Ah…another fine bit of music sent to me from Christopher. Before I get into the sounds, just take a look at the cover art. Black, grey and white, simple yet powerful and there’s a cat on the back. A lot of people think that dogs are punk, but we all know the truth. All Cats Are Beautiful. Anyway, this little gem, instead of being doomy blackened crust, goes the direction of high energy hardcore that would not have been altogether out of place playing with some of the more aggressive hc bands back in the 80s and can easily demolish much of today’s hardcore. The lyrics are less political and more like personal reflections of the hardcore scene and the darker side of emotions. CONCRETE STEPS gives props to the bands that write and play because they love it instead of being concerned with getting props and also address the current state of over-saturation of bands with recycled riffs and lyrics. One track appears to come from the angle of someone who deals with stress by cutting themselves and another song is about getting ripped off in Paris. Great delivery with great vocals! Supporting the lyrics are furious(yet tastefully played)beats with solid time changes that carry the all out onslaught of guitar and bass. I’m a huge fan of their tone. Besides the writing being top shelf, the production is crazy good. And to think that these guys do their own mixing and mastering and release their own albums! D.I.fuckingY.!!! This 7″ goes perfectly with both coffee and beer. I can’t recommend this enough. Cheers! (Jake)
As soon as the needle drops, this 7″ is so fucking heavy! Starting with the song Crowd Control, short, to the point lyrics about the absurdity of organized religion, is engulfed by thick guitar tone. The tempo is at perfect head nod pace with bursts of blast beats peppered in to keep the listener on their toes. Short, but definitely not so sweet. Then gliding into Cursed Veins, which gets a little longer. Just enough time to really get lost in the haunting melodies that sound like they might have been influenced by TRAGEDY, MAYHEM and early EMPEROR. In fact, all six tracks are delightfully dark, brooding, blackened crust with lyrics that are equally as dark. And to be completely honest, some are even a bit disturbing. For example, Etruscan War is nothing less than a violent and hateful rant, threatening to burn a city to the ground, killing everyone and everything an pissing on their crown. Then there’s Drowning in Circles, which lyrically comes across like a suicide note moaned over the soundtrack of sorrow and despair. It’s been a few years since I’ve heard one of Chris’s bands and this is everything I had hoped it would be. The only bad thing I can say is that I wish this was a full length, because I want more. If you aren’t able to get your hands on a physical copy of this totally DIY slab o’ wax, you can get a digital version on Spotify, Tidal, Bandcamp and iTunes. Well, done folks! (jake)
Before you roll your eyes and start mumbling about the fixed gear trust fund hipsters with the big beards, hard parted hair and skinny jeans that frequent the local coffee shop…hear me out. The coffee producers are getting screwed. As I type this, the Coffee C market price(the price at which commodity coffee gets traded) is only $1.17 per pound in it’s green unroasted form. Sure, that might sound like great news for people on the consuming end. Let’s face it, most of us drink coffee every day, sometimes multiple cups a day and we all like to save money where we can, but that savings greatly affects the producers. When you get coffee at the gas station, bodega or brew from a big can at home, that is most likely commodity grade coffee. When you go to a local coffee shop that charges $2-$5 a cup, those places are paying a lot more for the coffee. It’s not that they are just trying to get more of your money to stuff in their pockets, they are also making sure the coffee farmers are making more of a living wage. Think about this: it takes approximately 40 coffee beans to make one cup of coffee. Those beans are picked by hand one at a time(except on large farms in Brazil where some are mechanically picked) since the pickers have to be sure to only pick only ripe coffee cherries and those without noticeable defects. Then they have to be transported in heavy bags on foot or sometimes bicycle to a station to be sorted, processed, dried and bagged for export. Now, if the coffee companies here are only paying $1.17 a pound, how much of that do you think gets back to farmer? Not only do they have to support families, they have to buy fertilizer for the farms, upkeep equipment and whatever else comes along in life. Fair Trade price is only $1.40($1.70 if organic), but models that are more of a direct trade are available that ensure the farmers can earn much more a pound and that’s what the better coffee companies are doing. So next time you go to buy a cup of coffee, consider going to a place that supports a more sustainable business model. If you don’t want to support sweatshop clothing or factory farmed food, why wouldn’t you include coffee in those decisions? Most places will be honest with you about their practices if they aren’t shady. This is why coffee should cost more. This is just a brief summery of what goes on and was something that was on my mind while I drink a mug of Colombian coffee that was more than double the C Market price.I’ve been a coffee roaster for about 7 years now and am always learning more about the politics of coffee. If you folks are interested in reading more about coffee, I’ll keep writing about it.
I figured I should post this while we still have some Summer weather, since so many of us like cold coffee on a hot day, but don’t want to pay ridiculous amounts of cash to do it. You’re probably thinking that it’s as simple as brewing coffee and dropping ice cubes in it. You can do that, but you risk creating a diluted bitter drink. If you want a heavier bodied, sweet cold coffee, try this:
Take a 32oz mason jar and add very coarsely ground coffee half way between the 200-400ml lines. Add cold water almost to the top and give it a vigorous stir, then top it off. Put it aside for roughly 12 hours. At this point, scoop what you can off the top and pour the rest through a filter. The remaining liquid is a cold coffee concentrate that just saved you a bunch of cash and a trip into public.
