Saturday, October 17, 2009

Slayer World Painted Blood Review

By: Stephen Tompkins

Slayer albums since 1998 have lacked the brutality that made Slayer who they were in the '80s and early ‘90s--and fans have put up with its bullshit for too long. Its been three years since the release of Slayer's latest execrable release, Christ Illusion. So, Slayer's forthcoming 10th studio album World Painted Blood, available November 3rd, had better hit hard. Especially since it will be one of Slayer's last three albums ever. I want to hear more Seasons In the Abyss and less Diabolus in Musica.
Although not all of the tracks have been leaked I had a chance to check a few of them out, and it looks as though Slayer may have realized what it was doing wrong for the past 11 years.
When the 7" version of "Psychopathy Red," was released on April 18, blogs everywhere raved about Slayer employing its '80s thrash metal sound that was lost in the shuffle over the past decade, and I totally agree--Slayer has fully reclaimed its sound.
"I think this one has a little bit of everything — more so than anything we've done since Seasons. So I would imagine people are gonna compare it to that one," Slayer guitarist, Kerry King said on the band’s website.
The lyrical matter is on point. See “Psychopathy Red,” a song about a famous Russian serial killer, where lead singer Tom Araya sings:
"Body count Laying down mutilated/It's your time to die/Desolate/Lurk your satisfaction climax with your death/All alone/You're praying intimidated with my lust for fear Dehumanize/Crying out stimulated/Your screams fill my soul."
The rest of the tracks follow suit. "Hate Worldwide," covers Slayer elements fans seek There is the squealing guitar, channeling "Aggressive Perfector," the down-tempo breakdown reminiscent of "Criminally Insane," and Araya hitting the ultra high notes seen on "Angel of Death."
The title track "World Painted Blood," is straight thrash 'til death, the only downside being that King's infamous guitar triplets (see "Raining Blood" on Reign in Blood at about 1:26) have slowed, but the aggressive output is still there.
If the remainder of Slayer's releases encompass the viciousness of World Painted Blood, it won’t matter what region of the world you live in, because it will be Seasons in the Abyss all-year-round.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stereofiend commercial, and other news

Sorry for the lack of updates. School just started back up, and I've been really busy for the past two weeks. But I have some news about other endeavors I'm taking on.

1. For my intermediate journalism class I have a weekly beat to fulfill, and that is to interview street/subway musicians in New York City. So, every week I will go out with a camera, and or camcorder and record these events and post them to the class blog. If you want to visit the class blog go here:

Me talking about my beat for the class. I know I'm not the best at talking! That's why I write!

2. I have plans to shoot a Stereofiend commercial for youtube in the coming weeks, and it should be pretty rad. I haven't decided yet who I will shoot it with, but regardless it will be interesting.

3. I've been listening to a lot of music here's a good screamo band I discovered, and my vote for worst (attempt at a) screamo band I've ever heard.

The People Listening Wonder.

Good Screamo) The People Listening Wonder. This band is broken up now, but they released a split with Dodeward a few years back. In all they recorded six tracks, four of which are available. Be sure to check them out.

Bad Screamo) My own private Alaska. Honestly it was the name of the band that first interested me, but that's as far as it went. I was intrigued when I heard they had a piano player... until I listened to it. This is not real screamo, but a knock off version suited for an appearance on MTV. 16-year-old kids everywhere who think this, and bands like The Used is good screamo should go fuck themselves!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Masakari East Coast tour 2009

*The following chronicles the two weeks I spent on the road with Masakari, spanning August 1-August 14, 2009. The experience changed my life for the better and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to hit the road with my friends. I hope we do this again, sooner than later!

Masakari, Mad Minds, Dave, Jason, Anthony, and I. Cincinnati, OH.

*The list of cities played in order: New York, NY, S. Burlington VT, Hartford, CT, Pittsburgh, PA, Richmond, VA, Parkersburg, W. VA, Columbus, OH, Cincinnati, OH, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, Cleveland, OH

*Photos courtesy of Jason Frank, unless otherwise noted. More photos available.

It's raining, I'm in my room, and all that I can think about is how depressed I am that tour is over, and I'm not enjoying the open road and good company of friends any longer. Let's do this again... soon!

Wait! That's not all! I want to tell you more, but I have so many thoughts jumbled in my head about this tour, that organizing them into a traditional article for you feels impossible. So I'm going to share my memories of tour with you... in the jumbled order that they came to my head, so you can enjoy the memories as they came to me. Promise to never forget them, because I sure as hell won't!

I can't even begin to describe the late night front and back porch conversations, the getting slap-happy every fucking night and cracking up at nothing. The front porch jam sessions in Pittsburgh, the driving to Vermont in the rain to play for 10 people, getting paid $10, telling a drunk man out front that this was the biggest crowd draw we'd ever gotten, and that we usually play barns and carry our equipment on horseback. Maybe you want to hear how 10 minutes later we were threatened to get off the property or the owner was going to get his gun.

Masakari. Cincinnati, OH. Photo: Jason Frank

I can't begin to tell you about how Bat damon changed our lives, Dr. Rainbows was crazy, he offered us a banana. The pizza was good, and how I decided to stay on the whole tour. I can't imagine describing the hi-jinks that went into every gas station stop, getting called "faggots," in West Virginia. Beating the shit out of drunk asshoes in Columbus with Mad Minds, having the same drunk assholes tear my Yoda shirt I bought the night before in Richmond, Virginia. Wearing my Yoda shirt as I write this, because it was sewn back up for me, and I haven't washed because it still smells like tour!

