Album Reviews


Today I sank my teeth into the latest from the blokes in Blacklisters, and boy am I glad I did. The record hits with a feral intensity that perfectly presents the band live in a room. It’s tough!

As mentioned above, this was tracked mostly live in a room (all in one day), something that’s becoming increasingly rare as basement studios replace proper studios with rooms suited for that sort of recording. The sound is ferocious! The drums hit hard with a kick drum that easily punches you in the chest as it thumps along. The bass guitar sits out front with an edgy, driving tone that cuts like a knife. Raunchy! The guitars sit a few beard hairs below the bass, but the overdriven tone helps deliver the dissonant and angular riffs perfectly. The vocals are slightly overdriven, often delayed, and emotionally unhinged – elevating the songs to the next level. Bad ass. The songs are packed with energy and it’s a non-stop banger. Dang, this is some awesome stuff.

We’ve got another sure fire contender for best of 2020 here. Check it out! – Jason

Sports Drinks – Hot damn, this song gets the record spinning with a swift kick in the butt and a shot of gasoline. The up-tempo beat and short looping riff makes the song feel very anxious sounding, and I’m waiting for a resolution to the tension that finally comes when they hit the chorus. Dang is this catchy! I wanna dance! My entire body is rocking to this. Thumbs way, way up!

Strange Face – Heck yeah! The band follows up that fierce opening salvo with another pissed off rocker! I’ve got a bad case of stink face and I can’t help but bang my head in total agreement! This is catchy, and tense and simply kicks out the jams! I love how the band uses negative space here by dropping out bass and/or guitar to make it hit that much harder when the whole band comes back together. Thumbs way up!

Fantastic Man – The subtle piano stabs that accompany this track are a great addition to the big-beat neck-wrecking caveman riff that propels you into more full-bodied headbanging. The vocals remind me of the Icarus Line on this one and way into it. Mean! The awkward chorus riff offsets the directness of the verse perfectly, and speaking of awkward, check out that weird fill that punctuates the verses and makes you feel like you don’t know how to dance! Haha! Rad. Thumbs way up!

Motivational Speaker – The intro to this song sets me up for happiness, waiting for the bass to join in on the start-stop riff. However, I expected the bass to land with more gusto/punishing authority and instead it more or less just comes in without a lot of fanfare. As a result I’m left a bit underwhelmed by this song. It’s got some cool parts for sure, but didn’t knock my socks off like the preceding and following tracks managed to do. It’s ok.

White Piano – Oof, the drums open this song and that kick drum hits so hard! Not cool enough for ya? How about when that gnarly bass kicks in? Yeah, that’s the stuff! Swoon! I’m continually saddled with a delighted scowl and I’m back to dancing in my desk seat. If you aren’t moving around to this, check your pulse because you might be dead. The guitars puke out waterfalls of noise all over this track and I’m sold. This is another solid rocker!

Le Basement – Oh man, the groove on this one is nasty! Stink face abounds and my neck is officially worn out. The churning bass and drums continue to drive the song relentlessly forward. The guitars pile on for the chorus which takes on a bit of an Ex-Models caterwaul that I’m way into. Catchy! In ways this also reminds me of Independent Worm Saloon-era Butthole Surfers. Kick ass! Thumbs way up on this hard-driving, mean-eyed brute.

Sleeves – The band finally eases up and lays into more of a mid-tempo slog and I’m digging the shrieks from the guitar through the drum and bass verses. Noisy! This song is packed with nervous energy and I love how the vocals reach and break. I really can’t get over how good the rhythm section sounds on this album – it’s a ton of bricks! Rad.

I Read My Own Mind – This one has a weird, Bowie-meets-goth sort of pulse that reminds me of a band like Murderedman. Again, the rhythm section propels the song while the guitars rip off sheets of noise and ethereal wash, and my whole body is undulating in agreement. The chorus rules! It’s really good stuff.

Mambo No. 5 – Lou Bega this is not, as the band continues with the style that’s driven the back half of the album – a nauseating slog through a cold, unforgiving groove. At over six minutes long, this song dwarves all the rest of the cuts on the album. I dig it! The delay on the vocals is more apparent and it’s a rad texture, plus the uncompromising pummeling of the bass and drums pays off with another body-rocking tour de force. Yes!

Album Reviews


Today, I decided to do a bit of a reset and purposefully seek out something that wasn’t an intense slog through neck-wrecking riffs and angst, and landed on this poppy yet interesting collection of angsty tunes instead. The band leans on 60s jazz and new wave influences, but there’s also enough loud rock moments and animated vocals to give it a bit of an edge. As I was listening, I kept thinking that it reminded me of a conflagration of Cursive, Ben Folds Five, and Simian, with a dash of the genre hopping qualities of a band like Tub Ring or Mr Bungle. Cool!

The album has a lush sound that packs in a lot of textures and timbres thanks to the instrumentation and tonal choices they made. You get the typical guitars, bass, and drums, but also some brass, piano, synths, drum machines, etc. I like music with the sonic depth that this range of instruments can provide. It should be noted that this was a DIY affair, recorded and mixed and mastered entirely by the band, which of course is getting more and more common as home recording becomes more affordable and technology emerges to help it sound that much more polished. It all sounds great. There’s often an 8bit video game vibe to the synths, and I’m sure that’s intentional as apparently Glass Beach evolved out of a solo project called Casio Dad. In any case, kudos to the band for the wall of sound. The guitars and bass emply effects from filters to overdrive and beyond. Cool. The singer has decent pipes and belts out some sweet melodies and almost screams as he blasts through the busy lyrics.

If you’re into more orchestrated stuff that’s catchy while still often mired in depressing lyrical content, I’d say give this a try! – Jason

Classic J Dies And Goes To Hell Part 1 – The record opens with a buttery jazz bass lick accompanying trumpet and cymbal wash before the piano kicks in for the verse. Nice! It’s sort of sad and down in the dumps for the first minute and half, but then the music abruptly switches to a sickly sweet theme that’s hard not to dig. The bass and drums anchor this jam and sound great throughout. The double time pop-punk bit is a great accent to the poppy-jazzy structure and I’m into it. Cool.

Bedroom Community – This one is funky and fun! It definitely has a Happy Hollow-era Cursive vibe and I’m just fine with that. It’s a cool tune with an urgent beat and plenty of catchy melody and busy lyrics (which is a theme throughout the record). The little piano runs are slick and it’s a sweet song. The big dumb rock n roll bit that pops up in the middle is really cool. Thumbs up!

