Monday, December 31, 2018

Mosquito Teeth/Pig Pen/Car Bomb Driver/Dea & Saint/Mickey Spixx/Acoupstix
Saturday, December 29th 2018
Fubar, St. Petersburg FL

The Radical Beat musical heaven where punk and hip hop fuse at the, er, hip, was never presented so starkly.  
Acoupstix is once again funny and captivating, capturing the party in his grin as well as he captures the shitty issues of the day in this here column that he wrote.  Trio Mickey Spixx take a room already filled with so many bodies and fill it further with love, love, love.  I finally get to see Dea & Saint with their full band lineup, and I get it, in the sense that I don’t quite get it, and I’m looking forward to perhaps further getting it, which is kind of exciting in itself, because we don’t want to be either trapped or doomed by the forces swirling around us or the limits of musical convention.  Car Bomb Dave of Car Bomb Driver is in full force energy mode, showing up Howlin' Pelle of The Hives with his skinny tie and slack-clad microphone moves as the band blast through a high-powered setlist building to a furious version of Ace of Spades.  Police visit briefly, worried we might throw The Damned on the jukebox and smash the place up; ready for any scenario comes Pig Pen, suspiciously timed and snouted and masked and armed with thick bacon strip riffs.  Mosquito Alert, aka Mosquito Teeth bring a colourful peak of steamroller noise and lager flying madness, a cover of the aspirational Do What You Want, and a new, free mini album by the title of Fubar.

This whole thing feels like a celebration born of grief, like a New Orleans jazz funeral.  Aside from all the familiar musicians and scene supporters I see and chat with people that chronicle my own sordid history in St. Pete, which began just two months after the opening of Fubar: old friends from the MYRA Radio Network at St. Petersburg College, from Community Cafe, from Mother Kombucha.  The packed venue is a living document, hours now from being shredded. The sense of loss that is about to come over this place, scattering us back to our atomised lives and homes, is suddenly palpable and upsetting, of the kind that for a second you allow yourself to believe cannot actually be happening.

Do you know what this is, developers, landlords and the politicians who thrive on their donations?  It’s called COMMUNITY.

Their money will be louder than us until we GET LOUDER.  This is why we need groups like Extinction Rebellion Tampa Bay that will challenge the inconsistent policies we see from local governments and planners.   Climate change threatens us all, but community and survival are meaningless without one another, they are interdependent. Seeking to lower the energy burden on working people is undone by policies that encourage rising rents.  Protecting neighbourhoods from rising sea levels (which current plans fail to do anyway) is less meaningful when there’s nothing left in them but resource intensive chain stores and a resource intensive demographic that can pick up and leave at almost any time.  Climate and resource pollution will increase as long as cities are planned around the frivolous desires of those with excessive disposable incomes.  The objectives of our economy need to be seriously redirected, otherwise all of this will be gone one way or the other.

Mark January 26th in your diaries, and get ready to rebel.

Image may contain: text

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Radical Beat's Top Ten Albums of 2018
Published at Apathy & Exhaustion

It’s been a full official calendar year of Radical Beat writing, slogging around trying to make sense of this wild terrain, and here’s my top ten albums to put a bow on it for 2018.  What a stressful but largely satisfying time it has been. Special thanks to Apathy & Exhaustion: there’s no way I would have heard some of these without Tony hurtling them down my inbox, and I wouldn’t have been on the lookout for many of the other ones without doing Radical Beat and contributing to A&E.  Thanks mate.

Reviews are linked in the titles. It would be great if you gave a few a read, as we spend a lot of time on these reviews, and in my case at least, the album pieces are woefully under read when compared to protest coverage, articles or live reviews. Thanks!

Jeff Rosenstock - POST-

A January 1st release that managed to fend off enough competition for the full twelve months is impressive, but there was never much doubt that POST- was going to make it.  This thirtysomething punk record marries personal and political anxiety perfectly, and the lovely Jeff Rosenstock even gave it away for free.