What about the show in Lexington, Kentucky with Mad Minds, where we made $1.50 each, and Mike and Kellar stripped to their underwear during the set. How Masakari was only allowed to play a five minute set that night, and how it seemed like a waste of time going there, but turned out to be really fun! What about Joe's crazy roommate, shit there were a couple, scratch that. Fuck, I forgot to tell you about white Richard Pryor, or the guy with hair plugs in New Jersey, who didn't know where the fuck he was. What about the water hose fights in Columbus, Jason thinking that "Krumsville," was hilarious, and Nick telling him it wasn't. Jon almost wrecking the van within five minutes of driving. Credit or debit?

Masakari playing my favorite set at Abc No Rio. Jason's rock hard nips. Joe making shoes out of tan hide. Jon doing the worm in a circle on the streets of Pittsburgh. Jason and Jon having a worm race in Mr. Robotos. The singer of Bludwulf getting out of the van in sweatpants and a t-shirt, and immediatley putting on leather pants, catchers pads, and eyeliner in the van mirror. The same dude putting a Chaotic Alliance 7" on our merch table to spite us, and us selling it two minutes later! Yeah, fuck you, brah! The singer of Bludwulf mispronouncing the name of his own song, and being corrected by an audience member, and him talking about smoking a bong in the graveyard!

Jason claiming Vermont was famous for cheese. Us not believing him, and finding out little by little on tour that he was right. Holy shit! How could I forget the guy in Pittsburgh walking down the street selling and saying, Incense, Oils, Movies, and Music! And Nick's touch down dance to go with the song. Or Dirty Dave in Cincinnati.

Masakari. Pittsburgh, PA. Photo: Jason Frank

Me sucking at rolling Buglers. Listening to "Whatever (Folk Song in C)," almost every day. Black ladies asking Greg and I if we knew where we were in Kentucky. Mad Minds tour van breaking down in Cincinnati and it fucking sucking:( Dagmar playing in West Virginia! Coney's at Skyline Chili not being that great. Euclid as fuck with Anthony. Asking Anthony if he remembers back in the day.

Mad Minds tour van after breaking down. Cincinnati, OH. Photo. Jason Frank

Writing songs about Bat Damon. Singing Doo-Wop songs at the top of our lungs on our way back to Cincinnati from Lexington. Tony, and I, and Edwin Bohr! Talking about Boy Meets World until 4 in the morning. The Brass Rail, and other crazy events in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Preying Hands ruling. Watching Star Wars a million times. Vegan Jumbalaya in Milwaukee. Jason drunk on wine in Pittsburgh, and him being hilarious. Record shopping everywhere, the birdman game with Mad Minds. Jon starting every sentence with "I'm not going to lie." The back window of the van leaking every time it rained. Around the world and Horse in Pittsburgh. And playing around the world until 5 am with Jason and Joe. Joe being terrible, and Jason eventually winning!

Group photo with Preying Hands. Chicago, IL. Photo: ?

Mad Minds being the most fun band ever-- on and off stage! The creepy dude in Columbus that tried to get us to go out with him at 5 in the morning, while sitting on his bike, and asking us through a window. The spider in Tony's sleeping bag. Nick yelling "Kevin," at the kid in Vermont, when talking about Home Alone. Greg giving Jason a "Fuck Italy," tattoo. Joe didn't break any strings on tour (I think.) Kellar saying "No sleep 'til Brooklyn," to Joe when he was trying to sleep. Me asking Jon to pick a color in the rainbow, saying "choose from Roy G Biv," him saying pink and me telling him it's not Poy G Biv. Anthony asking Jon if he believes in Angels, right after my question.

Using three flannels as my blanket, and my bookbag as a pillow. Following Jason for two miles barefoot into Fort Wayne, with Tony and Nick to see if he would make a move... at 5 am! Gas crisis '09 (Nick and Tony will get that.) Greg doing De Niro. Did somebody say wood? Joe doing Louis Armstrong and saying "I'm over here, Elmo!" Being so glad I stayed on the whole tour, every day!

Holy fuck! Cleveland Snake Squad! Fake Star Wars tats. Bench press competitions in Sears. The Yellow Wallpaper convo with Tony. The pushy bum in Kentucky, who wouldn't give up. Listening to Surcease in Columbus. Joe parking in Chicago. Staying up all night in the van talking about Zodiac, with Greg and Joe and talking about how Elliott Smith was murdered.

Tony, and I waiting to be paid. Cincinnati, OH. Photo: Jason Frank

Jon seeing "Insurrect. Thanks for having us!" written on a wall at the house show in Fort Wayne, and saying "I wonder if Insurrect played here." Greg impersonating Daniel Day-Lewis to a tee in There Will Be Blood, as well as the girl in VA counting to 10, and talking about potatoes and ivory in an Irish accent. Seeing the singer of Municipal Waste at Aladdin's.

Finding a crazy character in every city. Skating the Indiana skate park with Jason, Greg, and Jon. Joe buying six snapples at one time. Watching 'Return of the Jedi,' on a projector in Richmond, VA. The parking ticket in Chicago. Yinz in Pittsburgh. Anthony asking if "Running with the Devil," was actually running with the Devil, or having a run-in with the Devil. Jon seeing how many M&M's he could stuff in his mouth.

