Monday, December 31, 2018

Top Ten 2018

The indifferent chill of east coast survival continues to keep my senses reeling whether I like it or not. More depth, more meaning, and a change in aesthetics were my focal points throughout the year. The whole concept of intellectual and moral outrage continues to bore me beyond belief so I wanted to immerse myself in subculture and destinations that live and breathe off the beaten path. After 2 long years of living with a west coast hangover, I had to pull myself out of the acid bath known as “starting over”. My new life in Pennsylvania had been depressing and kicked off with deflating and near fatal experiences. I’m approaching my mid 40s now so I’m sure this kind of shit typically comes with the territory. I decided to revisit all the untidy endings and waiting places of my abbreviated past. My life seems to revolve in a steady stream of relocations and tumultuous revisions. I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t like to sit still but I get annoyed at my lack of patience as well.

The selected road trips I took over the past year felt like impulsive drunken drives through the crowded attic of someone else's mind. Old highways and forgotten side streets littered the rusty landscapes and foggy memories. Memorable reunions were only an annoying reminder of how much time had slipped away while I was sleepwalking. The loud sounds of vital music and dim lights of seedy city life were nothing new but took on a whole new meaning when I actually paused for a minute to accept the unnerving ambiguity of it all. Contradictions and instability give life necessary meaning and detail. Nothing should ever be clear, concise, or perfect. As I slithered my way through the perceived fucked upness of my former years I realized it was perfect just the way it was.

I like to look back at the end of the year and acknowledge the sights and sounds that made the time unique. Punk rock and horror movies are two of my favorite pastimes. I find myself gravitating towards more new cinema than music. It was a brutally uninspired year for new music but a few gems still appeared. Modern horror offered up a few nice surprises as well. Art is unpredictable and so is life. I have a feeling that 2019 will have some truly inspired insanity to offer. Here is my personal top ten for 2018.

10. Future Girls – Bowing Out

9. Summer of 84

8. Surbort - Let's be in Love

7. The Strangers: Prey at Night

6. The Blankz - Sissy Glue

5. Hell House LLC II

4. honeychain - Happy House

3. A Quiet Place

2. Amyl and the Sniffers - Cup of Destiny

1. Hereditary

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Losing Kind

It's easy to get lost in the current swamp of punk rock. A lot of half hearted impersonators have polluted the art form with "product" and uninspired mediocrity. Where are the songs? Where's the energy? Where's the individualism that made it so appealing? Instead of a focus on songwriting and style, it seems to be more caught up in the cult of likability. The Losing Kind are on a mission to change this dire state of affairs and return punk to its eloquent and psychotic natural state. Their latest self titled EP delivers the goods with six scorching tracks of Ramones damaged back-alley punk.

Upbeat and restless, the bratty bourbon singed vocals blend gritty melodies with slashing power chords and uninhibited attitude. Down and out, going and gone, the lyrics address the never ending bad luck cycle of day to day existence. The raging punk rock accompaniment defines the tumultuous ebb and flow of fate with concise dynamics and reckless intensity. Fusing the classic sounds of the Freeze and Zero Boys with the drunken swagger of the Humpers and Joneses, this release rocks hard from start to finish. Your new weekend blackout soundtrack. Get with it and check it out.

The Losing Kind (Facebook)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Liquid Sky: Revisiting the Ultimate Restoration

Radiant and impulsive, the disorienting world of Liquid Sky provides an unnerving pin-eyed look into the extraterrestrial terrain of early 1980s New York City club and underground life. Upon its original 1982 release, the film fascinated and appalled audiences. High art disguised as a cult classic. Surrealism collides with harsh reality as the simple sordid pleasures in life unveil their heart of darkness. This voyeuristic and jagged journey dreams its way through gratuitous obsession, lethal sex, and mind quivering fashion with a fevered uniqueness that is hard to categorize.

When I saw this as a young teenager in the late 80s, I was totally freaked out and obsessed with its strangeness. Junkies, models, aliens, and blaring minimalist new wave rhythms induced sensory overload. Life in the big city was full of sex, tons of drugs, violence, and cutthroat attitude. Was this a destination, someone's dark fantasy, or someone else's high definition nightmare? As with all genuine art, the interpretation depends on the viewer. The gracefully distorted narrative allows the subconscious to crackle and burn within its decadent perspective. The only movie I know of that truly depicts a killer orgasm.

