I was a huge fan of both NOFX and Screeching Weasel when I was younger. I’m not sure which is more embarrassing.
You kind of know what you’re getting into when a band’s name (and their record title) are both derived from a Howard Zinn quote. You know that it is either going to be rooted in a socialist or anarchist ideal. It is definitely going to be on some political shit. It’s interesting to see how a band like Tyranny Is Tyranny will handle it.
A million punk rock bands have tried before them, and the lyrics almost always ready as bland sloganeering. And that is at best. And the music is almost always some bullshit anarcho-punk or hardcore thing. That is what makes Tyranny Is Tyranny so interesting, and what makes Let It Come From Whom It May engaging. They are a band who is political in a broad sense. They aren’t cherry picking hot topic issues. The lyrics go beyond generic “fuck this, fuck that” political punk. But songs like “The American Dream Is A Lie” pretty much explains what the band is on about. It exactly what it says in the title, while also touching on the idea that society is set up to hold back any actual change. Generally through the cycle of work/pacification and exhaustion/political inactivity. It addresses the idea that people in power will always win if you make excuses as to why you don’t fight.
Destruction and exploitation of the majority/working class is touched on in “Always Stockholm, Never Lima.” The message of that song is very blunt, especially with lines like
“On the back of a nation
The few build their wealth
The debased sell themselves
Law arrives by stealth“
Musically, Let It Come From Whom It May is kind of a grab bag of post- genres, with touches of metal and noise. It’s got post-rock influence, but is heavier and more riffed based. Definitely less “cinematic” or whatever in scope than that genre tends to be. More than anything though, it plays as a more post-hardcore type record. It’s more riff based in some places, like on “Manufacturing Truth.” It can get more delicate and melodic in certain places, like on “Owned By Thieves.” The songs range anywhere from around four minutes to damn near eight. Tyranny Is Tyranny is willing to widen the scope of what they do to get their point across.
While the ideas and lyrics can be very on the nose, Tyranny Is Tyranny bring up points that should be considered, especially in a world where political activism often falls by the wayside. Hell, if nothing else, it’s interesting to listen to the record if only for an introduction to certain Socialist ideas. I’d say it is worth your time.
I wish I had more followers. I don’t care about Tumblr, but I’m bored at work. I kind of wish I could be an asshole and just answer questions on here.
Stolen Sharpie Revolution: a DIY Resource for zines and zine culture (5th Edition) Kickstarter giveaway!
Since 2002 Stolen Sharpie Revolution has been the go-to resource for zines and zine culture. With over 21,000 copies in print, this book is poised to break the quarter-hundred-thousand copy barrier at least BUT I NEED YOUR HELP!
In celebration of the 5th edition of Stolen Sharpie Revolution I’m having a giveaway! Here’s the deal.
There will be 3 winners!
Here’s what 3 lucky people will get:
- 1 copy of the 5th edition of Stolen Sharpie Revolution: a DIY resource for zines and zine culture
- 1 Stolen Sharpie Revolution printed Sharpie marker (similar to the photo above)
- 1 red Stolen Sharpie Revolution t-shirt.
- Stolen Sharpie Revolution stickers, button, postcard, and bookmark.
Most of that you can get for $50 reward level with the kickstarter so here’s what we are going to add for the tumblr giveaway:
- 1 Copy Scams - Copy & Destroy 10” record with zine and digital download code that includes the album plus a live recording from Leeds, UK. Copy Scams are an all zine themed pop-punk band with members from 3 different countries.
- a bunch of the most recent issues of my zine, Brainscan: 29, 30, 31, and my 24 hour zine about traveling cheaply
- $30 gift certificate to the Portland Button Works website, brick and mortar shop, or Etsy site! The gift certificate is good for zines, books, cards, button designs from our catalog or custom items from button to magnets to bottle openers.
- probably some other stuff I have around here.
So, here’s what you gotta do:
- Like and reblog this post
- You don’t need to be following me or stolensharpierevolution, but it would be nice.
- Have your ask box open
- No giveaway blogs!
- And for the love of everything good, please make, read, or be interested in zines. It would make me very annoyed to send all this good stuff to someone who just wanted to get something free, ok? So, let the zine kids have some fun.
The kickstarter is scheduled to end on September 30th, but we project to reach our goal before then. The three winners will be contacted and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
- Q: Who is this giveaway open to? I don’t live in this US can I still enter?
- A: Absolutely!
- Q: I’ve backed or plan on backing your Stolen Sharpie Revolution Kickstater, why should I enter this contest?
- A: By entering this contest you can get more cool stuff than with the kickstarter! Plus, you will have two copies of Stolen Sharpie Revolution so maybe you can trick a friend into starting their own zine. Also, you’ll be doing a little promo for me and I’d appreciate it.