Tony, and Jon with the M&M's. Cincinnati, OH. Photo: Jason Frank

Getting on the freeway going the wrong way the first minute of tour. Jon wanting Taco Bell all the time. Me punching Greg's guitar on accident and getting a bloody hand. Floor stomping with Masakari every night, bruising my heels because of it. Being the hype man in the crowd every night. Only bringing one shirt on tour, and having to borrow other people's for the remainder. Getting to shower now and then. Sleeping in the van with Nick and Tony in Richmond and the mother fucker doing construction next to our car at 6:30 am. The Yoda bookbag idea with Tony. Being obsessed with Yoda in general. Bonding with friends. The fossil shirt in CT (Greg.)

Wishing this was my Star Wars collection. Milwaukee, WI. Photo: Jason Frank

Skating with that crazy dude in CT. Not knowing the lyrics to Masakari songs, but screaming along with them anyways. The kid throwing up while I tried to sleep in NYC. Wanting to see the U.S. Waiting in the hospital in Cleveland to see if Nick was OK. Jon buying 13 LP's on tour. Jon losing his cigarettes every day. Doing the death metal voice the first few nights of tour, losing my voice and never getting the death metal voice fully back. The house show in CT ruled! Masakari played really well in Milwaukee and Chicago. The end to the last song of Masakari's set blowing my mind every night!

Masakari. Chicago, IL. Photo: Jason Frank

Tony getting complimented on his lyrics by a kid in Chicago. Stacking shit on Jason while he slept in the van, and Greg writing on him. Doing all of the tape inserts on the way to NYC. Not being able to sleep/breathe in the dungeon. The boring ass kid in the Columbus backyard. Unloading, and loading/organizing the trailer every night. Only having one day off. Being pissed that we had to spend the day off in Pittsburgh. The kids at Travis' being wasted off of one 40 oz. each. Wanting to go swimming every day, but never doing it. Joe playing the song from Dennis the Menace. Seeing new faces every day. Trying to find parking with Tony in Richmond. Almost getting Mad Minds to get in the Masakari van for the rest of tour from Cincinnati. Group photos in Cincinnati.

The arguement between Jon, and Tony about The Clash. Joe getting the car keys stuck in a telephone wire. Jon surviving on skittles. Throwing Skittles, and bread at the van while Tony slept in it. Being jealous that Mad Minds went to a water park, and we didn't. Kellar having blood on his Vans. Trying to write with Tony. Staten Island (I have no words!) The subway to my apartment running slower then fuck when we had no sleep. Jason and Jon reminding me of The 3 Stooges, especially when Tony was moving the van to the hitch in Milwaukee. Burritos at Fuel. Nick walking down the street in Pittsburgh, when I didn't know he went on the car ride with us, and saying that dude looks like Nick, and realizing it was actually him! The Blood Clots playing entirely too long in Chicago. Waking up on the car ride from Chicago FREEZING AS HELL! No one giving up a seat to Greg in the middle of the night. He had to sit shotgun the whole drive. Sorry, Greg! Having the best two weeks of my entire life!

Well, that should be long enough, and keep your brains occupied with plenty of thoughts. I just want you to know I had a lot of fun, and hope I get the chance to do this again!

I leave you with this...

Are you serious Jones? You must be seriously stoned! You fuck with Stevie T, and you get seroiusly owned. Are you a computer geek? You'll get seriously pwned. The rap battle and kingdom has become my throne.

'Nuf said.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Black Dahlia Murder Majesty DVD

I'm aware that the Black Dahlia Murder 'Majesty,' DVD came out back in May, but I only had the opportunity to see some of it last night. Instead of watching the live set (I've seen them before) we decided to watch the documentary, which gave a glimpse into the life of Black Dahlia Murder on the road.

The beginning of the documentary painted a rather boring picture of the band, who almost seemingly never changed their daily routine, which included: eating food, smoking weed, and peeing in bottles in the car. But as the video continued Black Dahlias Murder's antics on tour began to feel homely, as if that's what you would be doing if you went on tour with your friends. The video also delves into the lives of their tour managers, Metalblade execs, sound guys, etc. showing that there is much more to what their fans get to see every night.

Highlights include: The Gorilla suit, a roller blader almost falling, Black Dahlia Murder bong, Jagermeister, and the fucking bassist long boarding in just about every city under the sun. Oh yeah, the music is good, too!

Below is my personal favorite Black Dahlia Murder song 'Elder Misanthropy,' live.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Approaching Tours Update

*Both bands talked about below will play together in Cincinnati, Ohio 8/9/09

OK, so I'm settled back into my New apartment in Brooklyn, but am in Ohio for a couple days for personal reasons. Anyways there are a few things I want to tell you guys about.

First of all, my friend Tyler is in a sick ass raw punk/d-beat band based in New York City called, Perdition, which is set to embark on its "Death In The Midwest," tour. Be sure to go to their show, buy their merch, and drink a beer with them!

