Thursday, January 21, 2016

Mindset Nothing Less Review

Nothing Less
React! Records
Review by Hutch
Release Date: Jan 15, 2015

Hardcore can be criticized for being an over-saturated genre, especially with bands that stick to a simple formula. I will always and love that formula. So, even the average band will get me charged. But then there are the bands that hone that formula and play with skill on their instruments a searing conviction. Those bands rise above. Mindset is such a band. Sadly, they will be playing their final show in 2016, never to release music again.

Mindset is a current band not lost in the sweeping, dissonant, ethereal influence that is so common. They are heavy without being metal. This is straight hardcore, played exceptionally and with worthy production. This is music made to played live, with angry kids flying off the stage and sweat drenched bodies climbing over each other to vent their own strife. These five dudes, loyal to the Straight Edge, got together from the northeast, calling Maryland a central location, in 2008. Their main core of releases, three EP’s and an LP, have all been on React! Records. They have had limited tour and live releases on other labels. 

The sound is fast. The lyrics are spit quickly over unrelenting drums, riding the bass and toms as a snare pounds in 4/4 time. The guitars pause for open chords, which predictably lead into two-step parts and breakdowns. Again, though, these songs are played with such strength and rage that they defy any misnomer of cookie cutter or formulaic hardcore. There is not much to write without redundancy. That said, I have played these three tracks on repeat many times and not grown tired. This is one hell of a last statement for an amazing band.

Members of: Clear, Praise, Give, WARXGAMES, Peace

RIYL: Youth of Today, Chain of Strength, Wide Awake, Betrayed, In My Eyes, Clear, Get the Most, Down to Nothing, The First Step

Mohicans self titled EP review

Creator Destructer Records
Release December 18 2015
Review by hutch

Mohicans fuse together obvious influences into an alchemy of unique music. Heavy, down-tuned metallic hardcore is what Mohicans play. Blatant doom and sludge adoration, but the prominent pounding drums propel a two-step hardcore punk pace. The urgency is immediate, eschewing the typical long duration of indulgent slow doom. Five tracks are below two and a half minutes. The vinyl 12 inch (available in 180 gram) fits all six tracks on one side. *(with the b-side silkscreened!).

The music is angry and raw, being spat and sweat out by this San Francisco trio. The groups is never afraid to delve into a rock sound or a searing solo. The Kyuss/Mastodon feel can take center stage, as in the album’s opener, “Eagle”, or the track, “Road”. But just as you adjust, the stool is kicked out from under you and the pummeling of frantic drums rushes forward. The production drenches the riffs in fuzz and feedback, possessing a stellar live feel. The drums are pushed up in the mix, clear and dominant. The vocals, which shred the larynx of vocalist Chris Palomarez, are pulled back which adds an omniscient, foreboding quality. His clenched fury is admirably delivered. The penultimate track, “Bixbi”, breaks down on a bouncing bass line and continues in the trios catchy waves of bobbing tones. The song then returns to thrashing.

Palmarez also recorded the drums I keep applauding. Live, the band is comprised of Justin Shearer on bass and David Sahlem on drums. Heavy thunder and destructive intensity are Mohicans’ core strengths.  This music is ugly. This music is adversarial. Melody sneaks in sporadically (but calculated). It is used sparingly to balance the down tuned dirge. Mohicans execute a sinister beauty here as precision noise and rash rants spewed over thick ass riffs.

