Friday, September 25, 2009

When The Lyrics Leave The Mouth They Look Like Light Beams

A few things. Like any other sane person out there I sometimes ask myself what the use of the internet actually is. I mean, it does kinda suck sometimes, right? But the ever overcrowded information superhighway has its ways to show us that we're wrong. That's how I felt when I read about Blakroc. Blakroc basically is The Black Keys collaborating with a bunch of awesome rappers. Their album is due to drop late November, but I would advise you to check out the song "Hoochie Choo" right about now.
This song features the the unlikely combo of Jim Jones and Mos Def and well, it's awesome. Rumoured further collaboration partners include the RZA, Q-Tip and more. Shit's hot.

While we're on the subject of hip-hop I might as well tell you how excited I am about that new Raekwon album, the eagerly anticipated "Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx Pt. II". This album hasn't been getting a lot of love from most of my friends and that's kinda weird 'cause I love it. Or maybe not. I will not claim to be schooled up enough on hip-hop to write a full blown review here, but I'm a dude and I like what I like. So with that been said, I think Raekwon's rhymes and lyricism are still razor sharp, and with Ghostface appearing on so many tracks you could easily see why I'm diggin' this. Production by a bunch of top dudes: obviously the RZA did his thing (he is also credited as the executive producer together with Raekwon), Dr. Dre delivered 2 songs and some of the other contributors are J Dilla, The Alchemist, Pete Rock, amongst others. Most of the other Wu member appear on one or more songs... Inspecktah Deck, Method Man, GZA, Masta Killa etc. Despite the slew of producers and guest rappers "Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx Pt. II" still sounds solid and coherent... There's an eerie, dark and rough vibe that dominates this record and it fits Raekwon's flow and lyrics well. I'm into it.

In other news, Rise And Fall will be embarking on a four week US tour, starting October 2nd. We'll come bearing riffs, waffles, a new album and health care propaganda. Here's the dates, come hang...

10/02: Haverhill, MA @ Anchors Up w/ Guns Up, Bracewar
10/03: Edison, NJ @ Stelton Church w/ Guns Up, Bracewar, Creatures, Disaster
10/04: Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary w/ Guns Up, Bracewar, Title Fight, Creatures
10/05: Baltimore, MD @ Sidebar w/ Bracewar, Creatures
10/06: Richmond, VA @ Alley Katz w/ Bracewar, Trapped Under Ice, Heathens, Creatures
10/07: Raleigh, NC @ Brewery w/ Bracewar, Creatures
10/08: Lexington, SC @ Round Hill Community Club w/ Bracewar, Creatures
10/09: Atlanta, GA @ PS Warehouse w/ Bracewar, Creatures
10/10: Birmingham, AL @ Green Cup w/ Bracewar, Creatures
10/11: Little Rock, AR @ Vinos w/ Bracewar, Creatures
10/12: Dallas, TX @ 1919 Hemphill w/ Bitter End, Mammoth Grinder, Creatures
10/13: Austin, TX @ Emo's w/ Bitter End, Mammoth Grinder, Creatures
10/14: San Antonio, TX @ Ten Eleven w/ Bitter End, Mammoth Grinder, Forfeit, Backtrack, Creatures
10/15: Tucson, AZ @ Living Room w/ Creatures
10/16: San Diego, CA @ Che Cafe w/ Ceremony, Lewd Acts, Black Breath
10/17: Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction w/ Ceremony, Lewd Acts, Black Breath
10/18: Salinas, CA @ Building E w/ Ceremony, Lewd Acts, Black Breath
10/19: Las Vegas, NV @ Eastside Joes w/ Creatures
10/20: Albuqeurque, NM @ Peace And Justice Center w/ Creatures
10/21: Denver, CO @ Blast O Mat w/ Creatures
10/22: Kansas City, MO @ Mission Theatre w/ Creatures
10/23: St Louis, MO @ Fubar w/ Harms Way, Creatures
10/24: Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen w/ Harms Way, Creatures
10/25: Indianapolis, IN @ Murphy Building w/ Harms Way, Creatures
10/26: Cincinnati, OH @ Warsaw Arena w/ Harms Way, Creatures
10/27: Romeo, MI @ Static Age w/ Harms Way, Creatures
10/28: Cleveland, OH @ Nows Thats Class w/ Harms Way, Creatures
10/29: Lemoyne, PA @ Championship w/ Cold World, Creatures
10/30: Somerset, NJ @ Warehouse w/ Cold World, Creatures, Gypsy
10/31: Albany, NY @ Valentines w/ Cold World, Creatures, Title Fight, Cruel Hand, Mother Of Mercy
11/01: Holyoke, MA @ Waterfront Tavern w/ Cold World, Death Before Dishonor, Creatures