Perdition - 4/18/09 @ RETOX by Matt Mcgrath


8/3-Brooklyn- @ Rock Star Bar- w/ Brainkiller, Dawn of Humans, Thriller
8/5-Boston, MA- @ TBA- w/ Lotus Fucker +
8/6- New Brunswick, NJ- @ America - w/ TBA
8/7- Philadelphia, PA - @ The Shore House - w/ Nightfall, Hate and War+
8/8- York, PA - @ TBA - w/ TBA
8/9- Cincinnati, OH - @ Blue Rock Tavern- w/ Masakari, Mad Minds +
8/10-Columbus, OH- @ Legion of Doom- w/ Painkiller, Nukkehammer +
8/11-Cleveland, OH-@ Now That's Class- w/ hipster bands
8/12-Chicago, IL-@ Sludges- w/ White Rose, Corpse Gas +
8/13 Madison, WI- @ Subvert City- w/ White Rose, Pyroklast, Securicor
8/14- Minneapolis, MN- @ Distortion Days AFTERPARTY- w/ Nerveskade
8/15-Minneapolis- DISTORTION DAYS FEST @ Bedlam Theatre- w/ Misery, Anguish, Question, SSR, Nerveskade, Detonate +
8/16- nursing hangovers
8/17- Indianapolis, IN- @ TBA- w/ Thrashington DC (FR), Killin' It! +
8/18- camping
8/19- Lexington, KY- @ The Boiler Room- w/ Total Abuse, Asadashi +
8/21- Richmond, VA- @ TBA - w/ TBA
8/22- partying at best friends day
8/23- Baltimore, MD- @TBA basement - w/ TBA

Secondly, my friends from Cleveland, Masakari (think His Hero is Gone) are going on an east coast tour this August, too. Be sure to check them out, buy their new 7", or their tape, or a t-shirt. Masakari tour dates are listed below.

Masakari @ Now That's Class. '08


7/30 8:00 Trumbullplex w/ Rid The World Detroit, Michigan
8/1 3:00 ABC No Rio w/ Witch Hunt, Stations,Intifada/Liberate! NYC
8/2 8:00P The Thrash Can w/ Weight of the World South Burlington, Vermont
8/3 8:00P Whitney House w/ Oil Tanker Hartford, Connecticut
8/4 8:00P Roboto w/ Swallowed Up, Drought and Heartless Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
8/5 8:00P NEED HELP Baltimore, Maryland
8/6 9:00P NARA Richmond, Virginia
8/7 6:00P The Belly Of The Beast w/ Mad Minds and RTW, Parkersburg, West Virginia
8/8 8:00P 15th House w/ Mad Minds Columbus, Ohio
8/9 8:00P Blue Rock Tavern w/ Mad Minds & Perdition (18+) Cincinnati, Ohio
8/10 8:00P The Boiler Room w/ Mad Minds Lexington, Kentucky
8/11 8:00P 1624 N. Harrison St. w/ Mad Minds Indianapolis, Indiana
8/12 8:00P GARFIELD HOUSE w/ Protestant, Mad Minds, and Preying Hands Milwaukee,WI
8/13 7:00P Rancho Huevos w/ Mad Minds and Preying Hands Chicago, Illinois
8/14 8:00P Tower 2012 w/ Mad Minds, Start Suckin’, and Heath Deadger Cleveland, Ohio

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Stereofiend logo

Thanks to my friend, Steve Chike's artistic ability, Stereofiend now has a working logo! Check it out and tell me what you think!

Chike plays guitar in the Cleveland band 'Fear Me,' be sure to stop by their site, and give them a listen.

Fear Me. Live. Photo: JL Photography

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thursday- Common Existence Review (old)

*This is a review I wrote for The New School Free Press back In February. I'll be kind of busy for the next couple days moving. Be back soon.
<3 Stephen

Thursday-Common Existence
(Epitaph Records)
Release Date: February 17, 2009
By: Stephen Tompkins

Thursday's split CD with Japanese Screamo legends, Envy, was easily one of DIY music's most highly anticipated releases in 2008. It saw Thursday drawing inspiration from Envy's unmatched landscape of sound and fusing that with a raw ‘90s hardcore influence. In many ways the split had to be successful—especially since Kill the House Lights (2007) received about as much critical buzz as Shaquille O'Neal's Shaq-Fu: Da Return.

Envy. Live.

Thursday's forthcoming full-length, Common Existence, available February 17 on Epitaph Records, is proof that its last couple trips to the recording studio have been a period of discovering what does and doesn't work for its sound.

The opening track (and definite highlight), "Resuscitation of a Dead Man," immediately draws the listener in with its melodic and often chaotic vocals set to dizzying riffs, creating a vibe of unexpected sound exploration. "Last Call" and "Friends in the Armed Forces" serve as driving post-hardcore anthems and could perhaps be featured as singles in the future. "Circuits of Fever" features a slow drone build-up but takes off in uncharted territory, waning into a field of ambiance filled riffs channeling Explosions in Sky's scope and fragile Robert Smith-like vocals.

In a recent interview with, Thursday's singer Geoff Rickly said: "The record …in a lot of ways is the first time that I've looked at all the big life events that happen from a more adult perspective."

Which may explain why in, "You Were the Cancer" he sings, "In your blood there is a sad, sad song/Bleeding through your nervous system/It's killing you but it's bringing me along/You were the cancer in my life."

Thursday fans rejoice: if the band's new approach to writing lyrics and the moniker of the opening track are any indications of the future of this outfit — than perhaps there is no fear of a common existence among the 99 cent bin.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Slayer Album coming this summer!

It has been three years since the release of Christ Illusion, and I'm happy to announce that later this summer Slayer will release it's tenth studio album, World Painted Blood. I know someone who couldn't give a fuck (cough, Shane West, cough.) I don't have an exact date for the release of the new album, but on the bands website,, it says, "late this summer."

