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Craig’s Vinyl Pile: Gauze, Paintbox and Blowback

Posted on 19 November 2008 by Craig

2008 is a year that has been ripe with political hyperbole, shaky economies, and bad, bad music. In times like these it can be hard to know what you can count on. Thankfully this year has been a great time for the ever reliable and consistent ass kicking ability of Japanese hardcore. A string of great releases have made their way to us nervous Americans to assure us that somewhere, at least in the world of punk rock, somebody knows what the hell they’re doing. Here is a short round up of newly available U.S. versions of amazing Japanese punk rock records. These have been glued to my turntable.

Gauze –Binbou Yusuri No Rizumu Ni Notte LP

gauze194Name a punk rock band that has all been around for nearly thirty years, has all original members, and has never made a crappy record? ”Such a band does not exist,” you might answer, but you would be wrong. Gauze is the answer. These guys might be well into middle age but their music has not let up one bit. This is only Gauze’s fifth record since forming in 1982, and it finds the band at its most vicious. While other well established band s look to Pro Tools to make their records more produced and clean, Gauze‘s new record delivers a totally raw and almost live sounding experience. On this record you’ll find the ugly, jerky, stop and go thrash that the band is famous for, but this time around the songs are even faster and more vicious. The mix is thin and in the red, yet the raw recording only makes their sound more frantic and immediate. It’s nearly impossible to find another band that has been around since the early years of punk and still sound as vital as these guys do on this album. Their last record came out ten years ago so don’t miss your chance to own a new Gauze record while it’s available. This was released on CD in Japan earlier this year and now Prank Records has brought it to the U.S. on twelve inch vinyl. Prank may be sold out but if you check the mail-order section of their website, you’ll see a list of distros that carry Prank Records. You should do this now.

Gauze - Eat a Meal

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Paintbox- Singing, Shouting, Crying LP and Earthball Sports Tournament LP

paint1st_prankNormally if you used phrases like, “melodic and hooky” or “blends different styles” when describing a hardcore band to me, I would instantly lose any desire to hear them. Apply those phrases to Tokyo’s Paintbox and it’s a different story. The band is amazing because they take the speed and ferocity of traditional Japanese hardcore and blend it with hard rock riffs, pop hooks and a sense of melody. This is some seriously energetic hardcore but their records can be a bit jarring. They go from straight ahead thrashers to more rocking melodic songs, made stranger by the occasional use of such non-punk instruments as the keyboards, acoustic guitars and strings. In anyone else’s hands this style would fall flat or worse, get you a slot on the Warped tour.Thankfully, Paintbox use this weird mix of style and sound to create unique and passionate punk rock that doesn’t let up on the drive or intensity. paintboxearthlp Singing, Shouting, Crying was originally released in ’99 by the Canadian label Ugly Pop. Earthball Sports Tournament was released on CD by HG Fact in Japan in 2000. Both records are now again in print thanks to Prank Records. These two albums are made even more important by the recent passing of Chelsea, the bands guitarist. Chelsea was the string shredding master in the legendary band Death Side and truly one of the best musicians in underground music.

Paintbox - A Mirror World

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Blowback- Living Vibration LP

blowbackI was unaware of Blowback until I saw them on their U.S. west coast tour with Portland Oregon’s Tragedy. Blowback stole the show with their thick and burly hardcore. They were painfully loud, the singer had a great voice and he flung himself around like a madman. Their new album, originally released in Japan by HG Fact, delivers everything I liked about the band at the show. This is nasty sounding hardcore punk with the dark, bombastic sound of Discharge and a healthy dose of Motorhead style hard rock swagger. Living Vibration contains eleven mostly mid-paced songs with loud, thick guitars a solid, pounding rhythm section and some strained and over the top vocals. Blowback is a great reminder that punk and hardcore both come from rock n roll. Portland’s Black Water Records have made this available on vinyl in the U.S. so don’t miss out on a masterpiece of boom and crash.

Blowback - Cut of the World

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French Pop Revival

Posted on 07 September 2008 by LoryGil

 

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A few years ago, Quentin Tarantino’s sorely underrated grind-house flick, Death Proof blew movie goers away with its subtle genius. In addition to being a thrill ride of action and danger, it had soundtrack typical of Tarantino’s style; great songs by fairly obscure or long-forgotten artists.  For example, he revived the R & B hit of the 70’s, “Son of a Preacher man” by Dusty Springfield in Pulp Fiction, and he introduced us to the Japanese pop group The 5678s in Kill Bill Vol. 1. This go-around, the song “Chick Habit” caught the attention of music lovers. Fueling an underground revival of French Pop.

