Sex – Tape CS

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Sex – Tape CS (self-released, 2012):  This one was in the “to rip” stack, but has been bumped to the top of the queue at the request of PYGMY DEATH’s very own RALPH RIVERA.  I’m unsure whether to be grateful or angry for that fact because it had been too long since I’d given this tape a proper listen and now I can’t stop.

I received this tape when DEAD UNCLES were on tour in 2012 and found it slipped under a door in my apartment.  I knew that it was a new band drummer Shannon and seasoned roadie Dave has started, but didn’t know much else.  Without expectation, I popped it in the ol’ tape deck and quickly found my jaw inextricably linked to the floor.  This is a band that just plays punk.  It has the urgency and stomp of hardcore, it has the weird experimentation of the genre’s progenitors, and maintains the catchiness and memorability of the best of the classics.  The drums are rudimentary, but fitting underneath a guitar that weaves deceptively weird structures under the guise of simplicity and dissonance.  The vocals are barked and slurred in a way that might make you miss the thoughtful prose of the lyrics.  Oh yeah, and the tape starts with maybe the most suitable sound clip of all time.

Seriously, these songs are really good and I don’t think they’re online anywhere, though it is next to impossible to look up on Google.  SEX was supposed to do more, but didn’t.  So here we have the sole representation of one of my favorite punk bands featuring some of my favorite people I’ve met through all this nonsense.  Dig in.

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Radii – Garbage Platoon CS

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Radii – Garbage Platoon CS (self-released, 1997):  The first time I heard RADII was on the More Than Music 10″ compilation.  Their track on there was a lengthy quiet introduction followed by a minute or so of pure chaos.  This cassette sees the band at a more focused point.  There are still occasional weird quiet parts, but what you mostly get is truly heavy, punishing powerviolence/grind mixed with wild proto-screamo madness and shouted, venomous vocals.

RADII sounds, to me, like a distinctly Chicago band.  It’s fast and out-of-control, but played really well and incorporates a ton of different influences that make it completely unique.  This has elements of punk, metal, hardcore, grind, jazz, ambient music, and a lengthy sample of a fight to close everything out.  I think the breadth of influence is a marked advantage and it’s something that a lot of Chicago bands from this time period seemed to strive for as well.

It’s unsettling and a little tough to get a handle on at times, but it’s well worth digging into.  The longest track is just over a minute, so give it a few listens and let the genius of this band sink in.

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Deliver Me – Demo CS

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Deliver Me – Demo CS (self-released):   This entry comes from friend of the show Simon of CRACKED VESSEL fame.  His old band EDGE-UCATE did a split 7″ with DELIVER ME and I’m really glad they did.

Blistering teenage hardcore punk with plenty of grind and powerviolence influences thrown in, DELIVER ME are a significant cut above a lot bands playing this style.  The material on this tape is legitimately furious sounding.  The fast parts are super tight, the slow parts are deliberate in their intensity, and the drumming is unreasonably good for how young this band was.  The lyrics are political and pissed in a way that is endearingly earnest and mostly still pretty relevant to the world today which is a testament to punk tropes and also a disappointing reality about the world.  Don’t worry, there are the requisite movie samples too – this had to be time-stamped somehow.

Regardless, prepare yourself for seven tracks of unadulterated thrashing from the best in the biz.  Check out the vocalist’s newest endeavor FEVER NEST – you’ll be glad you did.

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Dastard – Dear Empty Sky 2008-2010 CD

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Dastard – Dear Empty Sky 2008-2010 CD (self-released, 2010):  DASTARD was a band from Lansing, IL that I really, really liked.  I later ended up playing bass in the band for about a year, but that’s irrelevant to this material.  This CD combines the songs that comprised the first demo and the tracks for what was going to be a split with one-man pop punk project LATER OPERATOR.

While DASTARD would end sounding a bit heavier and slower in the tradition of bands like WEEZER, these songs are a bit poppier and a bit punker.  Yeah, pop-punk, but you know on here you only get the good stuff.  Smash the CRIMPSHRINE/JAWBREAKER split together, mix in a little bit of TUESDAY, and some early 2000’s band in the vein of JOHN BROWN BATTERY or the catchiest, most concise HOT WATER MUSIC songs.  The key is to then have this concoction played by great musicians, all of which previously played in everything from emo bands to straight up grindcore bands, in a way that is totally urgent and engaging.  Throw in a BLACK FLAG quote and that’s what you get here.

DASTARD were my favorite Chicago area band when they existed and were sorely under-rated outside Chicago due, in my estimation, to a precise mixture of self-deprecation, location, and a desire to just play instead of sweating the rest of the dumb stuff that can come with being in a band.  At some point I’ll put up a live set that showcases some of the material that never got a proper recording, but for now just enjoy these ten jammers.  Members would go on to play in tons of bands like SEA OF SHIT, CARBONLEAK, BIG ZIT, RAW NERVE, and tons more, but DASTARD will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Oh yeah, the packaging for this thing is great, so there’s a lot of scanned details with this.  You’re welcome.