Liquid Sky is slang for heroin. It’s everything and nothing. Happiness only lasts until the next time you need more. Anne Carlisle, who also co-wrote the film, stars in the dual role of high fashion model Margaret and her drug fiend nemesis Jimmy. Aliens, traveling by UFO, arrive in NYC to get their hands on the ultimate opiate fix. The search for the perfect high is universal and knows no boundaries. The aliens soon discover that the chemical released in the brain during orgasm achieves an even better high. Margaret's apartment of continuous destructive partners proves to be the perfect breeding ground for obtaining their stash of chemicals. The only problem is the mounting death toll that comes after casual sex.

Blurred sexuality and self destructive relationships detail the permanent neon landscape. Margaret finds empowerment within the chaotic gloss of weaponized fashion and endless depraved partying. The addictive dissonance and hard truths on display make this a mind bending must see. This visually striking film is even more stunning in its new restored format now available on Blu-ray courtesy of cult movie experts Vinegar Syndrome. The groundbreaking direction of Slava Tsukerman and the unforgettable cinematography of Yuri Neyman take on a new life for a new generation. The fine details and sordid nuances pop and scream wildly with a rejuvenated urgency.

In my extended time on this strange planet, I’ve found that society doesn’t really evolve, it just mutates into bizarre new variations. In a world of Instagram, Tinder, and unending feeds seeking to fulfill instant gratification, this cinematic oddity and masterpiece is more relevant than ever in its examination of the hedonistic and tortured human psyche.

Vinegar Syndrome

Monday, December 25, 2017

Top Ten Music Releases 2017

This past year was a bewildering one, filled with super highs and all time lows. That's the way it goes sometimes. I almost died, suffered temporary amnesia, and went through the worst depression of my life. The good news is I lived through it all thanks to incredible friends and incredible music. I'm glad I don't give a shit about politics, I find reality and writing my own narrative much more seductive. Go out and live your life or die trying. Keeping that in mind, here is what moved me in 2017.

10. The Dahmers - In The Dead of Night
This horror influenced Swedish band serves up an interesting blend of nuanced speed glam and trashy 77 punk. A very solid full length that will slowly or quickly get stuck in your head. Sort of like an amphetamine fueled hybrid of the Adverts and Cheap Trick but better.

9. Daddy Issues - In Your Head
A digital single that caught my attention at the beginning of summer when I was randomly searching for something new in my Friday release radar. This all female trio knows how to write a pop song with bite. Crisp production and fuzz heavy guitars dominate the recording. Classy chord transitions and a bouncy haunting vocal make this track worthy of repeated listens.

8. Sweet Knives - S/T
Alicja Trout's new band. if you dig the Lost Sounds and River City Tanlines, you'll dig this. Recommended to me by Matt Coppens of Terminal Boredom fame. If you're ever looking for new sounds, ask him. He's always in the know.

7. Pide Ayuda - Funeral Marches for Droids
The soundtrack to the nightmarish movie that only exists in your head. This Brooklyn duo serves up a cerebral reconstructive surgery that fuses the mind of John Carpenter with the spirit of the Screamers. There is deep hidden meaning in the sound swirl but only if you're open to it. Get hip and listen now.

6. Mike Spent Black Belt - I am a Lion/Sun Goes Grey
Mike Spent of Spent Idols fame returns to the fold with a brand new sound and brand new band with members from the Dogs and Guns N Roses. This catchy single is a departure from Mike's normal brand of 77 snot punk and his most accomplished work to date. Influences are all over the place on this one and the genre blending is a success on all levels.

5. Baby Brains - Eat Your Heart Out ep
I was turned on to this band not too long ago and it turns out they're from Harrisburg, PA of all places. I guess I'm still in denial that I actually live here now and should look for signs of life every now and then. This extended play is the sleeper hit of the year. Phil Spector sophistication infused with Stooges intensity. Brooding melodies and reverb-soaked guitars provide the perfect meltdown.

4. honeychain - Crushed
The 1st full length from this Los Angeles power trio. A twisted journey through the ups and downs of modern day romance. Upbeat and moody, this is a heavy dose of power punk pop fury. Fans of the Muffs and Go-Go's take note.

