Dapper Dan Man…

July 29, 2009

Music Review: Propagandhi – Supporting Caste

Filed under: Politics,punk — gazzabazza @ 10:32 AM
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Published on Blogcritics on May 27, 2009

Quite possibly the most political and politically active band is back with another long player and this time after parting company with Fat Wreck Chords in order to release it on their own label, The G7 Welcoming Committee. Given their well known ethos it makes perfect sense that a punk band steeped in grassroots politics should release its music independently.

This time there is also more bite to Propagandhi’s music as well;  where they previously delivered melodic and poppy punk they now play with more fire. The melody is still there but Supporting Caste exudes more energy and hits home with speed-core elements.

The first song “Night Letters” exemplifies this by being nigh on thrash-like half the playing time. This doesn’t come as a surprise when their inspirations are known — a perusal of Propagandhi’s website gives out the information that Supporting Caste is “a 50,000 watt no-holds-barred, forward-thinking tip-of-the-hat to the giants — Voivod, Rush, NoMeansNo, SNFU, Sacrifice, Razor, Guilt Parade — that have gone before them.”

None of this would matter very much if the album wasn’t any good, but it is. It has the fast pace of a good punk album with some great and thought provoking, and sometimes very funny, lyrics.

The humour is vivid on “Dear Coach’s Corner,” a ridicule of overly patriotic hockey pundits in their homeland and “Human(e) Meat,” where the stance towards meat eating is put forward clearly with the aid of their trademark melodic punk.

This aside, it is a bleak message exhibited on Supporting Caste — one of struggle and injustice, but the flicker of hope in the midst is always there. All of this is delivered with the band’s finest material in a long time, a quality that can stand alongside classics like Potemkin City Limits and Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes.

The nods toward thrash classic of old, alongside some old school hardcore blasters — “This Is Your Life” and “Incalcuable Effects” lean less towards melody and far more towards ferocious speed and aggression — should convince everybody of Propagandhi’s continued relevance.

The political agitating may be overbearing to some but this rebellion is part and parcel of these Canadians and is what all punk should be about.

Link to the review on Blogcritics

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May 29, 2009

The Poison Arrows – Casual Wave review

Filed under: Music,Writing — gazzabazza @ 12:25 PM
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Posted on Wednesday May 27th, 2009 – Scenepointblank

Being from Chicago, The Poison Arrows have a style that unmistakeably brings to mind the old, early to mid 90’s alternative rock scene. Since that particular time spawned quite a few great bands then this can be considered a good prospect. The debut EP from this band doesn’t necessarily resemble the noisy endeavors of Steve Albini or the madness of The Jesus Lizard – instead, their languid, flowing sound has more in common with the dark and gritty sound of an underrated bunch like Girls vs. Boys, while the wash of the mellow synth and electronic sound behind them adds color to the urban feel.

This sounds like it was borne out of a concrete jungle, as the repetitive beats of the likes of “The Lure of Lore” evoke visions of city lights and neon reflecting over Michigan Lake. Casual Wave finds the band in a dark and contemplative mood, something they manage to bring to the listener with ease. It’s in the small details, like the moody trumpet in “Frozen Human State.” It’s just a tad frustrating that four songs are all we can listen to at the moment.

Should The Poison Arrows continue to deliver on the promise of this EP than those who like their brooding music have much to anticipate.

Link to the review

May 12, 2009

Landmine Marathon – Rusted eyes awake album review

Filed under: Music,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 4:23 PM
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Here, finally after several months’ abscence is a piece published on Scenepointblank.  It’s about Landmine Marathon, a death metal band from Arizona (my favourite place in America, but the again I am slightly disturbed.)

Link to the review on Scenepointblank.

Otherwise, read on below…

One of the biggest pleasures of listening to Rusted Eyes Awake was to hear the music and not walk away with the opinion that this is just another modern U.S. metal band labeled with the death metal tag that actually plays nauseating post-millennial death-core. Landmine Marathon still does have some of those influences interspersed but for the most part the Arizonians play old-school- caked death metal with a heavy nod towards the old Earache Records releases. Even the cover art is brings to mind Repulsion’s seminal Horrified.

This album is an almighty brutal attack, it has to be clarified. There aren’t many pauses for breath amidst the scattergun approach, save for the occasional mid-tempo, chugging breakdown that betrays the band’s modern hardcore influences. Aside from this, Landmine Marathon let rip with pummeling drums and buzzing riffs. Rusted Eyes Awake is the kind of album that raises your pulse and puts you in the frame of mind to do something physical. A two hour Thai-boxing session would seem like the perfect activity for the soundtrack, as elbowing a sand bag (preferably with the boss of London underground’s face plastered onto it) is what you will be most inclined to partake in.

