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It’s been a busy year for Comeback Kid. The Toronto-by-way-of-Winnipeg based hardcore act have released their fifth LP Die Knowing and are currently in the opening months of a year of touring that will carry them around the world. Before their set at Rock City Studios in Camarillo, California, I had that chance to talk to vocalist Andrew Neufeld about their new record, the band as a whole, and keeping things fresh after over a decade of being one of hardcore’s premiere bands.

I’ve been listening to Die Knowing for a couple months now, and I’ve noticed that you have incorporated everything that falls under the guise of “hardcore” over the last twenty or so years into the sound of that record. You cover everything from crew pit parts, to big Ignite hooks, to just pummeling the listener on the heavier end of it all. How do you go into writing a record like that? Is that something where you say you’re gonna cover all this ground, or does it come out naturally?

It just kind of… we just write a bunch of songs, really. Actually with this record it wasn’t until we had a whole mess of them written we sorta sat back and said. “wow,” because there’s a lot of heavy songs on the record. In my head the record is kind of split, a little bit, because it starts off with “hard” hardcore, ya know…

The first time I saw GWAR I was 18 years old. It was the summer of 2005 and the band were slotted for an hour long, 5 o’clock spot at the Sounds of the Underground festival. I had no idea what I was in for. All I knew was the lore that surrounded their live show. It was supposed to be an event. It was. It was the dead center of the Bush years, a new pope who spent part of his childhood in the Hitler Youth was now sitting atop Christendom, and all that and more would serve as kindling for GWAR’s 60 minute performance piece.

For as much as I remember that show, it is not what happened on stage that resounds the loudest of my memories of GWAR on that July afternoon. An hour before their set, I got the chance to meet Dave Brockie. He was in his full Oderus Urungus regalia, four foot sculpted rubber phallus and all, standing in the back of a makeshift tow cart that was hitched to a boxy looking ATV. As he was being carted though the crowd in his makeshift Kawasaki chariot, for some reason or other it stopped for a few minutes, and as the driver was trying to coordinate his new plans via walkie-talkie, I nervously made my way to say hello. I can vividly remember his bare ass hanging out of the back end of his get up. It was a humorous bright spot in…

I could go on and on about the vitality of Death Grips’ music — even if I myself don’t happen to be one of their bigger fans — so I won’t. Instead I would like to talk a minute about the forgotten legacy of Huey Lewis and his band, The News. If memory serves me right, Huey Lewis and the News came into existence around the same time the J Geils Band wrote that shit stain of a song “Centerfold”, and basically they rode that sound until it died a couple years later. It’s quintessentially mid-1980’s — which means it both sucks and rules at the same time. Think the same sort of stupid kitsch nostalgia that makes you order a Canadian Whiskey even though you know Crown Royal is nothing more than water and brown. Anyways, in that time frame Huey Lewis and the News released what is known in most circles as “The Whitest Album Ever Made” with 1983’s Sports. The song “It’s Hip to Be Square” isn’t on that album, but for all I care about it should be because then it would have been even more of a classic album in the same way Snow’s breakthrough single “Informer” is.

Sometimes I think the best and worst decision I’ve ever made was to become an obsessive music nerd, but what do I really have to show for it? A few hundred records dating from the sixties all the way up to today, three massive CD booklets, two terabyte hard-drives full of everything from top 40 pop to all but forgotten black metal cassette rips, and thousands of dollars in lost savings in the form of ticket stubs. I don’t regret a single second of it. But I must admit, being constantly inundated with new and unknown media almost every waking hour be it in the form of Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, emails, or friends texting me about what new records have leaked has done considerable damage to the way that I take in new music. It used to be you bought a record and over the course of hours, days, and weeks it would blossom and grow. That first impression was important but even the most off putting records usually revealed some sort of secret, even if I didn’t necessarily enjoy them right away. Hell, Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was a 4 year endeavor for me to finally see its genius. Now, though, I just don’t have the time to wait. It’s unfortunate and I hate it. Now those slow burners get tossed by the wayside. If it doesn’t hit immediately I move on to something else that does. Rarely does an album ever…

It would be easy to sit here and spout off a few facts about Anthony Sly in honor of his passing, but after all is said and done that would be useless. For what he left us in his 41 years deserves more than just the script notes of a life lived. His heart and emotion resonated with thousands in a way that was more akin to a family member even though we never truly knew him or even met him outside chance run ins or through quick conversations at shows. Tony Sly took the adolescent soul of pop punk and channeled it through a lens of understanding clarity well beyond his years. It was a gift. He sharpened and refined this skill further when he embarked on a solo career that offered a more fitting medium to work with given his ever maturing, but still so youthfully rooted, outlook.