Slayer circa 1988.

I'm more excited for this album than I was for God Hates Us All and for Christ Illusion, because I had a chance to hear the single-release "Psychopathy Red," a song about a Russian serial killer, back in March or April, and it sounds like straight '80s thrashing SLAYER!

Kerry King said, "I think this one has a little bit of everything — more so than anything we've done since Seasons. So I would imagine people are gonna compare it to that one."

Confirmed tracks (thus far)

"Psychopathy Red"
"Beauty Through Order"
"Unit 731"
"Playing with Dolls"
"Public Display of Dismemberment"
"World Painted Blood"[1]
"Hate Worldwide"

So, look out for the new album and be sure to check Slayer out on their Mayhem tour this summer(unfortunately they aren't playing NYC.)

July 31, 2009 Blossom Music Center, Cleveland, OH

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Have you heard? Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse- Dark Night of the Soul

By: Stephen Tompkins

The album reviewed below was almost canned by EMI. It is available almost everywhere on the internet!

You know Danger Mouse as half of Gnarls Barkley,or the guy who made Jay-Z's Grey Album, and you may have heard of Sparklehorse (I'm unfamiliar with the latter, myself)a U.K. electro band featuring, Mark Linkous, and Scott Minor. Well, Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse hooked up with about every recording artist under the sun(jk... rowling)and produced one sick album,Dark Night of the Soul. I'm not kidding, this album has something for everyone! Including cameos from David Lynch!

You've got the album opener "Revenge," featuring The Flaming Lips. "Little Girl," featuring Julian Casablancas (The Strokes) and his song is every bit Strokes meets hip-hop. This one even has a dose of punk and post-punk, the former being "Pain," featuring Iggy Pop and the latter being "Angel's Harp," featuring Black Francis(trust me, I probably hate calling him that more than you hate reading me call him that, but that's how he is credited on the album!) talking about plucking his Angel's harp all day! The cameo from The Shins' James Mercer is much appreciated on "Insane Lullaby." It's too hard for me to pick a favorite song on the album, because they are all good in their own way, you just have to check it out for yourself!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Regina Spektor-Far CD Review

Regina Spektor-Far
Release date: June 23, 2009
Label: Sire

Reviewed by: Stephen Tompkins

Far, is the Fifth studio album, and third major-label-release from Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor, who emerged from the anti-folk scene prominent in New York City’s East Village with her debut major-label-record, 2004’s Soviet Kitsch. Far, was released June 23, 2009.

Far, is comprised of 13 songs, and sees Spektor switching between solemn-toned ballads and poppy piano diddys, with almost every other song. The solemn-tone comes full-force in “Blue Lips,” where she croons, “Blue, the most human color/ Blue lips, blue veins/Blue, the color of our planet/From far, far away.”
The piano diddys come into play in such songs as “The Calculation,” but namely, “Folding Chair,” where she proves that piano parts don’t have to be extremely intricate to be appreciated (trust me, she could write an intricate piece if she wanted, she attended Manhattan School of Music and studied classical piano.)

In “Folding Chair,” she makes sarcastic and funny comments like “Let’s get a silver bullet trailer and have a baby boy/I’ll safety-pin his clothes all cool and you’ll grafitti up his toys, which channels the playfulness of found in Begin To Hope’s “That Time.”

“Dance Anthem of the ‘80s,” is just that, it comes loaded with quirky ‘80s-esque beats, and the lyrics are just as ridiculous, “There's a meat market down the street/The boys and the girls watch each other eat/You are so sweet, so sweet/Dancing and moving to that beat, that beat.”

With Spektor’s ability to write playful and serious songs, and successfully meld them on the same album, it should come as no surprise to anyone, that she has come as far as she has.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Why isn't Michael Jackson answering my phone calls?!

I'll start off by saying this: I'm not one of those people who is going to sit here and claim that I was the biggest Michael Jackson fan (you know who you are), because I wasn't! I remember liking some of his music/dance moves as a kid (yes, I can moonwalk), I own a first pressing of 'Thriller,' on vinyl, I learned 'Beat It,' on guitar when I was 13, and I am able to see that he was obviously a very talented musician/dancer, but I think it's fucked up that since Jackson's death, everyone is suddenly emerging as a "closet," MJ fan! For instance, I was on (a better music site than Pandora, in my opinion) the other day, and when I clicked the popular button, nothing but Michael Jackson songs came up. I've been going to that site long enough to say that I never once saw any of his songs in the popular list until his untimely death. That's all I'm saying!

I remember a couple years ago I entered a contest for Rolling Stone, and it had hopeful music journalists come up with a famous musician to interview and to ask them a few questions, and I chose Michael Jackson, and these are the two questions I can remember hoping to ask!

1. Have you ever considered actually moonwalking on the moon?

2. With the recent allegations against you in the case of touching young boys, would you ever consider making a Children's album?

Anyways, people are skeptical about Michael Jackson's death, because in the video above, which is shot only two days before he died and in preparation for his upcoming This Is It! conerts, Jackson seems to be moving flawlessly, with the energy he is known for having. Whereas Randy Philips says MJ was frail and listless upon his death. I'm just curious if anyone thinks there was foul play involved in MJ's death? Or if anyone even cares?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fall of Efrafa Documentary To Cover Band's Last Year

Fall of Efrafa @ ABC No Rio. New York City. March 2009.

