Saturday, March 21, 2020

Lost In Umeå Hardcore (90s and 00s period) special post part 1: Introduction and Step Forward

Note: I guess the lockdown is driving me a little bit crazy...

Coucou, les chaton.ne.s! We're back with the highly anticipated first special post of 2020: Lost In Umeå Hardcore (90s and 00s period). This entry was supposed to be published yesterday but I had some technical and logistical difficulties and, well, I have to admit that even this lockdown due to this COVID-19 pandemic is stressful as fuck because not many people out there is capable of control themselves. I'm kinda habitué.e. aux confinements but this one has had so much impact on the media that you can breathe desperation and confusion every goddamn minute. Don't forget to stay calm, take care of yourselves and your own circles and try to be solidaire.s. with those who have difficulties to withstand all of this (if possible)...Well, let's forget about that just a little moment with this humble entry... 

Now, I also have to admit that I have many, many years trying to make this special post but either I forget about it or I write about something else. Ha ha ha, sorry. But, well, the time fina-fuckin'-lly has come. So, what's all the fuzz about this small town from Sweden? If you're into 90s hardcore you may know names like Refused and Abhinanda. Guess what? They're from Umeå. Unlike other areas from their native country, most of these bands were more interested in american hardcore (mostly youth crew and the early stages of metalcore) rather than crust, d-beat or even death metal. The vegan straight edge mindset, probably a key element in both 90s american and european hardcore, was prominent and, unlike other hardcore counterparts, these swedish ones were into politics (notably Guy Debord's writings) and participated to different direct action performances such as demonstrations and manifestos as well. Finally, this hardcore scene surprisingly is so praised in their hometown that's now considered as part of their cultural heritage and also an important element of rock history in Sweden. And, yes, everyone knows who Dennis Lykzen, Refused's vocalist, is and even many have his phone number ha ha. If you want to know a little bit more about this intriguing scene, you can read Klas Sivertson's Swedish Hardcore: A Documentation of Photos from the Scene Between 1992-2002 and Linda Lurve's Umeå Hardcore 1993-1994 photobooks and watch the UxÅ documentary. Highly recommended.     

Finally, I think I'll spend 4 or 5 entries for covering the Umeå's hardcore scene during the 90s and early 00s. For this particular entry, we'll start off  with Step Forward, probably the first hardcore punk band in the town. And, of course, for this special post, I have some interesting surprises under the sleeve for your maximum entertainment. Just wait and see. Don't worry that I'll publish other entries as well during the next days. En la variedad está el placer, no? With all that written, let's begin.       

Step Forward - It Did Make A Difference discography


As I previously mentioned you, Step Forward probably was the first hardcore punk band in Umeå. They only released two demo cassettes Does It Make A Difference and I Am Me (Umeå Hardcore Records (Sweden), 1990) and only live performed at Mariehems UG in their hometown. Regarding the sound, the band was more into youth crew acts such as Side By Side, Youth Of Today and Bold (some tracks also slightly teasing with thrashcore) with short, fast and loud songs. Most of the lyrics are mostly about straight edge lifestyle and some others with more political content denouncing the horrors of capitalism and racism, among others. Finally, this discography (Desperate Fight Records (Sweden), 1996) contains the aforementioned demos, their only live performances and two unreleased tracks that could have make it to an EP or LP. Some covers to 7 Seconds, Misfits, Minor Threat and even The Monkeys' tracks are included as well. Oh, and I almost forgot. 3/4 of Step Forward went on to form Refused, of whom will write about sometime later in this special post. Finally, click on the image for downloading this record. Highly recommended. Enjoy and until next time. Kisses and hugs!   

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

MOAR records to look at this 2020 (including more additions to our (un)official partners' respective catalogs) part 2

Note: A good laughter at bad times. Alvvays. 

Coucou, les chaton.ne.s! We're back with another quick entry. I currently know how the world is upside down due to the whole COVID-19 pandemic thing so, the blog will keep being updated during these quarantine times. For your maximum entertainment, of course. Don't forget to wash your hands properly, take your local sanitary warnings and stay at home  (if possible) reading this humble site. Sweet dreams are made of these...Ha ha ha...Anyway, for this entry, I'll feature MOAR records to look at this year (including more additions to our (un)official partners' respective catalogs) during this week. There are so many records I'd like to show les chaton.ne.s! And, don't worry, the first entry of our long-awaited first special post of the year will be published this friday. Yaaayyy!!! I don't have much time either so, let's begin. 

