“If you’re in a small town, you have to get down on your hands and knees and dig a ditch so that the water can run”

With no foreseeable end in sight for rising rents in the cities, expect this trend to continue.

But with the same cities stricken by intensifying affordability crises – premiums on space that make somewhere to live, let alone rehearse and perform, available to a dwindling few – they don’t beckon young punks like they used to. And though reports of music scenes’ deaths tend to overstate, news of shuttering venues (see eulogies for The Smell, The Know, and LoBot) deters some of the intrepid transplants needed for invigoration. Dissipating metropolitan allure, however, helps account for the strength of scenes in outlying towns.

Source: Rock in the suburbs: why punk moved out of the city and into the cul-de-sac | Music | The Guardian

TITLETOWN with Big D and the Kids Table, Westbound Train, Have Nots, and more…

TITLETOWN

Friday, April 15, 2016
The Middle East Upstairs

Westbound Train
Have Nots
Nick & The Adversaries

18+ $13adv/$15dos
8pm Doors
FB Event
Tickets

* * *

Saturday, April 16, 2016
The Middle East Downstairs

Big D & The Kids Table
Counterpunch
Doped Up Dollies
The Far East
The Pomps

18+ $15adv/$18dos
NOTE: 7pm Doors
FB Event
Tickets

“It was people like Joe Strummer who became the news for a lot of young people.” – Henry Rollins

Good read on politics and punk below:

“It’s important to remember that the musicians within the punk movement — and any artist for that matter — are first and foremost a citizens of the world,” Antonino D’Ambrosio, who edited the book “Let Fury Have the Hour: Joe Strummer, Punk, and the Movement that Shook the World,” told ATTN:. “For this reason, they serve as a mirror reflecting back the issues that dominate the social, political, cultural landscape of their time (and open a window into a different world),” he said.

D’Ambrosio explained that many bands were dealing with the “fallout of industrialization and havoc post-industrialization” that created the income inequality and power inequality we see today. Some punk bands took on a more nihilistic “we’re all screwed” kind of attitude, but other artists like Joe Strummer of The Clash used music to promote resistance and change.

Source: How Punk Bred Generations of Political Thinking

Best Albums of 2015

AllisonWeiss

ALLISON WEISS – New Love

I second guess, forgot my name so long ago
I’m headed west, I’ll find it on that golden coast
My heavy head can’t handle much more of this cold
I’m headed west…I’m headed home

I first heard of Allison Weiss on a FEST compilation last year and then on tour with Tim Barry this spring. She has a knack for great hooks and choruses and this album is a perfect mixture of well-crafted songs and thoughtful lyrics that capture that feeling of needing to move on…

Official Site

 


BeachSlang

BEACH SLANG – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us

Go punch the air with things you write.
We are awake with hearts to riot.
We are young and alive.

I booked a show for James Snyder’s previous band Weston at The Middle East in 2008 and was blown away by their show on the Cursive tour this year. Those shows was great, but this is something else: this is late nights and punk rock and DIY sweaty clubs and songs you have to sing along to…it’s feeling young and full of life and knowing that your best days are yet to come.

Official Site

 


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COLISEUM – Anxiety’s Kiss

Give me drums. Give me amplifiers. Give me feedback.
Give me the girl with no friends making noise in the basement.

I’ve followed Ryan Patterson’s musical path for years and Coliseum is a must-see every time they come to town, but they’ve finally made an album that measures up to the strength of their live show. This album has stayed on my playlist all year. No reason fans of Dischord / post-punk wouldn’t love the winding guitar lines, tight rhythms, and smart lyrics.

Official Site

 


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DES ARK – Everything Dies

Will somebody help us please?
Convince us our love is no disease
That we won’t be lonely when we’re alone
From now on what we touch will turn to gold

Like a good book, this is an album you have to spent a little time with. But there’s mystery and beauty in these lyrics and it’s totally worth it, she’s just a great songwriter.

Official Site

 


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DESAPARECIDOS – Payola

When we pitch our tents on the statehouse steps
Now we’re taking it, now we’re taking it back
Now we’re taking it, now we’re taking it back
For the greater good…goddamn Robin Hoods

After a 13-year hiatus (??!!), I’m just glad they’re back (Read Music / Speak Spanish has been one of my favorite albums for a while.) If, like me, you’ve been looking for an album that addresses the angst we’re feeling, this is like the soundtrack to the current state of affairs, but done in a really smart way. It’s like Occupy Rock. And to hear Conor Oberst and the band go off on the injustice that surrounds us is just what music needs more of.

Official Site

 


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I should try and get a life
But I don’t want that 9 to 5

FIDLAR – Too

In a year that was kind of weak for punk rock, I kept coming back to this album. The songs are smart and catchy and just make me want to know where the band is headed next.

