Despite Kadazia Allen-Perry's youth, her cystic fibrosis has forced her to confront her own mortality. In her autobiographical documentary, Chronic Means Forever, the African-American first-time filmmaker provides an intimate exploration into the feelings of alienation and frustration which accompany her life-long diagnosis. Allen-Perry is faced daily...

Swans - To Be Kind Album Review (Young God Records)
2010 didn't offer up much to rejoice over, what with earthquakes, oil spills and other such tragedies dominating headlines and generally fucking over the world. Yet in the wake of those disasters the good Lord did deem it fit to bestow one blessing upon his faithful (or at least the record collecting nerds among them): the return of Swans. After a decade of understated twee folk, ascetically bland and nostalgic psyche rock, the general rise of "indie" rock to Grammy status and the dubstep um... dubstep, the aughts reanimated a band that absolutely never ever fucks around. That said, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky was a slightly disappointing, if handsome, first effort for the new version of the band; it favored tightly structured songs with reserved running times over the timeless drones of past albums. This won them a legion of new fans and cemented their elder statesmen of rad music status but left a lot of long-time fans like myself with a sense of, "Cool that they're back, but meh!"

Fat White Family Champagne Holocaust Trashmouth RecordsMy first listen of Fat White Family's debut, Champagne Holocaust, left me thinking of notorious criminal Charles Manson. No sense emerged from this until my thoughts turned to the stark contrast, chasm even, between the monstrousness of Manson and the majesty of his music: deranged yet lucid, at once pretty yet horrific. A subsequent visit to Fat White Family's Tumblr page displayed the visage of Manson whose own Family, it turns out, partly inspired this British band's name. Like Manson's, their odd charm is seductive, and among the accolades they've accrued is The Quietus' Tomorrow's Cult Star Today award at BBC 6 Music Blog Awards. Some have attributed this popularity to their live show antics. Duly noted, but it's the aforementioned contrasts in their songs that might account for this, for therein lies the captivating appeal of this debut.
 

The other day I saw this graphic on Facebook: And it occurred to me that I got the promo for Sandrider's debut, what, about a year ago? Seriously? Holy fuck? When I thought about the slew of other releases I'd gotten from Seattle's Good to Die Records in that span I kind of couldn't believe it. Typically as you get older, time speeds up -- but in regards to this action, the exact inverse was happening. It felt like this had been going on forever. Quite a lot of fantastic shit from a label in its inaugural twelve months or so. Since I don't want to get yanked from the distribution list, I figured I'd better earn my keep and write a retrospective here.
Truth be told, despite being a lifelong fan of loud rock (I grew up in the freaking ‘90s), I must profess my profound disappointment in how incredibly trendy craptastic thrash metal became in the early ‘aughts. I know nu-metal was heinous and a backlash was obviously necessary, but I guess I just grew up listening to shit like Barkmarket, Drive Like Jehu, Cop Shoot Cop, and Soundgarden rather than Slayer and Titanica. Slayer have a good song, I get it -- it's just never been something I geek out on in anything more than small doses. All in all, that stuff strikes me as sort of dumb-fuck-white trash-y a lot of the time (not that there's anything wrong with that, just not my vibe). As Kim Thayil stated in a recent interview with regards to Soundgarden: "We've always tried to explore how to make this really heavy, aggressive music without sounding like a bunch of knuckle-dragging meatheads.” Exactly. Which is why I think Good to Die Records is resonating with a lot of folks so far. It's all loud music, but none of it succumbs to cookie monster/chug-a-chug metal genre clichés. Also, let's face it; to this day, you still can't read an out-of-town article about a Seattle group without grunge coming up in some capacity, even if it's about a lesbian trip-hop. What most people don't conceptualize is that because of the supposed "grunge explosion” in the ‘90s, crap tons of artsy people moved here, and a lot of them brought an amplifier-worshipping, booze-chugging blue collar spirit with them in droves. The fading mirage is what attracted them in the first place, often subconsciously. The word becomes flesh, as they say. What are you going to do? Ever since I've lived in Seattle, which has been over a decade now, there's always been a thriving scene of stoned underground agro super freaks. So leave it to an unabashed Pearl Jam fanboy to point out to us all that music louder than louder than love not only never went away in the Jet City but also spread to Portland and just kept spitting out kids.
To follow are my top five albums from Good To Die's first year (or so… excluding Sandrider; methinks I've covered them enough already).

 

In July of 2011, Frank Carter, the snarling, cocky, explosive front man of the UK-based hardcore band Gallows left the band over creative differences, and it seemed like the band was done for. After the band pulled what the Guardian called one of the great rock n’ roll swindles, it seemed that the face of all that rage would be impossible to replace. The band would tap ex-Alexisonfire screamer Wade MacNeil as the new tattooed face of a band that was seemingly the most important hardcore happening of the past decade. Early reviews were a bit mixed on Gallows' new material and touring performances. It wasn't that MacNeil wasn't a good fit for the band necessarily, but Gallows previous material was very British, and somehow hearing a Canadian scream, "London is the reason," just didn't resonate as hard. SEE FULL REVIEW

 

MusicfestNW does one of the better jobs in the festival circuit of scheduling the heavy bands. Reason being that MusicfestNW, unlike most festivals, doesn’t take place in one central location. Rather, it is scattered amongst the various venues throughout Portland, Oregon. And although normally walls might seem like a constricting measure in life, the walls of the venue provide a safe haven for the volume to hit extreme levels, the vocals to shriek instead of harmonize, the double bass to reach red-lining beats per minute and the guitar distortion to be devastatingly heavy. Aural Devastation is a recurring column about heavy music.

 

Swans

Seeing Swans is an emotional experience and a tough one to make it through, at that. Charging off the brilliance of Michael Gira and company's epic new release, The Seer, Portland was laid to waste by the heaviness that is Gira’s project. Gira is well-known throughout the live circuit for his intensity, and although he is no longer as confrontational as he was in the early days, his intensity on stage translates immediately and effortlessly to Swans live show. It is a slog that is based on repetitive, almost locomotive-like mashes of noise and distortion. Over it all, Gira can be seen yelling at his band, demanding more energy and channeling some sort of weird musical rage. With every heavy stomp and grimace, one felt Gira’s pain as if it were one's own. There were a few souls in the Hawthorne Theatre without earplugs. They must have ignored the decibel warning on the front door. Not a smart idea. The Seer is a 2-CD record that saw an August 28th release. It is the result of the band's getting back together in 2010, after a 14-year hiatus.

 

Lightning Bolt

This post is dedicated exclusively to Rhode Island duo of insanity, Lightning Bolt. Here's some news that just about everyone who likes chaos in music cares about: Lightning Bolt just announced tour dates and a new EP of old things. If you've never seen them perform, you should snatch up tickets for this next tour before they sell out, as they are bound to do. And if these video samples below aren't enough to convince you, or if the music just isn't your bag of chips, know that it doesn't even fucking matter. Watching Lightning Bolt is a transcendental experience of some other variety. Read this live show review to understand the benefits of throwing yourself in the midst of such refined and controlled chaos. Coinciding with the tour (full dates below) will be a release of "lost" materials from 2008, entitled Oblivion Hunter. Full tour dates below, along with videos of their live performances, and the EP's first single, the predictably insane "King Candy".