Polyvinyl 15 Matt Lunsford Bob Nanna Dowsing Into It. Over It. Zach Dodson Jay Ryan Sixes
Cover: Dan Andriano Photos: Nicole Kibert // elawgrrl.com Here: Bobby Burg & Victor Villarreal of Joan of Arc Photo: Andy DeSantis Marc: Adam Sever Correspond: email@example.com P.O. Box 1616 â€˘ Monticello, MN 55362 mandexzine.com // facebook.com/mandexzine
06 Sixes 15 Scrnd: Jay Ryan 20 Dowsing 24 Dan Andriano 30 A Sound Design: Zach Dodson
32 Transmissions: INto It. Over It. 34 PolyVinyl 15 36 Matt Lunsford 44 Bob Nanna 51 Reviews
Down with Ariel
With ca! i t e v l He
Tom Kenneally from Coping
ers of with memb Coping Suns e Big Scienc umbers Noise By N Men Mannequin hts The Copyrig
What do you think of the current state of the nation? Massive unemployment in a job climate where STILL nobody seems to be hiring has made it hard for our friends as well as us to find jobs that we enjoy. I have a college education and work at a grocery store. Mac does too and the best job he could find requires him to work from 11pm to 8 or 9am every morning and essentially have no life. Reese delivers sandwiches. Tyler doesn’t even have a job. We’d like better opportunities, but they don’t seem to exist. The nation is engaged in a subtle class warfare situation. Republicans work real hard at keeping taxes down, which although immediately gratifying for most, has kept us in this current economic state of peril. Everyone needs to pay a fair share, the problem is that everyone seems to have a different opinion of what their fair share is. Who do you think is to blame for the troubles the US is having? We are all to blame. When was the last time you voted (presidential elections don’t count). You need to vote from the ground up. You need to get local. I’m guilty of it just as much as everyone else so it’s almost hypocritical of me to say, but I’ll still point out the main issue. As a society we’ve coasted along
BRING BACK GOD ARRESTED HATESSIgn s DEVELOPMENT MAN
the answers in this article are the opinions of the interviewee and are not meant to represent the whole band.
for a long time assuming this democracy would run itself; that we didn’t need to participate because our votes didn’t count. The current state of things is held up by people’s indifference and the ones in charge are counting on that. We’re just a country full of fucking idiots; that’s what it comes down to. We’ve been raised to believe that we can live our lives any way we want because this is America and for some reason we earned it. Despite gas being 5 dollars a gallon we still insist on our RIGHT to drive a huge truck instead of doing our part and taking public transit, or riding a bike, or if that is impossible, getting a vehicle that is more efficient. We still are “skeptical” of climate change science because it demands that we reduce and eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels and that would be inconvenient for us. We only have one planet to live on and if we fuck this up then the human race doesn’t deserve to survive. Just like Mr. Smith says in the Matrix (it was on the other night) human beings are a virus; we rape and pillage every god damn corner of this planet for the benefit of our comfy lifestyle without giving a damn thing back. What do we expect the result to be? People constantly ask me for a plastic bag for the ONE item they bought at
Trader Joe’s and I just want to ring them around the neck say “Carry the fucking thing with your hands!” How can you be so selfish when you know that fucking thing will take 1000 years to decompose by itself in a land fill and is most likely going to join the other plastic bag in the tree in front of my house that’s been there for four months. We’re behind the intellectual curve in America and it’s our own fault. It’s the sunset on our history and we did it. What do you think the nation or government would have to do to get the economy back in order? The main issue is jobs. While we all appreciate the benefits of capitalism and the innovation and opportunity it has brought us we need to recognize that it requires counter balance. There was a time in this country not too long ago where you could have a working class job and provide for your family, own a car, and make a house payment. That time is gone because the jobs simply do not exist. In the name of capitalism and the bottom line companies have shifted so much of what once was domestic labor to overseas jobs. Everything is made elsewhere. We have become a service economy. We have doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Where does that leave people who couldn’t afford a college education? Up shit
creak making sandwiches at Subway. Tax the living fuck out of companies that do their labor overseas. That will bring jobs right back home. Reopen those shuttered auto plants in Detroit. Start making things in America again. It will take a lot for that to happen considering the amount of pocket padding the corporations have done to our politicians. Instead of bailing out all of these major banks and giving government subsidized loans for politicians pet projects of choice how about some student loan forgiveness? How about providing more tax credits to companies that hire more workers? How about investing in high speed rail transportation? There were a lot of high expectations for the President when he was elected, how do you think the President has performed since getting into office? President Obama certainly was a breath of fresh air after the Bush years and the amount of expectation put on the table may have been unfair, but there has been successes as well as failure. Correcting an economy that was off track for 8 years and turning the country takes a lot of time and energy especially when you have a Congress working against you every step of the way. We’ve been let down by some of his actions, but still feel that it is an improvement over how things were. It’s still a year until the next presidential election, who do you think will be the Republican Candidate and do you think President Obama has a chance at a 2nd term? President Obama is certainly the underdog in the fight for the next presidential term and while whoever the Republicans nominate with either be too dumb (Rick Perry), a Republican poser (Mitt Romney), bat shit crazy (Michelle Bachman), or someone else entirely, it will be crucial for the president to drum up enthusiasm within his own base. Democrat voters are famous for their lack of enthusiasm at the voting booth if they even make it there at all. You can always count on the gay-hating, war hawk, religious freak - cultural warriors to make it to the polls because it’s all they think about in that small space between their ears.
In the last year or so, we’ve seen other smaller countries protest and challenge their government and sometimes come out ahead. Do you think if the citizens of the US did similar protests, would they be successful? It’s going to take a lot more misery here to motivate anything like what we’ve seen in the Middle East. If most people can’t even take the time to vote there’s no way they’re going to make a picket sign and go stand out on the corner for days on end. Although if the government shut off the internet like they did in Egypt, people would lose their minds.
MIkey Russell & Clinton Weber From Suns
What do you think of the current state of the nation? MR: Honestly, I think the baby boomers squandered away the country our grandfathers died and broke their backs rebuilding after the depression and WWII and now we have a generation of disappointed and angry young people who feel unpatriotic and helpless against American politics. CW: Throughout the years, certain low points of US society had us ‘Mericans shaking our heads, grumbling that “It can’t get any worse.” So I’ll be the first one to declare YES! It CAN get worse; and it probably will.
Who do you think is to blame for the troubles the US is having? MR: I think a lot of people are to blame. I think anyone your eyes land on is to blame in some way because we all have a chance every day to start turning it around and making things different and better. The real tragedy is the fact that we don’t. Sure we have some protests and picket and all the conventional rebellion tactics, but at the end of the day the rich get richer and the middle class is being weeded out and there isn’t a whole bunch being done about it. For a country that was founded on revolution and built to have them semi-regularly, that’s sad. CW: There isn’t one specific person, party or political player that is the direct cause of the economic woes and the political split in Washington. On that note, there isn’t one person who will fix it, either; it’s going to take a lot of politicians to stop squabbling and C.E.O.’s to stop treating most of humanity like peasants to fix this. So, we’re fucked. What do you think the nation or government would have to do to get the economy back in order? MR: I think legalizing and taxing the use, growth, and sales of marijuana would be an amazing place to start. I think it would create a deluge of jobs and it would make a lot of sense. CW: Build alternative energy sources, like windmills, and then hang the greedy pigs from them! LOL JK. We’d never build windmills. There were a lot of high expectations for the President when he was elected, how do you think the President has performed since getting into office? MR: I think he really wanted to do well and when he got into office I think he saw how it really is and got disenchanted with the whole gig. It’s American politics. It’s a show. I think our president, and the presidents before him all the way back to Kennedy are pawns. I don’t know how much they actually have to say about the major decisions that are made in this country. There’s no way the Obama that hung out with Bill Ayers would allow the banks to be this out of control. There’s no way he would let the Afgan War go on this long. The truth is there are a lot of things he just doesn’t have a say in because the real president of this country is money. Everyone knows that, we just don’t talk about it. CW: No single person can change the unraveling bipartisanship of TWO bullshit parties and attempt
to reform this bureaucratic political system while kissing babies and raising tons of cash for next years campaign. It’s still a year until the next presidential election, who do you think will be the Republican Candidate and do you think President Obama has a chance at a 2nd term? MR: I think Obama could win a re-election. It’s possible. As for the GOP candidate they could probably do better digging up Nixon or Reagan at this point. Who knows what they’ll do. Remember when McCain busted out Sarah Palin the night of his big campaign kick off speech?? It’s all a game and the people will never win. Fuck em. CW: Perry vs. Obama. Barack wins. In the last year or so, we’ve seen other smaller countries protest and challenge their government and sometimes come out ahead. Do you think if the citizens of the US did similar protests, would they be successful? MR: I think with any corrupt government throughout the ages there comes a time when the people snap. The real question is how bad do things go south before WE snap? Furthermore if and when it happens will we have a situation in the U.S. like they currently do in Lybia or Egypt? And at that point what would even be left to revolt for? I think right now it’s twilight in America and the revolution will come at about dawn. We just need to make it through a long night. CW: While hundreds of thousands of protesters line the gold-paved Wall Streets, our mainstream media doesn’t give a peep about that, but whether or not the Tea Party chairman has been having regular bowel movements. If people would just stop and think about how backwards everything is... nah, forget it. Carry on with your designer drugs, five dollar lattes, celebrity newspapers, and what’s this thing called? ManDex?
Jason Richards From Big Science
What do you think of the current state of the nation? The United States is supposed to be a land of equality filled with smart, hard-working, fair people who strive to get along despite different views and backgrounds. That’s what I’ve always thought anyway. But what we have is sad. There is a huge canyon between people who make sense and have the general well-being of everyone in mind and a small segment of people who are concerned for themselves only. It’s become the land of sensationalism and exploitation. The ideas and laws that keep us free have been manipulated so that no actual equality exists. Who do you think is to blame for the troubles the US is having? If we’re talking financial problems, it’s pretty obvious who the trouble makers are. There are a lot of dirty fingers that were in that pie, but this started years ago. Everyone should own a home? Let’s be reasonable. It’s a fantastic idea but given the disparity in incomes in this country, it’s absurd.
What do you think the nation or government would have to do to get the economy back in order? Get out of the wars that we’re currently entrenched in. Republicans always say that government spending has to be cut so let’s start there. Seems to be a pretty big money leak wouldn’t you say? Invest in education and make universal heath care happen so that workers are healthy in mind and body. Raise taxes on the rich and corporations. Corporations need to be held responsible for the well-being of the people they employ and the people in the lands where they sell their goods and make their profits. There were a lot of high expectations for the President when he was elected, how do you think the President has performed since getting into office? I think he’s been doing a damn fine job. He was handed a terrible situation. I think he needs to toe the line less though. He needs to stand up and make his vision happen and forget what anyone might say. It’s still a year until the next presidential election, who do you think will be the Republican Candidate and do you think President Obama has a chance at a 2nd term? I think Obama has a definite chance at a second term. I have no idea who the Republican candidate will be. Perry maybe? At least Palin isn’t in the race for the nomination. If I was a woman, I’d rather never see one of us in the White House than to see her be put there. In the last year or so, we’ve seen other smaller countries protest and challenge their government and sometimes come out ahead. Do you think if the citizens of the US did similar protests, would they be successful? Tough call. I’m not sure that we’d need to go through everything that people went through in the smaller countries. We have channels for change available here. Our leaders don’t sit for decades. However, if changes are going to be made, US citizens need to be organized, dedicated and lawfully ruthless.
Dan Schafer From Noise By numbers
What do you think of the current state of the nation? These are financially dark times for the middle and lower class. With the unemployment rate at 9 percent, the worst recession since the Great Depression, and broken government through fierce partisan divide, it’s no wonder citizens are fed up. Corporations are behaving recklessly and failing, while they are getting taxpayer bailouts, making record profits, and CEO’s are making enormous bonuses. Average Americans have lost their jobs and homes, so it’s no wonder Grass roots movements like Occupy Wall street and the Tea Party are expressing their anger. Whether you believe the role of government needs to be smaller or larger, Americans are pissed off-and rightfully so. Whether this bail out helped save our economy from turning into a Great Depression I don’t know. But, it’s very frustrating for people who are struggling to make ends meet come to find that 1% of the country owns 42% of the wealth.
Who do you think is to blame for the troubles the US is having? There’s a lot of blame to go around. I think government falls under the umbrella of corporations. They are pulling the strings, not vise versa. De-regulation and supply side economics comes to mind. The “trickle down” theory. If this was effective then where are the jobs? Also, how is it possible that companies like GE paid no taxes last year? Meanwhile, my wife and I pay through the nose for being self-employed. Point blank, these corporations are not paying their fair share in taxes. Many of these CEO’s believe that placing profit over people is not only their right but their duty. I believe it is greed. Then you also have September 11th and it’s aftermath which was a huge setback to our economy. We put billions into homeland security and fought 2 wars which racked up trillions in debt. Also to mention is what the mortgage lending banks were doing which ultimately lead to the housing bubble. Wall Street is also guilty with the bets on mortgages, credit default swaps, and other shit I don’t understand. All of the above and more are collectively to blame. What do you think the nation or government would have to do to get the economy back in order? Shared sacrifice and loyalty. Loyalty in American made products. Keep jobs in America. Have Corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share. Get rid of tax loopholes for corporations off-shore in places like the Caymen Islands. But, more importantly jobs need to be created with wages that allows people to spend. There were a lot of high expectations for the President when he was elected, how do you think the President has performed since getting into office? In 2008 people were treating Obama like he had a magic wand and would magically solve everything. I knew then this wouldn’t be the case when he took office. I knew his presidency would be very tough. The Bush Administration left 2 wars, a recession, and a huge deficit. There was a lot to clean up. But, people are tried of not seeing results for their economic troubles.