RIYL: Wolvhammer, Spinebreaker, Baptists, Eyehategod, Black Flag, Generation Of Vipers, Black Cobra, Bison BC, Doomriders, Conan

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Yuppicide Revenge Regret Repeat Interview

Yuppicide - Revenge Regret Repeat
Interview by Hutch.
Dead City Records - December 2015

Yuppicide started in 1988. The mid-Nineties’ albums brought in that NYHC bounce with a rugged punk and Oi! sound. They were hard to define but always confrontational. Not preachy, but creatively defiant and antagonistic to the listener, they were political and socially-minded via personal keyholes. Their lyrics represented larger issues through myopic stories. Their main three albums Fear Love, Shinebox, and Dead Man Walking hold a revered position in the hall of NYHC. Their live show, with a flair for costumes and unbridled energy, secured their legend. Dead City Records released their demos again, and their full anthologyin 2010. That was their story until some reunion shows and a 2012 EP woke their audience from the dead. Revenge Regret Repeat was released on December 5th of 2015. Their sound is honed and more focused on this full length. Yuppicide are still pushing boundaries and addressing issues instead of generic slogans. This may be their fiercest work yet. Vocalist Jesse KFW Jones and guitarist Steve Karp took time to answer my questions.

It’s 2015. A new Yuppicide full length. How does that feel?
Jesse: It feels great. It took us a while to get the songs written and ready to record and actually a few were still being tweaked in the recording studio. It is great to finally have it out and in the hands of the people that want to hear it. When we were working on the American Oblivion EP back in 2012, we considered holding off and waiting until we had enough material for an album. But, we weren't sure how long that would take. We're all busy with family and work responsibilities outside of the band, so writing material can be a slow process.
Steve: It feels F*ING AMAZING. We defied the odds and created a masterpiece.

Was there a different or specific mindset going into recording this?
Jesse: We discussed different approaches, more for the recording style, but we decided to try things and then decide if we wanted to work on it more. We do our best not to let outside opinions influence what we do. Our producer, Glen Lorieo, had some great ideas. We have a very democratic approach where everyone can voice their opinion. But, the player has the final say on their instrument. We didn't all agree. There were some edits that we weren't all happy with (poor Glen), but over we are really happy with the results.
Steve: I think we really wanted to learn from the process of recording American Oblivion and expand and improve on that. We really wanted to create something we in the band are really stoked on.

 Can you tell me about how long it took to write this? And then recording process with Glen?
Jesse: Some of my lyrics precede us reforming as a band. I have always kept note books with ideas and snippets. Whenever we are working on new material, I will revisit those notebooks and see if anything sticks. The song that became “You're Gonna Get It” was originally something Steve was playing around with for another project. He had lyrics for it, but was cool with me rewriting them. I wrote a whole set of lyrics that in the end still didn't work. So, I rewrote it again, as it is now. We came up with some additions in the studio.
Steve: We started kicking around new songs pretty much right after American Oblivion. I think we really got serious and productive in the second half of 2014, especially once we committed to the idea of releasing an LP. We started talking with Glen about recording a few months before actually nailing down recording dates. He had ideas having just finished the incredible Caught In A Trap LP (Good Night, New York; also on Dead City). We had ideas having had time to digest American Oblivion and listen to CIAT’s Goodnight, New York. Once we actually started recording, it went pretty well. I’m glad we took the time to bounce ideas off Glen ahead of time. When it came time to do the guitars, I went back to 1990. I hauled my entire live rig into the live studio and we recorded 99% of the guitars in a monster eleven hour session. The actual entire recording process took a while, because we were really nitpicky with the album. There was a lot of back-and-forth with all the band members in regards to lyrics and arrangements and things like that. Glen should really wear a tall, pointy hat because the kid is a wizard when it comes to engineering and production.
Jesse: It was great working with Glen again! We got to know each other recording the American Oblivion EP and now we're friends. We recorded the drums and guitars at Frequency in White Plains NY. The rest, we did in Glen's home studio in Harlem. I worked with him a lot, going in multiple times to record a couple of songs at a time. We would play around and experiment. He was really open to trying things and had great suggestions. He also brought the 'science', which means he could fix my fuck ups, for which I'm grateful.

