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New releases & reissues Dec 2012
Update from October: Quicksand is touring in 2013, they announced last week. Looks like they are hitting the south, the mid-west and the west coast. Last time I saw them was 1993 or 94 at City Gardens in Trenton, New Jersey. It was packed wall to wall with people, I remember they played Clean Slate and people went apeshit. Everyone in that room was completely covered in sweaty grime, that’s how City Gardens got it’s great reputation. At some point later in your night, you always ended up back at home smelling like garbage. In other news, last week in Washington DC Dag Nasty played their first show since July 1988 and had original singer Shawn Brown singing, hopefully they’ll post some video soon. Nobody could have seen that one coming, not even the pig with golden wings who flys around heaven, handing out free alcohol. And Kingface and Government Issue played as well. As far as Big Takeover news, I’m working on transcribing an interview with Hawthorne Heights that I did this summer. Also wrapping up a lengthy piece about the lost Black Sabbath acetates which should be up soon.
Entrance – Latitudes 12” (Southern)
Three song session from summer 2012, a follow up to their Fine Flow 12” from earlier this year. Record opens with a twelve minute jam called “New Orleans” that unfolds slowly and beautifully, in the way that only Guy Blakeslee can write. A co-worker of mine once identified Entrance as “that gypsy rock band”, which always make me smile because there IS something old-world about Guy’s harmonies. Like maybe you’re not sure which direction he’s gonna go sometimes, both lyrically or on stage. The other two songs, “Requiem for Jucy” and “Last Kind Words” are both upbeat psych rock and just prove how strong the band has become as a three piece unit. Their relentless touring and dedication to playing live has given them time to build a cohesive foundation, one that never ceases to amaze. The three songs are available as a clear yellow 12” from Southern and on CD (from the band and from Southern’s Latitudes imprint) in a screen-printed cardboard sleeve.
Bad Brains – Into the Future (Megaforce)
New LP featuring thirteen songs, four of which are dub songs and the remaining nine are basically a continuation of the rock punk fusion from 2007’s Build A Nation. Undoubtedly it’s stressful to make a Bad Brains record, but this may be the first time in years that it doesn’t show. Darryl, Dr. Know and Earl sound tighter than they have in years, they pull deep into their bag of tricks on songs like the de-tuned “Earnest Love”. The two fastest songs are “Yes I” and “Come Down”, both sound like they would fit on Rock For Light. I read a review that said this was “a return to form” for them, which is dumb because Bad Brains never had a form. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for past two decades, you already know that they make their own form. Each one of their records sounds different because each showcases a stage in their progress as musicians. They can’t return to A7 in 1980 or return to Madame’s Organ as stoned punks in leather jackets, they can only go forward. That’s why the record is called Into The Future. Believe it or not, Bad Brains are one of the longest surviving punk bands around, navigating their way through three decades of punk rock together. In the very purposefully misquoted words of De La Soul, “the top of the game are the people producing throughout their career”. Not the ones who made one seven inch record in 1981 and then broke up and then finished school and got a real job . They mean the ones who kept making going at any cost, to any injury, personal or professional. That is the top of the game.
Rites of Spring – Six Song Demo (Dischord)
Six song ten inch from Dischord. Been waiting on this one for years, so psyched that it finally gets to see the light of day. In 1984, Rites of Spring recorded this tape at Inner Ear, it was released in limited copies on cassette as the “Mike Fellows Is Dead” tape, apparently because Mr. Fellows was breaking up the band to attend college. Could be wrong about that, but that’s how I recall hearing the story. Guy & company’s earlier band, Insurrection, never recorded anything proper in the studio, so this is really Guy Picciotto and Rites of Spring at their earliest, most primal stages. The tape was (up until now), one of the most sought after demo tapes in tape trading circles amongst punk and HC collectors, known only for it’s strange title and relative obscurity. I got mine in 2001 from Mr. Dave Brown of the fine state of Virginia, he is, like I, a loyal Dischord collector and stalwart follower of all things DC. His copy came from an unnamed Dischord associate, which made mine second generation. So I can safely say that I am very familiar with both the songs and the recording itself. And again, I’m so psyched to see this on vinyl, it’s hard to contain my orgasms. The first point of discussion is the remastering job, it needs to be heard to be believed. I can’t even get over how incredible this thing sounds. Secondly. If you like ROS, then you need to hear what they sounded like unpolished, because it’s incredible and highly original punk. Yet they were up to something totally un-punk, a kind of heavy rock that was distilled from the same water of punk and hardcore. Personally I think their sound is groundbreaking and explains why people still gravitate towards them. Sure you can stamp them as progenitors of emo, I don’t mind, it’s half true anyway. Third, between each of these six songs is not silence, but instead some kind of crazy studio noise. The first time I heard the tape I thought it sounded like a reel-to-reel player. But, as shit unfolds, it’s apparent that it’s not just noise and is actually someone talking. The last song on the tape is By Design, as it fades away with a ringing chord, you can finally hear what that voice is saying and it only happens once. It says, very clearly, “Mike Fellows Is Dead”. One thing I love about Don Zientara and Dischord releases is the way they leave these “trimmings” on. They leave snippets of studio chatter, snippets of outtakes, weird little noises on the finished mixes, and I love it. It’s part of their aesthetic. My favorite take on here is probably Hain’s Point and Remainder, the later of which sounds heavy and punishing, it’s chorus and background vocals still not quite formed. Kinda interesting that the only way they approached background vocals (on Remainder and Persistant Vision) at this juncture (mid 1984) was the only way they knew: the punk way. The chants sound more like Youth Bridgade DC than they do The Three O’Clock. At one point, Picciotto even curses, screaming “Oh shit!” directly into the mic. How very un-emo of him. Big thanks for Dischord for making this available on vinyl, really looking forward to more archival releases from them.