The English(UK) melodic-atmospheric-crust band, Fall of Efrafa, has always said that it would call it quits after it completed it's trilogy of albums "The Warren of Snares," whose ideas revolve around the political themes and overtones in Richard Adams "Watership Down." Fall of Efrafa's final album 'Inle,' is due out Fall of '09, and will see the end of one of the most inovative and elusive bands in the history of crust.

Members of Fall of Efrafa have decided to make a documentary following the band in it's last year (this will include footage from Fall of Efrafa's US tour)and is being made in appreciation for the help the fans and friends of the band have given them. If you have footage or photos of the band playing it's only US tour, be sure to get it to the band, they want as much fan footage and photos included in the documentary as possible.

I was lucky enough to see Fall of Efrafa at ABC No Rio back in March, and let me tell you, it was one of the most epic, heartfelt sets I have experienced in my life! Fall of Efrafa literally puts so much emotion into their music, it's incredible!

For those of you who never had the privilege of seeing Fall of Efrafa live, I'm sorry to say, you missed out. The band's impact on the crust/DIY scene will surely live on forever both through the trilogy of CD's and now this exciting documentary.

Definitely expect a review of 'Inle,' this fall!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

‘I don’t really like Slayer,’ and other stupid shit Shane West told me!

Photos, Article, and Interviews By: Stephen Tompkins


I’m standing next to the jukebox in the bar area of the Cleveland punk venue, Now That’s Class. There is a young man with a one inch Mohawk, an Ernest P. Worrell t-shirt and a disconcerted look on his baby-face shuffling through the song options—he is the new face of The Germs, Shane West.

“I can’t think of what to play, I have one song left,” West said.

I point to Slayer’s first album ‘Show No Mercy,’ and tell him to choose a song off that album.

“I don’t really like Slayer!” West said. Insert record screech here.

With that being said, I had a jaded outlook on Shane West from that point forward. Slayer rules, Shane West doesn’t!

I remember The Germs came to Cleveland in 2006 and hearing that Shane West (A Walk to Remember) was taking Darby Crash’s (RIP) place as the front man. Upset, I decided that even if I hadn’t had to work that night I wouldn’t have gone anyways. But it’s been a few years and I felt I was ready to see The Germs, regardless of West’s presence and so I went.

I skipped the opening acts, and opted to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, in the back area, but managed to make it inside to see the Krum Bums play their last two songs.

After about 15 minutes of staring at my shoelaces and asking The Germs sound guy why he purposely misspelled the songs on the set-list, Pat Smear (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and Lorna Doom, who are both original members of the Darby Crash-era Germs, walked on stage followed by Don Bolles, also an original member. Last to push his way through the crowd and stumble on stage holding a cigarette indoors (punk as fuck, brah) was Shane West.

They opened with ‘Media Blitz,’ my personal favorite Germs song, and everyone started raging. I was kind of shocked because I was having fun, even though Slayer-hating West was on-stage. Although the Germs are now about 50-years-old apiece, they managed to stay lively, especially Bolles (drums) who played with the intensity I remember seeing in ‘The Decline of Western Civilization.’ And I’m not going to lie, I got the chills when I saw Pat Smear up there playing, being that I’m both a huge Germs and Nirvana fan, but I couldn’t help but ponder asking him if he felt he was a curse in bands, since two of the three he has played guitar in have ended because the lead singer killed himself (Crash and Cobain.)

Halfway through the set West took off his shirt and visible on his left shoulder was the same tattoo that Darby Crash had sported in the ‘70s—a Germs circle, not colored, with a panther tearing through it, this guy takes emulating Crash for serious, yo!

As the show progressed I was shoved harder and harder onto the stage and eventually ended up just sitting on it, while resting on the monitors. Before ending, The Germs had torn through classics such as: ‘Lexicon Devil,’ ‘We Must Bleed,’ ‘Manimal,’ and ‘American Leather,’ among others.

After the show I found myself pounding on the door of The Germs tour bus (yeah, I said it, The Germs have a fucking tour BUS) trying to score an interview and was met by the band’s tour manager who told me that I was knocking on the door of an empty bus, and said that he could get me an interview if I waited. Being a young journalist, I said fuck it and opened the door to the basement of Now That’s Class where I was followed by the tour manager telling me to ‘Get the fuck out of here, now!’ but Don Bolles high-fived me and told me to wait outside and he would do an interview, so I did and the following is an interview I did with: Lorna Doom, Don Bolles, and Shane West, all separately. They are all shorter than they actually were (I’m too lazy to transcribe it all right now), but this is probably the best stuff anyways

Warning: If you are a huge Darby Crash fan like I, you will most likely hate Shane West by the interview’s end!

Lorna Doom Interview

Compare the scene of the Darby Crash-era Germs to the Shane West-era Germs. Which do you like better, what are the biggest differences?

“It’s much better now, also bigger. They’ve [kids today] waited 25 years to see The Germs.”

Why, do you like today's scene better?

“The audience cares more, now (signing an autograph a 35-year-old man shows Lorna Doom his first tattoo, The Germs Circle) That’s the reason!”

Who do you like performing with more, Darby Crash or Shane West?

“Shane West, because now we are able to complete a set. I know that sounds so wrong, oh god, but it’s the truth.”

Don Bolles interview

What is the biggest difference from the scene in the ‘70s and today’s scene?

