Sunday, February 25, 2018

Dwarves - Take Back the Night (2018)

The fuckin' Dwarves are back! Four years after Invented Rock & Roll which, for me, signaled the beginning of a fresh brand new youth for the band in some way, Take Back the Night is here to breathe new and fresh life to the myth. The album is a tequila shot (like any good punk album should be) and it just calls for neverending repetitive listens.
It's still a bit early in 2018, but I strongly feel that this could very well be the undisputed top punk album of the year. Ηave a listen for yourself:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


"The Byrdes and their teenage kids, Charlotte and Jonah, are, for all intents and purposes, an ordinary family with ordinary lives. Except for the job of Marty, a Chicago financial advisor who also serves as the top money launderer for the second largest drug cartel in Mexico. When things go awry, Marty must uproot his family from the skyscrapers of Chicago and relocate to the lazy lake region of the Missouri Ozarks."
Netflix's short description, while it can't possible contain every possible aspect of the story, it is pretty much straightforward. For me, it's definitely my favorite new crime series of 2017, and definitely among my all-time top 5. It reminded me of several other series I've loved over the years: Breaking Bad in the aspect of finding oneself in impossible life choices that just obligate you to take some kind of desperate action, Justified in the aspect of finding about a US local area unknown to me before (the Missouri Ozarks in this case). There are several other personal references that could be added here, but the point is that Ozark is a must-see all through its 10-part first season. It's the first time for me to enjoy Jason Bateman in a dramatic role, and the guy is just incredible, while the rest of the cast and production does a remarkable job as well.
This is one of these series that no moment is boring and keeps you on your toes with every development, while every character is well-thought-for and handled in an exemplary manner. I wouldn't want to give away anything about the whole plot, I just need to compel you to watch this. You'll thank me later.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Michael Guratza - Songs that Speak the Truth (2018)

This is one of the first great surprises in Greek underground music in 2018. Michael Guratza (also the singer/guitarist/mastermind of Bat Signal from Thessaloniki) released this gem on just the second day of the year. Even being aware of his talent and musicianship from his work with his band, this here was anything but expected for me. Michael strips his tunes completely naked of needless and unnecessary bearings and delivers them just as they are; only with his voice and guitar. And this is exactly what they need, since they alone have a reason of existence and are full of emotion. If I had to describe it musically, it all moves within a folk/americana/alternative area, at times borrowing other elements as well (like traditional greek rhythms, for instance), and with Michael giving them his own distinct character. The lyrics add a special spice to it all, overall making this work worthy of getting as much attention as possible. Discover this hidden treasure and spread the word. It really deserves it.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Top 10 albums of 2017

1. Converge - The Dusk in Us

This is basically beyond words. No matter how prepared you feel you are before a new Converge record, it is guaranteed to blow your mind in ways you can't imagine. The start was made during the summer with I Can Tell You About Pain single, which featured an incredible b-side called Eve and gave us but a glimpse. But the full enormity of The Dusk in Us was impossible to be conceived. Converge are now in a state where they make their way as they go, daring us to follow. Groovier and noisier than ever, Converge deliver us an indisputable piece of art (as much as I hate the word) in The Dusk in Us.

2. Paradise Lost - Medusa

The controversial return of the year! And when I say "return", I'm talking in terms of sound, of course. Well, this would definitely be No.1 for 2017 if Converge hadn't come along. This is Paradise Lost as they came to life close to 30 years ago, this is the Paradise Lost sound that played a big role to who I am musically. It's of absolutely no importance whether they picked up their root sound again intentionally in order to gain back fans (as they are blamed) or it came naturally. Cut and dry and away from any correlations, this is an epic doom/death record full of awesome riffs, substantial compositions and the much-awaited return of Nick Holmes' infamous growls. (/nostalgia)

3. Grave Pleasures - Motherblood

Dreamcrash was barely a runner-up in last year's list, if you recall. As much as I had loved Beastmilk and the potential behind Grave Pleasures, it felt like something was missing from the mix. I still haven't figured exactly what that missing ingredient was in the end, but what's important is that this time Mat McNerney and co. got it just right! Motherblood is full of post-punk (it's a term that is uttered around a lot these days, although I would prefer more something like 'gothpunk') hymns, each one a highlight of its own. I never thought I'd feel this strange need to hit the dancefloor again. Really, is goth dance still a thing??