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don't

Let me start this one with some shameless self promotion: There's two new Rise And Fall songs online off our upcoming record called "Our Circle Is Vicious", which will be out on October 27th. Deathwish Records. Peep the Rise And Fall myspace ( if you wanna hear them. I'm stoked on the album finally coming out and the touring that comes with it.

We played Tessenderlo (Belgium) with Cloak/Dagger on saturday, after which I rolled with the Daggers for a couple of days and had a great ol' time. They have a new record out on Jade Tree called "Lost Art" and it's a good one. Expect a review to pop up here soon. Technically I think their record will be out for real in November but they do have a limited pressing of 200 with them on this Euro tour so pick that shit up. New songs translate well in a live setting and provide some more variety as well, which is obviously good. Jason's moves have become quite spectacular. His milkshake definitely brings the boys to the yard. All kidding aside, all 3 Cloak/Dagger shows were sweet, with my favourite being Utrecht. Seeing a bunch of old friends again definitely helped too, but the vibe was good, the sound was perfect and the Daggers were merciless. Union Town also played this show and I hadn't seem them in over a year I think... They blew me off my socks. This band defintely needs more recognition. They played a couple of new songs of which the more epic, slower one called "Blinding Lights" impressed me the most. Hung out in Utrecht for a couple of hours the next day. What a lovely city... Copped a sweet jacket at this cool ass thrift store for 30 E's, I was stoked. After Utrecht, Gent was up next so I had the pleasure to show Jason, Andrew and Matt around (Colin got stuck record shopping) and they dug what they saw. We ate some of the best ice cream ever so needless to say it was a good day. Good sets by them and Vogue that night.

About a month ago Madball played Belgium and I went to see them with Filip (peep his Crunkswagger blog). Kind of a last minute plan, but definitely one of the better plans in recent memory. So good seeing Madball again, and especially seeing them tear it up like that. Over half the set consisted of classic "Set It Off" and "Demonstrating My Style" material. They also played a bunch of "Look My Way" and "Hold It Down" songs obviously and a couple of newer ones were thrown in for good measure. Note to self: Pick up "Infiltrate The System" some time. Their new drummer was so stoked on being in Madball he started moshing behind his kit. Can you blame him? Freddy still is one of the illest frontmen out there and it brought a smile to my face to see that many kids (weirdos and p.m.f.'s included) go off for them.

Jeffrey hooked me up with the new Raekwon record and I've been listening to that one a lot. A little bummed on missing Raekwon when he plays Belgium on October 10th but you can't have it all, right?

More soon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Trapped Under Ice - "Secrets Of The World"

Those of you that have checked this blog before know I'm into Trapped Under Ice. "Stay Cold" was an ill EP that definitely did real well for them. Heavy rotation on the Pod and on the turntable. However, writing an awesome EP is definitely easier than writing an awesome LP, anyone that's been in a band knows that. Plus, let us not forget the nature of many a harcore kid: we tend to romanticize the past, even if that past was only a year ago, so obviously there'll be a lot of the "the demo was better" type of rhetoric. Also, and this has bothered me forever, it seems like a lot of the time when the new "cool" band gets bigger and does better and all the "uncool" kids get into them, people seem to move to whatever's next and whatever's newer and fresher. So how do you keep those kids hooked and still get new kids into you? I guess that the only thing Trapped Under Ice could do at this point was to come up with a killer album... Not that they should care too much about all of the above, but still. So have they?