You have kept your sound – solid writing, catchy and hard!
Jesse: The core band is the same: Steve, Joe, Myself. Jay brings a great drum sound to it. He's always played fast and hard. I'm using all my usual techniques. I try to come up with vocal hooks, if they make sense. Steve has never stopped writing and it shows.
Steve: Thanks! Truthfully, that’s the only way we know how to write. We write what we know and what we like. We’re our own toughest critics. We seem to suffer from a kind of “musical multiple personality disorder”. We have bits and pieces of so many different kinds of music that fall under the bigger umbrella of “punkrock”: Oi bits, d-beat bits, garage punk bits, US ’82 hardcore bits, 2-tone bits.

Have you been playing shows since American Oblivion?
Jesse: We have been playing mostly local shows every few months. With our limited free time, we had to decide to work on new material or practice for shows. We didn't play a lot while writing the record. Now we excited to play the new songs out.
Steve: We have. We even toured Europe quickly to promote American Oblivion in 2012. Since then, we played sporadically. We made a conscious decision to try and not play out during the process leading up to recording and during the recording process itself. We really wanted to stay on track and get the LP done with as little distraction as possible. Well, outside of the unavoidable “distractions” of work, family and all the other “40-something” obligations that get in the way of being old ass punk rockers! I think we noticed that the less we played live, and the more strategic we were/are with gigging, the more we appreciate it and hopefully the less people get tired of us playing.

What does 2016 hold for Yuppicide?
Jesse: We're going to Europe for 10 days in March, and Dead City is trying to set up a mini East Coast tour as well.
Steve: Seeing if/how people respond to the LP, for starters. Then, we are getting out and playing a bit. We have a European tour booked for March 2016; ten days in three or so different countries. And, of course, the continuous process of trying to balance the band with work/spouses/family.

I love the lyrics to “Insolence”, but I actually might be one of the people you are trying to motivate. It’s rough out there; to balance a proper wage and feeling fulfilled.

Jesse: The lyrics on “Insolence” were a collaboration between Steve and me. It is about being frustrated and unhappy in your work and personal life. Steve wrote the original version. I think it was written from a very personal perspective. Corporate cubicle life is a reality for a lot of us. So, the lyrics are aimed at ourselves as much as anyone else. The second verse, which is more about personal relationships, was suggested by Joe Keefe (our bassist). So, I wrote about how we stay in toxic relationships because we're used to the misery. And, yes, that's from some personal experiences as well!
Steve: Tough? I think it’s impossible. But, someone knowing that fact is half the battle. I’ve found that it’s necessary to separate oneself in a sense; to seek ‘fulfillment’ from one’s own interests and pursuits, and then to treat a job like a job. Let’s face it, a lot of the people that one can work for, don’t give a damn about their workers. We’re replaceable cogs in their eyes. We take that frustration and channel it into our music and lyrics and artwork. That’s what fulfills us. A paycheck is a paycheck. It pays the rent or mortgage. It puts food on the table. Money really ruins everything, especially when it comes to creative pursuits like art or music. Which is why we always pay for the recording process ourselves, so, that we’re not beholden to anyone to how we want to create our songs or do our graphics. We have complete artistic control and freedom. We never worry about whether a song will sell, or an album will sell, because we have day jobs. The music is our hobby. We get to create stuff without compromising to/for anyone outside of the band. Luckily enough, we have the good fortune to work with John (Franko) from Dead City and Bader with Cupcake. They trust us and believe in who we are and what we do. They have the same passion for the purity of the music as we do.