- Q: Why should I back the Stolen Sharpie Revolution Kickstarter if I can just reblog this post?
- A: Are you going to leave this up to a random number generator? Really? Don’t you want to be on the first to get a copy of the new SSR? Otherwise you are just going to have to wait until November to get a copy.
- Q: What’s a zine?
- A: A zine is a physically printed and independently made publication. They can be about anything you would like: travel stories, photos, personal stories, fiction, political ideologies, music reviews, gardening tips, comics, and more! Not only are zines physically printed items, they are part of a whole community of people that celebrates the tangible written word.
G O O D L U C K!
I finally almost have a page count! 152 or 160 pages!
Skull Practitioners are a band that really show how pointless the genre splintering of music is. You could call them post-punk, psychedelic, garage rock, or straight up punk rock. Any designation you give them would work, but it wouldn’t be a fair representation of what’s going on. Their self titled cassette is very hard to classify. And, to a point, it feels like the classification would cheapen it.
Musically, this is a band who plays hard. There is a lot of muscle behind the guitar. The drums are fantastic. But, honestly, that might be the most cohesive thing on ST1. With the band having the influences they do, it makes the tape a touch disjointed. It fluctuates from arty noise to more traditional guitar rock. There might even be some New York no wave in there too? There is a lot going on.
The sheer amount of things happening is pretty clearly the point. Skull Practitioners seem to be taking a kitchen sink approach. They are throwing every influence in, and seeing what works. The good thing is that all the songs work. Maybe not as a single piece of music, but definitely as individual songs. But, still, a song like “Nelson D” doesn’t seem to belong on the same thing as “Another Sicko.” It doesn’t matter much though. ST1 is brooding, it’s distorted, and it’s just has a lot of bite to it. It’s definitely worth a listen. Even if it’s only to hear a band jump from a more garage rock sound to an almost James Chance type sound.
Skull Practitioners is a band made up of music veterans. Jason Victor, Alex Baker, and Ken Levine are definitely more than the sum of their parts. Nothing on here was done by accident, and nothing on here isn’t meant to be here. It’s a challenging listen, for sure. But, that said, I Skull Practitioners is a project that continues for more releases. I’d love to see what else they can do.
Skull Practitioners, ST1, Self-titled, self released, rock, garage, post-punk, psychedelic, punk rock,
Before I go into this review, I want to talk about horror punk. Like, as a concept. I, as a general rule, don’t like it. I didn’t always have such a dislike for the music though. I was never a fan, really. But I wasn’t always annoyed by it. In my younger years I lived in two different punk houses. The first was in Aurora, IL. I lived with three other people, two of those people loved horror punk and psychobilly. They would play it constantly. I am way more familiar with bands like Blitzkid and the Rosedales than I want to be.
Once the Aurora house died, three of the four of us from it moved to Bartlett, IL. The second house was actually the house of a dude who was in a horror punk band. I was pretty ok with the band before I moved in. They weren’t my favorite local band, but I liked seeing them. Once I moved in the house though, goddamn. I had to hear them practice all the time. I must have heard their setlist at least five or six times a week on a few occasions.
When either house had parties, it was almost always horror punk being played. I had to hide in my room and play my records loud if I wanted a break. Every decoration they had was somehow “spooky.” Shit, one of the cats that I now own was originally adopted in the first house. The two horror punk people named the damn thing Spooky.
Being surrounded by a thing you weren’t all that interested in to begin with is enough to put you off something. Never mind being surrounded by it for two years straight. Almost non-stop. You’d get sick of it too. It is with this preface that I do this review.
Cathedral Fever has now joined the very short list of horror themed bands that I will listen to.
All Pit, No Pendulum is a fucking beast of a record. It is very much a horror punk record at it’s core. The overall lyrical theme is definitely on some horror shit. What makes it different is that it isn’t the same old tired tropes. It’s not a bunch of vampire/zombie/1950’s horror kitsch. They aren’t writing the songs around the dusty old “whoas and ohs” chorus. No way. They fucking rip through shit in a really aggressive way. Coming with a hardcore/thrash/metal style, they have enough power to overcome the pitfalls that often come with the genre type. The drums fucking blast. The guitars are dirty and distorted. The vocals are loud, aggressive, and maybe even a bit guttural at times. Cathedral Fever is a pissed off sounding band, but they just happen to be playing in a horror theme.
The lyrics, by the nature of the genre, are a little cheesy though. It happens. They seem to be more influenced by the works of Edgar Allan Poe than they are Ed Wood or George Romero though. The record title is a reference to The Pit And The Pendulum for crying out loud. We’re getting references to charnel houses, Leviathans, and just awesome shit. It’s a lot more interesting than some “whoa-oh pretty in casket” bullshit that this genre tends to be known for. It’s a refreshing change.