“Chick Habit” is sung by April March, an American born francophone who specializes in 60’s French Pop. She covered Serge Gainsbourg’s “Laisse tomber les filles” in French, as well as its English version, “Chick Habit.” When you delve deeper into the roots of the song, you find French Pop and Ye-Ye Girls.

Laisse tomber les filles” was written by Gainsbourg for France Gall in 1964. Gall was Gainsbourg’s pet project in the 60s. She was fresh and innocent, with great sex appeal. France Gall’s voice was like hot chocolate from a candy shoppe. It was sweet and warm and has just enough flavor to make you want more. She had the perfect 60’s pop voice, similar to Nancy Sinatra in style. 

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Betweeen 1964 and 1967, Gall worked with Gainsbourg, singing his original songs. He was known for writing lyrics that had sexually innuendo, but Gall may not have realized what she was singing about. In hindsight, the Gainsbourg songs were some of her best, but at the time, the critics condemned her for singing such racy lyrics. 

Baby Pop is the story of a young girl who was forced to marry a much older man and lost her innocence, having only her music to keep her going. Les Sucettes is about eating lollipops, but has obvious undertones of oral sex. Nefertiti is about being obsessed with the Egyptian Queen in a post-mortem sort of way.

Gall finally ended her contract with Gainsbourg and, over the next decade, worked to develop her own sound and style. In the mid 70’s, she finally hit her stride and became a long-lived pop star.

Gall’s career spanned over 30 years until the 90’s when her husband and collaborator, Michel Berger, died after having a heart attack in 1992. She released one more studio album in 1996 and a few live albums after that, but retired from singing in 2001. Her later songs fall into the category of contemporary pop. By far, the shining time in her career was in her early years, when she was 17 and singing songs about baby sharks and sawdust dolls.

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True thrash metal, back from the dead!

Posted on 01 July 2008 by Craig

It’s often said that musical genres and sub-genres die off with time. As a lifelong punk, hardcore and metal fan I have often smirked when various forms of media proclaimed my favorite styles of music ”dead”. Styles may lose popularity but they all have die-hard fans that will never let it go. Such is the case of that infamous 1980’s creation; thrash metal. The 80’s gave us, by my calculations, 17 billion thrash metal bands. From the death thrash of Possessed to the crunch-core of Exodus to the proto-black metal of Bathory and Sodom to all those bands from Germany, the decade was a toxic stew of evil, adolescent, fun loving, E-chord crunching thrash metal. The Vh1 version of metal history will tell you that this genre died with the first broadcast of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The truth is that a new generation has put on their white hi-tops, sleeveless denim jackets and are waving the flag of thrash metal revival.

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Alkaline Trio - Agony & Irony Full Album Stream

Posted on 27 June 2008 by Jeff O.

Chicago’s Alkaline Trio have just posted their new album Agony & Irony in its entirety on their MySpace page. I’ve only listened to it once all the way through so this is just my first impression… Its fun enough. Agony & Irony seems to continue the path the band has been on with its latest records, bringing a sound that is well suited for the larger venue’s they are playing and the broader audiences they are reaching these days. Continue Reading

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D.O.N.D.O.N. Japanese thrash reissued!

Posted on 19 June 2008 by Craig

dondon coverThe years 1985 through 1991 make up my favorite period in Japanese hardcore. The bands of Japan at the time were mixing the crusty gloom of England’s Discharge with the thrashing tempo of mid 80’s euro thrash like B.G.K. If that’s not bad ass enough, they also embraced heavy metal’s crunch and blazing lead guitars. It’s funny that I like the ‘85-‘91 period so much because that’s the exact life span of the mighty band D.O.N.D.O.N. They released a couple of EP’s, a split flexi, a handful of compilation songs and two LP’s. The second of which is the “Last Warning” LP. It was originally released in 1991 on Never Again Records, in a small pressing of only 200. This basically makes “Last Warning” a lost record to those of us outside of the bands home of Japan. At the time of the album’s release, Japan had been experiencing a tsunami wave of thrash-fueled hardcore punk bands, many of whom never had proper releases outside of their native country. Luckily Schizophrenic Records has re-released this piece of blazing hardcore history in the U.S. and Canada. Continue Reading

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Lewee Regal

Posted on 14 June 2008 by Jeff O.

This is my buddy Sam, aka LEG, aka Lewee Regal. He sings for a great band, Get Dead and also does some solo stuff. He’s a good guy and throws together some good tunes. Here’s two tracks, enjoy… Continue Reading

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