3. Nature Boys - Nature Boys 3
The Tortured Tongues recommended this album to me and it did not disappoint. 10 tracks of eerie rough and tumble garage punk. A contagious blend of early LA punk desperation and Dead Moon explosiveness. The vocal style is one of the most original I've heard in a long time. The slithery surf punk guitar and menacing blues growl of the rhythm section create the quintessential after-hours molotov cocktail. Courtesy of Kansas City, Missouri.

2. White Reaper - The World's Best American Band
A non-stop fireball of power pop with new wave sensibility rages on the latest full length from this Louisville, Kentucky rock n roll band. Serious rock action with a tasty bubblegum sneer, it's hard to find a bad track on here. Cool retro noise with a nice dose of modern gloss and loaded with hooks. Check out the stellar single "Judy French".

1. The Side Eyes - So Sick
Dangerhouse records on steroids. The band is red-hot and the sun drenched snarl of Astrid McDonald puts this one over the top. Short and sweet, this 25 minute album will kick your ass. Red Kross' Steven McDonald provides a cutthroat production that adds flavor in all the right places. Stream it now and pick up the vinyl while you're at it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hate This Place (2nd Sequence)

I woke up next to a blonde girl with frizzy hair, smeared makeup, and a full bottle of Rolling Rock still clenched in her hand. I didn’t feel alarmed or worried, mostly because I immediately spotted two unopened beers on the scratched wood floor next to my side of the bed. My oncoming anxiety attack was put to rest as I grasped the severity of my odd situation. I don’t know her but she obviously liked me enough to take me home. I played a gig the night before and she was collecting the cover charge at the show. I didn’t make it past the first song. It didn't matter because my head had been swimming off and on in a cheap liquor sea of distraction and doubt for the past month. I was loaded out of my mind from a deafening booze binge I had been on the last few days. I quietly opened a bottle of beer while scanning the room for clues to the history of my new friend. All I could find was an overdue bill with her name on it. Perfect, now I can communicate with her and drink in peace as I sort through my scattered thoughts and blurry sense of self.

A few feet in front of the bed was a makeshift front entrance. A battered set of French doors with a broken chain lock barely holding its position in the off white walls. I could hear voices occasionally drift in from a nearby hallway. This wasn’t good. I like to keep my existence as anonymous as possible when I'm unsure of myself. I am a very paranoid person when it comes to privacy. I had to wake her up and let her know we were exposed and almost out of beer. It was close to noon and I felt like a melting vat of combustible chemicals. After I nervously nudged her to wake up, she opened her eyes, sat up almost instantly and chugged her beer in about 30 seconds. She said we would walk up to the Mexican restaurant nearby and slam Coronas all afternoon.

She then asked “So do you want to move to Columbus? You can just live with me I guess. I just quit my job two days ago. We can worry about that shit later. Let's get drunk.“

I said “Well I guess so, I’m already here and my life sucks so yeah, this is where I'll live for now. Thanks.“

That was that. All of the long torturous months leading up to this moment of instant resolution seemed like such a useless stretch of time. Instead of anticipating my worthless future while constantly living in my head, I could just drive blindly into it and let the ensuing crash make up my mind for me. I didn’t feel like announcing my new life change to anyone. In fact, I didn’t want anyone to know where I was. It felt so invigorating and eerily intoxicating to just vanish into thin air. I felt like I was finally freed from my previous world of predictable consequences, bargain bin teenage drama, and excruciating small city boredom. I wondered why it felt like I was the only one having a mid twenty-something life crisis. It didn’t really matter because I wouldn’t care to listen about it anyway. At that moment I realized I didn’t have my wallet, a change of clothes, or any idea of who I was actually staying with. I'll figure that shit out later... (to be continued)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

honeychain - Crushed (review and interview)

honeychain unleashes a tidal wave of pop fury and rock’n’roll rapture on their hot blooded new release Crushed. Passion and betrayal burn wildly through the amplifiers while the heartfelt harmonies flow like a cool breeze wrapping itself around the hedonistic beauty of Los Angeles. With the flirtatious bite of Beauty and the Beat and scratchy grandeur of Blonder and Blonder, Crushed delivers a seductive tapestry of modern day pop wizardry.

