Author: James Bennett

First Demo 12/29/80
Street: 03.15
S.O.A = Teen Idles + Minor Threat + the Faith
State of Alert (S.O.A.) is one of the unsung heroes of the Washington, D.C. hardcore scene. They were a flash in the pan, existing for less than a year before disbanding in the summer of 1981. Led by a 19-year-old Henry Rollins, they recorded eight songs. Only three of these have ever gotten a formal release. This 7” single remedies that. Present here are the two songs from the legendary Flex Your Head sampler: the original “Disease” and the Paul Revere and the Raiders cover “Stepping Stone Party.” Also included is “Gonna Have to Fight” which was released on the No Policy EP, the second record put out by Dischord. The other five songs are completely new and follow the same quick and aggressive pattern laid out in the widely circulated songs. This is a forceful, quick single that allows the listener to better understand why 1980s D.C. was so important to the development of American Hardcore. –James Bennett 

Dead Ending
Alternative Tentacles
Street: 12.05.12
Dead Ending = Articles of Faith + Rise Against + Alkaline Trio
One of the side effects of the renewed interest in 1980s hardcore music is that older punks are finding they still have the notoriety and outlet to rekindle their old music flames. Of course, for some, that flame never really went out in the first place. Such is the case for Articles of Faith singer Vic Bondi. Performing throughout the Midwest in the early 80s, the man almost single-handedly put Chicago hardcore on the map. This second EP by Dead Ending pairs his grinding voice with an all-star cast of punk musicians. The end result is a furious, aggressive and lightning-quick batch of songs that straddle the line between 80s hardcore and modern punk. And though it may seem like another punk rock super group is the last thing 2013 needs, I would implore you to give this 12-inch EP a couple of spins. When you hear the resolve that these guys lay in front of you, you’ll be forced to drop to your knees and give thanks to your punk rock gods.

Emperors of Wyoming
Liaison Music
Street: 03.25
EOW = Tom Petty + The Byrds + George Jones

This is an interesting record. It is essentially a re-release of a record that came out in Europe a few years back. The American version adds a few more songs and remixes everything. People are paying attention because the band features Butch Vig, drummer for Garbage and famed producer of alt-rock records like Nirvana’s Nevermind. Musically, the 13 tracks on the album skirt the line between American roots music, old country and folk. It’s not a rock record per se, but it isn’t a country record either—it just is. And it sounds like it has always been. The music is gritty yet clean, and the lyrics nestle in somewhere between the Heartbreakers and rebel country greats. Songs like “Bittersweet Sound” and “Avalanche Girl” certainly pay homage to the experiences of the musicians playing here, but they also manage to hold their own and fight for inclusion in the pantheon of great American music. –James Bennett


Street: 02.25
Deathfix = T-Rex + Slade + Noddy Comet
Let’s face it—no one’s favorite member of Fugazi is Brendan Canty. Hell, even the guy’s mother probably prefers Guy Picciotto. Yet here we are with the self-titled release by Canty’s glam band, Deathfix. And glam is the correct description, even if the music tends to deal with weightier subject matter than anything Slade ever put out. Lyrically, it is dense. It wades through topics of illness, breakups and the trappings of fame without sugar coating any of it. Musically, it’s firmly rooted in early 1970, when excessive studio tinkering started to upstage musical mastery. In all, it isn’t a bad listen. The first two tracks, “Better Than Bad” and “Low Lying Dreams,” both manage to lay down a heavy groove while bringing the listener along for the ride. Other songs don’t do quite as well (“Dali’s House” goes on for far too long). It hits the mark really well for a 1972 concept album. The thing is, it hasn’t been 1972 for over 40 years.

