. These two albums will appeal to heads who want more out of their rap music than a clever hook and a generic trap beat.

Ill Bill – The Grimy Awards (Fat Beats)
Over a decade has passed since The Future Is Now, the debut album by the now-defunct group Non Phixion, which featured beats from a grip of hip-hop’s most sought-after producers as well as menacing and poignant lyricism, and the vehicle that placed Ill Bill immediately into the annals of underground hip-hop greatness. For the latest in a fertile catalog of work that includes numerous collabos, supergroups, mixtapes and solo records, he has returned to that early formula of using high profile beatsmiths and spitting venomous rhymes. The sonic direction of the album is driven by some hard-hitting boom-bap backing from the likes of Large Professor, Pete Rock, the Beatnuts, DJ Muggs, El-P, and DJ Premier. But Ill Bill’s lyricism and delivery is as equally on point as his beat-selection. Not only does he do the requisite murder and paranoid conspiracy raps, but he gets deeply personal about his life, loved ones, and how much hip-hop (and even heavy metal) shaped him. The Grimy Awards is as near a “classic” rap record as we’ve heard in a while.

Ghostface Killah – Twelve Reasons to Die (Soul Temple)
Twelve Reasons to Die is the latest release in a recent-ish half dozen or so of hits ‘n’ misses for the Wu Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah. More in line with the hits Fishscale and Apollo Kids than the misses The Big Doe Rehab or Ghostdini, the record is produced entirely by beat-maker Adrian Younge, and narrated by Wu head honco RZA. Twelve Reasons is a concept album of sorts. The premis being, Tony Starks is a former enforcer for a crime family, who gets murdered by the mob after falling in love with the Boss's daughter. His remains are melted in vinyl and pressed into a dozen LPs that, when spun, revivify him as the Ghostface Killah. He then exacts his revenge on his killers. It’s often been said that rap music is cinema for the ears, and it couldn’t be truer with Twelve Reasons. Similar to Prince Paul (or even early Cage) albums, this is story time rap being taken to the next level. The synergy between Young and Ghost is so air-tight it’s hard to believe this is the first project they’ve done together.

Kid Tsunami – The Chase (Head Bop / Fat Beats)
The Chase is the debut album from Perth, Australia’s producer extraordinaire Kid Tsunami. As someone who appreciates all forms of hip-hop (at least for their mere existence, if anything) I don’t really like throwing around terms like “real hip-hop” because I think it cheapens the evolution of the art form and more-or-less excludes anything that’s not boom-bap. But I’m going to give myself a pass here and just say it: This is on some real-ass hip-hop right here! Dude is a student of the game, as he has obviously immersed himself in classic hip-hop. And by that, yes, I do mean BOOM-BAP. There are 16 tracks here, constructed from soul, jazz and funk sample flips, with a virtual who’s who of emcees rhyming on them—Kool Keith, Sean Price, OC, Masta Ace, Sadat X, J-Live, Craig G, AG, Kool G Rap, KRS-One, Pharoahe Monch, Jeru The Damaja, and more. DJ Bless also leaves his mark on the project, as he flexes his impeccable turntablism skills, mixing the whole thing together and dropping some serious cut-laden hooks.

Runner Ups: Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric –Czarface, Oh No – Disrupted Ads, Prodigy & Alchemist – Albert Einstein, R.A. the Rugged Man – Legends Never Die, Swollen Members – Beautiful Death Machine

Read 2012's mid-year top five rap albums here.  And year-end best-of here.

7/5/13

2013 Mid-Year Best-Of: Hip-Hop Mixtapes

Top Five Rap Mixtapes of 2013 So Far
An Excerpt From The Best Music of 2013 (So Far)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Hello. My Name is Nathan, and I'm addticted to rap music. The following mid-year best-of list is culled from Too Many Rappers, a semi-monthly column in which I write about mixtapes and other rap-related nonsense for the webzine Scene Point Blank.