It’s still a year until the next presidential election, who do you think will be the Republican Candidate and do you think President Obama has a chance at a 2nd term? They say a week is a year in politics. So, who knows. If I had to base my feelings on polls and recent debates I would say Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate. I think Obama has a chance of winning if he can convince voters the Republicans just want to be him. There were top economists who were saying that it would take 5 years for this economy to turn around. If Obama can effectively communicate that, show that he actually has a backbone, continue to promote legislation like his jobs bill, then maybe he can emerge as the victor. In the last year or so, we’ve seen other smaller countries protest and challenge their government and sometimes come out ahead. Do you think if the citizens of the US did similar protests, would they be successful? History has shown us that through marches and protests, issues like Civil rights, labor issues, and Women’s rights were accomplished. Small victories have been won by the people collectively. Many of these rights we take for granted were fought hard for. So, change is possible and nothing is set in stone. This country has been down this road before. We currently face many challenges in regard to the economy and this won’t be as simple as who we vote for in the next election.
Miles Raymer From Mannequin MEn
What do you think of the current state of the nation? Tough to say. It’s heartening to see the spark of genuine old-time leftist populism flare up around things like the Wisconsin union crackdown and the Occupy Movement, and it’s tempting to imagine that conservatives have pitched so radically far to the right that they’re setting themselves up for a massive electoral backlash, but it seems like politicians are doing just fine pandering to a mix of wild-eyed modern-day John Birchers and amoral plutocrats, so maybe that’s just me being Panglossian. Who do you think is to blame for the troubles the US is having? I think it’s less a “who” that’s to blame than a “what,” which is this massive sense of entitlement that has become such a disturbingly major facet of the American character over the past couple decades. Bankers want to make ridiculous amounts of money exploiting the middle class, people in the exurbs want to drive their SUVs, and if anyone tries to tell them these things are irresponsible they throw a temper tantrum. So I guess all of America is to blame for acting like big fucking babies all the time. What do you think the nation or government would have to do to get the economy back in order? Completely rebooting Americans’ expectations regarding what they see as their right to unlimited consumption. There were a lot of high expectations for the President when he was elected, how do you think the President has performed since getting into office? Obama is the Alien: Resurrection of Presidents. You see the combination of the Alien franchise, the guys from Delicatessen, and Winona Ryder playing a robot and you can’t help but get your hopes up about how it’s going to be the best thing ever and then the movie comes out and it turns out to be in the pocket of the financial industry and completely incapable of playing hardball enough to get any real change through Congress. It’s still a year until the next presidential election, who do you think will be the Republican Candidate and do you think President Obama has a chance at a 2nd term? Out of the vast horde of people vying for the Republican ticket so far there have only been a couple of contenders who don’t hold views that would give
the typical moderate voter the howling fantods. I’m sure the Obama campaign has its fingers crossed that Herman Cain takes the nomination because the number of people in the country who are seriously willing to turn over the keys to the free world to that nutjob is one of few things making me feel good about the health of our nation. In the last year or so, we’ve seen other smaller countries protest and challenge their government and sometimes come out ahead. Do you think if the citizens of the US did similar protests, would they be successful? I think the Occupy movement is doing something really good and positive, and maybe it’ll reverberate enough to affect some actual change, but the people they’re going up against happen to be the richest and most powerful people in the USA, so it’s tough to be too optimistic about it. I haven’t felt any noticeably freer recently.
Luke McNeill From The Copyrights
What do you think of the current state of the nation? I think the U.S. is in a state of somewhat disarray. The economic gap between the haves and the have-nots is bigger than ever. We’re still the only developed country without universal healthcare, and
the sad part is I don’t think half the people in this country want those improvements. For whatever reasons, ignorance, pride, tradition, a huge chunk of the poor and middle class people in this country want to keep the status quo even though it’s 100 percent against theirs and their country’s best interests. One thing that is a slight positive, is that I feel that discrimination based on sexual orientation is becoming less and less accepted, and I feel that within the next 10-15 years there will be statutes or maybe even a constitutional amendment banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, including the right to marry. Who do you think is to blame for the troubles the US is having? Economically, I believe it really is the fault of the Wall Street ultra-capitalist culture. Wall Street and corporate America are designed to run and are fueled by greed. Success in capitalism, especially corporations, is measured by growth, and growth only happens when another business or person is displaced. It’s a horrific and cruel model to tell you the truth. I know that sounds over-dramatic, but for the past 30 years, we’ve been taught that greed and profit and growth at any cost is not only good, but is the goal. This came to a head with the sub-prime mortgage collapse, and the economy hasn’t recovered ever since. Even though all parties seem to be unanimous that under-regulation was a major cause, no drastic changes have been enacted. Wall Street still runs the same way. No one went to jail. No one went broke. The lesson to be learned apparently was to take risks to become rich quick, and then get bailed out by the taxpayers when they call their tab. Another thing that’s enraging is that poor and lower-middle class people are mocking OWS for standing up and calling attention to major problems that are 100 percent in their interest. People holding up counter-protest signs that list their hardships, and then say “But I’m not whining in a park for a handout.” Hey dude, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO WORK 70 HOURS A WEEK WITH NO HEALTH CARE TO MAKE RENT. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT OWS IS CALLING ATTENTION TO. The most ironic thing is that the counter-protesters are saying “Stop asking for handouts,” while at the same time implicitly defending banker assholes who took the biggest handout in the history of the world. Yes the OWS movement can be silly at times, but I think it has
been a huge success if for no other reason than for raising more awareness of the growing economic gap in the U.S. What do you think the nation or government would have to do to get the economy back in order? Again, raise taxes on the wealthy. They are at their lowest since the 20s. Stop fighting wars. There is no winning or finish line in sight for these quagmires. I’m not an economist but I don’t understand why tariffs aren’t higher in the U.S. It shouldn’t be cheaper for U.S. companies to export all manufacturing jobs across the world to Asia and then ship the products back to the U.S. to sell. There should be some downside to that. Yes, I’m sure that means that you couldn’t get 10 T-shirts for 2.99 anymore, but products don’t need to be that cheap. We have too much shit already. There were a lot of high expectations for the President when he was elected, how do you think the President has performed since getting into office? I bought in when he was elected. I heard Obama speak at my law school in Carbondale, Illinois back when he was running for State Senate. He spoke in a huge room, but there were only about 25 of us in there. He spoke and answered questions for more than 90 minutes, and I agreed with almost everything he said. He was much more progressive when he was on a smaller stage. I really believe that he still has those ideals, but he keeps them on the back-burner for fear of public reaction. I think that’s the problem. He’s too worried about how the Republicans and his opposition will think of him. They’re never going to like him, so I hope in his second term, he’ll really set out to make good on some of his promises. But yeah, as of now, I’m disappointed in his performance. I am glad that he’s finally getting troops out of Iraq. I wish he would close Guantanamo Bay like he promised. I hope he raises taxes on the wealthy and gets troops out of Afghanistan. I also hope he starts down the road of universal healthcare, but I understand that might not be the best program to initiate when the economy is the way it is.
It’s still a year until the next presidential election, who do you think will be the Republican Candidate and do you think President Obama has a chance at a 2nd term? I’m guessing it will be Mitt Romney. I don’t see any other real viable candidates in that field. They all seem like cartoons or characters on sitcoms. And yeah, I think Obama should win pretty easily, but, this country elected George W. Bush at least once, maybe even twice. In the last year or so, we’ve seen other smaller countries protest and challenge their government and sometimes come out ahead. Do you think if the citizens of the US did similar protests, would they be successful? I don’t think the U.S. is in anywhere near the situation that Libya and Egypt were in. Our government is pretty stable comparatively. Smaller protests I think would, have, and are working. Remember, protests were the main catalyst in ending the Vietnam War, and the main factor in causing Lyndon Johnson to decide to not pursue presidential re-election. So, of course protests can work in the U.S. But, yeah, I think a full-on overthrow of the government wouldn’t go too well here, haha.
The end of the Article is now!
A lot can be said about Jay Ryan. He had a brief stint in Braid as their bassist before forming the amazing instrumental band Dianogah. He’s done hundreds, maybe even thousands of screenprinted posters for many of Chicago’s music luminaries and his artwork has a distinct style that is all his own. Take a few minutes and browse through some of his artwork in the book, 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels: A Decade of Hot Dogs, Large Mammals, and Independent Rock or check out his portfolio on thebirdmachine.com
This Hum print was made during the Deepwater Oil Spill of 2010. Though the sea turtle isn’t a specific reference to any lyrics, fans of Hum would hopefully feel that this animal would be an appropriate subject for a Hum print. The turtle is having some mechanical difficulty, apparently, but is successfully outdistancing the oil coming in the upper right edge of the image. As with most of my posters up to when I made this, this print was designed without the use of computers. The speckled texture in the background was achieved by spray-painting the films.
This Andrew Bird print was for a show the night before Andrewâ€™s appearance at Lollapalooza 2009. With his touring schedule during that time, any stop in Chicago became a sort of homecoming, with barely any time to unpack. This suitcase contains various objects Andrew either actually owned (blue shoes, striped socks, sock monkey, etc), or some references to things he liked, used, sung about, or joked about.
Pelican is a metal band that is somehow different from other metal bands. Maybe itâ€™s that they donâ€™t try to be naughty or evil, or something. This poster tries to sort of stand next to the typical metal imagery, but this storm god is a raccoon, with lightning and water coming forth from his eternal being, or something... Iâ€™m not totally sure about that. The print is four screens (basically: red, blue, yellow, grey), with the variations in the lightning color achieved by printing yellow on top of the blue and the red screens. The raccoon color is the blue ink on top of the red.
This Tortoise print was made for a benefit concert which was to help a family with an ill child, so I wanted to make the print appropriate for kids. The subject matter doesnâ€™t have much of anything to do with Tortoise, but I donâ€™t feel itâ€™s inappropriate either.
This print for Shellac and The Ex from 2010 started off with an idea offered to me by the members of Shellac, who suggested that their band could be depicted as a hockey team, aggressively bearing down on the members of The Ex, who could be depicted as innocent young ice skaters “straight out of a Vermeer painting”. The idea, as I worked on it, eventually developed to inserting hockey players INTO a Vermeer painting. As far as I recall, this is my first appropriated imagery, and one of my first forays into four color process printing. I scanned the best image of Vermeer’s “Milk Maid” painting out of a book from the library, and dropped some hockey players into the picture, drinking milk which the maid has just given them. Bobby Dixon, of Austin’s Kollective Fusion, helped me create the CMYK separations, and I added a white underprint, as well as a second black layer on top. Instead of CMYK, this print ended up being WYMCKK. Not a completely successful print, but it was fun to work on, and covered new territory for me.
Dowsing Interview with Erik Czaja // Photos: Shelby Mongan
Your bio mentions that some of you met in New Jersey, how did you all end up in Chicago? Well, I am from the East Coast. I grew up in Queens, NY and moved to Central New Jersey when I was ten years old. I spent the next decade in Jersey and went to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. If you know a lot about basement show “scenes,” New Brunswick (Lifetime, Thursday, Screaming Females) use to/still has one of the best music scenes around. Before I graduated from Rutgers I was exploring my options and thought that going to graduate school in Chicago would be more fun than bumming around New Jersey. I visited Chicago and met Geoff Schott, of The Please & Thank You’s fame, at a show in Pilsen during this time and I offered him a show at my house in New Brunswick on their upcoming tour. Needless to say I met Marcus and Gooey on that tour and we hit it off. Delia and Marcus were actually at the show in Pilsen too... I just didn’t want to approach them and be that dude from the internet. I moved here and we jammed. Chicago has a pretty great musical past. What are some of your favorite past and present bands from the area? When I was younger,16, I was a huge Lawrence Arms fan and Alkaline Trio enthusiast. The Smoking Popes are also a classic Chicago act in my opinion. As far as bands these days, Droughts, The Island of Misfit Toys, Sweet Talk, The Please & Thank You’s, please forgive me friends, I can’t think of any others. What are some benefits of being a band in Chicago that you wouldn’t find elsewhere? Well, when I lived in Jersey and was in bands we never toured anywhere, and it was really easy to be in another state when you live in Central NJ. That does not answer your question, but something about coming here made me want to actually get something done. There are so many places to play out here. We have not really played many venues and I think the upcoming CSTVT, Grown Ups, Coping show is our first “real” Chicago venue show. We are so pumped! I still feel as though I didn’t answer this question very well... Oh well.
