Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ghost Throats #7: Cope - Cancer is a Gift

My life is not too hard. I have an amazing spouse, great friends, a decent job and the ability to play and release a ton of music and art. I'm thankful for that...I really am...but when I look at the world I see fucked up things. As humans we are capable of a great deal of ugliness and hate. We oppress, rape, assault and condemn. We treat others like animals, and act in despicable ways. Every time I turn on the TV or the radio I feel so much rage and despair. We're fucking things up pretty bad.

Cope embraces this anger and despair...they see ugliness and pain and horror, and they create some seriously pissed off hardcore from it. Live or recorded, Cope exists in violent bursts of fury and intensity. You cannot stand by and experience this band as a spectator. They grab you in a chokehold and force you to participate in their display of rage. I've witnessed this band tear each other and their instruments to shreds on numerous occasions and never once has it felt like a gimmick.

Cope released a 10" about a year and a half ago, and while it is fantastic and worth picking up and owning (especially the smoke/clear version, beautiful!), I feel like Cope channeled the true intensity of their live show on their self released cassette from last summer, Cancer Is a Gift. The space between songs is just as important as the song itself, and Cope are masters of using sound clips and noise to increase the tense atmosphere of their sound. So while this tape may be 4 songs, it exists as one incredibly tense and ferocious 16 minute track, and really should be listened as such. Make sure you have Cope's blog open while listening to this. Read the lyrics and read the explanations. It adds to it, trust me. If you get the chance to experience a live Cope show, do not pass up on the opportunity.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ghost Throats #6: Flint - Clubhouse

Flint are maniacs. That's pretty much the best way to describe them: Maniacs. Every comparison falls flat. I didn't think after the death of Fuck the Tundra, that anything these members did afterwards could top the insanity of their previous band - but Flint are on another plane. They make the Locust look like hacks and Blood Brothers look like amateurs. I suppose that's what happens, geniuses born amidst the isolation of small towns, you take 90's pop culture, face paint, guitar wizardry, the most deft drumming ever, back hair, a vocalist who doesn't know whether he's singing or vomiting into the mic, stick all that in a blender and hit frappe - and you end up with this horribly delicious concoction that is Flint. I don't get it, I just drink from the cup of maniacs.

Download all their tracks to date on Bandcamp.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ghost Throats #5: Maus - s/t

AB: The photo above was taken by Sean Decory. He's an amazing photographer. Check him out here.

"So if they speak up we scream back, if they threaten us we stand fast"

Being involved with a scene like hardcore can be a tough and somewhat taxing endeavor. It is a scene that attracts some of the best people you will ever meet, but unfortunately at times, some less desirable. People who will take the anger and aggression of the music and use it to destroy what we all work so hard to build. People who will take and take and take and never give back. People who don't share the same passion and urgency as the music warrants and deserve. People like this make loving hardcore difficult and on my worst nights cause me to question my involvement...and worst of all people like this influence me and make act in ways that I less than proud of.

I'm not airing my grievances without a point, so bear with me. Maus is a band that makes me fall back in love with hardcore. When I feel discouraged, burnt out, or overly negative I remember that Maus is playing hardcore with intensity, passion, honesty and most of all heart and I feel reinvigorated. Maus gets it. Vocalist Doug (now pulling double duty as bass player as well) writes intelligent and deeply affecting songs that force you to listen. Songs that are meant to be screamed until hoarse. Songs that are meant to be shared and discussed. He isn't afraid to say what he feels and call out the bullshit he sees and it's something I respect and appreciate in a vocalist. Musically Maus is more complex than the pissed off d-beat hardcore band they originally set out to be, incorporating elements of all facets of hardcore, punk and emo to create something that I really feel anyone into punk rock can enjoy and appreciate.

So I guess the question is does my friendship and obvious bias of this band sway my opinion of them? Probably. But it also goes to show that music played with honesty and passion will always be relevant and important. Do not lose faith in hardcore, be inspired by it. Play harder, scream louder, stay positive!

So far this has only be released as a tour-exclusive CDR, but will hopefully see the vinyl treatment one day soon. Cross your fingers. Download this from their bandcamp.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ghost Throats #4: Auld Beak - s/t Cassette

I think it's a rule - at any given point, Saskatoon has the best band. It's just that when one band ends, all those dudes reshuffle and start the new best band.

Out of the aftermath of Black Magic Pyramid was born Auld Beak - the major difference is that they're aren't playing something horrifying anymore, now they're playing something fun. It's like post-hardcore leaning in the direction of indie rock - or the other way around. See, they're the masters of all styles. If this time around they want to be somewhere in the realm of Brainworms and be all gruff and oddly poppy then they'll do just that - and do it better than everyone. Auld Beak can do what they want. Auld Beak are kings.

Only a handful of these tapes survive at BART - reach out and touch.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ghost Throats #3: Tempest - Passages 12"

The first time Tempest came through town, I missed them and I kept hearing talk of this amazing band from Vancouver who absolutely blew everyone away. Luck would have it, while grabbing a slice of pizza with some friends one night, we ran into the guitarist of Tempest (a former Edmontonian) and he had a handful of demo tapes on him, so I coughed up the $5 despite not having a working tape deck. Money well spent (when I finally got to listen to it months later). When they played in Edmonton with Ghostlimb a few months ago, again, they blew everyone in the tiny hall away, despite being the opening act for a bigger name touring hardcore band.

I wish I knew more about the style of hardcore they play so I had a bit more frame of reference for it. All I know is Tempest plays fast, heavy and loud metal tinged hardcore. While stylistically dissimilar, listening to Passages conjures up the same feelings that City of Caterpillar's self titled does. Claustrophobic, exhausting, and terrifying. Lyrically, vocalist Roger tackles issues like animal rights, overpopulation, religion, and like the music, is pretty heavy and bleak stuff. There is a bit of emo vibe to Tempest that references some of the genres heavier and more chaotic bands like Orchid, Mohinder or Union of Uranus. The last 2 minutes of Passages is some of the best hardcore I've heard in a long, long time and gives me chills every single time I hear it. Amazing use of a soundclip.

Once thing I really appreciate about this band is the attention they pay to their lyrics, even going as far as to include a sort of mini zine in the sleeve. Each song's lyrics are included and explained. It's something that can be misconstrued as overly pretentious or preachy, but I think it's an important part of hardcore and something I've always felt separated this style of music from the rest of the BS released to the general population. Passion, consciousness, and pain is what defines this genre, and what keeps me coming back for more. "We are not machines, we are not cattle"

Download this from the band's Bandcamp.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ghost Throats #2: Book of Caverns - s/t Cassette

AB: Second post of the Ghost Throats series. I'm almost a bit embarrassed to post this. Huge thanks to Kevin for the great post and kind words. Shucks.

As they inevitably must, bands break up, bands reshuffle, bands begin anew.

Book of Caverns play post-hardcore with leanings into post-rock territory. Usually that means songs that go forever, and eventually nowhere ~ but in this case it means something far greater than your modern-day Envy. Yeah, they've shuffled members like crazy and yeah, they have no real sense of how good they are. But truly they have grown into something great. I've watched Book grow from a band unsure of where they're headed into one of the best bands in Alberta. And I feel like Book are only just hitting their stride. This next year is going to be the Year of the Cavern. The musicianship is impeccable. Andrew is one of the most unique vocalists (not to mention one of the best lyricists) in the genre (let alone our little corner of it). The live show is chill-inducing.

Sure, you may say I'm too close to this band to be allowed to write this, but I don't care. I have no choice but to get close. I admire this band so much.

A few copies of this tape still remain at BART headquarters. Don't sleep on this.