***** ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ****
This blog will no longer exist at this address. No-Core now has a new home. Please update links:
The direct link to the blog section is:
(because there's also a podcast and a pupal-stage distro store)
If you are subscribed to the feed, then you don't have to change anything. In fact, the switch-over has already occurred and you won't even see this post in the feed at all.
The design of the new website is still shaping up so the landing page is pretty crude. The podcast will also shortly be liberated from its podomatic.com hosting and start looking like it's part of the site.
DON'T LOOK HERE FOR MORE NEW POSTS. GO TO THE NEW ADDRESS.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
***** ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ****
Friday, July 10, 2009
How can you "visit" a blog and podcast in the real world?
Glad you asked. This Saturday, July 11th, I will be at the NY Eye and Ear Fest record fair! I will be selling some real records (and tapes and CDs) in person, of the type that might appeal to No-Core listeners and readers. Plus I will just be hanging out and chatting with anyone who is willing to do so. Maybe even handing out business cards.
This goes down at 92YTribeca in NYC (200 Hudson at the corner of Canal) and the record fair starts at 4PM and is FREE. There are also bands and films which cost money and the whole event goes until midnight. There are also shows Friday and Sunday (you already missed Thursday). Details here:
The brand new No-Core website just might be ready in time... (http://www.no-core.net) ...but don't go look at it yet! It's still in an ugly pre-development phase.
See you Saturday!
Friday, June 19, 2009
This is a glorious collision of angular guitar parts, analog synth sweeps and bleeps, sax blurts, and drumming in that complex endless-fill style. And some real singing. (I like me some screeching or hollering too, but it's nice to hear a different approach here.) Oh yeah, and TUNES.
I told a friend who attended a recent Gay Beast show with me that what I loved about them was how they could make challenging and amazingly complex music and also fill it with catchy hooks. After the show, this person, who is far more inclined than I am to listen to "pop" music, said that "maybe it's catchy for music that YOU listen to." Well, point taken. It can be a matter of perspective. Maybe Gay Beast is what Deerhoof sounds like to your average indie rock fan. (if I had pull-quotes, that would be it)
Still, I maintain that the hooks are there. Even to me, they seemed a little hard to "get" on first listen, but now after my 20th listen or so I find myself singing as I walk down the street, "Don't sweep me a-a-aah - don't sweep me under the rug - I am only human!" I have even woken up with Gay Beast songs running through my head.
And there may be the best selling point for "second wave" - it will bring great rewards upon many, many repeated listens. By the time you have the songs figured out, you will find that you've fallen in love with them. This ranks high as the album most worth your hard-earned dollars. All the more amazing that band singer/keyboardist/saxophonist Danimal gave this to me in trade, after he tried to pay for MY disc which I handed him. Could there be a more stand-up dude? (At the aforementioned show. Photos posted soon. I cannot guarantee this trading trick will work more than once.)
FREE MP3 SAMPLE: "eeexxxpppaaannndddiiinnnggg"
Bonus trivia: see if you can catch the DEVO tune semi-hidden on the album.
LP and CD on Skin Graft Records
Here's a video of them killing it at the Cake-Shop back in Oh-6.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
And not just from some unknown punks neither, but some danged "luminaries."
XBXRX have made their new album, "Un Usper," available for "FREE" download direct from their website:
This album is a nice mish-mash of punk rock moves, noise-rock attitude, free-jamming, synth sounds, and is that a xylophone? Nice.
Those quotes around free are, however, intentional. While you are permitted to download it for free, XBXRX ask that you make a donation in return. I know that sometimes it feels like digital music should be completely free, but I reasoned with myself as follows: I would blow 4 bucks just to make a round-trip subway ride to the record store, and that's more than most bands on a label get from each CD sale, so heck, it seems reasonable to throw those few dollars to XBXRX and support really, truly DIY music. But hey, don't let me discourage you from donating more... or less...
Next up, AIDS Wolf "Pas Rapport":
It's a tour-only tape of improv jams, or maybe they're not totally improvised. The boombox quality recording is not too much different from the blown-out sound on their album proper and the tracks are all punctual full-band jams. So if you liked the albums, you will definitely want to grab this while the download link still works.
Get it here!
AIDS Wolf ask for nothing in return, but you might consider following their blog (http://aidswolfs.blogspot.com) so you can find out about things like this, and of course go see them when they come around on tour!
Thursday, April 30, 2009
This is a quality that I love about Foot Village, the willingness to be, in many ways, completely absurd. This band of 4 drummer/shouters and no other instruments is like one of those crazy weekend concept bands that might form and play one show and be forgotten because it was ridiculous to begin with. Well, that's what I would do on weekends. In fact, I feel like I've been in several bands something like Foot Village, but none of them have been carried to the point that FV have, with national and international tours and several albums, for which I wholeheartedly support them and cheer them on. At the same time, I often think "I can't believe anyone besides me likes this band!" Even the band themselves apparently have these "objective moments" because at the very end of the track "Race Till the End of Food" one of the band members says "I cannot believe this is our song."