A couple of members in the band are vegans, what would you say is the best vegan dish served in the Chicago area? Gooey and I are the only vegans and I think we could both easily agree the Chicago Diner can do no wrong, but Quesadilla on Western has burritos as big as your head...For real...Maybe bigger. We’re you surprised by the amount of attention All I Could Find Was You received after it was posted on various music blogs? Totally! It’s funny to think about, because I never really expected it. Immediate “hype”, or whatever you wish to call it, is something I have never experienced nor will I ever again. I am grateful that so many individuals actually like what we are doing and support us. Thank you everyone! Was having Count Your Lucky Stars release a 7” of All I Could Find Was You a result of the attention received from online media? I think it was a mix of a lot of things. We all actually were friends with Keith prior to the band. I met Keith when Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) played my basement in New Brunswick and I gave him a melted bag of Peanut M&M’s and a satellite image of NJ. I think it was repayment for my gifts. I also think we owe a lot of thanks to Joie De Vivre, I think they might have swayed the Keithster, that or Cathy loves us! How has it been working with Count Your Lucky Stars on the 7” and do you plan on doing any other releases with them? We are lucky to have Keith and Cathy as friends first and label owners second. Seriously, the sweetest people I know and they have done an amazing job of keeping us in the loop with the production of our record. Next week we are going to start (and hopefully end) tracking for our CYLS debut full-length. I see us working with Keith and Cathy for a good long while (if they don’t hate us soon). What kind of themes are explored through the lyrics on All I Could Find Was You and will those themes cross over to the full-length? Have you ever been so sad that you don’t want to come out of your room? Or so angry that you bang pots and pans around the house until your roommates wake up? ...
Most of the lyrics on the EP are about living in New Brunswick and New Jersey, my ex-girlfriend, watching VHS tapes in Long Island, but mostly about living. You must stay pretty busy with college, where do you find time to do Dowsing and does college ever conflict with touring or recording? I am in graduate school and this semester has been tough for me, but I always find a way to get through it. Marcus and Delia both are still in their undergrad careers and I think Gooey might go back one day. We are all very busy with work and school, so it is a constant battle to figure out when we can play a
show, practice, watch Felicity and play with cats. The last two are mostly hard for me, because I am allergic to cats and because Keri Russell is a babe. When all is said and done with college, what kind of career fields do you hope to get involved in? I am supposed to be a well rounded “Planner” by the time I graduate, so I guess I will be doing that, but I plan on staying in Chicago for at least another year or two and going where the world takes me. Delia wants to look at bones. Marcus will be designing Chiquita Banana labels or something cool like that. Gooey is going to be sailing the Caribbean and drinking a lot of soda.
Marcus, the drummer, also plays with The Please and The Thank Yous, are there any other bands that anyone is involved in or has been involved with? Yes, The Please & Thank You’s are great! Gooey used to play in TPATY as well, but alas that part of his life has ended. Gooey and I just started a new band with my roommate Nick Schmidt, who was also in TPATY at one point with Gooey. So, I have only started bands with members of TPATY. The band is called Herzog and we just had our first mini “tewr” this past weekend. Nick got electrocuted and we only played one show! LOOK OUT WORLD!
What can be expected of the eventual full-length? I have had the record written for about six months now and the past two months it took a lot of commitment from all of us to get together and flesh it out. Summer touring wore us down and work and school started to drain us. I think what we have is a solid ten song LP with some of the songs being longer, some of the songs being shorter! It’s not a mature record, but I think it will help end a chapter in my life that is thankfully over with. Dowsing has only begun.
Photos: Nicole Kibert
You just got back from the UK Revival Tour last week, how did you get involved with that tour? Basically I’ve known Chuck (Ragan) for a long time and we’ve talked about doing some stuff together and getting me involved in some sort of Revival Tour capacity for a couple years now. He called me last winter, while I was in the middle of making my new record and basically said “Next fall we’re going to the UK/Europe, are you in?” I was totally excited. The timing was right and I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time, so I was really stoked he called.
leave and Chuck would begin his set. The same kind of thing would continue. It’s like a three and a half hour non-stop show. It’s really awesome! Very different. It gives someone an alternative to the standard type punk rock show where 3 or 4 bands would each play a set and it’s over.
How was your experience on that tour? Amazing! I’ve known Chuck, Brian Fallon and Dave Hause for years and to be able to go out and be on tour with them, sharing a bus, it was great. It was kind of like being in a different band for a few weeks. It was fun and different. I had a really good time. Getting a chance to play different kinds of music with different people, it kind of keeps you on your toes and all that. It’s very exciting.
Is there a big difference in touring the UK than there is touring the US? Only in geography I suppose. Once the show starts it’s very similar. Waking up and getting to play everyday, meeting people, doing different stuff, living in some place, it’s obviously different for certain reasons, but people that go to rock shows are the same all over you know, it’s cool. They’re very welcoming. Alkaline Trio has always had a really good time in the UK and we’ve always been well received over there. It was nice to go over there in a different capacity for sure.
Did everyone have their own sets or did everyone play on each other’s songs? It kind of works like this: The show starts with everybody on stage. Chuck has his band, which is like a bass player and a fiddle player, so there is six if us on stage and then we would do a mini set, like four or five songs, one of each persons songs, like a collaboration and then everybody would kind of peel off. On this particular run, Dave would stay up there and he would start his set, but people are constantly coming on and off to do a song. Like I would stay up there and sing little parts with Dave or we would do a couple different covers. We were doing a Joe Strummer tune, we did a Replacements tune one night, Ryan Adams tune. Basically it’s just kind of a non-stop show. I would go up and do some tunes with Dave, then Chuck would do some tunes with Dave. Then at the end of Dave’s set, Chuck would end up there and just stay up there and Dave would
It sounds like people get their money’s worth with that long of show? Yeah it was great, The set-list was hilarious. We had like a 52 song set-list.
As someone who has a wife and a kid, is it harder to tour overseas for a couple weeks at a time than it is to tour the US for a couple weeks at a time? Yeah, absolutely! Doing 2 weeks over there kind of feels like doing a month over here. It’s harder to communicate, the time difference is one thing that makes it tougher. The expense of using the phones. I can’t just wake up and call home, I mean I could, but I don’t have that kind of scratch. I’ll wake up and wait for a good internet connection so I can talk. Fortunately technology has caught up and I have Skype on my phone. As long as I have a good internet connection I can call as much as I want,
but it’s not always that easy. There are still certain parts of Europe and places that for whatever reason the internet doesn’t work the same as it does here. The have things set up differently, different kinds of networks. Is there anything you try to do for your family to make up for lost time when you return from tours? Not really. I mean, I basically miss my family so much that I just come home and try to get right back into the normal home type of routine. I want to spend as much time with my daughter as possible, but I’d kind of be doing that if I never left. I’m not bringing home extravagant gifts or anything to say I’m sorry. This is what I do and I miss them greatly. When I get home I just try to get back into their lives. If I’m gone for twelve weeks and I come home, I don’t want it to feel like I’m still gone for a few days just because I’m on a weird schedule. You’ve got a pretty busy life with Alkaline Trio and your solo stuff, how does one successfully balance family life and a musical career? It’s just what I do I guess. It’s hard to explain. I’ve been touring and what I’ve been doing since I was like 16 years old. I’ve been married for 9 years. I guess it’s just kind of worked itself out. It’s not always easy, it’s hard. This summer I moved into a new house while I was on tour and that put a lot of stress on my wife and everything to get that move handled. It’s just not easy, but you got to try and relax and not get overly stressed out about certain things. I’m very fortunate that this is my job, but this is my job and this is what I have to do. I would never complain about it and I would never switch jobs with anybody. It’s hard, it’s hard to leave your family. I have to remember this is what I do and this is how I try and support us and all that stuff. If you had chosen a different career path besides a musician, what do you think you’d be doing? Oh goodness, I don’t know. Cooking food. Maybe I’d be a sports analyst. At this point I think I could... You know I’m actually gonna change my answer. I used to think I would be a chef. You know it’s fun, I’m still like a little kid, I still think about what I want to do when I grow up. So I’m changing my answer from a chef to a sports analyst. Maybe an ESPN anchor. I would’ve just had to study a lot more when I was a kid. I’m kind of obsessed. The baseball game last night, I’ve been up all late drunk. It’s very exciting. Even though I hate the Cardinals, it’s very exciting.
A lot of the songs on Hurricane Season are about situations involving your family, do you always use personal experiences when writing? Pretty much. I’ve tried to write about other situations before and it never seems as good or as comfortable. I’ve always written about things that are close to me. Anything that I’ve felt confident about or good about is usually something that relates to me personally in some way or at least relates to someone I know closely. Hurricane Season, it just kind of came together. I started writing some of those songs not long after my daughter was born and I didn’t even realize it at the time that there is definitely a theme to the album. I’m happy with it. After it was done I realized I could sequence the album to really make it more thematic than I even intended. Did you approach the writing for Hurricane Season differently than you would’ve for an Alkaline Trio album? Absolutely. Mainly in the sense that, when I write a song for Alkaline Trio, I write it knowing that Matt and Derek are going to put their two cents in and change things around. Derek might have a total different interpretation of what the rhythm of the songs should be, so he does his thing. He also is really good with arrangements. Matt is a very different guitar player than me stylistically so naturally that’s going to make me different. When I was writing Hurricane Season, it was kind of like me just knowing that this is it. It’s just me. It’s just me recording the songs. It’s just me tweaking and producing. I kind of keep it simple and not over think the songs, at least when writing. I got a little neurotic when it came to recording them. When it came to writing them, if I wrote a song fairly quickly, I would take that as a good sign I should just leave it alone. What was the biggest challenge you had while working on Hurricane Season? That same thing. Not having anyone to bounce ideas off of. Not having anyone to tell me if a part was good and I should leave it alone or if a part was not good and should fix it. It kind of drove me nuts not knowing. I would write songs in my little studio and I would be happy with them, but it’s a tricky thing. I’ve always been very interested in that, in the studio, and very hands on with my sound and with the sounds of the album in general. But I’ve always had other people there to help me along, help me work, and help with the gear. I would just say things in
the studio, like lighten this up, clean this up, make this more dirty or whatever and they do it and I’d be like, yeah that’s good. It’s a learning process and it’s something I really enjoyed, but I was doing it myself and it was very taxing actually.
You’re originally from the Chicago area, why did you move from there and what drew you to St. Augustine, FL? I’ve lived in Chicago from an early age and my wife lived up there with me for a while, like 7 years. She’s
For future solo recordings, is there anything that you will do differently than what you did on Hurricane Season? Yes, I will do it with someone else! Most likely I will get someone’s help because I was home for like two months, I was working on the record for pretty much two months off and on. Alkaline Trio went to record Damnesia in the middle of me making Hurricane Season and I came home from that recording session and kind of went right back to work, kind of re-doing stuff, like little tricks I learned while we were recording Damnesia. It took a long time, I was home, but I was not really available for my family as much. I think if I did it with some other people, one, I’d want to record with other musicians and have it be more like a band. I don’t want to play everything. I want other people’s input and other people’s styles. One would be that and two, I’d like to record it with at least another person. I’ve got some resources down here in St. Augustine. I’m trying to get together with some folks and have some fun and make some songs.
from Florida originally, she’s not from where we live now, but from the state. After we had our daughter, it was actually me, which I surprised myself even, but I wanted to get out of the city. We planned on being there for a while after my daughter was born but I really didn’t want to deal with winter, and a baby and leaving town and all that. We came down to Florida to visit my wife’s folks who were just so helpful and hands on with our daughter, which is one little reason. Then we just started driving up the coast from where they live and started looking at towns and checking places out. When we got to St. Augustine, that was it. We stopped looking. It was like, all right, I could definitely live here. It’s fucking paradise. It is. It’s a very mellow, laid back town. It’s the oldest city in America. They have a lot of neat cultural aspects to the downtown and over where I live near the beach, it’s a lot of surf shops, restaurants, and yoga studios. It’s really nice to come home here. It’s very different than what I was used to in Chicago, but it’s very relaxing and rewarding.
Now that you’re not in Chicago anymore, do you ever miss the snow? I miss it for my daughter. I’ve lived it, so I don’t miss it that much. I miss it around the holidays and stuff, like Michigan Avenue and Lincoln Park, when the snow is all fresh and pretty, yeah that’s great, but when it’s February and it’s been freezing for four months and it just keeps snowing and getting colder...God, I don’t even want to think about it. I travel so much so I see Chicago in the winter. I’ll be there this winter, visiting friends and family and doing stuff. I’m very fortunate that I get to go around and see Chicago in the winter, see New York City in the winter. I am very lucky in that regard, so I don’t miss it at all.
You’ve been playing music for many years, including the 15 years with Alkaline Trio, what keeps you playing music? Probably the same thing that got me into it, I like it. I’m not the best guitar player in the world, I’m not the best bass player, but I really like challenging myself. I like writing songs, writing songs that kind of make me happy or are therapeutic for me in a way. I like traveling. The best part about being in Slapstick and Tuesday, and those bands I was in when I was much younger, was just the aspect of getting out and seeing the world. We weren’t like those kids that constantly bitched about where they lived, we liked where we lived, but we liked going other places too.
