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. 27, 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.
Apr 25
Permalink

Embracing Neoliberalism

Listening to the Embrace album recently, I started wondering where the line is between inspirational (if at times rather didactic) moral truths and the agenda of individualistic personal responsibility that characterises most attempts to deflect from social and structural issues today. For example, when Ian MacKaye sings, in ‘No More Pain’

"Your emotions are nothing but politics, so get control"
it’s a powerful (if blunt) statement of the personal-is-political, urging people to realize they are not entirely at the mercy of social and cultural forces without at least some agency in how they can respond to them. Even if that is initially only through defiance, it offers hope of change. But what if such agency is illusory - what if the corollary is
"Your behaviours are nothing but economics"
and (too complex to fit in a lyric) control is something you already have, and must have, at least to the extent which the economic system allows.

I’ve just got to the part towards the end of The Birth of Biopolitics where Foucault asks “is not economics the analysis of forms of rational conduct and does not all rational conduct, whatever it may be, fall under something like economic analysis?”. We see this in popular terms today with things like Freakonomics, and more generally in the expansion of neoliberal ideas to the operation of previously ‘social’ and non-economic areas of life.

This “colossal definition” is difficult to argue against except with a firm conviction in ideological alternatives or an awareness of the scientific weakness of economics or behavioural psychology; but it seems to me that the latter objection, while convincing, is contingent and provisional on inferior knowledge. Already advertising works by deliberately exploiting the irrationality of human behaviour; or in other, perhaps more Foucauldian terms, it has rationalised the irrational so as to better fit it into the economic schema.

What this all has to do with Embrace I’m not really sure. I guess I’m just wondering if the individual they’re addressing, trying to break away from the tide of nihilism and cruelty caused by the breakdown of the post-war accommodated capitalist society, isn’t perhaps more similar to the constructed individual under neoliberalism which we rail against today, post-crisis. I think the frank addressing of mental and emotional health is really important, but the tricky thing is identifying the amount of agency the individual really has in their social and economic context.

emo foucault embrace
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Mar 27
Permalink

Sinaloa - ‘The Earth Is On Fire’ from Ampere/Sinaloa Split

voices join me in the dust, but there are too many to understand, and the languages are not my own

99 plays
sinaloa emo screamo
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Mar 26
Permalink

Mahria - ‘Save Yourself’ from Self-Titled LP

"Good luck kidding yourself for a little bit longer. It’s all going to come crashing down."

H/t to @ianmaleney for reminding me about this band

49 plays
emo screamo punk
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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
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Nov 20
Permalink

Swing Kids - ‘El Camino Car Crash’ from Discography (1997)

potential parallels between the evolution of emo and zen, #1:

"In the Ryoan-ji garden, the Heian aesthetic concept of aware, the thought that beauty must die, has been replaced by the Zen idea of yūgen, whicn means, among other things, profound suggestiveness, a reduction to only those elements in a creative work that move the spirit, without the slightest concession to prettiness or ornament.”

Thomas Hoover, Zen Culture (previously)

in other words, moving from an approach that expanded the emotional content and context of hardcore music (the Rites of Spring/Moss Icon axis) the more chaotic and intensive movement of 90s emo condensed it down to short bursts that were not only more ascetic and/or minimalist by comparison, but also more vigorously expressive in the moment.

(I do like my “concessions to prettiness”, however, and will admit they are still present here in the more melodic parts - I’ll leave it up to someone else to propose another song that more purely expresses the idea)

(Source: Spotify)

emo zen hardcore post-hardcore swing kids
Comments (View) | 14 notes
Nov 19
Permalink

wolfpartyjoe said: I agree with you about bands like Loma. That sound seems to "pass" in both d-beat/"fast hardcore" and emo leaning scenes, where twinkly stuff is pretty niche and had to reach a critical mass of people to get this amount of attention.

I just listened to I.V. there and realised/remembered that it is heavy as fuck - especially as an arc across the first few songs up until the point where the sound literally disintegrates (in fidelity). That dynamic does seem plausible - although the whole ‘skramz’ thing was I suppose the attempt to define that particular revivalist subgenre of abrasive/chaotic hardcore.  

emo loma prieta post-hardcore
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just a taste, and it might not come this way again

"The genre endured a lot of dramatic shapeshifts over a relatively short amount of time, and different audiences fastened to different embodiments. Not that house or hip-hop didn’t experience similar quicksilver evolutions; I guess with those it’s just easier to perceive a foundation, whereas emo is sort of already an aerial evolution of hardcore. There’s also maybe less allegiance to a core aesthetic among emo listeners. There are always Minor Threat or Black Flag fans that think of those bands as forming some essential fabric of hardcore from which further bands are sort of more compromised translations. Maybe I’ve just never encountered someone who thinks of Embrace and Rites of Spring in the same way. The music was always sort of immediately changeable."