That track, as well as a few others here, actually takes the form of a comedy sketch, with a character called "Hungee Bear" and other forest creatures having a race, till the end of food apparently. After a "ready, set, go," the bulk of the 10-minute track is a cacophony of drum flailing, with the levels way in the red and sounding like total square-wave harsh noise. Again, a willingness to be completely absurd.
This is a b-side collection (well, actually compiling non-album tracks from a variety of splits and limited releases, but I call these b-side collections), and b-side albums are almost always my favorite albums by bands. The Jesus & Mary Chain's "Barbed Wire Kisses," Royal Trux's "Singles Live Unreleased." You just get a much wider variety of music for your money. And here we get some rougher early material, some remixes, some singles, and a couple more noise-based experimental tracks. The "singles" - which I think portray Foot Village doing what they do best, are my favorites, like "Clubtraxxx I-III" and "Bones." The remixes are my least favorite because they largely just sound like an original song by the "remixer" which samples Foot Village. "Crow Call" sounds like an Anavan song with Foot Village vocals and "The Power of HEALTH" largely sounds like a remix of the band HEALTH (which I'm guessing it also is) with a few Foot Village drums and vocals. On the other hand, the Jason Forrest remix of "Narc Party" keeps most of the elements of the original in place, and the track "3840 Ticks of the Soul" with Captain Ahab seems like it's genuinely some kind of remixing of the original.
This album seems to put the tracks in chronological order, with the remixes mostly stacked at the end, and that seems like a weird way to listen to me. I prefer the songs mixed up like those previously mentioned b-side examples. But hey, that's what this shuffle function is for I guess. In fact, I shuffled the album just now and got a playlist I like so much, I think I'm going to edit the mp3 tags and make this my new official listening order! That "Narc Party" remix came first, and the "Race Till the end of food" was placed last, which works perfectly. In case you want to do the same, here's my recommended listening order:
1. Narc Party (Jason Forrest Remix)
2. Chicken and Cheese 2
4. Follow Your Heart (Featuring Eco Morti)
6. Clubtraxxx I-III
7. The Power of HEALTH (Captain Ahab Remix)
8. Comparable Love in the Time of development
9. Crow Call (Anavan Remix)
10. 3840 Ticks of the Soul (Featuring Captain Ahab)
11. Psychic Connection
12. 420 (National Holiday)
14. Race Till the End of Food
CD available from Gilgongo Records
Foot Village on Last.fm
Foot Village on MySpace
Thursday, April 16, 2009
You know, with all the bands out there which sound the same and pull from exactly the same influences, this album by Made in Mexico is really refreshing - but at the same time they make it seem so easy. By peeking just outside of the noise-rock/indie-rock world for inspiration, they immediately come up with something totally unique. And at the same time, it's clear this is just what came naturally to the band too, not a contrived theme, but a natural progression.
Let me back up and do the back-story as succinctly as possible. Guitarist Jeff Schneider used to be in Arab on Radar, a no-wave styled band known for their high energy. The others also come from various Providence avant-rock bands. At first Made in Mexico was a pretty thumping, skronky affair. Then I saw them a few years back and without radically changing the basic elements of their sound, they had found their groove. Literally. They made a packed room of people at one of those CMJ showcase shows dance.
The influence that is heavily quoted and mentioned all over this album is reggaeton music, which is something like a recent cross-breed of hip-hop, dancehall, and salsa. You can read more at Wikipedia. The characteristic reggaeton beat is that "BOOM ch-BOOM chick" that starts off the track "For Your Own Good" on this album. Of course reggaeton is usually made with drum machines and doesn't usually feature shrill, metallic guitar playing. It also usually features rapping, not alternating kitten-soft and banshee-shrieked vocals.
So what we have here is a genuine mutant hybrid, not no-wave anymore, too weird to be punk rock, and definitely not legitimate reggaeton. But definitely in the tradition of punk bands that looked outside of their immediate neighborhood for inspiration and came up with something refreshing, like Public Image Limited or Gang of Four or even the Clash. Maybe even the Pixies, who similarly merged piercing guitars, a Spanish influence, and soft/scream vocals - but with rather different results.
I just love the thematic unity of this whole album, with the packaging reflecting the music and lyrics, all of which also take inspiration from Latin American radical revolutionary politics. I also really like the little musical interludes which feature riffs from songs elsewhere on the album, and "Mundo 1" even uses that siren sound that they always use on NYC's reggaeton radio station when they change from one song to the next. One of my favorite parts of the album is the last track, "March on La Migra." It starts our somewhat innocuous, but takes a left turn halfway through and becomes downright chilling by the end with singer Rebecca Mitchell screaming "Surely they want - human touch!" At least, I think that's what she's saying. Definitely ending on a high note.
Available on CD and LP from Skin Graft Records.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
I'm also excited to discover that they have some brand-brand-new songs (newer than the old-new "Half Control" album) up on their MySpace page, right here. The new songs sound maybe a little, "lighter?" Not in terms of psychological weight, they're still just as dark and heavy in that regard, but giving the instruments a little more room to breathe.