“Back then there was no internet, so you had to look. Now it makes people more able to do more stuff. There’s always good shit going on. Now we’re able to complete a set, but there is no comparison to the original. “

“Our first show back [reunion with Shane West] as The Germs with Suicidal Tendencies we made more at that one show than the entire time we were originally The Germs. I think it took Pat Smear being in Nirvana to complete The Germs[present day].”

Shane West interview

Tell me about punk in the ‘70s and now.

“Now it’s a scene, back then anyone (points to a passed out guy and then a passed out girl laying on the ground of the parking lot) would go to the shows, now anything goes. The best thing about punk rock in ’77 didn’t have a uniform, now it’s exciting.”

Lorna Doom and Don Bolles agreed that you fronting the band is better than it was when Darby Crash did, why do you think they said that?

“I’m not on heroin mixed with speed. I’m drunk, but not on drugs. Darby is one of the best front men, like James Dean, but he had a death card, and I don’t have a death card.”

“I know I’m a better singer than Darby.”

“Darby would never make a tour he wouldn’t have been here tonight if he still fronted The Germs. Darby is a genius. I just want the fans to see the music is better. I might die myself, The Germs are more consistent now, but who knows I might end up in the gutter.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Latest jams

G.I.S.M.-Performance of War CD

Ever since the semester ended I haven't been reviewing much music, maybe if someone suggests something they want to see me review, I will do so! With that being said, I'm still jamming music all of the time, so here's a couple albums that have been on constant rotation with me as of late!

1. Ratatat- LP3 If you like catchy electronica or Mogwai, then you'll dig this one for sure.
2. Pg. 99- Document #8 This is real screamo out of VA, very melodic. When it hits, IT HITS. See "Life in a box."
3. G.I.S.M- Performance of War Gism has probably garnered the highest acclaim as far as Japanese Hardcore of the late '70s and early '80s goes. While most people opted to listen to Gism's M.A.N. (Military Affairs Neurotic)album, I was always more into their raw punk stuff like Endless Blockades for the Pussyfooter and ABC Weapons, but don't get me wrong, M.A.N. is an amazing album! Plus if you know me, you know I wear a Gism hoodie everyday!
4. Orchid-Chaos is Me Orchid is the hardest hitting screamo band of all time in my opinion, so much that I almost consider them more hardcore than screamo. Check out the most creative intro I've ever heard in the album opener "Le Desordre, C'est Moi!" and see if it gives you the chills like it gave me the first time I heard it!

So those are the albums I've had playing lately, but I've got a few songs that I've been listening to a lot lately, also.

Bachman Turner-Overdrive- Let it Ride.
Pentagram- Be Forewarned
Beck-Gamma Ray
Queen-Killer Queen
Band of Horses- The Funeral
The Smiths- What Difference Does it Make
Elliott Smith- Kiwi Maddog 20/20

Friday, May 8, 2009

Defiance, Ohio @ Death By Audio w/ Madeline, Passive Aggressor, and Hinges

Top Photo: Hinges
Bottom Photo: Defiance, Ohio

Review and Photos By: Stephen Tompkins

So I guess I missed the memo that everyone else seemed to have gotten prior to the show. Apparently there are a few prerequisites you must fulfill before you go to a Defiance, Ohio show. What was I thinking?
List of Prerequisites to fit in:
1. You must wear Adidas Sambas (do not question)
2. Do not wear socks
3. You must roll your jeans up slightly above the shin
4. You must be vegan
5. You must ride a bike EVERYWHERE you go
6. Girls cannot shave their legs or armpits (hey, I'm all for feminism!)
7. No crowd surfing (bummer, dude)
Ok, now that my bitter attitude has subsided I can continue.
Now, I don’t know if you have ever been to Death By Audio, but it is a small venue and it was packed within minutes. And if you have ever been to a Defiance, Ohio show then you know what kind of crowd they draw, but for those of you who don’t this is what it looked like. You got your bros, they love Defiance, Ohio—listening to them lets them feel like they understand punk and gives them a reason to tell their girlfriends that they don’t fit into society. You got your 13 and 14-year-olds, who just discovered the band and all proudly display Defiance, Ohio shirts. Then you got your jocks. You got your bike riding, capitalist hating, vegan eating people. Your punks with a soft side for poppy folk punk. Fucking Christ, you’ve got everyone.
So, I was unaware of the diverse opening acts that were going to be playing last night, I figured since Defiance, Ohio was playing, all of the bands were going to be Ghost Mice knock offs, on the contrary. I was stoked to see Hinges, the first band to play. I had never heard them before, but they fucking ruled. The female fronted group played straight up ‘90s hardcore with slow build-ups and chaotic outbursts played in the vein of Orchid and Pg. 99. Unfortunately Hinges only played a few songs, but still managed to set good vibes amongst the crowd.
Passive Aggressor played next and I really don’t have much to say about them. I guess if you can imagine Phish playing Jawbreaker songs, then that might begin to give you an idea of their sound. The lead singer (also a female) kept saying “this is about friendship… friiiiendshiiiipppp,” in a drunken ironic voice. So clever, man!
The next person to play was Madeline, a lone female on stage playing songs from her new album, White Flag. Her style can be described as Kimya Dawson meets Cat Power. She was joined onstage for a few songs by Defiance, Ohio’s drummer and guitarist, who added some life to her set. Madeline repeatedly gave members of the crowd attitude when they asked her to play old songs—“Sorry, I’m only playing songs from my new album,” but she finally gave in and played “To Hell and Back.”
Defiance, Ohio finally came on minus the cello player (bummer) and their guitarist immediately started preaching about conserving space for one another—nothing wrong with that… yet. So, they started by playing a song off of their new EP, some of the crowd knew it, I did not. After that sappy song ended, they tore into “Petty Problems,” and that is when madness ensued. The already sweating crowd started jumping up and down and things got sticky from there, pun intended. After that song the band made an announcement. “No more crowd surfing,” the guitarist said. What the fuck? Who says that? Who the fuck sets rules at a show? That was a bummer, but I could deal with it. So they continued to play some new songs, break a bass string, and a few guitar strings. They played a few other songs off of The Fear, The Fear, The Fear, The Great Depression, and Share What Ya’ Got, but not enough. When their set came to an end the crowd started chanting for them to play “Oh, Susquehanna,” but apparently their bass drum was broken and they refused to play it.