In a time when musician’s obituaries are running like a constant news ticker through the internet, I, like most people, am slightly disconnected from the news when it breaks. It’s saddening but only for a moment, until some new stimuli pops up on my screen calling away the focus of my attention deprived brain, but when I read a single 140 word millisecond long tweet about the passing of Tony Sly it made me stop what I was doing in a stunned silence. It felt like I had lost a family member even though I had only met the man…

My introduction to dredg was as them as a live band in the fall of 2005. At that time dredg were already over a decade into their career and it wasn’t until almost a decade later, last night, that I was able to see them again, but it was not to celebrate a new album or a long tour. Instead, it was to hear their 2005 album Catch Without Arms which was played in its entirety. So in a way it was almost as if those seven years in between performances was instantly zapped out of existence for an hour and a half on a cool June night. Their set began promptly at 10:20 PM to a packed and sweltering Roxy. Having seen The Gaslight Anthem play the small Sunset strip club only weeks earlier, it seemed as though capacity was raised by over one hundred for dredg, as the floor was packed into an airtight mass of young and old. Dredg knew exactly why we all were there and got things started with “Ode To The Sun”. The crowd surged forward, creating an ever tightening knot of raised voices and pumping fists. As they worked their way through the album, it was obvious that dredg had thoroughly prepared for the event as every interlude and sample used on the studio recording was heard blaring out of the PA in an eerie weirdness between songs, even when the band themselves were lightheartedly conversing with the audience underneath the noise.…

State Faults have been on the rise ever since the release of their debut EP Head In the Clouds in 2010, and now with their Tiny Engines release Desolate Peaks they are poised to go from California secret to post-hardcore darlings. We talked to them about their new album, what they see in their future, and, of course, about some old school video games.

SputnikMusic: Lyrically, the new album seems to be coming from a much darker place than your EP. What was the impetus for the shift and did it come into play when you decided on the title of Desolate Peaks?

State Faults: The lyrics of Desolate Peaks are very personal, we kind of left ourselves wide open and let a lot of negative feelings flow through while at the same time trying not to be TOO obvious about the subject matter.  The song ideas came from introspective talks we’d have with each other, and Jonny would take them and weave em into lyrics, sometimes before all the instruments were even written. We’re all really goofy and light hearted guys, so when times get tough or we look back on times and experiences that leave us heavy hearted, we channel it into our music.

SM: I’ve been told that you’re very hands on when it comes to recording. What was the recording process like for Desolate Peaks?

SF: We had a lot much fun recording Desolate Peaks. We took five days to record drums, bass, and guitars…

There is something about the Beastie Boys that goes beyond the records and CDs, songs and music videos. That something is that after all these years they’ve managed to keep the fire that burned beneath them as snot nosed kids from Brooklyn burning as bright as it ever did. From their rise to prominence, to being deemed cultural icons, to their being crowned the elder statesmen of an ever evolving form of art, it was never about the money and status that came with their platinum records. It was always about an enduring friendship put to tape. It is that energy that the Beastie Boys will be remembered for long after the shock of Adam Yauch’s death cedes from memory. But furthermore for the people like me who grew up with the Beastie Boys as an ever present force in the constant media barrage that accompanied the childhood of anyone who is currently under the age of 35 or so, their music progressed in a way that gave us a blueprint for growing up into functional human beings. In youth it was easy to latch on to the sarcastic rebellion of Licensed to Ill. Even though I was born in the later half of Reaganomics, that album remained everywhere well into when I was first becoming aware to music as expression. While I was too young to fully grasp the drunken machismo that surrounded it, Licensed to Ill was the b-side to my grade school discovery of bands like…

I recently got the chance to talk to Eddie Gancos, vocalist of the Ohio-based post-hardcore act CityCop. CityCop just released the wonderful EP Seasons digitally back in December and are teaming up with Flannel Gurl records for a vinyl pressing this summer. I talked to Eddie about all things past, present, and future with CityCop and just how far they’ve come in the last few months.

SputnikMusic: So lets start off at the beginning — what’s the formation story of CityCop?

Eddie Gancos: Well one day at school Max (guitar) came up to me and said that he wanted to start up an acoustic/folk project and wanted me to sing for it. I never sang in my life. In fact I was kicked out of choir class. But I said sure. The reason he had asked me was because Cody, our current drummer, said that he wanted to take a break from music for a while because girls were more important. Max and Cody have been jamming together since junior high and I was in a terrible punk band called The Local Guns. It’s pretty funny to me that we were going to start an acoustic project because I have always been into Punk and Max at the time was a huge metal head.  So we practiced a few shitty Folk/Indie songs in his garage, including a Bright Eyes cover, and decided they were good enough to record. We couldn’t think of a name so we went on