With the socio-political critique in full swing (“Political Game”, “Spread the Infection”) how do you feel about our county’s current climate?
Jesse: I wrote “Political Game”. It is mostly about how lobbyists control legislation. They donate huge sums of money and do back door deals so that the congressmen end up with high paid jobs at the corporations. But, its also about the fact that we now have two governments in this country: the one you vote for, and the other one. That doesn't change and that controls security and foreign policy.
Steve: Sometimes, I’m hopeful because there seems to be a groundswell of people fed up with living under a corrupt government and tired of a system designed to enrich the wealthy and keep us worker drones in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety. People who seek answers and ask tough questions and aren’t afraid to buck the status quo. And then, at other times, things seem hopeless because of the apathy of the masses and how willingly people let fear allow themselves to fall under the spell of kooks like the religious right. People who want to set our country back hundreds of years and openly pursue policies of bigotry, misogyny, racism…..
Jesse: Steve and I collaborated on “Spread the Infection”. The song is about how quickly people stop thinking for themselves and fall in line, especially when motivated by fear. I think what's happening now with how people are reacting to the refugee situation is a perfect example. What's really surprising is that Presidential candidates aren't even fact checking themselves now. They're just saying whatever crazy ideas they have and people are agreeing with them. It would be hilarious if it wasn't terrifying.

Police Violence? Presidential candidates? Minimum sentences? War on the poor? So much fodder to vent about.
Jesse: Police Violence. I think there has been a core perspective shift in how the police are being trained. At one time, they were seen as an asset to the community (probably not by everyone, but in general). Now, it seems they are there to control the community. Also, if you are being arrested and resist in any way, even in a small way, they can assault you, maybe kill you, and most likely, get away with it. The militarization of the police is terrifying. They are being sold surplus military equipment by arms dealers and they are finding any excuse to use it. They often lack the training to use it as well.
Steve: Too true. We try and balance our lyrical content with political and personal subject matter. I guess for some people, we’re too political, and for others, not political enough. Then again, with a confrontational name like “Yuppicide”, you kind of know you’re not getting an album of pop-punk teenage love songs. We’ve made a career, so to speak, out of rubbing people the wrong way. That’s not going to change anytime soon. The issues you mention are not new issues by any stretch. Since this country’s inception, there has been a constant struggle against centralized control and individual freedoms. There’s always been a class war. There always will be a desire to keep the masses under control with fears of internal and external threats.
Jesse: Regarding Presidential Candidates, most of them seem like caricatures. Many have no political experience. Ignorance and arrogance seem to be the most important qualities. As a voter, if your apathy makes you opt out of the process, then you may have just helped a nut job win. Also, the penal system in the country is out of control. It is a huge business. 1 in 99 people in America are incarcerated. Three strikes policy creates a slave labor situation used to compete with countries without minimum wage.

So I have sampled that George Carlin bit; so has hip hop artists. What is so universal about it? And why don’t we learn anything from it?
Jesse: George Carlin was able to communicate very intense and alternative ideas to a huge audience. He was able to camouflage revolutionary ideas with his more general criticism of modern life. Jay (our drummer) felt that the sample was over used, but I felt people should still hear it. Can a comedian change your mind? Can a song? I think they can chip away and hopefully eventually something shifts.
Steve: It’s universal, because it’s true. Every word of it is true. Carlin’s delivery is spot-on because he doesn’t sugarcoat it. People hear it and agree. Then, do nothing to change because it’s easier to complain then to actually do anything about the status quo.

Did you see any Black Friday fights on the youtube or social media? Comments about these disgusting plays of materialistic consumers fiending for scraps in true BREAD AND CIRCUS form?
Jesse: There are so many of these videos, and sadly what happens mostly is we just judge the participants. But, it is a system of materialism the plays into greed and gluttony. We all play our part in that. It is always depressing to experience people behaving badly, people abandoning their humanity, trying to fill the ever growing void with more shit and empty promises. But, unless we are doing something very different, maybe we should focus on just improving ourselves first, and have a bit more empathy.
Steve: As Americans, it’s hammered into us since birth to consume, consume, consume. Very few people stop and wonder if this mindset is wrong. Plus, anyone who questions the “consume, consume, consume” mindset is immediately ostracized. It’s shameful, but it plays right into the hands of those who want to keep us helpless and docile and controlled. Rather than fix something yourself, just throw it out and get something new! You HAVE to have the latest and greatest whatever-the-hell-it-is!