Posts Tagged ‘dagger zine’

deardarkhead at Dagger

My initial thought was, “Damn….no vocals sooo… it’s an instrumental record?!” I wasn’t real happy, but after several listens I really like this. Oh sure, I wish they still had a vocalist (their previous vocalist Mike Amper left several years ago and has yet to be replaced)  but I’m not complaining (too much). This South Jersey band (from my hometown of Linwood…woot woot!!) have been at it since the late 80’s and have weathered all sorts of things that a band goes through (line up change, addiction to Cheetos, their official vehicle, a ’74 Pinto, contstantly breaking down, etc.) It’s still drummer/founding member Rob Weiss, longtime guitarist Kevin Harrington and Kevin McCauley on bass (the new guy though he’s probably been in the band for 5-10 years for all I know). The Captured Tracks label released a terrific compilation of early stuff a few years ago, but this is the bands first new material in quite some time. Their influence comes from all things UK  and if you dig bands like the Pale Saints or Ride then what the DDH boys do will be ok with you. Cuts like the excellent moody opener, “Falling Upward”, the icier Sunshine Through the Rain”, the varied “Ice Age,” are as good as anything the band has done previously and to be honest, there’s not a bad cut among these six tunes. If you’ve never heard the band before give ‘em a listen, especially if you’re an anglophile searching for some new juice. I’m happy to say that Strange Weather is just great. www.saintmarierecords.com

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Bunnygrunt at Dagger Zine

Would anyone have thought that this St. Louis institution would still be around after their debut some two decades ago? Not sure why I would not have thought that, I guess I thought that they, like most of the indie pop bands (ahem, cuddlecore) bands back then would have just sort of drifted away. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bunnygrunt  and am glad they’re still around, Not only are they not afraid to put the pedal-to-the-metal (ie: rock out) but they’ve got a sense of humor too as the Black Sabbath parody on this cover indicates (previous record titles: Jen Fi, Karen Haters Club, Matt Harnish and Other Delights, etc.). OK, so yes, it is Matt Harnish and Karen Reid still at the helm with Neal Peart on drums (actually Eric Von Damage) on this, their 6th record and they barely take a breath here. From the opening looped cough they kick right into “Gimme Five Bucks” ok…..which was just so so, but then the next cut, “Just Like Old Times” is the Bunnygrunt I know and love. “Open My Eyes” tosses some more sand in the pick ups on Matt’s guitar and “Chunt Bump” is the closest they’ve come to the old days (as the press sheet says, “They started off twee but spent so much time on the road that they learned how to rock”). You want more (of course you do),. Check out “The Book That IW Rote,” “Frankie is a Killer” and “Still Chooglin’ (After…)” So wait……apparently the record proper has 8 songs so the other 8 (16 in all….yup, I was once a mathmatecian) are bonus tracks. Best song title: “1000% Not Creepy” (weepop version). Here’s my advice, head down to your local record shop, demand that the clerk order this and then make fun of him if he/she refuses (they deserve it). Yeah, no kiddin’ this rocks.

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Fireworks at Dagger

I loved the single and was waiting with bated breath for the full-length. Well, here it is and it’s a doozie. Matthew and Emma run the show here, he on guitar/vocals and she on vocals/tambourine. Isabel and Shaun (Charman, he of the Wedding Present and Popguns) round out the rhythm section) and the songs come at you fast and furious with plenty of all of my favorite things in the world: reverb, distortion, feedback and hooks, man, HOOKS! Right from the opener, “With My Heart” (with Emma on lead vocals) heaping waves of melody and soot come blasting at you. Same with song number two, the instant classic “Runaround.” Keep listening folks because a little later on “Which Way To Go” will bury itself in your noodle as well. The record, however, isn’t all a furnace blast, they slow it down a bit on the lovely “Let You Know” and the closing, tender “In the Morning” but most of Switch Me On is turned up to 11. Of all of the bands on Shelflife that I love (pretty much all of  them) this is the one I’m most excited about. Suffice it to say if bands like The Razorcuts, Buzzcocks or the Shop Assistants were ever on your radar then you’ll be ok with this (and it’s already on my short list for best of 2015- even though 2015 is only a few weeks old).  www.shelflife.com

