Freewill – S/T

MKD12_400wIt’s funny how closely drawn I am to the music that inspired me as a teen. How the mere mention of a re-issue or pressing I listened to in my high school or college days can almost immediately bring excitement and anticipation. Not to mention  a flood of memories, otherwise hidden deeply in my subconscious.

And while I can’t exactly pinpoint my early obsession with hoarding demos through purchase, trade or any other means necessary. I can still attest to my craving to hear a band’s earliest, perhaps most raw recordings. Press any demo on to a perfectly round slab of vinyl and you’ve got me. Hook, line and sinker.

The lesser known Freewill sounded like and played alongside the likes of Uniform Choice, Insted, No For An Answer and other like-minded, like sounding melodic California Hardcore acts. ‘And while they were signed to Wishingwell Records. The label folded before any of the bands material could be properly released. ‘Nothing Lasts’, my personal favorite brings to mine Justice League‘s ‘One More Time’ and a later, perhaps more cathartic Chain of Strength.

Being that these were the bands first recordings. I really wasn’t expecting anything more than a young band proud to wear their influences on their sleeves.. Yet, like many of these unearthed recordings from acts that followed a certain course, trend or sound. These songs really don’t hold up all that well. A nice time piece that otherwise might have been forgotten. Worth looking in to if your a fan of this era and the bands mentioned. For me personally, a casual listen was more than suffice. This version was released by Mankind Records. Comes on blue vinyl and is limited to 300 copies. JD

Available Here


Audio Evaluation – Demo Daze

During a recent visit to old favorite Sorry State Records. I found myself gobbling up cassette demos to re-enforce my vinyl order. Upon receiving and listening to these outdated modems of music sharing. I found myself being introduced to some pretty awesome bands I had never before heard of. As I listened, I found myself jotting down thoughts and impressions on what I was hearing. The experience immediately brought  me back to my fanzine days when I collected and traded tapes with people around the world. As cassettes and  in particular, demo cassettes continue to make a comeback. I’ve decided to dedicate some time to sharing my thoughts while possibly connecting people to some new, under the radar bands you may or may not have heard of. So here we go. JD

To sample or purchase any of the following. Just click here.

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Enamel – 2016 Demo Philly’s female fronted Enamel deliver eight songs of powerful, well structured songs that show off the bands sense for musicianship, as well as an  ability to perfectly execute the nihilism and stripped down approach of Hardcore. Great production and packaging to boot. With each song failing to make the two-minute mark. I was impressed with how these songs made such a lasting impression.

S-21 – Demo Wow, talk about a departure. S-21 manage to make a lot of dirty noise with this four song thrasher. Gnarly blasts of filth and fury that scared the bejesus out of me. While Philadelphia’s S-21 also feature a female vocalist. All comparisons, resemblance and likeness end there. This is about as raw and forceful as they come. Coming in at 1:17.  the demo’s fourth and final track, ‘Prisoner’ is by far my personal favorite.

Heavy Hands – 2016 Demo While I’m not quite sure why this Portland band reminds me of thrashier NYHC bands of the mid 80’s. I find myself stuck in that comparison. While I find the sped up sounding high pitch vocal screams to be a bit irritating. I find myself drawn to the Heavy Hands revved guitar assault and rapid fire percussion. In listening to these six songs. I found myself gaining a sense of respect and appreciation for Heavy Hands. However, I see a lot of room and hopefully time for improvement.

SWEATS – Demo ’16 “Hey Portland, what’s going on? Have you heard of this cool new band called SWEATS?” The bands heavy-handed and straightforward barked vocals immediately have me thinking of John Brannon’s Negative Approach and Choke’s short-lived, pre-Slapshot endeavour Negative FX. (Two classic early 80’s HXC bands I admittedly took years to appreciate.) Whether or not the members of SWEATs’ have any inkling of those aforementioned bands existence. It clearly shows itself on this demo.

Pure Pressure – Demo 2016 Fast, furious and loud as fuck. On this seven song leave little to the imagination. And while some might find similarities in early NYHC and thrash. I found this Toronto band to be a bit hard to digest. If you’re in to speedy, rough around the edges thrash or speed core. I’d recommend a listen. As for me. I found nothing redeeming about this one.

The Brood – October Dreams  2016 Demo Forgive my age for a second or two while I feel myself transcended to ‘Power of Expression‘ era BLAST. On their latest offering Philly’s  The Brood have recorded an eight song banger that remind me more of a classic BLASTNecrosChrist on Parade album than any stop gate cassette release. Bold, frenetic and essential. I would love nothing more than to hear more from The Brood and ultimately, see this pressed on a heavy slab of vinyl. Essential and absolutely necessary.

Rabid Minds – Demo 2016 When you open your set with a bass line as good as that on ‘Intro‘. You’re surely going to get people interested in what you have to offer.Featuring members of Permanent Ruin, Busted Outlook and Death First. The bi-coastal Rabid Minds let both their influences and experience loose on this five song banger. Powerful and impressive bass lines meet jagged guitar riffage and growled, yet easily digestible vocals to make what comes together as a rather impressive release. Get a hold on this and let it grab a hold of you.