Hillary Burton continues to evolve as an intriguing and truly unique songwriter. Soon to be summertime anthems “Crushed”, “Messy Love”, and “Some Other Girl” twist and shout with shimmering choruses and unrestrained 60s garage finesse. Kim Shattuck’s intimate and raw production adds a new dimension to the band’s sleek and stylish sound.

“When I Stumble” and “Ready for the World to End” jangle and gently shake with Deborah Harry sass and Buddy Holly vibrations. The infectious “Three Horizons” devises a moody magnetic pull that relies on the band’s skillful rhythm section and carefully colored notes to create an unusual detour in their already impressive catalog. From the red hot album opener “Bombs Away” to the hypnotic acoustic closer “Welcome to My Life”, honeychain delivers an unforgettable listening experience.

( read a conversation I recently had with Hillary Burton about the new album below )

It has been 3 years since your last record Futura, the world in 2017 seems to be a more paranoid and impatient place. Is the romance of rock n roll dead? If not, what role should it play in our ultrawired existence?

(HB) I think now, as much as ever, rock n roll is vital; not dead at all. Essential. An ultrawired existence requires a soundtrack!

If you had to describe your new record in three words, what would they be?

Loud, passionate, storytelling.

Crushed is an awesome collection of carefully crafted power pop rock. It has an understated aggression in its delivery. With themes of alienation, love, and betrayal, was there an underlying feeling or experience that you wanted to convey throughout these songs?

I didn't set out to convey a specific experience per se, rather i wanted this record to be a collection of songs that invoke varied emotions. All of those themes you noted are definitely ones that infiltrate my songwriting. Sometimes from personal experiences and other times from trying to understand what other people are going through.

“Messy Love”, the first single and video, is super catchy summertime bliss. It was embraced by your fans and the legendary KROQ. Is commercial success a goal or just a nice surprise?

It's a goal to share our stuff with as many people who will listen. I'm super proud of this record and my bandmates and I think the songs are strong. Commercial success, such that we reach a lot of people, is definitely a goal.

I especially love the songs “Crushed” and “Three Horizons”. Can you tell me the story behind these two stellar tracks...

That's cool you like these two. They are super fun to play live. Crushed has a bit of vulnerability in the lyrics but takes that vulnerability, (the expression of ones shortcomings) and 'i won't sit around just to watch you leave' and basically in the end is about me saying F you, 'sometimes being crushed isn't enough' in that i will always land on my feet.

Three Horizons is about the realization shortly after being with someone that it just isn't going to work. It's not autobiographical. Although there was this one blind date...It's really just influenced by my observations and putting myself in the place of people who have to go through a lot of meaningless, short-lived romances.

You do an amazing cover of Kathy Valentine's “Some Other Girl” on the new record. When did you first hear the original and what inspired you to cover it?

I bought the 45 record by The Textones (her pre Go-Go's days band) when i was like 13 or so. I immediately fell in love with the song. Kim (Shattuck) actually took me to an engagement at the grammy museum and introduced me to Kathy and as coincidence would have it, it was not long after i had made Kim a mix CD of cool tunes (yeah, i still make mix CDs for friends like when I was in jr high making mix tapes ha ha) and i had put the song on it. I gushed to Kathy how i loved that song. Fast forward a few months and after I had sent Kathy a download of the FUTURA CD, we, honeychain, opened for Kathy's current band, The Bluebonnets, in Los Angeles. Then a conversation took place, maybe via email I can't remember exactly, but I asked what she thought about honeychain covering Some Other Girl and she was super supportive. She really likes the version we did and has been kind enough to mention it on twitter and facebook. The Go-Go's have always been one of my biggest influences and she has always been one of my favorite songwriters so to cover a song she wrote and have her like it, is super surreal to me.

The band is now a power trio instead of a four piece. Do you find it easier or more difficult to deliver the songs live?

There are a few songs we can't do live as well without Emma (who was our bass player and back up vocalist and appears on the record but has since left the band to devote her time to political causes and candidates that she is passionate about). But most of the songs on both records sound super cool live as a power trio and Andre has done an awesome job jumping from guitar to bass and picking up some more back up vocals to boot. We, Loye, Andre and I also have a handful of new songs we've added to our set over the last few months. Whereas it was super cool when Andre was on guitar too, I'm now super spoiled being the only guitarist and therefore always being able to hear myself!!!