First I wanted to be clear that this review is for the 2nd edition(the first edition is pictured here), but for some reason a good quality photo was hard to find. The second edition includes 20+ more pages of new material. Whether or not you ever hung out in train years or hopped a train, this is a very entertaining read that due, to the zine format, never drags out. There’s also a ton of photos of hobos, bums and tramps(and little guides to tell the difference) and the graffiti on trains done by them and rail yard employees. A constant theme throughout is the real identity of the freightcar graffiti artist who came up with the Bozo Texino tag. Lots of speculation in interviews and letters written by current and past rail yard employees and clips from old train industry magazines. It’s a fun read that you don’t really have to do in any particular order for it to be informative and interesting. Perfect backpack book. (Jake)
Microcosm Publishing / 636 SE 11th Ave. / Portland, OR 97214
Hey world. So, I don’t normally write columns, but I’ve been feeling strongly about this for a while. I’ve been vegan for almost 19 years and while some of it has to do with discovering P.E., this rant isn’t based around that. After getting P.E. #64 in the mail and reading Dan’s opening bit, I was re-inspired. Dawn(my wife) and I lived in different cities for a while, but now live out in the woods. We don’t get a good show this way often and there’s no scene. Years ago we saw Atakke(Sam is from this area), but missed Kylesa. Last October I talked a local promoter into getting Phobia to play a local DIY space. It was great.
While I do miss shows, punk is about much more. Screaming for change is one thing, but working on it is better. Am I preaching? You decide. I’m not going to say go vegan(just do it already), but there are so many reasons to do it. Also, buy and eat whole foods. Avoid packaging. Every packaged food has a long history and a carbon footprint. Just buy locally grown foods and grow your own if you can. Little things like turning things(lights, t.v.s, amps, etc.) off when not in use helps. Ride a bike or walk when you can. Don’t buy things you don’t need and buy local when possible. Reuse everything. Canning jars are great for canning, then storage and then drinking coffee, tea juice. That plastic bag you get produce in? Wash it and use it again.
We’re punks for a reason. We just don’t fit in. Let’s make the “norms” realize we’re good folks and that we have good qualities and aren’t just eye candy. Bring your own shopping bag and reuse everything to death. Also, sew your favorite label or band logo on it and hand out the most recent issue of P.E. to a curious passerby.
While I was gathering paper and cardboard for a bonfire recently, I dumped the packing material out of the box from the last batch of review goodies I was sent quite a while ago and this cassette fell out. While the fire was great, I felt like a total jerk for missing this. By the looks of the cassette and logo I would have expected this to be heavy crust, but I was pleasantly surprised. While I am a big fan of that style, this was a nice surprise. This cassette has seven songs of blazing hardcore that I could swear came straight from the mid 90s even though they’ve only been around for a little over a year. The drums beat furiously pushing the wall of rage created by the guitars and bass. Adding to the mayhem are deep sociopolitical lyrics that are so well written and inspiring. I have to admit that the second time through these songs I was so moved I had to pull out my guitar and shred. By the time the time you read this, there’s a possibility that MASSEXIT will be close to putting out another fine release. I can’t wait! Even though the recording was pretty rough, this is one of the best releases I’ve heard in a very long time(and comes with a sticker). Honest and very well done. (Jake) http://massexitpunk.com/
Back in December, Harvest King Records released one hell of a compilation containing a nice assortment of bands over 20 tracks. Aside from ROYAL RED BRIGADE, KLEINS96, TOMORROW STARTS TODAY and THE JUMP OFF(who all have two), each band has one track to showcase their goods. Something to look forward to is the diversity in sound that everybody brings to the table unlike some comps that give a handful of bands all banging out tunes that, in reality, could all be the same band. The range on this disc hit punk rock, hardcore, indie, country/folk and more. Even better…you can listen to it for free! That’s right, free. So, go to Harvest King’s bandcamp site and check it out. Then, after realizing you like all the bands, order all the albums! (Jake)
Anarchy in a Cold War by Kurtis Sunday
The story takes place in West Berlin, a West German enclave, in 1981, which was divided into four sectors after the Second World War. West Berlin is an American, British and French pocket that is surrounded by the Berlin Wall, separating it from the Russian section, East Berlin, all in East Germany. The main group of characters are a politically active group of squatters, all with vastly different life stories, who work together to carve out lives in old wartorn buildings. There are punks, hippies, college students, artists, alcoholics and even a surprise(though in real life it’s not too surprising, but I don’t want to spoil the story). The book plays out very lifelike with some cultural and language barriers between characters while they eat, sleep, play, make love and fight the system together. A lot of political history is injected through side notes adding depth while each scene is described in great detail: the color of the chipped paint on the walls, state of the furniture(if any) in a room, murals, police uniforms, beer/cigarette types, etc. I really liked how naturally the language flowed between characters even if they had to use body language and gestures to get their points across. It was easy to feel involved in the story, even the graphically described confrontations with the police where there were plenty of exchanges of harsh words, cobblestones, beer bottles and tear gas canisters. Because it flows so well, it was easy to keep the book in my bag to read little bits on lunch breaks or a few pages before starting the day without forgetting what exactly is going on. Totally worth picking up to slip in between Chompsky and Bookchin. (Jake)
Cambria Books, Wales