Official Site

 


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FLORENCE + THE MACHINE – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

For a pop album, the lyrics and dynamics are so smart that I can’t believe this didn’t end up on more best of the year lists.

Official Site

 


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FRANK TURNER – Positive Songs for Negative People

I’m trying to get better because I haven’t been my best
She took a plain black marker, started writing on my chest
She drew a line across the middle of my broken heart,
And said: “Come on now, let’s fix this mess”
We could get better
Because we’re not dead yet

Official Site

 


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HOUNDMOUTH – Little Neon Limelight

Hey little Hollywood, you’re gone but you’re not forgot
You got the cash but your credit’s no good

This is one of the albums I’ve played the most this year. It’s just the right mix of indie Americana, folk rock, and California vibes. Really fun live band too.

Official Site

 


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JASON ISBELL – Something More Than Free

When I get home from workI’ll call up all my friends
And we’ll go bust up something beautiful we’ll have to build again

Beautiful lyrics. Becoming a master of his craft.

Official Site

 


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JOHN MORELAND – High on Tulsa Heat

…Thought I was somebody nobody could love
Try to keep going but the ride won’t steady
Try to get high but your heart’s too heavy
You got one thing on your mind…

I think John Moreland might be one of the best songwriters alive. This album is simply heart breaking at times. Slays me.

Official Site

 


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KACEY MUSGRAVES – Pageant Material

They say it’s now or never and all we’re getting is older.
But before we get to heaven, let’s give ’em hell
We might as well cause we don’t know when we’re done.
Let’s love hard, live fast, die fun

Plenty written about this album this year, but man, does she know how to write a country song.

Official Site

 


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LANGHORNE SLIM & THE LAW – Spirit Moves

I was born; I’ve been running since
I’ve done things that make no sense
There was a devil in me
I had to set him free
Blue moons and my bold desires
Things burn if you set them on fire
I’ve learned you’ve got to be courageous
In time everything changes

His best album yet.

Official Site

 


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NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHT SWEATS – s/t

Think of all the hours I spent in constant reflection
Well it gets you down but it don’t make it right
I made it my personal intervention
What a waste of time time time time time

Official Site

 


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And we can hope and pray that we don’t grow up
But it’s not something we choose
And I got nothing left to lose
Yeah you can help me up

RED CITY RADIO – s/t

Probably my favorite punk album this year from start to finish. Melodies and lyrics that hold up to repeated listens.

Official Site

 


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ROCKY VOTOLATO – Hospital Handshakes

Time to white knuckle this shit.
Make friends with these demons and just get on with it
Nothing’s changed and it never will…

Loved every album he’s put out, but this one is special. After nearly retiring from music, he said it was pushing boundaries to record this album that brought him back. The results are apparent.  His best album to date.

Official Site

 


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SCREAMING FEMALES – Rose Mountain

Our triumph is sleeping now
My form of devotion
I’ll drag you down in the crowd
I go through the motions

Marissa Paternoster is one of the best guitar players in the world right now. Her guitar lines and the way they intersect with her vocals is so fascinating to me. And the band has become super tight live. I’ve listened to this album around a dozen times this year and each time I find something new.

Official Site


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Pack up all your broken bones
All your broken bones
In a broken box, oh yeah

THE SUBWAYS – s/t

This just a great rock album. Hooks galore.

Official Site

 


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TORRES – Sprinter

Consider myself grateful to have seen Torres play these songs every night on tour earlier this year.  This album is a work of art.

Official Site

 


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WAXAHATCHEEIvy Tripp

Maybe I let on that I was interested
In your brand of lonely
A book you cracked once and never read

Great album from a great songwriter…been listening to this all year with no let down.

Official Site

Glen E. Friedman: ‘I’m Trying To Wake People Up’

Inspiring words from one of my favorite photographers:

I guess I live for just continuing to inspire people with things that I’ve learned. I have a particular lifestyle, I have a particular view of the world, and I would like to inspire more people to think for themselves — and maybe in the same direction that I do. Not to have copycats or something, but a way that I see we could all make the world a better place. Stop eating animals. Care about the environment. Do things from the heart, have some integrity. These are touchstones that I believe that people are lacking these days, unfortunately.I don’t think the word “integrity” is even in the vernacular anymore. It’s like, people don’t get it. They consider it a success if someone comes to them to sponsor their tour or if they have some brand behind them. To me, that’s the antithesis of what we want.

Source: Counterculture Photographer Glen E. Friedman: ‘I’m Trying To Wake People Up’ | Bandwidth

Ian MacKaye: “Never in the history of the world have people worked ten hours and nothing has moved.”