(Forever???) – Here we have a decent instrumental interlude that gives you a minute to cool off. Layers of guitar strum along with the sound of birds in the background, eventually joined by synth and it’s a pleasant number.

Bone Skull – This one really reminds me of the band Simian (if my memory serves me right). It’s a mostly chill number that has a solid groove and does a fine job of building in intensity until about the two minute mark where a programmed beat sets in and turns it into more of an upbeat dance tune. Neat.

Neon Glow – Wow, I didn’t expect the straight up rock song that this is. Parts of it remind me of Relaxer, but dumbed down just a bit. Halfway through, the song abruptly stops and as the keys sustain, the trumpets come in on a slow, sad progression. I liked it better as a rocker and they took it maybe too far the other way with the extended morose bit. Thankfully, it jumps back to life for the last thirty seconds or so and they turn it around. It’s alright.

Cold Weather – A rave-up intro gives way to a reggae influenced bounce. Nice! The chorus is straight up Cursive worship again. The bass and drums deserve another shot out for the tight, funky, and fun foundation they provide. I liked it!

Calico – I mean, I love cats too, but I don’t know if I’d ever write a song about rescuing a stray kitty. The programmed drums and ethereal instrumentation on this one leave me a little flat. Meh. There are some cool synth riffs in this tune, and some weird noises, but otherwise I could do without it. Thankfully, it’s just two minutes long.

Glass Beach – Alright! We’re back to a pretty rocking tune, plowing forward on an urgent beat and a busy bassline. The chorus does a great job of lifting the tune with a really catchy and memorably melody, but it’s the weird angular and proggy bits that really make this song matter. At over seven minutes long, this track winds up covering a lot of ground, playing with dynamics effectively and keeping me interested throughout. Thumbs way up!

(Blood Rivers) – This is another interlude that bleeds out of the prior track. It’s fine.

Dallas – This track is nearly as long as Glass Beach, which I’ll admit had me immediately questionning the judgment of slamming these two so close together. There are some questionable lyrical phrasings in this that sound clunky, and also a programmed beat that relies on an obnoxious snare sample. I wasn’t feeling this one overall. It seems to meander a bit more than I was looking for. Meh.

(Rat Castle) – Yup, the parenthesis in the song title indicate another interlude. It’s fine. It’s got an electro vibe and some cool piano work.

Planetarium – Cleverly evolving out of the prior cut, we land on this track. It’s got a solid groove driven by the bass and drums with neat details from the synths. The auto-tuning tricks in the chorus actually make for an interesting musical idea (almost like a pitch wheel on a synth). It’s ultimately a fun song, but perhaps a little too long for its own good. The vocal unfortunately reminds me of Owl City. Sigh.

Soft!!! – Here we find ourselves in a wash of synthy melancholy – it’s got a seasick quality to it. Once the beat sets in, it takes on a cool robotic vibe that works for me. I liked it.

Yoshi’s Island – This track is another midtempo, sugary sweet pop-rock tune. It’s got some great orchestration and shifting rhythms to keep it fresh and interesting. For a moment, parts of it reminded me of Regurgitator’s Couldn’t Do It, which was a pretty “out there” connection to make. The double-time punk romp near the end was unexpected but appreciated and helped me come around more on this track.

Orchids – The big-time Cursive vibes return and this one is actually heavy at times, both perking me up after the prior song. The groove is deep and I’m nodding along in agreement with the insistent pulse. This is thick! The a cappella ending is a suitable contrast to the otherwise rocking closer. Thumbs up.

Album Reviews


Today I jumped all in on the latest from the Texas trio known as Exhalants. These fellas came very highly recommended earlier in the year from multiple friends and I was excited for new tunes (literally released today). Recorded and mixed during quarantine, this is another album that shows a hefty amount of DIY ethos to get it done and the band should be commended for their effort. The songs are catchy and diverse and the record rarely finds itself spinning its wheels on any given idea.

The record has a burly sound to it thanks to the bass-forward mix that pushes the bright and gritty bass way out front alongside the drums while the noisey guitars and vocals take just the slightest bit of the back seat. Don’t get me wrong, the guitars sound awesome too, from dissonant squawks to more direct riffing and even cleaner jangly rhythms – they deliver in spades. The shouted/screamed vocals are distorted and set down in the mix a bit to keep the focus on the high energy instrumentation. This rocks out.

I guess I’d say this is a lot like the radio friendly aspects of Nirvana and Helmet interpretted by Unsane, with a dash of Cave In. Check it out, ’cause it rips! – Jason

The Thorn You Carry In Yr Side – The way the bass skips certain notes in this song give the tune a weird, awkward vibe that makes it memorable. It’s a cool detail… and check out that beautifully lush chorus! The bands does a great job of mixing sweet and sour on this one, offsetting the pretty with gnarly riffs, feedback, and pounding intensity. Thumbs way up!

Bang – Hot damn! This song comes out swinging with a hard driving progression that flat out rocks. The hooky chorus serves its purpose well and the song smokes! The dissonant squawking through the mid-section rips and I’ve got a bad case of stinkface to go along with the sore neck I’m developing. Thumbs up!

Passing Perceptions – The string noise intro didn’t prepare me for the catchy bounce that propels this song. Good stuff! The chorus leans on a Helmet influence and I’ve got a smile on my face as I bang along in time. The riff at around two-minutes kills, and the awkward one that follows it does to. Thumbs up.

Definitions – Wow, the guys ease way up on this tune, opening with a super melodic and quiet bit that reminds me of a band like the Dudley Corporation. It’s a nice change of pace and helps keep the album’s ideas fresh. The band does a great job of building the intensity until it finally breaks into a more of a rocker for the last third of its duration. I love the layers of feedback at the end. Good stuff!

End Scenes – This song has a neat pulse as it leaps out of the gate – sweet drum beat! It makes me want to dance and groove here in my office chair. The bass line is busy and constricting, and does a sensational job of anchoring the more straight forward guitars to the drums. Again, the feedback punctuating the guitar stops give the song a cool attitude. Thumbs up!

