26 November 2011

READ: Happy 2nd Birthday Soft Rock Renegade

I started this blog two years ago today with this post about Malicious Intent. Thanks for the support.

22 November 2011

WATCH: Pulling John

The other night I was searching through Netflix Instant for something quick and easy to watch and came across the above film "Pulling John." The documentary is about John Brzenk, a nearly impossible-to-beat arm wrestling champion, and two men who hope to end his invincibility. One puller is Alexy Voevoda, an overwhelming species of strength from Russia - like Drago with a soft heart and a ponytail. The other is Travis Bagent, a loudmouth egomaniac from, of course, West Virginia. I had no idea one of the main characters was a West Virginian, but as soon as I saw that, I was hooked. Bagent is half vainglorious villain and half underdog, and as much as he wants to make you dislike him, it's hard not to root for him. "Pulling John" isn't the best doc I've seen in a while, but it's a film that will make you cheer. Except for the fact that they say Travis from Charleston when he's actually from Charles Town. If you have Netflix, check it out.

21 November 2011

WATCH: The Caterpillar Scheme live in Morgantown, 2008

Here are a couple videos of The Caterpillar Scheme playing at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown in 2007. Though the camera is hidden behind the drums, the light is low, and the audio is a bit loud and booming, the video hints at the The Caterpillar Scheme's energetic and intense live performances, which could not be captured on the band's self-titled EP.

15 November 2011

DOWNLOAD: The Caterpillar Scheme - The Caterpillar Scheme

Editor's Note: Not long after I started this blog (two years ago), I asked my friend Eric Courtney to write about his friends The Caterpillar Scheme. Eric said he struggled to write without being too sentimental and talking about how important his friendships with the band's members were. But I've finally gotten these words out of him. He just wanted to make sure Dan Sheets, Danny King and Mindy Parsley were mentioned as the individuals who introduce him to the band.

While none of the members of the band would likely acknowledge it, North central West Virginia’s The Caterpillar Scheme was truly an inspiration to the community of talented musicians and artists who collected at the Morgantown bar 123 Pleasant Street during the middle years of the last decade. In 2003 (I THINK), brothers Joshua (guitar, vocals) and Ross Israel (drums), Jeremy Casto (guitar, keyboard, noise) and Todd Molina (bass), all of whom grew up around Clarksburg, formed The Caterpillar Scheme in the wake of the band Down July. The Caterpillar Scheme toured surrounding states and played gigs in various West Virginia towns, but Pleasant Street was where their brand of cosmic, art-damaged post-hardcore was truly embraced, and at home.
The Caterpillar Scheme's live show was something to behold - a surprisingly tight mix of tension and release, melody and caterwaul that destroyed guitars, amps, PAs, you name it. When they were at their best, their force was enough to levitate audiences ever so slightly, like sheer magic, leaving even the drunkest of crowds in awe. They made Morgantown feel a little bigger and more significant than before. Their music challenged the people who knew it intimately to create better. It bridged social cliques, helped forge lifelong friendships, and was the catalyst for countless nights of hazy elation. I look back on the years of my life spent among the members of this band with deep nostalgia, and I’m certain many others do as well.
The Caterpillar Scheme left us with only a single EP that doesn't quite capture what the band could produce live. They drew from a variety of musical influences, but fans of Unwound, Blonde Redhead, At the Drive-In and early Radiohead won't be disappointed. Down July also recorded a CD a few years before three of the bands four members created The Caterpillar Scheme. If anyone has a copy, I would love to see it posted.

Artist: The Caterpillar Scheme
Album: The Caterpillar Scheme
Year: 2003
For fans of: At the Drive-In, Blonde Redhead, Unwound

14 November 2011

LISTEN: 63 Eyes - Look in For Mothmen

Here is material from an incredible 1980s underground rock band from Parkersburg. 63 Eyes featured now prominent West Virginia musician Todd Burge on vocals and bass along with Mark Poole (guitar) and Wes Poole (drums). Influential on the likes a number of area bands to follow in the years after, 63 Eyes could be compared to Husker Dü, Meat Puppets of Flipper. One fan commented: "I swear I hear 'Exit the Pig' when I [listen to] Foo Fighters 'This Is a Call.' Same chords, same guitar sound, same attitude... but 7 years after [63 Eyes]." Considering this album was recorded in 1987, the terrific songwriting paired with quality production could fool any listener into believing this record is contemporary. Look in For Mothmen is now available for download for $10, and upon streaming it for free, is well worth it.

