30 September 2011

LISTEN: The Mad Daddys - Nancy

It is safe to say that Keith Dunleavy is an unknown name to most, even within the West Virignia music scene. In fact, I didn't know of him or his music ventures until a couple years ago when my friend Eric read about Keith's band Unwanted Christmas Presents on the Terminal Boredom forum, where members came to blows discussing the controversial band's greatness. I bought the Unwanted Christmas Present record, originally released in the late '80s, from the band's guitar player/drummer Jon Nathan. It was wonderful to discover that there was a band from Charleston that made such gritty and visceral punk rock, and was decades ahead of its time.
I have come across some fantastic videos and recordings of some of Dunleavy's projects, and I am very excited to share them. This live audio recording is of Dunleavy's band The Mad Daddys playing at his residence in Charleston on New Year's Even 1985-6. It is more approachable than Unwanted Christmas Presents, less punk than another of his bands Death & Co., and sort of reminds me of Velvet Underground or Pere Ubu. This video also features some old images of Charleston, which is fun to see.

29 September 2011

LISTEN: Sundown - Mansion Burning

On Monday I posted the demo from Charleston accordion-driven punk-pop band P'u Rens, which featured Dustin White on bass. Nowadays, Dustin is living in Columbus, Ohio, playing in a new band Sundown. The "psych-folk" group recently released this six-song cassette, which you can stream below via Bandcamp. Sundown is comparable to other bands of the sub-genre including Grizzly Bear or Deerhoof, with a mix of folk rock and electronic noise. It is enjoyable stuff that has the potential of gaining popularity with Pitchfork readers. The band recently played a gig at The Empty Glass in Charleston, and did an interview withe Charleston Gazette, in which Dustin talks about his Appalachian roots.

26 September 2011

DOWNLOAD: P'u Rens - Hocus Polka

Blog contributor Brian Pauley (of Shindig and Dirt Bear) recently sent me this demo by P'u Rens, which he called one of the funnest and most underrated bands from the Charleston area. P'u Rens were an experimental punk-pop band that featured an accordion played by Joseph Moore. The band also included Paul Francke whose project Alsace Lorraine got decent press a few years back, as well as Dustin White (Dead Ant Farm). Recorded at the Cave at some point in the mid-'90s, "Hocus Polka" brings to mind the intellectual amateurishness of punk acts like The Dead Milkmen, and the playful pop sensibility of They Might Be Giants and Ween. The music is often boisterous and ironic, but always intelligent and well-executed. And despite the use of the accordion, xylophone and other non-traditional punk instruments, "Hocus Polka" is very listenable for all 22 short tracks (only two of which are over 3 minutes).

Artist: P'u Rens
Album: Hocus Polka
Year: Mid-'90s
For fans of: The Dead Milkmen, Ween, They Might Be Giants

23 September 2011

WATCH: Down To None live in Charleston, 1999

Here is Down To None playing the American Legion in Charleston in 1999. At this point, the band had ditched its second singer and was rejoined by original bassist Jared Stephens. Also, the music had started moving more into the direction of melodic hardcore. Unfortunately, the video is a bit Blair Witch Project-esque and is just snippets of a few different songs. Though, I think I recognize myself (with a thick neck) along with friends Ryan McCullough (later of Down Goes Frazier) and Justin Leonard (Day One Media) among a mob signing along with Dana toward the end. After the closing of the Common Grounds, the American Legion became a great DIY venue for all-ages shows. I believe this was one of the first Dana put together there.

21 September 2011

DOWNLOAD: Down To None - 180°

Before Dana White captained Holden Caulfield for nearly a decade, even before he joined Malicious Intent as a second vocalist for a short time, he fronted Down To None. Made up of members from the Charleston and Huntington areas, Down To None formed in 1997. Within the next year, the band had already made a couple personnel changes including adding a second vocalist. In 1998, Down To None recorded this 12-song tape that showcases the band's diverse style. While it is simplest to place DTN into the hardcore genre, listening to this album now, I am more reminded of bands such as Helmet, Clutch or Rollins Band. I love Dana's vocals in Down To None - they are gutsy unlike his more throaty style in Holden Caulfield, and his memorable lyrics are angry and straight forward. Unfortunately, second vocalist Kevin weakens the band's ferocity with a less sincere presence on tracks such as "Mask" and "Closer Than Blood" (on which his voice actually cracks like Peter Brady). It is guitarist Duane's detuned crunchy riffs that remind me most of Helmet, and help make this somewhat dated album still enjoyable as I listen to it today. Dana was a great influence on my interest in hardcore music and my involvement in the West Virginia music scene for many years. Listening to this album reminds me of that and makes me proud to have known him for so many years, so I am proud to share it.