Sonic Youth – Smart Bar Chicago 1985 (Goofin’ Records)
Fourteen song live recording, first song (Halloween) sounds like it was sourced from an audience tape, while the rest of it is clearly from the soundboard. Pretty amazing setlist on this one with a great selection of material that fits squarely between the Bad Moon Rising-era and the Evol era (they even bust out Brother James and the title track from the Kill Yr Idols EP) but the real treat here is at the tail end of the tape. Thurston Moore announces, “OK, this is the last song” as you hear people on the stage saying “I want to dance” and “If you want to dance – dance now” as the band stalls on stage. Then Thurston says, “Into the groove. OK this is a rock song. It’s from our album called Anarchy on St. Marks Place”, as the band rips into an epic nine minute version of Expressway To Yr Skull. This show is interesting from a historical perspective as well, it’s kind of the last hurrah of their noise era. About a year later they played at CBGB’s on July 27th and their setlist was mostly new material from Evol, with Brother James and Expressway being the only holdouts from the noise era. Other great tracks from this show are Making The Nature Scene (which also appears on their other live LP from Battery Park), I Love Her All The Time and a very early raw version of Secret Girl, which is here in it’s primitive form as just a kind of pleasant piano loop, showing none of the grit and distortion which would pockmark the final version.
Negative Degree – Not Dead Yet cassette tape (self-released)
Five song cassette tape from my current favorite HC band, made especially for their shows in Toronto. Has four new songs and Discharge cover, pretty sure some (or all) of these are going to be on their next 7” EP which should be out soon. Had the chance to hear the session tapes recently, even unmixed they sounded pretty incredible. So look out for that on Deranged Records.
The Men – Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones)
Third LP from The Men, recorded in the summer of 2011. I really like the shoegaze elements on this, although they do seem to be mellowing out significantly with time. Gone are the heavy-duty drone punk dirges, the ones reserved for the not-so-squeamish. In their place is a jangely, progressive noise rock, some new ideas (changing tempos, slide guitar, etc) and some new vocal ideas, all of them work really good. I have a prediction. I predict that so many joints will be rolled on this record that if you laid them end to end they would probably go around the world twice.
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs (Richter Scale / Superball)
Despite the somewhat confusing title, this is actually a new LP from Trail of Dead. It was recorded in Hanover, Germany and features some 20 odd songs (depending on which version you pick up) on double LP on 180 gram vinyl, CD and expanded CD with bonus tracks. Can’t say enough about the early career of this Austin Texas noise rock band. Lately they’ve undergone some changes in lineup and sound, but all hope isn’t lost yet. The aggressive layer of polyrhythms that Trail once championed has been disassembled, made into this kind of sprawling rock. Luckily the wall-of-guitars sound is still intact.
Lungfish – ACR 1999 (Dischord)
Ten songs recorded in 1999 in Baltimore, four of which have never been released. The band scrapped the session and switched studios, moving to Don Zientara’s Inner Ear late in the year to make what would eventually become Necrophones. This session is actually sounds great, I kind of like the dynamic they found in ACR. The four previously unheard songs: “Symbiosis”, “Screams of Joy”, “Aesop” and “I Will Walk Between You” are all worth checking out, especially if you’re a Lungfish nut. This release just reminds me that it’s been almost eight years since Feral Hymns came out and that lots of people are anxious to hear what happens next.
Tim Hecker / Daniel Lopatin – Instrumental Tourist (Software)
Collaboration between Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) and Tim Hecker, one of my favorite solo artists on Kranky. If you like ambient music or post-rock you need to hear what Tim Hecker is doing because it’s highly progressive and free of pretension. This record is a wild masterpiece, it’s all over the place and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Hecker’s last solo LP, Ravedeath 1972 is still on steady rotation in our house. It is magically dense and loud, something like Nudge meets Future Sound of London (without all the horrid techno beats) and like all Hecker’s recent work, presents itself in a way that is muted but inviting. It’s almost like he’s challenging you to get lost inside of his work, which is usually what happens whether you intended it to or not.
American Horror Story – Season One
A captivating, well written show that is on television. What a novel concept. The first season of the show is essentially a twelve episode arch about the residents of a haunted house in LA. It airs on FX (also available on Netflix), created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, who worked on Nip/Tuck (don’t care) and Glee (I would never) but don’t let that scare you, this is sublimely filmed and very well written, something like Rosemary’s Baby meets Re-Animator meets one of those B-movie films from the 70’s. You know the ones. The ones that aren’t available on DVD and have mysteriously fallen out of print. Through abject depravity and a mixture of taboo subjects, the show simply isn’t afraid to actually scare you. Let’s put it that way so I don’t have to discuss the latex-clad rapists, slashings and dead children. In an era of formulaic screen writing where every character is love torn, every rich doctor is languid, where every episode ends with a heartfelt voiceover during a five minute emo ballad, it’s great to see that some people still remember how to do anything else, let alone something groundbreaking and memorable.
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