Hardcore for Nerds

"Why sneer at the intellectuals?"*
punk music, left politics, and cultural history - previously found here.
contact: gabbaweeks[at]gmail.com (sorry, no promos/submissions, thanks) or ask
Dublin/Galway, Ireland. 26, history graduate & human rights student
HFN | Best New Punk | HFN 2012 2011 2010 2009 | HRO 2k9 | Hoover Genealogy Project | @HC4N
*from the title of a review of Arthur Koestler's Arrival and Departure by Michael Foot, Evening Standard, Nov. 26, 1943.
Nov 30
Permalink
hardcorefornerds:

unbornwhiskey:

UNBORN W.K.:

JETS TO BRAZIL: PERFECTING LONELINESS

Oh man, why did I even think this was a good idea, I am already one day late and feeling the dark pull of other commitments. Regardless, welcome to UNBORN W.K., in which I list some dang records released in this decade that are: 1) fucking great, and 2) underrepresented probably in other decade lists, and 3) pretty much my internal organs, if we want to get into a discussion about how a decade of music I started off at 11 and ended at 22 and the formative quality of the years in between led to me inadvertently taking some records full-on into my body.
So Perfecting Loneliness: In which one Blake Schwarzenbach makes a pop-rock record that is fucked up and naked and very forthcoming about these two things. There are many, many moments on this record that are completely saccharine, and “in the long black eternity” is not a thing anyone should sing, but these usual detriments all come out okay in the long cosmic view because Perfecting Loneliness seems so damn honest (let’s say we had a discussion about authenticity, let’s not actually have it) about how it’s going to be very hard to move this winter. So there are pianos and strings and the guitars are produced like the fucking Counting Crows (not a dealbreaker, just not exactly in tune with Schwarzenbach’s past work), but we are all in the near future going to feel an intense pain that confuses the physical and the mental and collapses all arbitrary separations between the two, so let’s nuzzle up to that fact like a broken Daniel Powter.
Also, the last few seconds of “You’re the One I Want” blast a hole through the earth, a glint of Jawbreaker-light off the side of the Starship.

My first exposure to Blake Schwarzenbach was through Jets to Brazil - although I’m sufficiently ‘of’ the 00s, i.e. young enough, for that to be expected, it was actually because I’d heard of Jawbreaker being an awesome band but Jets to Brazil were the only one available on eMusic (it took me years to find a copy of Dear You… but enough about the long-gone 90s). The album I started with was, naturally, the first one, so I fell in love with the bouncy pop of Orange Rhyming Dictionary before I got to the sweet, extended melancholy of Perfecting Loneliness (I gather it was described by Schwarzenbach as an album of closing songs, which both fits the record and my tastes perfectly).
Its saccharinity, however, still seemed quite reasonable for someone still skirting the realms of emo and its less/differently affected forms of honesty. Jets to Brazil, along with the Weakerthans, were given the almost entirely spurious mental designation of ‘wuss-emo’, for crafting a sound (see also the Promise Ring’s Wood/Water, the only album of theirs I listen to) so obviously inauthentic on the outside and so right on the inside. Since then, my definitions have only gotten more complex, more multi-faceted, but still quite capable of accomodating Perfecting Loneliness.

Here’s a post I already wrote (or tacked on some of my words onto someone else’s excellent ones) so I don’t need to so again. In terms of 'after Dear You’, while not everything, Perfectlng Loneliness is I think as close as it gets. I just put together - independently of finding this post again - a Spotify playlist  titled ‘Wuss-Emo’ of it, Wood/Water and Reconstruction Site (yes, I know Left and Leaving is their best - but it’s almost too painfully tender, in a why-would-I-listen-to-Codeine-while-not-deeply-depressed kind of way, while Reconstruction Site was the first one I heard - via an Epitaph compilation - and has that big-hearted resonance factor for me). I also noticed that all three albums are from either 2002 or 2003, and I guess I came across them all within a few years after that, before I’d really dug into the hardcore side of emo and while Irish music was still in the grip of singer-songwriters - the “woolly jumper brigade” - pre-Fight Like Apes, who lacked the self-criticising humour and obvious punk reference points that I found here.

hardcorefornerds:

unbornwhiskey:

UNBORN W.K.:

JETS TO BRAZIL: PERFECTING LONELINESS

Oh man, why did I even think this was a good idea, I am already one day late and feeling the dark pull of other commitments. Regardless, welcome to UNBORN W.K., in which I list some dang records released in this decade that are: 1) fucking great, and 2) underrepresented probably in other decade lists, and 3) pretty much my internal organs, if we want to get into a discussion about how a decade of music I started off at 11 and ended at 22 and the formative quality of the years in between led to me inadvertently taking some records full-on into my body.