An awesome album needs a good opener. You don't want your best song there, but you want a song that'll grab the attention, a short rager to stir shit up... and that's exactly what "See God" does. Immediately hitting us with some of the best lyrics of the record: "If you see God tell him that I'm still alive, gave up on all those prayers 'cause they couldn't provide". According to the same tradition that is a tradition for good reasons, your second song should be a hit. And "Believe" definitely is a hit. It will probably sound familiar to kids with good ears, 'cause Trapped Under Ice has been playing this song live on tours for a while. It's got the catchy chorus and the ignorant finale, featuring Tad (Stout) on guest vocals, definitely a change of pace but it works well and is bound to become a staple in their live sets. The "Hairspray" sample fits in with the song's Baltimore theme nicely. What else is there on Side A? More good stuff. "TUI" might seem a little simplistic but it works as a band anthem. I dig it. The re-recorded version of "Gemini" sounds cool and the song definitely adds something different to the first side of "Secrets Of The World". The gang vocals sound so Biohazard that it hurts. What I like about "Gemini" is that it doesn't stop when you think it will. Twice. This song and "Too True" also perfectly show why I think this band is so good. They work on different levels. Surely they have based their sound and style on a lot of classic NYHC, the most obvious names that come to mind are Crown Of Thornz, Merauder, Breakdown and Biohazard. They're not unafraid to wear their influences on their sleeve (the Merauder riff in "Too True", the Crown Of Thornz vibes in "From Birth" etc.) but at the same time they manage to create a sound and a dynamic that is all their own and sounds current. So next to those of us that have developed a weird obsession with classic NYHC, they'll also appeal to that young kid at the Terror show because of the sheer energy and solid songwriting they have. There's enough ignorant parts to please the hardmen among us but then again they have a refined and intelligent approach to song and lyric writing, which is something I value greatly.

Enough of that, on to Side B. Let me start off with a bit of criticism first: it seems like the band placed most of the longer, slightly weirder songs on Side B, which is not a bad thing per se, but I guess I would've preferred it if they were a little more spread out through the album. "Vortex" is an instrumental jam, it's hard and pretty diverse and goes into "Eye Hand", one of my favourites on this record. A brooding, dark song with a spirirtual twist to it, and a little "I and I" thrown in for good measure. Crown Of Thornz being a big influence on this band ain't no secret at all, and I guess that shines through most (as mentioned before) in "From Birth"... The double vocals, with that little bit of melody to them, Lord Ezec style, work well. Lyrically hard and brutally honest ("23 years of being told I will never be nothing, I can never have nothing"), musically haunting and intense, this song's a gem. Neglect reference in the lyrics... rare. "Titus" and "Against The Wall" are songs in that classic Trapped Under Ice style, "Against The Wall" stands out thanks to the super catchy chorus and that rippin' solo at the end. There's one more track and it's another personal favourite of mine, I just wish it was longer... "World I Hate". Great bass, great groove, this song hits home. What else is there to be said? I'm into the cover art. It looks ancient and mysterious and stands out. The sound is solid throughout the whole album, I like how the vocals don't sound too polished, too many records have vocals that have been smothered out of any emotion. Quality work by Dean Baltounis.

So the answer to my initial question is "yes". "Secrets Of The World" is a great record. That plus the constant touring and Reaper becoming one of the bigger names as far as real hardcore labels go should really propel Trapped Under Ice to higher levels, to become the kind of band that will draw kids into hardcore. I'm looking forward to that for sure.
"Coming at you like a stray bullet from gangland territory" ... Baltimore's TUI.