4. Legendary Shack Shakers - After You've Gone

I was really thrilled to hear that these dudes returned in 2015 after a rather long absence. As big as my thrill was, for some reason The Southern Surreal just didn't cut it for me in the end (not that it was a bad album, know). The Legendary Shack Shakers must have sensed my relative disappointment as they rushed to get back this year with this awesome record. After You've Gone may not be as jumpy and sweaty as their classic '00s albums, but it's full of character, inspiration and bourbon. Bluegrass, country, blues, early rock 'n' roll, jazz; everything is put to the mix. Have a taste of the Shakers if you haven't already, and be sure to check their incredible and historic back-catalogue while you're at it.

5. Entrance - Book of Changes

That was such a great surprise for me! Entrance, aka Guy Blakeslee's personal music project hadn't made a record since 2006; instead it had gradually transformed into the Entrance band. Yes, it was still Blakeslee calling the shots but now it was more of a regular band with a more "band jam" character to it. Still not bad, but the sheer importance of the composition and melody was lost amidst the musicians' improvisations and rehearsal jammings. Apparently, Blakeslee got tired of  it as well, so he returned with Entrance after 11 years. Personal compositions, naked melodies and thrifty orchestration; and he has nothing to fear as this is strong and true material to begin with. Incredible.

6. Sofia Sarri - Euphoria

If you look back to this blog, you'll see that I felt I just had to write about this record when it came out. I've known Sofia Sarri since her years in the post-rock/trip-hop legends of the Greek underground, Night on Earth in the '00s. Through the years, Sofia has grown and evolved and has developed a character of her own as an artist. Avant-garde intentions, traditional Greek music, blackmetal atmospheres; all of this and more make for an introvert and esoteric record as much as it is melodic and warm. We're watching out for her next step. 

7. Crusades - This Is a Sickness and Sickness Will End

Crusades were always within this wave of melodic punk/post-punk of the last years that is a very interesting case, to say the least. This album is, in my opinion, the destination of their 6-or-7-year trip since their beginning. The Sun Is Down and The Night Is Riding In was the cause for us to notice them, Perhaps You Deliver This Judgement with Greater Fear than I Receive It was moving into new areas yet it seemed a bit out of place; but This Is a Sickness and Sickness Will End puts everything in balance and perspective. The sound may be a bit two clean and shiny for some, but the overall result exhales maturity and substance. The compositions are complete, the vocal performance is flawless. It all actually outgrows the terms "punk" or "rock" or whatever; this is good music, not to be missed by anyone.

8. Hard Action - Hot Wired Beat

These Finns, initially when they emerged a couple of years ago or so, in my mind they played the role of a very good Hellacopters substitute. Of course, that was a hasty judgement to say the least and I was a little late to correctly appreciate their awesome debut Sinister Vibes. Well, now I was waiting for their next step and they do anything but to disappoint. Yes, Hard Action step a lot onto the european rock 'n' roll as it was resurrected 20 years ago or so mostly by some certain Swedes. Yet, it's obvious that they have a special vibe of their own and they don't just imitate someone else. Hot Wired Beat offers high-energy rock 'n' roll full of well-placed guitar solos and the right amounts of punk attitude. The "guitar rock 'n' roll" record of the year.

9. Bloodclot - Up in Arms

This one-off more or less puts things in hardcore punk back in perspective. With John Joseph of Cro-Mags as the mastermind and behind the mic, and with (current and ex-)members of bands like Dwarves and Agnostic Front he has rounded up, this is no time for games. 2008's Burn Babylon Burn! was moving in an almost nu-metal area (with entirely different band members back then), but Up in Arms' simplicity and straightforwardness makes for anything but a poor result; on the contrary, this is something that will make it hard for you to keep away from the repeat button.

10. Body Count - Bloodlust

Body Count relevant in 2017?? Well, I could barely believe it when I heard they were returning in 2014, and I was surprised to see that they did have things to say in the 21st century as well. But even so, I was not prepared for the thunderstorm that Bloodlust is. Ice-T and co. have been listening to a lot of speed/thrash metal, no doubt, and the Slayer medley that they are doing in this album is anything but coincidental. Body Count revive rap metal straight from its golden period 20-25 years ago and give it a contemporary edge that cuts like a freshly-sharpened razor.


Procrastinate - s/t: My fellow crust punks from Karditsa, Greece sure took their time, but they did it all just right. Here we have a mature band as much as it is explosive. There are no drawbacks here and everything flows just perfect, be it the sound, the compositions, the artwork; maybe a bit too perfect if you ask me, and that could be a problem for some, if you know what I mean. For now, they have started to turn some heads, and that is more than enough.

