Half Gorilla – Summer ’08 3″ CD-R

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Half Gorilla – Summer ’08 3″ CD-R:  I’ve been having some tape deck difficulties, hence the slow trickle of posts recently.  While I’ve been working that out, I remembered that CD’s existed and, astonishingly, I still have a lot of them.  A large number of those are demos and a very small number of them are 3″ CDs, one of the dumbest formats of all time.  If there’s one thing I love, it’s dumb formats, and this is no exception.

This particular 3″ CD contains some truly underrated grindcore/death metal from Milwaukee courtesy of the mighty HALF GORILLA.  Fresh off their rapid fire release of a 7″ of their own and a couple splits, these 5 tracks are a band fully in control of their powers.  In the case of HALF GORILLA, those powers include the ability to completely bulldoze anything in their path with total economy of strength and energy.  These songs are all under two minutes, but are structured brilliantly and brimming with memorable riffs.  You can feel the members eclectic influences and creativity meld into something totally cohesive and focused.

Two new jammers (for the time anyway), two splendidly re-recorded tracks from their demo, and one INFEST cover.  Not sure what more you want, but that’s all I’ve got to give for now.  Dig in and spend five minutes right for once.

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Streetcleaner – Demo CS

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Streetcleaner – Demo CS (self-released, 1997):  STREETCLEANER present you with a swirling, mosh-worthy metal attack right off the bat.  There are six tracks and they rarely provide a break in the action.  Equally influenced by hardcore, the burgeoning metalcore scene, death metal, and grindcore, it makes a lot of sense that members would tighten up their game and move on to bands like MY LAI.

The recording isn’t perfect, the songs could be tighter, and the frenetic, all-over-the-place nature of this demo might throw you off at first, but these songs are really good.  STREETCLEANER is one of Forest Park, IL’s finest exports and is well worth your attention if you dig the great late 90’s/early 00’s Chicago grind/metallic hardcore scene.

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Enchanter -The Gates of Insanity CS

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Enchanter -The Gates of Insanity CS (self-released, 1989):  This tape opens with a creepy door creaking open and that’s the last chance for a breath that you’ll have for a few minutes.  Engineered by the late, great Phil Bonnet, this is four songs of super tight, perfectly recorded Chicago thrash metal.  The riffs are catchy, the vocals are mean and utilize tasteful bursts of falsetto, and THE BASS IS AUDIBLE (and really great).

I wrote about this tape for Soda Killers #13.  That was the first time I listened to it and I haven’t been able to stop since.  The first two songs especially are thrash metal at its peak efficiency, going for it with technical prowess, memorable parts, and song structures that reinforce it all.  The second half of the tape is great too, ENCHANTER just meanders a little much into the slower METALLICA type stuff on those tracks for my taste.   I can’t stress enough how crucial and overlooked this tape is though.  I have no idea if ENCHANTER ended up doing anything else, but either way they’ve done the Midwest proud.

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Supa Gsus -Supa Gsus CS

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Supa Gsus – s/t CS (2004?, self-released): It’s been a while, but I’ve got a lot of new stuff ripped.  Some of it comes courtesy of Simon once again, like this thing I’ve been sitting on for a while, partially because I’m not sure how to present it.  So, I’m just going to do it.

I don’t know how to describe Supa Gsus other than weirdo Elgin, IL area hip hop.  I know this is from the early-mid 2000’s.  I know that this is a one man project.  Finally, I know that it’s bizarre and intriguing and legitimately good.  It’s very DIY and the sound reflects that, but it’s still definitely listenable.  I didn’t separate the tracks because this tape is so seamless it seemed like a disservice.  So, you’ll have to listen to the whole thing at once.  Trust me, it won’t be an issue.

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Larry Brrrds – s/t 7″

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Larry Brrrds – s/t 7″ (Rhetoric, 199?):   This is exactly what I hope for when I buy a 90’s pop punk 7″ going in blind which is exactly how I got this record.  I think I’d heard the name because they did a split with LYNYRD’S INNARDS and thought they might have been from Chicago.  Turns out LARRY BRRRDS hailed from Dayton, OH, so it wasn’t too far off.

Luckily, this EP rules.  It’s pop punk in the mid-90’s tradition, but it draws from all over that genre’s map while still remaining really cohesive.  It’s snotty, it’s fast, it’s complex, and it’s got two vocalists, but it never seems overwhelming or over-packed with ideas.  A lot of it actually reminds me of mid-period LYNYRD’S INNARDS mixed with some RADON and a dash of DIGGER or other earlier HOPELESS RECORDS bands.  A huge plus is that the lyrics, while at times a bit earnest, are thoughtful and, at their best, a little touching.  I’m at a point where my bar for pop punk lyrics has been worn down to the setting of “not sexist,” so it’s a good feeling when 90’s pop punk lyrics go above and beyond that bare minimum.  Seriously, this record is worth your time despite the dumb cover art.

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1,000 AD – Annodomini CS

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1,000 AD – Annodomini CS (2001, self-released):  It’s been a really busy week or two, but I wanted to get this jammer up here real quick.  The Chicago ease into Fall has begun, which means it got cold over the span of two days, and that means it’s time for dark music.  My heavy diet of SAMHAIN, THE CRAMPS, and all manner of black and death metal has begun.  1,000 AD’s tape is a fitting addition to this Fall’s rotation, though it’s not the type of stuff I’m super well versed in.

1,000 AD featured members that would go on to GROWING and played a very riff heavy version of droning, punishing, bass-laden and drum-free music that EARTH more or less perfected.  These five songs range from 3 minute bombardments to 9+ minute stretches, but each of them manages to be distinct and memorable.  Then again, how could you not remember being plowed over by a steamroller?  The sensation is, I imagine, quite similar.

Enjoy some dark, enveloping Fall tunes from Olympia, WA.

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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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