Artist: Down To None
Album: 180°
Year: 1998
For fans of: Helmet, Clutch, Rollins Band

20 September 2011

WATCH: A night at the Common Grounds coffeehouse in Charleston, 1997

I came across these videos a while back while doing a search on YouTube. The videos, shot in 1997, are almost 30 minutes worth of footage from a Band Slam at the Common Grounds coffeehouse in Charleston. The all-ages venue on Summers Street was a fantastic space to see shows before it closed in the late '90s for a multitude of reasons. After multiple two-hour road trips from Bridgeport to Charleston, it was at the Common Grounds that I formed a lot of friendships with fellow showgoers from the Kanawha Valley and discovered a lot of new music. It was there that I saw local bands like Malicious Intent, Westbygod, Shindig and many more, as well touring acts such as Fugazi and Codeseven. Though I wasn't at the show from the videos, I did recognize a lot of people I know from footage of the crowd and performances from Dead Ant Farm and other local groups (most of them pretty bad). Seeing the mid-'90s fashion sense of Charlestonians is an embarrassing reminder of my youth, but the videos succeed in making me sentimental for a scene that was a lot of fun. I wish I could think owner Bob Webb for giving us such a place. I'll never forget that fucking carpet.

15 September 2011

READ: Digital Millennium Copyright Act takes down Karma to Burn post

This morning, I received the following e-mail from Blogger concerning the post of Karma To Burn's Wild Wonderful Purgatory:
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14 September 2011

DOWNLOAD: Shindig - Trendy Music For Trendy Kids

Around 1995, Richie Ray was in Dead Ant Farm, Brian Pauley in Dirt Bear, Ray Davis in Seven and Ronnie Stricklen in The Happy Foundation. Then most of those bands broke up, and the four gentlemen joined together with Brian Spangler of Seven to form The Pumpernickels. After Spangler left the band due to military commitments, the band changed its name to Shindig, wrote new songs, kept some Pumpernickels songs and recorded a demo with Scott Robinson. This is that first recording that introduced Shindig's energetically wry brand of pop punk that came out in the midst of a good time for the genre when labels like Fat Wreck, Epitaph and Lookout were at their peak. With a lot of "woah oh oh" sing-a-longs, Shindig could be thrown in with bands like The Queers or Mr. T Experience but less Ramones influence. Instead, Shindig's style is more poppy, less punk. The music is aggressive but played with a positive attitude. The lyrics - which are about girls, friends or just having fun - are sarcastic but not bitter, which is often the case in pop punk. It's more along the lines of a more mature Blink 182 or less annoying New Found Glory.

Not long after putting out this tape, Shindig played a show at the Drop Shop in Huntington to "win" the opportunity to play X-Fest. The winner was determined by votes at the door, and because no one knew Shindig, they lost by a landslide. In spite of that, the radio promoter was so impressed by the band's performance, Shindig was selected to play the festival, after which the band's regional popularity took off. Deservedly. Though their biggest audience was teenage girls, which became a bit of a running joke with the band, Shindig wrote good, catchy and memorable poppy punk.

Artist: Shindig
Album: Trendy Music for Trendy Kids
Year: 1995
For fans of: Blink 182, New Found Glory, The Queers

13 September 2011

WATCH: Appalachian Terror Unit live in London, 2011

Huntington's Appalachian Terror Unit is a hard working band and has spent much of 2011 traveling the world playing their eco-conscious brand of crust-punk metal. With a powerful message of ending mountain top removal as just one of the band's platforms, they have spread awareness to new audiences. Here is a video of Appalachian Terror Unit playing ScumFest in London back in May. ATU headlined Friday night of the DIY benefit festival, which also featured Extreme Noise Terror, Fuk and Shades of Grey (<-- so good). This is a great band from West Virginia that I just never see people from the state mentioning.

09 September 2011

WATCH: The Demon Beat - You Got It, live at SXSW, 2010

Yesterday I posted the The Rozwell Kid, the power-pop rock solo effort from Jordan Hudkins. Here is a video of The Demon Beat, for which Jordan drums. The garage-soul-rock band (I don't listen to the Black Keys, but I imagine it is comparable) is from Shepherdstown, but here they are playing in Austin at South by Southwest in 2010. Sounds good, and they seem to be very talented (teeth-played guitar solo) and professional musicians, but I must say I am really digging Jordan's solo project.