“Bile Towers” has the ultimate tempo for an album starter, immediately charging at you with churning, bass-heavy riffs with a loving nod to Bolt Thrower and old Entombed records. Sometimes the guitar players sidestep this with a few melodic riffing turns, and harmonies are good when avoiding monotonous rumblings. Along with this comes a worthy vocal performance by Grace Perry. She is definitely up there with the best in terms of bile and vitriol and the acidic throat renderings in “Heroin Swine,” to use one example, definitely do their best to convince you.

What makes Rusted Eyes Awake even better compared to many other modern metal records is that it doesn’t get weighed down by an overt technicality, something that can be a problem in this genre. Old school feel and grimy, lurching and sloppy riffs are always better for sheer enjoyment than a frenetic wankfest.

This isn’t perfect album by any means but it’s a joy to annoy neighbors with it. Supposedly these guys tour a hell of a lot – they need to bring their desert asses over to Europe soon.



April 16, 2009

Music Review: Bigelf – Cheat the Gallows

Filed under: Writing — gazzabazza @ 3:09 PM
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Written by Mirza Gazic
Published April 15, 2009

Many bands have a massive affinity with the seventies. They love the classic recordings of that era and those influences shine through in their own albums — homages to an era that most music lovers have a kinship with and a love for. This is not news to anybody, but most bands tend to have one musical part of that decade as a basis for their sound. Usually it’s the doomy heaviness of Sabbath or the proto-punk of MC5 and The Stooges but that is not the case with Bigelf.

They can be considered an amalgamation of nearly every rock and pop-based sound that the seventies had to offer and their latest album, Cheat the Gallows is the showcase. It is a sign of ambition and a restless nature to attempt such an album and in the hands of a lesser band it would have been a failure, but Bigelf have managed to create the right mix of bombast, trippiness and straight-forward rock here. They have surpassed the former characteristic of being a band simply influenced by Black Sabbath and The Beatles and incorporated much more.

This fact hits home right at the opener “Gravest show on Earth” with its operatic tone and influence made all the more unusual by the carnival music that suddenly appears. It may sound strange but it works to, at the very least, draw your attention to the album. Psychedelia and progressive inspirations are rich in scope on “Cheat the Gallows” and they are mostly prevalent in the anthemic “Money, it’s Pure Evil” that draws a lot from Pink Floyd and their rich sound and production can also be heard in “The Game”, especially in the lush and evocative guitar playing.

Some of the finer moments on Cheat the Gallows come in the form of “Blackball” and the southern rock jamming midway through that draws up images of a muggy swamp and the effect-ladden “Hydra”- this tune has instrumentation that, for lack of a better word, sounds bewildering.

The closer “Counting sheep” can be seen as a summation of the entire album, as it attempts to put all the influences into one 10-minute song. It’s erratic nature means that it is interesting more than good, but Cheat the Gallows as an album is a bold and ambitious piece of work. It demands concentration if you are in any way interested in music then you will feel rewarded for your effort.

Two reviews up here on the same day? Something must be wrong- judging by how briefly things come up here this means that I won’t be back on “The Ballad” for another month. Hopefully I’m wrong and I am expecting to write a piece on the new Isis album this week- stay tuned.

Review of the album up on Blogcritics.

Hellamor – Denim EP Review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 3:02 PM
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Hellamor – Denim EP
Review by Mirza Gazic (StonerRock.com)
Self released
Release date: 2008

Most of us know that the stoner genre is within a very close reach of its saturation point. The worry that arises when confronted with a recording from a fairly unknown band comes from more than just the usual question of whether it’s actually any good – the other one is if it stands out enough to warrant multiple listens.

The answer here has to be a rather ambiguous, as it goes both ways. There is nothing inherently wrong with the Denim EP as such – the four songs on offer are suitably riff heavy and the vocalist fluctuates equally well between raspy croaks and soulful wails. The recording bears all the hallmarks of the genre and Hellamor also wisely throw in a more mellow song in the shape of the dusty “After All,” which is the pick of the quartet.

A redeeming feature with Hellamor is that, as they’re still unsigned, they’re at the beginning stages of their career and can develop. There is good songwriting here, but at the moment not much to outweigh the Nebula or Kyuss records on your shelf.

I’m a bit behind here as this review was published last week but I wanted to wait and upload some more writing at once, rather than the sporadic posting of one review every few weeks. I’ll get my Bigelf review up after this one and hopefully I’ll get writing up here more often.

But then again, who gives a hairy ass fuck- nobody reads this thing anyway…
If by accident you manage to stumble in here then go to StonerRock.com and check out the review there. Click here and then go and read some other good stuff up on the site.