Richard – Ah, the Helmet like groove of this one is solid and I’m scowling in agreement as I nod along. The bass and kick thump along so nicely on this track that you can’t help but move! Dang. The vocals drip with Chris Spencer levels of contempt and I’m all in. Thumbs way up!

Crucifix – Oof, the hard-hitting groove continues on this track, a mid-tempo groover that travels a similar road to KEN mode’s excellent song, Blessed. This hits so hard thanks to the guitars sitting out the verses entirely, letting the bass and drums pound without regard for human life, and then piling on to make the song explode. Geezus, this song smokes. Thumbs way up!

Blackened – After the last two songs, the band switches gears away from the bass and drum groove format and steers back into a more driving metallic-punk rock sort of song. The toms are getting a beating and the hypermelodic guitar accents that come and go brings to mind latter-era Cave In. The chugging riffs in this tune can be described with a single word: Tough!

Lake Song – The final cut opens with a sorrowful sort of guitar progression that slowly gets louder and more full sounding until the drums and bass finally join in… and is that a keyboard? NO! It’s a trumpet and a cello! The vocals really get lost at times as the singer quietly talks his way through them. At nearly 10 minutes long, this is the epic on the album, and it never feels like a long song thanks to the band’s decision to break the tune up by slogging into another Caleb Scofield sounding riff that demands full body head-banging participation. Heavy! The trumpet gets to take a counter melody on its own, and I love the sound. I’ve said it before, but more heavy bands need to use brass instruments in a non-ska way. Thumbs way up!

Album Reviews


Today’s random Bandcamp spin was the latest from Washington DC’s NØ MAN. I haven’t been able to review much since this whole quarantine disruption settled in a lifetime ago and honestly, I had to listen to bits and pieces of at least six other albums today before I found one that excited me. Well, COVID funk be damned, cause this band brings the goods on this raging EP!

The album sounds huge, with a sonic signature that checks all the boxes: Fat, nasty bass? Check. High gain riffing and chugs? Check. Atmospheric wash? Check? Drums that drive the songs forward relentlessly with attack and thump? Check. Ferociously screamed vocals that sit at just the right spot? Check. It’s a massive sounding record to boot with a clean, full-spectrum sound lashing out with tons of pissed off attitude. Self-produced, recorded, and released, this is another stellar example of how a band with vision can put out a record that easily rivals anything a traditional label would fund.

Fans of gnarly sounding hardcore/noise rock that’s packed with sludgy hooks should jump on this ASAP. Check it out! – Jason

Dive – The record opens with a mournful guitar progression that would be at home on a Converge record before band jumps in with a hard-driving beat that gets my leg bouncing at a thousand miles an hour. The half-time midsection propels me into a full bodied head-bang and I’m sold. Evolving out of that excellence comes a more atmospheric sounding part that does a great job of giving the song another vibe before it all comes back in like a ten ton hammer at the three minute mark. Tough! Thumbs up!

SOS – Dude, this one erupts forth and grooves hard on a killer beat and chord progression before the nasty chorus steps down to make it even heavier! This reminds me a bit of early Kylesa in its structure and phrasing and that’s got me on cloud nine. The tempo drop at a minute forty punches me right in the face! Dang! This song rips! The punishing end is righteous. Thumbs way up.

Tune In – After the sludgy ending of SOS, the drums get busy for a sweet intro and the tempo goes back up for another rager. I’m banging my head in agreement and I just wanna dance. The chorus is like sticking your head in a beehive and I’m digging it. Good stuff.

Secret – Ah… the intro to this one is cool with the vocals way off in the distance as the guitars jangle around the bass and drums. Neat. The band does a great job building tension before breaking into the verse at the fifty-second mark. The heavily accented hits that drive the chorus are rad and I continue to snarl in delight as I stomp by foot and bang my head. This is another rocker.

Shots Fired – The snare introduces this one and it’s a beast. This is another bad-ass rocker with hints of the best elements of Static Tensions era Kylesa. Stink face is abound and I’m body rocking in place. Thumbs way up, this is a killer tune that is over much too soon because it’s seriously kicks out the jams.

Cut Out – After another brief, moody guitar intro the band leaps to attention with another hard-driving tune. For whatever reason, this one doesn’t resonate as well with me as the other tracks, but it’s certainly not bad by any means. There’s some pretty cool vocal effects at one point, and the mid-tempo screamo second half of the tune is a cool dynamic amidst the rest of the record. No complaints, it’s alright.

Golden Son – The midtempo pummeling continues through the pounding intro built on heavy toms and ethereal guitars, the bass keeping the whole thing slogging forward until the throttle hits the floor and the band goes all in on a hardcore punk romp. This is a solid rocker, for sure, my only gripe being some of the vocal phrasing clashing ever so very slightly with the pulse of the song. Not a big deal. Bang your head!

Pray – Holy heck, this tune is a monster! I love the moody guitar intro (they like those, don’t they?) and how it shifts into the full-bodied beat down that follows. HEAVY! Midtempo gives way to high speed punk urgency and this cut COOKS. Dang. The breakdown around the minute-forty mark? Forgeddaboutit. Thumbs way up, I’m dead.

Album Reviews


Full disclosure, we played with Skyacre a while back when they toured through Akron alongside our buds in Fashion Week and I’ve since been Facespace pals with bandleader Marcos Delgado. They ripped that night, even if I was a bit worried about Delgado performing barefoot in the basement of Annabell’s! In any case, this is the band’s latest release, all performed and recorded by Delgado himself, along with additional guitar by Daniel Dietrick.

The album sounds like a time capsule from the 90s. As a child of that time, it sounds like rock records that I came of age to, and that’s a-okay with me. The mix is clean with plenty of room for every instrument. The drums pack plenty of punch, the kick drum present and hitting hard, while the gritty bass helps solidify the foundation. The guitars are primarily fuzzed out and in your face, but they also delve into tighter, reverb soaked leads and melodies to build out the songs. The vocals veer from talk-singing to melody laden bits and screams, and while sometimes the notes aren’t always hit, it all works. The mastering is conservative by today’s brickwall standards, but that’s what volume knobs are for. All in all, it delivers brawny rock and roll with authority.

If your into bands like Tad, early QOTSA, the punkier aspects of Fu Manchu, and the like, give this some time! – Jason

The Halo Getters – The record opens with a wall of fuzz before giving way to drums and bass carrying the verse. It’s a catchy tune that rock pretty hard. The chorus is ridiculously catchy, and I love the little bass details that Delgado worked into the song. The half-time section is a nice detail. Thumbs up!