1) Beach Impediment Records (USA)

Vanity (US) - Rarely If Ever b/w We're Friends single 


You know this humble blog only posts hardcore punk-related musical outfits and, exceptionally, we do post something else indirectly related to it, or even far beyond. Today is the case for Vanity, a rock band featuring ex and current members of renowned hardcore punk bands acts like Ajax, Concealed Blade, XFilesX, Have Heart, The Rival Mob, Ivy, Fur Helmet, etc. I already had listened to their previous works (notably their Evening Reception LP (Beach Impediment Records, 2018) which surprisingly was so damn good) and the band tend to mix different rock styles (notably garage, glam, punk, psychedelic and even oi!) for creating something of their own. This single is no exception to this rule. However, the Rarely If Ever track reminded me of cryptic indie pop and early shoegaze outfits from Sarah Records' catalog in the late '80s. Or at least that's the impression that I get. No, not again that tune in my head...Finally, click on the image for getting redirected to the record label's official bandcamp account and listen to the light-hearted yet catchy tunes from this NYC-based act. FFO: Red Dons, Sheer Mag and Milk Music. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Laffing Gas (US) - It's A Beautiful Day In The Gulch  


If I'm not mistaken this is the first full-length album from this Bloomington-based musical outfit. I think they were featured in some compilations when we made the (in)famous 'Murica, fuck yeah! special post. I do not quite remember at all. So, this band it's been in the game since some years ago but completely dissapeared for a while and BOOM! they're back. You know, those kind of comebacks no one expected for. Regarding their sound, they play old-school hardcore punk in the same vein as Midwestern outfits in the 80s such as Necros, Negative Approach and Die Kreuzen, for naming a few. Absolutely nuts. Finally, click on the image for getting redirected to the record label's official bandcamp account and listen to this living homage to one of the unfairly overshadowed and undermined early american hardcore scenes in the 80s. Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Muro (Colombia) - Pacificar LP (co-released alongside Adult Crash Records (Denmark)) 


The long-awaited second LP from this outstanding colombian hardcore powerhouse finally has been released. Even in these troubled pandemic times ha ha. You can now order the american version through Beach Impediment Records whereas the european one (which has a different front cover and color scheme) through Adult Crash Records (Denmark). As I mentioned you in the previous entry, there's only one available track online, Fantasía Del Progreso, whose sound goes far beyond Muro's staple ataque hardcore punk trademark sound. The band requested to keep this as such because you have to buy the record and spin it like the good 'ol days. So, when I get my physical copy, I'll make the full review and even digitize it for you. Like it always should be, right?. Oh, I almost forgot. Due to the pandemic, Muro had to cancel their last shows in Europe and currently are stranded in London, UK waiting for coming back to Colombia next week. They still have some leftovers to sell, included some Ataque Hardcore Punk tapes (Euro press, limited edition) so, you can contact La Vida Es Un Mus through Instagram and buy some of their merch (International shipping is possible). Finally, click on the image above for listening to their pummeling hardcore sound and wait until my full review ha ha. Highly recommended. Enjoy!   

2) Zegema Beach Records (Canada) 

Boneflower (Spain) - A(r)mour LP (co-released alongside Dog Knights Productions (UK))


This is the second LP from this spanish band. I definitely must admit that I haven't paid too much attention to this musical outfit and, well, how deaf I've been since then. Indeed, their style mixes screamo, post-rock and post-hardcore so brilliantly for making something unique and of their own with melodic yet powerful tunes , which are filled with complex musical instrumentation and execution and yes, occasional clean vocals. While the latter aspect isn't my cup of tea at all, this works surprisingly good for them and adds in more emotion and introspection to the whole package. Awesome. Finally, click on the image and listen to this great LP. FFO: Viva Belgrado (Spain) and Respire (Canada). Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Yurodivy - Tell Me When The Party's Over LP


Yurodivy is a band from France and recently have released their second full-length album through Zegema Beach Records. I know you know their native country particularly is not homeland to screamo outfits like it was back in the 90s (ah, la belle époque) but there only are a few ones that, well, could prove us wrong. Their sound is as incredible as their local counterparts Bird In A Row's: no-frills, intense and emotionally-charged enough to make you want to pursuit heaven in this living hell. It's so abrasive and heavy as fuck. Nice. Finally, click on the image and listen to this 11-track, 45 minutes long masterpiece. Another potential candidate for our best picks of this year. Highly recommended. Enjoy!  