A lot of influential bands came out of the Chicago area in the 90s, why do you think that was? Things like that just happen. It was a good scene in the suburbs, it was a good scene downtown that was very different. Like that big alternative rock scene downtown with the Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt, and Urge Overkill and bands that were a little more mainstream and bigger. The city had so much to offer with all kinds of scenes. You had a big indie rock scene with bands like Tortoise and Juno 44, bands that migrated to Chicago from other parts of the midwest, southeast and stuff. It’s a really nice big city. I think a lot of people gravitated towards there and people want entrainment. I was from out in the suburbs and we would put on our own shows. We would have shows wherever, whenever, in like VFW halls and crap like that. Then go down to the city and try to play shows. A friend of ours from Elgin started the Fireside Bowl. That way bands from all over the suburbs had one central place to play and it was just really great. It’s crazy and hard to say, but we’re all friends and we’re all in different kinds of bands. We all like each other as people and respected each others bands. I was in like a ska/ punk band that would play with a band like Oblivion and Sidekick Kato, it’s like three bands that couldn’t be more different but we were playing the same shows and having the best time. It was everyone doing their own thing and being young, getting drunk, and it was really fun. But the same thing happens in big cities. Big things happen in Seattle, big things happen in Gainsville, Florida, big things happen in Louisville, Kentucky, Washington DC, everyone kind of gets their turn.
What’s next for you, new Alkaline Trio album, new solo album, more touring? Alkaline Trio is going to finish up touring on that Damnesia record. We’re probably going to go to the UK and Europe. I’m going to do a little more solo touring, hopefully fingers crossed, some sort of Revival Tour in the US and Canada. Alkaline Trio is going to get back in the studio sometime about the middle of next year and make another record and keep doing what we do. How is Heart and Skulls going? Is it just an imprint for you guys to do your music on or will you eventually sign bands to it? It kind of has that option, but none of us are that motivated to go out and find bands. We have friend’s bands that we would love to work with, but at the same time, working with your friend’s bands is a recipe for disaster. I don’t want to deal with bands, bands are a pain in the ass. We all are. It’s something we’re definitely open to doing and we have the option to do, but none of us are dying to become a label. I don’t really want to run a label. We just mainly wanted to have more control over our band than we had before. Not because we’re all control freaks, or we think we can do it better than big labels, we just wanted to make sure that certain things weren’t happening more than certain things are happening, if that makes sense. There are certain things that labels do that I personally feel are unnecessary or don’t help bands. For us at this point, they weren’t really helping us so we cut those things out of the equation. We have a really good relationship with the people at Epitaph that pretty much do everything. We don’t really do anything, it’s more of a way for us to keep a head on what’s actually happening.
with Sam Axelrod
The Narrator // Such Triumph Did any of the band members have any input or contribute to the art and design of the album? Zach: Yeah, Sam was sitting next to me the whole time I did it. I think he hand-wrote out much of the text. I know we showed it to the other guys. I think they must have approved, though they could’ve been high too. Were the lyrics written out by you or did the band members provide them? Zach: Yep, all Sam there. I can tell you this: every bit of info on that disc is 100% correct and accurate. Sam is a meticulous proofreader. Except the umlaut. I still don’t know why that’s there.
Where did the concept of the art for the Such Triumph album come from and how does it relate to the music on the album? Zach: The concept came from nowhere, really. Guitarist/singer Sam Axelrod had a pile of stuff he liked, I had a little pile of stuff I liked, and to be honest, what happened was: We got high and made a collage. The result is the album artwork. Sam: I think there was not a lot of conceptualizing beforehand. I had been taking photos for years and been thinking about which ones would be good in the context of album artwork. I had already used some for our first 7” and EP. I just brought a stack of them over to Zach’s and we scanned them and got to work. The only place where the art really relates to the songs is in the part where the lyrics are. The “That House Burned to the Ground” words are written over a photo of the building next door to mine that burned down in 2002; for “Roughhousing” there’s a photo of my blood in my parents’ sink after I got teeth pulled. Stuff like that. Was there any other ideas you had for album art? Sam: Not that I can remember. I just a had a big blob of stuff, and Zach turned it into one cohesive thing. Zach: If there were, I sure don’t remember them.
How long did it take to write out all the lyrics? Sam: We did this six and a half years ago, so I have no idea. A decent amount of time, though. Jesse and I sang about 50/50 on the record, and each wrote out our own lyrics. I vaguely remember Jesse writing his all out in one night at Zach’s house in Logan Square.
There is a lot of repeating themes in the artwork, boys, dogs and cats, plants, hands and knives. Is there a specific meaning behind these themes or do they reference the music? Zach: James, the bassist really likes cats and dogs, as do I. There was something important about one of them looking out the window at the Chicago skyline. Sam like cats, some dogs. So that’s where all those came from. The plants, I had this old book about houseplants from the 70s. I don’t know about
the rest. Or referencing the music. I know the fuzzy blue behind the skyline is from a photo of a car windshield covered in snow. Sam: Not a ton. We were boys. We like cats and dogs. Zach put in the hands and knives. And I guess plants. I had all these photos and ideas and Zach was like, “This is a mess.” So he put in all the other stuff to make it more cohesive. Which it did. It also kind of made it more of a mess. Looking at it for the first time in a while I can’t believe how busy it is. I guess I was thinking “more is more” in those days. I think the other guys were a little freaked out when they saw it. Does phrase “Mego and Shrugby’s Adventure in Breastland!”, which is hidden in the tray card, mean anything in particular? Zach: HA! I forgot about that entirely. It was some joke we had that day, though I forget now what it was. Maybe’s it’s those things in the trees on back? Or the naked girls riding bikes? Breastland still sounds pretty great though. I know Shrugby is the shrugging shrub that’s on the disc. We must have been really high. Sam: It sure does. Shrugby is apparently the name we gave the shrugging shrub that is on the CD face. Mego is one of the cats. I have no recollection of where his name came from. On the back cover there are human breasts hanging from the trees. Don’t ask. They kind of look like some kind of citrus fruit. I don’t think many people bothered to look under the tray card. I used to be a big fan of that stuff and felt like it was a dying art. We did it for people like you! The inquisitive people! You’ve designed other album art as well many other things, where do you think this fits in your portfolio? Zach: Well, it holds a special place in my heart, I’ll tell you that much. I love The Narrator. They’re my
buddies, I went on a tour or two with them, and had some adventures. So, it’s personal. I enjoy collaging, and don’t do much of it now, so it feels like it fits with that part of my portfolio, when I was doing a lot of that. Being that the album art is 6 years old now, do you think the art still represents the band and album the same as it did when it was released and is there anything you would change with the artwork now? Zach: That would break Mego’s heart. I wouldn’t change a thing. I hope the band feels it represents the album well. I think The Narrator had a sloppy/ neat aesthetic, that felt just a bit from another time. I wanted that to come across in the artwork. Sam: I’m not sure if it even represented us then. The art is so the opposite of minimal it kind of scares me to think of my thought process at the time. My favorite part was--and still is--the inside of the booklet, where the lyrics are. That part I still stand behind. The rest of it... not so much. I can’t even begin to imagine changing it, though. We would probably start over. Or at least get rid of most of the kids, cats, dogs, and plants. There are way too many plants.
Evan Weiss // Sept-Nov 2011 Tour with Frank Turner and Andrew Jackson Jihad
Photo: Leslie Hampton
Are touring on a bus with the other bands? Yeah, it’s the entire tour, so right now it’s me, the two dudes from Andrew Jackson Jihad, and then Frank Turner, his band and his crew. So it’s like one giant family affair on a big ol’ bus. That’s gotta be a little bit better than driving a car by yourself? Well for me, it’s actually more cost effective to do it this way than it would be to be driving alone. I know if I took my own car, I’d be spending more on gas and tolls and maintenance and things like that. So for me it’s like the perfect set up. At least like financially and carbon foot-printy.
How have the shows gone so far? They’ve been pretty awesome. Everything’s been really great. Everyone’s getting along super well. The crowds have all been really cool. Musically I fall somewhere in between Frank and Andrew Jackson Jihad, and it’s been a challenge proving myself to a new audience that has no idea who I am. So it’s actually kept me on my toes as far as being a musician and being a performer goes. I think it’s helped me become better at communicating with the crowd and keeping people engaged. I’m one of three. I’m a small fish in a big pond. I have to earn my keep, you know what I mean?
Does most of your set consist of stuff off of Proper or are you mixing it up with some of your older material? I’ve been mixing it up with the past ones. Like Proper just came out and I discovered that most of the crowd at these shows aren’t really familiar with me at all, so if they were going to be familiar with me whatsoever it would be the older stuff. Like I’ve actually had a lot of people come up and ask if I had 52 Weeks on the merch table, which I don’t. I’d like to play some of the new songs but it’s not my tour, so I feel like playing just a good mix of everything and show people that when they come back to the table, they can be like “What did you play tonight?” and I can say I played a little of all of them. And they will be like “Ok, then I will take all of them.” How do you think the crowd has been reacting to your music? I think overall it’s been really good. There generally is always a crowd right in front, that is really attentive and really gives a shit. And then I think there are people at the bar that are just at the show to say they went. They’re older and don’t give a shit about the show or give a shit about Frank and don’t give a shit about me and Andrew Jackson Jihad. That’s to be expected at any larger show. Touring with someone in Frank’s position, where he’s been busting his ass for years, he’s going to draw a big crowd. We were talking about it and he’s been touring hard for five years and I’ve been touring hard for a year and a half. So, I’ve got some catching up to do. I didn’t expect it any other way. So far this tour has been great. They’ve treated me really well. It’s just you playing solo on stage by yourself? We’ve been talking about doing a band, and we’re in the process of putting it together. But there won’t be a band probably until March or April-ish. It’s a ways away. Everyone’s been coming to me and asking “You’re a full band on this tour right?” And I’m like “Ahhhhh I don’t know where you heard that, Sorry.” I have a few tours lined up for the next few months and they all get to keep me playing solo and having it make sense. We just announced today that I’m going to the UK and Europe with The Swellers and Broadway Calls. You were just overseas a couple weeks ago before this tour weren’t you? Yeah, Koji and I went in the middle of August and we were over there for literally two weeks straight. Then
landed back on September 9th and this tour started September 20th. The day after Thanksgiving I fly back to the UK. What has been the highlight of this tour so far? Florida was the highlight, Despite it being unbelievably sweltering hot, the shows were all amazing. Every single one of them was fucking awesome and all the crowds were really cool. It’s definitely a scene were I do a little better. In Orlando, it was my birthday, so I had a really awesome birthday this year. I would say that was the highlight, that little string of shows. We had 5 shows in Florida and that string was probably the best part, at least up to this point. I’m really looking forward to Seattle. I’ve never been to Seattle before and we’re going to a bunch of places in western Canada, which I’ve never been to, going to Saskatchewan, Calgary, and fucking Vancouver. Places I thought I’d never get to see, so I’m really excited about going to those parts of the world. When you see your tour schedule before the tour, do you make plans for those cities or try to find stuff to do in those cities? Yeah, absolutely for places I haven’t been before. Usually if I’ve been to a city before and I think I find things that I really like about it, I always try to do things that I like. But for places like that, I’m hoping I can just call up a friend and be like “Hey come show me some cool shit. Take me where the awesome stuff is, I wanna see it”. Hopefully we get to spend some quality time in Seattle, I’ve always wanted to do that. What do you do to past time between shows? Walk around. The load ins have been pretty early and then the we sound check and get our act together. Shows are always starting around 7, so we’ll wake up around 1 or Noon and float around for a couple hours and then come back and start doing the show thing. Our show tonight is at Emo’s in Austin. It’s like right in the middle of downtown Austin, so we’re kind of walking around checking stuff out. I suppose it’s quite different there when it’s SXSW and when it isn’t? Oh yeah, there is like 3 billion less people here now then there was when I was here in March. It’s definitely less stressful for me. I was fucking buggin’ out. SXSW is almost like a nightmare for me because there were so many people, I couldn’t deal. It was so hot just walking around. I’m an old man, I need my space. I just want to take a nap. (Laughs)
Interviews with Polyvinyl Co-Owner Matt Lunsford and Bob Nanna of Braid Photos: Andy DeSantis
XIU XIU at the 2011 Pygmalion Music Festival 35
Matt Lunsford Polyvinyl Records Co-Owner Polyvinyl Records originally started as a zine called the Polyvinyl Press, what did the zine cover and how many issues did you release? The zine covered the Midwest, primarily the indie music scene in the mid part of the 90’s. We released 5 issues. What made you want to start a zine? It was being involved with the DIY aspect of the indie bands. Seeing bands tour, work hard and go out and try and promote themselves was really inspiring to us. One of the ways, of course in the pre-internet era, fanzines were kind of a popular way to advocate for bands and it was a little bit of a different type of journalism. It’s a fanzine, so it was written from more of a fan point of view of like, here’s this band that we really like and want to write about or tell people about via the zine format. The label itself grew as a supernatural logical extension of that. It’s sort of like, well we’re writing about these bands, trying to get the word out, then it would be perfect to come back and actually be able to fund the releasing of records. You were saying that it was the pre-internet era, how did zines at that time get in contact with bands without having the internet to go to? It was a lot of telephone calls! It’s weird because, it seems like such a different era nowadays, especially looking back on it. A lot more telephone and a lot more traditional actual letter writing and a pretty fair amount of just going to shows and meeting people in person and networking. Not only was it like the pre-internet era, but obviously the pre-cell phone era. It was a lot more direct in person communication. What was the scene like in the Champaign/ Urbana/Danville area at the time? Also, why do you think it produced so many influential bands? It had a lot to do with the sense of community amongst all of the bands and people playing in bands. The scene at the time was so exciting. I had grown up in the Danville area, which is near by the Champaign/Urbana area, kind of one scene. There
would be DIY shows going on at VFW halls and things like that and people just generally trying to figure out ways to do shows and have bands coming through. The band Braid would go out and play shows regionally and then they would make friends with bands from Wisconsin. So then the Wisconsin bands would come down to play shows in the area and find a fan base of people in the Champaign/ Urbana area because the guys from Braid would put on the show and tell all of their friends and get people to come out to the show. I think it was just a great sense of community and there were so many bands that were so active all trying to be involved in the scene and also going out side of the local scene. A lot of those bands didn’t have their sights on like “Oh we’ll be a local band” it was a lot more a sense of playing shows around the area then immediately start to go out and do shows in Chicago and do shows in the surrounding Midwest area and then start to go out and do national tours. There were multiple bands doing that, and I think all just started to feed off of one another. For such a small scene as Champaign/Urbana is, those bands were pretty proactive at actually getting outside of town. Is that part of the reason why you switched the zine into a label? Yeah, most definitely. As the scene was so exciting and growing, I think a big part of what we wanted to do was to be involved in and be supportive towards the bands and we weren’t even sure what that meant at first. We did some DIY shows, had the zine, sold records out of crates at basement shows and things like that. It was kind of like just trying a lot of different things and the thing that really seemed to become apparent was, with one of the issues of the fanzine, we put a 7” with it. It just seemed like it was such a cool way to not only get the word out about the band but also to provide some music. At that point it definitely became obvious it was even more exciting to put out records than to write about bands.