So Perfecting Loneliness: In which one Blake Schwarzenbach makes a pop-rock record that is fucked up and naked and very forthcoming about these two things. There are many, many moments on this record that are completely saccharine, and “in the long black eternity” is not a thing anyone should sing, but these usual detriments all come out okay in the long cosmic view because Perfecting Loneliness seems so damn honest (let’s say we had a discussion about authenticity, let’s not actually have it) about how it’s going to be very hard to move this winter. So there are pianos and strings and the guitars are produced like the fucking Counting Crows (not a dealbreaker, just not exactly in tune with Schwarzenbach’s past work), but we are all in the near future going to feel an intense pain that confuses the physical and the mental and collapses all arbitrary separations between the two, so let’s nuzzle up to that fact like a broken Daniel Powter.

Also, the last few seconds of “You’re the One I Want” blast a hole through the earth, a glint of Jawbreaker-light off the side of the Starship.

My first exposure to Blake Schwarzenbach was through Jets to Brazil - although I’m sufficiently ‘of’ the 00s, i.e. young enough, for that to be expected, it was actually because I’d heard of Jawbreaker being an awesome band but Jets to Brazil were the only one available on eMusic (it took me years to find a copy of Dear You… but enough about the long-gone 90s). The album I started with was, naturally, the first one, so I fell in love with the bouncy pop of Orange Rhyming Dictionary before I got to the sweet, extended melancholy of Perfecting Loneliness (I gather it was described by Schwarzenbach as an album of closing songs, which both fits the record and my tastes perfectly).

Its saccharinity, however, still seemed quite reasonable for someone still skirting the realms of emo and its less/differently affected forms of honesty. Jets to Brazil, along with the Weakerthans, were given the almost entirely spurious mental designation of ‘wuss-emo’, for crafting a sound (see also the Promise Ring’s Wood/Water, the only album of theirs I listen to) so obviously inauthentic on the outside and so right on the inside. Since then, my definitions have only gotten more complex, more multi-faceted, but still quite capable of accomodating Perfecting Loneliness.

Here’s a post I already wrote (or tacked on some of my words onto someone else’s excellent ones) so I don’t need to so again. In terms of 'after Dear You, while not everything, Perfectlng Loneliness is I think as close as it gets. I just put together - independently of finding this post again - a Spotify playlist  titled ‘Wuss-Emo’ of it, Wood/Water and Reconstruction Site (yes, I know Left and Leaving is their best - but it’s almost too painfully tender, in a why-would-I-listen-to-Codeine-while-not-deeply-depressed kind of way, while Reconstruction Site was the first one I heard - via an Epitaph compilation - and has that big-hearted resonance factor for me). I also noticed that all three albums are from either 2002 or 2003, and I guess I came across them all within a few years after that, before I’d really dug into the hardcore side of emo and while Irish music was still in the grip of singer-songwriters - the “woolly jumper brigade” - pre-Fight Like Apes, who lacked the self-criticising humour and obvious punk reference points that I found here.

Jets to Brazil emo 00s
Comments (View) | 29 notes
Jul 22
Permalink

Abilene - ‘Fellini’ from Two Guns, Twin Arrows

I want to write more on this album some time, but for this song - a second-half opener - I’d just like to point out that it’s probably the closest thing on Two Guns to a Regulator Watts track with (Fred Erskine’s) trumpet on top.

(lyrics here)

(Source: Spotify)

abilene HGP alex dunham frederick t. erskine hoover regulator watts post-hardcore 00s
Comments (View) | 2 notes
Jun 25
Permalink
well that wasn’t quite as difficult to make as I expected… although I couldn’t put a name beside every album, or else it would be a mass of text (especially with June of 44 and The Sorts), I put at least one per band and it should be fairly clear after that.
edit: added in Regulator Watts, The Mercury CD (1998)
note: I somewhat arbitrarily finished around 2002, since that is the year of the final Abilene and Sorts albums, although Frederick Erskine continued on releasing with Just A Fire and also his more recent project Freddie T and the People (good post about them here), while Christopher Farrall is listed as contributing to this Dischord project. 

well that wasn’t quite as difficult to make as I expected… although I couldn’t put a name beside every album, or else it would be a mass of text (especially with June of 44 and The Sorts), I put at least one per band and it should be fairly clear after that.

edit: added in Regulator Watts, The Mercury CD (1998)

note: I somewhat arbitrarily finished around 2002, since that is the year of the final Abilene and Sorts albums, although Frederick Erskine continued on releasing with Just A Fire and also his more recent project Freddie T and the People (good post about them here), while Christopher Farrall is listed as contributing to this Dischord project

hoover 90s 00s post-hardcore june of 44 the sorts HGP
Comments (View) | 16 notes
May 09
Permalink

Mclusky - ‘No New Wave No Fun’ from Mclusky Do Dallas (Too Pure, 2002)

THERE IS NO OTHER BETTER WAY (TINOBW)

It’s over a decade old and drenched in (mostly ironic) machismo, but this is the kind of record I’d love Silence Yourself to be.