Evidence - Weather or Not

Mr Slow Flow of Dilated Peoples fame released his third and supposedly final weather themed record here, with a rain-focus that is working nicely again as we head back into winter.  While it’s not mind-blowing lyrically, aesthetically it combines East coast boom bap and West coast smoothness into a really enjoyable experience.

Reggie & The Full Effect - 41

41 is a piece of sophisticated, middle-aged emo, with a lot of sad moments but also beauty, humour and gonzo, topped with James Dewees’ powerful pop pipes.  The award for “Best Song Title of the Year” goes to the fun electro-swamp of Channing Tatum Space Rollerblading Montage Music (feat Fluxuation).

Pennywise - Never Gonna Die

“Tony already did a review, but I’ll do one myself for fun as soon as I get chance,” I told myself in April when Never Gonna Die came out.  Famous last words of the always-working-on-new-last-words-wordsmith.  But his review gets to the gist of the matter: this is an old-fashioned Pennywise album that is one of their best in two decades, delivering hope to nearly any artist who is considered long past their peak.

Despite all determinations that the Trump circus would not be “normalised,” after two years within this belly I can tell you that it seems to have happened.  And while a lot of anti-Trump posturing has become tiring or worse, the alt-pop What A Time To Be Alive manages to tackle the state of our days in a way that is anthemic, uplifting, cathartic and downright danceable.  

Epic Beard Men - Season 1 (live review)

The debut album from former Epitaph rapper Sage Francis and B. Dolan manages to have a classic hip hop style without sounding like a nostalgia project, all full of flair, original choice of topics and a big bold sound.  If you spend every holiday season on the hunt for unconventional tunes, listen to War on Christmas.

This one took me back to blurry-eyed fun times at Satan’s Hollow.  Intelligent words and beat-heavy ska punk club music from London’s Popes of Chillitown.  You can enjoy each element depicted in the album’s title in isolation, or as part of a satisfying, hearty whole.

Revenge of the Psychotronic Man - That Was Just a Noise

An unreasonably fast punk compilation from Manchester’s now defunct mainstays Revenge of the Psychotronic Man (they played their last gig in early December).  A fitting documentation of over a decade of drinking music with nods of social consciousness, fun remixes and love for our animal friends.  See Andy’s top ten for 2018 here.

Four Fists - 6666

Another long-awaited rap collaboration that pays off, 6666 from Astronautalis and P.O.S. is as beautiful as it is dark.  The influence of punk on the album is undeniable even without any fast guitars, from the no bars held pissed off lyrics of fire and revolution, colourful but purposefully unglossy production, and Joe Strummer as the project’s spiritual advisor.  A class piece of work, in every sense.

The Antidon’ts - We Reap What You Sow

This local Florida entry tops the year off with surf-vibed, crusted-skate vigour, dissatisfaction dissipated through punk rock chops.  We Reap What You Sow also, almost single-handedly, does a good job of both pulling down the average age of the artists in my list (a bit at least) and holding my reputation as a local music journo-supporter intact.  Keeping the dream alive.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Antidon’ts
We Reap What You Sow
Swamp Cabbage/Self-released, 2018

Published at Apathy & Exhaustion

“Depression is built into this machine and the evidence is plastered on the morose faces of people caught in the clutches of its business as usual activities. Depression is found in the insurmountable debts we owe for spending a lifetime of preparation and labor to serve the machine. In addition to debt, the machine awards us for our servitude with trinkets, gadgets, doodads and gizmos that provide a moment of hollow amusement and then sit on shelves in garages and decay. They represent the planned obsolescence of the human heart. The sacrifice paid for our fetish with materialism is the actual quality of our lives.”