April 2, 2009

White Darkness – “Nothing” review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com,Writing — gazzabazza @ 4:45 PM
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If there is one thing this project does very well, it is the ability to inject you with a sense of overwhelming unease. From the static and feedback heavy opening and onwards, Nothing is, to say the least, a very ominous and eerie sounding album.

Being largely instrumental, the pounding drums, monotonous electronics, and the mellow and melancholy piano are blended expertly and invoke a feeling of fright and dread throughout – the entire album would have been a perfect fit as a soundtrack to a psychological thriller about a serial killer. Imagine a psychopath stalking somebody through a dark, damp alleyway as the haunting melodies and the near-silence midway through, save for some pastoral guitar plucking, are the sound effects.

Nothing would have sounded even better if the calm, introspective melodies had been given more space to roam over the harsh noise, but that’s just a minor gripe. This is still a record that grabs and manages to leave its imprint- an emotional blend of serene beauty and ugliness that will have you looking over your shoulder while walking down a deserted street.

Published yesterday on StonerRock.com. Read it on the site and check out some other excellent reviews and features.

March 31, 2009

Trap Them – Sleepwell Deconstructor

Filed under: Music,punk,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 11:40 AM
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Guys from black- and doom metal bands and a hardcore band decide to start a new project together – it’s not a complete surprise that the result of that union would come out sounding quite as unholy and visceral as Trap Them. Sleepwell Deconstructor consists of 20 minutes of solid anger. There is no point in trying to put this in a specific genre, as it draws from a multitude of extreme inspirational bands and makes an own concoction.

The basis here is grind and not entirely unlike more modern bands such as Nasum, but there is also a palpable hardcore angle on display- from the Converge- styled cacophony on “Collapse and Marathon” to the d-beat breakdowns that are jumping up all over the album. Often all of these s t y l es will be heard in one and the same song, and bearing in mind that the majority of them are no longer than three minutes should give a decent idea of the intensity.

Listening to the raw guitar sound on Sleepwell Deconstructor takes me back in time to the first time I listened to Entombed’s seminal, genre-defining Left Hand Path. Trap Them are their own band, but the thick and buzzing sound of the guitar definitely brings to mind the old late 80’s to mid- 90’s Sunlight Studios production.

If you like a few more, unexpected inspirations to be introduced on a hardcore album so that it becomes more aggressive and memorable, then Trap Them is certainly the right band to listen to.

Published on StonerRock.com yesterday. Read it here

Trap Them Myspace page

March 4, 2009

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy – Gun EP Review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com,Writing — gazzabazza @ 5:57 PM
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This obscurely named Texas trio is one of those rock bands that has found itself lumped in with the not-insignificant number of groups with the word “post” as a prefix used to explain their sound. In other words, they play instrumental songs heavy on ambience and emotion and with this six-song EP, they show potential and possibilities of musical growth.

The slight difference with The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is that they don’t delve into the light instrumental sound of bands like Mogwai or The Red Sparowes but instead rely on a more heavy and sludge-based sound, with melancholy guitar effects that broaden the sound and strengthen the impact of their music. The first “proper” song – opener “Equalizer Drone” is two minutes of feedback noise – has a subtle background effect that keeps going until the end and creates an even tenser atmosphere.

The guitar playing is what makes the biggest contribution to their amorphous, airy sound – it’s thick like broad strokes of a brush on canvas for the majority of time. It’s relaxing music as it stands, but I would have preferred a bit more of the pastoral, calm guitar plucking like at the end of second song “Gifts”. This is only a minor disturbance though and Gun is a strong debut release.

With their propensity towards a darker, sludgier sound, they have a start and now they just need to keep evolving their sound and avoid getting stuck in the “post” category.

Review now up on StonerRock.com. Read it here.I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for instrumental music of this kind so it wasn’t hard to enjoy this album. I look forward to hearing more from these guys and hopefully it will keep expanding.

January 28, 2009

Alix – Good 1 record review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 5:42 PM
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I got a short, snappy review of a new band and their latest album. It’s an Italian rock band called Alix.

Check it out on Stonerrock.com.

December 10, 2008

Our Roots Our Pride – A History of Italian straight edge hardcore

Filed under: Music,punk,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 11:49 AM
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Back after a holiday to post a link to a new review I wrote, that was published on Scenepointblank.

It’s a compilation album with six Italian straight edge hardcore bands and the music dates back to the period between 1990 – 1995. 32 songs on the album and some pretty decent bands. I do love it when I get to discover bands from the music scenes in other countries.

Read the review here. If you’re interested after that, go to the record label’s Myspace page.

Enjoy.

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