The Iliac Crest – After the hard-hitting opener, this track comes on a lot more subdued, reminding me of Party of Helicopters meets the Pixies. It’s a catchy tune and the falsetto sounding vocal works well. The chorus soars nicely in contrast to the verse. No complaints, but a touch more bombast would have put this one over more for my tastes.

Poison Spitter – Ah! This track opens with the spotlight on the bass before the band piles in on an urgent rocker. The anti-Trump vitriol isn’t hidden behind metaphor on this cut. I’m banging my head in delight as this uptempo rocker barrels forward. Thumbs up!

B.C.S. – This one is alright. It’s all built on a 4-hit accent that drives the verses and it gets a little over done in the course of the song. I really like the reverb laced bit with the guitars playing different octaves and the ending is pretty tough to.

The Human Bees – The drums do a great job of building tension through the intro of this tune. The guitars drop out to give the bass and vocals room through the opening lines of the verse. The chorus busts out a sweet Keelhaul-esque riff that hits like a ton of bricks as it winds around itself and delivers the stank. I’m nodding along in delight and banging my fist and head in agreement. The ethereal bridge piece is cool and it ends tough. Thumbs up.

The Lake – The bass gets a lot of spotlight on this one as it drives the verses with an excellent implementation of the quiet-loud dynamic that makes the song hit hard, the guitar erupting at times to heavy it up nicely. This is a straight forward groover of a tune, my head bobbing along easily throughout. Good stuff.

Soft, Safe, Secure – The wall of fuzzy guitars helps this song come across like a mix of Torche meets Pixies or maybe Supergrass(?). In any case, its a solid rocker with plenty of catchy melody thanks to the vocal. Rocker. Thumbs up!

Guard Donkey – I love the sleazy boogie riff that pops up in this song! It’s catchy and cooky and a great accent to the more straight-forward fuzzed out riffing that makes up the majority of the tune. The tempo remains up and I keep stomping along in agreement. Dig it.

Protectors – This track packs a lot of atmosphere into it’s sonic structure thanks to the reverb and guitar tone. The tempo is great and the beat hits hard, demanding headbanging participation. It’s catchy and fun and I’m into it.

Kaleidoscope Quilts – This track stands out from the rest of the album – it feels lighter and more psychedelic, but it still hits hard (when that wall of fuzz hits approaching the three-minute mark, oof!). The vocal melody is sweet and it’s a beautiful song in lyrical sentiment as well. Thumbs way up!

Album Reviews


Today I listened to the latest (their 9th?!) from these Austrian rockers. They’ve apparently been at it for over 20 years, but this was the first I’d heard from them. For a band this far into a career, it’s still an urgent, aggressive offering! The album title apparently translates to “end times,” and that’s a nice enticement to listen.

The album sounds pretty massive with monstrous bass and drum presence in the mix. The bass is dirty but precise, clanging about with a tight grind on the top end and plenty of bottom end thickness. The kick drum hits nice and hard and overall, the drums do a great job of propelling the tunes with plenty of thump and attack. The guitars are in your face as well, from meaty palm muted bits to more dissonant, manic squawks. The vocals jump from guttural barks to a shriek and they work well in the context of the songs. I like the accent and appreciate that some of the lyrics are delivered in Deutsch! I don’t understand the language, but I appreciate the band being “real.” Rock and roll is not an “English only club,” friends, seek out more foreign language stuff!

BUG delivers a solid collection of 9 songs, primarily touching on noise rock but also hinting at a bit of sludge, death rock, and post-punk. I enjoyed it! Check it out! – Jason

Happy Pills – The album opens with this fierce rocker, immediately barreling into an uptempo romp after a somewhat odd vocal intro. About a minute in, the band downshifts into a killer groove that gets my lip a’quivering and my head a’banging. The band does a great job of nailing the transitions from mid-tempo to fast and back. Thumbs up!

Hell Is Empty – The attack continues into the second cut with another urgent rocker! Oof! This is heavy and wild with manic energy. Half-way through, the band lands on a sludgy bit with pounding toms that gets me amped up for the reprise into the deutsch version of the lyrics. Heavy! Thumbs up!

Lost Soul – The band eases up a bit on this one with a bit of subdued verse and less overall bombast. They do a fine job of riding a nervous sounding chord progression throughout, occasionally releasing with a slightly heavier climax riff. It’s good stuff! The bass never stops churning and the song breaks up the album nicely with it’s more atmospheric approach.

Amadeus – A somewhat comical harmonica intro gets this song going before the band piles in on a sludgy chord progression. The bass-line that prowls the verse reminds me a lot of Faith No More. The vocals are more unhinged on this one (at times), but in an almost joking way. As a result, this song isn’t resonating that well with me on these early listens. It’s ok.

Twin Peaks – Opening with horns took me a bit by surprise, and when the beefy first riff comes in, it crushes! This tune has a great groove based on a really catchy verse riff. The slow-down sludge riffs in this track are a monster. So heavy! I’m banging my head and I’ve got a case of stink face. Thumbs up!

Leftovers – The killer grooves continue and I’m bobbing my head in relentless agreement with the churning rhythms. The beat on this track is infectious as the guitars stab out hits with the snare. This tune rips! The bass power chords sound gigantic and give the song a density that can’t be argued with. I also love the sampled dialogue at the end. Thumbs way up!

Remission Song – I like the start-stop accents of this tune, and there are some cool little guitar fills and runs in here, but overall this one isn’t bowling me over as much as others. It’s incredibly heavy at times with the almost single-minded bashing of one of the riffs, but nothing is really grabbing my attention all that much. It’s alright. It’s short enough where I’m not reaching to skip.

QANON – It’s sort of odd listening to Austrians talk about the national disgrace that is our president and a subset of his delusional flock. The song itself has a good pulse that keeps the track leaning forward. My foot is stomping and I’m nodding along endlessly. It’s cool.

Hass gegen Rechts – The final cut is also the longest at nearly seven minutes. We’re treated to a much softer version of the band out of the gate with a cleanish bass walking along with a jazzy ride rhythm for the first minute. Then it explodes into a frenzy of noise and transitions into a distorted version of the opening riff. Massive. The dynamics on this song are great as they mine the tried and true quiet-then-loud approach to knocking your butt in the dirt. The heavy parts hit so hard in contrast. Thumbs way up!