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Zap – Demo Version 0.69 CS

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Zap – Demo Version 0.69 CS (self-released, 2014):  Sorry for the lengthy silence.  I went to Japan, then got back, then got really busy with work and this stuff sort of got pushed aside.  Unfortunate, sure, but everyone’s got priorities ya know?  Anyhow, this jammer has been officially bumped up in that regard as I’ve got loads of tapes, new and old, to get up here.

The first of said tapes is this version of the excellent ZAP demo.  ZAP hailed from Northwest Indiana and shared some members with the also great PUBLIC ASSAULT.  This is jerky, burst-fire hardcore punk that’s unreasonably catchy.  It’s well played, but just sloppy enough to retain the urgency.  If you’re familiar with the band’s first tape on NOT NORMAL TAPES, this is the same songs, but the recording pre-dates the other tape.  This is evident in the slightly more unhinged recording and the lack of lyrics in the first song.  As a bonus, you get a weirdo electronic coda on this version to cleanse the palate before you start this thing over again.  Whether you know their other material or not, this is a great five minutes of punk.

Oh yeah, this thing’s so short that I just made it one track.  You’ll thank me later.

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Aftermath – Words That Echo Fear CS

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Aftermath – Words That Echo Fear CS (self-released, 1989):  Another one for the serious thrashers.  And, again, AFTERMATH is from Chicago just like XILLIAN.  This jammer was even recorded in Hoffman Estates, IL by Phil Bonnet.

What you get here is four tracks of rampaging thrash metal with a significant amount of technical prowess.  Luckily, it’s put to good use and things don’t get too crazy or progressive for moshing around your room.  It sort of reminds me of VOIVOD, but there’s more to it than that.  It’s sometimes anthemic, sometimes punishingly fast, and sometimes subdued.  It’s tight and complex while somehow simultaneously feeling legitimately almost off the rails at points.

A cursory look at the Internet reveals that AFTERMATH had a relatively long career and eventually saw a serious genre slide into “electro-metal.”  Instead of investigating that lead any further, I’m just going to keep listening to this tape.  I recommend you give it a shot too.

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Xillian – No Way CS

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Xillian – No Way CS (self-released, 1990): This is pure, unadulterated, ripping thrash metal from Chicago.  I’ve never heard this band’s name and can’t find anything about them on the Internet, but Scott Harmless somehow magically produced this unsung slam-inducer from his tape collection.

This is pretty straight-forward, youthful, thrash not unlike earlier OVERKILL, ANTHRAX, or EXODUS kind of stuff.  Recorded in esteemed Glendale Heights, IL, No Way features legitimate ragers like Bad Attitude (ARTICLES OF FAITH rip-off or coincidence?  You decide), slightly progressive tendencies like Slip of the Mind, and straight up bonehead thrashers like I Gotta Piss.

Seriously though, these five songs are good.  The recordings are fuller and less thin sounding than a lot of thrash from the time and the songs are good enough to hold up against the heavy hitters of the genre.  Thrash metal fans rejoice – you’ve got something new, though familiar, to scope out.

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The Humdingers – See Ya Later Aviator 10″

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The Humdingers – See Ya Later Aviator 10″ (Bizzarro, 1998):  I love 10″s.  I don’t really know why, but they’re a format I’ve always been drawn to for some reason.  This is a good one.  You may remember THE HUMDINGERS from this post.  A couple years after their 7″, this 10″ saw the light of day.

This record is as close as the band would ever come to a full length and it’s as long as a lot of punk LPs out there.  Ten songs, most of which are two minutes long or more, of solid pop punk reminiscent of SCREECHING WEASEL, later VINDICTIVES, and LOOKOUT! staples.  Just sloppy and off-key enough to be charming without being distracting.  Given a little more time to play with, this record ended up more eclectic than the earlier stuff, but despite the regrettable acoustic song in the middle it’s a solid record and well worth your time if you dig the style.

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Digger – Demo CS

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Digger – Demo CS (self-released):  I never really got into DIGGER growing up.  They were just a band that I’d hear a song or two by here or there on comps and stuff and I dug it, but I never looked into it for some reason.

This tape changed my tune.  Apparently, the band sent this tape to Scott Harmless at some point and I’m glad they did.  These are songs that would mostly go on to be re-recorded, maybe all of them did at some point (see the above part about me not knowing a lot about DIGGER).  The ones I’ve heard though have paled in comparison to the versions on this tape.  These sound like I imagine the band sounded live – energetic, exciting, and driving.  The songs are instantly memorable and are packed with hooks.  The lyrics are perfect at riding the line between tongue-in-cheek juvenility and intelligence which is an area in which a lot of similar bands fail.  The guitar tones are also just great.

Unfortunately, one channel of the tape is a little wonky towards the beginning.  I tried to level it out a bit, but only so much can be done.  Either way, it doesn’t take much away from how great this tape is for super-fans and newcomers alike.

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Ooze – #4 Live At Practice CS

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Ooze – #4 Live At Practice CS (self-released, 2012):  You know OOZE.  If you don’t there are some primers here or here.

Now that you’re settled, this tape is a practice recording featuring some OOZE classics that you’ve definitely heard before.  The sound quality is pretty good and who doesn’t want more OOZE where they can get it, but the real draw to this tape for me is the two weirdo versions of old favorites at the tail end.  There’s keyboard involved and it’s pretty great.  I don’t think I need to say more than that, so dig in!

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