Fourteen years ago, Refused played what, up until last month, was their last show in a grimy basement in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A crowd of only forty or so people saw what is arguably one of the most influential bands of the last twenty years implode in the haze of infighting and police lights. Ten years ago I was first shown their landmark album The Shape of Punk to Come in the back of a high school Spanish class, with the mystical allure that “you will never ever get to see this”. Viewing the too esoteric for its own good documentary Refused are Fucking Dead only seemed to drive this point home. For all intents and purposes “dead” was what they were going to stay. That is why earlier this year when it was announced that Refused were reuniting for a slew of festival dates it came as a shock, not only because of the years of still spiteful attitudes but because for just about everyone who has ever listened to The Shape of Punk To Come Refused’s absence was an obvious given, just like gravity or E=MC^2.

With their Coachella appearance the day after, last night Refused sold out the Glass House in Pomona in seconds in what was by far one of the most talked about festival one offs in a week full of great word of mouth club shows. At 10 PM the lights at the Glass House began to dim and a low drone started to…

With Thrice about to embark on their final tour and Thursday just having finished up their last shows, post-hardcore, in the terms of what originally attracted me to the genre, is dead. That’s not to say that a vibrant new community hasn’t sprung up out of the underground to replace it in the burgeoning screamo scene, or that this is the first time it has died as a similar comparison can be made of Fugazi’ and At the Drive-In’s demise after their reign as genre kings throughout the 1990’s, but certainly the aged scene which many of us were once attracted to in some way or another has reached it’s end. These two bands, besides having seemingly parallel careers and similar starting names, were in many ways the pulse of a generation of kids in the early and mid-2000’s. One doesn’t have to go far to see the influence, good and bad, that these bands have had. Sure, they are in part responsible for what Warped Tour has become over the last few years, which is dubious at best, but they never sunk into that mess themselves. After both redefining the style with Illusion of Safety and Full Collapse respectively, and then finding commercial success with releases on Island records, they continued to push themselves forward and both got themselves dropped from their labels for not sacrificing their own vision. There was no cash in. Thrice spent their advances on building and maintaining their home studio and Thursday got dealt…

I don’t really know what I’m doing at the moment. This is a spur of the moment idea stemming from a conversation that is currently ongoing, which I’ve decided that I’m going to be an ass and go and take it off into this tangent instead of actually finishing the conversation like a normal person. So hey! What the hell, right? Fuck it, here it goes:

Because I’m an over opinionated, egotistical jackass on the internet with a music library full of shit that I never listen to but have just because other over opinionated, egotistical jackasses have told me that they are, in some way or another, worth my time, I’ve found an outlet in writing about the thing that I love the most (a good IPA is second) on this here website. I enjoy it, but at the same time I think that this very site and those like it, pick your poison — CMG, Pitchfork, Metal Reviews, Punknews etc etc — are inherently fucked because it all stems from taking the individual experience that is listening to a record and pulling it out of context; warping it into a collection of phrases and similes meant on describing something that is, at its core, indescribable. To me the power of music lies completely within the moment. Sure it can be dissected and studied, and there is a time and a place for such scholarly exercises, but that kind of approach completely misses the psychological effect that music has…

If there are two things I can credit Sputnik Music for, expanding my love of esoteric and ugly metal and raising my overall level of hipster douchebaggery stand high at the top. So here now I present to you a glorious amalgamation of the two:

It’s been over a decade since One Be Lo first burst on to the Midwest’s hip-hop scene as part of the now legendary Binary Star and he’s still more than alive and kicking. His fourth solo release since the original dissolution of Binary Star, L.A.B.O.R., is due out on September 6th and if its first single “The G.O.A.T.” is any declaration of what’s in store One Be Lo’s powerful wordplay and trade marked murky and soulful beats are back in full form.

I must have seen her face before 
I fell in love when I was born
Now they hide her with a whisper 
It’s over

If I were to list out all the bands that I’ve ever seen live and list them in accordance to how many times I’ve dragged my ass down to some dive of a venue to see them, RX Bandits would proudly sit atop that list. Since my introduction to them back when they were just a politicized 3rd wave ska act through their growth into one of the most forward thinking acts in modern music I’ve had the honor to see them one shy of a dozen times – but it was the last two shows, two of their last three shows ever (and last in the vicinity of their southern California home) that proudly affirm how special they really are/were. Their sets at the Mayan Theater in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and two days later at the Glasshouse a half hour inland in Pomona made the previous 9 RX Bandits shows that I have attended seem reserved in comparison, which is no easy feat.

Part 1: August 4th, 2011 @ the Mayan Theater

Shows at the Mayan are always a mixed bag. On one hand the size of the venue and its stunning décor that looks ripped straight out of the intro scene of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark add a remarkable ambiance…

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