Album Reviews


People that know me, know that I’m a big fan of the long-defunct band Deadguy. A while back, someone told me that Crispy was playing in a new band called Second Arrows and I was amped to hear what they had to offer. Well… here we are with the band’s debut LP! The band also features folks that spent time in bands like Nora and Every Time I Die, which is cool…but the most eye-catching thing I saw in the band’s bio was the note “current members of Deadguy.” Wait… current?! Oh man, is there a chance I may finally get to see Deadguy perform?! Now, this could just be semantics since Deadguy never really broke-up, but rather just ceased to be (like a Fugazi, for example), but here’s to hoping!

The record sounds great, but I could use a little more grunt on the bottom end. The guitars and drums seem to push the mix a bit and more fat on the bottom would ratchet up the heaviness nicely. It’s a minor gripe! The guitars sound tough, peeling off riffs, runs, and squawking bits alike with crystal clarity. They’ve got that dissonant, minor key sound to a tee! The drums are large in charge and easily cut their way to the forefront. The vocals sound pissed and mix up a nice blend of screaming and spoken word. All in all, it’s heavy and detailed.

If you like stuff like Deadguy, late-period Snapcase, Every Time I Die, and the like, you’ll definitely want to check this out. This rips! It’s got a ton of rock and roll swagger, metallic fury, and primal energy. Bad ass, and definitely destined for a best of 2020 nod from me! -Jason

Galactic – The intro to this takes me back to the mid 2000s and I’m loving the lo-fi tease before a ton of bricks falls on me! This is gnarly! I love the chuggy accent riffs and the “rock and roll” vocals through the verses. I’m banging my head and I want to run around and flail about in delight! The divebomb near the middle is so bad-ass as a transition into the almost ethereal bridge. I’m dead.

Spindles – Dang, the rhythms in this tune are sweet! The guitars peel off some slick heavy metal licks here and there, but it’s the phaser-heavy build that really grabs my attention and sets me up for a serious neck wrecking! The groove is excellent and I’ve got a bad case of stink face. Thumbs up.

Grendel – This track immediately rips out of the feedback ending of the prior cut before launching into an almost stoner-rock riff! Heck yeah! The swagger on this one is sweet, but again, the mid-section is what reaches out and slaps me! Head-bang continues unimpeded. This kind of reminds me of Maylene & The Sons of Disaster. Good stuff.

Moustacheo – The stoner-riff inspiration continues into this cut and I’m loving how the vocal stretches on some of the notes! Nasty! Stink-faced, fist in the air, and I’m body-rocking in time with the groove. It’s cool.

Thornes – The rock and roll DNA is at the forefront on this one and I’m digging it, especially when they dish in the hardcore bits. My neck is getting sore from all this excitement! The riffs are sick, doc, and I’m catching more stink-face! The riff around the three-minute mark that abruptly starts bludgeoning me to death is nice, as is the sludgy harmonized riff that follows! I’m ruined! Thumbs way up!

Floyd Rush – I like how the guitar starts this one solo, heavily effected and emerging from the fading chaos of the prior song. The tempo stays depressed as the band lurches through the intro, eventually giving way to a pounding rhythm and heavy chugging as it builds to an almost Sabbath-ian type of riff. This is definitely more of a slow-burner and I love how the vocals are delayed and echo about in the periphery. It’s a sweet effect. The spacey bridge is a great contrast to the metallic fury that follows when the band sets in on a pummeling slog that demands full-bodied head banging! Rad.

One Tonne Temple Bell – Hell yeah, that thrashy intro is bad ass! The awkward pulse that follows is off-putting on first listen but not unexpected given the pedigree of the band. The tempo is back up and I’m flailing until that neck wrecking chug  shows up to punch me squarely in the throat! Yeah, this rocks! Fists in the air! Oof!

Jitters – Oh man! Feedback and a frantic, single guitar squawking out an intro?! This song was written for me! Ha! The heavy metal harmonies continue, spitting out weird rock and roll meets hardcore riffs and I’m into it! The vocals at the beginning are kind of odd, but it’s not a problem. The beatdown ending is tough, but might over stay its welcome a tad as I found myself continually waiting for a switch up to come in and flatten me.




I first met Garrett LoConti back in 2009 or so. At the time, I was looking to extend my bass rig in DeathCrawl to include a 2×15 alongside my 8×10. Garrett had posted an Ampeg V6B 2×15 for sale on Craigslist, and I made the trip down to his house to pick it up. I can vividly recall the literal wall of amps and cabs in his dining room! It’s been an excellent cab for me and DeathCrawl – last used almost a year ago on stage at the Cleveland House of Blues. Who knows when it will ever get to wail again? Anyhow, we kept in touch since then and shared a few stages as well, and today Garrett was keen to sit for an interview. I thank him for his time! Be sure to check out his current band, Pistil!

Photo by Tristan Whitney Weary

Jason – When I first met you, you were playing in Before The Eyewall, and now you’re playing guitar in Pistil. What lead you to take up playing and how did you get started playing in bands?

Garrett – Been playing since I was 12. After a divorce, my mom brought me from California to Circleville, Ohio, and I felt pretty resentful. Spent years wood-shedding in my basement room, trying to work out my frustrations of being transplanted into a rural community with nothing but German-American farmers around me… started playing in bands in 1994.

Jason – Before the Eyewall had a pretty good run, in that you released a full length and toured extensively – when did that start and how did it initially come together?

Garrett – We were active from 2008-2014 Aaron and I were in multiple bands before BTE. Namely The Salt March, The Sleepwell Initiative and an iteration of Kenoma.

Jason – So, how did Pistil come about?

Garrett – Aaron had left Ohio to pursue other goals in Portland, Oregon and Kevin Masters’ band Traitors Return to Earth had gone on hiatus. I had been working on solo material when Kevin asked me to stop by and check out what he and John Violet had been working on.

Initially I thought the ideas were interesting and I thought about playing bass and having Kevin play keyboards. We soon realized that we were both guitarists at heart and fell back into our old roles with Kevin still accenting and fulfilling a dual role on keys.

…Not before we had written a ton of Genesis/King Crimson/Soft Machine intros and vignettes.

Jason – Ha! That’s how it always goes! So far, Pistil has released an EP and a new single, right? Anything else?