The band also reports that their South By Southwest shows went well, so we can safely conclude that their fans in Massachusetts and Rhode Island can expect great shows there this Friday and Saturday. (Feeling a little bad for expressing so much skepticism before.) Alright, and there's your annual dose of No-Core's "timely music news."
Monday, March 30, 2009
I also don't usually have any interest in Phish, or jam bands of that ilk, but here we have some kind of rare Phish concept album, covered in its entirety. Nat Hawks, mastermind of the Little Fury Things record label, got the idea to take a recording of this Phish piece, chop it into 100 segments of about 15 seconds to a minute and a half each, and get 100 different artists to cover each chunk.
I don't know about anyone else, but I have not heard much Phish and the chunk I heard sounded pretty indistinct. Random noodling without much of a tune to speak of, and some kind of rambling story being spoken over the top.
So it's kind of strange to me that the final result actually seems pretty cohesive and is a really enjoyable listen. I am willing to bet it's about a million times better than the source material. I don't know how much it turned out this way due to the selection of artists, or if everyone really did a decent job of keeping the vibe from the source material intact. Almost everyone is doing something experimental, ranging from loose rock to free-folk to electronic to ambient to whatever, but it all turns out pretty chill and trippy and a little edgy. Which happens to be the vibe of Little Fury Things in general also.
Many of the tracks blend smoothly into each other, some have distinct breaks in-between. At times I wish they were all merged and blended together a little more completely, but it would have been difficult since some artists seem to have covered their piece of music as though it were a stand-alone song, with a beginning and an end. I'm amazed this whole thing actually got completed, and I sort of suspect that several of the credited artists might actually be Nat under different aliases, but even if so, there are a huge variety of sounds and approaches at work here. Just a few of the credited names that seemed familiar to me: Scissor Shock, Holzkopf, say no to architecture, Teeth Mountain, Video Hippos, Robe., Yellow Crystal Star, Sperm Whales.
Anyway, this is a huge and totally weird project and I recommend checking it out.
Download it here.
Read more about it at Little Fury Things on MySpace.
And about that asterisk next to the word "free" above: Nat suggests that if you appreciate this, you might make a 5 or 10 dollar donation to Explore Charter School's (Brooklyn) trip fund http://www.firstgiving.com/exploretrips
Friday, March 13, 2009
Maybe someone reading this has seen Narwhalz perform before. This reader may wonder how I can use words like "evolved" and "refined" to describe an artist whose performances involve rolling on the floor while punching Gameboy buttons, humping Pomeranian stuffed animals, repeated "technical difficulties," and periods of extended, rambling, semi-surrealist, self-deprecating monologues that approach a form of MySpace-culture beat poetry. Meanwhile, the music is a torrent of chaotic videogame sounds in a fast-forward jumble.
These points are noted. However, just listen to this tape. There is an ebb and flow to this chaos. Long periods (relatively) of repetitive sounds almost start to hypnotize you before things explode and insanity breaks out. Then there's some time to catch your breath, the music settles down and starts to sound almost pretty, or Brian shares some words of wisdom before the next round. Then you start to notice that the music has the same pacing and flow as everything Brian writes, and everything he draws as well. Nothing is quite as random as it seems here. A lot of care has gone into putting the sounds on this tape together.
For another thing, unlike earlier recordings I have, this one is all at the same volume level, or at least it gets loud only when it's supposed to get loud. I also like how the vocals are mostly obscured by distortion, letting you believe that maybe he's screaming about some truly HARSH power electronics shit. Then there's one very clear part where he addresses Snoopy and you realize it's actually the same bizarre nonsense it always has been.
Bottom line, if you have seen Narwhalz and you thought it was amazing then you'll love this tape. It edits down and distills all the best sounding stuff and most successful moments. If you saw Narwhalz and thought it was the most inane bullshit ever, this tape JUST MIGHT CHANGE YOUR MIND ... maybe. Probably not. On Flish Records, nice yellow tape and full-color illustrated art.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Strangely however, I cant find anything flannel-ey about the sounds herein. In fact, I'd be far more likely to liken the sound to things metallic, electronic, or alien. This conjures up H.R. Giger settings in my mind, much of it sounding like what you'd expect to hear as you made the descent into the heart of some kind of scary, bio-mechanical mothership.
The album starts and ends with more rhythm-based tracks, the first one almost sounding like a drum machine run through effects, the last based on a fast pulsing sound that goes through some very Mincemeat or Tenspeed-like changes. (You might note that, both Smolen and MMOTS coming from the same Philadelphia scene, the influence likely runs both ways) In the middle, the album comes closer to soundscapes, filled with grinding machines, lasers, dripping goo, and mechanical reverb. Rhythmic elements still crop up throughout in the form of pulses, flutters, and very loosely looped sounds. Like the soundtrack to a surrealist, industrial, sci-fi/horror film.
I really like how this is composed as an album, many different tracks with a different sound to each, just less than 30 minutes altogether, opening and closing with the more "catchy" tracks. Makes for great repeat listening. Dave Smolen's performance at I.N.C. was also fantastic, based on many of the same sci-fi sounds, but gradually layering them up into a complex mess.
CDR from Malleable Records.
Dave Smolen live video!