A Rational Conversation: Is Emo Back? : The Record: NPR (via andrewtsks)

Brad Nelson saying some really intelligent stuff about that most misunderstood of genres (maybe? not really I suppose).

I’ve never been into the poppier side of emo, or the more technical/twinklier end of screamo, so for me the high point of contemporary emo was stuff like Sinaloa (still going I think/hope) and …Who Calls So Loud and the various other post-Orchid groups - good point made above is that the ‘revival’ is coming a little more than a decade past the genre’s previous peak, rather than the more usual 20-year cultural “retromania” cycle, which is perhaps a good indication of its groundedness and continuity in counter/sub-culture. Then there’s the more abrasive stuff like Loma Prieta which, while highly reflective of certain early 90s styles I think, is the kind of thing that will probably always crop up but isn’t quite accessible enough to make a broader trend - although I could be wrong on that (as with most other things).

On the point about emo being a boys’ club: there are a few prominent female-fronted punk bands around, like White Lung or most recently Perfect Pussy, that while not exactly ‘emo’ are definitely emotionally aggressive; and for the past while I’ve been finding that its female artists such as EMA or Torres who’ve best represented the expression in lyrical and musical terms of the emotional intensity I associated first with emo (of course much of the same could apply to most singer-songwriters, but I guess I find some echo of the underlying post-hardcore - guitar - forcefulness in them, or something).

emo
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Oct 26
Permalink
dischord:

Two positive Hoover write-ups, Feces #4. 12/94.
Hoover’s The Lurid Traversal of Route 7 is back in print on LP.

Kinda hard to read, but I think the write-up on the left for the Hoover/Lincoln ‘Two-Headed Coin’ split 7” says “You need this, don’t torture yourself any longer! Psst it’s emo.”
Also, good news!

dischord:

Two positive Hoover write-ups, Feces #4. 12/94.

Hoover’s The Lurid Traversal of Route 7 is back in print on LP.

Kinda hard to read, but I think the write-up on the left for the Hoover/Lincoln ‘Two-Headed Coin’ split 7” says “You need this, don’t torture yourself any longer! Psst it’s emo.”

Also, good news!

hoover dischord emo 90s post-hardcore
Comments (View) | 31 notes
Aug 28
Permalink

therearedemonsinsideofus said: Kerosene 454

Am I a fan: Definitely. Or, at least, of Situation at Hand/Race - I never got into their later albums and I mainly like that album for its intense ‘sound’.

First song I heard by them: Probably ‘What Was’, via the Epitonic page for the band (discovered a lot of post-hardcore stuff browsing that website back in the days when individually downloading mp3s was a thing) or maybe if it was on the Fourfa page - at least if I didn’t hear it there, I got the description:

"A temple to the DC octave-chord noisy over-distorted SG/Marshall guitar. This is the guitar sound bands dream about. These are all sweet pop songs made impossibly heavy by the crushing weight of the loudest guitars ever recorded."

Bonus points for the Kerouackian use of the adverb “impossibly”, which certainly appealed to me at the time (and to be honest still does). 

Favorite song: I think maybe ‘Greener’, just cos it’s the opener and kicks you with that headlong rush of sound. I’m not the greatest at the best of times for remembering particular songs, and the ones on Situation at Hand tend to run into each other in the best way possible. Andrew makes a good case for ‘Pointer Ridge’/’Nines’ here though.

Seen them live: Lol no (this is probably going to be a recurrent answer)

Favorite member: Whichever (or both?) of the Wall brothers who were involved with Slowdime Records and a few Hoover family bands. 

kerosene 454 emo post-hardcore 90s
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Jun 23
Permalink
favourite Dischord reissue
(okay, the LP is currently out of stock, but that’s not quite the same as limited edition…)

favourite Dischord reissue

(okay, the LP is currently out of stock, but that’s not quite the same as limited edition…)

hoover dischord emo vinyl vinyl sunday post-hardcore 90s
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