ONES & TWOS compilation


Featured bands: Piet Onthel (Malaysia), Yubari Gogo (Greece), Entzauberung (France), Dosaken Vakchi Zigok (Japan), Kÿhl (Germany), Euclid C Finder!, the lng silence, Elyrithe, Limbs, This Place Is Actually The Worst, Orphan Donor, Blue Noise, Apostles Of Eris, and Me, The Hideous Freak (USA). 

We finally conclude this short yet wholesome entry with this international compilation featuring one and two persons bands around the world. Some of them already were featured here in the blog in different compilations and special posts. Regarding the sound, well, most of the musical outfits are into screamo (and emoviolence offshoot as well) and post-hardcore. But, there are some mathcore and even acoustic rock projects as well. Pretty varied. Oh, and I almost forgot. All the featured tracks are exclusive to this record.  Give it a try. Finally, click on the image and listen to this. Highly recommended. Enjoy and until next time. Kisses and hugs!   

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The California Takeover...Live compilation


Coucou, les chaton.ne.s! We're back with another quick entry. As I previously mentioned you, this entry wasn't meant to be published but due to the fact that Earth Crisis, Snapcase and Strife did some live performances in "California Takeover 2020" (February 22 and 23 in San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA, respectively), I guess I couldn't miss the opportunity of making an entry about this iconic compilation released back in 1996 by Victory Records on all three formats (LP, CD and tape). If you also would like to know everything that happened in the 2020 concerts, you can read two interesting reports from our friends of No Echo here and here. And, you can watch the full performance of both Earth Crisis and Strife here and here on Michael Medina's YouTube channel whereas Snapcase's can be watched here on De Todo Con Iván's YouTube Channel. Awesome.    

This compilation originally was recorded live in Los Angeles, CA in April 12th, 1996. Unlike other live recorded material in the 90s, you can notice that this one had a superb sound engineering due to the high production values behind it that is such an auditive pleasure listening to it from start to end. Some of the featured tracks are available in Strife's My Fire Burns On EP (New Age Records, 1992), One Truth LP and Grey EP (Victory Records, 1994 and 1995 respectively); Earth Crisis' All Out War EP (Conviction Records, 1992), Firestorm EP and Destroy The Machins EP (Victory Records, 1993 and 1995 respectively); and Snapcase's Lookinglasself EP and Steps EP (Victory Records, 1993 and 1995 respectively). Finally, some tracks such as Strife's To An End would be later added in In This Defiance LP (Victory Records, 1997) whereas The Essence (featuring Anthony Brummel AKA "Tony Victory", owner of Victory Records) still remains exclusive to this record. 

Regarding the sound, well, these bands speak by themselves. Indeed, all three were a key element in the creation of metallic hardcore or metalcore with characteristic 90s pummeling chugga chugga-esque touch filled with slower breakdowns for breaking your nose in the moshpit and stuff. Also, these musical groups were somewhat considered as the "Holy Trinity" of Victory Records' catalog at the time because not only they were highly influential in different american and european hardcore punk circles (notably straight edge) but also gained a moderate commercial success in the mainstream. In fact, these acts were so popular that many people immediately relates hardcore to them regardless the complexity behind the most important punk rock subgenre. That's why my humble site exists, right? ha ha ha.  

Lastly, click on the image for downloading my old digital copy of the CD version I had 10 years ago (I sadly sold it back then to survive. Ah, those college student days...) and I also included the artwork, lyrics' sheet, layout and inner sleeves of all the three editions. If I'm not mistaken, Victory Records re-released in 2017 the LP version with the exact same artwork, inner sleeves, layout and vinyl colors of the original 1996 release. I know I should write more about these bands and the record label but I guess I'll do it in the near future. Probably. Highly recommended. Enjoy and until next time. Kisses and hugs!