I can see how that can be more exciting. Totally! I know you said that you did skateboard back then, it’s the kind of thing where skateboarding is more exciting to do than actually writing about it. Right, totally! So much of the culture around a lot of things like, for me growing up, I would absolutely not be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for kind of growing up, even pre-being involved in indie music and stuff, if it wasn’t like before that being involved in skateboard culture and stuff like that. It’s given such a foundation of independent thinking and being so directly involved with that. And it being
such an outlet for, not only physical activity, but for a lifestyle of finding out about things like independent culture and stuff like that. Did you see any similarities between the skateboard culture and the music scene then, community wise? I think that there was. It seemed that things were just so much less connected than they are nowadays. It would be almost hard to make an assessment. It would just seem like there was lots of people getting into skating and then every month there would be some really awesome new skate
video that would have all sorts of great music in it. Everything was so much less connected then, like checking out the latest skate video was one of the best ways to hear about new bands and stuff. It wasn’t like now where you can pop on the internet and hear pretty much as many bands as you could possibly want to hear about. I remember seeing a lot of those videos, like the early H-Street and Plan B videos and a lot of those had classic music in them, like Operation Ivy, that influenced bands now. Totally, I completely agree. There was just a great sense of discovery back then of new bands and
whether it was from skate videos or people just talking about music. It was like the sense of discovery back then was held in so much more of a high regard, because it was so much trickier. It wasn’t nearly as straight-forward as like “Oh I love this band, I’m gonna share with all my Facebook friends.” It was much more like, “I love this band, I’m going to make a mixtape for like one person, that’s gonna take two hours.” How long before Polyvinyl Press started did you meet Darcie? Probably around two years.
Throughout the existence of Polyvinyl, you and your wife have worked together on the zine and then the label, what was it about your relationship together that made it possible to do the label all these years? That’s a great question. I was just thinking about that recently, I was talking to someone else, and I think that the one single thing besides obviously us both having a great love for music, would be the two of us having complimentary types of work ethic. We both tend to really dig into things and work on them pretty much from start to finish until they’re done no matter how much effort it takes. So we both have a tremendous amount of work ethic
How would you characterize Polyvinyl’s growth, has it had a fast growth or a slow and steady one? I would definitely characterize it as slow and steady. We’ve tried to do it that way. We’ve tried to build things up and do things the proper way and build a really solid foundation for the label. I feel like the growth has been constant, which is awesome. We’ve never had a time where it felt like the label suddenly started shrinking or having problems. It’s always been constant growth. It’s definitely been steady and not like an extreme burst or something like that.
which has gotten us through and gotten us to the point where we are. I think people probably view the music industry as something that is sort of a laid back type of job or lifestyle. It’s absolutely not. It’s a constant amount of work no matter whether it being involved in putting out records or playing in bands or anything in the independent music world. It is a lot of work and that’s why I think Polyvinyl has always done so well with bands that are very DIY spirited and have a work ethic and work really hard, is because we have the exact same point of view of understanding what it takes to continually work on something and build it up one piece at a time.
Did you guys set any goals or have any expectations of the label when you first started it? No, it was pretty organic I guess. I think the primary goal was just simply too put out records by bands we loved, felt that worked hard, and needed to be heard. At what point in the label’s history did you realize that the label would work and be successful? I’d think probably about two and a half to three years in. We started to have some successes with the Braid Frame and Canvas record and the early Rainer Maria records. We realized that the bands we
were working with had found audiences and people were appreciating the records we put out. The growth potential was there. When you started out 15 years ago, did you ever imagine having done over 200 releases? I don’t think we knew what to expect. I think that we imagined it not having an end in sight. We pretty much were like we we’re in this for life and will follow it where ever it will go. I don’t think we ever would’ve guessed that we’d be in a position to put out as many records as we do. We’re in a spot now where everything does continue to grow, we have the staff and the infrastructure to keep putting out
records and work with bands we love. To say the catalog would be that large back then, I would say we probably would’ve never guessed that would be the case. What would you owe Polyvinyl’s success too? I’d say it would be equal parts hard work and the artists we work with. At one point you were in college working on your Engineering major, do you ever regret not finishing that? Not at all. I absolutely have no regrets with not
completing college. I feel that the education that I’ve gotten from just jumping in and doing everything through real world experiences has been tremendous. I am appreciative everyday that the support that both Darcie and I got from our families for making such, at the time, like seemingly crazy decision to both stop going to college and pursue something like this. Without that kind of support, this probably would’ve been something that was kind of like a cool hobby while I was in school, but being able to actually jump out there and pursue it as a completely full-time thing and be absolutely 100% invested in it was what allowed it to become the company that it is today. Without having done
that and getting in there with both feet, I don’t think it ever would’ve lasted for fifteen years. With that idea in mind, do you think ventures of that kind work better when you jump in with both feet or would fail more if you were only half invested in it? I do, I totally think that if you want to do something, you first and foremost have to have a passion for it and not treat it as something that you feel like is a just kind of a job. We looked at it as something that was absolutely fascinating all the time to watch it grow. There was never a moment to not work on it.
I totally feel like you have to jump in and you have to want to jump in and have that real desire and passion to do it. As co-owner of the company, what’s your role in Polyvinyl these days, what do you do day-to-day for the label? I pretty much never do the same thing everyday which is something that I absolutely love. I’m involved in overseeing all of the operations, talking with each person who works here making sure things are generally running smoothly. I deal with a lot of artist interactions still. I kind of deal with a lot of tech type stuff as well like website stuff, online
types of things and other tech related things to keep the label running. Are there any bands that you, I don’t want to say favorite, but have a personal connection with on the label more than others? Especially as the label has grown and grown, the first half of the label’s lifetime, it was pretty much Darcie and I full-fledged doing all artist interaction and I guess what you call A&R types of functions. As the label has grown to the size it is now, the two of us don’t do all of the A&R stuff directly, so it’s not so much as we favor any artist or anything like
that. I would state it more as the bands from the first half of the catalog were bands that Darcie and I were more directly involved with. Now that things have grown, we are at a point where there’s a couple people that are providing A&R types of things. Obviously we’re never going to put out a band Darcie and I don’t know in some capacity. We’re involved with every band, but some of the duties are broken up, so I’m not involved on a specifically day to day basis. How did you feel when you heard Braid was reuniting to release new music? I was really excited about it. The whole thing came
about a year and a half ago. There was an Aloha show and Bob was there and I was there and we were just talking, and it was right around Record Store Day of 2010. We were talking about it and how exciting Record Store Day was and how much it has grown and how cool it was. Bob and I were kind of talking about it and Bob says something like they were batting around the idea of getting together to do some songs. I was like “Wow, that would be absolutely incredible!” I was sort of like if you wanna do that, I would love to do a Record Store Day 7” for 2011. The idea kind of batted around for all the rest of 2010. The Braid EP actually
started out as something that was going to be a Record Store Day 7”. It was going to be released in April 2011, but the guys having different cities and schedules and everything like that, just couldn’t get a chance to go in to record the songs in time for it to come out on Record Store Day. When they did go in and record it, it turned out to be four songs. It was more than a 7”, it was like a proper EP. It’s exciting and so awesome to hear the songs and to actually hear new Braid songs after all these years. It was a total moment of pause for me.
Besides the show at Pygmalion Fest, are you doing anything else to commemorate the 15 years of Polyvinyl? We are actually. The anniversary is a little bit vague. Polyvinyl kind of naturally started, it wasn’t like a day where we were like “Hey, let’s start a label!”. We’ve always kind of looked at it as being in September. From September on through the rest of the year, we are doing several interesting things. There’s the Braid EP, then there’s the Pygmalion 15 year show. We are also working on and releasing a DVD of all the Polyvinyl videos, it’s like a 60 video DVD, that’s going to come out in the Fall. We’re doing a couple of other interesting retrospective type things
Especially since you’ve had a long history with the band, to hear new stuff from them after not hearing anything for quite a while is kind of exciting. Yeah, totally, it was great! Polyvinyl would not be Polyvinyl without Braid. The relationship we had, those guys and everything they brought to the local scene and everything that they did was such an amazing and magical snapshot in time of that era, from like the mid to late 90s.
like we’re doing a pressing of the Pele The Nudes album on vinyl, it hasn’t been on vinyl for a really long time. We’re also doing the Hey Mercedes record on vinyl again. We are going all the way back and I’m pretty excited about this, we are doing the three Rainer Maria EPs, the self-titled one, the Atlantic one, and the Ears Ring one, on vinyl. None of those songs have been on vinyl ever. It’s going to be a cool thing for those to finally see the light of day as a vinyl release. They’re putting all three EPs on one LP. Finally, we are also doing a benefit compilation for Japanese Tsunami Relief that features a ton of Polyvinyl bands. It’s kind of a nice thing that wraps up neatly with the anniversary of the label.
I also heard something about Polyvinyl releasing it’s first book? It’s true. We actually just released the first book, which is a book of art by David Barnes, the Of Montreal artist and brother of Kevin, the lead guy. It’s very nice art book. It has essentially art from his entire, like the last 20 years of things that he’s done. It’s really interesting. We made it LP size to kind of coincide with people’s record collection and the fact that his art is notable for being on albums. We pretty much did that and released the book a couple months ago and he’s taking it on tour with Of Montreal and he comes out and talks to people at the merch table and sells the book. It’s a very
15 year mark, however, the one thing that excites me more than anything is the fact that the way technology keeps shaping up and the way music delivery is becoming digital and there is also the fact that people can discover music. Things like Record Store Day have been happening, and vinyl has been making a resurgence. Sales I think for us are becoming much more like indie stores and online and it’s a lot less box stores and mall stores. I think all of it is so exciting because it all points to the cards being stacked in the favor of the little guys and the smaller labels and the indie bands being able to be just as accessible to finding a fanbase and selling their records and playing shows as Top
exciting thing. It’s really cool. It’s super new for us and totally different. It’s almost like a back to basics, like the very first time doing it mentality, just like starting the label was 15 years ago. It’s like how do we do this, how do we do a book, like putting it all together. It’s very exciting to get the books back from the printer and physically hold them.
40 pop stars. It’s really remarkable. So many of the ways that technology is going, it kind of levels the playing field for people to discover music and find out what they like. The music is essentially all on one level when you’re looking for something online. You either search for Kanye West or you search for Japandroids. It’s all just a search away. I think that with the technology going that way, it really has made it possible for smaller bands and indie labels to actually thrive. Even though I think the general sentiment in the world is “the music industry is failing”, it’s more like the big music industry is failing.