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Fishboy at Dagger

You can be forgiven for not knowing about this long-running (well, about a decade) Denton, Texas-based bunch led by erstwhile Eric Michener (aka Eric Fishboy). If I’m counting correctly (using my fingers) this is full-length number four (and a graphic novel/comic book, too) and hot on the heels of their previous one, Classic Creeps that was released in 2011 (and the one before that was 2007’s Albatross; How we failed to Save the Lone Star State with the Power of Rock and Roll). OK, so yeah, the band is big on concept albums and a lot of the time you have no idea what Michener is on about. Re: this new record there is some concept in there though I’m not 100% sure what it is….but I hear something about elephants that turn into ghosts (in fact, speaking of ghosts, one of the best songs on here is “I’m a Ghost”).  Sometimes the band goes off on tangents, but on many of these songs Michener and his crew execute a level of commitment and determination not seen in a lot of indie rock/pop these days. In other words even if you’re not down with the concept album thing , don’t even worry about it, get An Elephant simply for being a record full for rockin’, catchy songs. Other songs worthy of your precious time include “Thomas Alva Waiting,” “Elephant in the Room,” “Dig a Grave: and a handful of others. If you dig most or all of the Elephant 6 catalog (specifically the Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel and Of Montreal) then this will float your boat. www.yofishboy.com

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The Primitives at Dagger Zine

After not being around for over two decades this sugary UK pop quartet returned in 2012 with ECHOES & RHYMES (and album of 60’s covers). I never heard that one and while friends tell me it’s good, you want to hear if a returning band can still write an album full of originals. I have listened to SPIN-O-RAMA, several times and I must say, it’s excellent! It sounds like vocalist Tracy Tracy has not aged one bit and guitarist Paul Court, who sings a few tunes here, still blasts out those hooky guitar riffs like it was the only thing he was put on the planet to do. Also returning is drummer Tig Williams, still happily bashing away, and the band’s old producer Paul Sampson is here on bass (one of the things that brought the band back together a few years ago was the death of their original bassist, Steve Dullaghan).  On SPIN-O-RAMMA, 11 songs breeze by in just under a half hour and from the opening title track on through the punchy “Hidden in the Shadows” onto the janglier, 60’s ish Court-sung “Wednesday World”, you can see they’re in fine form. Elsewhere the trippy (also Court-sung) “Purifying Tone” also caught my ear as did the flat-out great “Lose the Reason” and the lovely “Petals.” I won’t spoil all of the surprises for you but suffice it to say this is a more-than welcome return. SPIN-O-RAMA is superb!

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Crayon at Dagger Zine

Wow, this was certainly a blast from the past that I had nearly forgotten about. This record by this Bellingham, WA band was originally released on Tim Alborn’s Harriet Records label (Tim also published the half-size zine Incite!). This band included Sean Tollefson (bass vocals), Brad Robert (guitar/ vocals) and Jeff Fell (drums). Both Sean and Jeff went on to form Tullycraft (who may still around in some form or another) while Brad retired from music to work in an eraser factory (not a brick factory).  Crayon were fiercely independent, noisy/poppy and probably had some inspiration from Beat Happening. Sean and Brad alternated vocal duties with Sean having the childlike, innocent (which brought the band the twee tag, Sean would later carry these vocals into Tullycraft, let’s face it, his voice is instantly recognizable). It’d be hard to call these guy a twee band though as on many of the songs the guitars roar and the waves of distortion go over you heard and swallow you up (in the best way possible). Songs like “Chutes and Ladders’ (not a Gray Matter cover), “Crown,” “Pedal” and “Hope in Every Train” are too sticky for words. Hold your breath and jump in, people. Kudos to the HHBTM label for reissuing this lost gem 20 years after its original release. As it says on lots of records the world over, PLAY LOUD!  www.hhbtm.com

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