It also feels pretty special on the music front too. There is more going on here than meets the eye. It it noticeable right out the gates. “Spiders Encircle” opens the EP in a great way. It has a short build, and then goes off at full blast. It sets the tone for the muscular, aggressive music to follow. It’s very much the kind of record that would have had 16 year old me wanting to get in the pit. All Pit, No Pendulum is also remarkably cohesive. The way “Synthetic Echo” goes straight into “Oblivious Bed” is absolutely perfect.
This is a killer record from start to finish. It’s horror punk for sure. But it’s not some shitty Misfits rip. It’s not some crappy Vanilla Ice haired psychobilly. It has way more power than anything those types of bands can muster. It’s fucking good. Hardcore fans, metal fans, horror punk fans, and whoever else can find something to appreciate here. Trust me. I may be a lot of things, but someone who throws praise at a horror record isn’t one of them
The heart of a pop punk fan lurks deep inside me. I absolutely love anything that makes me think of the old Lookout Records glory days. Even the post-Donnas version of the label. You know, when everything got more garage than pop punk. Electrets absolutely appeal to that version of me. Listening to Misfit is like listening to collection of songs that would have fit well on one of the old Lookout Freakout compilations.
It’s not as simple as saying “oh, look. Another Ramones aping band.” While that type of punk rock is very strongly represented on Misfit, Electrets add some other elements that really make the overall record stand out. It’s the mixture of garage, pop punk, new wave, and indie rock that makes it special to me. It’s like the band is building a Pretenders house on a Ramones foundation, and they brought in some new wave kids to decorate.
The band, as a whole, is on top of their shit. Singer/guitarist Tiff Schirz is perfect for this kind of music. There is a small Chrissie Hynde tone to her voice. Her guitar just buzzes along, and keeps everything moving. In perfect garage/pop punk style, she doesn’t let this get too out there. Everything is precise. Everything is right on the money.
One of the band’s strongest ability if the fantastic utilization of backing vocals. Stephanie Rose (bass) and Mindy Ihrke (keyboards/percussion) do great in the supporting vocal role. Adding great harmonies, and absolutely killing anything they’re on. Check that choruses on “Be Someone” and “I Can Do Better” as an example. Also, have fun having them stuck in your head all day.
Ihrke’s keyboards are one of my favorite parts of the record. They add great texture to the songs. Especially on the song “Misfit.” Without her accents, it would be a very straight forward punk rock song. The rhythm section of Rose and Andrea Cline (drums) is also a great asset to the band. Punk rock needs a strong backbone, and they fucking nail it.
Misfit is a fun record that has a throwback/retro charm to it. No wheels are being reinvented, no epiphanies are being had. But, fuck it, it’s a fun listen. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Punk rock, and all related genres, seems to be stuck in an arrested development. So many songs are sung as a way to either hearken back to perceived halcyon days, or else they are made as a direct challenge to the idea of being an adult. Some of the best bands have made entire careers on this kind of thing. Even going back to the Ramones. There was a concept of not wanting to grow up. Or, rather, not wanting to be a grown up. Twin Cities kind of tackle this same theme on The Things You Say You Just Went Through. It’s an interesting take on a pretty worn troupe.
Twin Cities is a two piece band out of Wichita, KS. As such, they play a sound that has a lot of Midwestern flavor to it. They have a pretty solid mixture of Midwestern punk, indie rock, and a slight hint of emo. “Settling For Second Best” definitely has some emo influenced guitars in the chorus. “Black Box” has it in the verses. Otherwise, The Things You Say You Just Went Through is a melodic indie/punk played with a certain level of abandon. It’s not an abrasive record, it’s not a particularly heavy record. But it plays like a record made by a duo. It’s not sloppy, I suppose. It’s certainly not polished either. This may not work for everyone. I can definitely see some people not digging the structure, or lack thereof. It’s a very loose record. Very enjoyable, but definitely loose.
Touching back on the lyrical content, there is a lot to like. They are, again, treading pretty worn ground. They do enough to keep it interesting though. “Black Box” seems to be about trying to reconcile your past. More being stuck in the place where you want to get away from it, but still want it to mean something in the grander scheme of things. “Belmont Hills” feels like it’s about adult life not measuring up to what a child’s idea of “adulthood” is. As a whole, the record’s overall theme of growing up is touched upon. Be it the desire to do it, or the desire to not. There is a lot of tackling the issues of adulthood here. Being unsure of the future, and getting caught in the past.
Twin Cities have done quite a bit for themselves since they’ve been around. They’ve already had a few releases out. The Things You Say You Just Went Through is not a huge departure from what has come before, but has a more electric, raucous feel to it. I give them a lot of credit. It’s a daunting task to do something different than you usually do. Adventuring outside your comfort zone should always be rewarded.