What do you see for the future of Polyvinyl? People ask me that question a lot and I think that one of the things that I see, is obviously we’ve kind of had this track record of continuous steady growth and kind of doing what we do. We don’t have any big plans to suddenly change is up at the
Braid Bob Nanna
You’ve been DJing for a while now and you did some DJing last night. What was on last night’s setlist? It usually depends on where I DJ. Last night was at a place called the Burlington. I never really DJ too many dance places at all, it’s mostly just rock stuff. That was pretty much what I played last night. A lot of old punk, rock, new wave, stuff like that. Some new stuff. How did you get into DJing? There was a bar near where I was living that had just opened. I had some friends that started working there, so we would go in a lot. This friend of mine who was working there, she’s like “You know, they want to bring in DJs for the weekend nights if you want to come in and try it out?”. I did and that was almost three years ago and I still DJ there pretty much every weekend. It’s mostly rock stuff because it is a bar and grill. It’s people drinking and eating, but if people want to do some dancing, I have stuff to play as well. I only really play stuff that I like. I get asked to play stuff that I hate all the time, and I’m just like “I’m Sorry, I don’t have that.” But if someone wants to hear a Kanye song that I like and have, then I’ll play it of course. There was another bar called Bar Deville that was doing like a specifically punk night, that wanted me to DJ, so I started doing that too. When did you start playing music and what got you into it? I started playing music seriously from before I could remember. I’ve always loved music. My family aren’t particularly musical, but my best friend growing up, since I was two, his family, they weren’t musicians themselves, but huge huge fans. It’s funny because he was not. He was a sports fan and I loved music. I loved going to his house because they had a jukebox and his parents loved The Rolling Stones, like loved The Rolling Stones. When they came to Chicago, we all went, they took us all. I just grew to love The Rolling Stones. We would go over there and they had MTV a little bit before we did. It was really them, that was where it all started. Then I just kind of picked up playing drums just from wanting to do that. Did musical instruments come easy to you or did you have any problems learning to play them? It was pretty easy. Maybe it was because the fact that I was around music so much that I had decent
rhythm and decent ears. I was able to pick it up. You watch someone play guitar for years and years and you’re sort of like I know how this is supposed to sound and I know how to hold it and strum it, let’s figure it out. So yeah, it was pretty easy. Any other instrument I probably would have a tough time with like trumpet or something. How did your parents react to you playing in bands like Friction and Braid then and how do they react to the history of it now? They sort of have the same opinion on that now then they did back then. They were very supportive, they let us practice at the house. They would come to shows if possible, but they were very adamant that I graduate college. Like they said, “You just graduate and that’s fine”. And that’s what I did. I went to school at the University of Illinois, that is where Braid started. When I wasn’t in class or during spring break and stuff, all we did was tour, we practiced, we played shows all the time and then as soon as I graduated, I went on tour and I did that for almost 20 years I guess. Well, touring full-time for almost ten. Nowadays I do have a full-time job, which coincidentally I got because of touring. They get the best of both worlds. They sort of get a kick out of it when people mention the bands or whatever. They are still interested, but they are pretty far removed. With Hey Mercedes and Braid you toured for long stretches, do you ever miss not touring as much? A little bit. I really miss the whole traveling aspect of it and the sort of experience factor. I don’t miss the obligation, drama, interpersonal conflict or the schedules to be perfectly honest. I love traveling so much, and I love touring too, but I’m just at a point where I’ve gotten tired of it. Even recently I did a solo tour that was amazing and that was probably because I didn’t have much to carry along with me and I didn’t have a band. I could just go and do what I wanted to during the day and play at night. Do you think Braid would have been as successful without the local support and Polyvinyl? It’s tough to say. I don’t know if we would have been “successful” but we definitely were persistent. So if there was no local support and there was no Polyvinyl, I still feel we would of worked our butts off to do it and do it however we could. The local support and Polyvinyl are just amazing. Polyvinyl is just the best label ever and we’re completely indebted to
Chris Broach 47
them for where we are or where we went. We were just so tenacious I think that we probably would’ve done a lot. I don’t know if we would of been less successful or more successful or whatever. What album do you think defines Braid the best? Probably Frame and Canvas. I would say that because of the fact that it was our final album and it wasn’t really meant to be when we were recording it. It was just the latest iteration of what we were
doing as a band. After the record came out is when we did all of our touring and we really started working super hard at it and getting in front of a lot of people. That’s when I believe we really hit our stride. We were very comfortable playing those songs with that album. Probably even before the newest EP, cause the new EP is just an EP, maybe if we do another record, that’ll be the one.
On the song “My Baby Smokes” from Age of Octeen, about 30 seconds into it you can hear you saying “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do this” was that intentionally kept in and what was it referring to? It intentionally was kept, but not intentionally performed. It was a failed vocal take that just kind of snuck in there and we said “Lets just keep it”. It’s kind of interesting and fun. We always were sort of oddly ambitious in the studio because our friends recorded that record and we sort of had a lot of
time to do it. Whenever we had free time we’d just go and record. So, we liked doing kind of goofier but memorable stuff. That was for real. I was just totally blowing it and that was me just saying I can’t do this. There was no acting there, that was the real thing.
Before Closer to Closed was released, do you think people had an idea of what it would sound like? Probably. I would assume they thought it would just sound like Braid. What I didn’t want is it to sound like old dudes trying to sound like Braid. That was first and foremost in my mind when writing it. I can’t yell and scream like I used to, but I still wanted to make sure that there was exuberance that came through as much as possible. Do you think people were surprised by Chris Broach’s vocals on “The Right Time”? Maybe, perhaps, but just because I feel as though on the older stuff he didn’t sing that much. Of course he sang, but there wasn’t as much intricate melody to his vocal line. This one had it so much that it was just so special and catchy to me and everybody that it was just like this is the one we should release to people. I like it. It’s definitely a different style for him, but he came up with the awesome line and the all those lyrics. He just really killed it. How did it feel to play those songs live again after having not played live for seven years? Amazing! It felt really good and it felt great that it was just one, well we played two shows, but they were a month apart. It was great to just do one off shows and to not be worried about a tour, not be worried about promoting an album or selling shirts and stuff. There was no worry really and that was one of the reasons I think why it felt so good. I just loved it. It was a great fun experience and I’m assuming more people got to see us play the songs that haven’t seen us recently. We’ll be playing more shows for sure. Was there a lot of relearning to do with the older songs? Yes! I think probably the hardest song to learn were the new songs because we’ve never played them live in front of people. There were a few in fact. We played the song “Do You Love Coffee?” that we hadn’t played since 1996 - 1997. We just sort of thought we would try it out, so that was interesting trying to relearn that song. There were a few parts where I just didn’t remember. You sort of play and then your hands naturally goes to the place where it wants to go, where you’ve trained it to go. It’s kind of funny how that sort of helps you out to figure out where you were playing before. It’s pretty cool.
Since Braid got back together and released new music, has there been any talks about doing anything more with Hey Mercedes? No. Not by choice or whatever. It’s more like, Hey Mercedes did play a show sort of recently at the Double Door here. I think it was two years ago, maybe a year and half ago. There aren’t any plans to record or release anything new. You’ve done a couple of musical projects since Hey Mercedes and Braid, will the Certain People I Know material ever be released officially? Yeah, that’s going to be released really soon. There is a label called Count Your Lucky Stars that will be releasing it. There are nine songs that we recorded, four of which we put up for download and there are five more that we never released. I’m happy that stuff is coming out, because I like it and I like the way it sounds. You are also doing a new project called Jack and Ace, what’s the story behind that band? It’s Lauren, who sang with Certain People I Know, I just love her vocal style and her songwriting. There were two of the Certain People I Know songs that were just straight up written by her, like the whole thing. I knew I wanted to make more music with her and do more songwriting so we started this project where we were just going to kind of force ourselves to write songs and that’s what we’ve been doing. Although, we’re taking a break from doing that, because we’re going to play some shows. And that’s pretty free form, I think we are just gonna do whatever we want whether it’s gonna be rock, acoustic or piano. We’re just gonna play whatever just for the practice of writing songs. You guys just played your first show a couple weeks ago didn’t you? That’s true. It was in San Diego. We were on vacation and it just kind of came up and we played a show with no real reason other than the opportunity was giving to us. You and Chris are playing together again in another project, how is that project going and will you be releasing anything from that soon? We have been playing together with some people around town and it’s more for fun. Maybe someday we will release something or get our stuff together. We just wanted the outlet to play with people and we’ve just been doing that. We don’t have any songs or a name or anything, we’re just sort of playing.
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A Loss For Words No Sanctuary I’ve heard many say that vocalist Matt Arsenault has the best vocals of the genre and I’ve got to agree, they’re pretty damn good. The vocals and music kind of remind me of Spitalfield. Both bands had clear vocals with a bit of a harder edge music-wise. Overall, A Loss For Words fanbase will enjoy this and I can see them gaining some new fans along the way. (Velocity/Rise records) Andrew Jackson Jihad Knife Man I’m pretty sure you’re already familiar with Andrew Jackson Jihad, the folk punk duo from Arizona, and you probably already have this album, so this review is just a reminder to put the album back on and don’t let it turn off. Knife Man is an album that requires repeated listens because it has plenty of variety, and it never gets old. (Asian Man Records) Annabel/Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate/ Joie De Vivre/The Reptilian 4-Way Split Everyone of these bands on this split have their own distinct sound. Annabel has the indie pop sound, Empire! Empire! has a modern emo sound that is punctuated with Keith Latinen’s vocals, while Joie De Vivre take the classical emo route with horns. Last but not least, The Reptilian close out this split with their take on the screamo sound. It’s a no brainer, pick up this release. Every band rules. (Count Your Lucky Stars)
Banner Pilot Heart Beats Pacific Banner Pilot has really hit their stride with Heart Beats Pacific. Even though they have a pretty standard formula for their sound, the songwriting and music are even better this time around. Each song is quite good, but songs like “Spanish Reds”, “Division Street”, and “Isolani” are really standouts. (Fat Wreck Chords) The Bombpops Stole the TV The Bombpops sound straight out of Blink 182’s Dude Ranch, but with the ferocity of early Anti-Flag. Fronted by two lovely ladies and backed up by two handsome gents, The Bombpops are insanely good. The music is fast and catchy with a twinge of sweetness provided by vocalists Jen Razavi and Poli Van Dam. Get this! (Red Scare)
Candy Hearts Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy Following up their stellar debut, Ripped Up Jeans and Silly Dreams, Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy is 12 songs of infectious pop songs that have a upbeat outer shell with a gooey center of honest, heartfelt lyrics. Mariel Loveland and crew have crafted some damn catchy tunes that I could easily see as the sound track to a teenage rom-com. (Kind of Like Records)
City Lights In It To Win It I don’t think I’ve cringed so quick into an album than I did when I put on In It To Win It, the latest from Columbus, Ohio’s City Lights. The “Intro” song to this album starts out with some repeated group vocals and a chug-a-chug breakdown reserved for the hardest of crab-core bands. Thankfully it gets somewhat better as the album goes on. It’s hard to show any excitement for City Lights, because New Found Glory did this way better ten years ago. (InVogue Records) The Copyrights North Sentinel Island Sounding like MxPx, but with more swear words and more pop, North Sentinel Island is one of those albums that will still be good 10 years from now. The Copyrights aren’t blazing new paths with this
album, but they are providing a half hour’s worth of extreme enjoyment and entertainment. (Red Scare) Dan Mangan Oh Fortune Vancouver’s Dan Mangan garnered much acclaim in his home country and abroad with his last album, Nice, Nice Very Nice and is trying to repeat that success with his latest album, Oh Fortune. Oh Fortune starts out with the lengthy titled “About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All”, a slow building song with and orchestral background that has an upbeat feeling like a parade. Skipping ahead in the album, the song “Post-War Blues” has a Tokyo Police Club/Vampire Weekend feel to it. Not to base Oh Fortune to those two songs alone, the rest of the album crosses a few genres and moods, but is altogether a needed listen. (Arts & Crafts)