Garrett – Yeah, the three song EP was release in April of last year. Our release party was a blast with our friends Into the Briar Patch, Pale Grey Lore, and we brought Frayle down from Cleveland.

This is our first new release this year.

Working on another group of songs presently.

Jason – What’s the goal for Pistil? Are you looking to tour, or is this more a “weekend warrior,” “keep-it-fun” kind of project?

Garrett – Pistil is really just an experiment between artists that don’t necessarily come from the same backgrounds. Alex plays in multiple bands in Columbus and is much more active in touring with his other band, Souther. We keep it pretty regional, but with all of the friends and contacts we have made in past projects… I would love to get out of town a little and show what we’ve got.

We do have commitments and families here, though, so it is difficult to give it the ol’ twenty-something try!

Jason – Tell me about it! Is anyone else in the band as big a gear hound as you?

Garrett – I will say that Kevin and I share the obsession with gear but with Pistil, it was really just about moving away from what we “knew” and finding complimentary voices. If you had told me in 2014 that I would be using a mini humbucker equipped guitar with a Hiwatt or Marshall Superlead?!? I would have said you were crazy. We left the Sunn and Orange gear for our other more stage obliterating projects. This just makes room in the mix for everyone to play with.

Jason – That new song sounds so lush and powerful! How easily did that recording go?

Garrett – For recording Emerald Echoes, we went with Joe Viers again at Sonic Lounge. The man is both a genius and a saint… he is by far the easiest engineer we have ever worked with, and his patience is monk like… plus, it’s not too often that you can say you recorded on the same mixing board that David Gilmour used…

Jason – Nice! Sonic Lounge is in Columbus, right? Pretty cool that board made its way there!

Garrett – Grove City to be exact. But yeah, it’s provenance is kind of an incredible story on its own.

It’s a piece of history and a labor of love for him and his staff. And he has the vase full of electrolytic capacitors to prove it.

Jason – Hahaha! What’s the writing process for a Pistil?

Garrett – It’s been honed from trial and error. Normally someone will bring in an idea or phrase and we will just instinctively try and compliment it. There are definitely no “brainchild’s” in this group. Things are more of less hashed out in the room with lots of input from the group.

Jason – Does it seem to come together in a hurry, or is it a grind… or maybe somewhere in between?

Garrett – We have a silly process of coming up with the most ridiculous working titles possible, even for the shortest of riffs, and then either focusing on them or have breakout sessions over longer periods of time to work them out. Emerald Echoes was definitely a long slog to come up with the different motifs and ultimately fit the composition to the concept of the song. It was one of our first few concoctions as a band and something were are really proud of.

Jason – You should be, it’s a really cool tune!

How has COVID19 impacted you as a band? as it been as catastrophically disruptive for you as it has for us?

Garrett – I think we are all in a relatively good place. We have a business owner in the group who has had every manner of difficulty taking care of his employees. Furloughs and layoffs… I feel privileged to be able to continue my work from home, but I think it’s safe to say that everyone in the group has shifted their dedication to the project to taking care of their families now.

We are lucky that we had this finished song to release, or else our entire 2020 would have been shot.

Jason – Yeah – we started making a record in late January and it was completely stalled out. It’s just sitting there, half recorded, waiting for a bit of normalcy to let us finish it

So, what’s next for Pistil (you know… once the world stops ending)?

Garrett – Well, we are still expanding our sound and working on getting a full length together. We work at our own pace but I wouldn’t rule out a ton of output in 2021. These are some of the most dedicated folks that I have worked with, and it has been such a pleasure to work with such talent. We really fill in the gaps of each others creativity and capacity. It’s so much easier to loosen the grip of control when you know how dedicated everyone in the group is.

Jason – Totally! What are some other bands you’ve come across that you feel more folks need to be aware of?

Garrett – There are so many… Columbus has a lot of talent. If you want some good old-fashion, “missing chromosome aggression” you need to get hip to UnChipped. If you’re looking for boozy cool riff rock, then our friends in Bourbon Train will get you covered along with Alex’s other band Souther. The singer and guitarist, Carly is one of the best guitarists in Columbus. Such a good feel and pocket player. Definitely on the more mellow scale of my listening habits.

Jason – Nice! We played Ohio Doomed and Stoned 2019 with Bourbon Train and I was into their set, for sure! I’ll have to seek out UnChipped and Souther, for sure.

What’s a piece of advice you’d share with a younger person looking to get into playing in bands?

Garrett – Well, I’m not a rock and roll philosopher, but I guess just do it right and for the right reasons. I have made friends from all over the world now. I have met people in every walk of life, seen so many places and so much good art. The world is so big and you just need to get out into it and let people know who you are. Find out what success means to you on the way.

Jason – That’s a great perspective to share!

Is there anything else you’d like to plug?

Garrett – Regarding Emerald Echoes, I just want to make sure that Tristan Whitney Weary is mentioned for supplying the great photography, John Violet for the layout and design work, Joe and Sonic Lounge for the recording along with Alex for endlessly tracking guitars and keyboards.

Jason – Tristan takes some excellent photos and that image for Emerald Echoes is pretty righteous!

Thanks for your time today, Garrett!

Garrett – Dude, thank you! It’s been fun. Can’t wait to get back out to your neck of the woods!

Album Reviews


I don’t typically like to do reviews of albums bands send me, but today I’m making an exception. I liked the two teaser tracks this Portland, Oregon band had posted on Bandcamp and jumped at the chance when they offered me an advance download of the entire record. Note to bands that offer direct downloads of the album – make sure your ID3 tags are correct. This one had missing artist info and the track numbers were missing which made reviewing the record in the correct sequence a pain in the butt. The record comes out on July 4, 2020.

The album sounds huge, with a bass forward mix that long-time readers of the blog will know is right up my alley. The bass breaks up nicely but still provides a decent amount of bottom-end. The drums hit pretty hard with plenty of attack and enough body on the kick drum to help the songs thump. I also really like the stereo image on the drums, particularly for how the toms sound. The guitars sound mean, with a tight attack that gives them plenty of articulation. They provide plenty of counter-melody to the bass line, but they also bring the heavy when needed. The vocals veer from a witchy scream that brings to mind Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan to a more conversational barking in line with bands like Idles or Whores.