09 November 2011

DOWNLOAD: Kukim - Live on the Morgantown Sound Show

Yesterday I posted a pair of videos of Kukim, the Morgantown band featuring ex-members of Lincoln. Where drummer Justin Wierbonski denies Lincoln being an emo band, instead calling them a rock band, it was Kukim that moved away from post-hardcore and more into the rock spectrum. While stylistically very similar to Lincoln, the guitars are less heavy with more hooks and less screaming. As stated, the band never released any material other than these eight tracks recorded live on U92's Morgantown Sound Show in 1994. The production is quite organic, as to be expected from a radio show recording, but powerful nonetheless. Kukim picks up quite well where Lincoln, one of the states best ever bands, left us wanting more after such an abbreviated existence.
Artist: Kukim
Album: Live on the Morgantown Sound Show
Year: 1994
For fans of: Lincoln, Drive Like Jehu, Unwound

WATCH: Kukim live in Dayton, 1994

Most readers of this blog are pretty familiar with Lincoln by now. Formed in the early 1990s, Lincoln was considered one of the originators of the post-hardcore/emo/screamo sound - "filled with super heavy dissonant guitars, screaming vocals and spastic drumming to a relatively medium tempo," as drummer Justin Wierbonski explains. "However, I don’t and never did consider Lincoln an emo band. We were just a rock band to my ears, and a pretty darn good one at that." Truth.

So it was unfortunate that after just a few short years and a handful of seven-inches, Lincoln called it quits. But where Lincoln left off, the Morgantown band's members picked right back up with Kukim. Kukim never released any albums except an in-studio performance at Morgantown's U92 radio station, but here are a couple videos of Kukim performing in Dayton in 1994. The top video features video from the show but overlayed audio from the u92 recordings. The video and audio below are from the actual performance.

08 November 2011

DOWNLOAD: Down Goes Frazier - Discography 2003 to 3004

On Monday night, boxing legend Joe Frazier died after a long battle with liver cancer. It is only natural that I repost the band respectfully named after Howard Cossell's call during the working man champion's epic fight against George Foreman in 1973. Though the reference to one of Smokin' Joe's rare losses (only four in his career) is not the best way to commemorate his life, this is just a music blog, so it's appropriate. So from one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time to one of my favorite punk bands from West Virginia, if you're a fan of Hot Water Music, Planes Mistaken For Stars or Against Me!, check out Down Goes Frazier.
Artist: Down Goes Frazier
Album: Discography 2003 to 2004
Year: 2003 to 2004
For Fans Of: Hot Water Music, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Silent Majority

05 November 2011

IN MEMORIAM: Samuel "Meuwl" Harshbarger

Two years ago today we lost a great artist and dear friend, Samuel "Meuwl" Harshbarger. In January this blog paid tribute to Meuwl's life and career as one of West Virginia's finest hip-hop emcees and personalities. With help from Meuwl's friends and other artists from the state, we posted Meuwl's music, videos, photos, graffiti and some beautifully sincere words from Meuwl collaborator and close friends Justin "L-No" Leonard.

I am reposting this exact post from a year ago to again celebrate the genius who was Meuwl. On this day I wanted to re-post everything to give people another chance to download his music or just take an opportunity to remember what he contributed to all our lives.

RIP Meuwl.

03 November 2011

DOWNLOAD: Law Biting Citizens - Keep a Candle Burning

Law Biting Citizens enjoyed a healthy 10-year career as one of the premier hardcore bands in north central West Virginia. Having formed in 1995, the Morgantown band's core members were Jeremiah Munsey (vocals), Jordan Munsey (drums) and Jeff Goodwin (guitar) with a number of bass and guitar players along the way. Though considered a hardcore band with influences such as 7 Seconds, Minor Threat and Sick of It All, LBC's music proved to be less simple than that. Keep a Candle Burning, the band's final release in 2004, sums up an experienced career of writing creative, catchy songs that are both aggressive and melodic. The guitar playing in LBC's songs represent a love of old hardcore punk blended with jazz funk influences that brings to mind of Bad Brains or Greg Ginn. There are plenty of hooks, circle pit-friendly parts and thoughtful lyrics sung by Jeremiah's unique shout-sung vocals, which along with his intelligent lyrics are what make this band special for me. Every LBC show was an entertaining performance - absent of any contrived punk rock theatrics, but filled of spontaneous energy from individuals who cared about what they were playing and believed in what they were saying. Because of that sincerity, the scene believed in them, which is why the were able to outlive so many other local punk hardcore bands of the same era.
Artist: Law Biting Citizens
Album: Keep a Candle Burning
Year: 2004
For fans of: 7 Seconds, Sick of It All, Warzone

01 November 2011

WATCH: Eric Courtney on Showbiz Pizza and staying up late

This is Eric Courtney. He is from Clarksburg. When he was 7 years old, he went to a Showbiz Pizza lock-in. Now he lives in Los Angeles, and he stays up more than you.

This video (made by filmmaker James Markidis) deserves to go viral. Make it happen.