Dan P. and The Bricks Watch Where You Walk What happens when you give Dan Potthast from MU330 a 10 piece ska band? Dan P. and The Bricks happens. Watch Where You Walk is classic ska at it’s best, before the 3rd Wave Ska movement swept the nation in the 90s. A five piece horn section plus the organ player really give this band it’s sound, and it’s a big sound too. Watch Where You Walk is a necessity for any fan of ska and rocksteady. (Asian Man Records) Deer Leap/The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die Deer Leap + The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die Are Here to Help You Having spent more time listening to the The World Is...side of this record, I’m not saying that I didn’t like the Deer Leap side, it’s just that I was more interested in hearing what The World Is... had to offer. The few times I did listen to the Deer Leap side it impressed me with how beautiful and somewhat fragile their music sounds. I really like the new The World Is.. stuff on this release, even more than what they’ve released previously. These new songs have a slight Modest Mouse vibe to them and just a much overall bigger sound. Both band’s really standout on this release and you would be doing the bands a disservice by not checking this out. (Topshelf Records) Devon Sproule I Love You, Go Easy Devon Sproule is a free-spirited songstress who grew up on a commune in Virginia, but now currently lives abroad in the UK. Sproule has a really warm and honest voice. The music is pretty light and is easily accessible. It has a folk pop feel, but with a smidgen of jazz influence. I Love You, Go Easy is a very calming album. Perfect for late night
listening, with a drink in one hand and your special someone in the other. (Tin Angel Records) Dreamers of the Ghetto Enemy/Lover Bloomington, Indiana’s Dreamers of the Ghetto are taking the anthemic feelings from bands like U2, Springsteen and maybe a little bit Arcade Fire and mixing it with their own personalities to make this massive sounding 80’s contemporary rock (with synths) album. There is enough going for it that it could easily find a place in your heart. (Temporary Residence Ltd.) The Drift Blue Hour The Drift is an instrumental band from San Francisco that are masters at setting a mood or a feeling with their music. At times their music is delicate and atmospheric and other times heavy and calculated. Blue Hour would be perfect for any fan of Russian Circles or Explosions in the Sky. (Temporary Residence Ltd.) Edie Sedgwick Love Gets Lovelier Every Day There is something I just absolutely love about Edie Sedgwick’s music. I don’t know if it’s because it’s not like anything else I listen to or if it’s just funky as shit, but their previous album and this one have a little space all their own on my musical shelf. I feel like most people would brush this off or dismiss the art-rock feel of this group, but they are truly missing out on something great. (Dischord) Elway Delusions Elway, the new band from former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, with Tim Tebow on drums...Just kidding! While this band may be from
Fort Collins, CO, I can’t find any relation to the Hall of Fame QB other than their name. Delusions is a still drunk/slightly hungover batch of punk songs with a lot of heart in the same vein as Junior Battles and The Evening Rig. (Red Scare) Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) On Time Spent Waiting, or Placing the Weight of the World on the Shoulders of Those You Love the Most Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) has put out a few EPs now since their full-length, What It Takes To Move Forward and everyone of them has been wonderful. On Time Spent... is another gem and features a cameo by Pat Ford of Colossal on the song “When You Are Done Living on Borrowed Time”. I’m really liking the shorter songs that come with releasing stuff of a 7” and hope they continue to write in the same way. (Count Your Lucky Stars)
The Evens Warble Factor b/w Timothy Wright 7” In their first release since 2006’s Get Evens, Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina are back with a small dose of what’s to come. On the A side of this release, we have “Warble Factor”, a Farina led jam with plenty of stops and starts. The B side has my favorite of the two tracks, “Timothy Wright”. Led mostly by MacKaye with some help from Farina on vocals, “Timothy Wright” is a fun song with a catchy melody and a nice build up towards the end of the song. (Dischord) Faith Subject to Change plus First Demo This reissue of Faith’s Subject to Change is a remastered version of the 1983 original plus the band’s first recorded demo from 1981. This is a great
example of 80’s hardcore and should serve as a starting point for fans of bands like Strike Anywhere and Gatorface. (Dischord)
Flashlights I’m Not Alone From that first strum of “Choking”, Flashlights has you hooked. It’s impossible to get loose, but why would you, this album rules. It sounds like loud garagey party rock with lots of yelled vocals. It’s like Weezer, but with some balls! I’m Not Alone is one of those albums that kind of defines a place or generation, don’t miss out on this. (Protagonist Music) Glocca Morra Ghoul Intentions I’ve been hearing things about Glocca Morra for a while now and never checked them out until I heard the opening track off of their latest EP, Ghoul Intentions. “Professional Confessional” explodes through the speakers with such force that it almost knocks you back. The rest of the EP keeps up the momentum displayed on the first song. I’m kicking myself for not checking these guys out earlier, so do yourself a favor and check it out. (Self-Released)
Family Lumber Look To The Sidelines Look to the Sidelines, from Michael Tietjen of Long Island’s Family Lumber, is four songs that are not lacking any substance or style. These songs are quick, easy to digest and will stick to your brain like a Post-It Note stapled to your head. “No Worries” is definitely the standout track on this EP and it shows great promise for this young musician. (Self-Released)
The Hotel Year It Never Goes Out Right out the gates with “Our Lives Would Make A Sad, Boring Movie”, The Hotel Year grab you with their in your face style, catchy hooks and multiple vocals. This Dudley, MA group really knows what they are doing and it’s no wonder why Mightier Than Sword picked them up to reissue this album. (Mightier Than Sword) Into It. Over It. Proper All the work that Evan Weiss has put into Into It. Over It. in the last few years really shows with his first proper full-length Proper. Each song can easily stand on it’s own as a classic and as a whole makes for one damn good album. Proper is an outstanding album that sets a benchmark for the Indie scene. (No Sleep Records)
It’s Just Vanity/The Ground Is Lava Split While not being familiar with either band on this split, I was pretty impressed with both bands offerings. Chicago’s It’s Just Vanity starts things off with the song “Second Elevation” which begins with some emo guitar noodling and has explosive choruses. The Ground Is Lava has a neat twinkly sound similar to Wavelets and Dads. Great work by both bands on this release. (Keep It Together Records) Jennifer O’Connor I Want What You Want Former Matador Records artist Jennifer O’Connor parted ways with said label in 2009 and ventured out on her own, writing what would become I Want What You Want. The songs are heartfelt, relatable, and quite memorable. I Want What You Want is a remarkable album that could easily put her back into the hands of a major indie like Matador, but I have a feeling she is happy with the way things are. (Kiam Records) Josh David and The Dream Jeans Can You Believe We Landed On The Moon? Fast, dirty, and loud is a good way to describe Lansing, MI’s Josh David and The Dream Jeans. Can You Believe We Landed On The Moon? is a throwback to sloppy 80s hardcore and I can’t tell if they are being serious or just having fun. Either way, I’m sure there is someone out there who will love the shit out of this. (Bermuda Mohawk) La Dispute Wildlife It’s unbelievable how good La Disputer are. Their last album, Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, was outstanding and I thought would be hard to top. On Wildlife though, they top Somewhere at the Bottom’s...lyics and
music tenfold. Many of the songs stand out on this album for the storytelling “King Park”, “Edward Benz, 27 Times” and “I See Everything”, but two songs that I keep going back to are “Safer in the Forest/Love Song for Poor Michigan” and “The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit”. Both songs are somewhat subdued, but have such beautiful instrumentals, which are complimented by singer Jordan Dreyer’s vocals. Plus the brief hand claps make it worth while. Wildlife is just flat out an amazing album. (No Sleep Records) Like Moths To Flames When We Don’t Exist Not having heard any Like Moths To Flames songs before, my first impression was that When We Don’t Exist sounds like Slipknot’s 1999 self-titled album. At the time, the 18 year old me liked that album, or at least a couple songs off it, (“Wait and Bleed” is still solid), and I’d suspect that there are some misguided 18 year olds out there who will like this album, for what reason I don’t know. But hopefully they will see the folly of their ways and start exploring other bands on Rise like Man Overboard, Cheap Girls, Make Do And Mend, or Transit, which will then restore their faith in music. (Rise Records) The Loom Teeth Teeth is the latest album from The Loom, a quintet from Brooklyn that play male/female sung folksy indie music. While that statement may sound like many other bands, The Loom’s songs are accompanied by French horns and trumpets that really add a lovely touch to the songs. Without those horns, this music would not be as interesting because they give the music a jazzy, classical dimension. (Crossbill Records)
Luther Siblings and Sevens For a while now, everyone has been talking up Luther and I finally checked them out. The album starts out with the hauntingly quiet “Siblings” and really gets things going on “This is Like Fight Club”. Luther has a working man’s punk rock sound that I’d expect from Philadelphia, similar to what the The Loved Ones did. Siblings and Sevens definitely lives up to all the hype. (Black Numbers) Man Overboard Man Overboard Man Overboard are back defending pop-punk with their follow-up to last year’s excellent Real Talk. This self-titled album is much of the same style as their last album and even though this album is quite good, it seems like a rehashing of an old form. I was a huge fan of the heaviness of Real Talk’s title track and wish the band would head more into that direction, which they kind of do on “Picture Perfect”. If this band would just crank up the punk, and tone down the pop a bit, they would go from good to great. (Rise Records)
Mannequin Men Self-Titled It’s been a bit since I’ve heard from the Mannequin Men, not since their previous album, Lose Your Illusion, Too was released in 2009. Their latest, selftitled album is their best yet. The sound is a bit laid back and more grown up. It’s no longer the sound of getting blacked out at a party, but rather drinking socially with good friends. (Addenda Records) The Mighty Fine In Revival If nothing else, The Mighty Fine sound pretty close to what Against Me! sounds like, just not as polished. In Revival is a pretty good album, but after just listening to it, I can’t tell you what song stands out above the others. Maybe it’s a little forgettable, but there is plenty of merit here to give it a listen or two. (Solidarity Recordings)
Mixtapes Hope Is For People Hope Is For People, the latest from Ohio’s Mixtapes, is a great little EP to hold people over until their soon to be released full-length. With most everything Mixtapes releases, this EP is quite good. The only problem I can see developing is that many of their songs have a predictable sound. You kind of know what your going to get when you listen to Mixtapes. I’m sure their new full-length will be good, but I hope they can be more diverse with the new tunes. (Animal Style Records) Moholy-Nagy Like Mirage Featuring former and current members of Tarentel, The Alps, The Drift and Lazarus, Moholy-Nagy is a San Francisco based experimental ambient rock outfit. Like Mirage is an ambitious album. Each song is fairly slow moving and each one creates its own feelings and soundscapes. Like Mirage is quite relaxing and doesn’t force the listener to be 100% engaged to the music. This is perfect music for office work or just as background music. (Temporary Residence Ltd.)
Nothington Borrowed Time On, Borrowed Time, Nothington’s third full-length, they come out strong with the opener “Captive Audience”. There are many stand out tracks on Borrowed Time, like for instance, “The Escapist” and “St. Andrews Hall”. Both songs feature each vocalist and gives a great summery of the album. While Borrowed Time has the same aspects and qualities of other albums in this genre, it is definitely worth checking out. (Red Scare) Nurses Dracula Oregon’s Nurses seem to get stranger with each release. Their 2007 release Hangin’ Nothin’ But Our Hands Down was accessible and memorable. 2009’s Apple Acres was an extension of Hangin’ Nothin,... but showed the band trying new things with their sound. Their latest, Dracula, is more dense, less melodic and may have fans of their earlier releases scratching their heads. While their earlier albums relied on more traditional instruments, Dracula relies more on electronic elements instead and it loses some of its warmth in the process. (Dead Oceans)
My Fictions I Want Nothing My Fictions, from Lowell, Mass, are a hardcore band that kind of reminds me of Pianos Become The Teeth. I Want Nothing is an intense five song EP that rivals other albums released by bands from the Northeast this year. My Fictions is one of those bands to keep an eye on in the future. (Flannel Gurl Records) Nightlights So It Goes Nightlights are a breath of fresh air in an already polluted melodic punk scene. This Daytona Beach group take cues from the Northeastern punk scene (Philly, Boston, NJ) and combine it with some solid songwriting. So It Goes will fit in your collection perfectly between Latterman and Polar Bear Club. (Eulogy Recordings)
Office of Future Plans Self-Titled Office of Future Plans aka the triumphant return of former, Jawbox, Burning Airlines, and Channels lead man J. Robbins. I was a bit hesitant about this considering his influential work in the aforementioned bands, but all doubt subsided once the album was a few songs in. This album is really quite good and the cello work by Gordon Withers is really interesting at times. I think fans of Robbins early work will absolutely love this album. (Dischord)
Owen Ghost Town I think Mike Kinsella surprised a lot of people by getting a new album out pretty quickly, for him, after 2009’s New Leaves. With help from some ladies wielding violins, violas, and cellos, Ghost Town’s instrumentation is probably the best it’s ever been and Kinsella’s lyrics are incredibly personal and honest. (Polyvinyl Records) Penpal Postscript EP Penpal’s previous album had a sound like it was influenced by bands like American Football, with a more modern feel. Their latest, Postscript, feels like a direct descendent of Minus the Bear on the first two songs, while the third song sounds a little like Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate). This EP is pretty good and gives a glimpse of what the band’s future recordings might sound like. (Self-Released)
Pianos Become The Teeth The Lack Long After The Lack Long After is an insanely personal journey of Pianos lead singer Kyle Durfey’s experiences with the death of his father. It almost seems wrong to have such intimate access to the feelings of loss and regret that Durfey experienced during this time. The Lack Long After is an outstanding, heart wrenching piece of work and as cathartic as this album is, I’m sure this will connect with people who experienced a similar loss and help them through it. (Topshelf Records) Polar Bear Club Clash Battle Guilt Pride While I’ve been a fan of Polar Bear Club for quite a while, their two previous full-lengths and most recent, Clash Battle Guilt Pride, have been mostly hit or miss with me. Songs like “Hollow Place” and “Burned Out In A Jar”, from 2008’s Sometimes Things Just Disappear, “Living Saints” and “Light Of Local Eyes”, from 2009’s Chasing Hamburg, and