This is one of the best interviews with Ian MacKaye that I’ve read. So much food for thought. The full interview is linked below.

You got me thinking. When I mentioned this issue was about survival, you said that wasn’t something you could relate to. It’s the word survival – the idea you would ‘survive’ something. I understand that people, melodramatically, may consider life something one has to survive. But you’re alive, that’s what life is, you are surviving. It plays into this idea that people’s lives are narratives – that it’s a film or book and you have to survive all this craziness. I think it’s a disservice, ultimately, because it makes others feel like their lives aren’t crazy enough. In my mind, life is not a war – although human beings create conditions that make it feel that way – and I think that navigation is a fairer term. I see life essentially as an empty field. The construct of that empty space has to do with society, but it also has to do with us. The only real question is how are we going to navigate that space, from beginning to end. If people thought of themselves as navigators, maybe they would have more purchase. Navigation is about having a say in the matter, whereas surviving is about dealing with things being thrown at you. With navigation you get to decide whether you want to be in that situation in the first place.


 

What about when that perpetual state is propelled by an imperative of growth. Capitalism seems to be founded on this idea that you have to grow in order to keep moving forward. Have you ever felt those pressures?
I reject that concept wholeheartedly. Dischord was just some kids who put out records that nobody cared about, except for those kids and their friends. But it was such a valid time for me. When you are the one actually glueing the records, that’s the record industry for real. All the money generated stayed in the label, but it never occurred to me that it wasn’t working. I had something I wanted to do every day – what more could you ask for in life? Ten years later we were selling hundreds of thousands of records and that presented other challenges, but I didn’t feel like, ‘Oh, now we’re successful!’ I thought, ‘Now, it’s today.’ The label is smaller now, but it doesn’t feel any less significant. The hardest part is the observer’s perception of the situation. Relevancy, or irrelevancy, isn’t a concern for the participants. The people who are actually the doers don’t do it for relevancy, but they are judged by a society that focuses on abstract and ridiculous concepts of what is or isn’t relevant. This is fucking art, people! If it speaks to you, it speaks to you, even if it doesn’t speak to other people.  The idea that you have to grow all the time… I mean, visualise a person, you or me, perpetually growing. It’s not a pretty picture. At some point we’re going to burst. And that is true of all things. The real issue here is a different word that starts with G R. Greed. That’s what we talk about when we talk about growth. More for me – that’s the concept.


Do you think technology is a good thing for the culture you have been a part of?

There will always be people who identify themselves as punk who recognise that technology is a tool not a lifestyle. So, I think punk will survive, or navigate that just fine. But when you say,  ‘This culture that you are a part of,’ I don’t think that you can define what that culture is. I mean… could you?

It depends on how you define the idea of punk, or DIY. To me, it’s about whether you value self-reliance above anything else. I think all kinds of people would be inspired by that, beyond music. Is it a good time for young people to make something happen for themselves?
I think it’s always a good time for that. My definition of punk is the free space. It’s an area in which new ideas can be presented without having to go through the filtration or perversion of profiteering. So, if we’re not worried about selling things, then we can actually think. The problem with new ideas is that they don’t have audiences. And in terms of the marketplace, an audience equals clientele. If you have no audience, it’s not profitable. Punk was an area, for me at least, where it didn’t seem to matter. I didn’t know any punk rocker who thought, ‘I’m gonna make a living out of this.’ The ones that did quickly left. What I received from the counterculture was a gift; the permission to create freely. And my reaction was to take care of this gift and keep it alive because it continues to give. Of course, there were some people who thought, ‘Wow. If I polish it, I can sell it.’ And then it ceases to be a gift.


Self-reliance is an amazing navigation tool, but what advice would you have for somehow who was crippled with self-doubt?
I have this concept about changing the source of light. The way things appear has a lot to do with where the light is. Sometimes things seem impenetrable, but maybe we just need to change the source of light. For instance, if you felt paralysed by your work – you’re miserable but you’re scared to leave your situation, because  you think you’d become irrelevant – then I would say: stand back. Change the source of light. Look at the situation and realise that, though it is important to you – and I will say this to myself  – though it is important to you, your work is ridiculous. And your fears are unfounded. You said, ‘People are inspired by you,’ but however one rates my ‘celebritydom’ or fame or whatever the fuck I have, it’s worth pointing out that 99.9 per cent of the population of the world never has, doesn’t and never will know of me. I don’t exist. There are entire giant cities in Indonesia where not a single person has ever heard of me. The music I make does not matter. And if it’s causing me duress, I should realise it’s ridiculous and that my fears are unfounded. Because what’s the worse thing that could happen. Like, what would be the worst thing that could happen to you?