Black Hat Bones - Born in a Thunder: AC/DC with a touch of Seattle anyone? Black Hat Bones are within the few most consistent rock Greek bands of today, which also makes one of the most underrated. Guitar rock music to move your body to in an album with no fillers.
Krause - 2am Thoughts: From the ashes of several bands from the Greek scene, Krause look to be focused on what they were set to do. Their noise rock is chaotic and groovy at the same time, while the intentionally dirty sound makes it all even better.

Unsane - Sterilize: This is not even close to be classified as one of the best Unsane records, but, hey, it's Unsane and they have returned. No other band in the history of music has ever had this effect on me. (/fanboy)

Tuber - Out of the Blue: Tuber keep going their own way and they have since their beginning. Post rock? Psychedelic rock? Stoner rock? Instrumental rock? They have always done it away from already set recipes, and in their second studio album they are showing that this is the way they will keep doing it.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Belated obsessions: The Dirtbombs - Dangerous Magical Noise (2003)

This is an album I've been in love with for as long as I remember myself being a conscious garage/punk/rock'n'roller. Mind you, not a death or thrash or doom metal fan (phases I've identified as during various and younger periods of my life). I'm talking about being a fan of "music with guitars" in general; that is, being able to distinguish the "rock 'n' roll" in a song, no matter where said song is placed genre-wise, be it within the aforementioned harder genres or within softer ones.
It could be said that Dangerous Magical Noise adequately encompasses everything the phrase "Detroit Rock City" meant during the '90s and '00s. Mick Collins, the mastermind behind the Dirtbombs, was done with the Gories; his first band where a raw and bassless garage/punk made its mark in the early '90s. The Dirtbombs, in their beginning, featured two drummers and two bassists, apart from Collins himself taking care of guitar and vocals. Collins' widened musical spectrum was now obvious (made clear by other projects of his, like Blacktop,  King Sound Quartet and the Screws, among others) and the Dirtbombs were the vessel. Initially, the band used to only release 7" vinyl singles, until their debut full-length Horndog Fest in 1998 and Ultraglide in Black in 2003, the latter being comprised entirely out of covers on classic R&B songs. In 2003, the band decided to adopt a more straight rock sound and merge with the already fuzzed-out nature of their sound. Thus, Dangerous Magical Noise

This is one of those records where everythig seems to be perfect and every song is a highlight on its own. The Dirtbombs make the perfect combinations out of garage rock, punk, glam rock, blues, R&B and here they deliver 15 (counting the 2 bonus tracks as well) sweaty tracks of pure rock 'n' roll daring you to stop swinging and singing along; something impossible. Speaking about 21st century american rock 'n' roll, Dangerous Magical Noise is definintely one of its milestones that needs to be studied by everyone involved.

To my knowledge, the band still exists to this day, with their last full-length Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey! being out in 2013, and their 2011 album Party Store featuring covers on classic '90s techno tracks(!). Do a favor to yourself and discover the gem (of historical proportions) that Dangerous Magical Noise is, if you haven't already.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Belated obsessions: Martyrdöd - List (2016)

If I'm to be honest, crust punk in general is a genre I've come to love and enjoy only in the past 6 or 7 years, although in the meantimen I've been sure to retroactively dig through its historical monuments, as I always try to do.

Martyrdöd, being consistently around for more than 13 years now, have always been a name to watch out for out of the ever-exploding scandinavian scene. Amid the chaos of new and interesting releases along with the struggle to keep up (among the always limited free time of course), List was the gem I missed during last year, and if I hadn't, it would surely have been among the top places of 2016's top 10. Martyrdöd always had a distinct melodic edge in their d-beat/crust clatter, but with List I think they've marked the genre for good. Folk melodies had never made their way through so distinctively and substantially and, if you're thinking that this has become at the expense of sound harshness and/or speed, well, you're mistaken. The Swedes are as extreme as ever, the vocals haven't calmed down one bit, only now there's always a lead guitar around to transfuse a melodic and epic edge to it all.

This looks very much like an album that will turn the heads of new listeners for this extreme form of hardcore punk, and the least you could do is take a little time to appreciate it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Support Kemerov's crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo!

Kemerov are asking for your help in order to release their highly-praised all over the world debut album "FMKD" (already out on CD) on vinyl! Click below to get in on it!