“Screams In Caves” and “Religion On The Radio”, from their most recent, struck a chord with me, not much else on their full-lengths have. Sure, many of their songs on Clash Battle Guilt Pride are good, but some of their songs just don’t hit the mark. (Bridge Nine Records) Prevenge / Dig It Up Prevenge / Dig It Up Split Prevenge and Dig It Up are a couple of Canadian bands, from Montreal to be exact, that are similar in to bands like Campaign, Junior Battles and The Sainte Catherines. Prevenge starts things off with a couple diverse songs that sound like the aforementioned bands. Dig It Up are more on the screamy side with a high energy attitude and have an older punk rock sound to them. (Pavones Records/Juicebox Recording Co.) Redgrave 2 song 7” Redgrave features Angie Mead, a behind the scenes veteran of Chicago’s music scene and Stephen Howard, formally of Pinebender and Quieting Syrup. Redgrave is a kind of slow bluesy hard rock fronted by Mead’s scorching vocals. This 7” may be short, (aren’t they all?), but it unloads like a series of rapid fire punches with a finishing uppercut in those 8 minutes. (Lovitt Records) Regents Regents Regents is made up of members from some influential hardcore bands like Maximillian Colby, Sleepytime Trio, Frodus, and Combat Wounded Veteran. The four songs on this self-titled EP are blazing fast and unrelenting. I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping for an immediate full-length to complement this band’s already classic discography. (Lovitt Records) Rob Crow He Thinks He’s People You may know Rob Crow from the heavy metal band Goblin Cock and you may also be familiar with his other band Pinback. Rob is back with his follow up to 2007’s Living Well and is pretty much what you’d expect from him. I’m not trying to say
he’s predictable, it’s just that even though he may not try to sound like Pinback on his solo stuff, it still sounds like Pinback at times. I thought that the songs on Living Well kind of ended abruptly, but the songs on He Thinks He’s People feel a lot more thought out and finished. Definitely something to check out if you’re a fan of his other musical projects. (Temporary Residence Ltd.) Robin Bacior Rest Our Wings With a voice similar to Laura Stevenson, Robin Bacior’s Rest Our Wings is an excellent body of work. The songs on the album are brilliantly sung by Bacior and are backed by classical sounding pianos, cellos and concertinas. Rest Our Wings is warm, inviting, and sure to win some fans. (Consonants & Vowels)
Roll The Tanks Goodnight Jimmy Lee - Single This single from Roll The Tanks is a tribute to Jay Reatard, who passed away in 2010. “Goodnight Jimmy Lee” is a fitting tribute and was written and recorded almost immediately upon hearing the news of Reatard’s passing. The flip side features the song “Pistolero”, a twangy, Replacements-esque ditty. (Sabot) The Rutabega Blessed Blessed, the second part of It’s You, which was originally released in 2005, is much more upbeat, and fuller sounding than it’s predecessor, Cursed, which was released a few months ago. These two mini albums have really rekindled a likeness for The Rutabega’s work and will hopefully help shine a light on this talented artist. (Self-Released) Seahaven Winter Forever At first listen of Winter Forever, I couldn’t stand it at all. Something about the vocals really threw me off. Determined, I gave it another listen, then another, then a few more and the album really started to grow on me. Even though the vocals are somewhat indecipherable at times, the emotion that comes through in undeniable. Winter Forever is definitely a good album and lives up to what everyone has been saying about it. (Run For Cover) Signals Midwest Latitudes And Longitudes Latitudes and Longitudes, the latest from the Cleveland four piece that is Signals Midwest, is a tour de force of indie punk. They waste no time fucking around and get right into it on the opener “In Tensions”. Signals Midwest have a youthful punk feel mixed with the experienced rock of label mates Restorations. Their sound is very versatile and doesn’t stick to one genre. It instead encompasses the many genres related to punk. (Tiny Engines)
Soccer Team 3 Song 7” Soccer Team is a Washington DC duo consisting of Ryan Nelson formally of The Routineers and Beauty Pill, and Melissa Quinley. This three song release is just a glimpse into the world of Soccer Team. The songs on this release are good and somewhat simple sounding. Not mind blowing in anyway, but good as in, if it came up in “Shuffle” mode you wouldn’t skip past it. If this interests you, they also have one full-length release, ‘Volunteered’ Civility and Professionalism that came out on Dischord in 2006. (Lovitt Records) The Story Changes This Is Your Moment EP The Story Changes are a duo from Dayton, Ohio that play pop rock. It’s surprising what a two-piece band can do these days. With 2 full-lengths already under their belts, This Is Your Moment is their latest and first to be pressed on vinyl. It’s hard to make an assertion of the band only based on the four songs contained on this EP, but from what I’m hearing, you can tell that The Story Changes are on to something big. (I Am Shark) The Story So Far Under Soil and Dirt It seems like ever time I turn around a new pop punk inspired band turns up. The Story So Far is the latest band that has come across my desk and I find myself enjoying this more than some others that I have encountered in the past. I feel like this is how the new albums from Transit and Man Overboard should’ve sounded. What I like about Under Soil and Dirt is that it has an edge to it and the vocals display a sense of urgency; two traits which are lacking in the genre today. (Pure Noise Records) Survival Guide Wildcat Former The Action Design members turned Survival Guide duo are back with their second two song 7” EP since their formation. The first song, “Shrouded in Steel” has a sultry voiced Emily Whitehurst showing off her vocal range. I have to be honest, during this whole song, I kind of hoped she’d start singing
Tsunami Bomb’s “Lemonade”. The second song, “Prohibition”, has Whitehurst singing with some vocal effects and it works well over the music. These two songs on Wildcat definitely show this duo growing with their sound. It’s quite a bit different than what they did on Hot Lather Machine. (Side With Us)
after a few listens, you will start to enjoy this album. The songs are more mature sounding and better arranged than on previous albums. Fans of Transit may scoff at this upon first listen, but will then be posting lyrics on their tumblr pages a week later. (Rise Records)
These Branches The Payoff The more I hear from These Branches the more I like them. The Payoff definitely shows some growth compared to their past releases. This EP feels a lot dirtier than their previous album, This One’s On You, but that’s a good thing. Music like this shouldn’t sound overproduced. They nailed it on The Payoff. (Kat Kat Records) Tim Kasher Bigamy: More Songs From The Monogamy Sessions As the title suggests, the songs on this release are from the same session that produced the excellent The Game Of Monogamy album Tim Kasher released in 2010. Some may think that these scraps are leftovers, but these songs are actually just as good or better than the ones on the ...Monogamy album. Whether it’s with Cursive, The Good Life, or his solo stuff, Tim always delivers the goods. (Saddle Creek) Tin Armor Life of Abundance Life of Abundance by Tin Armor is one of those albums that you could put on and no one would gripe about it. It’s laid back and twangy at times but also has a rockin’ quality to it. Life of Abundance is an all-around good time that shouldn’t be missed. (Self-Released) Transit Listen and Forgive Fans may be surprised by the way Listen and Forgive sounds. Fans will probably expect the fast paced pop punk that was this Boston band’s signature sound. Transit drops some of the punk and slows things down on Listen and Forgive and
Victor Villarreal Invisible Cinema Invisible Cinema is the first proper full-length from Cap’n Jazz/Ghosts and Vodka/Joan of Arc guitarist Victor Villarreal. People are probably more familiar with his insane guitar work, but as witnessed on Invisible Cinema, Victor has quite a singing voice as well. I think Invisible Cinema is more ambitious than I originally thought it would be and you can tell a lot of work went in to this album. While fans of Joan of Arc will be sure to enjoy this, there is more than enough here for people outside of the JOA realm to enjoy this as well. (Joyful Noise Recordings)
Warren Franklin Your Heart Belongs to the Midwest Warren Franklin is a singer/songwriter of the folksy variety. It’s actually quite hard to pin a genre on the music, because of its simplicity and minimalism. Your Heart Belongs to the Midwest is ten songs of mostly Franklin and his guitar. The songs are personal and intimate and will resonate with fans of the genre and outside the genre. (Count Your Lucky Stars)
We Barbarians Headspace We Barbarians are a Brooklyn via Long Beach, CA rock three piece that convey a sound bigger than what appears. The opener “Chambray” has a Velvet Teen-esqe vibe to it, but with a bigger production value. At just under twenty minutes, Headspace’s five songs reveals enough promise for this band that they should have no trouble finding an audience. (Beranimal Records)
Wavelets Athaletics I like to think of Wavelets as a slower version of Snowing. Both bands have a similar sound, but Wavelets take a subdued approach to it, which gives the listener more time to digest and appreciate. Athaletics is an exceptional album that fits right in with the emo/twinkly scene and at times rises above it. (Tiny Engines)
The Wild A Collection A Collection is a collection of fourteen songs from previous released singles, EPs, and splits, plus a couple live songs. If you’re familiar with The Wild then you know what to expect. For those unfamiliar, The Wild area male/female sung folk punk band that uses banjos and harmonicas in their tunes. Normally I’m not much of a fan of the harmonica, but The Wild use it so well that it compliments every song it’s on. (Asian Man Records/Quote Unquote)
Weak Teeth What A Plague You Are I love how this album starts out with a touching quote from an episode of Mr. Sprinkles and then bursts into an assault of screamed vocals. The majority of the songs on What A Plague You Are are under two minutes, yet the closer is a 9 minute opus. Not having heard them before, Weak Teeth surprised and impressed me. (Flannel Gurl Records) We Are The City High School We Are The City are a Canadian band trying to break into the U.S.’s field of view. Having already won major accolades in Canada, including the $150,000 PEAK Performance Project, Kelowna’s We Are The City are on a mission. High School is the band trying out new musical avenues by disguising themselves and revisiting their teenage years for inspiration. High School is adventurous and a very entertaining listen. (Adventure Boys Club)
The Wild/Run, Forever The Wild / Run, Forever Split 7” This split 7” comes from Atlanta’s The Wild and Pittsburgh’s Run, Forever. The Wild start off this release with a couple of harmonica laden tunes that catch your ear right away. Run, Forever’s songs are similar to what was heard on their recent full-length, so you know what you’re getting there. Both bands do a great job on this release and has prompted me to dig a little deeper into each band’s catalog. (Solidarity Recordings) Young Statues Young Statues Young Statues are an indie rock group from Philadelphia and on their self-titled debut, they really shine. The opener “Spacism”, has a slight Maritime, although younger, feel to it and the rest of the songs kind of come out of nowhere and really engross you in the music. I can really see this band making a name for themselves on a bigger stage. (Run For Cover)
The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense Tim Kinsella I’ve been a fan of Tim’s music since Cap’n Jazz, through Joan of Arc and everything in-between, and really enjoyed his spoken word story, “Depths of Field” from his last solo album, Field Recordings of Dreams. There is no doubt that Tim is a great writer, but I think I went into this book with Tim’s music in mind. Like his music, sometimes this novel was tough to get through. There is a lot of detail and subtext to the story, so much so that I had to re-read some parts to fully understand who was doing what and what was happening in that scene. Part of me wishes that this novel was written from someone I wasn’t familiar with, so I would’ve had no preconceived notions as to what I was thinking I was getting into. Overall, The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense was quite interesting and I look forward to reading whatever Kinsella writes next. (Featherproof)
Ambient Florida Position Josh Spilker Ambient Florida Position is the latest novella by Deckfight.com writer Josh Spilker. The story takes place in the middle of the 2008 Presidential campaign, somewhere in the state of Florida, with Wallace, his brother Nathan, their uncle and mother, plus some lady friends, Mattie and Laurie. There are a few different stories going on at the same time; Wallace loses his job, Uncle Ander is considering buying a motel, Laurie starts working for the Obama campaign. The feel of the story is easily relatable to any 20 to 30 year old and has more than enough references to 80’s tv and movies, i.e. The Wizard, Overboard, Alf. Plus, the feeling of uncertainty when losing your job and having relatives that don’t understand modern apparel is universal. Ambient Florida Position was short, well-written and enjoyable. (Kuboa Press)
Downloads My Fictions // I Want Nothing // flannelgurl.bandcamp.com/album/i-want-nothing Penpal // Postscript EP // penpalmusic.bandcamp.com/album/postscript-ep Prevenge/Dig It Up // Split 7” // juiceboxdotcom.com/recordingco/jb039 The Rutabega // Blessed // theseknottylines.bandcamp.com/album/blessed These Branches // The Payoff // thesebranches.bandcamp.com/album/the-payoff Tin Armor // Life of Abundance // tinarmor.bandcamp.com The Wild // A Collection // quoteunquoterecords.com/qur050.htm The Wild/Run, Forever // Split 7” // ifyoumakeit.com/album/the-wild-run-forever/split
Photo Credits COVER, Pg 4-5,: Nicole Kibert // elawgrrl.com Pg 4-5: Andy DeSantis //polyvinylrecords.com Pg 20-23: Shelby Mongan // flickr.com/photos/shelbymongan Pg 24-29: Nicole Kibert // elawgrrl.com Pg 32-33: Leslie Hampton // grandwebmasterflash.com Pg 34-49: Andy DeSantis //polyvinylrecords.com Pg 51: Stephen Yang Pg 52: Derek Branscombe // derekbranscombe.com Pg 54: Charles Previtire Pg 55: Unknown Pg 57: John Sturdy // johnsturdy.com Pg 58: Pete Duvall Pg 59: Craig Shimala // craigshimala.com Pg 60: Michael Popp // michaelpopp.com Pg 62: Unknown
Support Bands: Dan Andriano // danandrianointheemergencyroom.com Bob Nanna // bobnanna.com Dowsing // dowsingband.tumblr.com The Copyrights // thecopyrights.bandcamp.com Coping // coping.bandcamp.com Suns // suns.bandcamp.com Big Science // bigscienceband.com Noise By Numbers // noisebynumbers.com Mannequin Men // facebook.com/mannequinmen People: Evan Weiss // intoitoverit.com Zach Dodson // bleachedwhale.com Record Label: Polyvinyl Records // polyvinylrecords.com Posters: The Bird Machine // thebirdmachine.com
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Dan Andriano, Polyvinyl 15, Matt Lunsford, Bob Nanna, Dowsing, Into It. Over It., Zach Dodson, Jay Ryan, Coping, Suns, Big Science, Noise By...