I don't normally go in for stuff like this, all complaint with no bonafide facting.  But this guy Holland’s a poet.  And I don't normally like poetry either.  The part about Cardi B being a hack I take some issue with.  She’s funny! Or maybe it’s just that I’m sitting here shovelling needlessly strong craft beer and stolen Pringles into my face at a moderate pace, playing a pointlessly violent video game, as a “reward” to myself for temporarily escaping the foul puppet strings of grinding employment.  I deserve this! Don’t tell me this isn’t the good life, you value judgement tosser! That I should I expect more than this! Now we can complain about the lack of evolution in rock music these days all we like, but evolution isn’t the be all and end all (that role falls to fossil fuels, and Russiabaiting, “Syria-is-ours-to-gift,” useful dickhead Democrats who think the difference between two different kinds of utterly corrupt and contemptible suits is worth killing everyone on Earth for).  As any good anti-capitalist could tell you, the goal is not always to grow but oftentimes simply to provide sustenance.  Punk music, or at least punk mindsets, will be necessary until articles like this are one are untrue. But what form should that punk take?

It’s been quite a year of significant markers as far as my relationship with The Antidon’ts is concerned.  During the first week of January they were the musicians that popped my Lucky You Tattoo performance cherry (appropriate considering cherries might be some of the most over-represented images in the punk ink game), in support of Roger Lima’s ska-escaping project Rehasher.  Then in late May, when the relentless firepower of the mid-Florida sun was just on the cusp of revealing itself, The Antidon’ts played a backyard show in Clearwater that was one of the most fun times I had this year.  This shindig was loaded with copper infiltrations, declarations of lifelong punked-up romance, youth gone wild/wasted, and it led to a write-up that remains the second highest viewed gig review on my website (as an aside, I swear there is no algorithm whatsoever for me to figure how far a piece is going to spread, or why it did after the fact).  Then came the full length We Reap What You Sow in late October, somehow not brought to my attention at that time by the gremlin-bots of social media giants, and screeching onto your screens here in the final weeks of the calendar.  I still don’t really understand where in Florida they’re from though.

We Reap What You Sow is the above quoted column in musical form, from the clear, unshameful status of victimhood found in the title to the lyrical content and frustrated rage lurking within its digital files (there’s also a cool looking tape release, and a possible vinyl version in the future).  It features commentary on many of my personal favourite topics, which should include at least some of yours, no doubt: restless wishes to act out rebellious impulses, addiction, angst, punching Uncle Sam in his stupid face until he bleeds all the money he’s fucking stolen (or as George Carlin puts it at the start of Idiocalypse Now, “the big red white and blue dick that’s being jammed up [American] assholes everyday”).  There’s lots of TV and tech and shit employment hate. It’s some of the usual stuff, but it’s well crafted.  I’ll take that over a lot of the fluff pumped out under the banner of skate punk these days; a description from the band that doesn’t really do justice to the sound here.

As giant corporations have seized most of our food supply to plant boring, identical monocultures that lay waste to the land, The Antidon’ts are sowing a wide variety of genre crops to provide resilience for the coming years.  The music of Nothing’s New To Me combines with the vocal style of bassist Mikey to create a surfy melodic Hellcat crust.  With the state of the oceans these days, I suppose being a crusty surfer is not all that hard to fathom.  (On a side note, the recent Leftöver Leftöver Crack: The E-Sides and F-sides album is next in my sewage pipeline.)  There’s more of this ilk on the ska-seasoned Comfortably Dumb, with guest voices Jesse and Veronica Sendejas adding to the sense of building group discontent.  This track namechecks Bill Hicks; if you’re into both Hicks and Carlin maybe check out the comedian Lee Camp, not to mention the funny firebrand journalist Caitlyn Johnstone who I apparently can’t stop linking to.  But We Reap What You Sow is by no means a whole album of unwashed atheist anthems.  Diverging with Mikey’s screeches is guitarist Zac’s calmly defiant delivery on the likes of the groovy Existential Dread, the fast-paced skate of Turning My Ear and the quality old-fashioned hardcore of Keep That Shit Out of Our Scene.