That I miss my deadline. I have anxiety every week before we go to print – which is now. One voice in my head says, ‘You’re gonna miss it! You’re a failure!’ The other voice is like, ‘It’s a magazine, get a grip.’
Exactly, it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Life is just a straight line. There are two definitive points, one at the beginning and one at the end. It could be argued that should you decide to procreate that may merit another point. Everything else is affection – accoutrements, add-ons, additives. The way we speak, the things we own, the way we identify ourselves, they’re all artifices on some level… While we’ve been talking maybe 100 people have been killed, maybe 1,000, who knows, and yet this development hasn’t affected our conversation whatsoever. If you put things in perspective one realises how it just doesn’t matter. So the value is up to us, and if we’re gonna assign the value, then why would we assign negative values?


 

What is the most important navigation tool that people should rely on?
I would never pretend to have an answer for you. But at some point in my life I decided that the basis of all my reasoning is this: pain hurts. That’s true for you and it’s true for me; I don’t wanna hurt other people because I don’t wanna be hurt. Keep things simple and they suddenly seem doable. I read this book in my early twenties – by C.S. Lewis, I think. There was this image of life as a tree and each decision we made was a branch. And then every decision we made, once we were on that branch, were smaller branches and smaller branches until you got down to the twigs. The author explained that if you are on the wrong branch, if you made a bad decision, you have to go back to the trunk – because once you’re on that branch, every decision will be wrong. That was such a great thing for me. I was just navigating, I made a mistake, so I have to go back to the trunk. Because back at the trunk, life – simple life – is always right.

Source: A meaningless conversation with life navigator Ian MacKaye

David Lowery on Millennials and the Punk Rock Generation

Punk Rock Generation: We rebelled by protesting wars, dictatorships, apartheid, government corruption, the military industrial complex, polluting corporations, the christian right,  the draft, nuclear power, the slaughter of sea mammals, and even other punk rockers.  We were at times tear gassed and beaten by police (See Dead Kennedys Wilmington CA).

Millennials:   We rebel by not paying for stuff.  We want bean bag chairs at work.

So what you’re really saying is:  Millennial rebellion is rooted in some pseudo moralistic justification of theft based on which businesses use the discredited web 2.0 “freemium” business models? That’s where you take a stand?


(Personally I don’t buy this crap. I don’t believe there is a “millennial” generation with a different set of values than any previous generation.  Every generation has it’s selfish lazy assholes who are willing to justify any sort of behavior by claiming to speak for their generation.  And every twenty years or so marketers invent a new generation so they can pitch their consultancies, books, analytics and speaking tours.  But since the media seems determined to cram this current fiction down our throats we might as well have some fun with it by following the fiction to it’s logical conclusion.)

Source: Millennials vs the Punk Rock Generation: APM’s Marketplace accidentally illustrates absurdity | The Trichordist

The Menzingers’ Greg Barnett: “then I learned some Ramones songs and thought, ‘You know, maybe I can do this.'”

The mind-blowing thing to me about it was that before I started playing, I thought of people who played guitar and were in bands as like gods. I never could believe how someone could remember how to play without looking at music. That was a foreign concept to me. But then I learned some Ramones songs and thought, “You know, maybe I can do this.” That really opened things up for me. I thought “Maybe I should write my own songs and start a band,” and I did. It’s nice that a 14-year-old kid can play along with a song they heard from one of their favorite bands.

via The Menzingers’ Greg Barnett on His Punk Roots | Fender Artist News

Ian MacKaye on the New Crop of D.C. Hardcore Docs, Resurging Interest in His Scene | Billboard

Punk Rock singer Ian MacKaye

“In the beginning everybody was just trying to figure out first off, ‘Who the fuck am I?’ And then, ‘Who the fuck are you?’ And then, ‘Who the fuck are we?’ And then, ‘How the fuck do we fit in,’ MacKaye says in Positive Force explaining what sparked the scene’s political activism.

via Ian MacKaye on the New Crop of D.C. Hardcore Docs, Resurging Interest in His Scene | Billboard

Great Read: “Sleater-Kinney: A Certain Rebellion”

 

There was supposed to be someone else, some other band that blazed through the path Sleater-Kinney made, some fiery young upstarts who took up that banner and made us true believers, set the awful world right, stamping and railing under those stage lights, loosing that feminist fury, and earning the right to rule upon us in hot waves of punk pummel. Instead, we were left with a Sleater-Kinney-shaped hole in our musical cosmos for nearly a decade. Like Fugazi, Nirvana, or Bad Brains before them—so singular a force, so powerfully perfect—there was no replicating what or who they were.

There’s a great read about Sleater-Kinney here: Sleater-Kinney: A Certain Rebellion | Pitchfork