08 September 2011

LISTEN: The Rozwell Kid - LP

The Rozwell Kid is the solo project of Jordan Hudkins, who drums for The Demon Beat. I'm actually not that familiar with The Demon Beat, who is a garage rock band out of Shepherdstown (my favorite town in West Virginia). I tried to go see them in Austin once, but on the day of the show they were no longer on the bill. The Rozwell Kid moves away from the style of The Demon Beat and instead play "noisy power-pop" that "recalls the earlier, glory days of acts like Weezer and the more amplified side of Ben Kweller and Spoon." Living in Austin, I've come to despise Spoon, but I certainly love early Weezer, and I see where Jordan is coming from. Rozwell certainly rings of mid-'90s big guitar pop rock. I have to say, the songs on this LP are quite enjoyable. You can stream the album here or download it for free via bandcamp.

07 September 2011

DOWNLOAD: Ahimsa - The End of a Lifetime of Fear

Around 1998, I was contacted by a Wheeling band that was interested in playing shows in the Clarksburg area. I received a pair of tapes and some info on Ahimsa, and was surprised to find out that there was a straight edge and vegan-conscious hardcore band from West Virginia that I didn't already know. Not long after I got the tapes, I met Josh Mason. Josh as visiting a friend in my hometown Bridgeport who had just moved there from New Martinsville, where Josh lived. Being straight-edge and into hardcore and emo alike, Josh and I quickly became friends. The gap between the north central West Virginia and the northern panhandle was soon bridged.
I was introduced to the likes of Killed at Camp, Mikey Iafrate and Once Again. I headed north many times to see Ahimsa, who also became friends of mine. It was exciting to discover a new scene in my own state, so I began booking shows with both bands from my area and the panhandle. It has a merger that has never turned back, and I'm proud to still consider many of those guys from the north my friends.
That said, The End of a Lifetime of Fear was Ahimsa's first CD and its last release before the band broke up. With influences from youth crew (Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits), knrishna-core (Shelter) and mid-90s straight edge (Earth Crisis, Culture), Ahimsa played a style of hardcore that was confrontational and angst-ridden but lively and at times melodic with passionate, culturally-conscious lyrical content dealing with issues such as rape, violence and veganism. After the band's break-up, guitarist Wes Ebling went on to form Klopeks Furnace, which was one of my favorite West Virginia hardcore bands.

Artist: Ahimsa
Album: The End of a Lifetime of Fear
Year: 1999
For fans of: Youth of Today, Shelter, Earth Crisis

02 September 2011

WATCH: Neutral Agreement - Silicone and Confidence

Earlier this week, I posted a download of Neutral Agreement's album I Bet You Never Thought. As I mentioned, not long after I was introduced to the band, singer/guitarist Matthew McDowell left the band. As a three-piece, guitarist Bryan Patterson took over vocal duties, and the band also changed drummers. The re-shaped band returned with a new style that took on influences from slightly heavier post-hardcore bands like Thrice and Thursday but still maintaining elements of pop punk. In 2003, they released The Joyful Facade, for which they recorded this video for the song "Silicone and Confidence." The video was shot at the Frederick Hotel in Huntington in the old ballroom, which we stumbled upon while doing a photo shoot (above). I'll be posting the album next week.

01 September 2011

DOWNLOAD: Worn Thin - Demo

Around 2000, I played in a band that shall remain forgotten. But one of the highlights of playing in unsaid group was the bands with which we shared the stage. I'm not talking bands of mediocre accomplishment like Thursday, Breaking Pangaea or Zao, but the fellow up-and-coming hardcore and punk acts from the region. One of my band's early shows was at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown. Though we were hardly impressive (aside from maybe our stage antics), we received some excitedly kind words from Carlos, singer of Worn Thin. He and I hit it off immediately as he's the type of guy with whom it is difficult not to get along. Then Worn Thin played. They were a fairly new band out of the D.C. area, and their melodic hardcore style rang of Lifetime, of whom I was a big fan at the time.
Carlos and I kept in touch over the next couple years. My band soon called it quits, and his band's style changed more into D.C. youth crew hardcore punk, losing much of its melodic elements. Worn Thin recorded a number of records for different labels and members went on to play in Police & Thieves, Trapped Under Ice and others. But more than ten years after that show, I've held onto this four-song demo on a burned CD. While it's not the most original material (what is?), Lifetime-esque hardcore will always have a place in my heart. As will those times of playing fun shows with new bands and meeting good people. That is why I got into that damn scene in the first place. This demo just reminds me of that.
Artist: Worn Thin
Album: Demo
Year: 2000
For fans of: Lifetime, Gorilla Biscuits, Turning Point