Trash Knife – Trash Life While I haven’t been to an event in Philly since attending a house show at The Terror Dome many years ago. There seems to be a lot of good and diverse things happening in the city of brotherly love these days. Trash Knife may very well be the band that inspire another drive south on the Garden State. And while Trash Knife might comfortably find themselves on the bill as the likes of Enamel and S-21. Trash Knife might be better compared to acts such as Bikini Kill than any local Hardcore acts. Each of the five songs on ‘Trash Life‘ merit countless listens as well as praise. Stick that one in your hamstring buddy.


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Slobber – You Son of a Bitch

a3137737670_16With a sound that can be likened to an autopsy at a bachelors party, or perhaps a riot at the Vatican. California’s Slobber goes for the jugular vein and proceeds to eat it before it goes straight for your heart. Five songs that scared the hell out of me in the way good Hardcore music is supposed to. If old schoolers Citizens Arrest met noise makers Rorschach at an Infest show. They would probably scheme to create something that sounds like Slobber. This is one hell of a ripper that didn’t just leave an impression. It left scars. With songs barely making the minute mark. There’s little room for bells and whistles. Lucky for us, this California band doesn’t need them. Quite good for all you bad ass motherfuckers. JD

Available Here


Audio Evaluation – What I Missed

Having missed so many shows these past weeks. I decided to go back to a couple of recent invites to take a listen to some of the acts I missed. And while I recently ranted about steering clear of Bandcamp. I figured it couldn’t hurt to do a little digging. Below is some insight and reaction to what I found. JD

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I Love Your Lifestyle – We Go Way Back 
The Swedes are coming. The Swedes are coming. Sweden’s I Love Your Lifestyle write smart and uplifting melodies met by rawkus vocals and choruses. ‘We Go Way Back‘ lifts the spirits as it washes over you with its warm and danceable pop brilliance. As welcome as a cool breeze on a hot summers day. I’ve had this on repeat for days on end. Fourteen songs in all. Music that seem to get better with each listen. Warm, infectious and totally necessary . Available Here

Secret Stuff – This is Fine Nashville Tennessee’s Secret Stuff bring a sense of cheer and wonderment to the table that feels honest and at times, almost effortless. Five emotionally tuned in tracks that leave the listener wanting more. ‘This is Fine’ displays the bands kean ability to fuse melody with inspiring rythms and intricate key changes that give the somewhat subdued songs extra life and energy. Available Here

Yes, Yes, A Thousand Times – Not Once, Not Ever When taking your bands namesake from an epic tale as large as ‘Pride and prejudice’. You better be good. Luckily, in the case of this aptly named act. They kind of are. Both diverse and eclectic. Not Once, Not Ever offers rhythmic blasts of quick and energy fused dream pop spinkled with a jangly punk loosness that adds dimension it’s dreamy, atmospheric, emo inspired soundscapes. Yes, Yes, A Thousand Times add a unique twist to dream pop while managing to evade any specific genre trappings. This one took a few thorough listens to fully appreciate. However, in the end. It was those crazy rhythms and dreamy vocals that inevitably won me over. Available Here

Fire In Motion –  Days 8-14 Union New Jersey’s Fire in Motion fall short on they/his namesake with two offerings of folky, acoustic dream pop that failed to keep me interested. Musically dull with sleepy lyrics. ‘Days 8-14‘ never really establish themselves. While the recording and production are quite good. It was the songs and their delivery that left me bored and unimpressed. Available Here

Whiner – Forever Demo While the calender clearly states it is the year 2016.
Whiner  sound as if thye’d be just as comfortable sitting amongst decades old new wave, synth pop and electronic genius. All of which come off sounding fresh and current. Being a bit older myself. I couldn’t help but feel echoes of pioneers such as such groundbreaking acts as Kraftwerk, Gary Numan and perhaps most closely, The Pet Shop Boys. And while my personal favorite Between You and Me‘ seems to channel the subdued brilliance of The Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant. It’s the following track ‘Ooze‘ that might draw comparisons to ‘The Bends’ era Radiohead. As far as demos go. This is about as good as it gets. Available Here

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Freewill -Sun Return

na63_Freewill_adForming in 1987 Freewill quickly rose in the ranks of ranks of the Southern California Straight Edge Hardcore scene. Playing along with bigger names such as Uniform Choice, No For An Answer, Insted and many others. They quickly made a name for themselves. During my time as a fanzine editor and collector. The name Freewill appeared in many of ones that supported both Straight Edge and the thriving West Coast scene. Soon after singing to and recording with Wishingwell Records who soon closed down. Leaving the album to hang out dry before the Europe’s legendary music thieves Lost and Found bought the tapes and bootlegged them. Thus releasing them without the permission or knowledge of the band themselves.

While I was familiar with Freewill. (Most notably, the presence of Mark Hartsfield who would go on to play with Against the Wall, Outspoken and Strife and currently Done Dying Continue reading