(Source: Spotify)

mclusky post-punk 00s
Comments (View) | 7 notes
Mar 05
Permalink

Hot Water Music - ‘Call It Trashing’ from A Flight and a Crash (2001)

Something react with a shake and a bang to resurrect a dead beat, rhythm of a slant and a pose of chivalry that’s far from its best, so over-rated, so bits and pieces, accelerated, and so deceiving … Wait, it’s all sounding the same. Rehashed beats and break downs, surround and take the diversity away and make it all feel stale and vacant. Wait, it’s all sounding the same. It’s all charades and shadows. Call it trashing”

My #1 favourite album and my favourite-sounding record. Oddly enough, it sounded impenetrable and ungraspable when I heard it first. I obviously liked something about it enough to stick with it, though, and when I read along to the lyrics it opened up the sound for me. I think it was one of the first albums where I started to hear bass guitar a separate sound within the songs, not just as intro - particularly since it has such a wonderful guttural quality here.

It all just seems to have such a perfect balance: as I hear it, the guitars chime with the high end of the drums and cymbals, the vocals are typically throaty but don’t overwhelm the mix and sit comfortably in the middle, while the bass rumbles alongside everything else. I guess that might have been the cause of my initial difficulty: everything being on the same level, so that it takes a bit of close listening to ‘unlock’ the sound and unfold its structure. The loudness can be a bit fatiguing - less so I think on vinyl, or through headphones with competing sounds? - but conversely if you can immerse yourself within it it becomes very rewarding. 

I can’t proselytise enough about the sound of this album and the quality of music in it, but the strange thing is that I think the follow-up, while having similar songs, sounds terrible. A Flight and a Crash was the first of three albums Hot Water Music released for Epitaph Records, all produced and recorded at Salad Days studios in Baltimore by Brian McTernanCaution has an extremely noticeable thin drum sound, that I’ve seen described as “plastic bucket syndrome”. It’s not completely absent from A Flight and a Crash, but it ruins the later album for me (or at least, although it has some very good songs on it, I rarely want to listen to it specifically). The New What Next has a similar enough drum sound too, but it matches it with quite compressed-sounding guitar so it adds to the experimental feel of that album, which works.

In the other direction, the album immediately preceding A Flight and a Crash is the Walter Schreifels-produced No Division which has a solid if unspectacular hardcore sound, with rolling drums and buzzing distortion, that perfectly suits the musical intent. Before that, the band recorded with Steve Heritage, a relationship which Eric Grubbs in his POST oral history of post-hardcore recounts as ending somewhat tensely with Forever and Counting - a record I always really liked the sound of it, so it surprised me that the band didn’t, although the explanation might be more to do with context:

"I just think it sounds like dogshit," [Jason] Black says. [Chris] Wollard insists the songs sounded great in the studio, but when they got the record, they didn’t like the way it sounded, especially with its limp bass sound. "To us, it sounds fuckin’ horrible, and it’s probably because of the bad taste in our mouth," Wollard says.

I think it definitely has some of the same thinness in the drums as Caution, and I guess consequently a lot of heaviness in the mid-range, but for me that always worked because of how stretched-out the album’s songs feel, particularly in the guitars. But go back to their classic Fuel For The Hate Game, and the balance of A Flight and a Crash re-emerges albeit with a lower sonic fidelity (everything fuzzes, and the bass, instead of a guttural rumble, sounds like it could almost be played on a keyboard - but that’s punk authenticity for ya). For a band that get criticised for sounding the same a lot, I hear a good deal of (admittedly subtle and probably interpretative on my part) variety in their discography.

(Source: Spotify)

hot water music Perfecting Sound Forever 00s post-hardcore 90s
Comments (View) | 8 notes
Jan 22
Permalink

Yeah, so Titus Andronicus and Local Business are both pretty interesting (kind of a survey record of various kinds of American punk/pop-punk, which is - minus the Springsteenisms - what made me think of this) but this is still by far the best punk album of the past five years, perhaps even longer. 

(Source: Spotify)

shooting at unarmed men punk 00s
Comments (View) | 2 notes
Aug 17
Permalink

The For Carnation, ‘Emp. Man’s Blues’ from The For Carnation (2000)

Another album (now added) I had forgotten about for my Pitchfork list. I think at times I liked this even more than Slint andSpiderland itself.

231 plays
post-rock the for carnation 00s
Comments (View) | 9 notes
Aug 16
Permalink indie punk 00s
Comments (View) | 3 notes
Apr 04
Permalink

goodboye asked: How did you get into punk music? :)

Completely randomly. A friend’s brother, I think it was, listened to Green Day, and I didn’t really listen to anything, so it seemed like as good as place as any to start. So the first CD I ever bought was Warning, and then I worked it out from there.

green day punk 00s
Comments (View) | 2 notes
Mar 13
Permalink

Mclusky - ‘whiteliberalonwhiteliberalaction’ from My Pain and Sadness is More Sad and Painful Than Yours (2000)

Mclusky - subverting the language of pornography since before their second album Mclusky Do Dallas (2002)

100 plays
mclusky punk 00s
Comments (View) | 35 notes