Check this out if you’re into anything from noise rock to post-hardcore or metalcore. It’s a pretty strong release from these Pacific Northwesterners. -Jason

Bad Parts – The record opens with this pounding barn-burner and immediately gets me ready to rock! The drums come in with an urgent beat before the rest of the band piles on and takes us straight to Stink Face City. I’m banging my head and stomping my foot in agreement. This tune is pretty to-the-point, barreling forward with intent to wreck your neck. I love the fake-out ending. Thumbs way up!

Curse – The band eases up with a more mid-tempo groover on the second track, opening with squawking guitars that do a great job of making me nervous. The groove inspires a non-stop head bob and the chorus does a good job of shifting the vibe of the song, but it never really cuts loose. Overall, it’s an alright tune.

Don’t Hurt Me – The bass gets to shine for a bit before the rest of the band leaps to attention on this rocker. I’m once again finding my upper lip curling in disgust with the riffs. I like the simple bouncing guitar melody that plays out through much of this song over the churning bass. This one is pretty nasty! Heavy. Thumbs up!

No Luck – Ooof! This track opens with a wall of guitar noise over the drums and bass before the vocals come in hot and ready. Pissed! Again, it’s got a great pulse and I’ve banging my head and scowling in delight. The almost stoner rock sounding guitar melody that floats over part of this song is a sweet detail, and by and large this track just plain stomps. Rocker. Thumbs way up!

Noose – It’s hard not to think of Greg from DEP when hearing this vocalist, and that’s not a bad thing. This guy’s not doing any of the super melodic stuff, but his scream and more spoken stuff is definitely in line with that style. Once again, the band does an excellent job of driving relatively simple ideas into a fever pitch that flat-out kicks out the jams. The little details that the guitar adds are an awesome addition to what the bass and drums are pounding into your earholes. Dig it.

Whitemeat – Dang, this one keeps the nastiness coming! I’m noticing that some of the verse work is getting a little same-samey with how the guitar spits out panicky undulations of sound, but it’s still working for me! This is a nice blast of anti-rascist heaviness. Thumbs up!

Northstar – Yep, I’m still over here rocking out at my makeshift quarantine-work-from-home desk. See kids, be direct in your songs and get people to bang their heads in time and you’re halfway there! This one seems to reference Mastodon’s March Of The Fire Ants a bit, perhaps?The lyrics seem to be a bit too repetitive through the majority of this quick hitter, but it’s still a potent tune for what it is. Cool.

Casket Race – I’m not super into this track, mostly due to the main verse which feels overly busy or something? The chorus is a banger, and the bridge is tough, but I’m otherwise not getting much from this one. Oh well!

It’s Not Lard, But It’s A Cyst – Ooof! The intro to this one gives you advance notice that it’s gonna get stanky! This is a fairly catchy tune and keeps on keeping on with the band’s formula. The chorus reminds me of a band like Since By Man for the way the guitar plays the melody. It rocks pretty good.

For The Shame I Bring – This tune does a fine job as a closer. It’s got a great pulse and does a fine job of making me want to move. It brings the heavy and gets pretty intense at times thanks to that witchy vocal this guy does so well. Thumbs up!




Today, I was lucky enough to get to chat with John Panza. I met John at last year’s Earthquaker Day celebration. We were both sponsors of the event and I was fortunate enough to be his neighbor under the sponsor’s tent. It was a lot of fun talking with him then, and just as much fun today. I want to thank John for his time today, and ask his forgiveness for my amateur ways. Be sure to check out his bands, Hiram-Maxim, Arms & Armour, and Terrycloth Mother, along with The Panza Foundation!


Jason – I met you last year at Earthquaker Day, where we wound up being neighbors in the sponsor tent. In chatting with you that fine August day, I learned that you were a drummer in Hiram-Maxim and Arms & Armor, an effects enthusiast, and an tremendous supporter of the musical arts by way of your foundation, The Panza Foundation. That’s a lot to unpack, so maybe the first question to come to mind would be what lead you to playing music?

John – I started playing drums when I was a kid, but it wasn’t until graduate school that I started playing in bands. …So that was my early 20s. Playing in bands gave me a chance to collaborate with others. Since drums are kind of a lonely instrument, that collaboration was necessary. In time it grew into a few very close relationships, like with Lauren Voss (who I played with in Chief Bromide then Blaka Watra and now Arms & Armour) and then my work with the Lottery League that eventually led to Hiram-Maxim and most recently Terrycloth Mother. It’s been 25 years of learning how to play well with others.

Jason – “Learning how to play well with others” sounds like a great title for a memoir! Ha! Was music a part of your household growing up?

John – My father played some drums as a kid, but he never really developed his skills there. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a bluegrass musician back in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He died in 1945. So there was certainly musical influences in the family, but I am the only person in my family to pursue music seriously.

That said, my parents were completely supportive of my drumming from day one. Noise was good.

Jason – How would you describe that first graduate school band?

John – That band was called Simoom. We ran from 1996 until 2001 or so. It was a three-piece that sometimes added a fourth member for fun. It was the mid 1990s, so the influences on it ranged from post-punk to noise rock to psychedelic. I think the best way of describing the music was loud and eclectic. I don’t think we were particularly good, but the folks at the Grog Shop and Euclid Tavern gave us lots of opportunities to open for nationals. I learned a lot from being in Simoom.

Jason – Nice! That’s a pretty serious commitment to your first band! I figured you’d say it was some cover band that did parties or something!

Did you do any touring, or were you content to play locally?

John – We just played locally between Cleveland and Kent. Near the end of Simoom’s run I was invited to join HILO, which was signed to Cleveland’s Cambodia Records, home of Craw, Keelhaul, and others. I took advantage of some downtime in Simoom and joined HILO. That was the beginning of a more serious commitment to playing music, especially recording. HILO disbanded a little while later, but I was lucky enough to maintain friendships with all of the members. I also eventually found my way to Chief Bromide, which ended up being the beginning of my relationship with Lauren. Meanwhile Johnathan Swafford from HILO eventually moved to NYC and formed Aqualamb Records, the label that Hiram-Maxim is on.

Jason – Unfortunately, I missed out on Simoom, HILO, and Chief Bromide. Speaking of Hiram-Maxim (who totally rules, if you haven’t listened to them, by-the-way), you mentioned that came out of a Lottery League assignment. The same, I believe, is true of Terrycloth Mother. How did you come to get involved with Lottery League?