As if having two singers with differing voices and an interesting blend of different styles sitting side by side wasn’t enough, The Antidon’ts provide further earlobe variety with a lot of great instrumental stretches.  From the Introvert intro to the psychedelic beach romp closer of Life’s A Trip, these three are pissed off but not afraid to take the time to think about what they’re saying, and show off their clear musical chops.  These frills are good frills. Tracks like Absent Mediator and Barfly Hipster (the ending of which seems to purposefully evoke the Henry Rollins version of Six Pack) are full length punk songs with lyrics, but they’re placed few and far between.  While there isn’t much in the way of humour in the lyrics, some of this noodling does indicate the desire for fun for the sake of it, à la the melding of winks and thoughtful rants provided by the likes of Propagandhi and MDC. I am contractually obligated to mention, at this point, the split The Antidon’ts did with MDC last year, available here and to buy on black and white vinyl here. Because if Dave Dictor sees their potential, who the bloody hell are you to not give them a chance? They re-recorded the track Make America Think Again for this long player.

As much as it’s easier to remember only the hardcore blasts of unbridled male emotion, a lot of bands like the Descendents, Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains and obviously Black Flag did have these interludes in their stuff especially as the original scene aged.  As far as being a cultural force, punk today has certainly stagnated more than hardcore had by the mid-80s. But The Antidon’ts seem to have taken a lot of these ideas and built upon them. Is it like a Turnstile album, all full of eerie soul and jazz segments, ready to blow up into something resembling mainstream success?  Not exactly, but it’s certainly refreshing, which brings me back to the description the band have floating around online. “Florida’s heaviest skate punk trio,” ey? I can see what they were trying to convey with that, but it still seems like a description from their past, that they’re sticking with either because they’re so in the artistic tunnel vision that they don’t realise they’ve outgrown it, or they just don’t know how to better succinctly describe the amalgamation they've now got going on here.  “Well, that might just be YOUR job, motherfucker!”  Touché.  Umm… crustaceancore.  

It would seem (would you Christmas-eve Adam and Eve it), that jolting out inebriated stream of consciousness bullshit does not always result in Hunter S. Thompson style insightful genius.  My introduction seemed a primer for expecting the same old guff, before listing all the ways that We Reap What You Sow is an interesting box o’ listening.  I find it hard to imagine a punk band is ever going to light the world on fire again, but this album at least tries to be original in its approach.  Importantly, it sounds good doing it too. And for these reasons it lands slap bang in the final chronological spot of my top ten records for the year.  If these songs are the seeds The Antidon’ts are planting, future harvests from the gloom machine may be less depressing than we imagine.

We Reap What You Sow, as already stated, is available to buy (pay what you like) at The Antidon’ts bandcamp, and on red cassette (run of just 50) from Swamp Cabbage Records. Vinyl may come at some point. The band will be playing a gig at St. Pete’s Cage Brewing on January 19th for Leadfoot Promotions, alongside Rutterkin and Amuse. I intend to be at that gig, and so should you.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

BiteMarks/Meatwound/Permanent Makeup
Saturday, November 17th 2018
The Bends, St. Petersburg FL

Published at Apathy & Exhaustion

Permanent Makeup

When Paul of Leadfoot Promotions announced his first gig earlier this year at Fubar (soon-to-be-RIP, what the fuck?), starring BiteMarks, Meatwound, Horsewhip and Low Season, I got the feeling there wouldn’t be any ironic renditions of Nailing Descartes to the Wall.  Clearly I wasn’t the only one who found Paul’s penchant for putting on flesh-centric acts funny (even Low Season has a song about fishing and cursing the red tide), because in a delicious continuation of the joke we are tonight treated to the seitanic stylings of travelling gluten-salesman Uncle Mince, and his World Famous Seitan.  In my bonus cup review of Horsewhip at Fubar (what the ACTUAL FUCK?) a few weeks ago, I made the throwaway comment that I was such a hungry vegan I could eat a seitan-assembled horse.  I say we all chip in to help Mince make that happen and we wheel that sucker down to the local Food Not Bombs chapter in Williams Park.
Permanent Makeup