Underachievers – Indigoism
The Underachievers are the latest duo to spring from New York City’s rap collective, Beast Coast; a crew that also includes Flatbush Zombies, Pro Era, A$AP Mob, and Smoke DZA. Against a backdrop of beats that range from conventional boom-bap to the trap’d gradations of modern-day tape rap, emcees AK and Issa Dash exasperate wordy lyricism at a rate that is both impressive and slightly overwhelming. They go heavy on the sour diesel and psychedelics but disguise it via well-written, clever similes rather than easily decipherable one-liners. Whereas some of their contemporaries are reviving classic NYC rap, Underachievers are strangely enough, reinventing it.
Quelle Chris – 2 Dirt 4 TV episode 2: Niggas is Men
Niggas Is Men is the second episode of the Quelle Chris’ 2 Dirt 4 TV series. The production is handled by Stifu, Messiah Musik, and of course, Quelle himself. The majority of the songs feature verses from Cavalier, who's candence compliments Quelle’s oddball delivery quite well. “Natural Flavors” has the captivating buzzed-out bass beat that invokes the same feeling of intrigue that almost broke the Internet the first time everyone heard The S.O.N. EP. Tracks like “Greene Eyes”, “Good Days” and “Long Tokes” are the type of head-nodders that rely heavily on raw sample loops.

Mr. MFN eXquire – Kismet
Kismet, which means “fate” or “destiny”, is also the name of the new tape by New York’s Mr. MFN eXquire. And while it may seem like an odd title choice for a tape whose cover art shows the emcee gripping a naked woman’s rear end in a pose that can’t be construed as anything other than standing coitus, it’s actually very apropos given the direction he’s taken things since his 2011 tape, Lost in Translation. Sure, the raunchiness and wild’n out aspects are still intact, but several tracks are dedicated to personal insights and human growth. On “Vanilla Rainbows” which apes Curtis Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)”, the emcee displays his genuine love and respect for women. “Cherry Raindrops,” a tale of ill-fated love and all the struggles that go along with falling out of it, shows him being creepily honest, as he raps things like, “I kissed her on the spine and I kissed her thighs/I almost licked her ass but she started to cry.” Even the lone skit here, “She’s Not Fucking With Me” is a far cry from the blow-job-from-a-hoe-caught-on-tape one that appeared on Translation. This time around he and an unidentified woman are lying in bed, whispering I-love-yous to each other. For the most part, Kismet is dare I say, a kinder, gentler eXquire. That is not to say he doesn’t go hard in typical braggadocios rap fashion from time to time (see: “Illest Niggaz Breathin,’” “Tomorrow’s Gone,” and “Orbz a.k.a. Some Wise Quote Drake Never Said.”) but overall, the tape is more on the personal revelations tip than anything else. eXquire’s flows and beat selections are as varied as you’d expect from a man who refers to himself as an “avant-garde hood nigga.” “Hoes I Don’t Remember” is the Willie Nelson “For All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” of rap songs, if ever there was one.

KRNDN – Everything’s Nothing
KRNDN is how Krondon from Strong Arm Steady spells his name now, because he’s like, a rapper and stuff. Everything’s Nothing is his first solo outing, and as anyone familiar with SAS would expect, it’s impressive as hell. It’s hard to put this into words, so I’m not sure this will make sense anyone besides me, but it’s almost as if Krondon accidently created a better piece of art than Kendrick Lamar very purposefully attempted to create with good kid, m.A.A.d city. Against a backdrop of smoothed-out beats (by Cardo, DJ Dahi, DJ Khalil, and 321) he interweaves autobiographical memoirs and herb-puffed anecdotes; parading the laid-back, sunny vibe of California rider music. The sound emanating from your speakers will only enhance the hallucinogenic properties of whatever it is you ingested...if that’s your thing or whatever. Props for the imagery too, which is very much in the vein of DIY zine art.

Black Dave – Stay Black
“All I do is rap – All I do is skate,” states the rapper/skater on “Rap & Skate,” the mid-tape track that in the simplest terms possible sums up what Black Dave is all about. Although he’s a New Yorker, Dave applies a multifarious approach to rap, successfully flexing mic skills in a variety of regional styles. He effectively stirs an alluring cocktail of trap, club and boom-bap. Lyrically, he’s not saying much that hasn’t been heard before (see: song titles like “Bitch Nigga Why You Fake?” and “Muthafuck My Enemies!”) but that’s also one of Stay Black’s chief qualities – it’s fucking rap music, man!