John – I joined Chief Bromide the year after the first Lottery League. I didn’t participate in that first season. But to get into the second season, you had to have a recommendation. I got that from one of my Chief Bromide band mates. So I joined the second season, had a great time, and decided that I’d participate in the league from there on out. My first season I was in Melted Face Constitutional with Dave Cintron, Nick Traenkner, Jason Robinson, and Paul Bartholet. The next season was when Hiram-Maxim formed. Lisa, Dave, Fred, and I originally called the project Kill It With Fire, so that was Hiram-Maxim before it was Hiram-Maxim. My third season I was in Can’t. Won’t. Mustn’t. with Tommy Shaffner, Nick Wolff, and Joshua Nelson. This most recent season was when Terrycloth Mother formed with James Pequignot, Tebbs Karney, and Drew Maziasz. By the third time I participated, I had also become a sponsor of the league. Now my non-profit Panza Foundation is the financial agent for the league. I guess I went from knowing nothing about it to knowing a whole hell of a lot.

Jason – That’s awesome! I love how many heavy hitters you’ve been able to collaborate with as well – such a wide spectrum of creative folks! I often dreamed of getting an invite to Lottery League, as I’ve seen some friends do some really cool stuff as part of it. I like the concept of throwing people in a pressure cooker and seeing what happens, musically. It’s a brilliant idea.

…I was going to get to it in a moment, but can you describe the Panza Foundation to someone who is totally oblivious to what it does?

John – Here is my Panza Foundation elevator speech: Panza Foundation is a 501c3 family foundation based out of Cleveland. We provide monetary grants to underground, independent bands from Northern Ohio who are pursuing musical careers. To this end, our board chooses four bands per year and provide grants for purchase of everything from gear to recording time to touring essentials to representation to legal assistance. Whatever they need. We are in year six and have thus far sponsored twenty-three bands, a couple indie venues, and the Lottery League.

Jason – It’s such an amazing platform, double amazing to me in that you seek out the beneficiaries, instead of the typical “applicants approach” many other grant-based organizations seem to favor. When you are picking bands, what leads you to consider someone?

John – Yeah we raise funds from private donors and my wife and I contribute each year as well. As for our selection process, the board begins each year with a list of 15-20 bands we have seen and feel could be good choices. We then spend most of the year seeing those projects perform, learning about them from local promoters and club owners, interviewing previously sponsored bands who know the projects, etc. In the end we whittle the list down to six to eight and then vote. That gives us our four bands. We look for bands that play well, play well with others, and desire to play around the country.

Jason – In today’s climate where artists can have some pretty terrible skeletons in their closets, are you at all worried about rewarding someone that turns out to be … let’s just say, a “not-so-good-person?”

John – We do our research. Luckily today it’s pretty easy to learn all you need to know about folks before you sponsor them.

Jason – Excellent!

Do you foresee any major fallout to the Foundation for 2021 as a result of COVID19’s impact on everything this year?

John – The biggest disappointment this year has been two of our four current bands lost rather lengthy tours because of Covid. From our perspective, we are keeping on keeping on. Our fundraising numbers are still strong and the only weird thing might be that we have to do an online benefit this fall instead of a live concert like we usually do. But three of our four bands have already spent their grants and Lottery League is moving along with plans to do a 2021 season.

Jason – That’s great to hear!

Going back to something you mentioned earlier, I was just starting to go to shows around 1995 and had no idea places like the Euclid Tavern or the Grog Shop existed until a couple of years later (being a Portage County fella). I look back at all the shows I missed at those venues from bands I love to this day. Shows from bands like Hammerhead, Barkmarket, Cop Shoot Cop, etc. What was that scene like? Secondly, do you think there is a current scene in NEO that folks need to know about, so they don’t have to look back in regret (as I do when I look back on my teens)?

John – I started going to shows in the late 1980s and spent the better part of the 90s frequenting the Euclid Tavern, Grog Shop, Peabody’s, and other places. I was lucky enough to see some amazing shows and eventually open more than a few. For a kid from the west side, I spent an inordinately large amount of time on the east side of town. When I started playing out regularly, I was able to develop relationships both with locals and nationals that resulted in even more opportunities. As for a current local scene, it’s different these days since the market has spread further west and many of the musical types live in Lakewood instead of on the east side like in the 90s. My own take is that Cleveland has several mini-scenes that are well-supported and continues to own a general rejection of genre as the determining factor in bill assemblage. That is, everyone generally likes everyone else’s bands…or at least respects the efforts. The clubs and bars equally support diverse lineups. It’s a good scene.

Jason – I guess the main takeaway, is that folks still need to keep an ear to the street to seek out the good stuff, because even with social media, it’s not always easy to know what’s happening and where. Follow your favorite venues online and try to keep up!

I know we’re almost out of time, but I wanted to ask you about your fascination with the art of making sound – particularly with regards to how you got into effects and how they can impact percussion. It’s not something you see often, for someone to post a picture of a pedal board that they are running their kit through!

John – Being a drummer can be a lonely thing. So since collaboration is the heart of drumming, over time if you pay attention you can learn a lot from guitarists and bassists and synth players and such. Add to that lots and lots of time in the studio, and being a drummer can be more than just hitting acoustic drums. In my case, I took an interest in effects pedals and signal paths as they can be applied to drums. Yes, I can do drum programming and do so in Arms & Armour. But to work on developing pedal boards that can be applied to acoustic drums in a live setting using contact mics and other tools has been a really fun. The past five years, I’ve taken quite a deep dive into the concept. When this stupid Covid thing diminishes I look forward to testing out a few boards in a live setting.

Jason – I just got my first pair of contact mics! I can’t wait to keep experimenting with them. Everyone should have at least one!

John – There are some great effect pedal companies out there making pedals that play very well with drums.

Jason – Since I’ve already ran over, I’d like to open this up for you to promote anything you feel more folks should be aware of.

John – Folks interested in learning about Panza Foundation should check out You can learn about our current and previous bands and all that we’re up to, including our recent assistance on the new Akron Music Awards. Search out the Lottery League via Google. It’s such a wild and wonderful regional art project. As for my own projects, check them out! Hiram-Maxim, Arms & Armour, and Terrycloth Mother.

Jason – Thank you so much for your time today, John!

John – Thanks!