“I'm into the version of punk that destroys barriers to entry and screams poetry of inclusion, pushes sonic envelopes and makes space to crush mainstream values based on competition and hatred,” so declared Permanent Makeup bass-voice Chris recently on the Fedbook, basically endorsing giving away plant protein to homeless folks.  Well shit, dude. Way to make my task of trying to describe your ever interesting aesthetic and sound easier and/or more redundant.  It’s from the Shred Shed to the Shred Submarine Base for the post-whathaveyou band, where last night Chris and drummer Susan hosted Kentucky femme grungers noncompliant and the pisspunk locals of Piss Ghost.  Permanent Makeup are an act that show you can push exciting sonic envelopes without relying purely on Sonic the Hedgehog speed, and that it’s okay to be funny in your art, so long as you aren’t lazy (just listen to some of guitarist James’s live vocal deliveries).  Since quality art comes with acknowledgement of The Real Shit, the band here take a brief time out to mourn the fact that Florida is now once more in the hands of a shit governor. So to speak again of Sonic, and his wild hair, bollocks to a blue wave, how about no wave!  With satisfying weird interludes scattered all over!  What we need is a Permanent Shakeup. Chris is looking to start booking gigs for touring musicians soon under the name Trend Decay.  Always such cool names for stuff.

Industrial farming critics Meatwound from across the way in Tampa are fronted by “master race traitor” Dan, who was at one time a member of 90s grindcorers Combatwoundedveteran (as was Jeff Howe of Horsewhip actually).  Tonight he is wearing a Def Jam t-shirt. If you lot were hoping to do a Beastie Boys style transition from extreme rock music to rap you might be overplaying the warm up period of your career, guys.  This is pulverising, heavy shit, although I will happily say that if you’re of the timid disposition their live presence is more obviously tuneful and less scary than when played through tinny laptop speakers (even with The Bends still having their Halloween decorations floating around this late in the month).  


When compared to his speaking voice, Dan’s unnatural growl helps make Meatwound feel like a plodding giant that generally minds its own business, but if you should be so foolish as to fuck with it, you will be beaten senseless.  Their recent releases are spread over a meaty slew of labels, such as Dead Tank Records from Jacksonville (who also released/distributed the latest stuff by Horsewhip and Permanent Makeup, actually), and Magic Bullet Records, whose incredible gonzo bio for the band really captures what it’s like trying to survive in this orange-splattered, polluted shitmachine of a region.  This horrific impression of so-called civilisation is presumably what led Meatwound to give last year’s full length the title of Largo.

BiteMarks (Pictured: Submarine Getting Shredded)

The writhing, violent body of dissatisfaction lurking beneath the thin veneer of civilisation is one of the things that continues to make classic hardcore punk performances so appealing, decades after the genre’s heyday.  Enter BiteMarks from Gainesville.  With just enough experimental flourishes to make things interesting they feature Matt from Assholeparade (spaces between words were not cool in your mid-90s band name, okay?) on bass, and impressively rapid drumming from yet another talented James.  Who needs a Minor Threat reunion? (I’ll tell you who needs it: fucking nobody.)  Then there’s frontwoman Dita, hugging the walls here when she’s not leaving BiteMarks in them, and reminding somewhat of St. Pete’s own Lauren Elizabeth, flying around all over the place and into the crowd as if to ask them what they think they are doing just standing there (see here for a previous exposure to Elizabeth, along with Uncle Mince and Permanent Makeup).


There’s also something in her confident, room dominating energy of a Shirley Manson, if she had grown up in Floridurgh instead of Edinburgh.  I recently learned that Manson once took a piss in the middle of a Spin photoshoot (to return to the topic of femme grunge piss punks), but the magazine, worried for their squeamish and presumably penis-owning advertisers, edited it out.  Dita allegedly had a similar moment here amidst the flashes of Matt Valler magic, which a more cynical punter than me might think was a reason for the bands’ blindingly short fifteen minute set rather than their dedication to hardcore brevity.  I am extremely satisfied but not at the same time. I want MORE, like the insatiable vegan that I am. Where’s that fake mac and cheese peddler?

Twelve more minutes of glory can be found on BiteMarks’ recent album Sucia, available on single sided pink vinyl with a silk screened b-side.  Get it from Belladona Records.  It features some hilarious fake music history nerdery in the liner notes, written by friend Mike Taylor.

A huge thank you to Matt Valler Photography for going in on this collaborative review with me!  You can see the rest of the photos for this gig in these albums.  These are cool as hell, right?