Runner Ups: Gunplay - Cops & Robbers, SpaceGhostPurrp - B.M.W., Termanology - Hood Politics 7, Tree - Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out, Western Tink & Beautiful Lou - Mobbin' No Sobbin'

Read 2012's mid-year top five rap mixtapes here.  And year-end best-of here.

7/4/13

2013 Mid-Year Best-Of: Albums

Top Five Albums of 2013 So Far
An Excerpt From The Best Music of 2013 (So Far)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Nö Pöwer – No Peace (Sorry State)
Smash, kill, fuck, destroy, break, burn, shit, blood, piss, cum…aaarrrrghhhhhhhh, motherfucker! No Peace is the debut LP by Charlottesville, NC’s Nö Pöwer. Primitive, blown-out D-beat, injected with a dose of artiness and drenched in feedback; it’s the perfect amalgamation of punk sub-genres and a furious goddamn record. How much art can you take? Exactly this much.

Useless Eaters – Hypertension (Jeffery Drag Records)
Weirdo garage punk with some new wave-y parts from Nashville, TN. Hard to tell if the guitars sound like fucked-up keyboards or if there is a keyboard that drowns out the fucked-up guitars. I honestly could care less because I happen to really like it. Sometimes just being a stupid music fan and not some musician is awesome because you don't have to over analyze the shit out of how every little sound is made. Other times it's frustrating because you can't describe it to people without sounding like an asshole. Neither of those things matter to me right now but I thought it was worth mentioning for future reference. Well anyway, if weirdo garage punk with new wave-y parts and fucked-up guitars and/or possibly keyboards sounds like something you'd dig, then Hypertension is right up your alley.

California X – Self-Titled (Don Giovanni Records)
It seems the term “grunge” is getting thrown around quite a bit these days when it comes to describing the current crop of buzzy-guitar-based bands. And while the actual definition of the word has always been somewhat confusing, in the 20-odd years it’s existed, it has also become a fairly accurate identifier. It would not be incorrect to use the word when illustrating the sonic resonance of Amherst, MA’s California X. There are a variety of elements at play on their debut full-length—sludgy metal change-ups, lo-fi dream-pop, ‘90s-ish pop-punk (particularly in the vocals,) etc.—and all of them are buried under a glorious heap of ear-piercing guitar fuzz. There are a good chunk of bands doing this type of stuff right now, but California X is easily one of the best. Someone was just telling me about a dude they know who regularly wears a tee shirt that says, “Bring back the early ‘90s.” That dude would love this shit.

Baltic Cousins – The Broken Horn (Self-Released)
Out of Bellingham, WA come Baltic Cousins with their debut full-length. ,br /.The Broken Horn displays an ominous, punk-y brand of Americana that picks up right where they left off on 2011’s For The Hell Of Us EP. Bradley Lockhart’s lyricism, which is seemingly rooted in honesty and realism, walks the line between optimism and gloomy despair. “Junk Beach, Parts 1 & 2” is the absolute best rock ‘n’ roll song of recent times that nobody will hear.

Milk Music – Cruise Your Illusion (Fat Possum)
At times Cruise Your Illusion treads dangerously close to guitar-music-for-the-sake-of-guitar-music territory, but never spins completely outside the realm of cult tuneage. Olympia, WA’s Milk Music understands that sometimes you just want a little Neil Young in your punk rock. Take some oddly melodic vocals and pair them with soaring yet murky guitar riffs and you have, you know, grunge or whatever. Their sound is clearly indebted to the past—particularly late-‘80s and early-‘90s alt-rock—but holy shit, have they ever made it sound so good in the present. For what it's worth, despite the CD and digital versions being released on Fat Possum, the band took it upon themselves to release a vinyl version without the help of a label.

Read 2012's mid-year top five here.  And year-end best-of here.

7/3/13