Do you feel that music is your full time occupation or do you prefer to have it as just one aspect of your life? What feeds your passion on a daily basis?

It's an integral part of my existence. Like oxygen. I always tell my kids that the greatest thing they can do with their lives is to make other people feel loved and i'm passionate about trying to reach people through music in that i've had some people tell me they've been brought to tears by songs (Than You) to having felt understood (Violet) and as a songwriter, connecting with people like that, drives my passion sometimes for sure as i'm actually pretty shy sometimes and not the best verbal communicator, so reaching people through songs is something i'm super thankful for.

Does new music inspire you or do you prefer to listen to the classics? What artists in your music library might surprise people?

I'm inspired by both older stuff and newer stuff. I love Patsy Cline to Greenday. I'm also fond of the (new) band Skating Polly and their very raw and almost innocent approach to their music and lyrics.

Surprises hmmm, I love Arctic Monkey and The Vines. I love old honky tonk. A few random songs in my collection people might find surprising:
Genius of Love - Tom Tom Club
My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson
Cry - Tammy Wynette

You also drum for the Pandoras. How did that come about and will you be recording new material with them?

I was asked to go on a tour of Europe with them when their drummer at the time, Sheri, was not able to. Kim knew I also play drums so she asked me. This was fall of 2015. I stayed on as their drummer. We recorded some tunes together last year that, along with some tunes that were recorded with Sheri before I joined the band, will be released later this year. Stay tuned!!

What does honeychain have planned for the summer and when is the next single dropping?

The title track, CRUSHED, is the follow up to the first single, Messy Love, and people have been loving it, which is super rewarding.

We have our record release show scheduled for June 17th at Th Redwood in downtown LA, which is a place we've played at a lot and we love it there. Joining us are our pals The Touchies and Kim Shattuck is going to do a special solo set.

We are also going on a mini tour (Vegas and Arizona) with The Touchies in August which is going to be all kinds of fun.

We also just tracked our cover of the Material Issue song Going Through Your Purse which will be released later this year for the Girlsville / Nerve Centre Records Cassette Day comp.

-Kevin McGovern

honeychain official


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Radiohearts - Daytime Man

I haven't been too thrilled with new music in the last few months, there are just too many reissues of reissues floating around and a glut of auto tuned, disgustingly overproduced reunion records. It's an annoying trend that highlights the lack of original new music actually worthy of a listen. My response to this is a new found obsession with 1970s one hit FM wonders. I've always been fascinated by the creepiness and hollow soul of the decade I was born. The world was new and everything looked so lopsided and strange. The radio stations were eerie and fascinating. It's like they were speaking in acid dipped tongues on those muddled sound waves. Saccharine atrocities committed by Paper Lace, Nick Gilder, and Sugarloaf. I swear to god, it's always raining and permanently gray with Jonestown, Guyana burned into the square TV screen whenever I try to locate my memories. Discovering new weirdness in forgotten train wrecks is a gratifying distraction.

When I think of 1980, everything is sleek, bright, and neon just like one of my first records, K-Tel's “Rock 80”. This mind blowing compilation contained classic and crisp compositions by the Knack, Joe Jackson, the Ramones, and Blondie. A refreshing blast of radioactive candy to relieve me from the bell bottomed dreariness of the Me Decade. The latest release by Long Beach, California's Radiohearts would fit right in with the stellar lineup of “Rock 80”. This five song power pop dynamite is an impressive collection of eclectic punked out pop. While other bands bands in the genre continue to water themselves down in search of imaginary fame, the Radiohearts play in the red with a raw burning intensity.

The lead track “Daytime Man” is an explosive number that fuses the rough and rootsy melodies of Impatient Youth with the reckless sting of early Damned. “Alright” blasts even harder in the anthem department with it's Cheap Trick-esque structure and classy double stop guitar soloing. This extended play does not let up or disappoint. The hits are catchier than ever on this release. “Wasting Time” and "Know That Song” are some of the band's best songs to date. The guitars are edgier and the choruses punch harder. If you thought power poppers couldn't punk out, you're dead wrong. “No More” is a deadly shot of Thunders rock damage, wired to kill with its safety pinned purity and wired rhythm. If you dig this, you'll be all over their earlier releases. A worthy addition to your record collection.


Wanda Records

-Kevin McGovern