il Sogno del Marinaio
Canto Secondo
Street: 08.26
Il Sogno Del Marinaio = Minutemen + fIREHOSE + The Secondmen
Italian for “the sailor’s dream,” il Sogno del Marinaio is a post-punk trio featuring legendary bass player Mike Watt—celebrated for his work with the Minutemen and for his recent stint in the reformed Iggy Pop and the Stooges. This is the second record from the band. Watt originally met up with his two Italian bandmates while touring Europe on a solo record. It’s clear that this lineup reconnects Watt with some of his musical heritage, as much of it is reminiscent of the Minutemen/fIREHOSE sound—but with a more dream-like quality to it. “Animal Farm Tango” starts off with rudimentary marching drums overlaid with trancelike guitar and Watt’s gruff vocals before smoothing into the math/scientist rock you’d expect. The record floats from start to finish, taking the time for each track to find its footing. It’s a solid effort by an unbelievably good band. The best part? They’re playing the Urban Lounge on September 23. –James Bennett
Man… or Astro-man?
Defcon 5…4…3…2…1
Chunklet/Communicating Vessels
Street: 05.21
MOAM? = Sun Ra + Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet + The Quadrajets
This album marks the first time since 1997’s Made From Technetium that Alabama’s favorite sci-fi/surf combo has put out a record with original guitarist Star Crunch. Crunch is joined by original members Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard, Birdstuff and new guitarist Avona Nova. The sound and feel of Defcon picks up right where Technetium left off, and pairs this heavy instrumental style with the vocal-heavy sound of the 1000x EP (also from 1997). Their veneration of ’60s surf music and irreverent, intergalactic chatter is in full swing. “Arc,” “Disintegrate” and “New Cocoon” each feature an incredibly solid lead vocal. “Antimatter Man” and “Communication Breakdown Pt. II” do what MOAM? is known for—pairing crushing rock chords with driving surf beats and solid bass work, peppered with an occasional sample. It’s a vintage-sounding MOAM? recording, but much more powerful, with less shtick and more balls. –James Bennett
Kool Stuff Katie
Street: 03.30
Kool Stuff Katie = The Dollyrots + OK Go + RamonesThis is a fun band. The minimalist musical duo from Portland, Ore., makes incredibly light and upbeat music that hemorrhages positivity. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it bubbly, but the brightly tinged pop punk sound fills a void that I didn’t even notice was there. Opening track “Hard Girl to Know” will have you singing along, regardless of your familiarity with the lyrics. Another track, “Cars,” longs for a location without cars, people or noise, while being charmingly noisy. At first glance, one would be tempted to compare this band with The White Stripes. Personnel-wise, you would be correct—a dude on guitar and vocals with a girl drummer. But the comparison stops there. The music manages to stay light and true even at its most aggressive. Who could ask for anything more? You need this! –James Bennett
Richard Thompson – Still

Richard Thompson – Still

Richard Thompson

Street: 06.23
Richard Thompson = Eric Clapton – ripping off American Bluesmen + Van Morrison

I’ll never understand how Richard Thompson isn’t a household name. From redefining folk rock as a young man with Fairport Convention to releasing scores of records as a solo artist or alongside his then-wife, Linda Thompson, Thompson’s storied guitar ballads are never anything short of masterpieces. This latest album was recorded in Chicago by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy appears in several spots on the record, fleshing out the otherwise sparse compositions. The end result is a smooth mixture of Thompson’s normal Celtic-driven story songs with minimal orchestral overdubs. In classic form, the fresh guitar work in the opening track, titled “She Never Could Resist a Winding Road,” provides the bedrock to a story about falling for a woman who refuses to be tied down. Another track, “Broken Doll,” deals with mental illness. Tweedy’s addition of haunting organ music adds to the general unease of the track. In all, Still shows us that, even as he advances in years, Thompson is nowhere near finished. –James Bennett

Peer Group
Rhetoric and Hands
Water Under the Bridge
Street: 07.01
Peer Group = Saccharine Trust + the Reactionaries + the Minutemen

The recent release of these Peer Group recordings was a long time coming. These songs were recorded in December of 1981 in southern California, making it contemporary to bands like Black Flag and Redd Kross. Stylistically, though, it flirts more with the sound made popular by the Minutemen—sharp, short guitar riffs and spiel thrown over a tight, complementary rhythm section. As it has more of an art school rough draft vibe to it, it’s clear that the band never completely gelled together. Still, these songs are an important testament of what was happening at the fringes of the larger fringe movement that was So-Cal punk rock. Rhetoric and Hands is the complete collection of Peer Group’s recorded output—a single 7” record with five tracks and four more available digitally. This charmingly raw record shows why music from this time and place continues to inspire people today. –James Bennett 

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Terrance Danger Hailstorm - No Danger b/w HurricaneTerrance Danger Hailstorm
No Danger b/w Hurricane

Street 05.07
Terrance DH = the Stench + Magstatic + a hipper, friendlier and less evil Danzig

Terrance Danger Hailstorm has been a staple on the SLC music scene for a number of years now, as a member of the Stench, Magstatic and the Bad Yodelers. For this latest single, Terrance’s guitar and vocal effort is rounded out by bassist Cache Tolman (Iceburn, SKULLFUZZ, Fearless Vampire Killers) and drummer Jamison Wilkins (J.W. Blackout). The two songs, written and recorded by DH, clock in at just under four minutes each, and are similar in both sound and composition to much of his past work. Present are many of the qualities that make anything Terrance DH does special, a skillful blend of loud power chords and pop enthusiasm, beautifully crafted music, and vivid lyrics delivered by a seasoned vocal pro. These sonic traits alone would be enough to inspire the listener to replay the single over and over again, but the tracks contain so much more. The rhythm section of Cache Tolman and Jamison Wilkins pound the sounds straight into your head with a solid prog-metal sincerity. With hard rock hooks aplenty, these two tracks would be worthy of a portion of your music buying budget, which brings me to best news of all, the single is available for free download at Terrance’s own website: A stellar deal for a fantastic couple of songs.