Mad props to Hinges for ruling. Defiance, Ohio was pretty good, but not what I expected.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Grizzly Bear- Veckatimest Review

Photo: Tom Hines

Review By: Stephen Tompkins

Grizzly Bear, the Brooklyn based pop-folk band is coming out of hibernation, their third full-length album, Veckatimest named after an uninhabited island in Massachusetts is set to release May 26 on Warp Records.
With nearly two years past since the release of the critically acclaimed Friend EP, a lot of buzz has begun surrounding Veckatimest over the past few weeks. Mostly I’ve heard everyone saying how jovial and upbeat it is supposed to be in comparison to previous Grizzly Bear releases, and at brief times it can be. See “Two Weeks,” featuring Victoria Legrand of Beach House on backing vocals, which is perhaps the most poppy song Grizzly Bear has written to date (think the ‘60s pop sensibility of Rubber Soul.) But for the most part, Veckatimest is just as full of haunting folk ballads, if not more so, than 2004’s Horn of Plenty and 2007’s Yellow House.
Veckatimest has all of the staples you’ll expect from Grizzly Bear, from the hypnotic dream-like sounds of the album opener “Southern Point,” which really gets going when a killer computerized-sounding riff kicks in, to the duel-layering vocal patterns of guitarist Ed Droste and Bassist Chris Taylor over hollow church choir-esque background noise in “Cheerleader.”
“All We Ask,” comes fully-equipped, including delicate harmonies and hand claps, while “Fine for Now,” experiments with echoing vocal harmonies over lo-fi etherized acoustic guitar and tight and loosened snare drum.
For the most part “Ready, Able,” is a droned out down-tempo Joy Division knock-off song that I wouldn’t imagine making the album, if it weren’t for the kick ass organ riff fit for an appearance on a 13th Floor Elevators album, that chimes in at 1:47.
The live recording of “While You Wait for the Others,” which can be heard on Grizzly Bear’s MySpace, is far better than the over-produced version that made the album and was what really had me excited for Veckatimest in the first place. On the album's version the guitars are so subdued that at times it feels like an A Capella song and it only becomes worthy of the album because of the intense chorus build-up and full-fledged release.
Grizzly Bear picked a great time to emerge from the cave, as Veckatimest will likely serve as a haunting soundtrack to around-the-fire-parties all summer long.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rid the World- A Collection of Songs to Beat the Shit Out of Your Friends To

Artwork By Alex Moorehead

Check out Cleveland, Ohio power violence band, Rid the World's debut demo.
Played in the vein of: Weekend Nachos, Lack of Interest, Infest.

The demo is availabe for download upon request.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Masakari Eden Compromised EP Review

Masakari Eden Compromised EP Review

By: Stephen Tompkins

Close your eyes and imagine that His Hero is Gone and Amebix got together and had a child… got it? Ok, now imagine that that child grows up in a dank room full of teenage angst, listening to nothing but Death Side and Disfear

records until he is 21 years-old. Now open your eyes and what you have

is Masakari, a crust punk band from Cleveland, Ohio—not to be confused

with the crusties you see on St. Marks, who ask you for cigarettes and

your leftover pizza. And in case you are wondering, Masakari got its moniker from a Japanese battle axe used by warrior monks, a fitting name for this bestial group.

The band’s debut 7” EP, Eden Compromised will be released April 3 on

Halo of Flies Records out of Milwaukee, WI; but don’t fret if you

don’t have a record player, each record that you buy directly from the

band will come with a CD-R containing all of the tracks.

“Altruism vs. Egoism (The War Within),” is a song about one’s

intentions and may have you considering the nature of your thoughts

and actions as lead singer Tony Yannick screams, “The appetite cannot

be fed to satisfy/Greed besieged reason in whom thinks of only

himself/No longer human... but machine.” You may not want to listen to

this disc on the subway, because the striking drum roll of “Vanquish,”

and the downshifting guitar tempo will have you slam dancing on the L Train. “Forever Cursed,” takes off without a moment’s notice into discordant hardcore and the high energy doesn’t stop as the rest of the band does battle cry-esque backing vocals throughout the song. In “IV,” Yannick says, “From the beginning of time we've forged our prophets/From a shallow pool of fantasies and moral backwash.”

In short, if God does exist, and has heard Eden compromised he sure as hell is in Heaven crowd surfing and pumping his fist in the air.